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Five Goofiest Moments in Uncanny X-Men #103-107

Every week, I’ll examine the five goofiest moments from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book series. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

This week, we look at X-Men #103-107, written by Chris Claremont (with a fill-in by Bill Mantlo) and drawn by Dave Cockrum (pencils on #103-105, 107 and partial pencils on #106), Bob Brown (pencils on most of #106), Sam Grainger (inks on #103-104), Bob Layton (inks on #105), Tom Sutton (inks on #106) and Dan Green (inks on #107).

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!). In this particular instance, we’re talking about the early days of one of the all-time great creative runs on a title. So this is not a real criticism of these stories – just pointing out the goofy parts of them. It’s all in good fun.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Claremont’s X-Men certainly often had a bit of what you would call “purple prose,” and that’s fair enough – it was a lot of what made the comics charming. However, I still got a kick out of the narrator’s use of “aye” in this page from #106…

I like comics where they seem like they’re been narrated by Ishmael from Moby Dick.

This bit from #104 is probably not all that goofy, I just like the fact that this plot thread was not addressed until something like 17 years later….

In #104, Cyclops momentarily forgot that he hangs out with Charles “Lies are what I do” Xavier. “Yeah, this one time, Professor X convinced us he was dead so he could ward off an alien invasion. But that’s nothing compared to not telling us about a mutant research center! That one takes the cake!”

#104 also gave us a glimpse of that conflicted anti-hero, Magneto, who thinks he’s killed Banshee…

which he’s doing because….why exactly? Because he’s pissed that Xavier held him when he was turned into an infant by someone else entirely? Because of that, he’s going to kill Banshee? Oooookay…

Speaking of Magneto, #104 is not the beginning of the habit comic book writers had of making up new uses of Magneto’s powers, but I think Claremont took it to a whole other level (culminating in the final story of his initial X-Men run where Magneto deflects Gambit’s playing card back at him – you know, magnetism totally affects paper!) This bit from #104 is a good example of how comic book writers had Magneto seemingly do anything…

“My force beams can’t get through his…magnetism! Everyone knows magnetism keeps out force beams!”

That’s a whole lot better than Eric the Red’s powers, which seem to be “whatever the story needs at that moment,” like in #104, re-aging Magneto…

Speaking of Eric the Red, clearly Claremont was making up his plots as he went along, which is totally fine, don’t get me wrong – I don’t have a problem with that at all. It just leads to funny moments like in #107 where he has to explain past stories that now really don’t have an explanation, so he just has Lilandra hang a lampshade on it…

“What? So we don’t know how he found Polaris. Whatever! Shut up!”

5. Less goofy the second time around

I featured the fact that Banshee’s castle in Ireland has LEPRECHAUNS in it at #1 the previous list of goofy moments (X-Men #98-102), so I can’t really feature it at the top this time around, but it is still goofy enough that I think it has to merit a top five showing.

4. You have to work on your bedside manner there, Charles…

In #105, Jean Grey’s parents discover for the first time that their daughter is a superhero. They then watch their daughter vanish into an interstellar portal. Naturally, their minds are spinning and they look to Xavier for guidance and comfort…good luck there, Greys!

“What is going on?!” “Calm down! Don’t panic! I just sent your daughter to her death. Don’t worry, I am really good at finding replacements when the X-Men all get killed.”

3. “Oh man, have I always had this tail?”

This is another one that also appeared in the last list, but this extended riff is even goofier. How did Nightcrawler never notice this power before?!?

And of course, it has almost never been used again ever since.

2. Making Onslaught seem good in comparison…

#106 was a weird issue. It was a fill-in issue by Bill Mantlo and Bob Brown that was never needed. It was set to be published sometime before #100, if need be. It was not needed at first, but Cockrum eventually did fall behind, so they re-worked the fill-in issue into a unseen flashback, with Claremont and Cockrum doing a framing sequence for the issue. One of the oddest part of the story is the fact that if it was set to possibly be published soon before #100, why did the editors let Mantlo write a story that was extremely similar in style to #100 (where the original X-Men seemingly fight the new X-Men)? In the issue, the original X-Men show up to fight the new team. So it being a flashback already sort of made #100 seem a bit weird, since no one on the X-Men said, “Wow, we’re fighting the original X-Men AGAIN? We just fought fake versions of the original X-Men the other day!” However, the goofiest aspect of the story is the revelation that the fake Original X-Men were manifestations of Xavier’s evil self, who dresses very comically…

I like that the X-Men are not even thrown by the fact that Xavier almost let his dreams kill them. “Oh, by the way, I have an evil self that can come out if I ever get sick and have bad dreams. You best keep me healthy, my X-Men!”

