X-Men Vignettes #27 (1988)
Writer – Ann Nocenti
Art – John Bolton
Letters – Tom Orzechowski
Color – Glynis Oliver
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #27 (November, 1988)
Hey, waitasec — no wildly overwritten One Page at a Time piece today?!
Nope! We’re all saved from my uneven attempts at annotating Marvel Riot (for now), as the Vignettes project has been saved! Knowing the silly (yet unflinchingly rigid) rules I have for the written content on this site, a very generous (too generous) fella sent me the three issues of Classic X-Men I needed in order to see this project through to its end.
A wildly generous act — which, I can’t adequately put into words what it means to me. I’ll be reaching out soon off-blog, but I definitely want to say THANK YOU, to Chris U. for going out of his way to put these books into my hot and calloused little hands. I was absolutely gobsmacked when I hit the mailbox this morning. I sincerely and oh-so-humbly Thank You!
We open with a janitor about to pour some Drano down a… ya know… drain. As the goop blurbles it’s way into the pipes, however, our blue-collar friend finds himself attacked by… I dunno how we’re gonna describe these beasties. They’re not necessarily “Geiger-esque”, but they’re not necessarily not either. I mean, I’ll post a pic of course, which, I suppose renders these past few sentences rather pointless, eh? Anyway, as this plumbing horror show is taking place, a few of the X-Men are at a nearby burger joint. Cyclops is chatting up the owner of the place’s son, who basically sings a few lines of Billy Joel’s Allentown to explain what’s been going on in their neck of the woods. Pollution and poverty… we’re one “fat cat” away from Ann Nocenti bingo! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
The Hamburger Artist pulls himself aside in order to ogle Jean Grey… who happens to be waiting outside the restaurant, where she’s currently being accosted by Wolverine. Like… I don’t wanna be “current year” about it, but it’s kind of uncomfortable. He’s literally got her backed up against the wall, with his arms kinda “pinning” her to it. I’m not sure what tone or feel we’re supposed to be getting from this, as… and I might be projecting a bit… it feels like Claremont and Nocenti have been really playing up the idea that Jean was meant to be with Logan and not Scott. It’s a whole lotta “You can’t fight this forever” sorta chat — which, Jean doesn’t argue — she does, however, suggest that one of them will have to leave the X-Men. Just then, Scott saunters on out, bagfull’a burgers in hand… seemingly none the wiser to the scene we just saw play out — despite the fact that Jean was visible from inside the burger joint. I dunno — maybe Scott’s got a cuckold thing? Hey, I’m not here to kink-shame.
Suddenly, Jean’s ears perk up as though she’s Lassie — there’s trouble at the old factory! She takes flight, TK-towing the fellas behind her. Upon arrival, they meet up with our shrieking janitor… who’s, well, still shrieking. Scott attempts to calm him down so they might find out just what in the world is going on. Jean and Wolverine pull away, because — what better time to continue their problematic chat, eh? Nah, I’m kidding — they do pull away, but it’s so Jean can try psi-scanning the place. Quite why Wolverine needed to accompany her? Well… I suppose it does facilitate the forthcoming uncomfortable scene. The ground begins to shake, a chasm opens up — right under Jean and Logan’s feet! Jean forgets for a moment that she can fly… and has those TK powers we just saw three panels ago… and so, they fall into the down-below. On their way, Jean calls out to Scott to evacuate the building — she senses ten people present.
In the down-below, Wolverine engages in some comical molestation. “Oh, was that your leg?” Yeah, that’s a pretty smooth play, Logan. Anyway, after the stolen grope, our heroes find themselves being descended upon by those Geiger-not-Geiger beasties we met at the jump. Wolverine, being Wolverine, SNIKTs before thinking — slicing the suckers into itty bitty bits. Unfortunately for him, however, these bits simply become critters of their own! So, looks like this bad situation is becoming worse by the second! Jean TKs some of them away, to buy them some time (and space) so they might flee. It doesn’t take long for the critters to catch up and surround them. As a last-ditch effort, Jean erects a TK shield around she and the fuzzy pervert she’s with — which, well… being crammed in such close quarters may’ve (most definitely has) erected something else as well.
