[Jason Powell continues to look at every issue of Claremont's X-Men run. This one is short, and he worries this will look like his is phoning it in, but I think he is focused, smart, and can usefully rely on all the writing he has in the can -- there is no reason for him to keep making the same points. Especially when the new point he has here is such good one.]
“Dream a Little Dream”
While Claremont’s messing around with Storm’s age and Psylocke’s ethnicity seems like change just for the sake of it, his concluding narrative turns for Colossus and Dazzler are beautifully conceived. Throughout the Outback era, these were the two characters who – within in the world of the story – were never fully at ease with the path on which they found themselves. Peter was raised to be a farmer, and had a passion for art. Alison was groomed to enter law school, but pursued her passion for music. Both originally set to follow in their parents’ footsteps, both with an artistic bent, they nonetheless became “superheroes” – one out of a sense of duty; the other, desperation.
These parallels had existed all along, but only in “Dream a Little Dream” does Claremont juxtapose the two characters so deliberately. They both emerge from the Seige Perilous in Uncanny 259, in scenarios that allow them to pursue their respective passions. Peter becomes a painter; and Dazzler, a movie star. And while each of them will become involved in action-story tropes over the next couple of issues, there is a sense that the greater burdens associated with their X-affiliations have been lifted.
It’s not hard to see where Claremont’s mind was at this time. He has noted in several places that the key his writing the X-Men for so long was to think of them as real people. (In Patrick Meaney’s interview with Claremont and Ann Nocenti, she confirms that to think of the X-Men as real people was the only way to stay sane while creating the comic book.) For Claremont, Peter’s talent and Alison’s ambition were crucial, humanizing aspects of those characters. Yet the author was now regularly butting heads with an editorial sensibility concerned with the financial bottom line – which, for a superhero comic, means more emphasis on fights and tights (the stuff that sells to teenage boys), and less on characterization.
That conflict must have weighed heavily on Claremont’s mind at this time, and it’s easy to see why the two artistic X-Men receive such kind and empathetic treatment at this point (quite in contrast to what Logan and Betsy endured in the previous few months).
As the most artistic of any character in the X-canon, Peter Rasputin earns the grand prize from the Seige Perilous’ karmic wheel. Within six months, Colossus will have been given a deliberate, explicit, storybook happy-ending as a successful, much celebrated artist, romantically paired with literally the most beautiful woman in the world.
And when Claremont is forced to destroy all of that by bringing Colossus back in Uncanny 279 (as the puppet of a manipulative villain, not insignificantly), it will prove such a painful betrayal that he will quit rather than finish scripting the issue.