Sunday, 30 March 2014

ALF #25: "...And Graves Give Up Their Dead../Up From Lazarus' Box"

(Return of the Mac)


...And Graves Give Up Their Dead..

We open this issue on an impromptu "hearing", as Alpha Flight digests the fact that Northstar used to run with terrorists seeking to gain independence for Quebec by exploding strategic mailboxes.

Northstar, of course, is typically arsey about the whole affair, refusing to recognise the right of anyone in Alpha to judge him.  Which in some sense might actually be fair enough. Heather is keen to stress that they are simply mulling over as a group what to do with this information, but since 'Star doesn't actually want to be in Alpha Flight (which makes it hard to understand what he's doing here, actually), they're really deciding whether to turn him in to the authorities or not.  They should just be up front about that. Does having once fought for independence through the use of violence against inanimate objects mean you should be dobbed in years later?  And does that calculus change if you also happen to be an unbearable dick at all times?

Underneath this is lies an interesting question, actually, though one which I must be cautious about. I freely admit I have only the very most basic understanding of the Quebec Sovereignty Movement, and the FLQ - who, simplistically seeking, were a coalition of hard-line nationalists and proponents of one of the heavier brands of socialism - so I don't want to accidentally offend through ignorance.

That said, whether or not I think Jean-Paul should be clapped in irons for his past choices is entirely beside the point - I quite obviously don't get a say in how Quebec should manage its affairs, and whether the Quebecois or Canadian governments generated conditions problematic enough to justify blowing things up.  The question is whether fellow Canadians get to judge him.

Which leads me on to a topic that's been buzzing around my head for a few months now, ever since first Jack Graham and then Phil Sandifer came out in favour of the idea that the oppressor - even the unwitting oppressor - hasn't any right to engage on the subject of what the oppressed can and cannot do in their fight against them. In most respects, this is a hard idea to argue against - well, it is as a straight white western middle-class man - but there are two major issues here.   The first is the issue of intersection; I'm uncomfortable with the idea of white men proposing a system of thought that essentially says white women and black men, say, have no right to mention the effect their respective battles might have upon each other.  The second, which is the one relevant to this issue of ALF, is this: who gets to define what constitutes oppressed in any case?

Because it quite simply cannot be the decision by someone to announce themselves oppressed.  If that were the case, we'd have to include vast swathes of the US Republican Party and Nigel Farage.  Despite being one of those elite liberals sitting in my ivory tower with no idea about the real world, I have absolutely no problem expressing exactly how much those guys can go fuck themselves.  My purpose here is obviously not to equate right wing shouty white guys with the genuinely oppressed.  It's just to point out the limits of a maximalist approach to people on either side of a dividing line  without any ability to determine whether that line should be drawn. Put another way, why should a white guy's decision as to who is legitimately oppressed carry any more weight than their suggestions as to how the oppressed should behave.

None of this, I feel confident in predicting, would have come up at the trial of Northstar.  As Graham has pointed out, the entire basis of the X-books would seem to be straight white guys writing stories about how the oppressed shouldn't get too far out of line.  Any dissection that Byrne got around to on the subject would almost certainly be enraging beyond words.

Still, it would have been an interesting form of enraging.  Sadly, we'll never get to find out, because proceedings are interrupted when Talisman discovers Caliber has broken out of jail - and is busy trading blows with James Hudson...

Up From Lazarus' Box

So Guardian is back.  Walter Langkowski makes a quip about this being the sort of thing that only happens in comic books, but looking back over the X-books in particular it's interesting how free they are of hero recycling. Once you filter out the kind of immediate resurrection Claremont specialises in (see Grey, Jean or New Mutants, all of the), there's really only Xavier in the '60s to point toward.

So give Byrne credit, he does a fairly good job of lampooning the practice before it even solidified into a cliche. Well, I think he's lampooning it. It can be hard to tell with Byrne which of the excesses are ironic and which are meant to be taken literally. I mean, I assume the idea that Hudson escaped death by using the explosion that apparently killed him as a gate into the space-time continuum allowing him to escape to C 8000 BC Ganymede and befriend the floating jellyfish/Cthulhu beings that live there so they could rebuild him as a cyborg and put him in suspended animation until he could hop into the rocket home - *deep breath* - is supposed to be obviously over the top. Certainly the fact that the story proves to be utter bollocks in a few issues suggests that.

Even so, though, the idea of intelligent jellied invertebrates carrying on in the orbit of Jupiter actually sounds a good deal more interesting than Heather's tearful admission that her life does not exist beyond her husband. Which is the main problem here, actually.  Before the reveal about what's really going on with Mac, his story seems more interesting than the one Byrne is focused on.  After it, you've just got six pages of lies and another round of Caliber getting beaten up.

Still, for all that I've already lamented the fact that another car-crash issue of Alpha Flight would give me something to talk at length about, I suppose any issue that's no more than mildly uninteresting should count as a win at this point.


This story takes place over a single day. There's no indication of how soon it takes place after Alpha's return from the alternate dimension where Snowbird finally achieved her goal.  From Walter's dialogue about the difficulty in adjusting to a metal body, it can't be all that long - there's also the matter of how long Aurora was willing to sit on her info about her brother, but then she's already been doing that for a little while, so who knows. 

Given how far behind this series is to its cousins, I want to move things forwards quickly; I think a fortnight from the destruction of Walter's body isn't utterly unreasonable, so that's what I'll go for.


Thursday 24th May 1984.



Contemporary Events

It's a busy day for a certain subset of geek interests, as Sarah Hagan is born (she will go on to play potential Slayer Amanda in the final season of Buffy) and Vince McMahon, Sr., founder of the wrestling federation that would eventually become first the WWF and then the WWE, passes away aged 69.

Standout Line

"Ah-ha! The dread "harmless boulder lying around minding its own business!" Have at you!!"

Walter Langkowski decides not to let his new status as a ghost in the machine bother him.  Right up until Aurora tells him she's not sure she can love him any more, that is. How fortunate that Bochs has overheard and explained how Aurora clearly can't love someone who isn't doing her on a regular basis.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

NMU #30: "The Singer & Her Song"

(Those who are about to die of boredom salute you!)


