Dec 9, 2013

The All-New, All-Different X-Men, Part 4: Needs More Jubilee

The X-Men by Claremont and Cockrum
A Multipart Study on Diversity and Melodrama
X-amining the X-Men Part 4: Needs More Jubilee 
Ben Smith

Previously, we took a look at the formation of the all-new, all diverse team of X-Men. Created by Len Wein with art by Dave Cockrum, writing duties were quickly handed over to Chris Claremont, in the newly revived X-Men title (it had been relegated to reprint status before). After a rough start, the stories progressively improved in quality. Last time, we ended on Jean Grey piloting a space shuttle through a solar flare, risking her life in an attempt to get the X-Men safely back to Earth.

To reiterate, my sole purpose for covering these comics is to force the X-Men on Duy, like how the Oklahoma City Thunder owners try to force their fanbase to believe that the Harden trade was a necessary move.

Enough talk, comics ho!

Uncanny X-Men #101. Author: Chris Claremont; Artist: Dave Cockrum; Inker: Frank Chiaramonte; Editor: Archie Goodwin

Jean Grey brings the shuttle in for a rough landing. After hitting the ground hard, it bounces and skips like a rock into the waters of Jamaica Bay.

Cyclops and the rest of the team make it to the surface of the water, but Jean has yet to be seen. Before Cyclops can try to dive down to “save” her, Jean appears, in most dramatic fashion.

Jean, now going by Phoenix, collapses into the water. Cyclops scoops her up, and with the rest of the team, makes it to the shore.

Using Professor X’s mental powers, the team escapes into the night as the authorities arrive on the scene. An indeterminate amount of time later, Wolverine is strolling along, and buys some flowers on his way to visit Jean in the hospital.

First: Wolverine’s infatuation with Jean Grey!

After much worrying on the part of the entire team, the doctor finally emerges to let them know she’s going to be okay. While the team erupts into furious celebration, Scott Summers links off to cry like a baby, because that is his way.

Before the X-Men can even finish enjoying themselves, Xavier interrupts them to say he’s sending them on a forced vacation, so that he and Scott can help Jean recover in peace. Banshee suggests they visit Ireland, since he just received the mysterious letter about his inheritance that cost the deliverer his life a few issues ago.

After a few weeks of visiting Ireland, the team finally arrives at Banshee’s ancestral home, Cassidy Keep (a giant castle on a sea-lined hill, as all castles are). From inside, Tom Cassidy watches their arrival, and sends poor beleaguered Eamon O’Donnell to welcome his cousin and his friend to their doom. The team is shown to their rooms, where Storm immediately gives herself a storm-based shower. Nightcrawler comes popping into her room some time later, to escort her to dinner. “Why should Colossus have all the fun?” he quips. (Confirming further that a relationship between Storm and Colossus was considered at one point.)

Everyone meets in the hall on their way to dinner, with Colossus and Nightcrawler playfully claiming Storm. Suddenly, a trap door opens up in the middle of the hall, sending the X-Men tumbling below. They are greeted by the self-proclaimed “villains of the peace,” Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut. They aim to do what no one else has been able to do, and that is to kill the X-Men.

Trapped in the dungeons with nowhere to turn, Storm’s claustrophobia takes full hold over her, and she collapses into screams.

My brain thoughts: Despite the legendary cover and the opening scene where Phoenix comes bursting out of the water, this was a bit of a clumsy issue, forcefully moving the team off into the next adventure while Jean recovers back in New York. This is also one of the early instances where Claremont’s extreme mad-on for Jean rears its ugly head, as the entire team is depicted as so concerned and so in love with the perfectness of Jean as she lays ailing in the hospital. Archie Goodwin has taken over as editor for Marv Wolfman, and there’s absolutely no way that isn’t a tremendous upgrade.

Uncanny X-Men #102. Author: Chris Claremont; Artist: Dave Cockrum; Inker: Sam Grainger; Editor: Archie Goodwin

Juggernaut is pounding on the X-Men while Storm screams in the corner, crippled by her claustrophobia. Banshee heads for Black Tom Cassidy, defeating him made all the more difficult by his immunity to his sonic scream (immunities to mutant powers based on family relation is one of the dumbest caveats in comics).

Colossus and Wolverine spend some time arguing, until Juggernaut takes Colossus out. Wolverine lets loose with a swipe from his “adamantium claws!” (Marking the first time that I’ve noticed them identified as adamantium, but I haven’t been paying real good attention.)

First: Wolverine’s Claws are Adamantium!

Wolverine’s claw have no effect. Nightcrawler tries to care for Storm but is chased up the wall. Storm tries to will herself into overcoming her trauma, flashing back to its beginnings.

