Monday, 16 April 2012

UXM #167: "The Goldilocks Syndrome (Or: "Who's Been Sleeping In My Head?")"

(Took me longer to read the title)


Most of this issue is taken up with a single extended fight scene.  Which I guess makes sense, really, considering it's the final act of a story UXM has been telling for more than six issues, and which has dragged NMU into for two more.

The moment the X-Men touch down on planet Earth once more, they smash their way into the mansion.  They have no idea why it's been rebuilt, and why there's a half-dozen teenagers watching Tom Selleck in the living room, but the only issue of any consequence is whether or not they can get to Charles Xavier before he becomes the first Brood victim we've seen to transform into an alien insect with no discernable loss of hair.

(I consider it a lovely character moment by the way that as Cyclops is wading through teenagers, using his optic blasts to pulverise an entire building, that he tells himself it's unfortunate he has to beat up this many children, but that there's no time for an explanation.  It's not just that he's willing to blast thirteen year olds in the face, it's that he'll do it because it doesn't occur to him that they could possibly put up a fight that would last longer than the time it takes to say "You're professor is secretly an alien, kthankx".  There's a direct line between that attitude and the events leading to X-Men: Schism almost fifty years later.)

Whilst all hell breaks out downstairs (the New Mutants are untrained, not helpless), Kitty phases onto the first floor, Brood blaster in hand, desperately hoping she'll fail in her aim to be the first X-Man to find Xavier.  She knows she won't be that lucky, of course, and she's right.  When she gets to her erstwhile teacher's study, however, she's too busy looking for an excuse to not have do what needs to be done to actually do it.  Her reward is to be thrown back down to the ground floor by the creature that was once Charles.

The rest of the X-Men watch in horror as Xavier completes his change - and Claremont does a good job of selling just how much of an emotional gut-punch that must have been - but it's very quickly back to the fight.  With the New Mutants now onboard, and with some timely back-up from Binary, the new Brood queen doesn't last too long. Wolverine, as always, is keen to get some murdering done, and this time, his take on the situation is almost unanimous.  Even Charles himself, now briefly back in control after his alien half took too much of a beating to recover from for now, is adamant that it's too dangerous to let him live.

Cyclops isn't having any of it, however.  Xavier's mind is clearly still, if not whole, exactly, then at least capable of occasional re-assembling, and the team now has the resources of the Starjammers to call upon.  It's time for a trip to Doctor Sikorsky, number one on my list of the universe's least hideously unpleasant insects.

(Number two, in case you're wondering, is the ever-resourceful N'Grath.  Now there was a bug who knew how to get shit done.)
"Mighty Narn Empire.  Soldiers.  Guns.
And you come to N'grath?"
Whilst the gang wait to hear word on Xavier's chances (Sikorsky's typically mental plan involves cloning the professor a new body and transferring his brain across), there's some time for character development, as the X-Men face how much things have changed for them recently.  Scott gets to spend some time with his father - and learn about the existence of his grandparents, too, Ororo tries to quietly process her feelings of rejection over Kitty so obviously having transferred her affections to Peter, and Kurt wonders whether he'll have to win over the New Mutants like he did Sprite, just for the crime of having been born the way he looks.

These sessions of introspection are broken up when a visitor arrives.  Gladiator has come to pledge himself to Lilandra.  Apparently he's learned his lesson over the D'Ken debacle, and has no interest in following Deathbird as she brings her own strain of raging insanity to the Shi'ar Empire (seriously; how does that place ever get anything done?)  He also brings news from rather closer to home: Reed Richards has saved Galactus from death, an action with a potential body count in the hundreds of billions at least.  I assume this is a set-up for a later FF story (I certainly don't remember this coming to anything in the pages of UXM), but I have to admit I'd have liked to see where this all ended up.  Some of my favourite stories about the wider Marvel galaxy have hinged on this kind of thing: the total unwillingness of earthbound heroes to consider the logical consequences of their locally virtuous actions (see also: The Doctor, ridiculous Christmas paddy of).

There's no time to delve into this further, though, as Lilandra has no sooner sent a holographic message to the Richards (loose translation: fuck you and the cosmic rays you rode in on) than Charles appears, his brain patterns now safely nestled in a whole new host body.  As an added bonus, his new spine is entirely uncrushed, meaning he can walk.  Alas, his subconscious stubbornly refuses to accept his new-and-improved vertebrate structure, and so he can't stand without feeling agonising pain. 

I think there are two ways to respond to this idea.   You can either be pissed off at such a despicably transparent attempt to have one's cake and eat it ("We can only return to the status quo by giving Xavier a new body which also happens to not be able to walk!"), or you can simply assume Xavier has spent the last decade with a stick so far up his unfeeling arse that reinserting it into his brand new anus has left him in too much pain to stand.  God knows, there's plenty of circumstantial evidence on that score.  

There's one more wrinkle in the custard before the issue comes to a close, though.  Now that the team is back, and the New Mutants have been founded, Charles sees an opportunity to correct an earlier decision.  It's time for Kitty Pryde to leave the X-Men.


Gods, this is a mess.  The difference between our placings of UXM #166 and NMU #3 suggests the X-Men have been travelling back from Sleazeworld for a month or so, which makes no sense considering the urgency of their mission, and how quickly they got there in the first place.  The most obvious solution would be to try and "average out" the trips there and back, but we can't do that, because UXM has already demonstrated that the mansion still wasn't built, and the X-Men not too long gone, by the time Wolverine escaped the Brood's clutches.  In other words, any time we add to the journey to Sleazeworld has to be added to the time before NMU got going as well. 

Just to make things more annoying, Moira clearly refers to the period just before/during the assembling of the New Mutants that it's summer, which means if NMU #3 is to be believed, at least nine months have passed since the X-Men were kidnapped.  That's difficult enough to believe - it means the comic is actually 1.5 times slower than its own publishing schedule - before you factor in Kitty, who was described as fourteen before she was kidnapped, and yet turned fourteen during this adventure (her fifteenth birthday is shown in the '90s).

Given all of this nonsense, I think the Occam's Razor approach is to assume there was simply some extensive delay to the team's return that just hasn't been explored yet.

The story itself begins in the early evening.  It's not entirely clear how long the team spend on the Starjammer, waiting to see how things have gone with the Professor, but it seems reasonable to assume that the issue spills over into early morning of the following day.


Saturday 9th to Sunday 10th of July, 1983.


X+5Y+100 to X+5Y+101.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.70 standard years.

(Colossus is 26 years old).

"Lenin's ghost!"
Contemporary Events

German composer Werner Egk passes away, aged 82.  Egk, the "enigmatic opportunist", was active during the Nazi era, and his career intersected with the politics of the day in various very interesting ways.

Standout Line

"No shame in bein' what you are." - Logan.

No comments:

Post a Comment