1. Wolverine’s name was first revealed by a leprechaun.

Just let that sit for awhile – the first time we learn Wolverine’s name is “Logan” is when a LEPRECHAUN tells us it…

Way too awesome to be believed. Especially that look that Wolverine gives! Priceless.

58 Comments

The “invisible Nightcrawler” pages were actually dramatically altered when the story was reprinted in Classic X-Men, one of the few examples where Claremont actually removed stuff instead of just adding to it. (Don’t see what the problem with Nightcrawler turning invisible in the dark was, personally.)

Think a lot of this stuff was Cockrum’s ideas rather than Claremont’s (certainly he had a thing about adding new dimensions to Nightcrawler all the time).

Also, according to Mark Waid, the “evil side of Xavier” (who appeared again in X-Men Vs Micronauts also written by Claremont and Mantlo – where he TRIED TO RAPE KITTY PRYDE) was actually the basis behind Onslaught, in fact that’s who Onslaught was going to be until someone ‘decided to throw Magneto in there at the last minute’ just to confuse matters.

Actually, in the _first_ X-Men story Magneto’s fields could resist Cyclops’ eye beams.

Magnetism does work on many things most people don’t think of it affecting, including light. In the real world, such effects are pretty subtle. Given comic book science, though…

….I’ve been wondering for years how the ‘bug-eyed broad’s’ plot was resolved. Anyone know?

Her name is Dragonfly. Everything you could possibly want to know: http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix5/dragonflydultry.htm

Thanks tomdaylight, I can now go to my grave in peace after waiting 36 years for some closure.

It was done in an issue of Quasar….Actually referenced last summer in a column…

Thanks for showing how in Claremont’s early run, Magneto was still an out-and-out VILLAIN who would kill pretty mcuh anyone without a second thought. So many folks are so enamored of the retconned anti-hero characterization, they tend to forget that it IS a retcon.

Yeah, I think you’re going to get a lot of feedback about this one, Brian.

Insofar as Cyke’s eyebeams have never (to my knowledge) been definitively explained, which is actually a good thing when dealing with the insane/impossible (i.e. “fantasy”), we can possibly conclude that they’re streams of charged particles (a “particle beam”, if you will), which magnetism is always happy to futz with. Keeps the CERN lads in business, after all, to say nothing of all life on Earth vis-a-vis our own magnetic shield.

Happy 2012!

“To me, my X-Men!”

That line is so goofy Mickey wants to be its best friend.

Just wait till Cyke learns about his brother Vulcan and the other new X-Men sent to fight Krakoa!

Jean Grey’s father: “So do we get a discount on tuition next semester, or what?”

I think Xavier was inhabited by an evil fear creature named Parallax. Let’s remove Parallax and restore Xavier to goodness!

@John Trumbull: It’s definitely a retcon, but it’s a retcon put in place by Claremont, he introduced the Holocaust history and start exploring Magneto’s past with Xavier and making him more sympathetic in and around issue #150. It may be an obvious retcon, but it makes the character much more interesting to read/write than “I’m an evil mutant who wants to rule the world!” In fact, Claremont always tried to make villains who had depth, the only one of his original creations who is just evil for the sake of being evil is Mr. Sinister, where it was intentional (hence the name).

If that leprechaun was so smart why didn’t he call him James Howlett?

Eric The Red in general was always really goofy for me.

I liked Nightcrawler being able to disappear in shadows like that. John Byrne absolutely hates it from what I’ve read.

randypan the goatboy

January 8, 2012 at 10:57 am

Just a little hindsight here, but if the leprechaun knew that Wolverine’s name was Logan[ I am still a little in the dark on this part,,,did wolverine know his name was logan? or was this just a reveal for the fans?] why didn’t Wolverine ask him a few more questions? ” Ok you know my real name bub..got anything else I need to know?” Am i related to any psychopathic supervillains? will it hurt when magneto does the obvious and yanks the metal out of my skeleton? Why would DC and marvel wait a few years to long to pull the trigger on a fight that fanboys will be talking about for years…only to have the fight be off screen?how will i find time to be in the x-men and the Avengers…not to mention X force and any title that needs a guest star to steal a few more sales?….

John Byrne hates everything ever written by any writer who isn’t John Byrne, from what I’ve read.

So Kurt’s invisibility in shadows also extended to the crimson red and ivory white parts of his costume? Unstable molecules, I guess…

Nothing to do with goofy stories but I like to back up anything I saw about John with a quote.

But, as I noted, when I saw Kurt being invisible in shadow, my first thought was “Is he invisible at night?” It’s basically a dumb power, anyway. Think about it as you walk thru your day. He’d be constantly flickering in and out
of visibility, fading and reappearing as shadows shifted by.

