Thursday, March 17, 2016

Where You Lead, I Will Protest

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!)


Storm and Professor X

It would be difficult to imagine Storm not getting along with anyone in her adopted family of the X-Men--particularly her trusted teacher and friend, Charles Xavier, who was there with a sympathetic ear and a willingness to help when she was going through something of an identity crisis and adopted a new look to suit her changing mood and perception of self. Storm was at this time well into her role as the leader of the team (appointed by Xavier after the departure of Cyclops), while Xavier had only recently recovered the use of his legs. The changes that each had gone through gives them common ground for an interesting moment of bonding between them.

Just to give you a heads-up, you may want to make a mental note of the panels where Xavier states his reluctance to use his power to tamper with the minds of others. For now, it's important to establish that Xavier has come to care and have a good deal of respect for Ororo, while making it a point to solicit her input in matters where the team (or part of it) is being deployed.

Gee, not so much dissension between these two so far, is there? But their relationship will begin to change as Xavier, now walking and feeling able to be of more use to his students in the field, increasingly asserts himself in the decisions being made for the team, slowly finding himself reclaiming the role he'd held while directing the actions of the original X-Men--only this time, being able to physically join them on their missions, an experience he finds to be rewarding as well as exhilarating. That shift only intensifies when the X-Men are thrown into a crisis situation, where the team and Xavier find themselves abducted along with a number of other super-beings to a planet where the Beyonder has pitted his captives against each other in what would become known as the Secret Wars.

During this time where the X-Men must coordinate their participation with other heroes, Xavier becomes increasingly more forceful in having his students snap-to at his decisions in the role they take apart from the main forces in battle with each other, with the X-Men in effect becoming a strike team that he directs with full expectation of their compliance. (A shift in attitude which Cyclops, also present, attributes to the stakes involved and the very real possibility that none of them will make it out of this situation alive.) As for Storm, her position as team leader has apparently been superseded for the duration--and when Xavier sends the X-Men on yet another mission without informing her or effectively ceding control of the team's deployment to her, she reaches the limits of her patience and confronts him on the matter.

So much for Xavier's reluctance to tamper with others' minds; but while involved in this situation they've all been thrust into, that ship has already sailed, when Spider-Man, overhearing a conversation that Xavier had wished to be kept private, has his memories altered by Xavier, who had neither hesitation nor regret in doing so. The scene with Storm leaves us with the impression that he would act no less forcefully with her--a display that makes the strict, stern behavior he exhibited at times with the original X-Men seem pale by comparison.

By the time the crisis passes, it seems Xavier has grown more comfortable in his new role, so much so that he makes his position clear with Storm when he and the X-Men prepare to return to Earth.

As a result, the team becomes confused as to how they should respond when decisions are made and directives are given. For now, Storm chooses to take a back seat to Xavier--yet the problem has not simply gone away, as Xavier has at least the good sense to recognize.

Yet Xavier is indeed a powerful presence in the field, in regard to both his mental prowess and his ability to guide the team in combat--a fact which becomes apparent even to Storm, when the X-Men face the powerful mutant, Selene, and drive her off while saving the life of the newly arrived Rachel Summers.

The rift between these two, however, becomes moot and essentially forgotten when Storm is attacked by a government weapon (invented by Forge) which removes her mutant power, forcing her to reassess her life from this point forward. To that end, she makes the decision to return to her native Africa--and in the parting, she and Xavier appear to have found their footing with each other again.

In the interim, Nightcrawler is made the leader of the team for a brief time, while Xavier would find his own effectiveness limited due to injuries suffered from assailants during a street mugging--his worsening condition eventually forcing him to be retrieved by the Starjammers for treatment, which left Cyclops considering returning to the team to fill the gap. But by this time, Storm has returned, as well, and Cyclops has familial responsibilities which Storm knows he shouldn't shirk--and so she would successfully challenge Cyclops for the position of team leader, and, even though powerless, go on to distinguish herself in the role.

If it seems that Nightcrawler has been completely overlooked during these events, that's true; in fact, he offers no dissension whatsoever at being expected to step aside. (To be fair, let's see a show of hands of anyone who thinks Nightcrawler is team leader material--anybody? Writer Chris Claremont appeared to be in full agreement.)

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