Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Timeline: 1984 (Take 3)


2nd   NMU #14: Do You Believe in Magik?
3rd   UXM #180: Whose Life is it Anyway?
4th   UXM #180: Whose Life is it Anyway?
5th   UXM #180: Whose Life is it Anyway?
6th   UXM #180: Whose Life is it Anyway?
7th   UXM #180: Whose Life is it Anyway?
8th   UXM #180: Whose Life is it Anyway?
9th   UXM #180: Whose Life is it Anyway?
10th UXM #180: Whose Life is it Anyway?
10th SWA #1: The War Begins!
10th SWA #2: Prisoners of War
11th  NMU #15: Scaredy Cat!
11th  SWA #3: Tempest Without, Crisis Within!
11th  NMU #16: Away Game!
11th  SWA #4: Situation: Hopeless!
11th  NMU #17: Getaway!
11th  SWA #5: The Battle of Four Armies!
11th  SWA #6: A Little Death...
12th  NMU #17: Getaway!
12th  SWA #7: Beserker!
12th  SWA #8: Invasion!
12th  SWA #9: Assault on Galactus!
12th  SWA #10: Death to the Beyonder
12th  SWA #11: ...And Dust to Dust!
13th  NMU #17: Getaway!
13th  SWA #12: ...Nothing to Fear...
14th  NMU #17: Getaway!
15th  NMU #17: Getaway!
16th  NMU #17: Getaway!
17th  NMU #17: Getaway!
18th  UXM #181: Tokyo Story
21st  UXM #182: Madness
22nd NMU #18: Death-Hunt
23rd  NMU #18: Death-Hunt
23rd  NMU #19: Siege
24th  NMU #19: Siege
28th  UXM #183: He'll Never Make me Cry
30th  UXM #184: The Past... of Future Days

3rd   KPW #1: Lies
4th   KPW #1: Lies
5th   KPW #1: Lies
6th   KPW #2: Terror
29th DAZ #33: Chiller!
29th ALF #11: Set-Up


1st  DAZ #33: Chiller!
1st  ALF #11: Set-Up
2nd DAZ #33: Chiller!
2nd ALF #11: Set-Up
2nd ALF #12: ...And One Shall Surely Die
29th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
30th UXM #185: Public Enemy!
30th NMU #21: Slumber Party!
30th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
31st MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie


(MGN #12: Dazzler the Movie continues throughout)
1st  UXM #186: Lifedeath
1st  UXM #187: Wraithkill!
1st  UXM #188: Legacy of the Lost
2nd UXM #188: Legacy of the Lost
2nd NMU Annual #1: Steal This Planet!
3rd  NMU Annual #1: Steal This Planet!
4th  NMU Annual #1: Steal This Planet!
5th  NMU Annual #1: Steal This Planet!
6th  NMU Annual #1: Steal This Planet!
7th  NMU Annual #1: Steal This Planet!
7th  ALF #15: First Date
8th  NMU Annual #1: Steal This Planet!
13th ALF #14: Biology Class
13th ALF #16: ...And Forsaking All Others...
14th ALF #16:  ...And Forsaking All Others...
14th ALF #17: ...Dreams Die Hard
15th ALF #17: Dreams Die Hard
15th ALF #15: First Date


(MGN #12: Dazzler the Movie continues throughout)

8th NMU #22: The Shadow Within

June - August

(MGN #12: Dazzler the Movie continues throughout)


1st  MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
2nd MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
3rd  MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
4th  MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
5th  MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
6th  MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
7th  MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
8th  MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
9th  MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
10th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
11th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
12th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
13th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
14th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
15th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
16th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
17th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
18th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
19th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
20th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
21st MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
22nd MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
23rd MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
24th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
25th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
26th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
27th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
28th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
29th MGN #12: Dazzler: The Movie
30th ICE #1: The Fuse!
30th BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1


1st   BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
2nd  BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
3rd   BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
4th   BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
5th   BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
6th   BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
7th   BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
8th   BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
9th   BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
10th BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
11th BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
12th BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
13th BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
14th BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1

XHY #20: "Worlds Within Worlds"

(Time's running out; better slow things down.)


Now that 1984 is firmly in our rear-view mirror, and whilst I'm working on putting together my TWTYTW post on those particular twelve months (nickel summary: "that escalated quickly"), let's finally polish off this rather unlovely series from the start of the millennium.  Just three more issues to go, of which this is the first.

(Pause for medicinal liquor.)

Right. So; where were we?  Havok, Lorna and Angel are all prisoners of the Promise, a group of mutants determined to sleep out the years until the conclusion of the inevitable human-mutant wars, at which point they'll declare themselves our new overlords.  The rest of the team escaped the clutches of the Promise, only to be captured by the Moleman, who remains enraged at surface-dwellers for the shitty eye-wear they've been flushing into the sewers.  Meanwhile, Professor Xavier is politely rebuffing the amorous advances of the single mother with whom he's staying, since his only interest lies with her elementary-age daughter.


Actually, Xavier's rather bizarre working holiday looks like it's coming to an end.  Almost certainly, this is because the title is, too.  There's a noted and rather wrenching change of perspectives here.  Ashley Martin: child mutant is thrust into the background so we can focus on the suddenly introduced threat of an alliance between Magneto and the Submariner.  Last time (way back in UXM #6) their dealings didn't go so well, but here Mags is somewhat smarter.  Why demand Namor join the Brotherhood when he can just suggest siccing the entire Atlantean war machine on the surface dwellers?  The fact that the instant Namor started his war-drums The Thing decided to start firing missiles at him from the Baxter Building probably hasn't hurt Magneto's case, either.

So the Martins look like they're done, as Xavier sends his astral self to confront Magneto and receive his declaration of war.  So too does the long-forgotten idea that Xavier has been acting strangely ever since his return from "death" before the series began.  These losses are a pity (well, the second one certainly is; the Martin plot was really starting to drag), but you can't really blame Byrne for that.  Much better writers and much stronger series have fallen to pieces when faced with immanent cancellation.

With all that said, though, Byrne doesn't seen too keen to wrap up either the Promise or the Mole Man stories too quickly.  The subterranean adventures of Scott and friends don't get any further than them waking up in the Mole Man's clutches and attempt escape, instead getting bogged down in fighting his monstrous pets.  That's amazing progress compared with Warren's story this issue, though.  Last time we ended with Angel freed from the Promise's cryo-tubes by a defector from their ranks. You'd hope that by the time this issue is done, he might have made some progress in either springing Lorna and Alex from their similar predicament, or figured out where the other original X-Men have gotten to.

