Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Uncanny X-Men #262-#263: I Heard You Like Tentacles

I posted my "help wanted" ad for "Ukko" on Tuesday, and by Sunday night I had sketches of the first panel in my inbox, from a artist I'm thrilled to be working with. I've posted them to the Ukko twitter account if you want to check them out. So, that's one New Year's resolution ticked off.

Uncanny X-Men #262-#263 will always be known primarily as the story in which Jean Grey's arms are replaced with tentacles by Masque and she kinda likes it.

Let's review how we got here (for I have been disregarding subplots). Banshee and Forge have left Muir Island searching for the X-Men, having heard a rumour. They've been trying to keep things on the QT from Moira, because she has been wearing clothes that are frankly quite inappropriate in a work environment. They saw a news report about Dazzler being alive, so decided to go to North America, and seem to have stopped off at the X-Mansion, possibly to check what's going on with Callisto who hasn't reported back after being sent to make sure the security systems on the basement are fine. There they meet up with Jean Grey and get involved in an adventure with Morlocks.

So. Masque is our villain here. Masque does things that are a bit twisted, even for Masque: apart from the tentacles on Jean and the I-Have-No-Mouth routine on Banshee, there's recognising the amnesiac and powerless Colossus and altering his skin to look metallic even though it isn't really. This sets up a great scene later on when he breaks through into his steel form and this comes as a great surprise to the smashees. But the more disturbing action is the one that goes against his usual M.O. - restoring Callisto's beauty.

We don't know a massive amount of Callisto's backstory yet, but it's plain here that she had to do a lot of mental work to accept her physical appearance. This is also tied in to her status as a Morlock - because of that convention of Masque altering them all. Suddenly changing her appearance back again, and playing mind-games is a savage attack on her identity, and a deliberate rejection of her from the group, by someone who sees her as a race-traitor. This book just got political again.


  1. Again, never been big fans of this issue (though all of the political stuff you highlighted pretty much went over my head when I was a kid, the last time I read these).

    I've always been somewhat pedantically bothered by Masque being able to use his power to give Jean tentacle arms an whatnot, since that seemed like a totally different power (or at least, a greater level of power) than he'd previously exhibited.

    I mean, treating flesh like clay and re-sculpting bodies I can wrap my head around. But turning arms into tentacles always seemed like too big a leap, a change from molding faces/bodies to outright changing them. I mean, could he give someone four arms? Or no arms? Or lizard arms? Where does it stop?