Uncanny X-Men #270, page 18
I miss Jean Grey. I miss her a lot. There is no doubt in my mind that Ororo does too. It would be great to see a word balloon here or there that reminds the reader that Jean was the first real friend that Storm had outside of her celebrated goddess role in Kenya. Jean represents serenity to me. Since the onset of her telepathic powers, she’s had to find her center and keep it so as not to go crazy from the thoughts of everyone else. Beginner’s mind? She’s got it. And I’m not just saying that because she’s had to rebuild her life countless times from death, clones and cosmic entities. Jean understands that in order to find peace with the world, one has to have it first within one’s self. Jean also represents compassion to me. She does not judge, she is kind. Jean is ethically and morally forthright and her inner compass guides and inspires those around her. That’s why half the male X-Men from the First Class to the All-New, All-Different team have fallen for her. When I read Heroic Tarot with my X-Men deck, I see Jean Grey as embodying the Empress. She simply is love.
Today we continue examining the artwork of superstar artist Jim Lee, who left an indelible mark on the X-Men franchise. When I reread the page above, I felt really sad. I thought about how Jean and Storm’s friendship used to be one of my favorite relationships in the X-Men and how I couldn’t think of another one in current X-Men continuity that mirrored such a strong sisterhood bond. Who are the strong relationships between in the X-Men these days? Kitty used to be like Storm’s daughter and sometimes Ororo would call Colossus “little brother.” Nightcrawler and Wolverine were like best buds and now Kurt is dead. We used to see Iceman and Angel hang out together, sometimes with Beast. I realize that the X-Titles are super grim now, going on and on about extinction and survival no matter what it takes, but wouldn’t it be cool to see how these characters are actually surviving their new status quo? Who is supporting each other? Which character is another’s emotional rock? Where is the camaraderie?
I see Dazzler and Northstar hanging out a lot lately in Matt Fraction’s Uncanny X-Men. Do they find that they get along because they both know what it’s like to be in the public eye? They’re both celebrities of some renown who have had to give up their lives due to their being mutants. Or do they get along because Northstar is gay and Dazzler certainly has her share of disco divas following her every move? I’d love to see what they really think of each other. Too bad thought balloons are passé nowadays. We could be witnessing a cool friendship.
Back to the art above, I remember getting a kick out of Storm being the same age (she was de-aged by Nanny and the Orphanmaker earlier) as the New Mutants during this story. She used to hang with the younger students when she had no powers and she was highly respected and beloved by the team. Seeing Wolfsbane’s anger at Storm for not being there for them was really powerful emotional stuff to me when I first read it. I remember being mad at Rahne for treating Storm so disrespectfully, but over time, I understood where she was coming from and it was impressive to see Wolfsbane actually show she had a spine. I’ve never cared for her but I do enjoy her spirit when she’s upset.
Uncanny X-Men #274, page 25
Oh, Lila Cheney. I miss your crazy self. Intergalactic teleporting thieving rock star with a crazy eye for fashion? Yes, please. More, please. I love this page for more than Lila, however. Storm’s short haircut is awesome, but perhaps not best matched with her old costume. I think the puffy sleeves don’t fit the freer aesthetic embodied by the butch femme thing she’s got going on here. I do so love it when Gambit and Banshee are on the team at the same time, dunno why really. The X-suit looks awesome on everyone, especially Psylocke and Jubilee. And Guido calling Jean Grey “Marvel Babe” ? Priceless.
Uncanny X-Men #271, page 27
Just like last week’s Jim Lee post, not everyone of these pages has Storm in it. I just love his art too much not to share it. Besides, look at that last panel and tell me that Psylocke doesn’t look totally amazing! “Whatever does the job, butcher?” Indeed. Oh yeah, and Wolverine versus Cameron Hodge isn’t too shabby either. But he does that stuff all the time. Seeing Psylocke lying on her side and shooting a giant plasma rifle and talking junk is so much more awesome ’cause it’s not happening every issue. Speaking of awesome Psylocke stuff, I recommend you run, don’t walk, to your nearest comic book shop and pick up Uncanny X-Force #1! Trust me, you’ll be happy you did. Rick Rememder is writing the best Psylocke and Archangel I have read in years. He somehow made Deadpool palatable and Fantomex three dimensional. The art by Jerome Opeña rocks too.
