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Abandoned Love: So Are the X-Men Invisible to Cameras or What?

Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer while still acknowledging that the abandoned story DID still happen. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This time around, we look at how the X-Men were made invisible to cameras and all other electronic scanning…

The X-Men sacrificed their lives during the Fall of the Mutants. The mystical being known as Roma admired their sacrifice so much that she returned them to life, only with a twist, since they were supposed to be “dead,” they still were, in the sense that no one could see them without their bare eyes, as she explains in X-Men #229…

Obviously, this is no longer the case.

Here is Havok talking through a viewer screen to Cyclops and Professor X in X-Factor #71…

invisibile4

And here is Wolverine with the Astonishing X-Men in Astonishing X-Men #2…

invisibile5

And most recently, here is Havok, Wolverine AND Rogue all appearing on television in Uncanny Avengers #5…

So obviously, this was just abandoned.

One theory I’ve seen is that when the X-Men later went through the Siege Perilous, they lost the ability they gained from Roma. That would make sense, however, as seen in Uncanny X-Men #259….

and the following issue, Uncanny X-Men #260, Dazzler still has the power AFTER going through the Siege Perilous…

Not to mention that Wolverine and Storm never actually went THROUGH the Siege Perilous, so that one wouldn’t work for them anyways.

Heck, one theory was that someone like Storm lost the ability when her body was altered (she was reduced in age by the villains Nanny and Orphanmaker), however, in Uncanny X-Men #253, here’s de-aged Storm and she still doesn’t show up on monitors…

invisibile8

Chris Claremont actually joked about when the ability went away. He suggested that it was sometime between pages 10 and 11 of Uncanny X-Men #279 (his last issue on that book) or between the end of X-Men #3 and X-Men #4 (his last issue on THAT title).

However, Claremont himself wrote issues where the characters showed up on monitors, including…

Uncanny X-Men #269, when Rogue shows up on one of Magneto’s monitors…

Uncanny X-Men #270, when Storm shows up on the Danger Room monitors…

(I love, by the way, the whole “What’s up with Storm’s powers? I know, let’s ask the kids’ old dancing teacher to come by and examine her on monitors. She’s clearly an expert in the field”)

and in X-Men #1, when Colossus and Rogue…

invisibile10

and Wolverine….

all show up on monitors.

The Rogue appearance in Uncanny X-Men #269 and the Storm appearance in #270 also disproves the theory that the spell only lasted as long as the X-Men were still thought to be dead by the whole world (something that was revealed to be false during X-Tinction Agenda, which began soon after the events shown above in Uncanny X-Men #270).

Similarly, the above examples all predate the destruction of the Excalibur lighthouse in Excalibur #50 (which messed with the Otherworld nexus, where Roma comes from), so that explanation wouldn’t work, either.

Essentially, the thing was just dropped without an explanation.

It’s still interesting that we’ve yet to see someone address this with a simple, “Oh yeah, that spell wore off” or whatever.

Thanks to commenter Michael for the head’s up on the #269 and 270 bit!

48 Comments

the way i understood it that once they went through the siege first rogue with master mold then Pylocke having to use it in the outback due to knowing they could not win another maurader attack. that since the thing made them reborn that the ability like that would fade too.

Chad: even if we allow that the effect faded (meaning it was there but gradually went away over time) for the members who went through the Siege and were reborn (so Rogue, Psylocke, Colossus, Havok and Dazzler), that doesn’t account for Storm and Wolverine having never gone through it yet clearly being visible to electronics today.

Not to mention Longshot, who left the team before they all went through the Siege Perilous, yet the next time we see him he’s back on Mojoworld being filmed without issue by Mojo.

Speaking of that, you remind me of when Captain America had super-strength. It took the longest time for Marvel to point out that he had, indeed, lost it.

Around the same timeframe, he seems to have discreetly kept then abandomnet a cover job as patrol policeman.

May I point out that Wolverine is still invisible in the panels of Astonishing X-Men? :)

“that doesn’t account for Storm and Wolverine having never gone through it yet clearly being visible to electronics today.”

The simplest explanation would seem to be that the spell applied to “The X-Men”, so once it was broken for some of them, it didn’t stick to the rest. I mean, it’s magic anyway.

“That would make sense, however, as seen in Uncanny X-Men #260, Dazzler still has the power AFTER going through the Siege Perilous…”

I’m actually a little confused by that example — she says that she believes she still has the power, but then they have a magazine cover with her photograph on it, so it seems as if she was wrong. But, also, the sentence itself is, I believe, a typo — I think you meant “wouldn’t” not “would”.

@sean:

You can see it in the panel where Sean Cassidy is holding the magazine, and Forge says “Alison Blaire. Nice likeness, Artwork, not a photo.” They couldn’t photograph her, so they had to draw a picture of her to feature on the cover.

