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