Wednesday, March 6, 2019

You Will Become One With The Brood

Even your humble host here at the PPC isn't audacious enough to catalog all of the instances where the crippled founder of the X-Men, Charles Xavier, has regained the use of his legs only to eventually find himself once more confined to his wheelchair... then at some point, back on his feet again... then having to dust off the wheelchair again... etc., etc.  To say nothing of actually dying, only to somehow return hale and hearty, which would then start a cycle of its own. (I frankly have no idea of Xavier's current status in comics--he may have bitten the dust around the same time as his film counterpart kicked the bucket, which probably made sense for as long as the movie franchise was sustained.)

As far as his legs being "healed," that particular ball began rolling fairly early in the book, thanks to Xavier indulging his own brand of inventive genius when the situation called for it (courtesy of writer Roy Thomas).

I always felt that having Xavier confined to a wheelchair provided him with a distinctive profile that made him stand out among the pack and drew more attention to his mental abilities (i.e., I don't have to fight you on your terms, Mr. Villain). It's possible that Stan Lee may have felt the same, given that, just two issues later, Thomas sees to it that Xavier is forced to shelve his leg braces indefinitely until he could work the bugs out.

Since Xavier could have fallen anywhere in the building, at any time, I shudder to think just how many sets of metal tentacles he ended up installing throughout his school, and right under the noses of the X-Men.

Yet what appears to be the first instance where Prof. Xavier was able to ditch the wheelchair for good (at least that was the idea) occurred following the X-Men's life-or-death conflict with the alien hunter race known as the Brood, and the team had raced back to Earth fearing that their mentor had also been targeted as they had been: by being forced to carry inside them a Brood egg, which, when hatched, would absorb both the host body as well as its genetic potential and abilities. The X-Men escaped that gruesome fate--but would Charles Xavier?

Arriving back at the school, the X-Men discover an unexpected obstacle barring their path to the Professor--the so-called New Mutants, fledgling students of Xavier's who were accepted at the school during the period in which Xavier believed the X-Men to be dead. To the New Mutants, then, these people who have crashed in and surprised them cannot be the X-Men, and so must be treated as intruders.

(As to the story's head-scratching title... with the exception of the "Who's been sleeping in my head?" line, which paraphrases the theme of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and presumably refers to the Brood inside Xavier, biding its time until it hatches and takes him over, there seems to be nothing even remotely connecting the situation unfolding here to the story of Goldilocks--unless you count the various X-Men making their way though the house to locate and "catch" Xavier.)

With Cyclops, Colossus, and Wolverine having their hands full with the kids, Kitty Pryde takes the opportunity to phase her way to Xavier's study--but she, and the rest of the X-Men, have arrived too late.

Kudos to artist Dave Cockrum, who has created a truly horrific and evil alien being in the form of the Brood (seen here courtesy of artist Paul Smith)--with plaudits going to writer Chris Claremont, as well, for vesting them with such contemptible goals and methods. A race of beings I wouldn't mind at all seeing wiped out in the Annihilation wave. Bear in mind, as well, that this young Brood queen has just killed Charles Xavier, a character who at the time of this issue's publication had been a mainstay in Marvel history for nearly twenty years.

But have we jumped to conclusions, based on the hard evidence of our eyes? To find out, we have to tag along with the X-Men as they struggle to rein in this creature and, if necessary, end its inhuman life.

With a small window in which to save Xavier now available to them, and realizing that any hope for Xavier lies in medical techniques and equipment that are far more advanced than any currently available on Earth, the X-Men remove the Brood to the vessel of the Starjammers in orbit, where that group's resident doctor, Sikorsky (who clearly enjoys using the same vocal inflections as a certain Jedi master), takes charge of the case.

Sikorsky and Dr. MacTaggert seem to be overlooking the fact that the brain they would be transplanting to the cloned body of Xavier would be a Brood organ and not a human brain, but what do I know.

Regardless, you've doubtless guessed the outcome.

Xavier indeed goes on to overcome his subconscious, ingrained resistance to walking and even begins working in the field with the X-Men when necessary. But in hindsight, the advice we'd have to give him going forward would no doubt sound ominous: "Enjoy it while it lasts, mister."

Just look at this rookie travel on the court!


Big Murr said...

To give the Prof some credit, stairs would be the worst place to fall in a house. So, I expect the tentacles are on stairways (and probably the shower/bath).

Damned convenient for the scene that Marvel Girl is nowhere in sight. Her TK power would make the tentacles look second rate in catching the Prof.

I always smirk when evil telepaths trumpet "I can read your mind! I know your plan of attack the moment you think of it!" Always a tactical bonus, but rather depending on whether said telepath can do anything at all about the attack. "Yup indeed. Colossus is about to put a metal fist thru my head. So long, world."

To me, a creature capable of dismissing the attacks of Cyclops or Colossus would not be much inconvenienced by a 17 second blizzard. Whether this result triggers a grunt of displeasure depends entirely on which X-Man the reader favours. Me, I always preferred Colossus (and Cyclops) over Storm. So I grunt.

And this was in the innocent new days when "clone" was still a fresh and clever idea in Marvel stories...

Donald G said...

With regard to the issues seemingly nonsensical two-part title: Have you ever watched "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle?"

At the end of each serial installment of an adventure, narrator William Conrad would implore us to tune in to the next exciting installment and give a title in a two-part format usually structured "[some obscure or nonsensical phrase] or [a more accessible pun.]" That's what Claremont is riffing on, recycling it from the Next Issue blurb from # 166.

(Don't feel bad. My slightly older friend had to explain it to me when the issue came out.)

Comicsfan said...

You may be onto something, dngillikin, but, I don't know, it still doesn't pass muster for me. (And I'm a William Conrad fan from way back!)

Tiboldt said...

You've picked up on Wonder Man's costume designs before but how about Kitty Pryde's early ensembles?

This is 80's Exercise Video Kitty.

dbutler16 said...

Actually, the Claremont title does evoke some pleasant Rocky and Bullwinkle memories for me.