X-Men Vignettes #42 (1989)
“When Dreams Are Dust”
Writer – Chris Claremont
Pencils – Mike Collins
Inks – Joe Rubenstein
Letters – Joe Rosen
Colors – Gregory Wright
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #42 (Mid-December, 1989)
Today we’re going to wrap up our two-part Cyclops ditty… which, when I read the first part, I think I was imagining that it was a “Part 1 of 3”, strictly due to how slowly it was paced. I actually had to edit yesterday’s article to correct myself a couple’a times. As we’ll learn today, it’s not a three-parter — and, well… I suppose we can discuss whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing out the other end of the piece, eh?
Also, a bit of news that shouldn’t affect anything, but — I seem to have misplaced my copy of Classic X-Men #43. I’m like 95% certain that I own the thing… just, gun to my head, couldn’t tell ya where it might be! Worst case scenario, the next piece will have panels nyoinked from the Marvel Unlimited version. Best case, I’m able to locate the ish and share the same, inimitable crooked-Chris pics I usually do for our foray into the White Hot Room.
We open with young Hal Jordan hanging out with his father at the air field. Oh wait… okay, okay, it’s young Scott Summers, just looking very young Hal Jordanesque. If you look quickly, his sweater vest almost looks like one’a Hal’s bomber jackets. He is very psyched to be checking out this private air show… I wonder if Claremont may’ve been really into planes around this point — he’d already published his novel, First Flight… which would get a couple of follow-ups over the next several years. Anybody ever actually read that? I know I tried… but, just couldn’t get into it. Anyway, Scott’s out with his BFF, Doc Robyn – and the man in the air is Colonel Richard Bogart (his wife, Tricia is there watching from the ground as well). The Colonel does a few tricks before landing the plane.
Once outta the cockpit, Richard invites Scott if he’d be interested in going for a ride. Initially, Scott’s very excited… but, that fades quickly. He remembers that he’s “damaged goods”, and that it might not be the best idea. Just then, a cluster of skydivers begin their descent. They’ve got smoke flares attached to their boots, adding a bit more interest to the dive. Scott sees this, and assumes that they’re burning. He flips the eff out, runs toward the field and throws himself on the ground, as though he were burning up himself. Doc Robyn rushes over to try and calm him down… he starts crying out that they’re being shot at… and also, that he’ll protect someone named Alex. Hmm. Before he ran off, he said something about a burning canopy and a Roman candle… which causes Richard to… rub his chin. Hmm.
That night, Robyn tucks Scott into his bed at the Home for Foundlings… and gets an absolute earful from Nate. He rags on her for her poor decision making, and even questions her credentials… after all, if she were any good at what she did — why in all hells is she working in a dump like this. She asks why he’s such a nasty little jerk, to which he threatens to one day show her. Ruh-roh.
The next day, Robyn and Tricia are getting some air miles in… chatting about that creepy little bastard, Nate… and how, the Doc is actually quite disturbed by him. Meanwhile, back on the ground, Scott and the Colonel are getting to know each other a little bit better. Now, the Colonel seems to think there’s more to Scott’s story than meets the eye, and attempts to get a bit more information out of him… which, ya know, is hard to do when you’re interrogating an amnesiac. Seems as though Scott’s memory comes and goes… when he’s occupied with other things, the memories appear to flow… when he’s not so preoccupied, however — they stop.
We hop to lunchtime, and the Bogarts take Scott and Robyn to a mess hall or something. While Scott slurps down a milkshake at the bar, the growed-ups talk about him in a nearby booth. Robyn informs the Bogarts about Scott’s sensitive eyes… and how, eventually, he’ll have to wear glasses made of ruby quartz. Richard reveals some of what he’s been able to glean from Scott’s sparse stories… and would really like to reunite the li’l fella with whatever family he may have left. In the meantime, however, he suggests that perhaps he and Tricia go ahead and adopt him.
This takes us back to the Home for Foundlings, where Doc Robyn is chatting up the Chief Administrator about getting Scott adopted out to the Bogarts. The Admin, evil jag that he appears to be, isn’t cool with this at all. He tells Hanover that she’s going outside of regular procedure… however, she’s steadfast that this is the right play. After much arguing, the Admin finally (appears to) give in. He tells her they can proceed with the, uh, proceedings… but, warns that, should anything go a bit ca-ca, it’s on her head.
