Friday, May 5

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 198


Barry Windsor-Smith returns for X-Men 198, another story of Storm dealing with the loss of her powers. Back now in Africa, she is reeling from a bullet wound and hallucinating of her teammates. She blames Xavier for taking her from her homeland years ago. Wolverine offers to end her suffering permanently. She fights off death and keeps moving.
She finds a real young woman about to give birth and escorts her back to her village, where an elder encourages her to return to America and her life as a hero to reclaim her life despite her lack of powers. The elder dies to make room in the village for the newborn, and Storm feels rejuvenated, ready to move forward once more.
This is Claremont's second story of a heroine remaking her life after losing her powers, and his similar issue with Carol Danvers was just 30 issues prior. Windsor-Smith inks and colors his own work this time, and it is again a showcase of illustration not seen on convenience store comic racks at the time.

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 197


In X-Men 197, we take a break from social persecution. The villain Arcade runs a vast Westworld and has apparently crossed Dr. Doom. He kidnaps Kitty and Peter to save his hide, and they do, defeating what turns out to be a Murderworld robot targeting him as part of a birthday game. Kitty and Peter go home.
The most important part of this is that Peter finally tells Kitty that he's sorry for hurting her after falling for an alien who died, and he admits he's confused about his feelings for the latter, thinking that moving on would insult her death. Turns out, though, that he is actually talking to a robot Kitty. The real one overhears it all, and the two return to the school on better terms -- friends and teammates once more.

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 196


Life continues to throw jabs at our heroes. An ailing Xavier calls upon longtime archenemy Magneto to join the school, and the team isn't happy. Xavier also uses his telepathy to learn of a murder plot against a mutant where he is lecturing. The public is vocally embracing Nimrod as a hero against mutants. Rachel sees this present moving toward her future, and a world that hunts and kills mutants. 
Also she senses the presence on Earth of the Beyonder, an omnipotent alien trying to understand mortal humanity. That creature has shown such naive disregard for life that Nightcrawler questions the existence of God, falling into despair with his priest. 
And in a move to hammer home the metaphors, one of the murder plotters, an African-American, asks Kitty if she's a mutant, and she in turn asks if he's the n-word, and WHAT. THE. WHAT. Given that she's Jewish, this could have gone in a different rhetorical and metaphorical direction, but this was the path taken, and almost 40 years later, it's a jarring exchange, regardless of the emotional states of the characters.

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 195


This is a very sad issue. The kid team Power Pack are kidnapped by the underground mutant society, The Morlocks, so they can be raised by Annalee, whose kids were killed. The youngest, Katie, escapes after being disfigured and is rescued by the X-Men. The team, led by Shadowcat, gives her a jacket to make her an honorary X-Men and bolster her spirits, but she is terrified and alone. The heroes fight the Morlocks and rescue the other Power Pack kids, and Katie takes pity on Annalee and prevents her from being punished by the Morlock leader, Callisto, who didn't know of the plan to steal kids. 
So we have kids who run the gamut from transformed, scared, kidnapped, and killed. Not fun. And this sets the table for a later, sadder Morlock and X-Men story coming up in about 15 issues. But this is the X-Men comics: sad and brutal and heavy. They don't fit in the world, and they are frayed to the bone. But the cover image doesn't happen at all, and in fact the entire team gets to show their caring sides to Katie that we don't get many chances to see.

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 194



Nimrod finally makes his move against Juggernaut, a mutant bad guy, as the latter tries to have a normal day in NYC. The X-Men are scouting him to make sure he behaves himself when Nimrod attacks. In the fight, Kitty has a brainstorm of using Rogue as a one-woman team, and Rogue absorbs the powers of Kitty, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. The ensuing look doesn't make a lick of sense, but she damages Nimrod enough to make him run away. Meanwhile Storm goes to Africa to see if her powers can be salvaged, and she saves a villager from the twin offspring of Baron Strucker (but we don't know that yet, don't tell anyone).