Sunday, May 11, 2014

1982: Infectious X-Men part III: Logan's Choice (nah, he won't run)

By Jef Willemsen (clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com)

When we last left the X-Men, they had been captured by the Brood and implanted with their royal embryos. Wolverine was the first to get rid of his, but had to deal with the fact his teammates were destined to become sleazoid royalty. In part III of Infectious X-Men, we'll see what Logan's planning to do about it. Spoiler alert: it contains a lot of *SNIKT*, bub...



The original Brood saga, not to mention the entire race of body stealing baddies, have often been compared to the 1979 sci-fi horror hit movie Alien. While all art can be considered derivative, the cover to Uncanny X-Men I#163 really resembles the finale of that movie, with Sigourney Weaver defeating the creature by tossing it into space. But, as always, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Brood didn't just abduct the X-Men, the Shi'ar empress Lilandra was implanted as well. Visiting X-Men associate Carol Danvers wasn't deemed suited for a Brood embryo, instead she was taken away by Brood scientists who were fascinated by her unique Kree/human genetic structure. By the time Wolverine made his way back to the palace the others were  being held, the experiments on Carol were already well under way.


"Her physical form we can alter at will. What has proven most fascinating is her psychic resistance."

The Brood bio engineers had been experimenting on Carol for quite a while, cruelly shifting her form to show some visiting dignitaries what she was capable of becoming. Luckily for Carol, her scent was the first one Wolverine locked on to once he entered the palace. Horrified by the ordeal his old friend was put through, he decided to free her. Of course, this meant hacking and slashing his way through a considerable number of Brood  so he could reach the controls of her transformation booth/torture chamber. But, how would Wolverine know how to operate, let alone shut down, a high tech alien device without harming or even killing Carol in the process?

Ow, just guess...


'I can't make head nor tails out of the controls (....) Instead, I cross my fingers...an' wreck everything in sight. Simple, effective, like me."

Contrary to any and all forms of scientific procedure, let alone common sense, destroying equipment that morphs your very form in mid process actually returned Carol to her original body. Seemingly none the worse for wear, Danvers claimed she felt felt more energetic than ever (ow boy, plotpoint!). Grabbing one of the Brood blasters lying around, she joined Wolverine in his attempt to free the others. 

Speaking of the others, most of them still believed they were among the Shi'ar as their honored guests. The Brood put them under this particular illusion so they would be calm and compliant until their eggs were ready to hatch. Luckily, around the time Logan and Carol came for them, some of the X-Men were coming to their senses.

Cyclops was the first, after sufferinga terrible nightmare in which he and his teammates were slowly being turned into Brood. Talk about foreshadowing... However, Scott had no idea how prophetic his dream was... Not even when he went for a walk and ran into Ororo who was meditating.


"Energy coalesces around Ororo into the form of one of the creatures from his nightmares...
The young queen smiles at him..."

Oh boy, that ain't even subtle anymore... But Cyclops and Storm still didn't put two and two together. How could they, after all? As fate would have it, Wolverine and Carol met up with Scott and Ororo and told them what was going on. The four of them, free from the Brood's illusions, went to collect Colossus, Shadowcat and Nightcrawler who were still seeing whatever the Brood wanted them to see. That made for some amusing, if not slightly disturbing moments. 

With the X-Men reunited, they decided the best way to escape the Brood world was by using Lilandra's ship the Z'Reee Shar (after all, it brought them there after the Brood captured them on it back in Uncanny X-Men I#161). However, Lilandra was held at a seperate location, forcing the team to split up. With Storm, Nightcrawler and Shadowcat off to recapture the Z'Reee Shar, all the others were trying to liberate Lilandra. And that led to an interesting dilemma, to say the least...


"Tunnel breaches, Cyke. Left one leads to Lil. Right one... Cripes, we hit the jackpot!"

By this point, Wolverine still hadn't told the X-Men, they had been infected While the X-Men tried to free Lilandra, Wolverine sensed a prime opportunity to already avenge his friends by assaulting the Brood Queen responsible for their fates. While Wolverine disobeyed a direct order from Cyclops by going after the Queen, forcing Scott and Colossus to accompany him, Carol Danvers went off on her own to rescue Lilandra. 

Meanwhile, Storm, Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler tried to reach the Z'reee Shar. After Storm managed to get them into a high enough orbit for Nightcrawler to spot the Shi'ar vessel, Kurt teleported himself and Kitty to the hull of the yacht. Kitty then phased into the craft, well aware Kurt was slowly dying from exposure if she didn't find an airlock to bring him in soon (why she didn't simply phase him inside the second they arrived? Shhhh, let's not be too logical here).

As soon as Kitty regained her bearings, she found herself under attack by a Brood guard... And, in a scene truly reminscient of the first Alien flick, Ripley, pardon, Kitty... got rid of her assailant by venting him out to space. But no worries kids, Kitty ain't no murderer... The bad Brood accidentally killed himself. 



See?

In the end, the X-Men, Carol Danvers and Lilandra were saved from certain death courtesy of Nightcrawler and Kitty who used the Z'Reee Shar's teleportation systems to beam everyone out of the royal chambers. The yacht took off, with the Brood Queen ordering her forces to stop the X-Men. 

And that brings us to Uncanny X-Men I#164, featuring the introduction of...



Oh well, you guessed it.

But before Carol Danvers begins her new career as Binary, she first has to help the X-Men fight off the Brood forces that have come to collect them. Lilandra shows the team the way to the weapons and that's when we get this lovely piece of early 1980s nostalgia.


"These controls look fairly easy to operate. Simply pretend it's a video arcade game"

Yeah, let's pretend you're playing Space Invaders while you're fighting off, well, space invaders. 