The Geiger-not-Geigers continue piling on… really pressing our heroes together. It’s uncomfortable… for several reasons. Like I said, I really don’t wanna be “current year” about this, because… blech… but, the way Logan is acting here? I think the current-year-kids would say it’s, ugh, “Not okay.” In fairness (is it “fairness”?), Jean isn’t exactly unreceptive to his wiles… it’s more that she’s trying to stay “on task”. Logan keeps telling her not to resist… which, okay, okay… yeah… this doesn’t read well nowadays. Jean cries out to Scott — to which, Logan suggests that she’s using Scott as a “conscience check” of sorts. Well, she’s not. She’s actually just trying to find out if the building’s been evacuated so she can blow the place up without killing anybody.
And, well — she’s given the telepathic thumbs up… and does da t’ing. Worth noting, even up to the very last moment, Wolverine is still trying to get into Jean’s pants.
We wrap up with the dissipation of Phoenix flame where the factory once stood. Scott rushes over to his teammates to check in. We close out with a bit of dialogue that Nocenti clearly wrote in reverse. Scott asks the experience “was horrible”, which, I mean… pretend you just saw someone very close to you go through something that was clearly traumatic, and say this line out loud, “Was it horrible?” Has any human ever said a line that stilted? Oh well — like I said, it was clearly written in reverse, as to allow Wolverine to respond by saying it was the best time he’s had in months.
Could it be — a Nocenti story I actually sorta-kinda enjoyed?! No(t much) soapboxing, actual character-development… a post-Claremont Vignette that doesn’t feel like a pile of sentences swept into a word processer?
Well, will wonders never cease! Gotta say, I think I’ve made my position on the Logan/Jean “romance” pretty clear over the years. In case you’re new, or I’m not as clear as I think — I’m against it. Not a fan. Feels wildly forced to me. That said, however, I am very much a “Facts of Life” sorta fella when it comes to my comics lore — which is to say, I take the good, I take the bad… I take ’em both. So, whether or not I dig or agree with a story beat or concept… so long as creative is consistent with the lore, I’m there for it.
Perhaps worth noting, and this is probably the most “un-Chris” thing I’ll ever say on this site — my first exposure to the possibility that there’s any sort of romantic feelings between Jean and Logan was by watching the cartoo– err, Animated Series. I keep forgetting, it makes me sound a lot more intelligent to not refer to it as a “cartoon”. I didn’t like it then either, but — I guess I considered the show and the comic two different things, so it didn’t much bother me. In the years since, I’ve become juuuuuuusssst a little better acquainted with the seminal beats of this storyline — and, while I still don’t care for it, I respect it as part of these characters’ history.
With all that said — this was a creepy little ditty. We, as readers, gotta do a fair amount of heavy-lifting to make this story work without much of a hitch. We have to assume that Scott didn’t see Wolverine pinning his girl against the wall of the burger joint — even though one panel earlier, the Burger Artist was gawking at the redhead. We’ve also got to assume that Warren didn’t tell Scott about the run-in he had with Wolverine back in our opening chapter. I mean, I get dedicating a couple’a Vignette chapters to x-amining the weird primal lusty gutsy relationship that’s simmering here, but maybe we don’t put Scott within earshot of these chats, eh?
Maybe Scott’s got some cuck-y tendencies… but, we know that isn’t the case (well, pre-HoXPoX, anyway). It just seems bizarre to have Logan make his move here. We know he doesn’t have a whole lotta respect for Scott — but, what he’s doing here makes me want to actively root against him — which, and I might be projecting — I don’t believe is the desired reaction. I feel like Claremont and Nocenti really want for us to be pulling for Logan and Jean. I could be wrong. In any event, discomfort abounded here. Physical, emotional, sexual — it’s a regular discomfort Olympics!
Overall, like I said — despite my discomfort and misgivings about the Jean/Logan/Scott love-triangle, I enjoyed this. Props to Nocenti for managing to tell a story that had to do with factories shutting down and pollution, and not get all high-horse and soapboxy about it. I’m sure that was a challenge for her. The art here, well, it goes without saying, dunnit? It’s spectacular stuff. This one’s worth a read — and, dare I say, makes me a little bit optimistic regarding our post-Claremont Vignette future!
One more huge thank you to Chris U. for supplying me with this issue — and saving the Vignettes Project!