When I was a teenager, especially a young teenager, Uncanny X-Men was the most popular comic among my peers. From looking back at comics journalism, we were not unique. This was also the same year I’ve been covering in my run of the Legion.
It turns out that 1984 is a very important year for comics. This saw DC Comics make an investment in the direct market with its Baxter series. It also saw an explosion of independent publishers, including Mirage Studios with the breakout phenomenom Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Antarctic Press, NBM Publishing, and Continuity Studios also debuted in 1984. Alan Moore took over Saga of the Swamp Thing. Marvel debuted the event series with Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars.
Fantastic comics were being produced in 1984. Uncanny X-Men was one of them, going in new directions, especially with this issue.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Dan Green
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Henry Peter Gyrich is briefing a group of federal agents on Rogue. He recaps her powers. He covers his theory that even with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, she was working with the X-Men. This leads Gyrich to theorize that the X-Men and the Brotherhood work together. Her recent breakout of a captive of SHIELD resulted in the death of a SHIELD agent, making her capture a priority. To do this, they have a neutralizer from Forge which will strip her powers.
Raven Darkholme storms into the briefing wanting Forge’s neutralizer, since it is a prototype that Gyrich shouldn’t know about, much less have. Valerie Cooper argues that the capture of Rogue is a perfect test, and its something Raven will just have to accept.
At Xavier’s School, Rogue has gone missing. Storm worries that her sanity has taken a turn for the worse since her encounter with Michael Rossi, a former friend of Carol Danvers. Rachel, the young woman from the future that the X-Men saved takes the opportunity to call Scott Summers in Alaska. She doesn’t talk when he answers the phone, crying after hanging up that he is her father.
Raven Darkholme goes to the sub-basement headquarters that she uses as Mystique, leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. There she confides her misgivings about Gyrich’s pursuit of Rogue. She loves her as a daughter and wonders if she should interfere. Rogue’s powers have been a burden for her and without them, she might lead a normal life. Destiny’s precognition can offer no help as something is jumbling her powers, as if its manipulating time and space.
As Gyrich and Valerie Cooper lead a strike force after Rogue, Raven contacts Forge. He is upset that Valerie Cooper broke her agreement not to use his inventions until he officially released them. Forge flies off, worried that his neutralizer could kill if not used properly.
In Caldecott County, Mississippi, Rogue is playing in the Mississippi river as a tourist boat shout their appreciation for bikini. Storm arrives and Rogue tells her how as a child, her powers first surfaced when she kissed a boy named Cody Robbins kissed her and she absorbed his memories while he dropped, unconscious. In her months with X-Men, her powers are still as dangerous. She now struggles with two personalities, hers and Carol Danvers’. Storm wonders if the conflicts are from the fact that her power has never been used on a willing participant. Storm offers herself as a test subject. After some protest, Rogue agrees and absorbs Storm’s powers.
Rogue gets the special perceptions of Storm’s abilities and finds it easier to master her powers. She contemplates taking them for longer with a lingering touch, but pulls back before doing so, appalled at the thought even crossed her mind. That’s when she’s struck from an energy blast from the federal agents.
To protect Storm, she tries to draw them away, but finds flying difficult. The blast has affected her powers, but not Storm’s. Gyrich fires the neutralizer, but Rogue avoids them by using Storm’s abilities. She summons a violent storm to fight the federal agents. Unfortunately, it threatens the tourist boat from earlier. Rogue tries to help the boat, but finds Storm’s powers and personality gone.
Storm flies up to join Rogue, telling her that she began to regain her senses before Rogue flew off. Rogue realizes that the concern she expressed for the boat’s inhabitants were her own, and not Storm’s personality. Storm and Rogue work to tow the ship to shore. Storm tells Rogue that the feds believe Rogue killed a SHIELD agent when she rescued Michael Rossi. Rogue realizes that she’s being set up. The SHIELD agent was dead before she got to Rossi’s cell.
Forge arrives on the scene and Gyrich, in desperation, turns the neutralizer on it’s highest setting. Forge tackles him as he shoots at Rogue. Storm tries to push Rogue out of the way. In the process, The Neutralizer beam strikes her with violent results. Energy leaving Storm destroys the boat, sending it’s passengers diving for safety. Rogue is sent into the river and is lost. Forge pulls an unconscious Storm from the water. He chastises Gyrich for shooting the wrong woman. Gyrich defends his actions by saying that Storm was aiding a fugitive. Forge reminds him of due process, which Storm has been denied, now stripped of her powers.
From afar, the alien Dire Wraiths observe this scene. They consider Forge a threat now that he has duplicated has set forth on a path to duplicate the weapon of the greatest foe, Rom the Spaceknight. Forge must die.
This comic is the result of a lot of planning. Rogue’s solo adventure was a few issues before this one. It seemed to be a one-shot, but it helped develop Rogue as a character for years to come, It showed that the personality she took from Carol Danvers wasn’t as integrated as we were led to believe. That issue also set the stage for this issue, which affected the X-Men deeply, taking away their leader. It also set Storm on a path of self-discovery that took her into the world beyond mutants.
The neutralizer is taken from the world of the comic Rom: Spaceknight. Unfortunately, Marvel no longer has the rights to Rom. A writer would have to remove any references to Rom in using it for a current story. While it’s unclear if they could still be used by Marvel writers, they were last referenced in 2011. Chris Claremont did write this in a way that the Rom references are unnecessary. The neutralizer could simply be created to address the mutant threat, However, why a mutant would create a weapon to be specifically used on mutants is a bit unclear.
Claremont does get a bit verbose on the characters addressing their feelings. This is his writing style, and much of Rogue’s character is how she deals with the side effects of her powers. Romita works with this so that the pages don’t become overly text-ridden. To his credit, Claremont also doesn’t let thought balloons clutter up the very emotional page of Rachel calling Cyclops. He gives Romita the chance to shine, showing us all of the emotion on her face, never pulling back to use body language. It’s very cinematic.
John Romita’s art is a bit flat,. Considering how he has evolved as an artist, it’s almost hard to believe that this is the same artist. At times, he skimps on the background, but he does so only after firmly establishing the setting and environment. It’s still very good, and tells the story excellently. He has an excellent mastery of anatomy and conveys emotion with posture. From the splash page, it’s obvious that Romita can render a variety of people, with everyone looking slightly different.
The colors are on par for the time period, but are not distracting. They accentuate the art, and never distract from it. For the technology of the time period, it’s the least we can expect. It’s not an example of the best, but it serves the purpose.
If you’re looking for the issue itself, then you should be able to find it with a little searching. Don’t pay more than a few dollars for it. You might even be able to find a copy in bargain boxes. If you want to read it digitally, it is available on Marvel Unlimited.
This issue has been reprinted in X-Men Classic #89 and collected in Marvel Masterworks: The Uncanny X-Men Vol. 10 (ISBN: 1302903602) and Essential X-Men Vol. 5 (ISBN: 0785126928). I’d love to say that’s available in a more affordable color collection. Unfortunately, it’s yet to be collected outside of those two formats.
Final Rating: 8.0 (out of 10)