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Jan 18

The Complete Moira: Part 3

Posted on Saturday, January 18, 2020 by Paul in Moira, Uncategorized

Three posts into the series, we finally reach Moira’s first published appearance! (For part 1, see here; for part 2, see here.)

X-Men vol 1 #96 by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Sam Grainger (“Night of the Demon”, December 1975). And here we are. Moira shows up at the X-Men’s Mansion, responding to the invitation from Professor X (which we saw her receive in Classic X-Men #2). This is the point where she gets introduced to the X-Men, who at this point consist of Cyclops, Banshee, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Later retcons will establish that Moira has met Cyclops and Wolverine already, but neither of them remember it. Sean is immediately taken with Moira, kicking off their romantic subplot which will later settle into a long-term status quo.

Moira and Charles both tell the X-Men that she has been hired as the new housekeeper, to look after the house and the X-Men while he’s away. At that point, the demon Kierrok attacks, and Moira promptly gets a machine gun from the armoury to fight it – though Banshee actually bundles her to safety before she has the chance to use it, and the X-Men defeat Kierrok without her. This story is reprinted in Classic X-Men #4, which adds a page of Moira and Charles having a private conversation where they reminisce about their past relationship.

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Jan 16

Fallen Angels #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and the page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Pin-up art of Psylocke and Cable. Is it just me, or is Psylocke’s left arm bent at a very strange angle?

PAGES 2-3. X-23 recruits Cable, Husk and Bling! as her squad.

Cable has been in this book all along; he’s a bit shaken by his encounter with the wraith thing from the previous issue, but mainly he wants to stop Apoth from “ending all difference”, which he considers genocidal. Despite this being the penultimate issue, however, he’s joined by two characters we haven’t seen before in this book.

Husk. This is the first time we’ve seen Paige Guthrie since she was killed and resurrected during House of X. She’s a weird character to use in this book. Psylocke and X-23 are here because they don’t really function well as part of Krakoan society; Cable is a bit of an outsider too, given his very different background and recent arrival in this timeline. But Husk has always been a very enthusiastic team player, even during her periods of instability. She seems to be here because she understands Krakoa’s policy to be that mutants no longer take action against threats that only affect humans, and she’s not comfortable with that.

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Jan 15

Excalibur #5 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

PAGE 1 / COVER: Rogue in her bed of flowers, with Apocalypse standing over her.

PAGE 2: Recap. For some reason the recap says that Brian is “possessed by an evil sorceress” – he’s been corrupted by Morgan le Fey, but he isn’t really possessed by her in the normal sense of that term. The recap also clarifies that Coven Akkaba were telling the truth last issue when they claimed that Shogo’s dragonfire had damaged the fabric of Otherworld and allowed the invasion of mythical creatures which we saw there. In the previous issue, it was at least ambiguous whether this was actually a Coven Akkaba plan that they were trying to blame on Betsy to undermine here; here, it’s much clearer that they’re taking advantage of a genuine collapse of the boundaries between Earth and Otherworld, brought about by Shogo thanks to the manipulations of Apocalypse.

PAGES 3-4: Rictor rescues Gambit.

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Jan 14

X-Force #5 annotations

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Forge stands with an arsenal of organic tech. By the way, note that while Krakoa’s general aesthetic is plants, these things look to be meat and bone.

PAGES 2-3. Over their radio link, Domino tells Wolverine that she’s coming for him.

The top half of him, anyway. This is all self-explanatory – “You came for me in Korea” refers back to earlier issues of this storyline.

PAGES 4-5. Recap and credits. This is “Necessary Force” by Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara.

PAGES 6-7. Needing another way to the fight, Domino gets Black Tom to ask Gateway.

This is the limitation of the gates: somebody needs to plant one at the other end in the first place, and (we now know) they can be destroyed.

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Jan 11

The Complete Moira: Part 2

Posted on Saturday, January 11, 2020 by Paul in Moira

Last time we covered Moira’s history before the recruitment of the X-Men. This time, I’m going to go through her appearances from there through to her first published appearance, near the start of the Claremont run. This is, if anything, even more piecemeal than part 1 – that’s largely because these are mostly one-off stories published in no particular order. It settles down once we get to her debut.

Classic X-Men #43 (back-up) by Chris Claremont, Mike Collins & Joe Rubinstein (“Flights of Angels”, January 1990). This is the back-up strip which appeared alongside the reprint of X-Men #137, the climax of the Dark Phoenix Saga. The first page has a montage of flashbacks to the life of Jean Grey. They include an unexplained panel of young Jean Grey protecting Charles Xavier from an unseen attacker, while Moira bundles him to safety.

