Tuesday, October 23, 2007

UNCANNY X-MEN #293 – October 1992

The Last Morlocks Story
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Rurik Tyler (breakdowns), Tom Raney (pencils), Joe Rubinstein (inks), Lois Buhalis (letters), Kevin Tinsley (colors)

The X-Men discover Mikhail in one of the Morlock tunnels. He has declared himself the new leader of the Morlocks, and is plotting a mass suicide. Callisto fights Xavier in another tunnel, before Mikhail teleports them away to join him. Meanwhile, Jean finds Archangel alone and tells him that he has always been responsible for the actions of his wings. They rejoin the X-Men, but Mikhail overrides Jean’s telekinetic abilities and forces the team to leave the tunnels. After opening up the floodgates, Mikhail, Callisto, and the Morlocks apparently drown.

Commercial Break
There’s an ad for the Super Nintendo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV - Turtles in Time game. I played this game for hours and never got sick of it. It’s the main reason why I begged my parents for a Super Nintendo that year. Licensed video games have a reputation for outright sucking, but I don’t remember any of the Turtle games from this era being bad. There’s also an ad for Battletoads, a fun game for the NES that came out during the height of Turtle-Mania.

Creative Differences
On page 8, a word balloon obviously not lettered by Buhalis has Callisto comment that Xavier is so weak that his “much vaunted psionic defenses” didn’t warn him of her presence. This line was apparently added to cover up the fact that Callisto probably shouldn’t be able to sneak up on the world’s strongest telepath.

Continuity Notes
Oh, man…where to start? On page eleven, Archangel says that the Reavers nailed him to a wall and robbed him of his wings. It was actually the Marauders, something I don’t think Archangel would’ve forgotten.

The letters page prints a letter from a fan commenting on Archangel’s new look (the hair and pale blue skin). As originally established, Archangel’s entire costume and skin were one and the same (he even referred to himself as bald during the Inferno crossover). Years later, Portacio began drawing Archangel with pale blue skin all over his entire body, and a head full of blonde hair. The dark blue and purple areas suddenly became his costume, not his skin. I don’t know if this was ever addressed during Portacio’s run on X-Factor, but it’s always struck me as a jarring transition. The editor’s response is that Archangel kept this a secret because he didn’t want to upset his friends (huh?).

On page nineteen, the infamous “Archangel could always control his wings” retcon is introduced. Up until a few issues before this, it had always been explicitly stated that Archangel was not in control of his wings.

The group suicide of Mikhail and the Morlocks would play a role in many upcoming stories, including the origin story of future X-Man Marrow.

Marvel continues to imply that Storm and Bishop are heading for a relationship in the letters page. This idea was thankfully forgotten pretty quickly. Even as a kid, I thought it was odd that these two characters would apparently be forming a romantic relationship based solely on their race.

This is the comic that almost killed the enthusiasm I had for the x-titles as a twelve year old. I hated everything about this comic, and probably would’ve dropped this title altogether if I wasn’t lured in by next issue’s crossover. I think my main reason for hating it at the time was its disregard for the continuity I had already been following. Reading it now as an adult, I just find more of its flaws.

First of all, there’s no clear focus on anything in this storyline. The first chapter focused heavily on Storm and her connection to the Morlocks. After the first issue, Storm practically disappears for the rest of the story. The spotlight then jumps to Xavier, a character with virtually no connection to Callisto and the Morlocks. Apparently, the idea is to parallel Callisto losing her attractive looks with Xavier losing his ability to walk again. Just typing that out emphasizes how absurd this idea is.

Callisto, the character who started the chain of events, can’t maintain a consistent motivation. In the first two chapters, she wants revenge on the Morlocks for trying to kill her. Now, she wants to kill Xavier, apparently to prove that she’s the true leader of the Morlocks. What? Aside from contradicting the first two chapters of this story, this doesn’t make any sense in the first place. Mikhail’s attempt to use the Morlocks to regain his lost followers at least makes a little more sense, but the characterization of the Morlocks themselves doesn’t work. Are they supposed to be crazy or not? They were supposedly driven mad by they psychic kid from last issue. Now that Xavier has cured him, why are they still acting nuts? And not one Morlock objects to the whole “group suicide” idea?

I didn’t pick up on a lot of the shaky plotting of this storyline as a kid, but I certainly noticed the retcon involving Archangel’s wings. It ranks down there with Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn’s love children in terms of poorly thought-out retcons that don’t make sense. Having Jean reveal this, and say that she knew it all along, makes it stink even worse (it also reminds me of Mary Jane telling Peter that she knew about Gwen’s affair all along, too). I hadn’t read a lot of the original X-Factor issues at this point, but almost every one I had read focused on Warren’s out of control wings hurting innocent people (I could be wrong, but I think his wings might’ve actually killed some characters). Now we’re supposed to believe that Jean knew that he could stop this all along, but never told him? This is ridiculous.

This retcon was apparently done to remove a lot of Archangel’s angst and lighten the character up. I don’t have a problem with the goal, but the execution is terrible. Why would learning this cheer him up? Wouldn’t the knowledge that he had hurt so many innocent people, and try to kill his friends, just drive him further into depression? Not in the world of Uncanny X-Men, apparently. The next issue opens with a cheerful Warren going out on a date with his girlfriend.

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