Instead, he spends the seven pages given to him here helping his rescuer, Lucy, try to rebuild her life.

Now, let's be clear. Superheroes taking time out to help people on the domestic level is a thoroughly wonderful thing to do. I don't even want to go so far as to suggest that this is ill-timed, because I'm not a teenager any more, and I should be past the point where I'm insisting moments of quiet drama should be pushed aside when there's a massive smack-down to get to.

So if we're going to criticise this screeching halt in a narrative that's already running out, we need to get down to the specifics.  Which, lucky us, are pretty terrible.  The basic idea of someone returning to their family to find years have passed in what was days or even hours for them is hardly an original story.  Byrne puts a somewhat interesting twist on it by having Lucy's son (now decades older than her) be an anti-mutant bigot who basically tells her to get stuffed, but whatever advantages a new ingredient offers are cancelled out by the resulting ugliness.  Having Angel take time out to help someone with their family; fine.  Having him take time out to watch someone get shouted out and tossed out of what was once their home; not so much.

It doesn't help that Lucy is so problematic a character.  Not only do we learn she's forced Angel to help - by using her mutant powers of persuasion - but her explanation for why she joined the Promise is so unbearably awful it's breathtaking.  Lucy explains how she ran away because she was having problems in her marriage and didn't understand what "emerging one week a decade" meant, assuming it meant - and I swear I am not making this up - "emerging one week from now".  "I was just an ignorant housewife", she informs us, as though the problems with offering us a female character so disgracefully stupid wasn't already clear enough.  You thought you were abandoning your two young children without explanation for just a week?  Well all is forgiven now, sweetheart.  Fancy a coffee?

So a failed family reunion, an escape attempt making no progress, and a left-field declaration of war.  For all that we're willing to forgive Byrne for the shitty hand he's been dealt here (though, c'mon, this was not a series that deserved to enter its third year; the fact that almost more than four times as much of this title exists as does S.W.O.R.D. is conclusive disproof of a loving God), hope aren't exactly high that the final two issues are going to provide a satisfactory conclusion to what we've worked our way through thus far.

Let's not jump to conclusions, though.  Let's see what happens when the shooting starts.


This story takes place over the course of a few hours.


Monday 14th July, 1980.



Contemporary Events

Former Nazi and convicted war criminal Walter Reder is reduced by a military tribunal from life imprisonment to five further years of incarceration followed by parole.  Reder was one of the men responsible for the Marzabotto massacre, one of the worst single atrocities committed by Nazi forces in Western Europe.  He expressed regret for his part in the atrocity whilst in jail, but recanted his apology once freed and safe -having been received with full military honours - in Austria five years later.

Standout Line

"But what resistance do you have... to the mind-numbing glare of the Valley of Diamonds?" - Mole Man.

2001, ladies and gentleman.  A man was paid for writing those words in 2001.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Beauty And The Beast #1: "Beauty And The Beast, Part 1"

(A creature of surpassing ugliness.)


Released (at least nominally) in the same month, it's tempting to view Beauty and the Beast as a a close companion to the Iceman mini-series.  Not only did they start at the same time, but both are four issues long, and both feature a long-absent member of the X-Men (Beast hadn't been part of that team for over a decade in real-time by this point) and current member of the New Defenders taking some well-deserved - and obviously doomed - downtime.

There is an important difference between the two, though.  Back when I talked about Bobby Drake's newest escapades, I suggested that we didn't need to search too hard in an attempt to justify the series, because having Iceman back for a little while was of interest in itself.  In theory, the same should be true of Henry McCoy.  Hell, it should be vastly more true, on account of Beast being the greatest X-Man ever create.

The problem here is that Beast is utterly unrecognisable here.  There is literally nothing beyond his look and name that connects him with the character we spent more than half a decade with in the '60s, or even the rather more brash iteration we saw in Amazing Adventures after his self-inflicted transformation. Beast does not say "Wotta view!" He doesn't comment on the arrival of another mutant by saying "Get a load of horse-face."  He doesn't grab hold of people and threaten them because he doesn't like the way they're talking to women - if he did think some prick was bothering a woman, he'd have much better ways of locking that shit down - and he doesn't do it out of unthinking jealousy.  And he certainly doesn't give a woman shit because she turns him down when he announces she's leaving with him.

I mean, it's hard enough swallowing this kind of unpleasant chauvinist attitude - a strange thing to write about when reading the first X-book to be written by a woman - without it coming from so educated and thoughtful a character.  There is nothing here, nothing at all, that doesn't feel like this is a team-up between Dazzler and Generic Male Superhero.  Indeed, the title seems to be the only reason they've included Hank at all; there's clearly no interest in doing his character justice.

Whilst Beast is utterly unrecognisable, Dazzler by contrast is wearyingly familiar.  When last we saw Dazzler - in her very own graphic novel no less - she was finding herself increasingly out of sorts as she tried to fit in with Hollywood in order to kick-start her career, only for the people she trusted to betray her.  This time around, she's finding herself increasingly out of sorts as she tries to fit in with Hollywood in order to kick-start her career, only for the man she trusts to betray her.  Er, yay?

That's not entirely fair, I grant, because of the two set-ups, I think this is the more interesting.  OR at least, more grim, and really I don't see the difference between those two adjectives anyway.  Whatever else one wants to say about Beast's behaviour here, he does at least have good instincts.  "Horse-face" is part of Hugo Longride's mutant theatre, and under the guise of helping her career Alex has been systematically ruining what little reputation Dazzler has left, so that she has nowhere else to work but his exploitative freak-show.

The idea of people making use of mutants like this hasn't really been used too much up to this point - there was the occasion Mesmero hypnotised the X-Men into thinking they were carnival attractions, but the grotesque idea wasn't really made use of - and given how often it happened to people born with non-standard body shapes here in the real world (see, for example, the 1932 film Freaks, which depending who you talk to is either a reaction to such mistreatment, or an example of it in itself).  It's something of a shame that Alison is portrayed as being stupid enough to not realise Longride is doing her more harm than good - this is, what, the third time in a row this has happened - but again, that's more of a criticism of this story directly following MGN #12 than a problem in its own right.