Uncanny X-Men #269, page 27
Oh noes! Ms. Marvel and Rogue are fighting for control of their powers! There can be only one! Seeing Rogue all zombie-like for the first time completely freaked me out. I felt bad for Carol Danvers too, ’cause she was the good guy who got the worst fate a girl could get. Lose her powers and her entire memory? That is awful. On the other hand, I felt sorry for Rogue who wasn’t really bad, she just had two evil mommas who raised her to be a terrorist. Good thing Magneto interrupted this battle, huh? Oh, “sugah,” thank the Bright Lady that Mike Carey loves Rogue and has been given free reign to make her a competent hero (and even gave her control of her powers) in X-Men: Legacy. Too bad that Ms. Marvel’s own title only lasted 50 issues before it ran out of gas (that Sana Takeda art was pretty sweet though). Maybe one day I will be able to think about Rogue and not hear Ladytron’s “Destroy Everything You Touch” in my head, but I doubt it.
Uncanny X-Men #270, page 23
Now we’re back to that crazy battle we saw from the first page in this post. Warlock, Boom Boom and Rictor fight the Genoshan magistrates, but Storm realizes they are outmatched and tell the kids to get below, only to get some lip in return. Yeesh! Kids. Oh yeah, and Stevie Hunter showed up to remind us that she has a bum knee. *shakes head* At least one can stare at the wonder that is Rictor’s amazing ponytail in panel 4. Okay, you got me. I don’t give a damn about that either. Headbands ruin everything.
There’s no Storm in this page either, but it has a funny moment between Jubilee and Cyclops. It probably isn’t meant to be funny, but I have a hard time not laughing out loud at Cyclops’ “We get by” comment to Jubilee’s surprise at what she apparently considers to be an aggressive attack. What was Scott supposed to do? Not hit the bad guy with his, yuh know, power? And since when did Jubilee care about anybody besides herself or Wolverine? I don’t her comment makes any sense. Of course, I remember feeling that many character moments fell flat during this time. You see, Chris Claremont was forced off of the book after issue #3 in favor of superstar artist Jim Lee who wanted more control over the direction of the X-Men. Scott Lobdell was brought in to script Lee’s plots and boy, does it ever show. I think Lobdell did a great job with Generation X, a title he co-created with mostly new characters, but his characterization of the X-Men lacked the depth and nuance that Claremont established.
Uncanny X-Men #270, page 14
We revisit the Jean and Ororo friendship once more today, dear reader. And what are the girls talking about? Wolverine. Of course. What I find interesting about this page is Jean’s summary of everything that happened to her right before she became Phoenix. That is some encapsulated narrative! I know it’s very Claremontian to have a life synopsis over lunch, but this one is a bit much. Of course, if I was a new reader (they exist, right?) that would be very helpful. On second thought, would it? Does that giant word balloon that had to have a huge tail streaking across the page propel the story that is happening now? Well, it was two estranged friends reminiscing after they thought the other was dead (another Claremont trope which I happen to love) so perhaps it works. It’s a shame that we had to have this reunion with Storm trapped in the body of child. I would enjoy seeing the women at their correct ages. What do you say, Marvel? Time for Jean to leave the White Hot Room and renew her friendship with Storm? I’m not saying she needs to get back with Cyclops. On the contrary, Jean could join the Avengers and I’d be fine with it. Heck, I’d love it if Jean returned and received a role in space sagas like the Thanos Imperative. Out of all of the cosmic heavy hitters, there aren’t any female characters who can hang power-wise with Quasar, Nova, Silver Surfer and Beta Ray Bill. Regardless of where she would end up, I know that the characters around Jean Grey would be lucky to be graced with the wisdom, compassion and love she has to offer.
If any of the numerous tangents I went on struck a chord with you, please share in the comments. Thanks for reading, and many thanks to Chris Claremont and Jim Lee for the memories.