[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.]
“Go Tell the Spartans”
As Patrick has already pointed out, the middle chapter of “Fall of the Mutants” – a double-sized issue – sees Claremont tossing out ideas and allusions at a schizophrenically breakneck pace, with almost every turn of the page revealing some new wrinkle. Alan Moore and Grant Morrison are generally the considered the go-to comic book scribes for the “crazy ideas,” but Chris Claremont has his moments as well. Certainly “Go Tell the Spartans” is one of his wilder accomplishments.
Yet for all the mad deployment of imagery, set-pieces and character bits, there is a coherent plot holding it all together, and it’s one of Claremont’s most intriguing: While the Adversary rips Earth to shreds, he’s already got a replacement one set up, and he’s decided to drop Forge and Storm there to infuse it with life. This Native American man and African woman will be the new world’s Adam and Eve, if they so choose. There’s also a neat, psuedo-paradoxical idea introduced in the Forge/Ororo material, wherein Storm realizes she could become the “Goddess” or “Bright Lady” whom she herself has always worshipped -- an idea that seems almost to predict Alan Moore’s twist at the end of “From Hell,” wherein Gull becomes the “Great Architect” he revered throughout his lifetime. (Patrick singles out this detail for attention too, but as something that is “very Invisibles.”)
In a way, Uncanny X-Men #225 doubles as the conclusion to the theoretical “LifeDeath” trilogy, with Storm acknowledging her destiny as a goddess figure before ultimately rejecting it in order to remain faithful to her role as a member of the X-Men. The story also marks, for me, the first time that the Forge/Ororo relationship has made sense, either intellectually or emotionally. There is something very touching in their first scene of the issue, as Forge begs Storm, “Stay BY me.” Silvestri and Green also completely sell me on the silent smile that Ororo gives in response.
Meanwhile, there is also an unexplained time distortion at work, as years pass for Forge and Ororo in their duplicate continuum, while only apparent hours go by for the rest of the X-Men on Earth.
As for Claremont’s conceit that the X-Men are able to finally prove themselves as heroes because – for the first time – their exploits are being videotaped and broadcast worldwide, that strikes me as a little bit pat. (Trivia: Claremont is apparently friends with real-life NPR reporter Neal Conan, hence Conan becoming a character in this story. Even now, 20 years later, Conan is still a voice on National Public Radio. As I write this, I just listened to him yesterday interviewing the author of “The Ten Cent Plague,” a book about comic books.)
Note that much of this issue is also devoted to the idea of the X-Men and Freedom Force becoming allies against a common foe. Old villains become allies in the face of a new, greater threat; another Claremont motif.
If any other member of the X-Men besides Storm stands out in “Go Tell the Spartans,” it is most certainly Colossus, depicted by Claremont as a man who possesses both honor and soulful intelligence. The plot detail of Roma having slipped Peter into this story under the radar is beautifully handled as well, as is Claremont’s use of Psylocke as the woman who at last ferrets out the Roma connection. Since Psylocke and Roma were both imported from the Alan Moore/Alan Davis Captain Britain stories, this is a perfect use of prior continuity.
Along similar lines, Claremont does a fantastic little bit with Dazzler, who was taken down by Super Sabre’s “sonic boom” in the previous issue. Here, we learn that she is simply playing possum. Since her mutant power is to metabolize sound, a sonic assault not only doesn’t hurt her, it actually makes her more powerful. That’s the kind of little detail that makes superhero comics – particularly Claremont’s – so darn much fun.