What the issue does has to own for itself is how little it does with this idea, though.  It also has to answer for how unimpressive Dazzler comes across here. Longride is apparently applying psychological pressure in order to break her will and leave her helpless to resist him. All of which apparently requires almost no effort on his part.  A fall into a swimming pool, a shitty newspaper story about her, and Dazzler is already close to collapse, to the point where she has to flee the city because her light powers are out of control.  It's frustrating in the extreme to see a genuinely capable (if frequently aggravating) female character to be reduced to a damsel in distress, especially since one of the best features of the fairy tale this takes its name from is the idea that its Beauty who saves the Beast from himself.

Here, Beast appoints himself protector and saviour of Beauty, and it's all very unpleasant. Quite aside from the gender politics issues, Beast acts in an appallingly judgemental way towards Longride's mutant charges, to the point where one calls him on the hypocrisy, and he still dismisses them as "decrepit people".  When Alison disappears - having run to the coast to hide - he immediately assumes the horse-featured mutant he threatened at the previous night's party is responsible, and heads to the guy's hotel before attacking him without warning.

Think about that for a moment. Beast physically attacks a fellow mutant based on a jealous hunt and rumours spread about the group of mutants he belongs to.  The fact that this mook - Rocker by handle [1]- turns out to know Longride is planning something nefarious for Dazzler is entirely beside the point.  This isn't how heroes are supposed to behave.  This isn't how Hank is supposed to behave.

All this comes together when Beast overhears Rocker receiving a tip on Dazzler's whereabouts, and heads to the coast to find her being sheltered by a group of squatters in a nearby house.  There he finds Dazzler pumping out massive wattage, and promises he's arrived to protect her.  You know, from light.  Light she's generating herself.  Actually, proper Beast could probably manage that.  New and unimproved Beast? Shit out of luck, I'm guessing.

But I guess we'll find out next issue.  Next year, in fact, since this post brings us to the end of 1984's X-books (except for that year's Uncanny X-Men Annual, which will have to wait until Kitty and Logan get back from beating up ninjas).  Everyone break out the tiny flags!  Woo!  Tiny flag waves! WOO!

[1] This is probably Doctor Doom's bastard child.  I didn't know he had one until this issue, but given Doom's presence in the prologue it's clear he'll be showing up, and Rocker's shared love of horsie-based statuary and dislike of knocking on the door during the appreciation of same makes guessing his identity reasonably simple. Let this be a lesson to you, kids! Dabble in the black arts; end up with unacceptably equine children.  It could happen to you! 


Like ICE, there's little here to tie the issue to wider X-book continuity, other than the fact that the events of the Dazzler graphic novel are described in the past tense.  Since they share no cast members, we can actually run this simultaneously with Bobby Drake's latest adventure, though this issue takes place over a much longer time frame of around a fortnight.


Saturday 30th September to Saturday 14th October, 1984.


X+6Y+213 to X+6Y+227.

Contemporary Events

The Brighton hotel bombing: the IRA attempts to assassinate Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet.  Five people were killed and several more permanently disabled, but the Prime Minister herself escaped injury.

Standout Line

"Best thing for my hangover is to just relax and look at my sculpture collection." - Rocker

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Iceman #1: "The Fuse!"



Things are really starting to speed up now, this is the third X-Men miniseries kicking off in 1984 (or the fourth, depending whether this shipped before or after the first part of Beauty and the Beast).  Usually, we'd spend some time trying to figure out this book's justification as part of the larger picture, but things are a little different this time.  First of all, Chris Claremont is entirely absent here, which means we can already offer "X-Man written by someone else".  Second, there's the fact that Ice-Man has been off our radar since 1975 (I may be forgetting a cameo here and there, but the point stands regardless).  Let the New Defenders fans figure out why they might need to read four extra issues of Iceman antics.  We have our old friend back.

So there isn't really a need for this story to justify itself in the same way as, say, Kitty Pryde & Wolverine does.  Nevertheless, we can manage it pretty easily.  Indeed, if there's a problem here, it's that there's too much being juggled here.  In this issue alone Iceman meets up with, in no particular order, his disapproving and smothering parents, a mutant-hating local cop, two interstellar criminals, and the drop-dead gorgeous redhead next door.

The clear implication here is that Iceman has a ridiculous amount on his plate to simultaneously juggle: a difficult family situation, angry racists, rampaging supervillains, and a seemingly hopeless love life.  This is pretty close to the Dazzler template I've spent so much time complimenting over the last year.  We could, if we wanted, argue that a male protagonist going through the same motions as a female one has a built-in audience of all those folks who would have enjoyed Dazzler had they bothered to pick it up, and we'd be right, for all that "let's target the readers with outdated gender perceptions" isn't a sales policy I'd want to back.

Really, though, we don't need to.  There's an even more obvious link here.  Indeed, given J.M. DeMatteis' later career, we could almost consider this a warm-up.  Change smothering parents who hate their son's superheroics for a kindly aunt unaware of them, and swap racist cop Ralph Ratchit (what, no "R"?) for an intolerant and intolerable newspaper mogul, and what we have here is obvious: Spiderman.

(Really, it's the gorgeous redhead next door that gives the game away.  That, or I'm just making links based on half-buried memories of '80s children's shows.)

What's important here though isn't the similarity of set-up, it's the difference in character.  Peter Parker is utterly fixed on trying to do the right thing by as many people as possible, and so ends up pulled in multiple directions.  His desires are clear, but conflicting at best and incompatible at worst.  In comparison, Bobby Drake hasn't the faintest idea what he wants, so he ends up bouncing from distraction to distraction, which may or may not involve trying to stop people from destroying the world.  What's interesting is how the two very different approaches seem to lead to pretty similar escapades.

There's also the delirious rush of squeezing the entirety of Spiderman's shtick into a single issue.  Bobby is on the way to a family reunion when he spots  gorgeous girl Marge and tries to impress her, leading to him being harassed by a bigoted cop, so he runs, only to find the same girl outside his house since she lives next door, and so he gets a chance to chat her up at the family reunion only for supervillains to jump in and try to kidnap him (or more likely, Marge), leading to the trashing of Marge's house, after which the supervillains teleport out just in time for Iceman to be left holding the metaphorical baby when racist cop shows up to arrest him.

It's fun to see it all squeezed together like this.  It's probably necessary as well; you don't want for people to figure out Spiderman's collection of animal-themed grotesques fulfils a role in the narrative that you can't necessarily replicate with generic antagonistic aliens (who by the way seem to be putting an awful lot of hope in an agent named Idiot).  Every truly great hero is defined by a strong rogues' gallery, and I'm not really seeing that here.

