(Re-)Reading Uncanny X-Men: The Fall of the Mutants

It’s been four months but I’m still here reading X-Men comics! Well… more or less. I got a bit sidetracked. And I’m about to get sidetracked again. But I wanted to get in one more post to finish up the long build-up to the Fall of the Mutants, which sets up the next sustained status quo for the book.

For those just joining, I’ve been (at times, very slowly), reading the entire Uncanny X-Men comic book series, from its start as X-Men by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, to its resurrection by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum in 1975, to the legendary stories by Chris Claremont and John Byrne that turned it into Uncanny X-Men, the biggest-selling comic at Marvel Comics and the headlining title of a franchise.

Even more so than the previous year’s Mutant Massacre event, each participating comic book series pretty much kept to itself. So I didn’t read New Mutants or X-Factor, only the Uncanny X-Men issues (#225-227) of The Fall of the Mutants, which were originally released in late 1987. I’m also including the semi-epilogue issue 228.

Storm in exiled world

In many ways, these three issues are the culmination of some long-percolating sub-plots. Anyone jumping on with this event was probably pretty confused. But for those that had been following the book, the Storm and Forge thread gets some good pay-off. In one of those great comic book oddities, they spend a year exiled on a fake Earth in the span of a night on the normal Earth. At this point, the two are doomed lovers who keep getting close to a happily-ever-after, only to find out it’s not the real thing. While there is tragedy to them, Storm gloriously and finally gets her powers back, another subplot that’s been running through the books for some time.

Colossus is backColossus also makes a return to the book. Apparently he was planned for the upcoming spin-off book Excalibur until it was decided his powers would be redundant once Captain Britain was added to the cast. After so deliberately being shuffled off the book, he’s shuffled right back on, at last finalizing the X-Men roster that will be in place for the next year or so.

Speaking of changed plans, the original plot was intended to use elements of a story by Alan Moore that had appeared in Marvel UK books. Apparently, Moore’s contract with Marvel was unique from State-side freelancers, giving him more authority over what he’d created, so Claremont had to make some big changes to his story. Probably the Adversary story would’ve ended in the previous issues, and this would’ve been an entirely new threat.

Still, the mystically cosmic battle may seem like a mismatch for X-Men adventures, which usually work best when dealing with themes of racism, bigotry and alienation. But it ends up serving as a good juxtaposition against yet another long percolating subplot, the Mutant Registration Act. Anti-mutant hysteria is at an all-time high, and the X-Men’s classically heroic sacrifice ends up being the best pro-mutant propaganda. Unfortunately it doesn’t show that any real change came from it, although that’s probably a more realistic ending.

Blob vs Wolverine part 1

The Blob lands on Wolverine

Pencil/ink team Marc Silvestri and Dan Green continue an enjoyable run of issues, adding some fun and even funny visuals. Silvestri particularly shines during the battle with Freedom Force in the first issue. The only real downside is that his pages sometimes feel a bit cramped with small panels crowded by excessive dialogue from Chris Claremont. This might be more on Claremont’s shoulders, as his scripting approach has solidly taken on the verbose style that really defines the book for a long time. Letterer Tom Orzechowski hits his 100th issue on the book and continues to be a vital element of the book’s winning look and feel.

The epilogue issue is a bit forgetful. It seems like a leftover plot from Dazzler’s solo series, and is mostly a flashback from before the Fall of the Mutants story. Only the last page has reference to the X-Men’s death. Rick Leonardi’s art is nice though.

These stories weren’t my absolute favorite but the Storm stuff is great, the inclusion of Freedom Force was fun, and I’m intrigued to see the new status quo get rolled out. The next batch of issues see the X-Men start a new life in Australia.

Blob vs Wolverine part 2

Wolverine’s revenge

But first… As I said in the beginning, I’m going to be putting my Uncanny X-Men re-reading on hold while I join my fellow Part-Time Fanboy podcasters for a re-reading of Fantastic Four #1-100 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. This is the comic that created the Marvel Universe, so I’m really excited to be diving in to this book. We plan on recording early this week, with the first episode to go live pretty quickly after that.

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