Last time around we spent some time kicking UXM #196 for ignoring Secret Wars II about as much as it possibly could whilst avoiding potential legal action.  On first glance, we might want to aim the same accusation at NMU #30. Certainly the kick-off here suggests this.  We last saw Illyana throwing herself into Limbo with Shadowcat, Cannonball, Dazzler and Rachel Summers, after the Beyonder had forced her into her Darkchilde persona as part of his apparent quest to do as much pointless damage in nine issues as is possible.  This transformation had no impact on SW2 #1 itself, so at the very least there was an implication that Claremont would do something interesting with it here.

Instead, we get a couple pages of our heroes panicking before Kitty gets hold of her roommate's soulsword and bisects her as neatly as circumstances allow.  This restores Illyana to factory settings (assuming Belasco is running the factory, of course) and they heard back to the real world to get back to the interrupted gladiator story.

It's a stronger tie-in than UXM #196 - praise fainter than a three-day old fake tattoo, of course - but other than characteristically strong Sienkiewicz artwork it still feels desperately unnecessary. There's a hint here that Kitty's use of the soulsword will cause her problems down the road, but there's still the definite feeling that this is less "Secret Wars II continues..." and more "Secret Wars II is summarily dismissed...".

Maybe not, though.  The Beyonder rocks up here, during Kitty's rescue op.  Some background on that: Kitty's plan is to pose as a techie and infiltrate Flynn's operation; there she'll knock out the power and spring Roberto and Amara in the confusion.  Dazzler offers to go with her, is rebuffed, and completely unsurprisingly decides to go along anyway, because Kitty is fifteen and being a pain in the arse.  Besides, Dazzler has to return to the gladiators so that she can prove... well, that's less than clear.  That everyone is wrong and she isn't addicted to fighting, I guess. Which is kind of like trying to prove you're not addicted to heroin by shooting up (they make her take a stronger version of the drug they hooked her on last time, too, which rather compromises the fuck out of this as a scientific experiment).  But whatever. Not one line of this Dazzler plot has made the slightest sense since she showed up here.

Anyway, whilst Sam, Rachel and Illyana wait outside the venue for Kitty's signal, the Beyonder shows up to stare at people some more.  Specifically, he seems interested in Rachel this time, going so far as to share his conception of reality with her before Sam freaks out and blasts everyone away.  In itself, that's still not a terribly impressive crossover example, but combine this with the Beyonder tailing Rachel in UXM #196 (which is clearly intended to follow on from this), and Rachel mentioning here that the Beyonder reminds her of stories about the Dark Phoenix, and the roughest sketch of a conclusion begins to emerge. Given SW2's reputation, we might take some comfort in that.

Elsewhere in this issue, Amara and Roberto act like complete arseholes, terrorising Dazzler for having the gall to enjoy the adulation of the crowd whilst she works to ensure each bout ends without a fatality (and whilst trying to prepare them for the coming escape attempt).  And OK, basking in the applause of bloodthirsty scum like these particular audiences is a bit of a strange way to get your jollies, but if I were being applauded for style points whilst specifically preventing what the shits in the bleachers have ostensibly paid for, I think I'd be a little chuffed as well.  This plotline resolves with Dazzler reaching the most obvious conclusion possible, that she wants the adulation without the violence.  Kitty calls this proving herself a hero, I say it just means Alison isn't the thoroughly despicable human being this story has been determined to paint her as.

Much more interesting, though, is the shadowy villain controlling events.  Interesting how? Well, he captures Kitty and locks her inside a giant war-robot of, ah, idiosyncratic design:


which he then sets on Sunspot and Amara in the arena. That, I submit, should do for a start. More than that, though, I really appreciate how Claremont is building up to the big reveal. Knowing the truth ahead of time, it's fun to watch him scattering clues or, more often, red herrings.  The body shape and declared gender come under the latter heading (is the human body really capable of so extreme a change in weight, though?), but the phone call to Xi'an Coy Manh's villainous uncle is a great nod to what's really happening. I don't think anyone is actually expected to be able to put the pieces together yet - we don't know enough about the Shadow King, for a start - but Claremont is clearly having fun stirring the pot, and I'm enjoying watching him do it.

Which is more than I can say for this damn gladiator plotline. Bollocks to this damn gladiator plotline.  Let's try and move things along here, OK?


This issue picks up immediately after the Beyonder turned Magik into Darkchilde, but the majority of this issue takes place over two evenings. Cannonball notes that the latter of these is Saturday, so we'll start the main events of this issue on the first Friday following first contact with the Beyonder on Earth.  This means a gap of six days from that encounter, but this is easily explained away by another problematic jaunt courtesy of Illyana.


Monday 31st  December to Saturday 5th January, 1985.


X+6Y+304 to X+6Y+310.

Contemporary Events

The internet domain name system is created.

Standout Line

"This affair is proceeding wonderfully... which prompts the prudent man to immediately prepare for disaster."

Our shadowy foe proves himself commendably pragmatic.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

UXM #196: "What Was That?!!"

("And the answer is: not really.")


So last time I asked the question: what impact upon the X-Men would the Beyonder's arrival have?  If you answered "sweet FA" then congratulations; have a biscuit.

How much this actually constitutes a problem is, I suppose, very much dependent on your point of view.  If anyone bought UXM #196 specifically because of the promise in the top right of the corner, they could most certainly feel legitimately aggrieved (though really it's no more egregious a failure of advertising than the cover image itself is). Given how successful the title is at this point, though, I wonder if it's more likely this issue will boost interest in Secret Wars II rather than the other way round. It's really readers of that series who have the best reason to be aggravated - SW2 #1 ended with the Beyonder deciding experience is all and observation a waste of time, but aside from ordering lunch here he does nothing but observe the X-Men at length.  I mean, plenty of contemporary crossover tie-ins pretty much tread water, but at least they don't actively undo the conclusions of the core series in order to do it.