Our standard disclaimer applies here, of course; it's only the first issue.  The cover for the second issue seems to bear so little connection to what we've seen here that any attempts to guess what's coming seem doomed to failure.  If things can continue in this gloriously, defiantly deranged fashion, I may not even care.


This story takes place over the course of a single day.  With Iceman so far out of the loop in terms of X-books, there's not a lot to tie this in with events elsewhere, but Iceman does mention Dazzler's recent publicity problems.  We'll therefore set this just after the events of MGN #12.


Saturday 30th September, 1984.



Contemporary Events

"Kiss rocks?  Why would anyone want to - oh, wait, I get it."
Standout Line

"That was another joke, by the way."
"I kind of thought it was."

Bobby Drake struggles to land his humour with the girl next door.

(Also: post 400.  Woo-hoo!)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

KPW #2: "Terror"

(Rank ninjustice.)


Last time we dropped in on this miniseries I suggested it was struggling for a clear purpose.  After reading this issue, things aren't any less murky. Not because there's no sense of what Claremont is trying to do, but because there's so many possible themes here that I'm struggling to figure out which one we're supposed to be grabbing hold of.

It now seems that the sturm und drang surrounding Kitty's dumping by Peter isn't going to feature as much as I'd already assumed.  By this point, Kitty is just tagging it on to the end of reasons why her life sucks, as oppose to it informing her actions in any real sense.  Indeed, this may be where we stumble onto what's really going on here.  Claremont may be suggesting this is an opportunity for Sprite to mature somewhat.

This is a plausible conclusion given events, but we should note that Claremont has chosen an odd vehicle for the idea.  In this issue Kitty is captured by Ogun (one of the Japanese gangsters she saw pressuring her father in Illinois, and who reminds her of Wolverine enough to make it clear this is not a dude with which to be fucked), and is brainwashed into becoming a deadly ninja.

I admit it makes some sense for someone to think Kitty would make an excellent assassin; she's small, light and athletic, and she doesn't need anything so prosaic as doors.  Quite how Ogun knows this ahead of time I'm not sure - maybe he doesn't, and indoctrinating teenagers is just how he rolls in general - but fair enough.  But it's worth noting this isn't the only time Claremont uses the plot-line of a sinister Asian villain brainwashing a western woman into becoming his private assassin.  The fact that this of all things could become a recurring theme is... interesting, to say the least.

We'll deal with that in more detail when the idea resurfaces with Psylocke ("Lady Yellowface", as Abi calls her), though.  For now we'll focus on what this developments suggests.  As I say, it can feed into the idea of Kitty growing up, though the idea this is happening due to a malevolent external pressure causes of all sorts of problems with that as a metaphor.  It's one thing for characters to mature through adversity.  It's quite another to do through experiencing what is quite clearly abuse.  The potential problems of a character arc that can be summed up as "now that adult male has physically and psychologically dominated me, I no longer mind about my teenage crush dumping me" surely need not be stated.

On the other hand, perhaps something else is happening here.  The shock reveal at the end of the issue is that Ogun reminds Kitty of Wolverine because her friend was actually trained by Ogun as well.  Perhaps this is as much about Wolverine's past as it is Kitty's future.

Of course, that carries its own problems.  Kitty's mind-domination is a problem if she's the heroine of the story, but it's no easier to deal with if it's there simply to give Wolverine something to react to.  We're in refrigerator territory, here.

Ultimately, though, this is a second issue of set-up.  Which isn't necessarily a problem in a six-book series. Kitty and Wolverine are in place, and with Logan threatening Ogun's associate Shigematsu with death if he doesn't secure the release of Kitty, and Ogun himself ordering Sprite to murder her former friend, it's not hard to see what shape issue #3 will take.

Still, though.  Where is this all going?


It's difficult to tell how long this story plays out over, since there's no indication of how much time Sprite spends being taught to become a ninja.  Clearly it's all going on in her subconscious, since she can't literally have been turned back into a toddler and raised as an assassin, but the necessary time-frame needed for the brainwashing is unclear.

On the other hand, it seems likely Wolverine's appearance towards the end of the issue takes place soon after he arrives in Japan.  That, combined with Kitty saying she spent the night in a sewer, suggests this all happens the day after Kitty's arrival in Japan.


Sunday 5th February, 1984.



Contemporary Events

Argentinian soccer star Carlos Tevez is born.

Standout Line

...Yeah, I got nothing.  There's nothing here that's good enough to note, and the weirder stuff has that whole psychological abuse thing hanging over it.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Things Past: Take 6

c 38 000 BC: An alien spacecraft crashes in the Arctic, and lures an exiled tribesman to millenia of torture.

1935: Charles Xavier is born to Brian and Sharon Xavier, workers on an American nuclear project never revealed to the general public.

1945: The Trinity nuclear test at Alamogordo on the 16th of July kills Brian Xavier.

1946: Sharon marries Kurt Marko - also at Alamogordo, and blamed by Charles for his father's death - who then moves into the Xavier family home.

c1948: Kurt is killed in a lab accident.  Soon after, Xavier discovers his psychic powers.

1953: After joining the army, Xavier (along with Kurt's son Cain) is deployed to Korea.

1957: Ororo Munroe is born.

1958: Jean Grey is born.

1960: The group of mutants assembled to commit evil by staggeringly racist villain The Claw are freed from their captor's bondage.  They agree to enter into suspended animation, coming out once every ten years for a week to determine whether mutants have finally overthrown humanity, and if so, to offer their entirely uninformed opinions as to how to rebuild the planet.

1961: Bobby Drake and Kurt Wagner are born.

1962: Xavier meets both Erik Lensherr and Gabrielle Haller, the latter of whom will one day bear him a son.

1964: A crewman is washed from the deck of the trawler Mary D and finds a golden egg on the sea-bed; this rapidly hatches into a hominid girl her finder names Marinna. Piotr Rasputin is born.

1966: Rogue is born.

1968: Xavier faces Lucifer in Tibet, in a struggle that costs him the use of his legs.  Dr Michael Twoyoungmen loses his grandfather and his pregnant wife; the latter of which his young daughter blames on him.  Richard Easton finds a ceremonial headband at an archaeological dig in the Arctic, and as a result is requested to and agrees to impregnate Nelvanna, Goddess of the Northern Lights.

1969: Ororo Munroe gives up her life as a street-thief in order to follow a strange compulsion drawing her to the Serengeti.  Katherine "Kitty" Pryde is born.

