The Rebound Wedding

UNCANNY X-MEN #175, Marvel Comics, November 1983
As you might remember, my first issue of Uncanny X-Men was #153. When I came back to Canada, I jumped on the mutant bandwagon, though by that time, Uncanny was up to #175. Yes, it's a wedding issue (part 2 of my series on the subject), but it's apparently not important enough to be featured on the cover! The cover might also have said "Chris Claremont destroys the Marvel Universe... twice!", but that doesn't feature either.

Why? Well first of all, Dark Phoenix seems to return from the dead here and destroy the city of New York, where practically every superhero in the Marvel universe lives. (It's clear that were I a supervillain in the MU, I'd go commit crimes somewhere else.) But that's just an illusion created by Mastermind. What's less of an illusion is the inclusion of Cyclops' new bride, Madelyne Prior, a dead ringer for Jean Grey. I guess Scott has a thing for redheads.... redheads that LOOK EXACTLY ALIKE (way to get over your loss Cyclops)! This sows the seeds for some of the most complicated continuity ever explored in comics. I won't go into it here into any great detail - mainly because I don't remember or understand it all myself.

In short, Madelyne will turn out to be some kind of magic clone sent to destroy his life, but not before she has a kid that will turn into two possible superheroes who both come back in time to run with today's mutants, but not a daughter who will do the same as a second Phoenix. No, that one was the child of a non-dead Jean Grey. In any case, Jean Grey isn't really dead, she's been replaced by the Phoenix Force, and Cyclops will eventually marry her once she's found at the bottom of a river. If I got any of it wrong, I'm sorry if I can't muster much regret. So you see, Claremont destroyed the MU much more subtly this way.

But this is way before the X-world got seriously fooked, and #175 stands out as a great issue. Since I was coming directly from #153, I'd missed a year, but it wasn't too hard to catch up. Rogue had joined (interesting), Storm had turned into a mohawk-sporting punk (admittedly, all the X-Men are fashion disasters at this point), and Kitty had gotten a pet dragon (but I'd seen his precursor in "Kitty's Fairy Tale"). The art by Paul Smith was great, with Phoenix looking particularly hot, though he hands the last few pages to John Romita Jr. who would go on to draw the book for a good while. To me, the Claremont/Romita Jr. team remains the best to work on the series.

If you're not a Cyclops fan - and who could blame you? - this issue might change your mind about him. His experience plays out like Batman's in JLA as he kicks the ass of every single X-Man in the team (they think he's Phoenix). He uses his brains most of the time, but that optic blast looks like it hurts!
Ouch! Oh and the wedding? Well, first Scott has to say goodbye to Jean in a cemetery. He's all about closure, this guy. Then he goes on to wed a carbon copy of his dead girlfriend. She's mistakenly colored blond as she goes down the aisle (noooooooo, Scott will stop loving you if you bleach your hair!!!!), but back to normal by the time Scott has to kiss the bride (pheew!).

13 comments:

naladahc said...

I remember being so upset since that was Paul Smith's final issue as illustrator.

I have to agree with you. The X-universe was simple and nice when only Uncanny and New Mutants existed as books.

The simple bit you wrote about the insanity of the children and all and the frigg'n parallel future crap is one of the reasons I stopped reading X-men around 1990 or so.

Teebore said...

I am a HUGE Cyclops fan, so this issue is obviously one of my all time favorites.

I hold it up as one of the definitive Cyclops issues, because it showcases two of his key characteristics: his never-give-up, Batman-esque tactical mind (taking on the entire team, and winning) and his completely effed up relationships with women (marrying a woman who mysteriously looks EXACTLY like his dead lover). Both sides of the coin, all in one issue.

I've also always wondered what Claremont's plans for Maddie were. Putting aside everything else that followed and was largely done by other writers, the whole "cloned by Sinister to produce a Scott/Jean genetic child" reveal came 60+ issues after her first appearance.

So was Claremont really thinking that far ahead, or did he just think it'd be hilarious to have Cyclops marry a woman who looked like Jean, and figured out the rest as he went along?

Siskoid said...

Nala: Paul Smith was indeed great, but I guess I read he wasn't meant for the monthly grind. Not that that stops anyone these days... Still, can't complain about his replacement!

And I dropped X-Men at just about the same time you did.

Teebore: Given the 5 year gap, I'm calling retcon on that one.

Anonymous said...

That was a nice run in X-Men history, I had a subscription during that run.

