X-Men Vignettes, Chapter Thirty-Nine (1989)

X-Men Vignettes #39 (1989)
“Briggs’ Revenge”
Writer – Ann Nocenti
Pencils – Jim Lee
Inks – Joe Rubenstein
Letters – Jim Novak
Colors – Gregory Wright
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #39 (November, 1989)

Today we’ve got… say it with me… something weird! Weird in that, it actually feels like any old X-Men story. We’ve got good guys, bad guys, a conflict… it’s so “normal” that it almost feels out of place here in the Vignettes!

It’s also got art from a fella who’s like two years away from pretty much remaking the entire franchise in his own image… so, there’s that too.

We open with Storm flying over the streets and seas of New York City. She is in an amazingly good mood… so much so, that she almost hates to have to settle her feet on the ground — she just wants to stay soaring. She does, however, land… gotta keep looking the part of an ordinary New Yawka, I suppose. As she sets down, she is spotted by… a creep. Well, maybe that’s too harsh… we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right? Anyway, this cree–err, fella sees Storm land, assumes she’s a mutant… and wonders hopefully that she might be able to help him out. Ya see, he too is a mutant… and he doesn’t know how to deal with his uncanny abilities. Ororo walks the streets, heading toward the nearest bus stop… and, since she’s a six-foot tall supermodel with long, shockingly white hair, all the dudes start to ogle her. Our new creepy pal approaches to chat her up. She takes one look at him, and knows she’s gotta get away. She ignores the poor dude. His name is Billy Briggs, by the way.

Billy keeps persisting… until some Tony Stark-looking dude pushes him away. Storm is immediately smitten by this handsome man. Interestingly, and this might just be me, but the “handsome” man looks a lot like a stock Jim Lee-drawn character… which, since this is Jim Lee, probably stands to reason. The “ugly” Billy Briggs… well, he kinda looks like a stock Rob Liefeld character… lotsa lines on his face, and even a bit of the broccoli floret hair! I’m sure I’m just seeing things… but, I tell ya… those are funny things to “see”. Billy knows what’s up… Storm doesn’t have time for chat with some ugly dude in need — she’d rather talk to a rich handsome dude. Well, way of the world, I guess…

From here we hop over to Xavier’s, where Colossus and Wolverine are in the middle of a bet. Logan’s bet Piotr that he can’t nyoink a tree stump out of the ground… and has a case of beer riding on it. Colossus manages to do it… but struggles. Wow, Colossus struggling while yanking a tree stump out of the ground? Somewhere on dry land, John Byrne is seething! Maybe he’ll even quit the book again! Storm arrives on the scene to help out by whisking the mangled root system away.

Wolverine wants to go double or nothing… and claims he can use his Razor-Sharp Adamantium Claws to hack the tree to bits in no time… well, thirty-seconds. And so, Pete and Ro begin to count as he chops away… as we pan back to see that, ol’ Billy Briggs… somehow managed to follow Storm back to the school? I mean, it’s like an hour and a half drive from Manhattan to North Westchester… and, it doesn’t appear that our homeless Mr. Briggs has a car. Google Maps says it’d be a sixteen hour walk! Am I thinking too hard? Yeah, I’m probably thinking too hard. Maybe Briggs skitched the whole way on the back of Ororo’s bus? Anyway, Briggs interrupts the proceedings by blowing up the car that Pete and Logan drove out… to the yard. Did they need to actually drive from the house to the yard? I dunno, gang.

Anyway, it’s here where B.B. introduces himself… claiming that he has the ability to disintegrate the lot of ’em in a heartbeat… but, here’s the thing: he’s going to let Storm, the woman who ignored him sixteen and a half hours ago in the city, choose which of her friends he’s going to kill — a decision she’ll have to live with for the rest of her entire life! It’s a regular Stormy’s Choice!

Rather than, ya know, attacking and restraining this clearly unhinged homeless man, Storm actually considers her options! She looks at Peter… who is so sweet and innocent, then Logan… who can survive being hit by a meteor. I mean, all told, it’s an easy choice — but, still… they’re giving this baddie a lot of power here. Anyway, she ultimately does choose Wolverine… who, kinda saw it coming, and doesn’t appear to be terribly surprised.

