Tuesday, 16 April 2013

UXM #183: "He'll Never Make Me Cry"

(Three mutants walk into a bar...)


Regular readers of this blog will know I have little love to spare for Kitty Pryde.  Given that almost half of this issue is dedicated to Peter dumping her, then, and the other half focuses on Logan telling Peter what a chump he is for dumping her, you'd think I'd hate this issue.

For whatever reason, it doesn't work out that way.  In large part this is due to the subject matter.  Kitty frequently annoys me with her hyperbolic reaction to the slightest setback (and to restate my position: the fact that this is a realistic teenage response does not make it any less enraging), but one's first heartbreak strikes me as an entirely reasonable thing to respond to by dialling everything up to 11.  There's also the fact that I think Kitty takes Peter's series of gut-punches absolutely as well as can be expected.  She's obviously mortified, but she manages to remain civil and assure Peter that as X-Men they will remain close, but she doesn't let him get away with too much self-pity either, which can't be easy when your boyfriend says "I've met someone else and I'm leaving you and also she died in my arms". Her story ends in an ellipsis this issue as she decides to take some time to herself, but that too strikes me as entirely reasonable.  Good work all around.

Not that Kitty has never been in the right before, of course; UXM #149 springs most immediately to mind.  What make this issue unusual is that Kitty comes across well without the whole of the rest of the cast acting like utter imbeciles in order to make her look good by comparison (a rather aggravating dramatic approach described in different circumstance as the Helo suit).  Peter is just as valid in what he says and feels as Kitty, and so is Logan, more of which later.  Only Storm comes across as particularly ridiculous as she wishes Colossus had died on the Beyonder's world rather than return to break Kitty's heart.  I don't care how close Storm and Sprite have become, that'd be an appalling thought to have about a stranger, and for a colleague and friend like Peter, it's just offensively hideous.

Once the deed is done, Logan decides to take Peter to the local watering hole to slap the Russian around for his treatment of Kitty, with Kurt tagging along as "referee", which whenever Wolverine's involved might be just as well described as "blood-mopper".  Logan wants to have it out with Peter RE his dumping antics earlier in the day.  This is a very difficult conversation to watch.  It's not so much that both sides are right, but that both sides are utterly wrong but have phenomenally good reasons for it.  Logan is almost certainly right that the feelings Colossus has labelled "love" have been misidentified.  Even if Logan's theory (mentioned in Secret Wars) is wrong, and they weren't brought into existence by Zsaji's healing powers, I steadfastly refuse to believe that one can genuinely fall in love over the space of six days, with someone who spent the first two days with someone else, and with whom you are entirely unable to communicate.  That isn't love, that's infatuation.

On the other hand, Zsaji's just barely in the ground (depending on her species' death rituals, of course). For all that Colossus has been living with her death longer than he knew her alive, telling the guy she sacrificed her life for and who held her as she lay dying that his feelings aren't what he thinks they are is just horribly fucking cruel, and it's no less horribly fucking cruel because it led to Peter breaking up with Kitty.

Actually, Logan's feelings on all of this seem really jumbled up.  He's basically being powered by his deep platonic/paternal love for Sprite, which is understandable, but you can't just use "my friend has been hurt" as the basis of an argument and expect it to make sense.  At various points during the conversation Logan's position seems to be that Peter didn't care enough about Zsaji to make it worthwhile to dump Kitty, that the manner in which Peter did the deed was needlessly hurtful, that he's just scared of commitment, and that Kitty's done so much for Peter - up to and including agreeing to marry another man in exchange for saving his life - that Peter should show more gratitude.  Because there's nothing a teenage girl dreams of more than a boyfriend who kisses her out of gratitude.

I guess the commitment angle does hold some potential merit, but only insofar as it can't be easily disproved.  Maybe that really is part of what's going on here.  That's a point to be raised, though, not an accusation to be thrown.  Of course, Logan might be a little more patient with Peter were the Russian not so insistent on digging his heels in: constantly repeating that his love was true and real and boundless and no-one could understand, but when you start a conversation about a man's private life with the words "You owe us an explanation!", you're not aiming for a discussion, you're aiming for a fight, as Logan happily admits to Kurt.

