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Month of Cool Avengers/X-Men Comic Book Moments – “Harpoon, Make Peace With Your Gods, Little Man”

All month long we will feature brand-new Cool Avengers and X-Men Comic Book Moments in celebration of their fiftieth anniversaries this month. Here is an archive of all the past cool comic moments that I’ve featured so far over the years.

Today we look at stuff getting real in Uncanny X-Men #211 as Colossus is not fooling around anymore…

Uncanny X-Men #211 by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr., Bret Blevins and Al Williamson, takes place during the middle of the Mutant Massacre, where the X-Men show up in the tunnels where the Morlocks live to try to rescue them from a vicious attack by the superpowered villain group the Marauders.

During the battle, Colossus can’t believe how much JOY that the Marauders are taking in the battle. Then something happens that makes thing change dramatically…

Wow.

That is awesome. Great job by Claremont and, I imagine, Blevins and WIlliamson.

You can tell how dramatic it is just by the reactions of the other X-Men in the next panel…

Rogue is stunned.

24 Comments

Man, this moment blew me away when I was younger. Still cool now. I actually just checked out the Mutant Massacre trade from the library after the 50 greatest X-Men stories list. Haven’t read those issues in probably 20 years. This might still be the most impactful moment from that whole storyline.

My favorite thing about this is that it’s not just a shock value moment(although it’s definitely that), but something that’s gonna reflect on the character for years to come. After the Mutant Massacre, Colossus finds himself unable to turn back into his human form easily. It’s a fun comic booky metaphor for how hardened this gentle giant of a man has gotten, which fits right in with the Silvestri era’s weirder, more dangerous X-Men.

This is before they made Collosus into the sad character who lost his sister, joined Magneto, and then things got worse.

Even in the AOA Universe, he became sad.

Still think this is one of the best Claremont issues ever. Seeing Kitty (earlier in the issue) have the ability to kill both Arclight and Scalphunter and passing on it and then to Colossus go that extra step was a nice mirror to where the characters were at the time.

What I wish is that they would have done a little more character work where individually we saw the various X-Men making choices like that (especially given that this was right on the heels of “Why did Wolverine gut Rachel for trying to kill a bad guy?”), but the story didn’t really allow for it.

Yep, great story.

Too bad it didn’t actually matter.

The chilling part is how easily Peter kills Riptide. It’s a reminder just how dangerous Colossus is, and how much restraint he must have to use when in his armored form. So when you do finally push the kindest and gentlest of the X-Men to his breaking point, he can just snap you like a twig.

” My favorite thing about this is that it’s not just a shock value moment(although it’s definitely that), but something that’s gonna reflect on the character for years to come. After the Mutant Massacre, Colossus finds himself unable to turn back into his human form easily. It’s a fun comic booky metaphor for how hardened this gentle giant of a man has gotten, which fits right in with the Silvestri era’s weirder, more dangerous X-Men. ”

While I can definitely see the symbolism now that you point it out, I don’t think it was a deliberate metaphor, because Peter succumbed to his injuries the issue after this one, paralyzed in his armored state. He stayed that way for about a year, and only found troubles turning back to flesh once he’d regained the ability to move his body.

Similar to how in the current Cable and X-Force comic, Peter can’t make himself turn completely back into flesh, due to the Phoenix Force messing up his mutation back in AvX. X-Men seeing their powers go FUBAR seems to be a very common thing.

I was, what, ten or eleven years old when this issue came out? The first time I read it, I was absolutely blown away. My jaw hit the floor. It was shocking and tragic and amazing and exciting and made me want to read the next chapter as soon as I possibly could. A really fantastic issue by Chris Claremont.

This was Marvel’s first big mutant crossover, but it had such an informal structure to it. You could read individual chapters and understand them on their own, without having to pick up every single installment running in all the other books. And it quite effectively tied in a few non-mutant characters, as well. Thor vs the Marauders was a kick-ass battle. Yeah, in retrospect, having little kids like Power Pack fight a brutal psychopath like Sabretooth seems crazy, but Louise Simonson totally made it work.

