Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back To Reality

Dissension In The Ranks

When resentments and disagreements boil over,
even allies can turn against each other in fierce battle that can bring the house down.

(And often does!)


The Uncanny X-Men

With their computerized "Danger Room," the X-Men have the luxury of letting off steam within the confines of a controlled environment--and all in the name of training. Yet there have been times when, away from the stern influence of their teacher and mentor, Professor X, they become more human than they'd admit--and settle disagreements with each other by utilizing their deadly abilities in intra-team fighting.

I could choose from a number of examples where they tear into each other, Lord knows--but one of my favorite scenes is this one, where the team is dejected after a frustrating hunt for and encounter with the deadly mutant Proteus, who's just proven how effective he is against them and escaped. With the ability to exert control over reality itself, Proteus has managed to make the X-Men doubt themselves and make them painfully aware of how close they came to death. Cyclops, their field leader, seeing the need to pull his team back together and restore their confidence before they resume their hunt, takes a risky gamble with his own life--by forcing them to take their anger and frustration out on him.

It's every X-Man for himself, under the subtle direction of Cyclops--if, that is, he makes it through his plan intact!

Cyclops had a two-part strategy here. As he makes clear later, he was mostly worried about Wolverine's ability to recover from the encounter with Proteus, as Proteus' reality-altering power rendered Wolverine's enhanced senses--which he in part depends on to function--practically useless. Chances are that Wolverine's independent nature vs. Cyclops' by-the-numbers leadership style would have reached the boiling point, sooner or later--so Cyclops was able to play on that in order to shock Wolverine out of his funk. As you can see, he focuses far less on Storm and Nightcrawler, who were shaken up by the encounter but not nearly to the extent of Wolverine--so he engaged them simply to get them "back in the game," so to speak.

A great deal of the conflict between Cyclops and Wolverine was put to bed here. Had their fight happened under other circumstances, instead of being tempered in this way, the X-Men would have been picking up the pieces long after it was over, and Wolverine would probably have quit the team for good. Not all intra-team fights end in so productive a way--as we'll see next time.

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