Monday, August 17, 2020

Marvel Immersion Project: Uncanny X-Men #99-105

Generally speaking, I find the X-Men stories rather exhausting, particularly the one damn fight after another story pattern.  However, every once in a while, something genuinely intriguing pops up.  In particular, it's encouraging to see that the X-Men of the Chris Claremont era do well by female characters.  The best story lines in this week's run focus on the women, Jean Grey and Ororo.  Misty Knight, Jean's roommate in New York, also promises to be interesting, as does the newly introduced Lilandra.

Before we dig in, some love for the head writer...
Chris Claremont - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
Chris Claremont was born November 25, 1950 in London.  His family lived in a kibbutz in Israel before emigrating to the United States, settling in Long Island.  Originally, his writing aspirations were in straight prose but he took as a job as a gofer at Marvel when he was 19.  He got his first writing assignment in 1973. 

Claremont was the head writer for the Uncanny X-Men from 1975-91, building what had been a struggling series into one of Marvel's most popular and important titles.  X-Men #1, a spinoff released in 1991, remains the best-selling comic book issue of all time.  He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2015.

My Recent Reads

Uncanny X-Men #99
Originally Published June 1, 1976
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Dave Cockrum
  • Marvel Girl, Banshee, Wolverine and Professor X are being held captive in orbit above earth by Steven Lang, mastermind of Project Armageddon.
  • The remaining X-Men head to outer space to rescue them.
  • On the final page, it appears the original X-Men and the newbies are to be pitted against one another in a battle royale!

Uncanny X-Men #100
August 1, 1976
  • Naturally, those who appear to be the original X-Men are robotic impostors.
  • As noted last week, these stories are generally far too busy for my tastes: so many characters, one huge fight after another, no subtlety at all.  Just as was the case with the Avengers, it taxes my capacity to care.  I was really struggling until...
  • On page 14, Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) has a total badass moment and takes over.
  • After the X-Men achieve their escape from Lang, they're headed back to earth, Jean realizes she is the one with the necessary powers to get them home through a solar storm by linking telepathically with Dr. Corbeau, a pilot.  But that's not even the badass moment.
  • Scott Summers (Cyclops and Jean's boyfriend) is freaking out a la Reed Richards over his little lady willingly risking her own life to save everyone else.  Jean proves she's no Sue Storm, knocking Scott unconscious with her telepathic powers to get him out of the way.  She takes down Wolverine, too, though strictly through conventional verbal methods.
  • Total badass! 
  • Her plan works, too.  Unfortunately, it may also kill her.

Uncanny X-Men #101
October 1, 1976
Jean Grey - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
  • Jean gets them through the atmosphere, then crashes into the ocean.  The others rise to the surface and wonder at Jean's fate.  Just then, she rises from the sea like a Phoenix, reborn.  She passes out and they take her to the hospital.
  • Sherlock Holmes reference!
  • Naturally, all are worried.  However, wanting to limit the fuss over Jean as she recovers, Professor X sends all but Scott and himself on vacation.  Banshee offers up his ancestral home in Ireland, Cassidy Keep.
Black Tom Cassidy - Wikipedia
Black Tom Cassidy via Wikipedia
Juggernaut (comics) - Wikipedia
Juggernaut via Wikipedia
  • It's Marvel so no one gets to relax for long.  Lying in wait for our friends are Black Tom Cassidy, Banshee's brother, and Juggernaut, the professor's step-brother.

Uncanny X-Men #102
December 1, 1976
  • Back to the brawling: X-Men on one side, Black Tom Cassidy and Jurggernaut on the other.  
  • Fortunately, there are still a few treats mixed in:
    • We get Ororo's (Storm's) back story.
Misty Knight - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
    • Appearance: Misty Knight, Jean's roommate in New York
    • Juggernaut calls Nightcrawler "Spock-Ears."  Ha!

