Sunday, 4 March 2012
XHY #12: "And Death Alone Shall Know My Name"
(Hypnotic dinos vs. magnetic magma.)
Ooh, double length, is it? Good-oh.
(Actually, it is only 1.72 times the length, which means a slight infraction of trading standards, but also a slight relief regarding how much of this I have to suffer through).
Once again, the X-Men are spread across the globe. This is causing all kinds of continuity problems. We already knew that Iceman's travails in the Savage Land, and Alex and Lorna's search for him, isn't strictly contemporaneous with the rest of the team's adventures, but now Beast and the Professor are separated from Cyclops and Marvel Girl, and their stories seem to have widely diverging timelines as well.
We'll do this thread by thread again. Up in Dumfree, Illinois, the wretched remains of the last Sentinel (for now at least) hasn't even finished sparking, and already things are going pear-shaped again. Ashley - apparently a psychokinetic, capable of animating inorganic matter - has decided everything would have been fine if Big Bot hadn't been driven mad by Xavier's arrival, and that mans things would be better if he left. At a hundred miles an hour, into a tree. Hank grabs him before he end up with even fewer movable body parts, but it's clear that they're in deep trouble.
Somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, Krueger's vessel slips into port under a red sky. Things are going according to plan for the hand-off, except that Candy has turned out to be resistant to Krueger's knock-out powers (under the excuse that nothing's impossible where the X-Men are concerned, which is supremely idiotic). Surprising Krueger just as he's welcoming Unus and Mastermind aboard (they've just enough time to apologise for Blob being too fat to join them, and point out how easily identifiable Marvel Girl is), Candy knocks him out with a cargo crane. That's the extent of her success, however, it's just moments later that she falls headlong into a Mastermind illusion (endless staircase: a classic).
Unus and Mastermind get down to a little pro-forma supervillain squabbling before handing over Krueger's money, and heading back to shore. Clever readers (by which I mean those that don't immediately forget everything they've read every time they turn the page) might be wondering what steps Krueger has taken to insure he's not being paid with illusory money.
The answer is: no steps. Mastermind has handed Krueger an empty suitcase, and Mr Supreme Know-It-All "I'm too good for words like 'mutant'" just can't be bothered to check. He hasn't even worked out the last payment was equally non-existent. Blob puts this down to the iron-clad self-confidence of the relentlessly narcissistic, but terrible writing seems like a much more likely explanation. I suppose this method explains why Dukes can afford so many hooker to give him a sponge bath, though. That, or they all think it's taking surprisingly long to get through all Ryan Reynold's surface area.
The bulk of this issue, though, takes place in the Savage Land. I thought we'd missed something important last issue, and this fills in the blanks. The amnesiac Bobby is becoming increasingly suspicious regarding his host's behaviour, especially when he gives his name as "Joe Smith", which Bobby points out isn't just obviously fake, but lazy as hell into the bargain.
(I've always wondered about this, actually - does it really make sense to say a name sounds so common that it's likely to be fake? If he'd claimed to be Cornelius Fatwasp, then that might be worthy of suspicion.)
Things are coming to a head in other ways as well. Alex and Lorna have finally reached the island, having been following Bobby's signal via Cerebro. And Magneto is preparing to attack Bobby and "Joe", because - well, that's not entirely clear. Amphibius' desire to see his master get a step up on the property ladder (cave < abandoned Nazi outpost, as Kirstie Allsopp will tell you) doesn't really seem like a good enough reason to murder two people, nor does Mags own decision to claim the island's resources, even accounting for Bryne's insistence on writing Magneto as the one-note villain not seen since the early '80s.
It's especially dumb since Mag's plan involves him heading deeper into the cave and reach a kick-ass underground complex diverting thermal power to the Savage Land. Why not keep exploring that, rather than trying to start a volcanic eruption to toast his enemies? And what was the point of putting together a new costume so his victims will know "who it is who destroys them," if you're going to cook them to death from below?