And since his FACE is ALWAYS in shadow, why the ^#%^# isn’t it invisible??

This all comes back to my biggest problem with Nightcrawler, and why I never really connected with him in my time on the book. Stan defined mutants as people with AN “extra” power. That’s what the X stands for (not “Xavier”.) But Kurt has blue skin (later fur), glowing eyes, fangs, oddly shaped hands and feet, a prehensile tail — AND he teleports, AND he’s invisible in shadow. . . . .

When he was one of Dave’s candidates for the Legion of Substitute Heroes, that was all okay, but most of it should have been scooped out before he became one of the X-Men.

“Wolverine is a real wolverine” is goofier than all of those combined…

John Byrne also hates a lot of what he wrote himself. See his comments about his Alpha Flight run. He even finds no joy in his legendary FF run. Guy is a weird dude

yumph,

Really? Byrne’s Alpha Flight run was the first series I ever seriously followed, and his run on FF was what made me stop thinking of them as boring.

Of course, joke’s on the leprechaun, as Wolverine’s *real* real name is James Howlett. I guess the leprechaun was just reading his mind, and since Wolvie thought his name was Logan then, that’s what he read.

I love these issues. I can’t tell you how elated I was when I saw the Leprechauns in Banshee’s castle. I thought it was hilarious when a Leprechaun was the one who revealed Logan’s name to us. Also, how about the fact that Magneto was transformed into a baby as a goofy moment.

I prefer villain Magneto to anti-hero Magneto. In my mind his suffering leads him to unspeakable evil kind of like Dr. Doom. He’s a mutant supremacist, not a misguided champion of mutant rights.

@Tony J

I agree. I love Byrne’s FF, Namor, Alpha Flight, She Hulk

But check out this interview – he seems to be joyless about nearly everything he has worked on. And it’s not just this interview, you can google some others of his – his tone is always morose to gloomy

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=151

Great list, I didn’t realise you started a series of goofiest X-Men moments.

I don’t think it’s all that OOC for Magneto to try and kill the Banshee, though. This is the guy who tried to fry 16-year-old Iceman back in the X-Men’s early, early days.

Totally off-topic, but… I didn’t expect to see my wordpress Gravatar on CBR. For whoever’s wondering what it is, it’s a tokay gecko lizard.

can not believe the early adventures of the second xmen team had some gooffy moments including the whole bit with eric the red first aging Manetoe back to adult then going after the x-m through Polaris with no reason how he knew about her. not to mention Xavier having an evil self that could come out if he is mentaly injured. plus of all ways to reveal Wolverines name as Logan it was by a Leaprecaun

You know, I think Kurt’s reaction when he ‘finds out’ about his ability to disappear into shadows, is a great example of the character’s appeal at the time. Kurt was the guy who would comment on how fantastic it all was to be travelling through space, or to meet shape-shifters. For him, it was like being sucked into Star Wars or another fantasy movie. It’s cool to see THAT Nightcrawler.

Michael M Jones

January 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm

And then they picked up on Nightcrawler’s “invisible in the shadows” power again in Excalibur, during the storyline with the Warpies and Cloud Nine and whatnot. Only to drop it yet again, never to be referenced until the next time. Sheesh. It’s like no one actually wants him to have that power.

Those are some xrazy shenanigans!

Personally, I kinda liked the mostly useless power to be invisible in darkness.

IIRC, Alan Davis explained in those Excalibur issues that the ‘blue’ fur, teleportation, and invisibility are all manifestations of his mutant connection to another dimension: he’s surrounded by a constant interface to Azazel’s realm so that there’s some kind of light distortion field when he’s in regular daylight so that he appears to be blue-black. When he’s in darkness, the lower light levels bend around him so that he’s invisible.

Nightcrawler’s a stew of mutations (fingers, toes, tail, and fangs in addition to the teleportation)… great that not all of them are winners.

Nightcrawler’s “invisibility in the shadows” appears in last issue of Dark Phoenix saga, during the fight in the Blue Zone.

Technically, the Leprechaums issues are the first written by Claremont. This first run is at least freak.

About the whole explantion of previous issues in one box (what happened in #107 when the X-Men goes to Shiar’s place), I have looked for what Claremont tells about Eric and Polaris in previous issues and did not ever find it the way it was explained. It was an advanced experience for comics in the 90′s!!!!!

While we’re on the subject of John Byrne, in the book Comic Creators On X-Men, he says he hated what Claremont did with Magneto. Hardly surprising, but what is suprising is that Byrne theorizes that Claremont added the Holocaust backstory because he wanted to have a “noble” villain, but they wouldn’t let him use Dr. Doom.

