Monday, 22 October 2012

Uncanny X-Men #169-#171: Morlocks and Rogue

Uncanny X-Men #169-#170 is a little two-part story which introduces the Morlocks, followed by an epilogue in #171 which also features Rogue. They've captured Angel (who is living with Candy Sothern - that version is coming up so frequently I can't quite believe it's a simple misspelling), and Callisto plans to wed him.

X-Men stop that, but at what cost... Storm defeats Callisto in a fight "to the death" (Callisto gets better in #171), because she sees no other option, thus continuing her spiralling descent since the Brood eggs arc. Caliban, who we'd met in #148, is now seen as one of them, seeking out new recruits for them, and helps provide the information they need, in exchange for Kitty agreeing to stay down there with him in the tunnels, and be his friend.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, we've still not yet met Scott's grandparents, but he's become fascinated by Madelyne Pryor. Who is not just similar-looking to Jean Grey, but is the spitting image of her. And turns out to have survived a plane crash on September 1, 1980. I simply don't believe Claremont's claim that this was all originally supposed to be a coincidence. Why do that - why have the little tease "How'd you know that's my favorite breakfast"/"Simple - I'm a mind-reader"?

And somewhere else, in a safe house, Mystique is having strange dreams, not unlike the ones that Jean Grey had during Mastermind's brainwashing of her (a narrative caption curiously pegs her birth year as 1953, which not only rules out the long Wolverine-like appearances throughout the century, but also means she cannot be Nightcrawler's parent. Er, not that we know that yet.)

She's going by the name "Raven" even in private with Irene, now. And Rogue has run off, apparently also under the influence of Mastermind. Where could she have gone? To the X-Men's mansion it turns out (er, so that's another on the list of people who know where to find the X-Men - it must basically be common knowledge by now), where she begs for help.

The result of this is slightly spoiled by the cover (Rogue joins the X-Men!), but it's good stuff anyway. Storm and the X-Men are strongly against it - despite having offered refuge to the Morlocks that very day; but Binary reacts more violently. Xavier makes a Patrick Stewart Speech (I do wonder whether there's a little mind control going on here), and the matter is settled. Rogue joins, and nobody quits, apart from Binary, who hasn't really been hanging around the mansions since they returned from space anyway. Not enough meat of this is made, I think.

Xavier's relatively liberal attitude to Rogue - welcoming her in even over the objections of his team - can be compared to the Morlocks, who remain in the tunnel system. Sure, they make a token effort to invite them back, but Storm could try a little stronger - she is leader now after all - they could suggest someone comes and visits on a trial basis. Once more we see the X-Men's passing privilege raise its beautiful head. Nightcrawler says that he's found it OK upstairs, apparently forgetting that he's had access to an image inducer. Even on a practical level this is odd - Healer and Masque would be very good additions to the team in so far as their power-sets - is this a case of prejudice defeating even practicality?

And, finally another little sub-plot! Crikey, Claremont does like embedding them in, doesn't he? While Xavier and Lilandra are looking at Rogue, the other X-Men go have a session in the Danger Room. Illyana programs it with Belasco's realm, and when Kitty tries to turn it off, she uses a kind of strange sword (that has come from nowhere) to stop her. Something's going on here, but looks like we've got another slow burner.

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