X-Men Vignettes #21 (1988)
Writer – Chris Claremont
Art – John Bolton
Letters – Tom Orzechowski
Colors – Glynis Oliver
Edits – Kavanagh, Nocenti, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #21 (May, 1988)
Before we get into today’s Vignette, I just wanna address a little bit of housekeeping — and express a bit of gratitude.
If you’re following the site, you might already know that, after a few weeks away from the mic, I released Episode 326 of X-Lapsed yesterday (as of this writing). If you’ve followed my audio x-ploits for a little while, you’ll likely know that I can sometimes get a little too honest on the air, perhaps to the point of oversharing. It’s kind of my “brand” to be as transparent as possible — I believe if someone/anyone out there decides to let me into their ears, then they deserve to get the “real” me.
I’m always sincere with my thoughts and opinions on silly things like comics (which is probably why I’m “persona au gratin” in the X-Men Community — yes, I’m very cheesy)… but, I will also, from time to time, share pieces of myself. I used to refer to these sort of shows as “emotional shiatsu massages”, because… well, they’re painful — they make me nauseous — but, I feel a sense of lightness and, for lack of a better term “zen” when it’s all said and done. This was very much one of “those” episodes.
I shared some things that are currently going on in my life… and how these little “visits”, both written and audio — are avenues for me to try and “escape”. They are also one of the only things, at present, that I have the ability to (somewhat) control. It was probably a bit too self-indulgent and “precious”… but, I’m glad I did it.
Since releasing the episode, I gotta say — I’m honestly overwhelmed with the kind and supportive words I’ve received. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, knowing how wonderful the X-Lapsed/CoiIE “family” is… but, hey — I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: this content create-y life can be (and often is) very lonely. It’s easy to lose yourself in it… it’s easy to begin to believe that you’re all alone, and that nobody cares.
It’s nice to get that reminder every now and again that — that isn’t entirely the case. So, thank you everybody for the warm reception.
Our story opens… in the Savage Land. My second (or maybe third)-least-favorite locale in the X-Books! Worth noting, this issue of Classix reprints X-Men #115, which is part of a Savage Land story arc — so, this Vignette is an “in between days” sort of deal. Our feature character is Colossus… and, it’s even going to provide a callback to his last Vignette (in Chapter Five), but we’ll get there. Anyway, we open with Piotr feeling homesick. He’s not used to the clammy hot climate the Savage Land affords — he can’t even get his pencil to sketch on his damp and disgusting pad. He’s so out to lunch over this that his eyes begin to play tricks on him. In the distance, he thinks he’s seeing Illyana and… Anya. And that’s Anya the bigoted ballerina from Chapter Five… not Anya, Magneto’s daughter from Chapter Twelve.
He soon realizes that he’s just seein’ things. What he’s actually looking at is a gaggle of mohawked (and thirsty) Savage Landers. He watches as they cross the plain, before attempting to put pencil to paper once again. The thinks back to his brief and weird relationship with Anya (again, the ballerina… not the girl who burned to death), and how she wouldn’t accept him as he is — which is to say, as a man made of metal. Just then, he’s startled by a scream. He enters the jungle to investigate, and finds himself faced off with — a Tyrannosaurus Rex! The beast has the three Savage Landers cornered.
Our man attempts to armor-up to fight off the dino — but finds that he cannot! Piotr assumes the intense heat has really done a number on his concentration — hindering his ability to change form. And so, he decides to try and distract the T-Rex by hurling a giant stone at it’s snout. This is one’a dem “good news, bad news” situations — as, it does take the dino’s eyes off its original prize (for a brief moment), but it also swats our hero away with its tail. Pete recovers and takes to the trees in attempt to fastball special himself onto the terrible lizard’s back. And, well — he does just that. He “Tarzans” over from a giant tree… and proceeds to hack at the dino’s eye with his primitive axe-gimmick. Unfortunately for him, however, he’s a moment too late — the T-Rex has already taken a big ol’ bite out of a Savage Lander.
