Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Uncanny X-Men #221-#222: Feeling Sinister

X-Men has been running out of good recurring villains lately. There's Magneto, but he's on the team now. The Hellfire Club are allies. Juggernaut was always a bit rubbish and his personal connection is in space. Sentinels are all right, but we're still in the shadow of Days of Future Past. Nimrod just doesn't have what it takes. Sauron? Hah, now you're having me on. Marauders are interesting though: what's the deal with them?

Uncanny X-Men #221 shows us the mastermind behind the Marauders: Mr. Sinister, rather boldly using a splash page on the first page (rather than the cover!) Sinister has pale white skin, black hair, a diamond in the middle of his forehead, solid red eyes, hollow cheeks, shark's teeth, and a goatee that mirrors his widow's peak and aligns perfectly with his diamond. Mr. Sinister looks more like a geometrical design than a human face.

Sinister is tearing the Marauders (Scrambler, Arclight, Scalphunter, Vertigo, Sabretooth, Harpoon and now Polaris) a new one about their failure to adequately kill Madelyne Pryor. Meanwhile, she's woken up, called the X-Men from San Francisco and demanded to know what is going on: where is Scott and what has he done with the baby? Which is fair enough. What I'd also like to know is if the Marauders were trying to kill her how did she end up in SF? I suppose we'll find out soon enough.

They go, with Wolverine leading a team consisting of Psylocke, Havok, Rogue, Dazzler and Longshot. They arrive at the hospital (incidentally can I just say how awesome it is that it locates it near the Emperor Norton Bridge) just at the moment the Marauders arrive to finish the job. An absurd coincidence as presented, but one we can fix by assuming that the cutaway to Maddy in #215 was really just immediately prior to this.

There's a fight. You may have expected that. X-Men win, eventually. Dazzler saves Rogue, which gives some resolution to their fractious relationship (Rogue was a longstanding Dazzler enemy in her solo series.) Lieutenant Sabrina Morrel makes another appearance. And Havok finds out that Polaris is the new leader of the Marauders. Well, thankfully he finds out that Polaris is possessed by Malice. Whether he's convinced or not by Malice's protestations otherwise is another matter...

This story is exactly the kick in the teeth this series needed at this point. Don't get me wrong: I like the little character stories. They're great. They are what X-Men is about. (And I'm not massively a fan of 1980s action comics action sequences, you may also have guessed!) But sometimes, when you've got injured and/or dead bodies, you need to remember that from time to time and concentrate on that main plot, lest your characters start appearing at Harry Potter 7 Part 1 levels of ineffectuality.

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