Harlem in the ‘50s. A 6-month old Ororo is about to board a cab to catch a flight to Cairo with her mother, an African princess. Her father, was “aspiring photojournalist” David Munroe.

Five years later, Cairo is under attack during the Suez War. Before David can get his family away to safety, a fighter jet is hit and comes crashing into their home. Ororo’s parents are killed, and she is trapped in the wreckage.

After a time, she was able to pull herself free from the wreckage, and became a pick-pocket and beggar on the streets of Cairo. She eventually made her way South, to the Serengati Plain, where she remained until Xavier arrived to recruit her.

The memory of Xavier, calls out to Xavier and his telepathic abilities, still at the hospital back in New York. He asks Scott to join him out in the hallway, and we get a look at Jean’s new roommate, Misty Knight.

Xavier orders Scott to go help his teammates in Ireland. Scott refuses to leave Jean, and Xavier calls him an “ungrateful, unspeakable cur!” Before the argument can continue, Xavier gets another of his nightmarish telepathic flashes.

Back in Ireland, the Juggernaut is still pounding the X-Men. Nightcrawler is the only one making any kind of difference in the fight, staying high out of Juggy’s reach and swooping in to attack. Black Tom, having already taken care of Banshee, hits him with an energy bolt from his cane. Nightcrawler falls into a shaded corner, and we get our first glimpse of Nightcrawler’s newest ability. He is invisible in the shadows.

New power: Nightcrawler is invisible in shadows!

And that’s when this comic gets weird.

A hidden passage opens in the wall behind the unconscious Nightcrawler, and he is pulled to safety by two leprechauns.

Banshee recovers enough to continue his fight with Black Tom. Black Tom is mad because he thinks Sean, the former Interpol Agent, had sent him to prison for life. But someone had freed Tom and Juggernaut from prison, someone that wanted them to kill the X-Men.

Colossus finally recovers enough to go back at Juggernaut, and actually does some damage. But a little too much damage, because he causes the wall to collapse before getting knocked out again. Seeing Colossus fall again prompts Storm to partially overcome her fear, enough to attack Juggernaut with a force bolt. It is not nearly strong enough, and Juggernaut sends the force bolt back at her, knocking her out.

With most of the team unconscious and beaten, Juggernaut and Black Tom celebrate their victory, and with it brings the hope that Xavier will come to their rescue, so they can finish him once and for all.

My brain thoughts: A decent enough issue. I can’t remember if this is Misty’s first appearance or not, but it’s certainly an early one. I think Nightcrawler’s new power puts him up 4 to 2 on Wolverine, in that department.

Uncanny X-Men #103. Author: Chris Claremont; Artist: Dave Cockrum; Inker: Sam Grainger; Editor: Archie Goodwin

This issue begins as all good comics should, with an unconscious Nightcrawler being carried through hidden passageways by a group of leprechauns.

Nightcrawler wakes up, and is surprised by the identity of his saviors. Eamon O’Donnell arrives to explain everything that’s happening. Black Tom and Juggernaut arrived at the castle a while back and took it over. They were taking their orders from a tall man in red armor (Eric the Red). Eamon sent the letter out to Sean through their lawyer, not realizing that luring Banshee back to the castle was what Tom wanted all along.

A leprechaun leads Nightcrawler to the castle lab (because all castles have labs) to see the rest of the X-Men held captive by Black Tom. Black Tom plans to torture them, until Xavier has no choice but to come to their aid as a result of their psychic screams.

Nightcrawler hatches a plan, and teleports down in, disguised as Xavier via his image inducer.

Nighcrawler hops around and gets in a few good shots, all while disguised as Xavier. He dodges a mighty punch from Juggernaut, that takes out an outer wall of the castle instead. With a clear view of the sky, Storm finally snaps out of the trauma caused by her claustrophobia, and lets loose with hurricane-level winds.

Colossus and Wolverine are freed by Storm’s onslaught, but Banshee is still prisoner, and Nightcrawler is buried beneath some rubble.

Black Tom and Juggernaut taunt Storm, Colossus, and Wolverine with the captive Banshee. Storm flies up to save him, and Colossus tosses Wolverine up after getting mad about his calling Storm a “stupid broad.” Colossus tossed him too far though, and that’s when a leprechaun became the first person to speak Wolverine’s real name.

First: Wolverine’s real name is Logan!

Nightcrawler, having been saved by the leprechauns again, frees Banshee from his shackles. Banshee uses his sonic scream to destroy the floor beneath Juggernaut, and send him down below to face Storm, Colossus, and Wolverine.

