X-Men Vignettes #18 (1988)
Writer – Jo Duffy
Art – John Bolton
Letters – Tom Orzechowski
Colors – Petra Scotese
Edits – Kavanagh, Nocenti, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #18 (February, 1988)
Let’s kick things off with a little bit of… baaaaaaad neeeeeews. Well, sorta — I guess it all depends on your mileage. But, to follow up on a bit I shared a few chapters back — I do not own Classic X-Men #19 (I’m also missing #’s 27, 30, and 35). I took a ride the other day trying to procure ’em (or at least #19), and… well, I was unsuccessful. I’m going to try and squeeze out a few minutes today and hit another shop or two, but I’m on WrestleMania alternative-commentary duty today for W2M (and have been all weekend), so I can’t say with certainty that I’ll even get to feel sunshine on my shoulders today!
So, let’s say I can’t find it — where does that put us tomorrow? Uhh… I dunno. Honestly, this whole Vignette Project has been flying by — I can’t believe we’re like halfway thru it! When I started, and realized I still needed a few of the issues – I had it in my head that it would take forever to get to them… and so, I had plenty of time to find ’em! I guess life’s what happens when you stop paying attention, eh?
I guess we’ll all be surprised tomorrow. And, by “all”, I mean me — and like 1-2 other people! Oh, you know I can’t get thru a pre-ramble without at least one self-depreciating line about my own irrelevance!
For today though, we’ve got our first non-Claremont-written Vignette — which, if I were a fella who used hashtags, would probably really hinder the visibility of this piece! Good thing I don’t… I guess?
We open with the Jeanix somewhere deep in wooded area of the Xavier School grounds. She’s all alone, and… well, that’s x-actly how she seems to want it right now. She’s set up camp… and is enjoying a little peace and quiet away from the onslaught of “them”. We learn right away, however, that she isn’t quite as alone as she thinks. In the foreground we see a knife-wielding voyeur checking out the scene. When the Jeanix heads over to a pond to fetch some dirty, bacterial water for her coffee, our would-be predator lunges! Unfortunately for him, she ducks. Fortunately for her, this attack paints him as being about half as smart as one of the Three Stooges.
This woodland stalker turns out to be… Wolverine. So, we’re supposed to believe that this apex predator is going to be so sloppy a hunter? Well, in fairness — Jean is the Phoenix, and the Phoenix’s powers, abilities, and senses are — convenient. Also, she’s got different word balloons. As Logan turns around to face his quarry, she’s now in her full green-n-gold glory, and speaking with a scary rasp to her voice. Our man tells her that he only followed her to make sure she was okay. Okay, fair enough — when asked why he’s chosen to “hunt” her, she responds that he just wanted to test her — see how good she really is. I… don’t think that would hold up in court. Wolvie reveals that he kept his thoughts “primal”… which I didn’t realize was a power he had. This would (in theory) make it so the Jeanix would think he was just some random woodland critter. He was using a knife, so Jean wouldn’t hear and SNIKTing. Well, Jean’s a little too powerful to fall for any’a that — and also, the fact that Banshee is hiding in a bush right over’chere didn’t do much to help Logan’s hunt.
Jean, Logan, and Sean chat for a bit. Jean reveals that this newfound Phoenix power can be overwhelming. There’s a fear that comes with it — the fear isn’t exactly due to the power itself, but the staggering amount of options that the power presents. She can basically do anything. To further drive that point home, she TK-hurls the coffee pot at Banshee, and proceeds to lift the entire pond out of the ground so he can fetch a kettle’a scummy water.
Just then, however, we get another surprise guest — Nightcrawler! He BAMFs in from “miles” away, and manages to scare the bejeezus outta the Jeanix! This causes her to lose focus… and control of that entire pond’s worth of water, fish, and funk she’s been holding up!
Over the course of the next couple’a pages… everybody and everything winds up… ya know, wet. We get a reminder here that Wolverine’s got a metal skeleton, which makes me think this one was written while BIG Jim Shooter was still in the EiC seat. Logan razzes the Elf for screwing everything up — to which, Kurt pleads that he had no idea Jean was holding up an entire pond. Stands to reason, yes? Nightcrawler remained several miles away so she wouldn’t be able to read his thoughts or know that her teammates were planning to “test her”.
The Jeanix is annoyed at the entire situation… which, ya know, is fair. Kurt suggests that Phoenix ought to have the ability to undo anything she does do… unless it has anything to do with asparagus. Okay, he doesn’t say that last part. Anyway, we wrap up with Jeanix doing just that — collecting all of the water and nastiness of the Xavier pond, and ploppin’ it right back where she got it.
Our story closes with the fellas satisfied by the results of this “test” of Jean’s new Phoenix powers… and a Saturday Morning Cartoon-ish gag about still needing to fetch some water for the coffee!
This was one of those stories that probably read a lot better back in the long ago. There’s nothing actually “wrong” with it, and it’s quite fun for what it is — but, in the (nearly 40!) years since, Marvel has done such a number on what the Phoenix actually is/was — that it’s hard for me to really accept anything Phoenix-y at face value.
Maybe it’s my own density… maybe it’s my own “sins of the son” damage — but, everything Marvel’s done since… and their flip-floppy definition and characterization of the Phoenix… I dunno, it makes me wish fewer of our Vignettes were so hyper-focused on it. Honestly, there are only so many times I can complain about wibbly-wobbly and convenient continuity, and how it distracts from the actual story we’re looking at before that loses whatever novelty it may’ve (but likely never) had.
So, let’s do our best not to concern ourselves with any’a that… if we can.
This story, in a vacuum, was (as mentioned) pretty fun. I’m not sure it necessarily “stands to reason” that Logan, Kurt, and Sean would be trying to “test” Jean this way… but, it does facilitate the events that transpire. Boy, there’s a sentence that means absolutely nothing, eh?
Yeah, I’m already in vamping mode — lemme just lay it out. This was a fun story… if you don’t think too hard about it… or what happened after. The lead-off story for this issue of Classix reprints X-Men #112, during which Jeanix goes toe-to-toe with Magneto… and loses. Perhaps this “testing” is due to that? Or, more likely, it’s a harmless inventory story that I’m trying way too hard to “make fit”.
Oh well – at’s all I got. Fun story, excellent art — probably worth the 3-4 minutes it’d take ya to read it! Probably not worth the 4-5 minutes you just spent reading this. Then again, ain’t nothin’ gonna make that worthwhile!