Saturday, 23 June 2012
UXM #170: "Dancin' In The Dark"
(No weddings and no funeral.)
Reindeer Falls, Alaska. Two lovers dance on their first date, late at night and alone but for each other. It's been weeks since Scott Summers first met a woman who looks identical to his dead other half, and I guess he's made his mind up: re-runs will do when your favourite show's been cancelled.
Except of course, he's Cyclops, isn't he, which means that rather than actually deciding what he wants ahead of time, he interrupts the date for some bullshit mooching about not being sure whether he wants to screw his late fiance's doppelganger, or just make kissy faces whilst thinking his tortured thoughts.
He does get some points for actually telling Maddy what's going on, though - once upon a time he'd just have kept buttoned-up indefinitely until she either left him in disgust (the sensible approach), or just kept flinging herself at him until he manned the fuck up (Jean's usual response). Madelyne is somewhat taken aback upon being shown a picture of Jean (hardly surprising), but they agree to keep seeing each other until Scott decides what exactly he wants. What could possibly go wrong there?
Back beneath New York City, Callisto is just moments away from marrying Angel because, well, I'm still not entirely clear. I think she just really needs to get laid. Interesting that she's prepared to kidnap, drug and basically cripple the object of her affections, but she has no intention of living in sin. Weird the things we choose to care about, I guess, especially given the Morlocks have specifically rejected "surface" society; why get so tied up in its ceremonies? Doesn't Caliban try this with Kitty in a few months, as well?
Anyway, whatever the reasons for this bizarre ceremony, the newly recovered X-Men decide they do know of any lawful reason, and they slip their bonds for round two against the sewer-dwellers. The battle goes rather better for them this time, but once again defeat is their only friend; Nightcrawler grabs Callisto but Plague grabs Storm, and only one of them has the heart of a killer. Outmanoeuvred by the underground mutants, our heroes yield.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in "The Alley" (an underground bomb shelter co-opted by Callisto), Caliban is caring for Kitty, who's still pretty knocked out by the virus Plague managed to clip her with last issue. Sprite begs her companion to help her friends, but even when she promises to hate him forever he won't go up against Callisto. Kitty demonstrates her dissatisfaction by passing out.
Another change of scene now, to the land of nod, where Mystique finds herself on the run from a pack of hounds leading a pack of arseholes (pretty much a standard hunt, in other words). This is actually really interesting, because it's pretty much verbatim one of Jean's Mastermind-induced visions from just before she became the Dark Phoenix, right down to the name of Jean's horse and her desire for stabbing the peasants her dogs run down. Mystique awakes from her dream before Jean can administer the cruelest cut, but even so; something screwy's goin' on. Destiny's powers of precognition are being blocked, and Rogue has fled the coup entirely.
Back at the wedding, Callisto has apparently put the exchanging of vows on hold so she can spend time alternating between torturing the X-Men and asking them to sign up. Not surprisingly, this rather slapdash approach hasn't done any good - even Stockholm Syndrome needs a bit more consistency than this - but it turns out not to matter, because Caliban has arrived with a feverish Kitty in his arms.
Callisto, of course, is all for letting "the brat" die (not that I disagree entirely, of course, but then I've known Katherine rather longer than Callisto), which Caliban announces is basically the word of God until someone challenges her to a duel. Feeling the weight of her love for and obligation to Kitty, as well as the irresistible force of narrative flow, Storm offers to carve Callisto up in order to win the crown, despite being fully aware that only one woman is going to be walking away from this particular grudge match.
Unsurprisingly, that woman is Storm, despite her being ill as hell from Plague's touch and forbidden to use her mutant powers (she ends up trapping Callisto with her cloak and stabbing her in the heart, which is pretty cool). The X-Men are pretty shocked to see Storm willing to kill, but that's their mistake: faced between breaking her oath to never take a life and her implicit promise to keep Kitty alive, I don't think the outcome was ever in doubt, though Callisto herself ultimately pulls through. The newly-cowed Morlocks let the team leave unmolested.
There's one more change of locale as we return to where we began, in Reindeer Falls, where there's another revelation to deal with: Madelyne gets slapped down when she tries to swipe Scott's shades, and she's pretty damn keen to get an answer as to why. Scott finally fesses up to the whole truth, and for the moment at least, it seems that their troubles are over. You don't need to have read any comic from 1986 onwards to know that that ain't gonna last...
It's apparently been weeks since Cyclops and Madelyne met at the end of UXM #168, so we'll rearrange things so that said issue took place a full fortnight earlier. We also learn from Mystique's comments that this story takes place after DAZ #28, but we'd assumed that in any case.
This story itself takes place over the course of a few hours.
Wednesday 3rd of August, 1983.
1 Marvel year = 3.70 standard years.