“He’ll Never Make Me Cry”
Kidnapped by the White Queen at the end of issue 180, Kitty was then bounced over to New Mutants issues 15-17, wherein she was rescued by the title characters. With the White Queen storyline complete, Kitty finds herself back in the parent title, in time to appear on one of the most devastating opening pages of any Uncanny issue ever published. Claremont’s writing is emotionally brutal here, as Kitty’s mostly rhetorical question to Colossus – “Anything interesting happen out there?” (i.e., during the Secret Wars) – is answered with painful directness: “I met someone else,” says Peter unemotionally. “We fell in love.”
It hits with the force of a gun, and the following three pages – once again moodily colored by Glynis Oliver – don’t let up on the intensity. Claremont’s writing is gorgeous here – simple, heartfelt, emotionally honest and excruciatingly realistic. Romita Jr. is remarkably expressive as well, demonstrating more subtlety and emotional realism than he has in any prior Uncanny issue. In both the phenomenal opening Peter/Kitty sequence and throughout the issue, the X-Men have never felt more like actual people (note that none of them appear in costume for the entirety of the story – except Nightcrawler, partially, in a mere three panels).
The Colossus/Juggernaut fight is also brilliantly conceived and executed, by far the all-time greatest use of the Juggernaut in an X-Men comic book. A once-impressive villain made to look foolish over time because his “unstoppable” riff rings hollow after so many defeats, Cain Marko here is portrayed for the first time as a genuine force of nature – or at least of karma, as his only role here is to give Peter what he’s got coming to him. (As Wolverine puts it in one of Claremont’s best-ever lines of dialogue, Peter’s beating at the hands of Cain is “what the boy deserves – what I was plannin’ t’do to him myself.”)
Romita Jr. is in his element too. Two huge bruisers engaging in a barroom brawl is the kind of thing that no comic book artist could do better. (As of this writing, the artist draws a comic book called “Kick Ass.”) Thanks to Romita’s incredible talent for drawing a fist-fight, combined with Claremont’s peerless ability to write superheroes as real, psychologically credible human beings, this is the first issue of Uncanny X-Men that – instead of being weighted one way or the other – is truly equal parts superb melodrama and dynamic action story. The balance would never again be this perfect.
Uncanny X-Men #183 is also the first issue that lists Ann Nocenti as the sole editor (instead of sharing the credit with Louise Simonson). Though obviously not every issue Nocenti edited is up to this stunning level, the fact that her first solo attempt at the job yielded such superb contributions from every single creator speaks volumes about her talent. She was absolutely the right woman for the job, fortuitously arriving at it just as Claremont was hitting his imaginative peak as a writer.