1972: James MacDonald Hudson learns his mechanical suit design is to be used by the US Army in Vietnam; he responds by destroying the blueprints.  His boss, Jerry Jaxon, is fired as a result, and swears revenge.

1974 James Hudson and Heather MacNeil are married.

1977: Xavier founds the X-Men.  Richard Easton returns to the world after impregnating Nelvanna, and quickly goes insane.

1978: Doctor Michael Twoyoungman becomes a shaman (named Shaman, obviously) under the tutelage of his grandfather's ghost. He then aids Nelvanna in giving birth to Snowbird, and fosters the baby.

1979: The true identity of the Hulk is revealed to the world.  Walter Langkowski was at college with Bruce Banner, and so is inspired to try his own hand at gamma ray experimentation.

1980: James Hudson dons his Weapon Alpha (later Vindicator, still later Guardian) costume for the first time, only to learn that his closest friend and collegue Wolverine has quit Department H in order to join up with an American professor for reasons unknown.

1982: Walter Langkowski triggers the gamma ray bombardment process that mutates him into Sasquatch.  Puck and Marrina meet in Beta Flight.

1983: The creature in Lake Ontario claims its first victim.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

ALF #17: "...Dreams Die Hard"

(One step forward, two steps back.)


At last we come to our final glass of 1984 vintage Byrne.  What's more, it tastes surprisingly good. 

Perhaps this is because Byrne has set himself a specific task here; work the upcoming new, Guardian-less era of Alpha Flight into its formation in-universe, and to the first appearances of Wolverine and Guardian themselves within the X-books.

That's a really nice idea, and if it shifts the book away from developing a story towards solving a continuity puzzle, well, that's the sort of exercise I appreciate.

We begin in November of 1980, on the first day James Hudson shows his wife his costume.  It may well have been ready earlier, but that doesn't matter.  Alpha Flight begins with Heather and Mac together, discussing the future.  In a little over three years, he will be dead, but today he's got other problems.  Wolverine just quit to join up with a wheelchair-bound bald guy (brilliantly described as a "big-wig"; I thought it was funny, anyway) from the US.  When first we saw this, it was nothing but a quick nod to Wolverine's character. Seen from the Hudsons' perspective; it's a devastating betrayal.  After finding Wolverine and taking him in, and after years of supporting him as he acclimated to society once more, he storms off and leaves the country because... well, why, exactly?

This idea that Guardian and Heather are responsible for Logan being who he is is a great one.  It ties them into the wider story, it enriches Wolverines back-story (back in the days when it could be enriched, rather than simply made more complicated), and it gives the entirety of Department H and Alpha Flight's appearances to data a cyclical quality.  Wolverine quit the day Alpha Flight as we know it began, and returns to apologise for that action the day it is born anew.

It even makes sense of how different James Hudson's character seemed in his comic compared to his appearances in Uncanny X-Men, where he was pretty much a dick.  Seen in the light of his fury over his friend abandoning him - without so much as a thank you for helping him regain his sanity, or a promise not to start carving people up if they annoy him - Mac's obsessive need to recover Logan makes much more sense.  This is exactly the sort of thing these "fill in the blanks" stories should be doing; offering us old events from new perspectives, so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.  This is not an easy trick to pull off, and Byrne goes even further by working in the relevant pages of UXM #109, which Bryne himself drew, and trying to make sure his dialogue and Claremont's don't clash.

Really, it's an achievement worthy of respect, and the most fun I've had reading Alpha Flight since the wonderfully cheeky "Snowblind".  And as I say, it feeds into where the title is going next.  Where Heather has seen her husband's death as a reason to disband the team she helped create, both Wolverine and Puck insist the real conclusion to be drawn here is that it's time she led the team herself.  She has no powers, but neither did James.  There's no earthly reason that Heather can't follow on in her husband's footsteps, and having a comic I've previously criticised for its gender politics explicitly point this out has to be considered significant progress.

So, nice work all around, really.  Kudos.  Very tasty.  But what's this lurking at the bottom of the glass?  Why, it's an epilogue which utterly ruins everything.  We learn in the final three pages that Walter Langkowski has built a machine to "help" his lover Aurora.  Aurora thinks the device will remove her link with her estranged brother, allowing her to access her maximum power levels without having to be in physical contact with Northstar.

What the machine actually does is turn mutants into humans. They retain (most of) their powers, but the X-gene.

Which is just disgusting.  In later years, the X-books will get a lot of mileage over the question of whether a mutant who desires to become a baseline human should have that right, but this is something different.  This is a man deciding what's best for his girlfriend would be if he changes who she is. 

It's perhaps tempting to link this into the recurring theme in this book of men having to rescue women from themselves, but - subheading notwithstanding - let's not go down that route just yet.  For all I know Byrne is setting Sasquatch up for a big fall here.  He may come to regret his hubris.  For now, let's pin the blame on the character rather than the author.

Because Sasquatch has really fucked up here.  He's justifying his meddling on the idea that Aurora will be more or less unaffected by the procedure (she'll "still have a version of her powers"), but of course, that isn't the point.  The point is that our identity and our genetics cannot always be separated. As much as racism is a hideous thing, it would be an appalling idea to start subjecting, say, black people to a procedure that makes the observer think they look white, without even telling them.  Self-identity is the absolute bedrock of who we are, and for all but the most centred (or narcissistic) or individuals, the reflection of that identity we gain from others is of critical importance.

Walter's thoughts on the matter betray his horrible attitude: "...I care about Aurora, and that gives me the right to try and protect her".  Duuuude, no.  You don't get the right to do things to people because of how much you love them.  Down that path lie the monsters.

Like I say: for now, this is a character problem, not an author problem.  I'll have to see how this story thread develops before I can say more.  Really, though, this is an ugly, ugly start.  Can't I read just one Alpha Flight issue without wanting to take a shower?


The majority of this story takes place in one day, presumably very early morning on the day after Marrina's squamous brother was declared missing presumed exploded.  The Aurora subplot is listed as "not quite meanwhile", so I'll place it a day after, mainly just to have a new date to find contemporary events for.


Saturday 14th to Sunday 15th April, 1984.


X+6Y+44 to X+6Y+45.

Contemporary Events

Welsh comedian Tommy Cooper dies on-stage following a massive heart attack.

