Monday, May 19, 2014

1983: Infectious X-Men Part V: Interlude (or: How Brooding Charlie Got His Groove Back)

By Jef Willemsen (

In the fifth part of Infectious X-Men, we leave the team out in space while checking in with professor Xavier.  After his lover Lilandra and the X-Men mysteriously vanished, Charles was left heartbroken and demoralized, even having seemingly lost fate in his dream. That is, until fate, Moira MacTaggert and quite possibly the alien Brood Queen bubbling in his belly decided to intervene.

Let's have a quick recap: the lengthy X-Men-In-Space-Fighting-Brood arc started back in Uncanny X-Men I#155 when Corsair came to Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters looking for help. He had some Sidri bounty hunters on his tail who completely destroyed the school before they were defeated. Everyone lived to tell the tale, and by the time Corsair and the Starjammers left to look for the X-Men a group of Shi'ar build bots had completely restored and even improved the building.

The school was open for business again, but professor Xavier was in no mood to take on a new class. However, he still had to look after whoever was left in his care, in this case Colossus's sister Illyana Rasputin. After getting sucked into Belasco's Limbo the infant girl somehow aged about a decade before the X-Men were able to rescue her. In Uncanny X-Men I#164 Charles finds himself alone at the school with Illyana as he prepares dinner for the two of them.

Reading the issue back when I was still an innocent little boy of nine or ten, I didn't see anything wrong with this scene. But, a decade or two later, their interaction really didn't sit right with me. Judge for yourself... 

"I taught you while you slept"

It's a good thing Xavier wasn't drinking wine with dinner, otherwise this exchange would have felt like a very inappropriate first date. Also, having Charles get on his high horse about telepaths never using their powers on those under his care moments after he just admitted to pumping his massive, erm, vocabulary into the the young girl while she slept? Awkward much? 

Illyana then teases him about the fact she can do "neat stuff too, like Piotr", but refuses to tell Charles just what she meant by that. However, she turns out to have an extra-ordinarily powerful and sophisticated mental shield surrounding her thoughts, so Xavier can't find out for himself (just how he was able to bypass that shield to give her the aforementioned overnight telepathic language course isn't explained either).

Despite being presented with a mystery suited to his abilities, he refuses to get involved. That trend continued in Uncanny X-Men I#165 when Moira MacTaggert presented him with another young mutant in need. Let's see how the naturally altruistic Xavier responded to this desperate plea for help.


The Xi'an Coy Manh mentioned by doctor MacTaggert was actually a character Claremont helped create with Frank Miller. As the credits in her 1980 debut issue, Marvel Team Up I#100, claimed, she saw the light of day thanks to inspiration the two got after the comics convention Ithacon 1979. In her first appearance, the mind controlling Vietnamese girl proved powerful enough to turn Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four against each other. All the more reason she ought to receive the proper training. 

Continuining his tendency to build bridges to connect seemingly seperate sections of the the Marvel universe, Claremont now brought Karma into the X-Men's sphere of influence even though Charles wasn't exactly champing at the bit to take Xi'an on. However, after a particularly nasty exchange which ended with Moira leaving Xavier to stew in his own juices for a bit, he reached the only logical conclusion.

"Then, at last, a decision is made... A Rubicon is crossed..."

Xavier made the call and brought in Xi'an for preliminary testing. The story of her arrival at the school was told in 1983's Marvel Graphic Novel I#04, by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod. In it, we see the birth of the next generation of mutants, as over the course of the story Xavier and Moira slowly assemble a band of young (oh, go on then, new) mutants clearly in need of the guidance and help only he can provide. So, at the end of that particularly enjoyable comic, we end up with this band of fresh (faced) teenagers with powers.

"I see that our relationship is becoming as... fascinating... as I anticipated."

Oh boy, Danielle Moonstar... If only you could see what was coming for you in the X-Men/Micronauts limited series scheduled for 1984. Or even what was really going on right now... Marvel Graphic Novel I#04 only briefly mentioned the X-Men's disappearance, yet the Brood weren't mentioned, not even the fact Xavier wasn't quite himself thanks to the young Brood queen growing inside him. 

It's hard to tell if Xavier's decision to gather a new band of mutants was fully his own choice... Or actually the handiwork of the Brood Queen embryo who was already subtly influencing her host. After all, having suitable host bodies available as soon as she hatched would only make sense. One might argue Xavier's distinct aversion to assemble a new class was Charles' last (sub)conscious act of resistance. When he decided to call in Karma in Uncanny X-Men I#165, that could symbolize the moment the infant Brood Queen won out. Xavier might look human, but she's the one calling the shots (even though she'd still need to be pushed around).

Which brings me to another thing: it's been well established the Brood embryos hypercharge their hosts' recuperative abilities to make sure they are fully fit by the time the young Queen is ready to take over. In Uncanny X-Men I#164, Kitty Pryde caught a lethal dose of radiation, only be fine the next morning... Shouldn't Charles' shattered spine have been mended, allowing him to walk again? 

Of course, just in case someone at Marvel reads this and has a No Prize left somewhere... The baby Brood might well have restored Charles's legs, but having her host suddenly walking might cause people to grow suspicious before she was ready to take over. Best to keep playing it straight. 


"A royal egg will be implanted within each of you..."

While the X-Men's trials and tribulations in space continued (which we'll cover in the next part), these new mutants got their own spin off title called... Ow, don't make me say it.

After a rather inoccuous first two issues fighting some Sentinels, New Mutants I#3 saw Dani Moonstar (then going by Psyche) getting taunted, hunted and mocked by the Brood growing in Xavier. Time was clearly running out, but who could save them? 

Come back and find out in part VI of Infectious X-Men: Charles In Charge (of his legs!) 

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