I'm going to re-visit all those years up until about 1990 in the Essentials when I get around to it. Claremont's loooooong storylines would probably make more sense that way. The Madeline Pryor business didn't even come close to a conclusion by the time I had given up on the X-Men; this would have been in the mid-late 80's.

billjac said...

I remember reading Claremont saying that Maddy Pryor was just a normal human who happened to look like Jean. It was supposed to be closure and the end of Cyclops' story. She and Scott were to get married and live happily and quietly far away from the X-Men.

Now that I write it down, it doesn't sound all that plausible.
Did Claremont bring Cyclops back into the book or did that happen after he left?

Siskoid said...

I don't even remember him leaving... The next issue over had Cyclops on his honeymoon fighting a giant octopus, and it seems to me Cyke was involved throughout the Romita Jr. era.

I can't really check from work though...

naladahc said...

"The next issue over had Cyclops on his honeymoon fighting a giant octopus" sounds so much like a DC story than a Marvel one.

Teebore said...

You could call Cyclops, in TV terms, a "recurring guest" during the Claremont/Romita Jr. issues.

There was the honeymoon octopus fight issue, then he popped up now and again. He and Maddie lived in Alaska but he got dragged into things nontheless. He went to Asgard with the other X-Men in the Art Adams annuals round bout the 190s, and was involved in Secret Wars II.

After Xavier left in 200, he dueled with Storm for leadership of the X-Men in the atrocious 201, losing and returning to Alaska, which is effectively when Claremont wrote him out (but really, it was just to setup his role in the original X-Factor, where he stayed until they were brought back into the fold with the 1991 X-Men series).

So if Claremont's original intention with the Maddie Pryor marriage was just to give Cyclops his happy ending, it seems his plans were probably derailed shortly thereafter by the planned X-Factor launch, so he kept him around a bit to set that up.

Siskoid said...

Ah yes, now I remember! While I did like X-Factor, its origins were repleat with editorial manipulation.

Aside from Cyclops' situation, we also had the retcon of Jean Gray's survival. And while the idea of Cyclops committing to Xavier's mission (where the X-Men had lost their way) was a good one, it was pretty much abandonned within the first year.

But it never got as messy as the X-Men, which all died and went to Australia...

Teebore said...

Plus X-Factor had some of the worst, editorial-mandated characterization for Cyclops ever, having him leave his wife and infant son the moment he hears about Jean's return, and then proceeding to join X-Factor without ever going back home. And he doesn't tell Jean he's married. All because the mandate of X-Factor was "original X-Men" so they needed Cyclops, but for some reason, just wanted to ignore his wife and son.

It took until the 12th or 13th issue of X-Factor for Cyclops to go back to Alaska for his wife and son (what, he couldn't have called her at some point?) and by that point they were missing (it was the beginning of all the crazy Maddie Pryor/Mr. Sinister retcon stuff) and his search for them became his primary character motivation until Inferno.

Now I'm really curious how much of the Maddie retcon grew out of editorial not wanting Cyclops married in X-Factor. Instead of dealing with it, they just had him act like a first class heel then rationalize it by making her a crazy clone villain.

Yeesh.

Siskoid said...

That, plus the problem of having two identical redheaded bombshells in Cyclops' life.

I think they could have squeezed a lot of drama out of Cyclops having to deal with the return of his love AND a wife he cared about at the same time. They went for the cheap out.

Jack Norris said...

It's interesting, the different "drop out" and "return" times different people have in their X-Men reading history. I had been reading it since Giant-Size #1 (actually, I'd already been reading during the reprint period, and was disappointed at the time that GS#1 didn't include the Avengers reprint I'd expected).
I believe I dropped the book not long after this issue, maybe half a dozen issues into the JRJR run (nothing against his art, I was just getting Claremont-ed out). Not abrubtly, either; I just started doing a brief flip through before buying, and more and more often it would go back onto the rack. From then on it was just the very occasional issue, or I'd rack-skim, or read an issue here or there at the house of a friend who bought everything, that kind of thing. I remember buying Uncanny (whichever issue) and the first "adjectiveless" when I heard Claremont had been canned, but wasn't too impressed, so it was back to rack-skimming and very sporadic purchases until Morrison came on board.

billjac said...

I just looked around for confirmation of Claremont's plans for Cyclops and I found a post on this message board http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/showthread.php?t=40657 (right near the top) that gives essentially the same story I heard which I guess confirms that it's a rumor and not something I made up.

 

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