Friday, 23 November 2012

Uncanny X-Men #196: Welcome to the X-Men, Magneto

Some things happened in Secret Wars II 1, but I'm not going to read that miniseries, because it can't get any better than Luke Cage misunderstanding monetary theory and the Beyonder turning a building into gold (as my favourite comment on that post points out, he's not called BUYING POWER MAN).

So, let's look at our tie-in issue in isolation. Uncanny X-Men #196 starts with Dr Xavier (hrm, had it actually been confirmed he had a PhD beforehand?) lecturing at Columbia University, and getting the impression there's someone in this room who is intent on murder. Who, exactly, he doesn't know, because since he was mugged he's been taking telepathic-suppressant drugs (which he is, incidentally, lying about). He brings the X-Men to him (and Magneto and Lee), and asks them to go check on the various students.

Anti-mutant prejudice has reached the status of a moral panic. Our bad guys are turning on Kitty Pryde and declaring her to be a mutant just for being a student at the School (I guess the secret of what "gifted youngsters" is a euphemism for is out, then). Kitty loses the moral high ground by comparing mutie with her favourite shocking word, to someone's face, before then getting chloroformed, in the face. We then discover that the murder that the students were planning was... of Xavier! They've left a kind of mindbomb, which Xavier doesn't trigger on account of his drugs, but Rachel does.

That sends Rachel raging, and showing her hound-face to the other X-Men. She's ready enough to kill Phil and his gang, but Magneto, of all people, talks her out of it. Magneto's development here is rather sudden. Is this still all building out of the moment in #150 with Kitty, or is there other stuff that we're not privy to? I suppose the Lee Forrester stuff was working toward this.

Meanwhile, Nightcrawler is visiting Father Bowen, Marvel New York's go-to guy if you need a Catholic priest. He's Tandy's uncle (I think what's happened here is that Claremont has noticed there are two characters with the surname Bowen and then decided they should be related?), aided Karma and her siblings, and now now makes his first appearance in Uncanny, and now helps Nightcrawler deal with a crisis of faith. Kurt has been a believer ever since that Brood arc, and here we see what that actually means for him in a world of marvels and miracles. Is there a room for the Christian god when your team is on first-name terms with Thor?

It's been a while. Have a chart. This is an important one, as it marks the first interlinking of two previously separate groups.

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