This is probably what yo go re was referring to above, but the leprechaun’s comment that “Leprechauns don’t believe in talkin’ wolverines” is pretty clearly a reference to the (thankfully abandoned before it was ever explicitly stated on panel) idea that Wolverine was, in fact, a wolverine evolved into human shape.

I always figured that Magneto’s forcefields were actual physical structures that could repel literally anything (with the possible exception of light and sound, since he can still see and hear what’s going on outside) that wasn’t strong enough to punch through them, because, oh, let’s say he’s strengthening the electromagnetic bond between air molecules or something. But he’s been able to stop Scott’s blasts since the cover of X-Men #1 so I guess it falls under the category of “stuff I never thought too much about.”

When Nightcrawler’s ability to be invisible when no one could see him anyway was brought up in Excalibur, I thought it was something new they were adding to the character, possibly to explain away any time he successfully snuck up on someone despite wearing bright white gloves and boots. Since he’d already been my favorite character for years at that point, I was gobsmacked to eventually discover it was a throw back to something that had been established in 1977 and (as far as I could tell) never mentioned again until the early 90s (aside from being vaguely alluded to in the character’s stat block for the Marvel Superheroes Role-Playing Game, and even they hedged their bets by attributing his “Stealth” power more to having blue skin/fur than actual invisibility).

Though, the uber-nerd in me needs to point out that, contrary to a few comments on this page Nightcrawler’s blue skin is not a mutation, in that his mother, Mystique, also has blue skin. His blue FUR on the other hand … well, who knows what Mystique looks like if she doesn’t shave her legs?

They had to keep updating Magneto’s powers through the years because there are so many usages of it that, if you want to get technical on that level, the X-Men really shouldn’t stand a chance against him. He’s a force of a nature…shifting cards from Gambit is nothing since it’s kinetically charged and if he’s fighting like he should, with a force field, the fight would be over in two panels.

Hi! Yes, I don’t think that the idea of Magneto’s forcefield’s resisting Cyclop’s eye beams is particularly “goofy”. As others have pointed out, this was an established idea for quite a while before this incident in #104. But, beyond that, magnetism is about a lot more than just attracting and repelling metal. Magnetic force is used, for example, to contain power emissions at the Hadron collider and scientists use it to contain the heat generated in fusion reactions. So, it’s not implausible it could be used in the way it is used by Magneto. Indeed, even Magneto throwing Gambit’s card back at him is possible – he could have used magnetic force like a solid object or even have been manipulating the energy inside the card.

Thanks for the information on Dragonfly! That’s the first thing that occurred to me too – when and where was her story followed up?

John Byrne depicted Nightcrawler using his “invisible-in-shadows” power during the Murderworld story. (Uncanny X-Men #124, I believe.)

@Jake Wallace: I’m fine with villains having depth & sympathatic motivations. I’m not fond of emasculating the X-Men’s #1 villain in order to have yet another anithero in the Marvel Universe. Claremont took the Magneto as hero stuff too far, IMO. I think the Holocaust is a really interesting backstory for a villain, but it would work a LOT better in a series that didn’t use comic book time & therefore had to keep generating explanations as to why Magneto (& by extension, his children Pietro & Wanda) isn’t really, REALLY old.

And I agree with John Byrne that Nightcrawler’s “invisible in shadow” power doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I think the acrobatic & teleportation abilities are plenty for one character.

Nightcrawlers shadow power would makes sense if he could use it by choice or as needed. This is maybe it is a trait that is not always on and he slipped into it unknowingly and when the kid pointed it out it was like oh wow! Perhaps on subsequent tries it didn’t work and he didn’t care or think to develop the skill until it returned for a short time.

“Padraic”? Wasn’t that the Elf-With-a-Gun that Wolverine encountered?

“My force beams can’t get through his…magnetism! Everyone knows magnetism keeps out force beams!”

As Stickmaker points out, that happens in the very first issue in 1963!
Look at the cover! (not to mention Cockrum’s homage on the cover of X-Men #104!)

Man, evil Xavier should have had a goatee!

And people complained about Cassandra Nova….

Phantastisch! I don’t even care if that’s real German, I’m gonna start using it in my daily speech!

Aye, this was a goofy batch.

The Magneto comments remind me that ironically, he prefers Stephin Merritt in the Gothic Archies, not the Magnetic Fields. Erik is a weird dude.

Magnetism cannot effect paper, but it can effect energy which Gambit’s cards are charged with.

