Wednesday, 27 November 2013
UXM #192: "Fun 'N' Games!"
(Slap and tickle)
After a few issues experimenting with first odd pacing and then odd magickal nonsense hijinks, we return to classic Claremont. What that means in practise is some unashamedly old-fashioned action with some interesting ideas bolted on.
We'll start, as the issue does, with a training session organised by Nightcrawler (now team leader following Storm losing her powers and quitting the team, though not the mansion). As is common for Claremont, a simple session in the Danger Room is judged too uninteresting, so instead Nightcrawler arranges a game of hide and seek with Colossus and Rogue, with presumably Rogue's powers of flight and Colossus' ability to tear apart nearby cover (including, for reasons not gone into, giant plugs in the ground) intended to compensate for 'Crawler's teleporting. One wonders how the rules work here, actually. Do you have to see Kurt himself? Just a flash as he disappears? Or even hear a "BAMF" and catch brimstone on the breeze? These are the sort of questions no-one ever thinks to ask.
There's a lovely moment here where Kurt tries to provoke Rogue into demonstrating the "seventh sense" (never could remember what the sixth was supposed to be) Carol Danvers once possessed, and does so by repeatedly 'porting around her, tickling her into the bargain. It's a really fun use of Kurt's powers, and a natural thing for him to want to do in his new role; unlock ways to make the team better.
The thing is, his character slams straight into Rogue's, who despises being tickled. Having been unable to touch anyone properly since her early teens, the idea of physical contact applied simply to piss her off is unbearable. It's a lovely example of different characterisations playing off one another, and the whole hide and seek idea is a refreshing change to endless villain attacks.
Then a villain attacks.
Meanwhile, over at the airport, Xavier, Rachel and Illyana are waiting for Kitty and Wolverine to step off their plane from Japan. Illyana has smuggled Lockheed into arrivals in her bag, which is utterly adorable. Rachel, for her part, is too busy having flashbacks (relatively speaking) to her time in the future, learning that she was sent back by Katherine Pryde just before the latter launched a suicide attack on a Nimrod Sentinel Facility. With the benefit of hindsight, it's obvious Claremont is building up to the Nimrod attack (we met the robot in question last issue), which frankly makes his decision to skip several months towards the end of the issue baffling. I guess Nimrod had to spend ages XP farming until he was ready to take the X-Men on. So many mutant boars dead in the forests of Westchester...
Back at the mansion, Warlock's father Magus has arrived to find his son, and eat as many living beings as possible. This is a fairly cut-and-paste cape-fight, in truth, though it's interesting how entirely Rogue ignores her orders from Nightcrawler, letting Magus try to take her over so as to disorient him long enough for Colossus to pummel him into unconsciousness. Oh, also the scrap features the first instance of Kurt grabbing part of an opponent and teleporting away whilst still holding it. This form of mutilation is clearly agonising for the victim, so it's a great relief that UXM holds to the tried and true tradition of not giving a shit how badly people get hurt so long as they don't look recognisably human.
Ultimately the X-Men force Magus to retreat, but are too punch-drunk to see where he goes (costing the life of a local policeman - Claremont really seems to be getting into murdering extras to show how unpleasant his villains are). I presume he'll be showing up in New Mutants fairly soon (though we've got the Legion arc to get through first), unless he too has decided to wait until the Christmas holidays to launch his attack.
This story takes place over the course of a few hours.
Xavier mentions here the problems caused for mutants by the recent outing of Dazzler, but we've compensated for that already. In any case, this hardly matters, because the end of this issue explicitly moves the narrative forward to the end of the autumn term at Columbia University. Ordinarily we ignore such gigantic leaps in chronology, but the issue specifically describes the jump as "several months later", which means that we're kind of stuck.
I'm not sure as of yet what Claremont thinks he's doing here. Last issue concluded an essentially unbroken run of tales that were explicitly set in the middle of summer, so he's entirely aware the clock has been moved forward by, at the absolute minimum, four months. What has Nimrod been up to in all this time? What about Magus?
To make this even more strange, Kitty is described as "barely fifteen" before the jump forward (by our timeline that's actually more or less right) despite celebrating her fifteenth birthday in a 1989 issue of Excalibur. Further proof, alas, that the John Seavey theory that indirectly birthed this blog is fatally flawed.
Lacking any great knowledge of the term times of American universities, I've just assumed that the conclusion to this issue takes place on the second Friday of December.
Friday 4th May and Friday 14th December, 1984
X+6Y+63 and X+6Y+287.
1 Marvel year = 3.18 standard years
(Beast is 33 years old)
Little Boots is born. That's the musician, not Emperor Caligula. Er, obviously...
"Nighty, you gotta do something 'bout that brimstone stench every time you 'port."
"Liebchen, it's my trademark. What would people say?"
"'Thank you?'" - Rogue and Nightcrawler.