As I say, though, that's a problem for SW2 readers.  For this issue, the fact the Beyonder does almost nothing here (he's accidentally responsible for setting off a booby-trap towards the end of the issue, but we'll get to that) is almost certainly a boon. Firstly, it allows a lovely little scene in which Nightcrawler confesses to his priest that the Beyonder has royally messed with his faith.  And really, it's not hard to see his point.  A being of such incalculable power that he could snuff out Earth without us even having time to notice him doing it?  That's a pretty damn threatening creature for God to have thought a good idea.  I don't blame Nightcrawler at all for having been knocked for a loop.  There's probably a longer conversation to be had here about the nature of faith in the Marvel multiverse - how does one believe in a benevolent creator in a dimensional system where dozens of Earths have already been destroyed by aliens or zombies or mad geniuses?  How can we consider ourselves of worth when its apparently just blind luck that our world still exists?

The second benefit of this low-key approach to Secret Wars II is that it allows for one of Claremont's more low-key stories, which are oftentimes his most interesting.

Indeed, in theory this is the kind of story that justifies my interest in mutant stories, as oppose to any other form of superhero tale. The X-Men learn (through an accidental mind-read courtesy of an exhausted and near "psiblind" Xavier) that some of Charlie's students are planning a murder, and set about trying to find the intended victims and/or their stalkers, ultimately learning that the intended victim is Xavier himself. That's not a bad twist, and the idea that these thugs are a) the same thugs who beat him almost to death a few weeks earlier and b) have been sitting in his class this whole time earns points as well.  It's a shame that these villains have no more interesting a motivation than they just hate muties.  I mean, the sheer incomprehensible loathing on display is scary all on its own, of course, but there's always a sense of a missed opportunity when a story about bigotry and fear portrays the enemy as so over-the-top and without nuance. You end up tearing at a straw-man, leaving the real racists (and their allies the wilfully ignorant and unengaged) alone in favour of beating on an image of evil that represents pretty much no-one.

Still, dwelling on that point feels a little unfair - if Claremont's biggest sin is to not have fully developed the social justice narrative that few of his contemporaries had any interest in so much as touching, then I don't want to slap him around too much on that point. [1]

So let's talk about the n-word instead.

It is in the end the X-Men's very own Nancy Drew who solves the case, as Kitty discovers some kids in her college computer course are planning to assassinate Xavier [1]. When they confront her they accuse her of being a mutie herself and, since the speaker is black, Kitty gets to use her favourite racist slur in response.

We've talked about this before, but to reiterate, this is obviously a huge problem.  What we have here is a white guy using an imagined minority to fling actual slurs at an actual minority in the name of making a point.  Inventing a race to point out black people might be racist too [2] is pretty much the definition of a solution looking for a problem, and the solution as shown here is desperately unpleasant in any case.  It implies that minorities should somehow know better than to cause problems for other minorities, which has the effect of at least partially letting white people off the hook, and it implicitly puts white people in charge of determining how minorities should be treated, which since we've done a fucking awful job of that for centuries, shouldn't really ever be raised as a possibility.

(Yes, if one wants to hew to the fairly robust argument that mutants are an analogy for LGBT people, it's certainly true that there can be friction between the two communities - listening to Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... certainly made that clear. It's not like no black person has ever evidenced anti-Semitic attitudes, either, so we don't even have to think of an analogy for Kitty's heritage. But it isn't the job of straight white guys to solve that problem, and it certainly isn't our job to do that by wielding our own failures of humanity to try and shame others - "How can you treat these people as badly as we treat you?".)

Having said all that, of course, it's not slightly difficult to believe why someone as horribly self-centred as Kitty would think this a wizard come-back.  Let's move on.

With Kitty locked down by bigots, and Xavier almost literally sitting on top of a ticking bomb, the situation is, at best, grim-adjacent. Fortunately, fate intervenes when the Beyonder tries to sniff around Xavier's office whilst Charles is in there with Rachel and Magneto. She detects his arrival and tries to link her mind to the two older mutants to clue them in.  This sets off the "psiscream" bomb the students swiped from whereabouts unknown, but - if I'm reading this right - Rachel pits her own powers against it, turning a potential psychic frying into a standard explosion.  I'm not sure that constitutes much of an improvement, really, but miraculously no-one is badly hurt.  Moreover, during her exertions, Rachel has located Kitty and discovered her peril.

Rachel, hotly pursued by Magneto, heads to Kitty's location, and effortless overwhelm her captors. Magneto wants to leave it at that, by Rachel wants to massacre all bigots.

This brings on one more iteration of the endlessly infuriating discussion over whether heroes get to kill those people who really fucking have it coming.  My feelings regarding this discussion are probably quite well-known by now, but in this case at least I'm entirely with Magneto. Or at least, I agree with his position.  His arguments are total crap. Who cares if by killing these bigots their fear of mutants becomes in some sense justified?  They didn't need any justification before, why worry about that now? Moreover, there are few more foolish ways to judge our own actions than whether or not they will please our enemies (something conservatives could really stand to learn in general).  The metric here is what will best serve mutant interests.  If that truly is to execute these domestic terrorists, then the possibility this would be their "final victory" - what bigot doesn't dream of being put down like a dog after being roundly whipped by people they consider inferior, after all - is utterly irrelevant.

The sensible tack to take is instead to point out that a) killing someone is something that stays with you far longer than the spinning singularity of rage inside you that makes you do the deed, and b) you cannot justify an execution through an appeal to convenience.  If you think you can trust it, you hand
them over to the justice system.  If you can't, you either accept that (possibly keeping tabs on these criminals) or you set up your own jails and do the job your damn self.  The awkwardness of turning Xavier's east wing into Cell Block H (tried more than once, of course, and bought into full-scale following the founding of Utopia) does not offer an excuse for killing off enemies you have already subdued.

Anyway, ultimately Rachel comes around, and our heroes' latest escapade comes to a close.  With seemingly an anti-mutant bigot on every street corner and every classroom, though, and with Nimrod rapidly developing his own fan-base, it seems likely that we're heading towards something pretty messy.

(Meanwhile, in subplot corner, Ororo is minding her own business in Kenya when she is shot down by the racist hunters she tangled with previously. Concerning! They get to use an abominable racial slur of their own, actually.  It will be nice to see the back of this.)