Some way above, "Joe" has gone hunting, and a distrustful Bobby is following at a distance. It turns out that he's after dinosaur game (in this case, a particularly unlucky hadrosaurid), which seems more overambitious than sinister. Of course, then he sucks the life-force out of the thing's fucking face, and that's proves more of an issue (though, really, they're already supposed to be extinct, so this is just tying up loose ends). Bobby figures this rather disturbing display is worth a longer conversation, but this is interrupted by Magneto's attack. Apparently he's decided to lava his opponents to death and zap them with magnetic energy. You can't accuse the man of not being thorough.
Bobby and "Joe" escape the initial conflagration, but the danger causes Kyle's survival instincts to kick in, and he chugs down Bobby's energy for himself, becoming Sauron in the process. Magento has never seen him before, which means he wastes precious time stepping to instead of bringing on the smack. Suaron punishes the error by hypnotising Magneto, taking him out of the fight.
Meanwhile, the energy release from the transformation, or Magneto's powers, or something from the volcanic eruptions (or some or all of the above) causes Alex to lose control of the craft carrying himself and Lorna (no idea where Ka-Zar went; presumably he saw something shiny and/or bikini-clad), and they crash into the island. Bobby pulls them from the crash, regaining his memory in the memory in the process (apparently a combination of wanting to fuck Lorna, and having been fucked over by Lykos).
When the crash-landers wake up, Alex is all for letting Sauron and Magneto beat the crap out of each other, but Bobby points out that a talking green pterosaur with the power of the X-Men's greatest foe would probably constitute a bad thing. Of course, Mags isn't too happy about them interrupting his fun, and so he immediately puts them right at the top of his "to kill" list.
Sauron plays into this by hypnotising Alex for use as an impromptu artillery position. Bobby wants to help out, but his hoarfrosty hands are full with Lorna, who keeps threatening to faint, because that's what women do. In fairness, she has a better excuse than most, she's responding to alterations in the local magnetosphere caused by Amphibius, who's using one of Lykos' gizmos to feed thermal power to Magneto. Frankly, that's all on Sauron. It's one thing to build a dustbin lid capable of harnessing the energy of Mother Earth herself, but it's quite another to label it so clearly that a talking frog can operate it in an attempt on your life.
Iceman gives Sauron a break by smashing the device (completely going against his argument four pages earlier to make sure Lykos loses, but then Bobby's never been the spiciest Nik-Nak in the bag). The now powerless Magneto attempts to bribe Sauron with a slice of his future empire, but Karl treats this with the contempt it deserves, and flies away, leaving Magneto to an ugly death as the crust beneath him breaks apart. Sauron returns just long enough to hypnotise the X-Men into forgetting he is still alive, and then leaves for good. Their business apparently concluded, our heroes repair their craft, and head for home.
Magneto digs himself clear of the chaos of what remains of the ground around the battlesite. What remained of the healing energies of the Savage Land city has kept him alive, but he has no energy left to go further. Fortunately, he doesn't have to - an Atlantean expedition has followed the seismic activity to this location, with Namor himself aboard. In one of the few truly altruistic moments in the prince's life, he rescues Magneto, taking him back to Atlantis, and hoping all the while that this time, the man won't cause any trouble...
It's either sunset or sunrise above Kruger's ship when Unus and Mastermind arrive, which either way presumably means that Blob's delivery of two X-Men (and complimentary flatscan) takes place the day after Scott, Jean and Candy were first captured. As usual, there's no way to work out exactly when the events in the Savage Land are taking place.
There's also two epilogues, taking place three and five days later, respectively, but since they don't involve the X-Men, we don't particularly need to worry about them.
Thursday 26th June and Wednesday 9th to Thursday 10th July, 1980.
X+2Y+87 and X+2Y+97 to X+2Y+98.
Jessica Simpson is born, to the future delight of a hundred thousand journalists who don't really feel like searching out real news.
"'Sauron', is it? A name pirated from a foolish fairy tale!"
Never before has Magneto seemed so irredeemably evil. I mean, sinking that submarine was one thing, but this?