[Guest Blogger Jason Powell continues his issue by issue look at Chris Claremont’s X-Men run. For more in this series, see the toolbar on the right.]
The first half of this issue features Claremont very much in his precious mode. Material such as Rachel getting tickled by Nightcrawler, plus all the cooing over Madelyne and Scott’s newborn baby, might grate on readers who lack a sweet tooth. Those of us with enough of an affinity for cutesiness can find plenty to enjoy, however: Colossus’ line to Logan while they’re all gathered around the baby, “To think Wolverine – you, also, once looked like that,” is quite a lovely character bit, for example.
Other sequences are irredeemably awful by any standard – in particular Rogue’s confrontation with Ronald Reagan, which is just cringe-inducing.
And then there are a few questionable attempts that sort of walk the line – Nightcrawler tickling Rachel is silly, but Tom Orzechowski’s rendering of Rachel’s word balloon elevates the potentially stupid moment into something rather elegant just on the level of craftsmanship.
Cyclops is a complete jerk once again. How anyone can interpret his scenes with Madelyne differently is mind-boggling. In Uncanny #201, he presumes that Madelyne will quit her job as a pilot so that she can raise the baby – pretty much solo, apparently – while he goes back to being leader of the X-Men. When Madelyne points out with stainless logic that she’s the one with skills and a paying career, and that the X-Men seem capable of getting by without Scott, he has no response. He departs the scene without a word to his wife and goes to fight a duel with Storm for leadership of the team. He’s incredibly unkind – which primes the character perfectly for writer Bob Layton’s treatment of him in X-Factor #1, wherein Cyclops leaves Madelyne in Alaska and heads straight to New York when he learns Jean is alive. He deigns not to tell Madelyen where he’s going or why. He then spends two weeks in New York by himself, but never once calls his wife in that time. These are not the actions of a hero. From this point on, the character is destroyed.
Claremont may just be playing by the rules – writing Cyclops with an eye toward how Bob Layton will write him in X-Factor (which debuted contemporaneously with Uncanny #202). But he does the job too well. Claremont has complained in interviews of how X-Factor ruined Scott as a character, but Claremont – thanks to his writing both here and in the previous issue – is undeniably complicit in that crime.