This ties into the vexed question of what on earth Charles and Jean were doing together before Jean joined the X-Men. X-Men #1 (1963) shows Jean arriving at the school with the rest of the team already formed, and seemingly not knowing much about it. Claremont established a back story where Xavier actually met her first, long before the other X-Men, and helped her to control her powers. What he didn’t establish was any good reason for the two of them to conceal that fact from the rest of the team. But occasionally he hinted at some sort of secret pre-X-Men adventuring career for Charles and Jean, which presumably contains the answer – and this flashback seems to be part of that. The most explicit reference is in Uncanny X-Men #381 (2000), where Jean talks about finding a secret cave full of treasure “before the founding of the X-Men, during a period when Charles Xavier and I worked alone.” It remains an undeveloped part of continuity, but apparently Moira’s involved in it somewhere.

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Jan 9

New Mutants #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 9, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Deathbird fights Cannonball and Sunspot… which doesn’t really happen in the issue.

PAGES 2-3. Sunspot recaps the plot.

Two pages of in-story recap is a lot, but it’s been three issues since we were last dealing with this cast and this storyline. In plot terms, at least, there’s still no apparent connection between the two strands of this series. Sunspot’s recap of the plot is basically accurate, despite all the comedy egotism – and note that Sunspot doesn’t actually name any other characters in this entire sequence.

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Jan 4

The Complete Moira: Part 1

Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2020 by Paul in Moira, x-axis

One of the big ideas of House of X and Powers of X is the massive retconning of Moira MacTaggert. Under Jonathan Hickman, Moira is no longer just the X-Men’s scientist friend; she’s actually a mutant with the power to start life over again, every time she dies, and with perfect recollection of her earlier lives. Plus, she has knowledge from those earlier lives of things like Nimrod, the Technarch and so on.

How well does any of this actually fit with the established history of Moira MacTaggert? On one level, it doesn’t really matter all that much. The idea that the Marvel Universe fits together seamlessly is a fiction; as long as it feels like it works, that’s probably good enough for most purposes. Which means it’s generally good enough to be consistent with the broad strokes, and with any details that the readers are likely to remember. It’s hardly a big problem if there’s an inconsistent line of dialogue in a long forgotten fill-in story.

Still – how does this retcon fit together with Moira’s established history? In this series of posts, I’m going to look back over every Moira MacTaggert appearance and see what emerges – both in terms of how it fits with Hickman, and in terms of whether it ever really fitted together in the first place. I’ve been working here mainly from the list of Moira MacTaggert appearances on the Marvel Chronology Project.

Basically, we’ll be running through Moira’s appearances in more-or-less chronological sequence, though I’ll skip her prior lives since they’re entirely documented in House of X and Powers of X, and I’ve written about that already. As it turns out, Moira’s back story is both quite detailed and full of enormous gaps, so it’s going to take us two posts just to get up to her first published appearance. This time round, we’ll follow her current life up to the formation of the X-Men. Since these are mostly appearances that were intended to flesh out her back story, there’s a lot to cover here; the pace will pick up in future chapters when we get to stories where she’s just hanging around in the supporting cast or explaining the plot. She does that a lot.

So we kick off with…

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Jan 3

Marauders #5 annotations

Posted on Friday, January 3, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Iceman and Christian Frost on Christian’s submarine.

PAGES 1-5. Bobby visits White Bishop Christian Frost on his submarine.

The Anthropocene is a proposed term (though the proposal is a very serious one) for a new geological epoch marking the period in which human activity is the dominant influence on geology and ecosystems. Bobby treats it as synonymous with climate change, which isn’t really correct.

Christian Frost, Emma’s brother, was a throwaway character from New X-Men #139 who was later expanded upon in the Emma Frost solo title (which established that he was gay) and the recent Iceman solo title (which established him as a mutant with vaguely-defined psychic powers). So Iceman already has an established acquaintance with Christian. Since Bobby is hanging around on Christian’s submarine and wearing Christian’s monogrammed dressing gown, the obvious implication is that their relationship now goes further than that.

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Jan 2

X-Men #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

PAGE 1-2 / COVER & RECAP. Professor X, Magneto and Apocalypse, apparently walking out of a Davos meeting (attended by rather more people than we see in the story itself).

PAGES 3-4. Professor X, Magneto, Apocalypse, Cyclops and Gorgon arrive at Davos.

Davos. Davos is a ski resort in Switzerland, best known for hosting the annual World Economic Forum meeting (which is what people normally mean by “Davos”). The World Economic Forum itself actually consists of corporations, but the annual meeting is routinely attended by politicians, celebrities and the like. This is, pretty obviously, a show of power by the mutants; they’re going through the motions of being normal global citizens, but at the end of the day, it’s Apocalypse in a suit.

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Dec 21

X-Force #4 annotations

Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Domino fires a gun and Sage uses a computer. Generic solicitation art, really.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. This is “Blood Economics” by Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara.

PAGES 4-6. Soldiers attack a Krakoa drug station.

Xavier Pharmaxeuticals. The first time we’ve seen exactly how the legitimate drug channels operate. As you might expect, the handful of black market ships from Marauders aren’t serving the whole world; when they can supply openly, the Krakoans just go through gates. We’re told later that this station is 15 miles from the coast, in which case it’s (just) outside the US’s territorial waters. Presumably some regular US boats come and collect the stuff.

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