Later yet, Scott and the Colonel are back at the airfield… where the latter tells the former that they’re hitting a lot of roadblocks in the adoption process. Lots of inquiries are being made… seems like a battle of attrition between they and the Home for Foundlings. Richard tells Scott that they’re not going to give up… and even goes as far as to tell him that he’s been searching for Scott’s natural family. Scott… doesn’t take this too kindly, assuming this means that the Bogarts wanna just pass him off to another family. Richard assures him that isn’t the case at all, and even invites Scott to spend Christmas with he and his wife. Scott is so touched by the invite, that he calls the Colonel “dad”. Wow.
That night, we rejoin Doctor Robyn who wakes up in a darkened room. The lights come on, revealing that she is in the presence of… Sinister. He tells her that she’s become rather the nuisance… and, it looks like he’s going to have to finally put a stop to her.
Some time later, Scott is waiting outside the Home for Foundlings for the Bogarts to show up. Nate tells him that he’s a “dreamer”, as the Colonel and Wife don’t actually care about or want him. He heads back inside to chat up Doc Robyn a bit… only to find that she’s… a very different lady, indeed. Her hair is tied up, she’s in a very conservative dress… and doesn’t appear to have any time for her one-time obsession. She tells Scott that the Bogarts haven’t checked in in several weeks… and suggests that they’re no longer interested in pursuing the adoption. She basically parrots what Nate said outside, telling him that they don’t care. We know differently though, as interspersed between these panels, we see shots of the Bogarts laying dead on a mountain.
This takes us to the end… which, to me, is where this all falls apart. It’s Professor Xavier and Jean practicing Jean’s telepathy. She scans and finds another mutant mind… Scott’s. He approaches them, thinking this is all a dream. We close out with some unnecessary (in my opinion) Phoenix imagery… and that’s that.
Like I said at the jump, with the way the first part of this was paced, and having a bit of an idea where this was heading – I would’a bet money that this was a three-parter. It wasn’t… and, I feel like that kinda hurt the flow. This chapter almost felt manic in its pacing… just rushing through the beats, without giving any of them proper room to breathe. Not that I’m looking for decompression or anything, but — I dunno, this was supposed to be poignant and tragic… but, it came across like we were about to watch the “part-two” of a two-part television show, and what we read here today was the “Previously on…” bit.
Of course, it didn’t help matters that we needed to forfeit a page of this to attend to some Jean retconning. Jean is one of those characters who, for me, it’s kind of hard to get a “bead” on… as she’s basically written as being whatever the current writer wants her to be. Was she ever actually the Phoenix? Well, that depends on who’s telling the story. Did she die? Again, gotta ask whoever’s sitting in the scriptin’ seat. Was the Xavier’s first pupil? Sometimes. Was she originally a telepath or telekinetic? Ain’t dem da same t’ings? I mean, we (think we) know the answers to those questions… but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Writers are going to adhere to whatever the want.
And, I mean — I’m not against retconning Jean in as Xavier’s first student, or whatever — it’s just that, if we’re going to play fast and loose with X-Men history (and pre-history), howsabout we try not to contradict stuff that’s come before. As we discussed over in the Essential X-Lapsed, Jean was “given” telepathic powers by Professor X when he was about to fake his death. I said that was stupid then… but, I mean… it happened. I dunno what I’m trying to say here, gang… the whole “capper” page just felt unnecessary… and (in my opinion) robbed the Cyclops story of an extra few panels of breathing room.
What happened to Robyn? Well, I suppose we can guess that she’s been brainwashed. Is that satisfying? Well, it could’a been, if it were made a bit clearer and/or had a bit more room to breathe. She didn’t come across as hurtful or aloof toward Scott (a bit blunt, maybe), it just seemed like she was too busy to stand around talking to a kid in the hallway. What happens from here? Like, we know Scott runs away… we know he briefly gets tied up with that dorky Jack O’Diamonds. But, what does he do… like right now? He just head back to his room with Creepy Nate… and wait?
The Sinisterness of this story was… okay? Another bit that I feel needed a bit more room. I mean, at the time in the main book, we had an idea that Sinister was “into” the Summers’s’s’s’s… but, that really isn’t made clear here. He just seems like a bad guy — his motivation wasn’t properly fleshed out here, at least not to me. I suppose maybe they weren’t completely sure what Sinister’s story was going to be at this point. Hell, we’re some quarter century later, and I still don’t think we’ve got any writers who can agree on Sinister’s story.
Anyway, not much more to say about this one. It was disappointing. After the great build of the first part, this came across like a rushed let-down. Can’t really hold that against anyone — it’s pretty clear that the Classix Backup initiative is on its last legs, and I’m sure it’s not anywhere near Priority One in the X-Offices. Plus, we already know that this isn’t the Sinister story Claremont originally intended to tell. There are elements of his original in play… but, perhaps had he been given full-reign to write his version of Sinister, this may’ve been a bit more satisfying a read.