By Jef Willemsen (clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com)
In the eighth part of Infectious X-Men, the Brood's second confrontation with Marvel's merry mutants reaches the finale we all knew it would. But not before we head to Denver for an omelette and some of that ol' time religion. Pass the ammo, praise the lord...The Brood's come home to roost!
When we last left the X-Men... they'd just discovered their old enemy the Brood had come back to Earth. After infecting one Harry Palmer, he served as recruiter for the alien body snatchers by infection a considerable number of mutants with Brood embryos. Well aware of the danger, the X-Men were determined to wipe them all out before they could become a global threat.
Unfortunately, as soon as they confronted Harry Palmer he called in his, well, brood. They gave the team a rough time. Storm was forced to flee, albeit pursued by the Brood Dive-Bomber, while Wolverine, Psylocke and Rogue were inadvertently turned to the Brood's side. Heck, Wolverine even got implanted with yet another Brood embryo.
Storm was able to defeat Dive-Bomber thanks to a timely assist from Havok (who killed the kamikaze creature with his plasma beam), while Colossus took on the Brood's powerhouse Brickbat...and won. Even though they still had strength in numbers, the brooding Harry Palmer ordered his forces to retreat.
"Those heroes want blood... We'll give them their own!"
And while the Brood beat a hasty retreat, the handful of remaining X-Men took a moment to aid Havok in dealing with the fact he just killed a living, breathing creature. The fact that the grotesque looking Dive-Bomber reverted to his human form after death didn't help matters any. Storm nevertheless pressed on...
"This man deserves to be mourned, Alex...
But it was Harry Palmer who killed him, not you."
But it was Harry Palmer who killed him, not you."
No matter the question if she's right or wrong, this stance is a far cry from the way Storm viewed the Brood during her first encounter with the alien race. Once fiercely, even impractically, opposed against killing even a single lifeform, here we have Ororo Munroe extolling the necessary virtues of killing all the Brood in sight "lest Earth is doomed". It really shows the stakes involved and makes you drop on your knees and pray to God.
Speaking of the almighty, Uncanny X-Men I#234 opens at a national prayer meeting to be hosted in Denver, Colorado by the popular (television) minister William Conover. His presence had been subtly teased for at least two issues, with the X-Men and their foes encountering (or crashing in to) signs that tell of his presence.
"That Brood flyer... Divebomber... He's got the drop on her."
In the early set up of Uncanny X-Men I#234, we finally get to meet reverend William. Turns out, he's suffering from a slight crisis of faith because his beloved wife Hannah is suffering from cripping arthritis that seemingly no amount of prayer to the man upstairs is able to cure.
"Why can't the Lord grant that smell mercy... is it so much to ask?"
The fact his wife is so ill in spite of all his selflessness so desperate moments before going on stage to preach before a massive crowd at Red Rocks, he even openly questions his faith. This poignant point is cut short when they learn about a "big time mutie fight in town". Still, the reverend presses on and goes out on stage to spread the good word. As he does, Harry Palmer's co-ambulance worker Josie approaches the poor, pained woman with a proposition...
"If you'll let me, I've something that can fix that."
But that's enough of that old-time religion for now. Let's check back on the X-Men who had been busy chasing the Brood. One of their confrontations led them to a local diner where Colossus, Dazzler, Longshot and the others faced the sleazoids and sparks really flew.
"This is Colossus".
In the end, the team was able to kill Tension, Blindside and several other Brood soldiers. This forced Harry Palmer to take Wolverine, Psylocke and Rogue some place else where he could either implant them with embryos or wait for the others to hatch. However, despite Temptress' best efforts, Logan wasn't having any of it, least of all that young queen growing inside him.
"Appearances, girl... can be... deceivin'!"
Wolverine, despite the fact he's in mid transformation, still managed to kill Temptress. So shocked by losing her master, the mind controlled Rogue does the only thing she can do...
"TEMPTRESS!?! You killed her!"
Incensed and out of her mind, Rogue tossed the rapidly changing Wolverine to the ground. He landed hard, stretching his already taxed healing factor to the absolute limit. However, he still got up and staggered down the mountain, right into reverend Conover's prayer meeting. When his dishevelled, slightly smoking form caused unrest among the flock, the pious Conover called Wolverine to him. The reverend figured the poor, oddly dressed man was merely going through withdrawl and was in need of an uplifting spiritual.
Guess how that almost turned out.
"Hurl this creature... back to the satanic abyss from when it came!"
As gifted an orator the reverend might be, what finally did the trick was Wolverine's healing factor that saved him at the last possible instant by treating the Brood embryo as it would any other "ordinary" infection.
However, Wolverine's presence had led both the X-Men and the Brood to the Denver prayer meeting and the reverend even found himself under attack from the coils-for-arms Brood Tension before Havok killed him without so much as a second thught. The two bands of villains seemed almost evenly matched until Harry showed up with the proverbial ace in the hole...
"You called us demons, rev..."
Palmer managed to hold the X-Men off for a while, even taking the time to preach the gospel of the coming new world order until Wolverine showed up to do this.
I always felt there was something inherently funny about the way Marc Silvestri set this scene. What happened next was no laughing matter, though.
"You don't understand, bub. Harry Palmer died a long time ago."
With a well placed *snikt*, Wolverine once again established his reputation as the killer on the team and seemingly ended the threat of the Brood. Given the aliens' established healing powers, one pop of the claws probably wouldn't be enough. But let's not get too gruesome and focus on the aftermath.
Hannah Conover had some exciting news to share with her husband.
"...Hands... Your hands!?! They can move again. Are they healed?!"
Oy, what a miracle! God is indeed good. Or, wait a minute... Didn't Harry Palmer's partner offer to "help" poor ol' Hannah out?
"For that future to turn out for the best!"
Oh boy, if that nurse's smug, ominious glare doesn't spell "to be continued", I dunno what does. And, sure enough, years later this storyline was picked up on by John Ostrander when he wrote the 1996 mini-series X-Men/Brood: Day Of Wrath. In it, Hannah is revealed to be a Brood Queen, albeit a remarkably reasonable one.
But that's all she wrote when it comes to the X-Men and the Brood in the 1980s. In the next and final part, we'll analyze the repercussions of the mutants' run ins with the sleazoids, as well as some glaring continuity errors in part IX of Infectious X-Men: Post Mortem Mayhem.