Tuesday, 28 February 2012

XHY #11: "Destroy All Mutants!"

(The iron giant douche.)


We kick off this issue with rosy memories of a halcyon age.  Specifically, the final stages of Larry Trask's attempts to polish off the nascent mutant population.  This takes three pages, which seems unnecessary (though certainly not atypical), but we eventually get to the point where five partially smashed Sentinels manage to combine their less battered sections into a single workable whole.

Fast forward four weeks and thirty years, and this motley collection of technically indistinguishable machines has arrived to make life difficult for Xavier and Beast.  Fortunately, young Ashley's mutant power has now become clear - she can somehow subconsciously re-program machines to follow her instructions.  Handy, if somewhat prosaic.  I'm getting the distinct feeling that one could resolve any given cliff-hanger in this book by simply applying the Marvel Universe's equivalent of Occam's Razor.

Ashley's mother chooses this moment to arrive, and is rather upset to see that her daughter is playing with strange men.  And a robot.  That has smashed up their house.  Xavier explains that Ashley is a mutant, which probably doesn't help, but you can't blame him for that.  Ashley's influence over "Big Bot" is enough to get him to explain where he came from (which we already knew, save that he landed in the Martin's backyard to destroy Ashley, only to find himself with more repair work to do first), but with that tale told, he reverts to his original programming - destroy all mutants, and wreck as much real estate as possible in the process.

Ashley finds herself unable to re-establish complete control and force the Sentinel to stand down, but she has sufficient power (and, it must be said, imagination, this is easily the best moment in the issue) to have the residual parts of the other four Sentinels declare war on each other, and rip themselves to pieces.  In terms of immediate survival, Xavier and Beast's chances just went up a notch or two, but something seems to have clicked inside Ashley's cerebellum.  Glowing eyes and sudden mood changes are rarely a good sign in children.  Just ask John Wyndham.

On the other side of the world, we learn that the crucified form found by Cyclops, Marvel Girl and Candy Southern wasn't the Angel, merely an angel, specifically Warren's mutant saviour from the Savage Land city.  She's still alive, and the X-Men try to fight their way back to the jet and get her some medical attention. They don't get far - the leader of the low-grade mutants ("freaks", they say they're happy to call themselves) arrives, walks unimpeded directly through Cyclops beam, and introduces himself as Krueger.  He claims to know all about the X-Men, though his briefings can't have been too thorough; he immediately assumes Candy is Marvel Girl due to her costume, despite her being brunette, and despite their being another woman in the team who does have red hair, and an almost identically shaped face-mask.

Still, maybe the guy doesn't really feel the need to pay that much attention.  He certainly has plenty of power - the instant he grows tired of his captives he knocks them all unconscious with a neat special effect, and goes off to talk to one of his clients.  Krueger's decided he's going to sell the X-Men to Blob, Unus and Mastermind.

Back in the Savage Land, Amphibious has found the Nazi outpost where Karl and Bobby have made camp, and decides would make a more fitting place for Magneto to recuperate than a dingy cave.  The next thing we know, the base is under attack.  Iceman gets clear (though he still can't remember that he has rather more options at his disposal than a sneaky retreat), and does Karl, but the latter is wounded in the process, and can't help but reach out for the nearest life-source in order to juice himself back up.  Moments later, Bobby is unconscious, and Sauron is reborn.


The narration describes the events of UXM #57 to #59 as happening "four weeks earlier."  Astonishingly, our timeline has the time at precisely thirty days, which is either an amazing coincidence, or evidence that Bryne is no less anal than I am.

Or at least it would do, if the arrival of the Sentinel apparently happened a week earlier.  I think the easiest way to extricate ourselves from this is just to assume the scene in which that happened, at the very end of XHY #9, wasn't supposed to follow on directly from the X-Men's second victory over the Z'Nox.  Given that the various separate strands of the book's narrative already don't entirely match up, that doesn't seem unreasonable.

Speaking of which, the "not quite meanwhile" discovery of Karl's shack by Amphibious, just after having arrived with a soggy Magneto, makes the Savage Land timeline even more confusing than it already was.  I think I'm going to wait until everyone is back in the same place before I worry too much about exactly what was being done when and where.


Wednesday 9th July, 1980.



Contemporary Events

Two Tube trains collide in Holborn Station.

Standout Line

"He thinks Candy is me!  Of course!  There's no way he'd know she's just wearing one of my costumes..."


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