The X-Men manage to hold their own against the Brood inside their space sharks (yes, actual, living sharks... in space). But the only reason they're still breathing is the fact the Brood Queen doesn't want to hurt her gestating children. Eventually, they'll be overcome if they don't get out of Brood space and into warp. Unfortunately enough, the warp drive was damaged by a stray blast and someone had to go outside in a spacesuit for repairss. While Kitty volunteered for the job, Carol suddenly felt a little dizzy.


"Everything's normal now, probably stress..."

You also shouldn't have skipped breakfast, Carol... It ís the most important meal of the day, you know...

Disaster struck when the Brood mounted another massive attack just as Kitty was hit by some shrapnel while trying to fix the damage outside. Back inside, Carol Danvers suffered another seizure and became a deus ex Danvers when she suddenly shot out massive amounts of destructive energy that obliterated the entire Brood armada. Despite her injuries, Kitty fixed the warp drive and the Z'Reee Shar took off...


"Carol! Thank heavens... Is that you?!"

Yeah, it's the new and improved Carol Danvers. Leave it to Chris Claremont to rescue and restore the former Ms. Marvel to new and greater glory. After all, Claremont didn't exactly keep it a secret he disliked what had happened to the character he wrote for most of her first soloseries. As any fan of the Marvel 1980s knows, Avengers writer David Michelinie had Carol get mind controlled and impregnated by Immortus' son Marcus, with Carol "freely" volunteering to move to Limbo with him. It all happened in Avengers # 200, one of the most villified issues of the era. 

Claremont didn't waste any time after that, writing 1981's Avengers Annual #10 in which he brought back Carol, revealing she'd been living in San Francisco for months before she was robbed of her powers by the mutant Rogue. At the end of that story, Carol had chastised the Avengers for their ignorance, neglect and carelessness and ended up staying with the X-Men... which led her into space and her newfound status as Binary. The Brood experiments on her body somehow allowed her to tap into a white hole and manipulate its massive stellar energies.

Sure, let's run with that.

At any rate, Carol is overjoyed by her newfound abilities, but also realizes what they entail when Colossus (trust me, he's the one inside the suit there) asks her if she'd like to join the X-Men.


"Earth was Carol Danvers' home, Colossus. But I fear it has no place for Binary."

Speaking of Earth, what's been going on there? 

Well, for one thing...Thanks to Lilandra's builder bots, the entire Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters has been rebuild within days. The heart and soul of the man who gave his name to the facilities is another matter altogether. Xavier's been shattered and demoralized by the disappearance of the X-Men. A fact Moira MacTaggert revealed to Corsair, who came by to announce he was taking the Starjammers to look for the missing mutants.


"My son has been kidnapped. I intend to rescue him. Or avenge him."

Moira pointed out his other son, Havok, would want to go with him. But Corsair refuses to consider the notion, even though he'd love to have him at his side. After all, space is no place for a young son to accompany his father. You're better off safe 'n sound on Earth, especially if they might run into trouble up there. Safety first, don'tcha know?


"This young fellow is my son Scott. He's the one who just gave your spaceship a sunroof."

Oh well, never mind. 

With Corsair and the Starjammers off to find out what happened to the X-Men, there's at least some kind of cavalry on the way. But space is big and the X-Men's time is steadily running out. After Binary brought in the severly injured Kitty Pryde, everyone was stunned when she made a complete recovery pretty much overnight. Which was great news of course, if not for the fact Nightcrawler (the team's de facto medic) had concluded she couldn't possibly survive both the wound and the radiation exposure. Something was very wrong... And Wolverine knew what was up, but still couldn't bring himself to revealing what he knew.


"Wanna bet?"

The sense of dread aboard the Z'reee Shar was palpable in those pages. Sure, they might have escaped the Brood, but they all felt there was still something very wrong. Storm, terribly affected by being in space and cut off from her natural connection to Earth, was the first to sense just what was wrong. While talking to Cyclops, she all of a sudden felt something kick inside her...


"Scott, I sense... life within me! A... Child!"

Reaching out to "her little one", Storm is shocked when she sensed just what she was carrying. Freaking out, she took off in one of the Z'ree Shar's shuttlepods. Fed up with being kept in the dark, Cyclops assembled everyone and confronted Wolverine to tell them what was going on. 

He finally gave in.


"When it hatches, a physical metamorphosis occurs"

In the pantheon of X-Men artists, Dave Cockrum doesn't really get the recognition he deserves compared to other greats like John Byrne, Jim Lee or even Paul Smith who takes over from daring Dave next issue. But the way he manages to capture the X-Men's individual reactions to Wolverine's horrifying news is exceptionally well done. Cyclops' grim resolve, Lilandra's regal determination, Colossus barely concealed anger, with Kitty reaching out to the overcome Nightcrawler despite her own tears. It's all beautifully portrayed.

 But all of that emotion literally goes out the window, courtesy of Binary...


"Explosive decompression! We're being sucked into space!!"

You'd think that getting sucked into space would resolve the whole "we're about to become Brood Queens" dilemma... But we'll see how the team gets out of this particular pickle, courtesy of the X-Men's new artist Paul Smith in part IV of Infectious X-Men: For The Soul Of The Starbeast 

3 comments:

  1. Great entry! Just to let you know Alien was in 1979.

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    Replies
    1. Right you are! Consider it changed...

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  2. Coincidentally enough, I just read Uncanny X-Men 162-165 from one of the B&W "Essentials" books. My first issue of X-Men was actually 167, so I'd never read it before. (Embarking on project to recollect and reread as much of my 1980s Marvel comics as possible in collected editions after over 20 years since the last time I bought a comic book. Got 15+ volumes of Essentials & TPB so it's going to be awhile...)

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