So it's a good job the Juggernaut happens to be favouring the same bar.  Comic book coincidences, huh?  On detecting Cain Marko's scent, Wolverine tries to get everyone quietly out of the bar, but the drunk and furious Colossus makes a scene, spilling his beer on Juggernaut and igniting a bar-room brawl.  For those keeping score, that's fifteen pages without super-powers coming in to play, if you don't count a brief training session between Rogue and Storm earlier.

The fight itself is fairly standard fare, though it does contain one of my favourite panels of the period as the Juggernaut attempts to swat Colossus with the bar's, um, bar:

but the scuffle also serves a larger purpose; a reminder to Colossus that he needs the other X-Men around.  It's a lesson that comes kind of out of nowhere, to be honest.  Logan's trying to make the point that the X-Men stick together no matter what, but that's not really relevant when you're talking about whether a couple should stay together.  Again, there's precisely zero chance Kitty hoped Colossus would be with her forever because of how they're both on the same superhero team.  To make all this work Claremont has Logan point out that Peter never actually thanked Kitty for being prepared to marry Caliban in exchange for his life.  Which, fair enough, if he never said thank you, that's a gigantically shitty thing to do.  It just doesn't tie all this together in the way Claremont thinks it does.

That probably sounds like I'm more down on this issue than I actually am.  I've always loved these superpower-light issues which try and inject a greater sense of character and family into the proceedings.  And frankly, a drunken lovesick nineteen year old and a bitter brawler with anger-management issues probably would end up having conversations that were disjointed, unfocussed and basically just an excuse to verbally beat the crap out of each other (Peter telling Logan he had no interest in being lectured on love by a man who left his fiancee in another country was a particularly low blow).  So whilst this issue is a mess, it's a mess that's pretty easy to appreciate.

Anyway, the fight ends, and Juggernaut (having paid for the damage, interestingly) heads off into the night.  Meanwhile, in unrelated news, Val Cooper is driving around town spilling the security-beans to her driver, without the faintest idea that said chauffeur is in reality... dun dun DURR... Mystique! Whomever this new mutant "Forge" is that Val mentions, I doubt he'll be alive for long...

Oh, and Selene's back, which doesn't sound like it's going to end well for anyone.


The narration mentions that Kitty has been at the mansion for almost two years.  By my count, it's more like fifteen months.  Of course, Kitty-time never makes any sense either from our perspective or from the perspective of other Marvel characters; Kitty's fifteenth birthday is still years away in real time, despite her having been thirteen and a half when she was originally introduced.  This reference is just one more problem to note in the middle of all this continuity craziness.

Storm mentions that this is the weekend, which we also had as true last issue.  Either the X-Men got back from Japan in record time, or this is the following weekend.  The latter makes more sense - especially since the Professor has apparently gone on vacation with the New Mutants - though that does mean Peter has been avoiding Kitty (or vice versa) for a full week, which is a little depressing to think about.

Peter mentions that he is nearly twenty.  I may have forgotten something, but by my recollection the last time Colossus' age was mentioned was way back when the X-Men first fought the Brood somewhere around UXM #157.  That was nine months ago by our count, when he was described as eighteen.  Had he turned nineteen soon after, of course, then "nearly twenty" would be a reasonable description, though the idea of a guy three months shy of his twentieth birthday dating a girl not yet fifteen is somewhat concerning.  I'm not sure why everyone's so outraged that the two of them have split up, really.


Saturday 28th January, 1984.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.52 standard years

(Rogue is 27 years old)

"Ah am a madwoman!"
Contemporary Events

The Challenger disaster claims the lives of seven astronauts.  By way of some compensation, the Fates allow Jessica Ennis to be born.

Standout Line

"Thank goodness your insurance covers super hero battles!"
"Hey, these days, inna Big Apple, you can't survive without it."

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