[1] We should also not neglect a brief scene this issue in which Rachel and Rogue save a man from being mugged only to discover he was attacked whilst in the process of spraying anti-mutant graffiti onto a nearby wall.  This idea of the X-Men regularly saving people who turn out to be bigoted arseholes has a long and glorious history in the X-books, and it's always a nice reminder that the X-books figured out much faster than most that superhero comics didn't have to limit themselves to square-jawed heroes and frothing avatars of evil.

[2] I should note here that there is a popular line of thought that suggests African Americans cannot actually be racist, because the word "racist" implies a dominant position in the power balance that clearly doesn't exist here. It's unlikely that anyone needs or wants me to map out my objections to the idea, but since this is my blog and I need to define my terms, here it is anyway.  I'm not a fan of this argument.  It might be linguistically accurate, but insisting on firm definitions in the face of complicated real-world issues isn't something to be encouraged.  In my experience it's a major challenge getting white people to understand why "X do/are Y, says Z" is a racist formulation when X stands in for black people and Z is a white person, and not racist when the two are swapped around.  It's all too easy to forget that because something is unquestionably true, it is not obviously true.  Allies need to get better at justifying the superficially contradictory ideas that treating any one race as different is bad and wrong and that white people are a group apart who can legitimately be criticised in terms that would be utterly unacceptable in any other context.

This is an important and frankly pretty difficult task, and if you're going to do something to make that job harder I think you need a good reason for doing so.  I just don't see where that benefit lies in - rather than promoting understanding of that the boundaries of racism are different outside dominant white culture, and what can be seen as racist is often unfairly labelled - just straight up saying black people can't be racist and hoping that somehow makes people more sympathetic.

This story takes place over a single day; a Friday from the fact Xavier's class are heading off for the weekend.  Wolverine has apparently been keeping a close eye on Xavier for days, which means at least a little time has passed since Charles returned from Muir Isle to deal with the Beyonder.  The fact that classes have restarted post-Christmas suggests we're probably at the end of the second week of January.  Thus do we pass into 1985 in our increasingly implausible time-line.

Interestingly, Kitty explicitly states here that she is fifteen years old, several publishing years before her fifteenth birthday.


Friday 11th January, 1985.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.19 standard years.

(Beast is 33 years old.)

Contemporary Events

More than four hundred people are killed when a train in Ethiopia crashes into a ravine.

Standout Line

"The Big Apple's own hero... somebody who looks out for the little guy... instead of spending all of his time saving the world or the universe or whatever."

Yeah! Right on! Who are all these fancy big shots who won't help out the Big Apple because they're too busy saving the universe? Those high-and-mighty jerks!  Who needs the entirety of reality when you've got NYC, huh?

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Timeline: 1984 Jul - Dec (Take 5)

I think we're at the stage where the timeline needs to be split into six monthly instalments again.  I've added the most recent comics to the timeline, and made some alterations to the proposed dates for Dazzler #37-38 because I stupidly forgot about Beauty and the Beast.  Knock-on effects from the second Secret Wars have caused problems with UXM #192-193, too.


(MGN #12: Dazzler the Movie continues throughout)


(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 ICE #4: The Price You Pay!


3rd   DAZ #35: Brawl!
4th    DAZ #35: Brawl!
5th    DAZ #36: The Human Touch!
6th    DAZ #36: The Human Touch!
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
15th  BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
16th  BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
17th  BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
18th  BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
19th  BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
20th  BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
21st  BAB #1: Beauty and the Beast, Part 1
22nd BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
23rd BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
24th BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
25th BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
26th BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
27th BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
28th BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
29th BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
30th BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
31th BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel


1st    BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
2nd   BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
3rd   BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
4t     BAB #2: Heartbreak Hotel
11th  BAB #3: Showtime
11th  BAB #4: Checkmate
14th  DAZ #37: Girl in the Machine
15th  DAZ #38: Challenge
16th  DAZ #38: Challenge
17th  DAZ #38: Challenge
18th  DAZ #38: Challenge
19th  DAZ #38: Challenge
20th  DAZ #38: Challenge
21th  DAZ #38: Challenge
22th  DAZ #38: Challenge
23th  DAZ #38: Challenge
24th  DAZ #38: Challenge
25th  DAZ #38: Challenge
26th  DAZ #38: Challenge
27th  DAZ #38: Challenge
28th  DAZ #38: Challenge
29th  DAZ #38: Challenge


7th UXM #192: Fun 'n' Games!
8th UXM #193: Warhunt 2
9th UXM #193: Warhunt 2
15th NMU #26: Legion
16th NMU #26: Legion
16th NMU #27: Into the Abyss
16th NMU #28: Soulwar
17th NMU #28: Soulwar
18th NMU #28: Soulwar
19th NMU #28: Soulwar
20th NMU #28: Soulwar
21st UXM #194: The Juggernaut's Back in Town!
21st NMU #28: Soulwar
22nd UXM #194: The Juggernaut's Back in Town!
22nd NMU #28: Soulwar
23rd UXM #194: The Juggernaut's Back in Town!
23rd NMU #28: Soulwar
24th UXM #194: The Juggernaut's Back in Town!
24th NMU #28: Soulwar
24th NMU #29: Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion...
25th UXM #194: The Juggernaut's Back in Town!
25th NMU #28: Soulwar
25th NMU #29: Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion...
26th UXM #194: The Juggernaut's Back in Town!
26th NMU #28: Soulwar
26th NMU #29: Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion...
27th UXM #194: The Juggernaut's Back in Town!
27th NMU #28: Soulwar
27th NMU #29: Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion...
28th UXM #194: The Juggernaut's Back in Town!
28th NMU #28: Soulwar
28th NMU #29: Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion...
29th UXM #195: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...!
29th NMU #28: Soulwar
29th NMU #29: Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion...
30th NMU #28: Soulwar
30th NMU #29: Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion...
30th SW2 #1: Earthfall!
31st NMU #29: Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion...
31st SW2 #1: Earthfall!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Secret Wars II #1: "Earthfall!"

("No secret anymore...")