It was pretty cool how loosely all the various titles tied together, but were all still part of the greater picture. In X-Men you’d see one panel where a stray power blast almost hits Wolverine and someone else, and in X-Factor you’d see that that power blast was Cyclops. Yet you didn’t need to read the other title to get a full story.

Some of Marvel’s fringe series have done a similar good job lately of tying into the big crossover but still being their own story. Incredible Hercules, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers Academy all tied into several big events without sacrificing their own stories, or requiring you to read the big event. This was not only one of the first big crossover events, but also laid the blueprint for how to do it right.

And I gotta say that panel of Colossus holding Riptide’s body and calling out to Harpoon is one of the best single panels I’ve ever seen in a comic. Great work by Blevins, Williamson and whomever the letterer was ( I assume Orzechowski, but don’t feel like looking it up.)

Great choice. I remember when I first read it, I was like “wow” too.
The reason it’s great, because there is some build up to this scene.
Marauders killing mercilessly Morlocks IS one of the most
tragic moments in mutant history. It’s more impactful for me than
decimation or infamous genosha’s genocide.

Man, Claremont was still firing on all cylinders during this era.

I freaking hated the Marauders for what they did to the Morlocks, so this scene really struck a chord with me. Even a gentle giant like Peter could only stand so much. Given his strength, I would have likely made the same choice at that point.

Even so, Rogue’s observation is especially poignant because she’s right. Peter has always been made for better things.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 6, 2013 at 5:51 am

Such a great moment and story. I can’t really say much more than that. Terrific stuff, right there.

I’m torn on this. I loved this storyline and moment at the time I read it, but recently when rereading the X-Men from the beginning to now, I feel this book is definitely a shift toward a lot of the negative tropes that the X-Men ended up developing. This was the first crossover, and the first time I really felt the X-books were developing a committee approach to worldbuilding and story development. Before this, the X-Men destiny was primarily created in the Uncanny X-Men book, and that made the book feel so much stronger and focused.

I also felt that Claremont was entering a dark place in real life around the time of this storyline because so many characters in the book were taking a dark turn. The book always was conflicted about Wolverine and his bloodlust, but around the latter end of Byrne’s run and especially during Smith and JR JR, it seemed to now be not only endorsing Wolverine’s bloodlust but turning the other characters more bloodthirsty. Storm went dark, Cyclops and Angel and others who were more old-school were phased out, Psylocke joined the team and she would always recommend killing people as a first course of action, even Havok, a fellow X-Man. (I still remember the shock and disgust I felt when Psylocke recommended killing Havok, and how nonchalantly the rest of the X-Men reacted to the suggestion. That’s when I really realized I didn’t like where the X-Men were heading). Rogue, an ex-villain who attempted murder in the past joined. Wolverine tried to kill a teammate and no one seemed to really care except Kitty Pryde, who was also phased out (no pun intended) from the book. Nightcrawler, another character who doesn’t work as dark and gritty, was phased out. Colossus becoming a murderer in retrospect was the ultimate tipping point.

THe Mutant Massacre saga was also the 1st time I saw Thor kill someone outside his Rogues Gallery (Blockbuster).

I guess since I started with ’90s X-Men stories before I read this, I wasn’t as shocked as people who read it when it was first published.

“Psylocke joined the team and she would always recommend killing people as a first course of action, even Havok, a fellow X-Man.”

that doesn’t sound like pre-Asian Psylocke to me.

In X-Men Annual 10, Betsy recommends killing Spiral. In Uncanny X-men 219, Betsy recommends killing Alex. In Uncanny X-Men 229, Betsy recommends killing the Reavers and suggests that they “not let go” Jessan Hoan.

” Wolverine tried to kill a teammate and no one seemed to really care except Kitty Pryde, who was also phased out (no pun intended) from the book. ”

The Kitty plot was dealt with in the Claremont/Brigman X-Men/Fantastic Four mini-series, which also introduced the idea that Reed Richards knew about the cosmic radiation risk before sending the team on that fateful origin flight. The X-Men cared about her survival there to the point where, when Reed refused to “operate” on Kitty’s intangible form due to the risk of causing greater harm, Wolverine tried to outright MURDER him. And while the X-Men held him back, they still went to Doctor Doom for their second opinion.

Also, the period from the mid-late 80′s is my favorite period in the X-Men’s history, and possibly the last time the book felt like it could actually go places.

