Collects Uncanny X-Men #229-243, Annual #12, X-Factor #36-39

Writer: Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson
Artists: Rick Leonardi, Dan Green, Marc Silvestri, Art Adams, Walter Simonson

This collection has a continuous story line going through it and culminating in the multi-crossover event “Inferno” where all the secrets of Madelyne Pyor were revealed. Also, the Brood return and the nasty island Genosha is introduced.

The collection starts with a bang: Reavers attack a bank and take a young woman as a new recruit. The Reavers are humans who have lots of metallic, cybernetic parts. They’re also very nasty and the X-Men (Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Dazzler, Longshot, Havok, Rogue, and Psylocke) have decided to take them down. The Reavers have a base in Australia and they’ve blackmailed the mysterious aboriginal man called Gateway to assist them with transportation. After a fierce battle, the X-Men take down the Reavers but some of them escape. However, the X-Men liberate their base and Gateway. The Australian underground complex becomes their base and Gateway starts to assist them. He doesn’t speak or acknowledge when others speak to him but somehow knows where they want to go. The X-Men also faced with a moral dilemma: what to do with the captured Reavers. However, Roma gives them another choice than just killing them: she give them the Siege Perilous to guard. The Reavers go through it. Madelyne Pryor joins the X-Men in their hideout.

Issue 230 wasn’t published in Finland.

Next issue focuses on Colossus. He sees a disturbing dream about his sister and decides to try to help her out. This is precursor to Inferno and we get to see Illyana in full demon mode when she and Piotr fight Baba Yaga and other demons.

Issue 232 brings back the Brood. Apparently, some readers don’t like them but I love them and was happy to see them back. A Brood Shark-ship falls from the sky and a group of humans camping nearby go to see it. The Brood kill all but one. That unfortunate man, Harry Palmer, doesn’t know that he’s been infected and he spreads the infection among other unsuspecting humans and mutants. When the X-Men find out about this, they track down Palmer who starts a fight and other, infected mutants join the fight. The Brood are difficult to take down, especially when one of them touches Rogue and takes over her and then Psylocke. They also want to plant a queen egg into Storm. Havok is forced to kill for the first time and this will haunt him. The humans in the story call mutants “mutie” but one man, a preacher, publicly defends mutants. I was bit surprised when the X-Men just brushed aside the whole killing thing by saying that the Brood had killed the people first and the X-Men were just “laying them to rest”. Meanwhile back in Australia the demon S’ym contacts Madelyne and she chooses to become the Goblin Queen

Annual 12: Storm flies off in a terrible hurry and the rest of the team track her down to the Savage Land. They are shocked to find that it has been destroyed along with all of the people in it. Then the team fights Terminus, with the High Evolutionary. Enjoyable enough story which is clearly a set up for later adventures. I really like Adams’ style.

Issue 235 introduces us to the very nasty nation of Genosha. A wonderful island for humans but mutants and mutates are condemned to forced labor from birth. Mutates are humans with latent mutant powers. Genoshan technology is able to change those potential mutants into whatever type of mutant Genosha needs at the moment. (This is a very powerful tech considering that they were able to take a latent empath and turn her into a “worker” type mutant with enhanced strength and durability. I’m very surprised that we haven’t seen this tech outside Genosha. At least I don’t remember seen it used elsewhere.) Also, the tech changes the mutate’s personality into subservient and barely intelligent.

The issue starts with a young man running from pursuers. He carries a baby and puts it into a plane in the hopes that it, his child, will be able to live free. Later, Madelyne has volunteered to fly doctors around. The medic she’s flying this time, Jenny Ransom, is kidnapped by a group of enforcers. The enforcers, called the Magistrates, work for Genosha, Jenny’s native country, and even though Jenny has Australian citizenship, the group forcibly brings her back. And takes Madelyne, too. The X-Men follow but in the battle Wolverine and Rogue are knocked out and kidnapped, too.

Eventually, they manage to track Madelyne to Genosha. While the X-Men work to find out what happened to the kidnapped people and to find them, Wolverine and Rogue manage to free themselves. However, Rogue’s body is now controlled by Carol Danvers’ persona who is much better suited to spy work.

This story asks pointed questions about who decides who are human and is really anti-slavery/exploitation. In the end, the X-Men don’t tear the whole country to pieces, though.

The next issue, 239, is prologue to the Inferno storyline. Here in Finland, we got not just the X-Factor and X-Men issues but also the New Mutants and the Excalibur issues. I think the New Mutants issues are important and it’s a shame they aren’t apparently collected into this US Essential collection. This is a major cross-over that reveals to the rest of the X-Men that Jean Grey is actually alive and to the X-Factor that the X-Men are alive. Instead of discussing things, the teams fight each other while fighting demons.

Madelyne Pryor is the center piece for Inferno, though. She brings the demons from Limbo to Earth. They are looking for her and Scott’s child and also attacking the X-Men. Limbo’s influence also turns inanimate objects into demons that attack and devour humans and it also influences the current X-Men to turn pretty demonic. For example Wolverine becomes more feral and both Longshot and Dazzler vain gloryhounds.

Upon a reread, I liked the story and even Madelyne’s part in it. Scott abandoned her and their baby as soon as he heard that Jean is alive. No wonder that Maddie is lashing back. Of course, she’s way over the top and hurting lots of innocent people along the way. I really enjoyed the whole demon thing and objects turning to demons. On the other hand, Mr. Sinister is introduced here as the ultimate bad guy who is manipulating everything and has an unhealthy fixation of the Summers/Grey genetic line. I never liked him and I still don’t. Poor Nathan. As a kid, he’s pretty much always a plot point; he’s only remembered when it’s convenient for the plot. When Roma resurrected Maddie along with the X-Men, she could have asked to be brought to her son. But no. Cyclops could have returned quickly, if he was truly concerned about his son. But no. Now, however, it’s convenient to the plot for everyone to be concerned about little Nathan.

What I didn’t remember what the huge crossover had time to focus on Longshot, as well, a little bit. He was deeply affected by the demonic influence which turned him into someone who enjoyed hurting others and took his confidence away. Havok has also changed into a more merciless guy.

However, the last issue focuses on Cyclops and his youth in the hands of Mr. Sinister. Most of his problems are attributed to Mr. Sinister’s manipulations.

Overall, this was another enjoyable reread. But in fact, rereading those Excalibur issues reminded me how much fun that comic was. The X-Men have come quite dark and will come more darker, still.