[Jason Powell continues his issue by issue look at Claremont's X-Men. For more in this series, see the toolbar on the right or the labels below.]
People accuse Claremont of not resolving plot threads, but that’s only part of the truth. He finishes them; he merely takes a long, circuitous route (“the spiral path”) between set-up and conclusion. Issue 220 – appropriately titled “Unfinished Business” -- is a quintessentially Claremontian comic book in both respects, as Claremont ignores several developments from the previous couple issues in order to resolve a different story thread entirely – one that is now nearly three years old.
Thus, Havok’s discovery of a Brood ship in Uncanny #218 is dropped completely, and not to be picked up again until spring of 1988. Storm’s talk of faking the X-Men’s death last issue is likewise put on hold for the next seven months. On the one hand, this is perverse on Claremont’s part, messing with readers’ expectations so flagrantly. On the other, readers couldn’t seem to get enough of this torture. Uncanny X-Men was the top-selling comic book at this time, and would remain so for the rest of Claremont’s tenure. In other words, the man knew what he was doing.
“Unfinished Business” opens with a hallucinatory three-page sequence beautifully illustrated by Silvestri/Green and evocatively colored by Oliver. After that, it settles quickly into a solo Storm adventure, serving mainly to reacquaint readers with the open threads from Uncanny X-Men #’s 184-188, wherein the mutant Native American known only as Forge was positioned the only man who could prevent the fabric of the universe from unraveling. After much build-up – including Forge’s mentor and fellow Cheyenne Indian, Naze, being possessed by an evil entity – this material was all dropped abruptly midway through issue 188.
It’s at last reintroduced here in Uncanny #220, which is the start of a domino-chain of issues that will climax very satisfyingly seven months later, Claremont proving once again that no matter how much he might meander from time to time, he’s capable of snapping back into focus with razor-like precision and intensity.
[Dropping a plot thread only to return to it much later by cutting away from a current arc is exactly how much of LOST is structured. Locke and Boone find the hatch in episode 11 of the first season and we don't find out what is inside until the first episode of the second season, nearly 10 months later. It is also quite common to end an episode with some big revelation about some character, and then have them appear not at all in the following episode. This is probably something they learned from Claremont, given that the creators are big comics guys.]