Saturday, September 20, 2014

Psylocke Psaturday: That's just love sneakin' up on you

Nowadays we would call this period in the never-ending history of those merry mutants known as the X-Men the March to the X-tinction Agenda, with suitable banners emblazoned across and on every single Marvel Comics title with an "X" in it (and that includes the then-recently retitled X-Daredevil). This trumpet blare of the approaching storyline that promises to shatter the Marvel U. as we know it indicates that we're just kinda buying time and treading water for a wee bit until that big crossover close on the horizon gets here. Back in 1990, however, we just had our stories without any advertising telling us that these comics don't really matter because the main event is what we're waitin' for, an' we liked 'em that way. In this case, Uncanny X-Men has during most of 1990 become one of those books where individual members or small teams of 'em go off on their separate ways and have different adventures before all joining up for a triumphant reunion. Nowadays we'd just send somebody out of town for their own miniseries, but Uncanny X-Men featuring Colossus or featuring Rogue or featuring Gambit and Li'l Stormy were what was being served up at your local comic book store. Yes, because that approach was <sarcasm>really successful</sarcasm> the last time the X-Men tried it:

Anyway, I have to admit to a bit of excitement here, because as the cover of UXM #261 proudly declares, Wolverine, Psylocke, and Jubilee are gonna meet Hardcase and the Harriers! OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY I LOVE THOSE GUYS!

I'm sorry. I've just been informed I've made another one of my silly mistakes.

Anyway, the comic book promises "the ferocious introduction of Hardcase and the Harriers," which is a nice trick seeing as they had already appeared the year before in Wolverine.

Panel from Wolverine (1988 series) #5 (March 1989), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Al Williamson, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Janice Chiang

Anyway, this column is titled "Psylocke Psaturday" and not "Harrier Hwednesday," so what's our friendly neighborhood British/Japanese ex-pilot ex-supermodel ex-secret agent psychic ninja mutant X-Men up to? Why, she's perfecting her impersonation of Morticia Addams. In the next panel no doubt Wolverine exclaims "Bets! You spoke French!"

Panels from Uncanny X-Men #261 (May 1990), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Marc Silvestri, inks by Dan Green, colors by Mike Rockwitz, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Jubilee still doesn't trust/is envious of Betsy, and it's a subplot that, while well handled by Claremont, pretty much goes away swiftly without comment, without even the type of quick-as-a-wink resolution that, say, the subplot of Kitty Pryde being spooked by Nightcrawler had ten years before. Psylocke is cool as a traditional English cucumber sandwich, and without even ever having met Professor X, she handily shows off one of his cleverer tricks of astral projection — sending out an invisible psychic avatar of herself to spy on the world. She encounters shades of Carol Danvers and Nick Fury (well, what woulda been a Nick Fury-bot at that point, if recent mega-events are to believed) and battles them briefly, continuing to set up a subplot about Wolverine's mental madness that would of course be completely forgotten a few issues from now and indeed never picked up in his own solo book.

And oh yes, they get to fight the previously promised Hardcase and the Harriers.

It's their second appearance and once again the "trained to take on the Avengers" line is trotted out. Well, maybe, but consider that at this period in time, the Avengers consisted of what many fans might consider one of their lamest line-ups, and still the active members were Captain America, Gilgamesh the Forgotten Guy, Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, and Thor. Freakin' Thor, dudes. And yet here they are defeated by Jubilee. Hoo boy! Were Claremont and/or Silvestri trying to build up these characters and creating a "back-door pilot" for this new team? If so, wave goodbye to those tasty royalty checks, guys, because this is the second and the final appearance of Hardcase and the Harriers. Well, unless you count their appearance in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition (yes, the one where you tear out the pages and store them in a three-hole binder)...but I don't.

Man, they really wiped out a dozen half-decent code-names for superheroes with this team, didn't they?

Why are the Harriers so ticked off at our mutant pals? Well, partly because Wolverine hired them to attack himself and the two X-Women to make sure that he and his team were in fighting shape, but mostly because Jubilee blew up their comic books.

So what was Psylocke doing during all this? Why, posing for her Milo Manara comic book cover, of course.

It's fairly early in the era of "ninja bathing suit-Betsy," so this might be the first sighting of the ever-changing-in-size uniform bottom. Sometimes it's fairly modest and pretty much covers up her whole derrière, but at other times it's not much bigger than a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model's thong. Well, here we can at least see it covers something. Not much, granted, but it protects UXM against the wrath of the all-powerful Comics Code Authority while at the same time giving young bulls boys something to ogle at in cartoon form. Good thing that they established at this point, then, that Betsy's thong bottom doesn't completely disappear up her



Delta said...

I guess G.I. Joe was not available?

Blam said...

"Jubilee: Your Two Favorite Mutants -- Dazzler and Boom-Boom -- Now in One Character!"