Ooh, good move, Jim Shooter!  Last time I stumbled across Secret Wars, I was able to condense the twelve issue run into under half a dozen posts due to a comparative lack of X-action.

I can't do that this time.  Not because the X-Men feature more prominently (though it would be fair to say they're the superheroes who get the most face time in this issue), but because having already essentially invented the crossover book (Contest of Champions being more of an illustrated report of a Marvel Top Trumps game), Shooter has taken another great leap forward and created the crossover which feeds into other titles.

Yes, the original SW had knock-on effects. We saw the X-Men disappear to fight on the Beyonder's Battleworld, and when they returned their experiences had (reasonably minor) consequences for the status quo.  Here, though, the action is taking place on Earth, so rather than a brief team-shaped hole in the parent title, more direct tie-ins are called for.

It would not be hard, I'd think, to colour an argument that suggests that overall, Shooter's innovation ultimately caused more annoyance than entertainment across the last three decades. Certainly it's a pain in my particular posterior, since it might ultimately require nine full posts to wade through what is generally considered to be a terrible series, which presumably won't really be focused on the X-Men in any case.  In this opening issue, at least, there is precisely one good mutant-related moment here, when Magneto asks why Wolverine is so hostile to him after they fought as allies on Battleworld, and Logan retorts that just because he stood up for Mags as mutant against prejudiced humans doesn't mean he doesn't fucking loathe him as a person.

So that concludes our mutant considerations.  Since we're here, though, what is there to say about this opening salvo.  Is it really as black (poo brown, really) as it's been painted?

Well... the first signs aren't encouraging. There are a few things here that read as stupid if taken at face value, and rather cruel if considered satire.  The arrival of the Beyonder on Earth (he's come to talk to Molecule Man in the hopes of understanding humanity, presumably because Owen is closest to him in terms of power set) dressed as an amalgamation of all the heroes he kidnapped in the last series is rather a case in point.  If Shooter intended this literally, it looks absolutely awful, so awful that Molecule Man pointing out it's awful doesn't save it.  Some things are just too hideous to be acceptable even under lampshades.

On the other hand, you could read this as a rather unsubtle satire. "This is what you want!" screams the comic under this reading. "All the best heroes rammed together again, just like last time!".  I don't actually think this is Shooter's aim here, but either way it underlines how ridiculous and hollow a story this actually is.

That's another problem here, of course.  The original Secret Wars went at least some way to make the extraordinarily simplistic concept work.  So far, lightning has not struck twice.  A top twenty list of heroes and villains (give or take a few integers) smacking each other around has an obvious lizard-brain thrill to it.  An almost omnipotent entity showing up to watch TV?  Not so much.

And watching TV is important here.  Shooter clearly has some kind of anally-inserted insect about the idiot's lantern here.  The Beyonder ultimately decides here he is seeking experience of humanity, and watching television is too passive to count as gaining experience (what he actually decides is there's no value in watching people pretend to get stabbed when you can do the stabbing yourself).  That's a position I'd actually agree with in the sense that a lack of engagement with the world more generally is a problem, but that doesn't seem to be what Shooter is, er, shooting for.  He just wants to piss all over the idea that watching television is a worthwhile pursuit.

Which I'm not down with at all, and which brings with it a host of other problems.  For instance, after spending so much time in the original Secret Wars calling Volcana fat for being what is by any stretch of the imagination a perfectly normal size, it's less than thrilling to see her portrayed here as an obsessive couch potato who guzzles down Doritos in front of the box even when the Beyonder himself has made a house call.  Stewart Cadwall, the antagonist of this issue - presumably introduced since the heroes can't possibly fight the Beyonder himself - causes more problems, being as he is a horribly unsubtle caricature of a Democratic TV writer, convinced his pacifist views and high-falutin' ideas make him superior to everyone else in television and, by extension, the people who watch it. He's the stereotypical smug out-of-touch cowardly coastal elitist that shows up in the first three minutes of any Republican stemwinder worthy of the noun.

But as soon as he gets himself a dose of power courtesy of the Beyonder, it suddenly becomes time to obliterate his enemies. Which really pisses me off.  There is more that distinguishes the left from the right in America than the fact that the right has the power to abuse others and the left does not. This idea that all that prevents progressives from being as needlessly cruel as conservatives is the lack of opportunity left me hating Stacy Title's The Last Supper, and it's no more preferable in this far less subtle form. Indeed it's even worse here; Cadwall uses his powers to destroy the TV stations that have blighted his life by wanting to make popular programmes, but the instant he loses his power (after being beaten by the X-Men, Iron Man and Captain America) he realises he's deep-sixed his own career.  Foolish liberal!  Biting the hand of the corporation that deigns to feed him!  When will those pinkos ever learn?

So it's all quite over-the-top, and rather uncharitable. What little balance it has is in being as contemptuous of mass-market television as it is of people who want to try and improve it (a position which, not for nothing, is a tad hypocritical coming from a man trying to do new and interesting things with lowbrow superhero titles - those who live in glass houses shouldn't be massive pricks, as the saying goes). Television is awful, and the people who want to save it unbearable, so just give it up and read a book.  Or, you know, a comic book in which people dressed stupidly punch each other for fucking ages.

In other words, we're not off to a good start.  I'm not sure how this series keeps going, either.  The Beyonder seems so insanely powerful that the only way to deal with him might be to undercut the entire narrative, and in any case his quest to understand and experience feels far to Star Trek TOS for my tastes.

But there's plenty of time for Shooter to turn this thing around.  First, though, let's see how the unfolding crisis ripples into the title that launhed this blog.  How will the Beyonder's hijinks affect the X-Men's uncanniosity?


This story begins in the evening and carries into the following day.   It intersects with New Mutants #29 (replaying the scene where Magneto recruits Cannonball, Magik, Dazzler and Lila Cheney), and also follows up from NMU #28 as Xavier recovers from his exertions.  We have the latter two events as taking place on the same day, but that doesn't quite work as Xavier is seen recuperating the day before Magneto acquires his new troops.  Some slight adjustment to the New Mutants timeline is therefore required.


Sunday 30th to Monday 31st December, 1984.


X+6Y+304 to X+6Y+305.

Contemporary Events

Basketball star LeBron James is born, presumably already at least four feet in height.

Standout Line

"You're a Republican, aren't you? Well now there'll be one fewer!"

Stewart Cadwall - AKA Thundersword - prepares to execute Captain America.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

ALF #24: "Final Conflict"

(Fear of a black-and-white planet.)


Well, this is a strange one.

It's not completely unprecedented in comic history for long-running storylines to suddenly and unexpectedly wrap up.  Unexpected re-shuffles, sudden cancellation, an unfortunate parallel to major news stories; there's plenty of reasons to toss off an ending.

None of that applies here, though. Neither the title nor Byrne's tenure is about to end, and we can safely assume that real-life tragedies involving gigantic Canadian demon-beasts were no more common in the mid-'80s than at any other time.  So what could have motivated Byrne to such lengths of break-neck pacing to clear his game board?

We'll get to that.  But let's not make the same mistake - let's take our time here.  The set-up to this story, for those who've forgotten, is that last issue Snowbird murdered Sasquatch after he was taken over by one of the seven Great Beasts she was born to defeat.  That was the fourth Beast to show up in Alpha Flight. The first, Tundra was beaten back to its home dimension in the first issue, a second was killed by Snowbird in the notorious "Snowblind" issue, and a third was somehow defeated using time-travel in a way I don't really understand (it's only here I learn that the "we must change nothing in the past" jaunt defeated the Beast in the first place; I must not have been paying attention, by which I mean I was actually taking plot logic at face value).

The remaining three beasts, along with Tundra, remain in their home dimension, which is also where Walter Langkowski's soul ended up after Snowbird gutted him.  Alpha's plan is therefore to breach this reality, slay the remaining beasts, and save Walter.  This actually goes some way towards lessening how terrible ALF #23 was, actually.  If Snowbird had always planned to head into the neighbouring dimension to slaughter her foes, her willingness to murder Walter is at least slightly mitigated by the knowledge she could restore him (having cast a spell on his body to crystallise it therefore preserve it - ice being so hard to get hold of in the Arctic Circle). You've still got the problem that Snowbird's mission is to destroy the Great Beasts and Aurora's is to save her lover's soul, with Talisman and Puck somewhere in the middle, but I guess killing someone and stealing from them are at least somewhat parallel goals.

Before they make their way into uncharted territory, though, the team needs back-up.  Talisman summons Shaman to open the doorway for them, but being untutored in the use of her powers, casts her net rather wide, causing Northstar (and ultimately Box) to show up as well. Typically, Jean-Paul has no interest in helping out, so Snowbird decides to dive into his brain and take over.  Which is disgraceful, obviously. It would be a terrible thing to do if Snowbird wanted Northstar to do the ironing, but her plan here is to force a man to risk his life in a fight he explicitly wanted no part of [1]. Shaman at least objects to the idea - he only likes controlling people by deliberately leaving out vital information required for informed consent - but it's quickly swept under the rug so the crusade can continue.

(On the other hand, Aurora punching Northstar straight in his sneering face?  Totally cool.)

With Heather staying behind to guard Walter's body, the team throw themselves through a variety of bizarre dimensions before they reach their destination.  When they get there, it proves to be a strange alien landscape entirely devoid of colour.

I actually really like this as an aesthetic. Like "Snowblind", one could uncharitably suggest this particular choice came down more to laziness and/or deadline issues rather than the desire to do something off the beaten path, but, also like "Snowblind", I don't particularly care. In an age filled with the kind of complicated graphical trickery we all take for granted - us, with our curse words and our bangy-bongy music of nothing - this kind of defiantly low-fi solution appeals to me, especially when Byrne is smart enough to lampshade it by having Puck admit he was expecting "a universe of swirling mists... or maybe a huge floating mouth with a highway leading out of it".

Lying in wait in this monochromatic hellhole are the surviving Great Beasts, including their master Somon.  Battle is quickly joined, but with an average of one giant horrific rampaging demon-thing per 1.5 heroes, things do not look good (it's even worse at base camp, where Box arrives just in time to watch Walter's crystalline body begin to crumble; once again we humbly point out the preservative qualities of frozen water).


So it's heroes (and their mind-slaved plus one) ranked up against giant eating-type monsters.  Things look bleak.

Fortunately for Alpha Flight, they are not entirely without a plan.  Well, that's not entirely true. Shaman's plan is to distract and delay the Great Beasts from their own plans of stomping and smashing for long enough for Snowbird to turn into a white rabbit and then pull herself out of a hat.  This she does by exchanging barbs with Solon (the Greatest Great Beast) for a while, and becoming a bear and savaging him.  All rather abrupt, really, when you cut out the stilted smack-talk: Solon goes down and the Great Beasts tear each other to pieces without him to control them.

For those keeping score, this battle lasted for about nine pages, which seems like a fairly perfunctory ending for a storyline Byrne has been dipping into for the whole two years the title has been running.  Which I'll admit doesn't strike me as a huge problem, but I wonder if that's precisely because I've not been particularly engaged with ALF in general. Maybe if I'd had more invested in Snowbird and her quest to gradually take down the Great Beasts, a brief flurry of static panels followed by a bear attack might leave me feeling short-changed. As it is, I just find it slightly puzzling from an academic standpoint.

But then of course Snowbird's quest is no longer just about killing her ancestral foes.  There's a man's soul to be saved.  Unfortunately, she's forgotten this entirely, and has to be pulled back by Shaman as she tries to rip Solon to pieces, despite him being the only one who can locate Walter's soul.  So not only did she kill Walter, not only did she drag his friends into a battle with gigantic kill-beasts in the name of saving the soul of her victim, not only did she break into a former comrade's head to force him to risk his own life, she's then tries to massacre the only dude that can help her friends fulfil the mission for which they agreed to this insanely risky venture in the first place.

Let us all take a moment to consider how much Snowbird can go fuck herself.

Shaman manages to talk Snowbird-bear down in the end, though, and the captured Solon brings them to the Well of Sorrows, where lie the souls of the original inhabitants of this dimension (long ago wiped out by Solon and his mates), and also that of Walter Langkowski. Solon explains who must recover the soul, and Talisman, Aurora and Northstar descend into the depths.

But it's a trap, obviously. Another part of Solon lies within the well, and he quickly kills the interlopers.  Back above, Solon Alpha crows that technically he didn't lie (presumably because he didn't actually say "and there definitely isn't another piece of me in the well waiting to kill you all, if that's what your thinking").  Is there anyone alive stupid enough to think that excuse works?  I didn't technically lie?  It didn't work out for Mika in Paranormal Activity and it doesn't work here either. Maybe Solon assumed these goody two-shoes heroes would be forced to allow him such brazen trickery, but if so, he's pulling this shit in the wrong book; Snowbird immediately eviscerates him.

Not that that's much good to our three fallen friends. All that can save them now is an emergency soul transfusion.  Do we have any spare souls lying around?  Ah yes, Dr Langkowski, please float unsteadily forward.  The anima of everyone's favourite Beast knock-off was indeed at the well, just not inside it, and having seen his friends fall he gives of himself that they might live. Due to some metaphysical exchange rate that I won't even pretend to understand he's able to resurrect all three of them without passing beyond entirely, but what's left afterwards is some distance away from constituting a full whack.  Worse still, when the victorious Alphans return to our reality, they find Walter's body has crumbled to dust. [2]

This is where the sound of grinding story-gears becomes unbearable.  There's no reason whatsoever why Walter needed to sacrifice parts of his life force; the Solon trap was completely gratuitous.  There's no reason Walter's body needed to disintegrate; it fulfils no plot purpose.  This stuff transparently only happens so that Byrne can set up his Next Big Thing, which is to place what remains of Walter's soul in the "living metal" of Box, to give him a new body.

Let's leave aside the fact that this is ridiculous - this is a superhero comic, after all.  What's far more unforgivable about it is how unsatisfying the whole thing is.  In two issues Walter has been brutally, callously murdered and returned as a robot because... why? As far as I can tell, because Byrne got bored of him, got bored of Snowbird, and thought the best option all around was to revamp/write them out within as few pages as possible.  Snowbird ends this issue quitting the team to head for the house of the man she loves so he can "teach [her] how to be a woman" - I swear to God, that's an exact quote - and poor old Walter gets himself a shitty new existence as the bastard love child of Colossus and Oz's Tin Man. This is what Byrne figured had to be rolled out as quickly as possible?  This is why the final battle with the Great Beasts takes up approximately two Byrne-recap's worth of space?

Like I say, I don't really give much of a damn about what happens in this title, and I was still floored at how terrible an update/exit this was for Langkowski/Snowbird, respectively.  People who actually cared about these characters must have been reaching for the voodoo dolls.

[1] Note of course that this is a tricksy woman, once again, screwing over one of the noble males in Alpha Flight (albeit that this description applies less to Northstar than Puck or Sasquatch) .  Naturally Jean-Paul is immune to Snowbird's charms, forcing her to use her witchy mind-tricks, but the pattern most certainly still stands.

[2] Snowbird: killed Walter, dragged his friends into insane danger to try and resurrect him, forced a man to risk an agonising death to help save someone he hates, attempts to blow the entire plan for the sake of a quick kill, and fobs everyone off with a preservation spell that couldn't possibly have done the job it needed to. We reiterate: fuck Snowbird.


This story takes place in approximately real time.

Heather mentions that she lost her husband last year. This is a real problem considering he died in early March. There's very few places where we can extend the storyline, either; Byrne is far too fond of his interlocking storylines for that. Indeed, Heater also mentions it being only three days since she saw "Mac" on the streets, which, combined with the Sasquatch and Snowbird stories, makes things very tricky.  Whatever we decide here we're contradicting the text.

Indeed, we'll need to do some work just to deal with Heather's latter comment, which, referring as it does to an event two issues plus one crossover earlier, causes problems all its own. The simplest solution would seem to be to move Heather's sighting to the same day as Snowbird's collapse - since we've already split ALF #22 in two, we may as well do it with ALF #21 as well.  The result of this reordering puts things two days after Walter Langkowski's death.


Thursday 10th May 1984.



Contemporary Events

Standout Line

"I'm sorry, I thought you understood what had transpired."

Snowbird adds passive-aggressive bullshit to her list of crimes as she patronisingly reiterates to Aurora exactly why she murdered her lover. Because she is a terrible person.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

NMU #29: "Meanwhile, Back At The Mansion..."

(A skirmish before the war.)


There may not be an awful lot to say about this issue, being as it is classic Claremont.  It's interesting what classic Claremont actually means, however. This is, after all, the second time in 29 issues that the New Mutants have found themselves forced to fight each other in gladiatorial combat.  It's been just a few weeks since Claremont had the entire superhero population of NYC transformed into amnesiac Dark Age warriors, who proceed to beat the shit out of each other. Fellow traveller Abigail Brady just got through looking at the X-Tinction Agenda (which I should get to early in the 2020s, I reckon), in which Claremont co-pens a story in which various heroic mutants are mind-wiped and pressed into service as combatants against  their former comrades.  When Claremont returned to the X-Men for his rather brutally savaged post-millennial run, one story will feature the X-Men kidnapped by a slaver who wants to sell them as gladiators.

I'm not actually sure if this represents a particular tic of Claremont's, or it's just something about superhero comics in general.  Certainly the hero-vs-hero model is neither one he created nor one that fell from fashion once he himself did - though of course that doesn't preclude his love of it helping to explain its seeming ubiquity - and it's clear that this kind of internecine super-slapping is exactly what a significant proportion of the comic readership loves to see.  As to the gladiator aspect, well, let's just say that for someone with the job of entertaining people by setting up bouts of violence, the Colosseum can't really take much stretching to reach for. Hell, we only just saw Ann Nocenti making use of the same idea in Beauty and the Beast, which we'll be coming back to.

Even so, the sheer frequency with which Claremont returns to this well is interesting.  I mean, it's interesting in an academic sense.  In terms of actual storytelling, I rather wish he'd find a new theme.