As for why/how that spell wore off, I’m not going to hazard a guess. I’ll just stick with Claremont’s explanation, that it disappeared when he left the books, or better still, later writers simply forgot about it. It’s not beyond the realm of imagination that Roma hand-waved their invisibility away off-panel, to facilitate their new status as ‘openly alive’ heroes once they rejoined/reformed the X-Men post Siege Perilous. Their infiltration of Genosha was all over the news, no more need to pretend they’re dead.

Forge says in the next-to-last panel that it is not a photo.

It’s been a while since I read those 80′s issues, so forgive me if I forget the continuity or the details of the events, but when Psylocke first merged with Kwannon/Revanche and became half-Japanese, Didn’t she get new eyes care of Mojo or Spiral that were actually cameras that could spy on the X-Men at anytime? If that’s the case, the whole invisible-to-cameras- thing had to have been dropped a lot sooner, unless of course Mojo-camera’s are exempt from Roma’s power.

@Mormel: except that Roma is stating that they are not truly alive, but rather particularly visible “ghosts”. Or something.

^you misunderstood what Brian said. he’s saying the theory that passing through the seige negated the spell would make sense, except for the fact that Dazzler mentions it after she had passed through the seige. note that Forge points out the pic on the magazine is artwork.

I’ve thought of this several times over the years, and wondered about it. If they wanted to, they could explain it away by several of those people getting “new” bodies or having their bodies somehow altered, by the Siege Perilous or other ways. Storm, for instance, getting regressed to childhood could have messed it up. I think that would leave Wolverine and Longshot as the two “originals” who would still not be able to be seen with cameras. I always liked that ability; I wish it had lasted.

I’ve thought of this several times over the years, and wondered about it. If they wanted to, they could explain it away by several of those people getting “new” bodies or having their bodies somehow altered, by the Siege Perilous or other ways. Storm, for instance, getting regressed to childhood could have messed it up. I think that would leave Wolverine and Longshot as the two “originals” who would still not be able to be seen with cameras. I always liked that ability; I wish it had lasted.

That was always a good theory, as well, Greg, but that also gets hurt by the Dazzler thing. While Psylocke obviously got a brand new body so that would explain that, it wouldn’t explain why Colossus and Havok would be unchanged if Dazzler was also left unchanged.

In X-Men #1 (right around the time of X-Factor #71), I think we see Professor X monitoring the X-Men in their training sequence. In particular, we see Wolverine on camera when he’s in the sewers.

If I’m correct, Claremont can’t blame it on other writers.

It was magic needed to keep the X-Men “dead” in the eyes of the world at large so that they could continue their fight for justice and equal rights and blah, blah, blah in secret. Once the greater world realized that the X-Men were not dead, the spell was no longer needed and stopped working.

I was aware of this special condition, but I don’t think I ever read Roma’s explanation. Now that I have it makes no sense. she says specifically they’re undetectable to all living beings, oh, except other beings can see them! ????

Luis, I believe Cap specifically quit his job as a cop right about the time Englehart took over so that one was taken care of (unless I’m misremembering).

I never sorted why Claremont added this. It really seemed like “Chekhov’s gun” never fired. I would love to hear what Claremont had planned.

[...] Abandoned Love: So Are the X-Men Invisible to Cameras or What … [...]

Just a thought: Prior to this Psylocke had her eyes removed and replaced with bionic “cameras” by Mojo. If the X-Men were undetectable by cameras then Psylocke shouldn’t have been able physically see her teammates. But she is a psychic, so maybe she doesn’t really need the use of her eyes.

Comics, folks!

The other theory that used to float around on the X-Men Danglers List Paul O’Brien maintained for some time linked the end of Roma’s spell to the disruption of the Otherworld nexus in Excalibur #50 when the lighthouse is destroyed, but that seems like it might have happened too *late* in publishing and continuity terms.

With Mojo and his tech — which affects Longshot and Psylocke — there’s at least the explanation that Mojo actually has a lot of magical “anti-life” power. It’s not mentioned much now that he’s gone from “psychotic monster” in his first appearances to “goofy media mogul,” but it is supposed to be a part of his nature.

I thought perhaps the spell went away when the X-Men were publicly alive again following “The X-tinction Agenda.” Are there any issues after “X-tinction Agenda” but before Clermont leaves the book where the X-Men are visible to electronics again?

For the record, the Dazzler issue as shown here still works with the Seige Perilous. Dazzler THOUGHT she couldn’t be photographed, so the told the magazine people to do artwork instead. No one actually tried to photograph her and failed; they just took her word for it. Maybe Dazzler didn’t understand the spell, so thought it was still in effect when it wasn’t.

Stuff like this makes me glad I didn’t read X-Men past the 1980s.