Standout Line

"Canada's not just the kind of country that breeds world-conquering types." - James Hudson.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Expand My Empire; Call It An Imperium

Presenting my latest project, this time in league with The Other Half: Who The Heck Is Horus?  Contained within are the experiences of Fliss as she works her way through the entirely unknown - to her - territory of the Horus Heresy, and attempts to wrap her powerful but entirely unfamiliar mind around the story contained within.  The aim: to figure out how much of the Heresy is crushingly obvious to a neophyte, and which aspects of the 31st Millennium are understandable to those who've never encountered the 41st.  It's a dirty job but someone else has got to do it!

 What will win out? Fliss' literary savvy, or the crushing weight of over twenty-five years of impenetrable back-story?  Will she find it enjoyable? Comprehensible?  When will she stop referring to the process of Space Marine creation "drinking super-juice"?

There's only one way to find out! 

Friday, 12 July 2013

NMU #22: "The Shadow Within"

(Slice of lifelessness)


Well, this is a gyp.  There's only eighteen pages here, four of which are taken up with another of Claremont's unbearably fairy tales.  We’re marking time here, basically.  I’ve said before and continue to insist that issues in which the team take a breather amidst their adventures can often be some of the most interesting books the range can offer, but that isn’t what’s happening here.  This is just a string of very brief vignettes intended to lay groundwork for future stories.  It has no structure of its own; nothing to point to and say “This is what NMU #22 is doing”.

There is one exception to this, which is the opening scene.  Here, Nightcrawler attempts to teach Cannonball some basic acrobatic moves, theorising that if Sam can somersault in-between blasts, it might make it easier for him to manage turns mid-flight.  That’s a great idea; it’s a logical move for Sam and a smart use of Kurt’s history.

After that, things start to fall apart.  There’s a half-page of Xavier and a recently arrived Moira inspecting Warlock.  There’s a brief scene in which Selene reveals herself to the high priest of her cult, who – once over his shock – sends her to the Hellfire Club to use as a base.  We dip into the Club itself to see Sunspot’s father beginning his new life at what might as well be called Clandestine Evil Inc.  Dani chats with her parents.  Life goes on, everywhere.

The closest the issue gets to a coherent theme is the difficulties Roberto and Rahne are suffering.  Roberto is having trouble with keeping his hands from becoming claws, which is interesting.  Rahne is writing short story which becomes tangled in her dreams, which in turn begin to manifest in reality.  I’ve said already that this story/dream is awful – Claremont seems to think that all a fairytale needs is cuteness and as many scene changes as possible, and so basically pisses all over Aristotle and the Brothers Grimm, which is actually quite an achievement in so short a space – but it’s not entirely without point.  It seems pretty clear from the two New Mutants who are unsettled and the appearance of a black knight and a maiden of pure white that this is a reference to Sunspot and Wolfsbane’s encounter with Cloak and Dagger back in the previous year’s Marvel Team-Up Annual #6. 

Not having read that particular book, I’m at the mercy of the internet to fill in the details.  I wonder how many readers at the time were left baffled here.  Frankly, even having made the connection this issue is a disappointment.  If the link to Cloak and Dagger is missed (easily done given how they’re presented; which I’d say was commendably subtle were it not a reference to a book from a different series), this issue could well have come across as a real stinker.


The story takes place over a single evening and night.

Rahne mentions its summer, continuing to take its cues from (I assume) Thor.  Again, though, this just doesn’t match up.  Later issues of Kitty Pryde and Wolverine confirm this: Kitty has been in Japan no more than a week when the global blizzard hits, and she left America during the winter.  There’s simply no way to match all this up.

That said, unlike UXM #188, there’s no references here to KPW, so we can move this issue towards warmer weather with far less fuss.  The fact that Xavier and Moira are in the early stages of investigating Warlock suggests it can’t have been long since the team returned from London (where they were stranded following NMU Annual #1), but we can imagine they took a week off in Britain to see the sights.


Wednesday 8th May, 1984.

X Date


Contemporary Events

The USSR announces it will be boycotting the ’84 Olympics in LA.

Standout Line

"Our costumes signify our abandonment of the modern age -- with its cloying ethics and bourgeois mercantile principles, where society is bent on protecting people from themselves at any cost -- for a far simpler one... where a man was limited solely by the scope of his imagination, his ambition, and bound only by his own personal sense of honour.  

Society -- the common herd -- means nothing, the individual all."  

Ayn Rand as interpreted by Sebastian Shaw.  Hell, one wonders if Ron Paul's favourite writer originally intended a longer title for her masterwork : Atlas Shrugs; Sebastian Shaw Absorbs Resultant Kinetic Energy; Punches Titan In Crotch.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

UXM #188: "Legacy Of The Lost"

(Running in circles, appearing in triangles)


In which we continue Claremont's experiments in sensible structure.  "Legacy of the Lost" is essentially two short stories, each of which is followed by a teaser for later tales.

Story 1

Here we return to Eagle Plaza, and Storm, Rogue and Colossus, who along with Forge have been attacked by some kind of mystical shadow-creature, which is presumably working alongside the Dire Wraiths.  Things look pretty bleak, but fortunately Forge manages to keep it together.  In fact, he keeps it together to a ridiculous extent, somehow figuring out that the creature is busy converting its victims into monsters, and only his prosthetic limbs is slowing the process down with him.  That Cheyenne magic he keeps ignoring looks like some pretty hot shit right now.

The giant dark-monster has made one mistake; it's holding Forge by his mechanical leg.  Thinking quickly, the Maker instructs Storm to shoot his leg off so he can escape.  Thinking slowly, the monster tries and fails to compel Storm to drop the gun, rather than taking the far more sensible approach of grabbing Forge by his other leg.  Still, it all works out, as Forge escapes in one of the most unintentionally hilarious panels I've seen as he hops downstairs to safety.

Whilst Forge escapes, searching for Naze, various other characters deal with the attack in their own ways.  Nightcrawler - apparently held in reserve - teleports to his sorceress girlfriend/foster sister Amanda and takes her into the fight (much to her annoyance, as she was busy serving peanuts on a plane flight at the time).  Xavier, who clearly is monitoring the situation - sends Magik to the building to start slashing at things with her soulsword.  It's not clear how she manages to suddenly have perfect control over her stepping discs (is Charles helping out somehow), but this is an early example of the X-teams working in concert to ensure the most suitable mutants are deployed in a given situation.  This idea will be picked up on or utterly ignored from this point on, depending on the writer.