You want specifics, I suppose.  On this occasion Amara and Roberto have been swiped, forcing Cannonball and Magick (the only other New Mutants around, with everyone else on Muir Island sorting out the Legion fiasco) to mount a rescue single-handed (and in swimwear).  Their efforts fail when the kidnappers board a plane and hit the chasing Cannonball with their afterburners, causing him to lose concentration and stop blasting.  At this point the freezing high-altitude air knocks the fight out of him, and only a well-placed teleport disc from Magick stops him hitting the ground. [1]

It's not a total loss, though; they've captured one of the hoods, and through him learn their friends are on their way to LA. Illyana then teleports herself and Sam there, only to arrive a week late due to poor targeting. With the trail now seven days cold and the pair desperately low on resources, Sam take Illyana to Lila Cheney's place (featuring Guido Carosella on door duty; hello, Strong Guy!) for some support.

This is where things get a little odd.  First we learn that Dazzler has taken a job with Lila, probably hoping she can get further as a mutant backing singer than she could as a mutant headline act.  This might seem a bit of a coincidence, perhaps; Dazzler tries to escape anti-mutant hysteria by joining the band of someone who then turns out to be a mutant - a fact she only discovers when Lila is careless enough to teleport her to Cheney's Dyson Sphere along with Illyana and Sam - but forget it, man.  It's comics town.

Besides, more coincidences are on their way.  It just so happens Magma and Sunspot have been abducted by the same outfit of underground gladiators that tried to trick Dazzler into joining back in Beauty and the Beast. We may be maxing out on the abuse of probability here, but there are bigger fish to fry.  In this recent flurry of crossovers (this is the third in two months, and Secret Wars II will be kicking off once I've choked down another Alpha Flight) it's worth talking for a few moments to talk about some of the perils of a shared universe.

Obviously, I'm fiercely in favour of sandbox settings as a general rule - I would hardly be writing this blog otherwise. That said, there are some obvious disadvantages, which NMU #29 illustrate quite well.  The great advantage of shared universes is that almost no-one remains forgotten forever.  Sooner or later your old favourites will show up again.  The great disadvantage is that when those old favourites do show up, they can be terribly off-model (physically and/or psychologically), have frustratingly minor parts, and then eventually get killed off to generate cheap drama (the ur-example of all this probably being Angelo Torres Espinosa); a particularly galling trick since it pisses off older readers and causes newcomers to wonder what all the fuss is about.  Above all, it means that every character who reaches a satisfying conclusion to their own particular journey will (as Claremont found out to his sorrow with Cyclops) eventually be dragged back into the action as though nothing had changed.

Claremont doesn't kill off any of Dazzler's former comrades here, but otherwise, this is a case in point. Max and Ivich are both very much off-model, for a start.  Max doesn't even get any dialogue here (Axe gets more screen-time despite being the worst villain introduced in an X-book since The Locust); he's just someone for Cannonball to attack when his team's plan of sneaking into the games and having Lila 'port out his friends goes awry.  But why is Max even here?  When last we checked in on the Gladiators (all of three months earlier), he'd decided he'd had enough.  Flynn had been deposed as the Gladiators' commander after Dazzler and Beast humiliated him - with help from Doctor Doom.  Now, he's just back in charge without explanation.  Yes, later issues may explain this (and we should note that Flynn seems to be working for someone else now; a corpulent shadowy figure who recognises the New Mutants on sight), but that doesn't help with the fundamental issue here that Beauty and the Beast - little as I thought of it - came to a coherent, happy ending that Claremont has completely undone so he can engage in his hobby of making people beat each other up with outdated weaponry for no reason.

(While we're on the subject, I'm not at all convinced anyway by Claremont's portrayal of Dazzler as basically having to fight herself not to become a gladiator again - it was the sense of camaradie and belonging she craved, her taste for the arena faded the moment she realised it wasn't play-fighting - but when you're reading a writer with such a taste for setting up these kinds of matches, having a character admit she's a sniff of blood away from voluntarily trying to murder a stranger, the whole thing takes on a rather unpleasant taste.  Beauty and the Beast isn't ancient history.  It finished three months before this was published, and seeing the degree to which Claremont has twisted its characters and setting to feed what is essentially a fairly throwaway story - the ultimate reveal of the shadowy figure notwithstanding - is frustrating.)

Anyway; Lila orders Guido to get them tickets to the next Gladiator match, but I guess he failed, because they have to bluff their way in (not tricky when one of you is a terrifying demon sorceress). Their charade doesn't last long when Dazzler sees her former friend Ivich about to be killed in the arena; she jumps in to help and the plan is shot.  Fortunately the resulting fracas is ended by the arrival of Magneto.  He's been sent by Xavier to recruit the New Mutants for an upcoming fight with the Beyonder (and just as Mags was getting his Lee Forrester on; how awkward). Sunspot and Magma refuse to abandon the Gladiators, ostensibly because they're being forced to fight with the threat of powerless kids being thrown into the ring in their place should they quit, but also perhaps because they're already on the drug Flynn uses to control recalcitrant employees.  Frustrated, Sam has no choice but to join Magneto and head back to the mansion.  Secret Wars: Round 2 is about to begin...

[1] I can buy that Cannonball's "blasting envelope" can protect him against rapid pressure changes just as it does the frigid air, but when he stops and starts feeling the cold, shouldn't he get the bends as well? It'd be like opening all the windows in a mid-flight 737.

Yes, yes. Complaining about comic science is like wondering why women in porn films never worry about the sexual history of the plumber she fucks before he can so much as check the drains.  Still, though, these are the thoughts that swing through my head.


Thanks to Illyana's unreliable teleporting abilities, this story takes place over a week (skipping Christmas, as far as I can tell).  We'll kick it off the day after Xavier left for Scotland, so as to give him time to get away from New York before the snow that closes down the airport hits.


Sunday 23nd to Sunday 30th December, 1984


X+6Y+296 to X+6Y+304.

Contemporary Events

Sam Peckinpah - one of those people whose work I've only ever seen parodied rather than in its actual form - dies aged 59.


Standout Line

"That smart mouth is gonna take you far, baby-doll -- like to the Moon!"

Oh, Guido. You hilarious threatener of teenage girls, you.