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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 85: Uncanny X-Men #123

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Uncanny X-Men #123, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 1979. Enjoy!

Whatever happened to Cissy Ironwood?

Back in the good old days, seeing a splash page of Spider-Man swinging along in a book titled Uncanny X-Men wouldn’t have made a ripple in the Marvel Universe, because back then the titles hadn’t become ghettoized like they mostly are today. Spidey’s presence in the book is indicated on the cover, which shows him in a little “guest-star circle,” and getting his own splash page on Page 1 of this issue isn’t really that weird in 1979.

It’s kind of a boring splash page, unfortunately. Claremont gives us the boilerplate Spider-Man introduction, as Peter is swinging off for a date with the unfortunate Cissy (he never makes it to the rendezvous) while fretting about the fact that he just paid his income taxes so he’s now – you guessed it – broke. Peter really ought to move out of the most expensive city on the planet and live somewhere like Topeka, where he could probably make a good living taking pictures. Or he could get a few roommates. Come on, Peter!

Byrne doesn’t have much to do, either. He angles the page well, leading us from the top left to the bottom right, from the title of the issue to Peter’s feet, which point toward the next page. The fact that everything – even the buildings – is angled is a nice touch, because it helps give us an idea of motion in a static panel – we can almost feel the arc of Peter’s swing, which is kind of neat. I’m not sure if the arch (it’s Washington Square, I assume, because it looks like the arch and Peter is in Greenwich Village) is photoshopped (or the 1970s version of it) or if Byrne drew it – it looks like a picture, but I’m not sure – but if it’s not a drawing, it fits in well with the surrounding buildings.

This is, I think, the third time I’ve had an Orzechowski book, and each time, he’s done something interesting. In this case, the way he letters the title of the issue is nice. The italics of “stop me if you’ve heard it” help emphasis the interruption of the main clause, and the fiery “kill” is well done, too. It’s an unwieldy title – shocking for Claremont, I know – but the way Orzechowski letters it makes it actually sound in our heads as if someone is saying it, which makes it less clunky. That’s why Orzechowski gets paid the big bucks!

I should point out that on the next page, Spidey comes across Scott Summers and his date, Colleen Wing. I forgot that those two dated. Now I want a series starring Misty Knight and Jean Grey as roommates in the 1970s even more, because Scott and Colleen could totally be members of the cast, and not only would Misty and Jean fight bad guys, there’d be all sorts of tension between them all. Give me a call, Axel and Joey Q! I would totally write that sucker for you!

Next: A tiny press comic! They do publish those, you know! Find some others in archives!


You know that if he got another roommate, the roommate would inevitably become another super-villain.

Naah, there was the time when he was sharing a flat with Captain Britain.

Was Cissy a real character, as in did she actually ever appeared in the comics? Because I can’t remember her…

Makes me wonder though…where has Spidey attached that web? Long line considering he’s over the center of the Square….

Scott’s relationship with Colleen didn’t last very long. At this point, Scott thinks Jean is dead (yes, again, but it’s really the first time for that trick), having perished along with Beast in Magneto’s Antarctic base after it flooded with lava in #113. It just took this long before the X-Men got back to a place where they could find out the truth. The thing with Colleen never really took off, and he’s going to be reunited with Jean in #125 anyway, so there’s really no opportunity for a triangle situation between Scott, Jean, and Colleen. Not that I object to the idea, mind you, but it’s not there in the record.

I like Jean fine, but Colleen is way cooler–way too cool for Scott, in fact, which makes Jean a much better match.

I totally remember Cissy Ironwood. She was mainly a Marvel Team-Up love interest for Peter, which means that they were just packing the Claremont creations from all around the Marvel Universe into these X-Men issues. Colleen, Cissy, et al.

The only weird thing about the Spidey-centric opening page is not that he’s in an X-Men comic at all but that the splash page looks like your typical opening of your typical Spidey comic. It looks like he’s taken over the joint.

I always assumed that Cissy Ironwood was a take-off on Cat Yronwode, a prolific lettercol presence at the time.

Whoops, Claremont didn’t actually create Colleen–my bad–but she and the rest of the Iron Fist supporting cast were kind of pet characters of his at the time.

MJ: I’d say that’s likely. But in answer to AS’s question, she wasn’t always an off-panel character.

Yeah. Blonde girl who like to wear revealing clothing. I don’t think Cat was/is that type of woman.

Maybe it was in 79 but nyc is definitely not the most expensive city on the planet. Because of the Swiss franc’s strength, zurich is much more expensive as are many other european cities as wellare as Tokyo. LA is actually about as expensive as nyc average cost of living wise.

Oh yeah, no resemblance as far as any of that goes.

Cissy raises an interesting point, though–interesting to me, at least. I think she was a MTU-only character, aside from mentions like this one. So was Peter shown dating anyone else in his Amazing and Spectacular titles at that time? Did different writers assign different girlfriends to him, or were his own title (for once) unconcerned with his romantic life? Cissy was dating Peter in MTU #80-90, I think, which would be the span of time of Wolfman’s ASM #191-201 and Mantlo’s PPSSM #29-39.

Deb Whitman was a supporting character in PPTSSM around that time. Not sure if they were dating that early on.

Well if that’s supposed to be Washington Square Park, I’m confused from what the heck Spidey is swinging. The buildings behind the arch give the impression that he’s INSIDE the Park….which has no buildings from which to swing. Spidey-Splat?

Well, if you remember the old 1960s cartoon series, he was always swinging way above buildings, and I always wondered if a lot of blimps flew over New York. I guess when it comes to Spider-Man, we really have to suspend our disbelief.

Nobody can internal monologue like Peter Parker.

I’d never heard of Cissy Ironwood so I looked the character up and according to this: http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/ironciss.htm in her first appearance her name was Cissy Ironwode which lends credence to the notion that she was named after Cat Yronwode.

@buttler Yes. In fact this was on of Peter’s busiest periods with women. His relationship with Mary Jane was going downhill after she rejected his proposal in Amazing #183 but there were attempts to get back to being an item (including dates in Team-Up) it that didn’t end for good (for now) until yet another failed date in #193. This was also the period when Betty Brant-Leeds turned up at his flat after having walked out on her husband and she and Peter had a brief affair. And Amazing #194-195 introduce the Black Cat, whilst Spectacular #32 introduces Marcy Kane and Amazing #196 Debra Whitman, though nothing actually starts between any of them and Spidey/Peter in this period. Finally Amazing #203 does end with a rather suggestive scene between Spidey and Dazzler…

Either Peter was unusually playing the field in this period or there’s a lot of work for a chronology project or there was very poor communication between Chris Claremont and Marv Wolfman.

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