Meanwhile, Nate has a plan of his own.  Except he's clearly not Nate anymore.  Who he is seems less clear.  For a while I thought he might have been taken over by the enemy of his people he hasn't shut up about since his introduction.  But then the massively powerful entity he makes contact with here seems more likely to be the villain in question.  So who's in Nate?  A Dire Wraith?  Can they do that?  We know they can make themselves look human, but can they possess people?  Is it another strand of whatever is attacking the X-Men?  Or is that a form of Dire Wraith in itself anyway?  There's a lot going on here, and I'm clearly not getting it all.

Whatever is in Nate, though, it's begging for help from the creature it's summoned in Naze's sanctum, but Mr Evil simply isn't interested, and claims both souls inside of Nate's body (though oddly this doesn't quite kill him).

Back with our heroes, and Amanda and Illyana both have some success at distracting the shadow-creature, but they're clearly fighting a losing battle.  Fortunately, Forge is on hand to sort everything out (presumably after failing to find Naze he must have hopped back up the stairs, and man am I upset that we didn't get to see that).  It's become clear that something is running interference on Amanda's spells, and Forge has the answer: the Dire Wraith Storm abandoned in the snow last issue might not be as frozen stiff as presumed.  One 'Crawler port later, Forge coldly shoots the last Wraith in the head (remember, kids, killing is a moral abomination unless they don't really look like you), and Amanda is free to banish the larger monster downstairs.

With the battle over there's just a couple of things to mop up.  Colossus has to deal with the revelation that his younger sister is a sorceress, which he takes very well, choosing to focus on the fact that whatever she has become, she has not become anything other than his sister.  Forge also has to deal with the fact that even after saving her life at least twice, Storm has no intention of forgiving him for that life suddenly not containing any flying around or weather manipulation.  He'll be seeing her again, she promises.



It's strange what gets you a reputation.  I once saw a biography of Salvador Dali called The Great Masturbator, which seems like an odd way to introduce the dude who painted The Persistence of Memory.  And look what happened with the Bermuda Triangle.  All you hear about that place is how it nicks, like, all the shit, all the time, when what's really weird about it is that you can't sail through it for more than five minutes without bumping into Magneto.

Last time we saw Magneto on Earth, he was hanging around Legally Distinct From Ry'Leh Island inside the Triangle, and now here he is again, presumably having landed in the Atlantic after Warlock smashed his asteroid a few months back.  Once again, it's Lee Forrester who finds him, which is likely to be an awkward reunion.  "Didn't you try to kill my boyfriend?"  "Didn't he leave you for an exact duplicate of his dead ex?".  Ouch.

Story 2

It's time for a little politics.  The topic of discussion: the federal action that cost Storm her powers.  Things have reached the point that even the usually serene Nightcrawler is urging action.  Between Gyrich blowing mutants from the sky and Kelly's Mutant Affairs Control Act gaining support in the Senate, things are reaching a crisis point, and Xavier doesn't seem to have any idea what to do about it, beyond pointing out Storm was hit by accident.  Which given that's only because Gyrich was aiming at a different mutant he planned to cripple without trial is a ridiculously and unpleasantly obvious dodge.

In fact, Xavier doesn't come across too well here at all.  Kurt is clearly having a crisis of faith, openly musing about quitting the team over fears that he's wasting his time.  He deserves far better than Xavier asking him if he'd rather hang out with Magneto instead, and then suggest Kurt is running away. 

But then, what else can Charles say?  This has always been the horrible truth; the elephant in the room.  No amount of superheroic punching can stop bigots - and those willing to function as bigots in the interests of acquiring power - from peddling their crap.  Professor X's only response to this has always been "maybe things will get better", and it's becoming clear that even his X-Men are no longer buying the line.

It would have been very interesting to see where this discussion went next, but things are interrupted when Kurt points out Jean Grey died following Xavier's dream, and Rachel -psychically listening in outside the door - freaks out.  She's already come across evidence that she's in the wrong past - Illyana is the wrong age, Storm should have her powers and a better hair-cut - but learning Jean Grey is dead just days after she thought she heard her over the phone (actually, it was Maddy Pryor) is one twist too much.  It's time to zap Nightcrawler with psychic bolts until he admits he's lying!

Xavier manages to stop Rachel from actually killing Kurt and, once she calms down a little, Rachel basically tells him to stop his bitching.  After all, her world is massively worse than the one he's living in, and she never gave up.  In response, Nightcrawler makes the entirely reasonable point that Rachel's nightmarish future is proof that the X-Men are spinning their wheels, and the fact that he and his future wife are gunned down in cold blood by mutie-haters doesn't really inspire him to stick around.

Rachel isn't finished yet, though, and reveals her trump card: the X-Men make a difference by simple example.  Even if they can't beat the politicians and the media bigots and the groundswell opinions that threaten to swallow them, they're a symbol of hope in times that hope is all there is to hold.  Whether this is a good enough reason to sign up for a life most likely to end bloodily in a decade or so, I don't know. 

But it's enough for Kurt.


It's a busy day on the New York docks.  Lots of fish to place in ice, and eventually bellies.  For stevedore Jaime Rodriguez, though, it's mainly an opportunity to be mentally compelled to slice open a turbot and acquire a mystical necklace, which promises him the world...


The majority of this issue takes place on the same day as UXM #186 -187, though there's a coda that we can assume takes place on the following day.

We do have a problem here, which is that the issue explicitly states that the blizzard brought about by events in Thor is described as particularly strange given it has hit in midsummer.  Without reading the relevant issues, I can't be sure, but I'm guessing this is a reference to something stated in Thor's own series.  Certainly it makes limited sense here, with Kitty and Logan still in Japan.  I guess it's possible they stay in Japan through much of winter, all of spring, and the first month or so of summer, but I suspect not.  We may have to return to this after covering the conclusion to Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, but for now I propose this be ignored as a reference from outside the X-books, and therefore inadmissible.


Sunday 1st to Monday 2nd April, 1984


X+6Y+31 to X+6Y+32.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.49 standard years

(Rogue is 27 years old as of July 2013)

"All that horror..."
Contemporary Events

Shawn Roberts is born in Ontario. In later life he will become known for appearing in both Romero's zombie franchise and in the Resident Evil series, in the latter of which he plays Wesker.

Standout Line

"Of the X-Men you gathered: Banshee and Storm, maimed -- Thunderbird, killed! Jean Grey, KILLED! Where will it end?!" - Nightcrawler

Saturday, 6 July 2013

NMU Annual #1: "The Cosmic Cannonball Caper"

("We stole this planet with rock-and-roll!")