Uncanny X-Men #103
February 1, 1977
  • Knocked out last week during the brawl with Black Tom and Juggernaut, Nightcrawler is rescued by a group of Leprechauns.
  • Tom captures all of the remaining X-Men but Nightcrawler frees them and the melee continues.
  • Our team appears to have triumphed but then the scene shifts to Eric the Red, the mastermind behind Black Tom's sinister maneuvers.  He intends to draw an old X-Men nemesis into the struggle...

Uncanny X-Men #104
April 1, 1977
  • The X-Men, some coming from Ireland, others from New York, converge upon Muir Island where Moira MacTaggert had built a facility for mutant research.  It would seem there's a lot more to Moira than previously suspected.
Jamie Madrox - Wikipedia
Jamie Madrox via Wikipedia
  • Moira's assistant, Jamie Madrox, aka The Multiple Man, had been out of contact.  Moira and Cyclops find him just as he is coming to after being knocked unconscious.  He explains that he had been attacked by Eric the Red, Havok and Polaris.  The latter trio then enlisted the help of Magneto, the X-Men's arch-nemisis.
Magneto (Marvel Comics) - Wikipedia
Magneto via Wikipedia
  • Naturally, much brawling ensues between the X-Men and Magneto.
Christopher Summers (War Skrull) (Earth-616) | Marvel Database ...
Corsair via Marvel Database
Ch'od (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
  • Meanwhile, in deep space, we meet the Starjammers, introduced for the first time, including space pirate Corsair and his shipmate Ch'od.
Lilandra Neramani (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
  • Another Starjammer, Lilandra, has been haunting Charles Xavier's dreams.  Now, she's on her way to Earth, hoping the X-Men will help her in her struggle against her brother, the Starjammer emperor.

Uncanny X-Men #105
June 1, 1977
Pyreus Kril (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
  • Now back in Westchester, the X-Men brawl with Eric the Red, though the latter has enlisted the backup of a more interesting character, Firelord.  Firelord, like the Silver Surfer, is a former herald for Galactus.  It would seem I have missed a few things in the Galactus story.  I may need to go back for further explorations at some point.  Eric the Red has duped Firelord into believing the X-Men are the bad guys.
  • Getting back to the Starjammers story, an imperial cruiser lead by Captain K'rk and piloted by Mr. S'lar is trying to stop Lilandra from reaching Earth.
  • This issue is dripping with Star Trek references, both direct and indirect.  In addition to the character names above, the banter aboard the cruiser employs such terms as M-Class planet and Prime Directive.  Later, Misty Knight speaks of "that Star Trek transporter effect."
  • Lilandra makes it through to Professor X, interrupting an intimate gathering at Jean and Misty's apartment in the process.
  • After further brawling, Eric the Red grabs Lilandra, builds a star-gate on the apartment building roof and whisks Lilandra through it.  Ignoring Professor X's warnings, the X-Men run after them through the star-gate.
  • The star-gate looks an awful lot like the one used in the later Stargate film and television franchise.  I wondered about a connection but couldn't find a direct link.  However, it occurred to me that the basic concept is nothing new, remembering the Guardian of Forever from Star Trek's "City on the Edge of Forever" and, of course, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll.


  1. We (you) are now to the point where I actually own some of the actual issues you're talking about. Of course, it's been 30+ years since I've read them.
    And, yeah, after the Surfer, there are a whole string of heralds for Galactus.

    1. It's not surprising there were further heralds. Stan Lee was especially protective of the Silver Surfer, not wanting anyone else to write his stories. It stands to reason that other writers would want to play around with the idea while still respecting the boss's parameters.

  2. Funny that Claremont drew so much from Star Trek. Had no idea! And all that was before the movies revived the franchise, so it would’ve been harder to spot.

    1. Not at all. I was 4 years old in 1977 and can say with confidence that syndication was keeping Trek alive and well. I would not have caught all of the references but knew enough to spot the obvious ones. Certainly a comic book enthusiast would have seen them all. Some demographics don't change...

    2. Before responding to your comment, I looked into who held the comic book license for Trek in 1977. After all, the Star Wars references in the Marvel books were undoubtedly promotional. The Star Wars comics made tons of money for Marvel, at least initially.

      But not in this case. Gold Comics held the Trek license until 1979.