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That being said, a recent comment about something I said about Chris Claremont’s work post-Byrne kind of hit me, because I didn’t want to seem like I thought the only good part of Claremont’s run on Uncanny from 1975-1991 was when he was working with John Byrne. So this month, I’m going to be counting down the Top 5 Lesser-Known Post-Byrne Claremont stories.
That distinction, and because I’ve used them before, means I will not be using Kitty’s Fairy Tale or God Loves Man Kills. We all know they rock. I’m also going for lesser known ones, booting the Broodworld, Morlocks, etc.
#5: The Day of Other Lights/The Light That Failed (Uncanny #246, 247)
The long-forgotten threat of Sentinels returns in a big way when Master Mold absorbs the futuristic Nimrod and attacks the X-Men. Rogue, under the control of her Ms. Marvel persona, is its main target and leads the fight. Unable to defeat the self-repairing threat, the X-Men blast it through the Siege Perilous portal, only to have Rogue get blown through with it. For Rogue, the trip would free her of Carol Danvers’ personality, while for Master Mold, it would create Bastion. But an unfortunate side-effect of the battle is the death of Senator Robert Kelly’s new bride, leading him to support Sebastian Shaw’s Sentinel program. It’s just a shame that no other writer picked up on this intriguing direction once Claremont left the franchise.
#4: Warhunt 2 (Uncanny #193)
One hundred issues after Uncanny X-Men was revived, the X-Men are forced to revisit the tragedy of their first mission when Thunderbird’s brother (later known as Warpath) launches a mission to avenge his brother’s death. Though James Proudstar was just a Hellion (a New Mutants foe) he and his teammates Empath, Roulette and Firestar use their abilities to not only give the X-Men a run for their money, but also sully their names (and that of mutantkind) in the public eye by forcing them to break into the very same base that Thunderbird died protecting to save the life of Banshee. This story used the best of the developing plot threads of Professor X’s injury (that would play out through issue #200) and Nightcrawler’s uncertainty in his role as leader of the team to make a very intriguing, yet disastrous mission.
#3: Chutes and Ladders (Uncanny #160)
While the X-Men are training, Colossus’s younger sister Illyana gets kidnapped by the demon Belasco and the team has to follow into his realm of Limbo to save her. The issue is some of the creepiest fare of the time (and this is just one issue after their fight with Dracula) with the X-Men finding the decomposing bodies of Colossus and Wolverine, a enslaved alternate Nightcrawler trying to cop a feel on the pubescent Kitty Pryde, and Kitty getting her skeleton pulled out of her by Belasco. When the X-Men finally escape using Storm’s newfound magic powers, Illyana vanishes for a moment and emerges seven years older. And thus the story of Magik begins.
2: Lifedeath (Uncanny #186)
Storm took a blast from a mutant power-stripping inhibitor gun fired by Henry Peter Gyrich meant for Rogue and spends this issue recovering in the care of Forge, who unbeknownst to her actually created the device for the U.S. Government. The issue, beautifully drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith, establishes the long-lasting romance between Storm and Forge which is immediately strained by her learning of Forge’s role in the loss of her powers. This issue sets a new stage for Storm and leaves Forge with an uncertain fate, which would eventually lead to the Fall of the Mutants. And actually, if you think hard enough about it, this is the beginning of the end for Forge, because it is his love for Storm that eventually drives him over the edge and leads to his eventual death. But that’s waaaaay down the road.
#1: Wounded Wolf (Uncanny X-Men #205)
Speaking of Barry Windsor-Smith, this beautiful issue has Lady Deathstrike receiving her signature cybernetic enhancements and, along with Reaver teammates Cole, Macon and Reese, hunting down Wolverine who stumbles upon Katie Power of Power Pack. This issue uses a snow storm to heighten the suspense of the action as the heavily injured Wolverine is hunted by his enemies, and is one of the best comics I’ve ever read. The finale leaves the rivalry between Wolverine and Deathstrike open and makes me, for a rare instance, not despise the character.
See you next month!