Friday, October 3, 2014

From The Ashes Rises--Teen Phoenix!

We've come to the end of the four-part story involving the X-Men and a renegade Shi'ar conspiracy that's out to usurp Empress Lilandra's place on the throne, replacing her with Deathbird. Part One saw the return of Corsair, leader of the Starjammers, who was revealed to be the father of Cyclops, and we learned through Corsair how Lilandra was taken captive and brought to Earth. In Part Two, the X-Men faced Deathbird and her alien allies, the vicious Brood, and barely escaped with their lives--while Deathbird captured Charles Xavier for additional hostage leverage, and launched toward outer space. Part Three saw the X-Men and the Starjammers successfully board the massive Brood vessel and free both Lilandra and Xavier, a rescue which left the Starjammer ship cripped in space while the clock was ticking on the Shi'ar deadline which might result in Earth's destruction.

As Part Four begins, with things at their bleakest, it seems like the perfect time to play the Phoenix card. After all, it's been a whole ten issues since an X-Men cover shamelessly teased us with her return.

Calm yourselves, however--Jean Grey does not return to once more scare the crap out of the Shi'ar. But things look pretty dismal, regardless. The X-Men are in the process of helping the Starjammers repair their ship, and must now deal with an additional crisis--Colossus, near-mortally wounded in the battle with Deathbird, now finds himself succumbing to his injuries once again.

No, I don't know when Storm became a qualified nurse who can prep a patient for surgery. And no, I don't know why Sikorsky would think Xavier's mental abilities would be of more use in repairing a starship, rather than using them to mentally bolster his patient during a surgical procedure. Xavier will indeed attempt to use his powers to contact Kitty and Nightcrawler, who remain on board the Shi'ar ship in Earth orbit--but he'll fail in the attempt, and consequently become another critical patient of Sikorsky. It might be a good idea to steer clear of selecting Sikorsky to be your primary care physician if his name comes up on your HMO list--he doesn't seem to make the best calls.

Wolverine, at least, thinks this fluttering physician needs a second opinion:

Meanwhile, Lilandra attempts the logical next step: contacting the Shi'ar and letting them know of her status. But we learned in Part Three that Admiral Lord Samédàr is a covert member of Deathbird's group, and he now makes his move to secure his grip on the Shi'ar task force.

As for Deathbird, she faces the wrath of the Brood for the loss of their hostages and the reversal of their fortunes. Unless Samédàr succeeds in his power play, Deathbird's revolt is in danger of collapse, and the Brood will have nothing to show for their efforts. But, in addition to offering the Brood data on the X-Men that make the mutants ideal hosts for their--well, brood, Deathbird makes it clear that she has no intention of paying the Brood's price in blood should this operation fail.

That leaves the status of Nightcrawler and Kitty, who haven't been doing much until now but, after dealing with an attempt on their lives by Samédàr, decide to become more proactive by seeking out Lilandra's chancellor, Araki, and informing him of the details of Xavier's aborted telepathic message to them--that Lilandra is safe and sound. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of Araki.

While the two make plans to enlist the help of the Imperial Guard, a trigger-happy Samédàr is moving ahead to decimate the Earth. Before he can act, however, the two X-Men provide quite a distraction that will allow them to grab the Guard's telepath, Oracle, in order to help convince the Guard of Samédàr's betrayal.

Not surprisingly, writer Chris Claremont takes the opportunity at this point to have the Shi'ar pour on the dire consequences facing their people and the universe and the San Diego Comic-Con, should Phoenix pick up where she left off--which is probably a more dignified response from the Shi'ar as opposed to them discovering that they've been pranked by a teenager. Meanwhile, Oracle, having listened to Nightcrawler and Kitty (after first fleeing in terror from seeing Kitty in her Phoenix outfit), summons other members of the Guard to hear them out. But Gladiator and his associates receive all the evidence they need from Samédàr himself, who has his own loyal Guard complement--and, this being an X-Men comic, you know how things are going to go from there, no doubt.

One assumes, however, that you don't get to be "Admiral Lord" in the Shi'ar military hierarchy without knowing how to ruthlessly handle an insurrection. Samédàr first uses a Brood weapon implanted in the symbiote, Warstar, to decimate the ranks of Gladiator and his group (not to mention poor Warstar); then, after discovering Kitty's attempted sabotage of the ship's computer core, uses another hidden weapon to drop her, as well, despite her phasing ability. And finally, the way is clear to proceed with his mad plan--unless a certain rogue group of heroes arrives, once again, in the nick of time.

Lilandra may be sitting pretty again on the Shi'ar throne, but we still have a few loose ends dangling which keeps this story from being at least completely reset. Both Colossus and Xavier are still on the injured list, with Xavier possibly infected with a Brood embryo; Lilandra and the Guard are probably going to be busy ferreting out traitors in their midst; and of course Deathbird now has a lot of 'splainin to do to her Brood allies. As for the X-Men, their affairs on Earth will go on to involve their first meeting with Rogue, an encounter with Dracula, and a battle with the demon Belasco, before again facing the Brood in a more extended conflict. If they're not careful, they're all going to end up under Sikorsky's tender care.

Uncanny X-Men #157

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Dave Cockrum
Inks: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Janice Chiang


Anonymous said...

Sikorsky sounds like Yoda he does. I mostly lost interest in the X-Men after the Hellfire Club/Dark Phoenix run but I remember reading the Rogue Storm issue - it was rather an anti-climax, as I remember, with the other X-Men persuading Storm not to become a badass and she agrees. And then in 2006 the movie "X-Men-The Last Stand" used the same idea for their pathetic version of Dark Phoenix.

Anonymous said...

We must remember that Sikorsky would make the most logical choice based on all available information. That being what it is, Storm is the nearest human female, therefore the most logical to be nurse and assist with surgery. We also know that she loves to be barefoot when possible, now if we can just get her in the kitchen.

The Prowler (It's such a gorgeous sight to see you in the middle of the night you can never get enough, enough of this stuff. It's Friday I'm in love).

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