Speaking of that, you remind me of when Captain America had super-strength. It took the longest time for Marvel to point out that he had, indeed, lost it.

Check the Abandoned Love archive linked above. ;)

I think the simplest explanation is the best one – lousy, sloppy writing and editorial supervision.

The Crazed Spruce

December 19, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I haven’t exactly read the issue in question, but my take on it is that the spell was contingent on them remaining “dead” in the eyes of the general public. It started to fade when Dazzler went back to Hollywood, and broke completely when the team went public.

I’ve always wanted to ask this but always seem to forget. So thank you. This “spell” actually made the outback X-Men 10X cooler back in the day.

Claremont can’t blame it on other writers. In Uncanny X-Men 269, Magneto is able to view Rogue on a monitor. And in Uncanny X-Men 270, Stevie Hunter is able to use the Danger Room’s sensors to tell that Storm is pushing her powers too hard.
That also rules out the Excalibur 50 theory that Omar mentioned, since Excalibur 41 takes place after Uncanny 272.
@Tom Smith- unfortunately, in the previous issue, gizmos in Lila Cheney’s house fail to detect Ali.

I wondered about this myself. That’s when I picked up my first X-Men stuff, right at the end of Fall of the Mutants.

I recall something to do with Excalibur 50 in a semi non-explanation, and Roma/Merlyn either dying or having to use the majority her/his power elsewhere and thus ending the spell, since it wasn’t really necessary anymore either.
Space-Time-Magic just had it happen at a goofy time like between pages 10 and 11 of X-men 279.

Here’s an abandoned plot – What ever happened to M-9 Nina that was in prison with Xavier during Operation Zero Tolerance?

In Uncanny X-Men Annual 14, Gambit and Tween Storm are trying to break into the X-Mansion which was currently being used by Cable and his New Mutants team. Cable says since he’s “hooked up” with the X-Men he’d been “grandfathered” into the invisible to cameras power.
Which annoyed me to no end because that’s not how the spell worked.

Since Psylocke had camera eyes, would the spell prevent her from seeing her teammates? She could use her powers to “see” them, but Roma also said that they would be invisible to detection by powers as well, so that might not have worked. I guess maybe that whole “naked eye” thing was vague enough to consider Betsy’s robotic eyes as “naked eyes”, but I doubt it. Claremont was keen on throwing a bunch of ideas together, but not so good at getting them to mesh.

with claremont I’m sure somehow the Fury and/or the warwolves were behind it all…

Rollo: I think you misunderstood it. Storm is talking about the virus Forge put in the computer system that erased everyone attached to the X-Men title in the government database. So when Cable joined X-Force, all of his information was erased in the government database.

Speaking to Psylocke at the time, it may well be that she was exempt since she was a part of that spell.
Also, once the X-Men are in Australia, Madeline Pryor and Havok both worked on the computers there and, if I remember correctly, set them up so the X-Men could be detected by them.
Psylocke was still invisible to sensors when she was picked up by the Hand in Uncanny X-Men #255. And if I recall (I don’t have it right in front of me) I believe Hodge mentioned something about their invisibility in X-Tinction Agenda. I would say the Shi’ar adventure may have changed things, but it doesn’t explain Dazzler, Havok or Longshot.

..er, Speaking “of” Psylocke.

Re: Mojo’s cameras – I think it might complicate the matters further, but after Fall of the Mutants, Mojo believed that X-Men are dead, hence X-Babies. So I dunno, the cameras are either not working or not sending him the feed. Otherwise he’d still receive the image but not actually see the X-Men?

Re: virus that erased data on X-Men – I believe it was designed by Starjammers, not Forge.

Re: M-9 Nina – if you mean what happened to her after OZT, she was in Hunt for Xavier and during Alan Davis’s run just before The Twelve. I think Uncanny X-Men #375 is the last time she’s shown/mentioned.

Also, once the X-Men are in Australia, Madeline Pryor and Havok both worked on the computers there and, if I remember correctly, set them up so the X-Men could be detected by them.

As you can see in the first panel above, when Roma gave them the ability, she conveniently allowed the computers at their new Australian base be an exception.

Everyone is missing the simplest explanation:

Hypertime.

Well, hell, DC didn’t use it, so why not?

Hey, it’s “Savage Land Rogue”, a favorite of sometimes pervy art commission requesters!

Nobody tell Geoff Johns about this.

Maybe when Gambit joined he broke the spell. If the spell was for ‘the X-men’ Gambits joining changed what ‘the X-Men’ were by changing the membership. He officially joined just before 269, right? 269 is the first time the spell was no longer working.

Brian from Canada

December 20, 2013 at 10:38 am

Roma’s spell applied to Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Psylocke, Dazzler, Longshot, Havok and Madelyne Pryor. Madelyne’s protection would cease to apply when she became the Goblin Queen, since she wanted to make Scott suffer no matter where he was.