From here, Briggs makes like a Sentinel from the cover of Uncanny #142… and lights our Logan up!

In the distraction, Colossus picks up a chunk of tree and smashes the dude in the head with it… killing him. Okay, not really… but, c’mon now, this should have killed him. I mean, it’d kill an elephant. Storm joins in on the fun, whooshing Briggs into the sky, and giving him his first shower in months. She also hits him with lightning… killing him. Okay again, not really… but… it probably should’a! By now, Wolverine is back up and at ’em.

Colossus grabs Briggs, pressing his own hands into his head. It’s now time for Wolverine to offer him a choice. He can either go via Razor-Sharp Adamantium death… or, he can use his own disintegration powers on himself. The choice is his. Well, it would’a been — but, Storm butts in to get everyone to settle their tea kettles. She takes the blame for ignoring a man who was clearly in need… and suggests that the best course of action would be to help him. Worth noting, it looks like Piotr was totally on board with murdering this man… which seems a bit (read: a lot) out of character.

We close out with Storm approaching Wolverine to apologize for, ya know, offering him up to be killed three minutes ago. Logan says it’s cool… but, it’s clear that it isn’t. I mean, it’s not like this will ever be mentioned again… so, it’s hard to say how deep the hurt-feelings go. Anyway, Billy Briggs sees this tension between Lo and Ro… and smiles sinisterly, knowing that… despite his “loss”, he still kinda “won”.

Before we get into it… good GRIEF is WordPress being a pain in the ass today. I’ve been trying to upload these pics for the better part of an hour. Is blogging, regardless of platform, just all-around awful nowadays? I don’t remember being a part of that decision.

Anyway…

So, what’d we have here? I mean, we’re in full-on X-Men Unlimited territory now… almost to a T. We’re introduced to a new mutant, who we’ll never, eeeeeeever hear from again. Said new mutant is nearly able to beat/kill some of the A-List X-Men. And, there’s some dramatic tension introduced between the characters… which, like our new mutant, will never be mentioned again.

Which, kinda makes it difficult to say a whole lot about. I guess our main takeaway here might be the moral lesson of “don’t judge a book…” since Storm was so quick to dismiss ugly Briggs when he approached her in the city. Which, hey — let’s talk about that for a second. That, in and of itself, kinda feels out of character for Storm, doesn’t it? She’s usually depicted as being (almost too) kind… it’s a bit odd seeing her dazzled by the Tony Stark-looking dude while rolling her eyes at the annoying ugly fella, who is clearly in need of some sort of assistance.

Keeping on the topic of acting out of character – I mentioned during the synopsis how strange it was seeing Colossus playing along with Wolverine’s threats of murdering Briggs. As still sort of the wide-eyed innocent that Piotr was, you’d think he’d contest such a thing — but instead, he’s there holding this dude’s deadly hands up against his dome.

Finally, Wolverine himself — when Storm was presented with the “Sophie’s Choice”, you’d almost think that he’d offer himself up, rather than putting Storm in such a position. He would know that, between he and Piotr, that he had the best chances of surviving the attack. That is, of course, assuming that Wolverine would’ve let this dude unload on either of them before slicing him to ribbons — which might just be another sorta-kinda “out of character” bit.

I dunno about this one, gang. It’s… interesting, just not terribly good. It’s an early Jim Lee X-Men story, which I suppose makes it a bit notable? I believe he’d only had a single-issue fill-in on Uncanny to this point (#248 – September, 1989) — he was just about to hop on full-time. Oh well. This one was what it was…

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One thought on “X-Men Vignettes, Chapter Thirty-Nine (1989)

  • April 30, 2022 at 1:02 pm
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    This almost feels like it could have been Jim Lee’s tryout for the X-Office, and they just thought it was too good not to print. This story is a long way away from the original intended purpose of these vignette back up stories. I don’t see how this enhanced the reprint story or showed us something never before seen from that era. If you just change the costumes a little this story could have taken place in just about every era of the X-Men. But it is pretty to look at.

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