(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.
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.
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.
1 Marvel year = 3.49 standard years
(Rogue is 27 years old as of July 2013)
"All that horror..."
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.
"Of the X-Men you gathered: Banshee and Storm, maimed -- Thunderbird, killed! Jean Grey, KILLED! Where will it end?!" - Nightcrawler