Retro Review 6: Uncanny X-Men #190
“An Age Undreamed Of”
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Chris Claremont
Art by John Romita Jr. and Dan Green
Coloured by Glynis Wein
Back in the day, I was definitely a Marvel fan. I remember this comic being more edgy than other ones back in the day. The characters had a cooler look to them and their power sets were more interesting. The Uncanny X-Men was my favorite title for the longest time and went to great lengths to complete the entire run up until the high 400s.
Valerie Cooper is providing a debriefing on what has happened to Lower Manhattan. There is a mystical curtain/barrier surrounding it, which has been created by Kulan Gath. His power was freed in the previous issue when a mugger unwittingly unleashes his power from a talisman/necklace. The barrier transforms everyone that enters it into a medieval type state with no memories of who they once were. So far they know that Captain America, Wasp, Starfox, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Rogue have all been affected. However, Spiderman (or Man-Spider) is unaffected despite being caught within the borders. I recalled that Storm/Ororo was on her way out of New York the previous issue as she was powerless and taking a leave from the X-Men. She is captured by Sunder and Callisto who claim that her very existence displeases Kulan Gath. Sunder is about to attach a red hot iron collar to Ororo, but she manages to escape. Callisto slashes her, which causes her to remember her real life. She manages to escape with Callisto back to the real world beyond the curtain. Kulan Gath dispatches of his major threats by combining both Xavier and Caliban into a hidesou monstrosity and trapping Dr. Strange in a twisted manner. He also manages to enslave all of the New Mutants save for Warlock. Selene (the Black Queen) is also unaffected by the enchantment and moves to enslave both Rachel Summers and Amara (Magma). On the outside, Ororo and Callisto are forced to form an uneasy alliance when Selene contacts them to inform them that the effects will soon be irreversible. Meanwhile Spiderman is being pursued by the New Mutants as he does his best not to hurt them. The New Mutants then move in to capture Illyana, but are thwarted by Captain America, Starfox, Wasp, Nightcrawler, and (a green) Rogue. In the meantime, Ororo and Callisto re-enter the barrier, but this time with their memories intact due to the help of Selene. The battle continues to be swift and brutal and then Illyana pulls out her Soulsword and manages to affect Colossus who is affiliated with Kulan Gath. Selene enters the fray and is promptly captured by Kulan Gath. The heroes manage an escape and plan their next move. They struggle with having to trust the evil Selene and even Rachel and Amara still feel the lingering effects of her control. The issue ends with the familiar cry: Avengers Assemble!
These were some of the glory days of the X-Men as they had a really good formula at the time. I’ll touch upon this in the future. I liked how the audience is dropped in the middle of the action and we are introduced to the changes right off the bat. I enjoyed how Storm was still formidable even without her powers. I also forgot how much she and Callisto truly hated one another. Therefore, it was even more interesting that they were forced to rely upon one another so much during this issue. This issue also reminded me how much I used to like the New Mutants when they were younger…even Warlock. He doesn’t get much love on this site, but I have always enjoyed this character for some reason. I really liked Romita Jr.’s rendition of him as he looked more like a threat and a lot less…goofy? Kulan Gath quickly dispatching his enemies really put him over as a threat, especially making them look like such a mess in the process. It was nice to see Nightcrawler again as he has always been one of my favorite X-Men. I used to enjoy it when he was portrayed as a fun-loving swashbuckler prior to his faith really putting a damper on the character (in saying that I didn’t mind his faith becoming more of a focus, but rather it was the execution of it). Overall this comic had a lot of balance to it as it meshed action, horror, drama, etc. together seamlessly. There is nothing in the comic world like Chris Claremont on his game. John Romita Jr. played such a large role in helping to elevate the X-Men to elite status in the Marvel U. His style really helped set this book apart from many others and I honestly liked his work better at this time then I do with his recent work. He also drew the best Selene as he always made her look threatening. I still love looking at old ads. The old lady getting hit by fruit in Bonkers ads, Trans-Bots (???) which were obvious rip-offs of Transformers, the G.I.Joe full-length animated feature by f.h.e…so much awesomeness! 25 pages for 75 cents (60 if you lived in the U.S.)…what a time and what a bang for your nearly-a-buck.
I do enjoy reading older comics with traditional colouring. The colouring in this comic was good, but like many comics during this time there were always little mistakes to be found. Eyes coloured in wrong, having to utilize more inking during flashes (which does look more dynamic with digital today), etc. Nonetheless, doing this type of colouring required a lot of skill. That slice that Ororo took from Callisto looked fairly brutal. I would’ve preferred to see the wound treated. After all, they were placed in custody by the feds and they probably should’ve been attended to. I didn’t find anything else that really bothered me about this comic. It’s aged fairly well in my opinion.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (when originally read 9 out of 10)
Reading this particular comic really drove it home with me on what the problems are with the X-Men today. This was part one of a two part story and it contained a lot with changes in status quo, etc., which made it seem more event-like. Man, the days of no arcs and having comics structured for trades. The members of the creative team were all really on their games during this time. This was some classic X-Men who were the most dynamic team in the Marvel U and their climb to the top of the sales charts was no coincidence as they easily outsold other books. They had a great formula to creating great comic books.
Tags: Chris Claremont, john romita jr, Marvel, Marvel Comics, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men