[Jason Powell continues his issue by issue look at Claremont's X-Men. For more in this series, see the labels on the bottom of this post, or the toolbar on the right.]
“Lost in the Funhouse”
Illustrated by Alan Davis and Paul Neary, the 1987 X-Men annual looks fabulous. It even features Brian Braddock and Meggan in a guest role, just so that fans of Davis’ work on the Captain Britain series can be treated once again to his peerless iteration of those characters.
In terms of story, however, this is all almost entirely non-essential. It plays on a well-worn sci-fi cliché, wherein characters are defeated by the fulfillment of their own “heart’s desires.” Claremont even erases the story from continuity at the end, implying that it won’t be long before the X-Men forget that it even happened.
Not much commentary needed, then. However, I would like to discuss a few key details in the story, and examine how they refute a standard accusation leveled at Claremont now and then.
In Geoff’s book, for example, he suggests that an “angst-filled teenage morality” is at play throughout Claremont’s X-Men (or “Clairmont’s X-Men,” a misspelling I’ve come to love, deciding that it’s the name of an “imaginary” Claremont, the writer everyone thinks of when they hear the name, based on stereotype rather than the actual content of the author’s work). Geoff reduces the love relationships in X-Men to the soap-opera mentality with the line, “Oh, but how can I even think of kissing him, when he is with her?”
Such claims are contradicted in the sexually permissive relationship between Wolverine and Storm in X-Men Annual #11. The story is ostensibly framed within the context of Wolverine’s angst at having lost his one, true love, Mariko Yashida. In spite of that, Logan nonetheless casually shares a passionate kiss with Ororo on Page 14, just before the team embark on their latest adventure.
Claremont is being as clear with his implication as he can in a Comics Code-approved superhero comic, but the writing between the lines is not hard to read. As blogger Patrick puts it here, Logan and Ororo are “friends with benefits” – and seemingly guiltlessly too, despite Logan’s pledge to love Mariko.
Further along in the story, Claremont goes on to imply that Storm’s sexual spectrum is wider than readers might have guessed, alluding to a romantic attraction between her and Yukio during a flashback to their adventures from Uncanny #’s 172 and 173.
None of this is perhaps as blunt as the superhero threesomes in The Authority (which Geoff sets up in opposition to the work of Clairmont in his book), but the implication of a more complex, and more permissive, sexual dynamic among certain members of the cast of X-Men is intensely persuasive within its context, and one of Claremont’s least celebrated innovations for the series.
[Mistakes were made. Jason, I love that you have started this massive project on this blog with the, even partial, aim of setting me straight. it is totally working.]