Banshee is left to face Black Tom one-on-one, which ends with Tom taking a header over the edge of the castle, and falling far down into the cold murky water below. Juggernaut dives out after him, and the battle is finally won for the X-Men.

The final scene sees Eric the Red monitoring all this action, while taking orders from a mysterious figure that a Princess Neramani must not be allowed to contact the X-Men. Eric promises to take care of them, hinting at the involvement of the mighty Magneto himself.

My brain thoughts: This was a more enjoyable comic, even with the involvement of leprechauns.

Uncanny X-Men #104. Author: Chris Claremont; Artist: Dave Cockrum; Inker: Sam Grainger; Editor: Archie Goodwin

The X-Men are attempting to commandeer a boat, to get to Moira MacTaggert’s island as quickly as possible, and check on a friend of hers named Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man, for all you X-Factor fans out there). They are interrupted when a bolt of “eldritch fire” destroys their hovercraft.

The team makes it to shore, and arrives at Moira’s impressive seaside laboratory. They try to rush the joint, but are bounced back by an invisible force field. The force field surrounds them, lifting them, along with a chunk of the ground, up and into the wall of the lab.

The X-Men use their combined powers to punch a hole into the wall before they get splattered.

The door in front of them glows red hot, and then explodes, and Magneto stands revealed.

Meanwhile, on the landing pad behind the lab, Cyclops and Moira arrive in the X-Men’s Blackbird jet. Cyclops is annoyed by Xavier never revealing to him the existence of her Mutant Research Center, where dangerous mutants are kept captive.

Unus the Untouchable’s cell, keeping him safely locked away from both society and comic readers.

They find the unconscious Madrox, and he recounts to them how he was ambushed by Eric the Red, Havok, and Polaris. They went to the cell of baby Magneto (having been turned into a baby in Defenders #16, thank you caption boxes) and used a mysterious ray to age him back to an adult.

Cyclops heads off to find the X-Men, not believing they are ready to face Magneto on their own yet. For once Cyclops appears to be right, as Colossus and Wolverine are at a distinct disadvantage against the mutant master of magnetism.

The rest of the team is not faring much better, with Magneto returned to the peak of his power and confidence. Nightcrawler, Storm, and Banshee are quickly dispatched.

Cyclops arrives with an eye-bolt to the back, but Magneto gets his shields up in time.

Unable to punch through Magneto’s shield, Cyclops puts together that with the involvement of Eric the Red, the real danger is probably to Xavier back in New York. He gathers the team to make a hasty retreat back to the States.

With the team on the Blackbird heading back to New York, Cyclops breaks it down. First, Eric tried to kill Xavier at the airport. Then he tried to use Juggernaut to lure him into a death-trap at Cassidy Keep. And now, they tried to distract the team by fighting Magneto, but Cyclops believes the real danger is to Xavier in New York.

Magneto is feeling very good about himself after embarrassing the new X-Men. Behind him, we get a glimpse of a door marked “Mutant X,” but that is a story for another time (which has already been covered here).

Up in space, Corsair and Ch’od of the Starjammers say some things (sorry, I always block out any Starjammers stuff).

While nearby, the mysterious stranger from Xavier’s psychic visions has finally made it to Earth’s orbit.

Down below, in Greenwich Village, a recovered Jean arrives at her parent’s house with Misty and Xavier in tow. Outside, Eric the Red, Havok, and Polaris play menacing peeping toms.

My brain thoughts: Just when the book seems to be putting everything together with a well-played overmatched battle against Magneto, it teases the involvement of Starjammers in the near future.

My final brain thoughts: Leprechauns.

The new X-Men are progressing along. Nightcrawler keeps acquiring new abilities and powers. More is slowly being revealed about the virtually unknown Wolverine. Storm’s past as a pick-pocket and uncontrollable claustrophobic is revealed. Moira’s Mutant Research Center is revealed, which will be used heavily throughout the publishing history of the X-Men. Colossus remains the only under-developing character, but that’s probably mostly because he’s boring.

Much like we discovered in the last chapter of this horrifying look at the early tales of the all new X-Men, the better the villains, the better the stories. This time out we get two X-heavyweights in Juggernaut and Magneto, with a sprinkling of Black Tom Cassidy (funny that I know those two guys more from the classic Roger Stern Spider-Man story). These stories are pretty decent, as far as ‘70s comic books go, but the real novelty lies in the slow reveals of all these characters that would go on to be so wildly popular later on.

But this book still needs way more yellow-raincoat Jubilee.

Next time, more X-Men!

You can read this in the Omnibus of the first stretch of All-New, All-Different X-Men:

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