This “injury-to-the-eye” attack from Piotr both causes the CCA to second-guess putting their stamp on the cover of the ish… and sends the dinosaur reeling back. It falls into the drink, presumably to painfully and slowly drown. One of the mohawked women, Nereel, rushes over to our hero and embraces him. She thanks him for the save… but, informs him that one of their number would not survive. From here, we head back to camp — where, that evening, they all sit around a… smoldering, uh… sorta problematic shape (?) in the ground. This is the funeral pyre for the fallen Shakani.
Later that night, after the ceremony ends, Piotr heads back to his lodging. There, he’s met by Nereel and another Savage Lander who invite him to come along for the “last ceremony” — which is to say, they’re going to drag him away to the fields and… bang his brains out. On their way, they pass Wolverine, who is currently working on his needlepoint (seriously). Pete invites Logan along… which tells us he hasn’t the foggiest idea what’s about to be in store for him. Logan knowingly smiles, and passes on the offer.
So, it looks like our man’s about to be menage-a-trois’ed, yes? Well… izzit too late to make that a foursome? Cuz, outta the fog rises a one-eyed T-Rex! Worth noting, naïve Pete isn’t exactly receptive to the bang-a-thon. He even verbally “blushes”. What’s more – this isn’t just a “getchure rocks off” sorta thing — Nereel is hoping to celebrate her friend’s sacrifice by… creating a new life here.
Anyway, back to it — the dinosaur attacks, but this time Colossus is able to armor-up. As he does so, he flashes back to how Anya reacted to his mutanty-metally form, and fears that Nereel will have a similar reaction. Unfortunately for him, however, he isn’t being presented with much of a choice. He armors up… and fights off the beast.
Colossus beats the bejeezus out of the T-Rex… and as the dust settles, he fears Nereel will run from him in FEAR AND HATE. He is surprised, however, when she does not. Instead she rushes to him… she still loves him, and in fact, our Claremontian caption is there to inform us that this is the first time Piotr Rasputin has discovered love. We close out with Pete gettin’ gang-banged… and unwittingly conceiving a child.
Well, suddenly that Colossus-Anya chapter makes a bit more sense, eh?
When we first looked at that chapter, I didn’t see it as being anything all that noteworthy — just another FEAR AND HATE story to show how marginalized our heroes can be. Nothing we hadn’t seen before or since… and really, at the end of the day, just page-filler. A fine story… a beautifully drawn story… but, ya know, just a story.
After revisiting this chapter, however, Piotr’s “arc” makes a bit more sense. As I’m wont to say, it’s been literally a lifetime since I’d last read these Vignettes — and, as such, most of them may as well be “new to me”. Having our man faced with the fear that he’ll be rejected or looked down upon for his mutant ability was pretty interesting. Even as he armored-up to fight off the T-Rex, all he could think about is how Nereel was going to react upon seeing him. Of course, with the context of what happened in the Anya chapter, this makes complete and total sense. Colossus being a younger (and more naïve) man is being played up here, and it’s nice to see it.
As I’ve mentioned, when I entered the X-Fandom, Colossus was one of the “old guard”, and often portrayed as a sullen put-upon sadsack. When I first saw that he was previously romantically-linked to Kitty Pryde, it skeeved me out, because I mentally placed him as being — not just older, but a lot older than her. Seeing stories like this… well, it doesn’t completely wipe out the skeeve-factor, but it helps me to see Piotr as being on the younger side of adult.
Now, Pete does the thing… armors up… saves the gals. Then, gets boffed. It’s always been odd to me that the fact that Colossus has a son never got all that much in the way of play. In fact, Peter Jr.’s only appeared like 3-4 times. Even stranger, in the current-ish post-HoXPoX/pre-Inferno2 landscape, Colossus is depicted as working in the fields of the Savage Land most of the time. You’d almost expect he and li’l Pete to meet up. Then again, considering Marvel’s current-year editorial and creative, your guess is as good as mine if they even realize this bit of x-history even exists. My money’s on “no”.
Overall – this was a good chapter. What’s more, if made me further appreciate an earlier chapter. That’s a win-win in my book. Worth a look!