[Jason Powell continues his issue by issue look at Claremont's X-Men. For more in this series see the toolbar on the right.]
“Hell Hath No Fury ...”
The conclusion of this little two-parter going some way toward redeeming its weak first half through sheer verve. The climactic scene between Mystique and Rogue, for example, is neatly constructed (it’s also a tacit retcon, with Rogue claiming she came to Xavier of her own free will when issue #170 very strongly suggested that Wyngarde was manipulating her). We get a slightly stronger sense from this scene than we did in Uncanny #171 of the desperation of Rogue’s situation and why she is with Xavier rather than Mystique. Claremont even resolves Rogue’s wonky characterization from Dazzler #’s 24 and 28 that depicted her embarking on a hazily motivated vendetta against the title character.
Meanwhile, we see a few clues as to the darker direction the series is heading in. It is prefigured in the new dynamic Claremont establishes here between Storm and Wolverine, in a scene consolidating their lovely encounter in Uncanny #172. Ororo is now as hard and as terse (and as inclined toward macho bravado) as Logan, and the new energy that exists between them as a result is almost sexual in nature. Claremont will continue to develop this surprising new tension over time, and circa issues 214-216 it will become the emotional core of the comic. (Thus, oddly enough, Brett Ratner’s X3 was obliquely on the right track when it cut Xavier, Scott and Jean out of the franchise and made Wolverine and Storm the core of a new team. Motivated by the star power of Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry rather than respect for source material that they weren’t even familiar with, the filmmakers serendipitously replicated a forgotten era of X-continuity. None of which is to say that X3 isn’t a complete failure on every artistic level.)
There is a subtle precursor of what’s to come during the battle sequence as well, when Nightcrawler wraps his arm around Avalanche’s neck and teleports him, delivering a succinctly tough straight line: “Right idea, Avalanche – wrong target.” Uncanny X-Men is still an action comic, but the next few issues see Claremont, teamed with his grittiest artistic collaborator to date, making the action less akin to sci-fi (as was so common with Cockrum and Byrne) and closer in tone and style to the kind of action that might star Eastwood, Bronson or McQueen.