People usually bring up the “X-Chicken” Magneto (when he behaved very much like the arcade game’s jerkass final boss) to defend Morrison, but un that case it’s just plainly ignoring the 20 years or so in between. As far as the anti-hero business goes, I think there is just a certain point where the big villains have to move on if you’re not going to reboot like DC. I mean, from the character’s perspective, fighting the same group of people for 15 years?

Speaking of crazy, I won’t deny that the evolution story would have probably killed whatever potential the character had, but what is he now, and how is that less goofy?

@John Trumbull: Claremont actually intended Magneto to die at the end of X-Men #3 after reverting to his true evil nature. Perhaps he agreed that he’d made Magneto far too sympathetic throughout the 80s?

The timeline of the Holocaust tie-in is as unavoidable an issue as any character who is tied to a specific event in history, they will inevitably be complicated by “comic time”, so I find it best to just ignore the little voice inside that wants to try and make everything make sense on a timeline.

OK, so when can we stop pretending that this run wasn’t a load of garbage?

@Jono – are you serious? I admit much of the stuff was clunky and goofy and lacked polish. However, it’s hardly a load of garbage. There was a ton of potential story ideas that Claremont/Cockrum kept introducing and that excitement and creative freedom shows through for me. It’s still is interesting to me to re-read Claremont learn what makes each of these characters ‘tick’, despite his still novice writing.

The writers who are hired to write the X-Men now need to have a much lengthier portfolio before even being considered to helm any X-title. And, the level of professionalism IS much higher with a more mature philosophical/artistic pitch on what their run on the X-Men is going to be. As much as I like the X-Men after the 1990s, none of the greater craftsmanship can replicate the recklessness of Claremont/Cockrum’s run. The title was genuinely all new, all different (well, Cyclops Prof X weren’t all new; Jean/Phoenix was pretty different, however) and could conceiveably be cancelled. It was dripping with so much inventiveness that there are still some developments that were NOT developed, but could have, when I go back and read the stuff.

Ah, but if you were kidding/trolling, never mind!

@Jake Wallace: Didn’t know that Claremont planned to kill Magneto in X-Men #3, but it doesn’t really change my viewpoint at all, as comic book deaths never stick (For copyright reasons if nothing else).

RE: X-Men/Micronauts and the EVIL version of Xavier. Someone commented above that evil Xavier tried to rape Kitty Pryde, but didn’t he actually mind-rape Mirage? (Dani Moonstar). I haven’t read the issues in years, but I recall Xavier was in his wheel chair and she came in to check on him after hearing him in distress and he reached out with his mind and well- and it ended up being the evil version of him.

Isn’t everybody invisible in the dark?

He didn’t try to rape Dani. Seemed like he was thinking about it though.

One of my favorite things in this is how Cyclops talks. He’s not the joyless, solemn boy scout he would later become. He talks like Wolverine!

“Sure you will, Chuckles. Wha–? I only meant to stun this joker…”

Can you imagine ’90′s “You’re out of line, Logan” Cyclops talking like that (or modern “Magneto Jr.” Cyclops, for that matter)?

Actually, magnetism is in everything you imagine, since all things are made of atoms and they are conected by magnetism.
Linking his powers only to metal is the way to keep him off being the most powerfull mutant.

@Tango

Given the sheer number of Magneto stories, I’ve probably sampled a small per-centage, but seem to recall that, from time to time, his powers have been “expanded” in relation to magnetism and it’s role as one of the four fundamental forces. I suppose in some ways he’s just one conk on the head, psychic manipulation, or alien experiment from becoming the Grand Unifier, as it were. Which would be cool, but we have Franklin Richards for that ;)

Atoms are not connected by magnetism.

I haven’t been keeping up on my physics, but I’m pretty sure atoms and molecules are connected by strong atomic force, not magnetism. Magnetism in certain circumstances can create fields that interfere with radiation, like the magnetic field around earth protects the earth from solar radiation.

But honestly, physics has been violated so many times by how writers define Magneto’s powers that it has filed a restraining order. Magneto’s powers and his magnetism aren’t allowed anywhere within 100 miles of anything approaching physics.

@Michael P

That seems like the right answer but isn’t; the strong and weak forces have different properties than might be obvious at first glance. The magnetic force is involved in both internal atomic structure and external (molecular formation). It was, in essence, big magnets that split the first atom, for example.

Actually, Byrne himself depicted Nightcrawler becoming invisible in shadows in Uncanny #137 (the famous Death of Jean Grey issue).

Why is the blue demon boy named after a kind of worm? Is there some other meaning of “nightcrawler” that doesn’t mean fishbait? Something sort of heroic, maybe? Something that a guy wouldn’t object to being called in public? Or does he just have REALLY low self-esteem?

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