X-Men Vignettes, Chapter Thirty-Five (1989)
X-Men Vignettes #35 (1989)
“Paper, Not Paper”
Writer – Daryl Edelman
Art – John Bolton
Letters – Joe Rosen
Colors – Glynis Oliver
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #35 (July, 1989)
Howzat for a cursed cover? That one’ll give ya nightmares! One of the most fun parts of this project has been taking in these, sometimes odd, sometimes eerie, almost always beautiful Bolton back covers… and perhaps even sharing them with a generation of readers who didn’t even realize they existed! This one in particular has haunted me something fierce… I mean, just look at it!
Can the story even hope to live up to that sort of eerie madness? Well… it’s written by our Assistant Editor, and it’s one of three scripts he’s ever written. Hopes high enough yet?
Let’s do it!
This is going to be one of the “between the panels” stories we get in Vignettes from time to time. Above, you can see the series of panels from X-Men #129 (January, 1980), where this odd and ethereal little ditty begins. There, Kitty Pryde, during her first appearance issue, phases through the wall of a malt shop into an alley. Below, we see Kitty trying to gather her thoughts and make sense of the situation. She is quite confused by her phase-ability — and, while we know this isn’t the first time it’s manifested (it’s not even the first time today), it may be the first time she actually sees it in action. This isn’t her falling from her bedroom to the living room below while she was sleeping — she’s cognizant of her situation right now… and, at least for this very moment, awake.
From here, however, it’s off to slumberland. Kitty finds herself shrunken down reading from a tremendous book. She’s approached by… I don’t know what the hell this is… but, our gal doesn’t seem to recognize it. Kitty shoos the whatever-the-hell away so she might study in peace. Worth noting, the whatever-the-hell is in a gummed up wheelchair. I dunno if it’s supposed to be Professor X? By now y’all know that I’m pretty dense… and I only see symbolism where there is none. So, if this is truly symbolic… well, it’s all going over my head.
Anyway, Kitty is asked if she can dance… and the whatever-the-hell reveals that it’s familiar with the book Kitty’s attempting to study from. It’s a book called Structure and Function of the X-Factor by Charles Xavier, by the by. Just then, from behind a nearby curtain, the White Queen trots out… uhh, another slew of whatever-the-hells. These look kind of like mannequins with tennis balls taped to their chests. Very bizarre, indeed. They’re here to dance — and, I’m assuming this is an avant garde take on the “wooing” of Kitty Pryde. The wheelchair guy is Chuck… and Emma is, well, Emma. They’re competing to see who “gets” Kitty Pryde.
What follows here are… several pages of weird-looking stuff. Ya notice how, of late I’m starting more paragraphs with “What follows here are several pages of…”? I have! It might make one start to think that… the twelve pages allotted for these Vignettes might be… I dunno, six pages too many? Feels very padded. Thankfully that “padding” is drawn by John Bolton. Let’s hit the main beats. Emma turns Xavier’s book into mush… and we pop back out to reality, where sleeping Kitty is under a pile of books. So, is this real or not?
Next, Kitty’s approached by another whatever-the-hell, which transforms into Storm. We get a platitude about not judging books by their cover… and how people will continue to grow and change. This scene appears to be taking place both inside Kitty’s dream and in the now-bookless alley. Well, there’s one book, which Storm’s reading from… but, that pile’s nowhere to be seen.
From here, Kitty and Storm dance back into the dream… eesh, I feel like I’m in the middle of a dream… to take on Emma and her booby mannequins. Well, to dance in front of them, I guess. I dunno. This displeases Emma greatly… and so, she unleashes a bunch of booby mannequins… in wheelchairs?
The wheelchairs crash into Storm, knocking her out. Kitty then places Storm into one of the wheelchairs… and beelines it toward Emma — phasing right through her… and the wall behind her… back into Kitty’s own home… which is actually a book itself? Ya know, I’m loving the art here… it’s some really excellent stuff, but… this is getting stretched wildly thin at this point.
Next we know, Kitty wakes up in the alley — just as Emma and the Hellfire Goons are loading the X-Men into their air-hooptie. We close out with Ms. Pryde phasing in and stowing away…
… which happened two pages later back in X-Men #127! There we go, we added… somethin’ to the lore! I’m not x-actly sure what we added… but, yeah… somethin’!
Ya know, I was gonna write this elaborate bit wherein I transcribed an imagined conversation between Daryl Edelman, Bob Harras, and Tom DeFalco about the creation of this little ditty — with the overall “message” being, something along the lines of: “Hey, that’s a great page and a half worth of story… you’ve got twelve!”
Since I am not creative or humorous in any way, I won’t torture y’all with that — instead, I’ll just say that this was an interesting and worthwhile idea to pursue… but, it certainly didn’t need a dozen pages to be told. Kitty’s going through a pretty confusing time right now (plus, who knows what hoo-doo Emma is doing just on the other side of the wall), so it’d stand to reason that she might just “trip out” a bit. Good idea… decent execution… just wayyy too long.
At least it was rendered by our main man, John Bolton… who, at this point, sadly isn’t long for this project. Things are about to take a turn for the… well, I don’t wanna say “worse”, cuz we’ve got some Nicieza stuff coming our way, and I’m a bit Fabes-fan… but, the X-Men Vignettes are certainly sliding down the list of Marvel’s priorities at this point. When you see some of the art that’s headed our way, you might think you sent in five Charleston Chew UPCs and got a free comic… or, ordered the Kid’s Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut… and got a free comic. Anyway, that’s a concern for later — let’s just be happy for today that we’ve still got Bolton!
Overall – a neat little “trip”, which I probably would’ve enjoyed more had I not been stressing about thinking up stuff to actually say about it here on the site!
4 thoughts on “X-Men Vignettes, Chapter Thirty-Five (1989)”
This feels like one of those old Disney cartoon shorts where Donald or Mickey would go to “math land” to learn about arithmetic in a psychedelic world where numbers and equal symbols are living creatures that overwhelm the characters until they start to learn better.
This was quite bizarre, wasn’t it? I definitely got the same vibes you did — felt very out of place, there was just something about it that got under my skin and creeped me out!
Kitty’s various levels of reality/dream make me feel like I’m watching Inception. The “dream” sequence feels like it’s trying to homage the Nutcracker ballet.
It makes me scratch my head how Kitty gets a vignette/back up alongside her first appearance and poor Cyclops has yet to get a solo vignette story. No love for Ole Slim Summers.
This was a weird one, to be sure! I tell ya, the “cover” art actually kinda disturbed me a bit — I wonder how it would’ve been received if they’d actually used it as a front cover!
Cyclops was definitely not a priority in the Vignettes world… yet. His story is comin’!