” Colossus becoming a murderer in retrospect was the ultimate tipping point. ”

Also…since Riptide jumped in front of Peter and threw a bunch of high-velocity throwing stars at him (which later caused him to nearly die from the injuries), because Peter was trying to stop Riptide’s comrades from mass-murdering a bunch of innocent civilians for money and lulz, can we really call him a murderer for doing what pretty much any other sane, compassionate human being would do in that situation?

In X-Men Annual 10, Betsy recommends killing Spiral. In Uncanny X-men 219, Betsy recommends killing Alex. In Uncanny X-Men 229, Betsy recommends killing the Reavers and suggests that they “not let go” Jessan Hoan.

Exactly. Her bloodlust bothered me, but the relative indifference of the other X-Men to it was especially bothersome, especially when she proposed killed a senior X-Man like Alex. This is the same team that used to really agonize over Wolverine’s savagery before he became the breakout star of the book. Now new characters were casually proposing murder at the drop of a hat and the others were unfazed. In general, between Storms stabbing of Callisto and her new look, Rogue joining, the rising profile of Wolverine and endorsement of his methods, Wolverine’s attempted murder of Rachel, Colossus hopping on the murdertrain, and the phasing out of all the team members least likely to murder someone, it really felt like Claremont had a big change in personal outlook. So now when I reread moments like the one this post is about, I see a sign of a bad trend to come.

The Kitty plot was dealt with in the Claremont/Brigman X-Men/Fantastic Four mini-series, which also introduced the idea that Reed Richards knew about the cosmic radiation risk before sending the team on that fateful origin flight. The X-Men cared about her survival there to the point where, when Reed refused to “operate” on Kitty’s intangible form due to the risk of causing greater harm, Wolverine tried to outright MURDER him. And while the X-Men held him back, they still went to Doctor Doom for their second opinion.

I’m not sure I understand your point here. I think you may have misread what I wrote? I could be wrong but you seem to think I wrote that nobody cared ABOUT Kitty Pryde’s predicament. I wrote that no one cared about Wolverine casually stabbing Rachel and being totally callous and unrepentant about it afterwards with the exception of Kitty Pryde. She was the only one who seemed to be retaining her humanity, and then even she was eventually phased out of the book.

Also…since Riptide jumped in front of Peter and threw a bunch of high-velocity throwing stars at him (which later caused him to nearly die from the injuries), because Peter was trying to stop Riptide’s comrades from mass-murdering a bunch of innocent civilians for money and lulz, can we really call him a murderer for doing what pretty much any other sane, compassionate human being would do in that situation?

It wasn’t just that he murdered Riptide. I understand the self-defense thing. I’m not one of those people who is anti-killing no matter the circumstance. For example I think there is absolutely nothing heroic about the modern Batman’s bizarre obsession with keeping the modern Joker alive. It’s more how badass the moment seems intended to come off to the reader, and especially the fact that he declares that the other Marauders are next and clearly seems intent on killing whatever remaining Marauders he can find. Even that wouldn’t have bothered me so much if they had him reflecting and emotionally working through what he had done and was willing to do afterwards, once he calmed down, but I don’t recall ever seeing it revisited much until the villain he killed popped up again later on.

” I’m not sure I understand your point here. I think you may have misread what I wrote? I could be wrong but you seem to think I wrote that nobody cared ABOUT Kitty Pryde’s predicament. I wrote that no one cared about Wolverine casually stabbing Rachel and being totally callous and unrepentant about it afterwards with the exception of Kitty Pryde. She was the only one who seemed to be retaining her humanity, and then even she was eventually phased out of the book. ”

Oh. Well, sorry about that.

I didn’t read this issue until much later, HOWEVER,I remember being totally shocked as a youngster by a similar scene in #233 or so when Colossus does much the same thing to Whiphand.

I had started reading Uncanny X-Men only a few issues before this, and this issue totally blew me away. One of my favorite storylines, the Mutant Massacre. Loved it!!!

Didn’t Riptide return later on, cloned by Mr Sinister, who had sent the Marauder’s to kill the Morlocks? And Gambit was his ‘recruiter’ for that team?

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