Friday, 27 April 2012

XHY #13: "Blood And Circuses"

(Imaginary sex and violence.)


Gods, are we still at little Ashley's place?  Byrne once said he could imagine XHY going on for at least 75 issues before getting close to Deadly Genesis.  I can well believe it.  This is running slower than a season of 24.

We'll split this into the three story strands, as we've been doing for the last ten or twelve years.

First up, Jean Grey awakes in a strange but opulent room, in a strange but opulent bed, with Cyclops leaning over her.  Jean is understandably keen to know where exactly she is, but Scott insists it doesn't matter.  "Come on baby, don't waste time."  Sensing a rat in Cyclops' nob-heavy behaviour, Jean resists the illusion. And illusion it is, cast by Mastermind, with the Blob as the romantic lead.

Basically, then, this is a scene about attempted rape (a return to the Silver Age my arse).  That said, it's actually quite interesting.  It seems completely in character that Fred Dukes would never even consider the fact that a woman might notice a sudden change in their "boyfriend's" speech patterns, or that they might not necessarily be in the mood moments after they awake from their supervillain-induced coma.  Mastermind blames the failure of the illusion on Jean's psychic powers, but really it's just a question of Jean knowing Scott isn't a dick.

Failing spectacularly to comprehend this, Dukes blames Mastermind for the failure.  Mastermind for his part points out it's tricky to fool a telepath (it would take months of subtle manipulation, apparently...) and that the Blob needs to shut up anyway, because he was a chartered member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  He deserves the slap he gets, in other words.

When the actual genuine Cyclops awakes, it's to find himself in a steel cage above a circus ring.  Warren and Candy are in similar cages, and there's just enough time for Angel to summarise his adventures to date and query exactly why his girlfriend is here in another woman's clothes before the Blob and Unus arrive.  They've paid more than a hundred grand to get their hands on the X-Men, and this is round one of the upcoming entertainments.  The trio are dropped to the ground and immediately set-up by elephants, bears and gun-toting clowns, and neither Angel nor Cyclops can get their powers to work.

Just in time to save his skull from being shattered by the Blob, though, Scott works out what's going on: it's all a Mastermind illusion.  Their powers were never really shut off at all.  Knowing this allows Scott to start blasting again, and for Warren to take to the skies.  This is a general point rather than a specific dig at Byrne (there's certainly enough of those here), but I'm not quite sure how this is supposed to work.  How does knowing what they're seeing isn't real allow them to get back their powers?  I can see why Scott firing at random could cause his enemies some considerable problems, but how could he actually see the effect?  Warren knows he can fly now, but how does that translate into watching himself leave the ground?

I am confoosed squid right now.  This isn't helped by the suggestion that this is an actual circus, and the audience's perceptions are being manipulated by Mastermind as well.  Why?  What could possibly be in it for Mastermind?  Is he pocketing the gate money?  They just blew six figures on four X-Men; how much difference is filling a big top gonna make?

Whilst Candy and the boys are trying to work out whether they can take down those elephants without getting angry emails from the WWF, Jean Grey is trying to escape from Dukes' love bunker.  It takes her awhile to telepathically pick the lock (I like that; just because she can move the tumblers doesn't mean she knows what she's supposed to be doing with them), only for her to encounter Krueger, who puts her back into unconsciousness.

Back in the States, Beast and the Professor are still trying to keep Ashley from getting anybody killed.  She's certainly not making things easy, as soon as she's done dissing the Prof, she starts trying to re-assemble her pet Sentinel.  Terrified that once it's back together everyone is going to get blasted to atoms, Xavier reaches into her mind, and shuts off her mutant powers.  Which is... interesting.  Pressed for time or not, I'd have expected Charles to at least try to reason with the kid before moving on to impromptu psychic field surgery. Quite aside from the risk of killing her, if he severs the links between her consciousness and her powers, will she ever get to use them again?  It all seems a bit heartless.  But then maybe this fits in to the "something is off with Xavier" idea this comic has been teasing for a year now (or, more accurately, teased for about nine months, and then stopped mentioning it).

Lastly, we check back in at the Savage Land, only to find that our heroes there are, at long last, planning on leaving (there's been at least three X-Men in the Savage Land since the tail end of XHY #1). Salvaging the flyer the team first used to get there, the trio head back to the mansion, only to find it abandoned.

Epilogue: the Worthington mansion, where Kathryn, widow of Warren Worthington II, is planning to marry once again.  Her fiance?  Her late husband's brother...


We learn in this issue that Lorna, Alex and Bobby leave the Savage Land only a day after the rest of the X-Men did in XHY #4.  That's not unreasonable, actually, though the idea that they don't arrive at the mansion until after the arrival of the Fantastic Four at the end of XHY #7 certainly is. How did it take them longer to fly directly to New York than it did the others to be blown by a storm to Kenya, fight against Deluge, return to the States, send the Z'Nox planet into another dimension, and set off on their current missions?

I think we're going to have to go with "unrecorded adventures" again, aren't we?

The other two stories in this book also can't really be taking place at the same time, so we'll assume Scott, Jean, Candy and Warren are now a day ahead of Hank and Charles.


Thursday 10th to Friday 11th July, 1980.


X+2Y+98 to X+2Y+99.

Contemporary Events

Richard Queen, abducted during the Iran Hostage Crisis, is released, due to a medical condition which is later diagnosed as multiple sclerosis.

The League of Women Voters criticise Republicans for rejecting equal rights for women.  32 years later, Wisconsin Republicans repeal their equal pay act, because after more than three decades, the GOP are still a collection of worthless shits.

Standout Line

"Wh - where are we?"
"Finally alone, babe.  Them other losers have run off on their own somewheres."

Nice try, Blob.  Only, you know, not really at all.

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