Sunday, 29 September 2013

NMU #24: "The Hollow Heart"

(The long, dark story-time of the soul - part 3.)


It's issue three of Claremont's strangely-paced sequel to a story I never even read, and clearly there's at least one issue still to go. Ugh.

But there are plenty places on the web where people spend their time complaining endlessly about the things they nominally love.  Let's see what we can find in here that'll make us happy.

Essentially, this issue can be broken into three parts (four, really, but the last one I'm saving for Subplot Corner), the effect Rahne and Roberto's transformation has upon their teammates, upon Cloak and Dagger, and upon themselves.

All three of these reactions contain something worth commenting upon.  Xavier is so concerned about what's happened to his young charges, for instance, that he insists on digging into Sam and Dani's minds to learn everything that's transpired, in case their descriptions aren't good enough (all he gets for his pains is a page-long plot summary).  It's a useful reminder of Charlie's central problem; he's built his entire sense of self-worth around the idea of rigorous adherence to a moral code, but it never even occurs to him that anyone other than him should be get a say in when and how that code needs to be sidestepped. Unilaterally declaring a situation as requiring invasive mind-scans is a real problem, and it doesn't matter how noble the man making that choice has convinced himself he is.

Heading out of Xavier's mansion and into the Big Apple, we find the runaways formerly known as Cloak and Dagger, and all is not well there either. Now they're out of hospital and of the superhero business, it's time to figure out a new theme, only Tyrone doesn't see how it can be done. The white daughter of a multi-million-dollar supermodel and a stuttering black kid from the slums? What could they possibly talk about? The demon darkness that used to nibble away at Tyrone's soul?

As usual, I'm far too white, middle-class and British to comment on how strong a point is being made here - I've genuinely no idea where the suggestion of incompatibility, were it to come directly from Claremont, would lie on the scale between "obviously true" and "horribly racist" - but I can certainly buy Ty believing it. And though neither he nor Tandy are actually mutants (you know, yet), the underlying point here extends to the X-books metaphor; lumping everyone into a single group labelled "mutants" puts people of radically different backgrounds into a proximity they neither necessarily want nor can handle. Intra-mutant culture clashes will take some time yet to become a particularly visible issue (indeed, it's debatable whether or not they have even now), but it's worth noting that - Logan's nicknames for his team-mates aside - the idea perhaps got its first start here, entirely by accident.  This isn't lessened at all when ultimately Tandy and Tyrone conclude they do still have something in common, the desire to good, leading to them returning to the X-Men at issue's end to offer their help with Wolfsbane and Sunspot.

Speaking of which, the troubled duo themselves. Even with my attitude stuck to relentlessly positive, this is difficult to drag anything interesting from.  Mostly this section consists of Dani and Illyana failing to cure their friends, though time is taken out for Rahne to head inside Roberto and save Colossus.  One could be petty and point out this simply restores the status quo from the start of the previous issue - two people possessed and no-one eaten - but then I suppose that's true of pretty much all successful rescue missions.  Plus, at least it gives us a glimpse of Colossus' interior monologue.  He's still blaming himself for "destroying" Kitty by dumping her. Which, of course, is horribly narcissistic, and entirely within character. It's always nice when writers pick up on this aspect of Piotr's nature.  From immediately injecting himself with the Legacy Virus cure to petitioning Cytorrak to become the new Juggernaut, the young Russian has a tendency to turn everything into a horrific immediate crisis that only his noble sacrifice/histrionic self-flagellation can solve.  A man so immature in his thinking that Kitty ultimately leaves him for Bobby Drake, ladies and gentlemen.

So far from an unambiguous disaster, then.  Even so, there was nothing in this issue so sweet as the final panel: "To be concluded".

Meanwhile, over in Subplot Corner, Magneto compliments Lee Forrester on her wardrobe, and apologises for being a dick.  Lee is bowled over by this unprecedented display of contrition, but it seems perfectly understandable to me: she's too hot to yell at. It's always tough for a man to stay mad at a pretty woman.  Up until the possibility of sex is removed of course, at which point everything previously swallowed suddenly rises to the surface. Still, that won't matter so long as Lee and Mags can make it work...


This story takes place over the course of a single evening/night.  Xavier mentions that the original encounter with Cloak and Dagger took place the previous year, but that works fine with our timeline.


Saturday 11th May, 1984.

X Date


Contemporary Events

There's an solar eclipse on Mars when Earth passes in front of the Sun.  I hope the Ice Warriors and the tripod machine and whatever the fuck those things in Total Recall were supposed to be enjoyed themselves.

Standout Line

"Leave things to Slick, he'll take care o' you real good.  Rags, meals, a crib t'call your own, good times -- he got 'em all!" - A ridiculous stereotyped pimp I didn't mention because I was trying to be positive.

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