  1. Focus-wise, this is something of an odd fish (though given the bewildering abundance of piscine variation, just how batshit a fish’s construction would have to be before it could be reasonably labelled ”odd”. is not clear). Considering this is the junior team’s first annual one might expect a team-focused story, particularly given the title’s two new arrivals. Instead our focus here is mainly upon Sam.

    Since the parent series has spent so much of its time recently focused first on Magma, then Magik, and finally on Dani Moonstar, a case could certainly be made that Sam deserves his turn in the harsh glare of audience focus - arguably he’s the least developed of those characters introduced back in ”Renewal”. Even granting that idea, however, it’s a strange choice to apply that idea to a special, rather than in the on-going series. Particularly when an immediate consequence is that Warlock and (especially) Doug Ramsey are relegated to mere afterthoughts. Warlock’s ability to appear human isn’t even mentioned until a dozen pages in and if Doug has indeed joined the team there’s no evidence of that here.

  2. I’ve said this before, but if Claremont can repeat himself I don’t see why I can’t: I hate ludicrous coincidence in comic books. Our group of mutant teenagers go to a gig that just happens to be headlined by a closeted mutant, who just happens to be outed that night by an angry ape-croc from space? I call bullshit on that, my friends.

    Of course people have been making this point since Aristotle, so I needn’t rehash the general case (though I will note once more that I personally find it professionally insulting). I do think, though, that the problem is particularly severe here.

    The X-books have an overarching theme that makes them so interesting; the choice between revealing oneself in order to fight for acceptance, and hiding from the struggle in the hopes of escaping notice. Even the New Mutants, who are not intended to man the barricades, have clearly taken the more dangerous path. Just turning up at Xavier’s door carries its own risks, after all. How one chooses to live one’s life as a mutant is a central question across the line.

    And it doesn’t apply here, as our heroes get caught between an alien killer and a teleporting rock-star whilst on their downtime. That’s just a bog-standard superhero plot (in structure if not specifics) that any book could use under any writer, so long as neither took themselves too seriously. It would be far too strong a statement to argue this isn’t the sort of story the X-books should ever do, but if you’ve slicing out the central metaphor you need to have something interesting enough to replace it. Nothing like that is evident here.

  3. Cheney as a character is a real problem here. Rewarding Sam with a kiss for saving her life (following our extra-terrestrial’s first attempt on her life) could perhaps be dismissed as merely terribly presumptuous - stemming perhaps from daily experience of desperate fans screaming for her body. Once Lila upgrades to kidnapping Sam and repeatedly propositioning him - whilst occasionally nibbling on his earlobe – though, we reach genuinely unsettling territory. Imagine an adult man whisking away a teenage girl to his house - with no way for the girl to get back - and demanding she change into more revealing clothes in preparation for a later two-person party, all whilst repeatedly touching her and consider just how likely that man would be to avoid jail time once the girl found her way home.

  4. At last, the plot. When Lila Cheney isn’t dodging alligarillas or committing obvious sexual assault she lives in an abandoned Dyson Sphere, planning to steal the planet Earth in order to sell it at auction. Only two things stand in her way: the New Mutants, who have used Warlock’s various abilities to track Sam, and her drummer, who wants to sell her out to another alien who’s not keen on bidding for a second-hand planet with six billion sentients on the clock.

    The two groups arrive simultaneously, and immediately the aliens attack our friends. The fight is strangely rushed; Rahne, Dani and Warlock being captured immediately, and Sam and Lila being subdued off-panel. This is ridiculous. There’s space in this annual for Sam and Roberto to lust after Lila, and for various comments about Sam’s new look (best described as ’80s gay German parody-metal), but not for the epic arrival of a living starship into a Dyson Sphere or to see Lila and Sam fighting for their lives?

    In fact pacing in general seems pretty off here, with the conclusion to this tale happening at far too fast a pace. The aliens haven’t managed more than some preliminary throat-clearing in their post-battle gloating when those New Mutants still free crash the party and defeat them. We’re then told that battle damage during the resulting fracas has damaged the teleport web Lila intended to use to steal Earth, meaning that it will now destroy the planet instead. Who the hell builds something like that? Who masters the technological miracles necessary to transport matter instantaneously across the galaxy and doesn’t think of a feature that will move it when it’s about to explode?

    Fortunately, Doug is able to read the instructions helpfully written on a nearby wall, and disaster is averted. Grateful for the save, Lila teleports the New Mutants back to Earth, though London we learn is the best that she can do.

  5. Lila’s post-scenario contrition leaves as great deal to be desired. All that de facto date-rape was a terrible start, and she makes no effort to redeem herself here. The sum total of her justification for trying to sell her entire planet into slavery is that she was sold into slavery first. Sam more or less swallows this whole, but he’s a teenager in love. We should try to be more objective.

    So let’s be objective. This is an utterly appalling justification: I suffered an indignity and hated it so therefore everyone on the planet should be subjected to it too? That’s disgraceful. There are children not yet born when Lila was sold and she intends for them to be slaves. There are people who’ve never heard of her and aren’t from her country and have never possessed any form of influence upon the government who happened to be in power when she met her fate, and she wants them to suffer as well. She wants Tuvalu to be enslaved, for God’s sake. What did Tuvalu do to her? Don’t they have enough to do what with global warming and all? Let us not forget our Russell:
    I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: "The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair." In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.
  6. To summarise: an obvious sex-pest tries uses her past as an excuse to attempt an atrocity but changes her mind when her life is saved in improbable circumstances at improbable speed. This annual could transmit botulism to every reader and not be any more objectionable.

According to Sunspot, Lila’s gig is ”on Saturday”. This in turn means it can’t be Saturday when he acquires the tickets nor is it likely to be Friday. We’ll therefore kick this issue off a few days after NMU #21.

It takes the Warlock-craft a day to get to Lila’s sphere following the gig, and much of another day before they get anywhere in their search.


Sunday 1st to Monday 8th April, 1984


X+6Y+31 to X+6Y+39.

Contemporary Events

RAF Major Sir Arthur Travis ”Bomber” Harris passes away. Harris is something of a controversial figure these days due to his ”bomb the shit out of everybody” policy during the Second World War.

Standout Line

Sunspot reacts to Sam’s extreme wardrobe change.

Sam?! My dear friend, what have they done to you? The fiends! Let me at them -- How dare they torture you..."