Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Deadly Escape of Mutant X!


When last we checked in on the X-Men, they were preparing to at long last return home following their battle in Japan with former arms dealer turned terrorist Moses Magnum, who was threatening the country with destruction by triggering earthquakes along its fault lines. And now, following their return to the States, life has gone on for the team, as well as for those who were once associated with the X-Men. Charles Xavier now resides on the Shi'ar homeworld with his love, Empress Lilandra; while Jean Grey, separated from the X-Men after their deadly battle with Magneto, is currently staying on Muir Isle at Moira MacTaggert's research facility, along with Havok (brother to Cyclops), Lorna Dane (Polaris), and Jamie Madrox (the "Multiple Man"). The paths of both groups have yet to cross, with the X-Men as well as Jean believing each other to have died in the fight at Magneto's Antarctic base. That is about to change.

In the meantime, unknown to Moira or her guests, something is stalking the corridors of the research complex--a deadly entity known as "Mutant X," who has killed an intruder who was planning to sabotage the facility, taking his body to use as a host form. There are many other things happening in this transition issue (that is, an issue that paves the way for major action in succeeding issues), segments which bring us up to speed on several developments which in one way or another involve the X-Men. We see Magneto, on his asteroid base, recuperating from injuries he sustained battling the X-Men in Antarctica (though it looks rather odd to see even a comic book character recuperating in costume--Magneto didn't think to pack PJs or a robe for that base?); Xavier, with some time to kill at a state function, decides to review the file on Phoenix that details how she repaired an energy matrix and prevented "the end of all that is," and, horrified, he hurriedly makes preparations to return to Earth; and the man known as Jason Wyngarde begins to infiltrate and manipulate Jean's thoughts as part of a plan to indoctrinate her into the Hellfire Club.

Clearly, as this issue's cover implies, writer Chris Claremont is keeping several plates spinning simultaneously as he moves things along in the X-Men's world--though as we'll see throughout the storyline involving Mutant X, some of those plates depend on the smudging of key details in order to stay spinning atop their poles.



For instance, there's Moira's comprehensive examination of Phoenix--its preliminary results presenting a growing cause for concern, particularly in Xavier's absence.




In past issues, we've seen Phoenix's power inexplicably fluctuate, though there's no doubt that Jean can tap into enormous amounts of psi-energy and possesses the ability to wield unlimited power. Yet Jean appears to have no idea that Mutant X is now free and moving about on the premises; nor does she detect the influence of Wyngarde, who isn't nearly her equal in telepathic prowess, nor has she discovered the fact that he's appeared to her in disguise several times. Phoenix's power is being presented to us as something potentially frightening and certainly formidable--except on those occasions when the story that's unfolding warrants that it be put aside.

Then there are the X-Men, who have been performing to Cyclops' satisfaction and praise in the field--but who now disappoint within the confines of the Danger Room, and things seem back to square one for no discernible reason.



As for Mutant X, the jig is finally up for him when Moira makes a discovery outside of his cell, and a far more terrifying discovery within it.



At the same time, Jean senses Moira's chaotic thoughts, and races to help--only to find herself trapped in a hallucination brought on by Wyngarde, one that registers in every sense as real. By the time Jean comes out of it, Mutant X has made his move.



We learn later that Mutant X is essentially invisible to Phoenix's telepathic probes, which is terribly convenient for the story and his emerging threat, eh? On the other hand, you can almost hear a sigh of relief from the inhabitants of the universe that the power of Phoenix may not be all it's cracked up to be.

Back in New York, the dominoes leading to the X-Men being reunited with those who thought them to be dead are finally beginning to tip over one by one, as the Beast looks in on the Westchester mansion only to discover that it's not as deserted as it should be--only in this case, with good reason.


(Rest assured, Hank--Phoenix can be surprised by a lot of things, when need be.)


At this point, the tension level of the story has begun to spike. You can almost see Claremont racing around to those plates, in a frantic effort to keep them all spinning so that none of them smash against the ground prematurely. But where the X-Men are concerned, things going awry without warning is one of their calling cards--which makes this story's closing panels exciting and suspenseful reading, and the sound of breaking plates is almost like music to our ears.




The X-Men race to Scotland! But what horror will they find on arrival?

Uncanny X-Men #125

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: John Byrne
Inks: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...