Saturday, 22 September 2012

X-Men #129-#131: Hello, Goodbye

There are farewells at the start of X-Men #129, as we leave Alex, Lorna, Jamie, Moira and now Sean on Muir Island, and the X-Men return to Westchester.

I'd written that last bit on the post about the Arcade arc, having forgotten that we get some helloes so soon, too. Xavier has arrived back from the Shi'ar Empire, having been completely spooked when he looked into a record of Jean and the crystal. He is training the X-Men hard, and bizarrely thinks that giving Wolverine "demerits" is a good way to win him over. That's all stopped by the appearance of two new mutants on Cerebro: one in New York and one in Chicago.

Jean, by the way, keeps getting these "time-slips", where she sees herself in the past, with Jason Wyngarde. He's manipulating this for the sinister purpsoes of the Hellfire Club, also consisting of Sebastian Shaw and a White Queen. He plans to unlock Jean's dark side, and so is messing with her head. Jean should probably have mentioned this to Scott, or Xavier, or someone, especially when she finds out that there's a Jason Wyngarde who is a member of the Hellfire Club who just tried to capture them. But this era of the comic is full of people who really should have told other characters things. They know about the blips because they had a spy (Warhawk) plant bugs, so we finally find out what that was about. What Xavier really needs is someone who could have prevented this or at least warned him - maybe his own spy inside the Hellfire Club?

We meet young Katherine Pryde (13 going on 14), who manages to save the X-Men from Emma Frost the day she found out she was a mutant with "phasing" power. To put it in her words (from Astonishing #2)

The first time I ever met the X-Men, the first day...they were ambushed. And captured. And caged. By you. I learned more about good and evil in that one day than I ever have before or since. I was thirteen.

So, yes, that went well. Dazzler helps too, too. Yes, it's her debut as well. Phoenix finishes her off, natch.

Finally we return to Kitty's parents. They're a bit upset at what's happen so it gets fixed by a mindwipe. But Phoenix beats Xavier to the punch here. Oh dear. Where are you going to stop?

Now, let's talk a bit about Claremont's source material for this. The well-documented influence is of course a 1966 episode of the ITV television programme The Avengers (starring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg), named "A Touch of Brimstone", which caused quite a storm. That too, featured a Hellfire Club, and a Wyngarde (Peter) trying to make a Queen of a female protagonist (Emma Peel, who we can assume Ms. Frost is named after). That Hellfire Club is less in it for global domination, though, and more for the chaotic neutral mischief. What's less obvious is the possible influence of a slightly later episode of the show, called "Escape in Time", which features people made to believe they have travelled in time, for nefarious purposes. I wonder if they had to pay Thames Television off when they did X-Men: First Class?

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