Storm loses the protection after she is kidnapped by Nanny. Nanny would have wanted some control and monitoring mechanism, and Storm was genetically manipulated. In essence, Storm is not the same as she was before and the “spell” (since magic and technology in Otherworld overlap) may have been specific to her. Certainly Gambit doesn’t mention it when he encounters her in New Orleans, and Jean can see Ororo in Westchester prior to “X-Tinction Agenda.”

Roma’s magic also included the Siege Perilous, which is why they still have the invisibility beyond it (save Wolverine, who isn’t there).

Rogue is detectable by Magneto because Magneto isn’t looking at visual images — he’s looking at magnetic readings. Rogue would later become visible based on impact of Zaladane’s powers in the Savage Land, which is why Fury can see her when he arrives.

Psylocke MAY have lost hers with the Mandarin’s manipulation. However, what is clear is that The X-Men are followable in “X-Tinction Agenda” after initial capture. Given that Hodge had already encountered The X-Men when they weren’t visible, it’s quite possible he modified the cameras or — better yet — used some sort of device to make Wolverine and Psylocke visible again, so that they are all visible to the Shi’Ar, Skrulls and Xavier afterwards.

Havok still has it in X-Factor #71 because he was a magistrate. His ability to remain hidden disappears soon after, which would be in time with Excalibur #50. Since X-Men #1 starts shortly after that (X-Factor is the setting up of a new team, while X-Men #1 has the originals all moved in and set up), it’s likely Colossus’ ability to be seen occurs with Otherworld as well.

That leaves Longshot and Dazzler — which would be a problem were it not for the fact that (a) Mojoworld is a dimensional nexus point, according to The Exiles later on, (b) Spiral was at Mojo’s beck and call, and could manipulate anything she wanted, and (c) we see them after X-Men #1 anyway, so it’s all explained away.

This is why I abandoned the title around issue 250-260. Too confusing and convoluted – and it’s obvious the writers couldn’t keep up with it either!

Storm loses the protection after she is kidnapped by Nanny. Nanny would have wanted some control and monitoring mechanism, and Storm was genetically manipulated. In essence, Storm is not the same as she was before and the “spell” (since magic and technology in Otherworld overlap) may have been specific to her. Certainly Gambit doesn’t mention it when he encounters her in New Orleans, and Jean can see Ororo in Westchester prior to “X-Tinction Agenda.”

As the piece notes, she did not lose the protection after she was kidnapped by Nanny.

In the floating timeline this takes place somewhere in Marvel 70′s since everything this 13 years from the Fantastic Four launch. The current b.s. excuse provided by editorial. Where else can you see the language go from “gosh golley gee willikers” to “Damn you! I WILL KILL YOU BUB BEFORE YOU MOVE ONE STEP FURTHER!

If the FF’s launch took place 13 years ago that would put this story in the 2000s, not the 1970s.

Even back when it was explicitly still in effect, they were incredibly sloppy about the invisibility to cameras. I think every era of the X-Men has some element of the status quo that neither the writers nor editorial can ever keep straight. There was a stretch of time where sometimes Psylocke was telepathic and sometimes she was telekinetic and sometimes she was both and at one point she’d specifically swapped powers with Jean Grey during an incident that happened off screen and they were totally going to tell us about some day. Then there was a stretch when we were constantly being shown certain characters having lost their powers during M-Day and then having them again in another series. Nowadays it’s Rogue’s powers (the X-Men Marvel Knights series is clearly assuming she still has Ms. Marvel’s powers).

The Siege Perilous was such a terrible plot device. If memory serves, it was supposed to give any X-Men who entered it a new life if they wanted to give up being heroes; and in practice, it erased Colossus and Havok’s memories and turned Piotr into an artist and Alex into a Genoshan Magistrate; temporarily removed Rogue’s powers and dropped her in the Savage Land right next to Magneto’s hideout; an did nothing at all to Dazzler and Psylocke other than dropping them in LA and the Mandarin’s doorstep respectively.

So, basically a 1-for-5 success rate for it’s actual stated purpose of giving them “normal” lives, upgraded to 2-for-5 if you change it’s purpose to simply giving them “new” lives. Oh, and since Colossus ended up getting involved with the Shadow King in some manner I’ve since forgotten, 4-out-5 actually got dropped right into the hands of villains.

And to top it off, Storm vanishes and turns up as a child thief in Cairo, Illinois, with the implication that growing up in Cairo, Egypt, caused her to be mystically drawn there. But instead of having her go through the Siege Perilous to kick that plotline off, it turns out to be something Nanny did for no discernible reason.

Man Silvestri was so freakin good back then

What about Kitty Pryde’s computer virus that was suppossed to remove any record or mention of the X-men so they can remain hidden?

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