Tuesday, 18 February 2014

UXM #195: "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night...!"

(Fuck Whitey.)


This shouldn't take particularly long to write up - it just isn't an X-Men story; it's a Power Pack comic that happens to feature the titular heroes as back-up.

Which purists might object to, and not without reason.  In later years it becomes increasingly difficult to guarantee the nominal stars of an X-book will appear in their own comic, what with all the unwieldy crossovers taking up more and more of the calendar.  That's plenty annoying in and of itself, but at least there's a thematic link underneath it, for all that no-one would be naive enough to believe that was why Marvel were doing it.

This, though? A Power Pack/X-Men crossover? Interrupting a story about the marginalisation and oppression of a minority so that children can piss around in costumes?  What exactly is the impetus here?

Actually, I realise that might be unfair.  At least the common problem of one needing to have read other titles to understand what is going on here has been removed (events here do follow on from a Power Pack story, but the brief explanations given here are entirely sufficient). And I guess one can overlook the diluting of the core metaphor a crossover with the X-Men almost always involves, just so long as the resulting story is interesting enough to justify it.  And maybe this one is, to some people. Me; I think the odds of a story focusing on children being of much interest is very low indeed.  The mores of society rather limits what can actually happen - even by the standards of fiction in which we know the death of heroes is extremely unlikely - and the rules of biology make it unlikely a child will have anything to offer in the way of characterisation other than unbearable solipsism and hyperbolic emoting.  It is no coincidence that most of the best examples of children in film and television specifically relies on them acting in atypical ways, something I presume Power Pack would want to avoid for fear of alienating its target audience. [1]

All of which is to say that when Power Pack awake during a storm one night and find their parents no longer recognise them, I could give precisely zero shits.  An attempt is made to tie this in to current events in UXM by having the kids realise (amidst much whining) that the Morlock named Annalee (last - and first - seen in these pages distraught over the brutal murder of her children) probably engaged Beautiful Dreamer's services to make the Powers forget their children so Annalee could adopt them, but really all that does is remind me how cynical the introduction of Annalee's trauma was to begin with.

Anyway, following an abortive confrontation with the Morlocks that leaves three quarters of Power Pack in Annalee's clutches, and Katie Power in the hospital with a bad case of Masque-face, the X-Men learn of their young friend's plight - partway into the tenth page of their own book - and bust her out of the hospital.

So the X-Men and their little friend head for the sewers and beat up Morlocks until Callisto arrives to call her errant subjects to account.  And that really is more or less all there is here.  With Nightcrawler away on another mission (I don't know if this ties into Secret Wars II, his own upcoming mini, or is just for the sake of making this story work) Logan decides to hand over command to Kitty, which allows for some character development, but otherwise there's nothing here to demonstrate the X-Men are anything other than guest stars here. Particularly since aside from guilt-tripping Annalee - by pointing out stealing children from their parents because she's so upset about losing her children is a classic case of hating something so much you willingly do it to others - Kitty, along with her teammates, don't feature in either the first nine or the last three of the comic's 22 pages.

Or at least they wouldn't except for the final two panels, where Rachel informs them that they've been summoned to the mansion... by Magneto!

[1] I could be mistaken here.  The only Power Pack I've ever actually come across was as reprints in the back of my UK Transformer comics, which means that even as a child who might hypothetically identify with the adventures of the Power family, I couldn't see the point of them, probably because they wilfully refused to be awesome shape-changing alien robots.


This story takes place over a single night.

With next issue dealing with Xavier's return to teaching, it seems clear that this year the X-Men have skipped an on-panel Christmas.  Nevertheless, with Xavier's teaching schedule providing an ongoing measurement of time, it seems appropriate to up the X-Xmas score by one.


Saturday 29th December, 1984



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.20 standard years.

(Katie Power is 14 years old.)

"Kitty, I don't like him, he's scary!"

Contemporary Events

Leo Robin, an American composer best known for his work on the Oscar-winning "Thanks For The Memory" and writing the book for the Broadway adaptation of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, passes away aged 84.

Standout Line

"I thought being Energizer would be fun -- we'd have neat adventures, like Luke Skywalker -- but this isn't."
"Neither were his, really."

Wolverine lays down some truth for the younger Power daughter. Confrontations where you lose five sets of phalanges are not fun, children!

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