X-Men Vignettes, Chapter Forty (1989)

X-Men Vignettes #40 (1989)
“Fundamental Imbalance”
Writer/Letters – Tom Orzechowski
Pencils – Jim Fern
Inks – Joe Rubenstein
Colors – Glynis Oliver
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #40 (Mid-November, 1989)

Typed out, the word “forty” always looks so weird to me… I swear each time I try and type it, I instinctively try and spell it “fourty”… which, well… still looks weird, but still sorta right. Oh well.

This is the fou… for… err, 40th Vignette, so we are officially in the “home stretch”. After this piece, we’ll be at the Final Four! After that? Who knows. All’s I do know is our “work” here will likely never be done. We’ll see where the tides take us, and all that. Hopefully I can think of something before I re-dig that copy of Marvel Riot out to putchy’all to sleep with my attempts to annotate!

There’s a gimmick to this story… as we watch the scenes play out in the “current day”, there are bits of an angry maternal lecture sprinkled in. In case I don’t elaborate as much as I perhaps should — the lecture is coming from the mother of the, say it with me, NEW MUTANT who we’ll never, eeeeeeever see agayn. The lecture is, uh, directed at… ya know, that new mutant, who is a bit of a wild child. Not that Wild Child. Anyway, this is a Nightcrawler story… so, we follow him around New York City, where he comments that it’s like he’s in a different country every couple of blocks. He happens across a one-legged street performer… breakdancing. Any guesses who our new mutant might be? Now, it turns out that her dance routine is just a distraction so her pals can engage in a bit of pickpocketing. It would’a worked, had Nightcrawler not caught them in the act.

With the jig very much up, our dancing queen takes off… and basically leaps around as though she’d been bitten by a radioactive grasshopper. Nightcrawler gives chase, following her into the subway… they both board a train where Kurt tells her how impressed he was with her dancing. Maybe he isn’t totally clear on the pickpocket situation… or, at least this gal’s role in it. Anyway, by the time they reach the next stop, our gal’s done hopped the coop.

Kurt ain’t done yet though… he’s gonna keep searching. All the way into a darkened alley. Here, he’s confronted by some very 80s gangbangers… who proceed to beat the bejeezus out of him. At first, Nightcrawler gives as good as he gets… but, the numbers eventually catch up. He’s not x-actly out of the fight, but enough so where our girl decides to intervene. She leaps down from a fire escape and whacks the dudes with her crutch. She has a great catchphrase, by the way: “Party Time, you Dinks!”

Once the dust settles, Kurt and… the girl (she doesn’t get a name), chat for a bit. He tells her again how impressed he was by her dancing and agility, and all that. She doesn’t appear all that comfortable with this talk… and, I mean… can you blame her? It might be worth noting here that our gal is something of a “two face”. In some panels she looks like a late-teen or twentysomething, in others she looks like a 45 year old who’d been rode hard. Anyway, Nightcrawler tells her that he’s an X-Man (she initially jokes that he might be an Avenger… perish the thought). He explains that the X-Men have a school where Mutants can yadda yadda yadda. He happens to know that this unnamed street performer is a mutant, ya see — because, well… he’s carrying a miniature version of Cerebro in his pocket! Ooooookay. Well, if nothing else, now we know that “Unnamed One-Legged Red-Haired Street Performer” can be Goldballed!

After a friend of our gal tends to Kurt’s bruises, Into Central Park they go… I feel like a lot of our Nightcrawler Vignettes have a scene in Central Park… though, maybe it’s just two of ’em. Anyway, the Gal ain’t feelin’ the idea of heading upstate to attend some creepy school… and would prefer to remain here, with her “boys”. Just like that, “the boys” show up. In our “confessional caption”, we see that her mom doesn’t like the people our Gal associates with. Seems it was part of the reason she either ran away, or got kicked out. I tell ya, these lecture “beats” aren’t landing quite as well as I think they’re supposed to.

Anyway, Nightcrawler leaves her in peace… and takes the long train ride back to Westchester, thinking about his own childhood and adolescence with the gypsies…. and his relationship with his “mother” Margali, after the death of his “brother” Stefan. Meanwhile, our Gal sneaks off to a payphone where none of her “boys” can see her — and she makes a call… to her mother. Aw.

What’s that thing I’ve been saying a lot of late? Oh yeah, we’ve gone full-blown X-Men Unlimited!

I’m a bit torn on how I feel about it though… as, I’m totally fine with the idea that there are mutants out there who want nothing to do with the “mutant lifestyle”. They’re less worried about designing a gaudy costume and doing heroic or villainous things… and just wanna be left alone to, ya know “be”. I’m cool with that. I just feel that there are only so many different flavors of that, ya follow? I feel like we’ve read this one before… because, in many ways, we have… and will again. Maybe it’s the dozens of similar X-Stories that have come out between 1989 and now that has skewed my view — and, maybe, back in the long ago, this was a more “novel” idea. Sadly, I can’t speak to that.

Stories like this are so formulaic… and, like I just said… that really isn’t the fault of this story itself. It likely wasn’t yet one of the go-to tropes to “fill x pages of x”. As we discussed yesterday, here we meet a new mutant — who appears to affect one of our a-listers in a profound way… who we’ll never, ever see or hear from (or about) again. I mean, sure — that’s part of the human experience, I guess. We do run into people who may wind up having a profound and lasting impact on our lives… people we may not even know the name of — but, it seems to happen an awful lot to our heroes. Really not a serious point for or against… it just kinda made me shrug, as if to say “here we go again…”

I kinda glossed over it in the synopsis, but the parallels here between the Gal and Kurt as it relates to their relationships with their mothers were interesting. And, just in case you skimmed the synopsis — or have a similar reading comprehension as yours truly, by “mother”, we’re not talking about Mystique… this is Kurt’s adoptive mother, Margali. Kurt was thought to have been responsible for the death of Margali’s actual son, Stefan — which, as you might imagine, put a bit of a crimp in their relationship. Our Gal’s deal seems… a little (well, a lot) more on the petulant edge of the spectrum. The “I never asked to be born!”, stomping out of the room sort of thing. They’re also both performers… so, there’s another parallel I guess.

That said, it’s always interesting to “meet” a one-off mutant. It’s equally interesting (at least to me), when nobody’s ever thought to bring them back — even for the “X-Twitter X-Pert” cred it might earn a creator. Why not stick Unnamed Street Performer in the background of a scene from… I dunno District X, or whatever the Bishop Police Procedural was called pre-Decimation? I’m sure the current crop would get all the kudos for digging one of these nobodies out! Then again, that’d be assuming that current crop read any pre-2019 X-Stuffs… which… I wouldn’t bet a penny on.

In closing… I wanted to find a reason to share this panel… but, couldn’t make it fit organically into the synopsis. It’s Kurt, back at the mansion. Check out the (horrifying and) ree-deek-o-los portrait of Xavier in the background!

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

  • May 1, 2022 at 5:30 am
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    OMG! That HUGE Xavier face in that frame had me rotflmao. (I think that’s how the kids today would describe it.)
    This is another vignette that could literally take place in any X-Men era. It really feels like it was an inventory story that they just pulled from a drawer somewhere.

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