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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 135

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at Uncanny X-Men #169-170, by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith…

Enjoy!

This two parter, written by Claremont and drawn by Paul Smith (with inks by the great Bob Wiacek) told the tale of the Morlocks (mutants whose mutations left them unable to blend in with the surface world) and their “queen,” Callisto, who kidnapped the reserve member of the X-Men, Angel, to be her “prince” – whether he liked it or not!

The X-Men show up to save the day, but one of the Morlocks named Plague, whose power is, naturally, to make people deathly ill, used her powers on Kitty Pryde, who is being nursed to health by Caliban, the Morlock who had a big crush on her (to the point of being a bit of a stalker).

After the X-Men battle for awhile, Plague also uses her power on Storm. The X-Men are held captive while the twisted wedding ceremony goes on – but it is interrupted…

Wow, what a pairing of story and art, huh?

Paul Smith was just so masterful during this run on Uncanny.

This was a great little tale that ended up being referenced frequently over the years. While Smith is really the “star” of the above pages, Claremont should not be overlooked – the plot itself is cool and there’s also some great lines, like Storm’s last line of dialogue.

16 Comments

The ’90s animated X-men were recently released on DVD and an imitation of that sequence is shown. The original scene (seen above) is so brilliant i had to show it to my GF. The TV episodes mean well, but at the end of the day, most feel like non-alcoholic beverages compared to the real thing.

The dialogue reads as cliched, leaden and dull, not to mention pretentious, to me- but that’s always been my perception of Claremont’s work (post-1981), so take it with a grain of salt.

Of course, Storm didn’t really kill Chrissie Hynde, so that kinda blunts the impact in hindsight as well.

Plus, how fricking strong is Storm supposed to be, anyway? Carrying Warren around like that…

@Johnny:

Angel’s bones are hollow, so he’d be pretty light. To me, the dialogue sounds like 80′s comics, but I think that it does a great job of establishing the personalities of the various players as distinct from each other.

Ethan Shuster

May 16, 2010 at 7:44 am

I think part of the trouble with the dialogue is that Storm, Cyclops and Nightcrawler all seem to be known for having sort of unnatural “serious” ways of speaking. Maybe part of that has to do with Claremont’s run, I suppose.

Wait– what?? Angel’s bones are hollow? How the heck does that work? How does he walk? Get out of bed in the morning? Eat? Hit people? Is this why they turned him blue and gave him that awful razor wing costume?

You have to overlook me, I guess…I stopped buying X-Men comics not long after Byrne left, in large part because Claremont was getting more and more heavy-handed with his stylistic tendencies. I’ve seen and glanced at an issue or three via friends or the Internet over the years, hard not to, but I’m pretty ignorant about what passes for canon in X-fan circles.

Ethan, I’d say that has everything to do with Claremont’s run.

Oh, and I read the first few Morrison New X-Men trades, for what that’s worth, but I understand that’s a whole different thing.

I will now stop monopolizing the comments thread. Thanks.

Nightcrawler has medical training?

Didn’t you show these pages here before? I know I’ve seen them somewhere in the last year or so.

“I think part of the trouble with the dialogue is that Storm, Cyclops and Nightcrawler all seem to be known for having sort of unnatural “serious” ways of speaking. Maybe part of that has to do with Claremont’s run, I suppose.”

Keep in mind that for Colossus and Nightcrawler at least, English is a second language. Many people who learn English through textbooks or language classes speak a more formal, “proper” style of English as a result. I personally don’t have any problem with the dialogue here at all.

Willie Everstop

May 16, 2010 at 11:06 am

@Johnny: Storm, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler are supposed to be unnaturally serious people. Cyclops is an isolated orphan who almost never communicated people unless they were mutants under his command. Storm and Nightcrawler are religious leaders who speak English as a second language.

Now that I think about it most of the New X-Men learned their English from Professor X’s mental crash courses. Maybe they all unconsciously spoke like him.

Willie Everstop

May 16, 2010 at 11:08 am

Scott beat me to it. Storm might have spoke English as a child, but she spent the next decade wandering Africa.

I always loved the Morlocks storylines. Great final line and Smith does a dynamic job of displaying movement here! The Morlocks remind of Gatecrasher’s crew during the Cross-Time Caper in Excalibur, any chance of that arc being featured?

Clean, understandable X-Men art? It’s inconceivable…but AWESOME!!!

It’s kind of sad that Paul Smith art like this can never really be seen again as they looked when they first came out. The original copies have deteriorated due to the shitty printing used at the time (as is readily apparent from the scans above) and reprints always look noticeably “tampered with” and just somehow “off” from the way they “really” looked.

Brian– This is kind of out of the blue, I guess, but I don’t know where else to mention it. As long as you’re doing these Cool Comics, have you ever read a story called ‘Name Game’? I have no idea who wrote or drew it. I read it in an Archie digest years ago. I assume the story originally appeared in the ’70s.
Archie and Betty meet each other on the street, get excited and start kissing, then Veronica hears them from around a corner and confronts them. Archie gets embarassed and tries to explain his actions, but Veronica is too furious, and when Betty tries to intervene, Veronica turns on her. Then some good-looking guy shows up in a convertable, calls out to Veronica, who runs to him, and they drive off together, leaving Archie all upset over the loss of Veronica. But then Betty comforts him, and he realises how wonderful she is, and they walk over together hand in hand.
The dialogue consists entirely of the characters saying each other’s names over and over.

It would make a nice change from all the super-hero and adventure stories you’ve been having. (It would be great if you could print the entire story, since it’s only a few pages, but I’d understand if there were legal problems with that.)

Panel 1 on the 4th page featured here is the absolute definitive Storm panel.

It’s where she embraces her humanity in full. The goddess’ bare feet touch the filthy ground. She fights like her tribal ancestors, not some superhero or false deity. The cheering onlookers blend into one form and become the flames surrounding a deadly, ritualistic dance. This is *years* of characterization finally hitting it’s crux.

Obviously, Smith delivered this moment, but he couldn’t have done so if he hadn’t had such a firm grasp of what Claremont was doing. Say what you will about Claremont’s repetitive, clunky dialogue. When you read years of his work consecutively, you realize the dialogue is often a ploy to distract you from what’s really going on under the surface.

And Claremont had the good sense to be quiet when the pictures told the story adequately. 1 1/2 pages of comics with no dialogue at the climax of this powerful scene? Great stuff.

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