X-Men Vignettes #28 (1988)
“Who Am I?”
Writer – Ann Nocenti
Art – John Bolton
Letters – Joe Rosen
Colors – Max Scheele
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #28 (December, 1988)
Well, there’s a… sorta disturbing cover, eh? Doesn’t look at all like something that’d be associated with an X-Men story (ya know, minus the oversized Ruby Quartzes on the dude’s face). That’s going to become a bit of a trend over these last few Vignette covers — some of them are going to be quite odd. Still very cool — just, ya know, odd.
And yes, despite the fact that we still have around a dozen and a half more installments of this project — the fun Bolton “covers” will be running out much sooner. I wanna say, we’ve only got around 5 or 6 left! From there… well, I’ll have to get a bit creative (which, if history and this blog are any indication, isn’t terribly inspiring).
Anyway — y’all ever wanted to celebrate Halloween with the X-Men? No? Well — we’re gonna anyway.
Our story opens with Nightcrawler, who is dressed as a devil, being welcomed in to a Halloween costume party. He jokes with them about buying their souls — to which, one of ’em apologizes, claiming he’s already sold his… and it went cheap! Our fuzzy friend then breaks away to find his friends and teammates. Ya see, the gimmick here is that the X-Men all went independently — without spilling the beans on what costume they were planning to wear. They thought it’d be fun to see if they can find one another. We’re about to learn that… well, maybe that’d been fun on paper — and I don’t mean the paper this comic was printed on. Kurt sees… Wolverine being all sex-pesty to Jean Grey? Only… it’s not actually them? Like, a pair of random humans at this party decided to dress up as Logan and Jean for the party???
Kurt takes a sip of eyeball-flavored punch while surveying the room. He thinks this little X-Men hunt will be pretty easy — spotting a tall man with a mask, he assumes this is Colossus — though, this big feller is chatting up a girl, which Petey’d definitely be too shy to do (unless it’s just after a funeral). He spots a pirate who looks nothing like Wolverine in the slightest — who he assumes is, ya know, Wolverine. This character actually looks more like Nightcrawler himself, when he uses the Image Inducer.
Just then, a Catwoman comes up behind him to flirt. This little lady seems to have the same fetish as Harry from the Hideaway/Hideout — she’s definitely got a “thing” for Kurt’s astonishingly handsome tail. Once she’s done tuggin’ the tail, Kurt is approached by, I’m assuming, the fella throwing this here shindig. He tells Nightcrawler about some trouble that may be brewing — ya see, there’s a party-guest named Tiffany, who’s got herself a monster of an ex-husband, Johnny. He used to beat her, and has threatened to up the ante here tonight. Our host knows that Tiff is dressed as a ghost — but, Johnny? Johnny could be dressed as anything.
Cyclops that jester from the cover is off having a drink. He’s approached by a masked belly dancer, and lured into the next room. Now, we know this is obviously Jean — Scott, however, does not. And yet, he follows her anyway.
Back to Kurt, who runs over to the pirate who looks nothing like Wolverine… and proceeds to address him as though he was. The Pirate ain’t amused in the slightest, and just assumes that the devil-man is trying to horn-in (d’oh!) on his women.
Back to Scott, who proceeds to make out with the masked belly dancer — realizes she’s actually wearing a mask under her mask — removes it, revealing a face full of scars? B-but, Why?
Okay, no time for any’a that — we got a murder to stop. We pop back over to Nightcrawler, who arrives in yet another room of this sprawling home, just in time to see a man dressed as a clown plunge his knife direc-a-ly into the neck of someone dressed as a ghost. Whoops, we’re too late! By the looks of it, this murder seemed to really turn on a woman dressed like a witch. Like I say, I ain’t here to kink-shame. The clown goes to make his escape, but runs into a giant of a man dressed like a mummy.
The mummy is quickly (and unsurprisingly) revealed to be Colossus, and he’s flanked by a pile of (clean) laundry — which is actually Wolverine. The jig appears to be up for ol’ Johnny. As a last ditch effort, he grabs the libidinous witch and threatens to kill her as well — which, again, she doesn’t seem to be all that upset by. If anything, she’s giving off more of a face-melting reaction than actual fright.
Just then, a ghost walks to her mark on the stage to unmask and deliver her line. It’s Tiffany! She’s not actually dead, ya see — the ghost he’d stabbed in the neck was just a dummy they’d set up. By now, Johnny’s completely lost it, and still seems rather set on killing the randy witch. Before he can, however, his blade is TKed away — and he’s bearhugged by our Russian Mummy.
Off to the side, we see that — duh, Jean was responsible for the TKing. She’s the double-masked belly dancer, naturally. This freaks Scott-the-Jester out, seeing as though he’d just made out with her thinking she wasn’t her — I think? Y’all know how I like to (over)use the phrase “Dagwood Sandwich”, but Jean here is a Dagwood unto herself. Ya see, not only was she wearing the belly dancer’s veil, not only was she wearing a mask over her mouth… but, she’s also wearing a bunch of phony scars? She goes to begin pulling the scars off her face — but — uhh, Scott stops her? He wants to kiss her… scars and all? What the hell are we reading here? Arright… let’s rush to the exit — we close out with the concupiscent witch sidling up to Nightcrawler wanting to share some eyeball punch with him. We out.
Okay, I’m not a writer. Sure, I’m writing words right now — but, I don’t consider myself a writer. If I were, I’d be creating stuff… and not spend my time commenting on other peoples’ stuff. Sure, I’ve got stories I’d love to tell — I’m just not talented enough to actually do it. That said, I can’t claim to understand the writer’s “process”. Like, in reading this here Vignette — damned if I can even hazard a guess as to what Nocenti was trying to accomplish here. What’s more, even if I were given a detailed triptych, I doubt I could navigate it! Like, where did this story “start”… as in, what was the idea, the concept… the point?
Sure, I’m probably thinking about this too hard… while being a bit too “Chris” about it… but, I’m really struggling with this one. It wasn’t awful… it wasn’t even (really) bad. And, sure, we’re (mostly) post-Claremont here — and so, we’re largely in filller territory — but, even so — this one felt just plain ridiculous. Is it a mystery thriller wrapped around finding a murderer? Is it a whimsical costume party where Nightcrawler proves how inept he is at identifying his teammates? Is it the story of Scott unwittingly not cheating on Jean… and discovering he’s got a “thing” for scarification?! I… just dunno.
At least it was nice to look at? Well, besides the scars on Jean’s chin, anyway. Next time out, I think we’re going Colossus-centric — let’s hope they sidestep the FEAR AND HATE for this one!
(Not the) Letters Page: