Saturday, November 29, 2008

Polaris just can't catch a break

Ah, Uncanny X-men # 254 & 255... A sequel to issue 250, of sorts and a guilty pleasure for yours truly. The X-men had pretty much disappeared, died, wandered off or mentally forced by Psylocke to enter the Siege Perilous in order to avoid getting killed by the Reavers. 

Yet, Donald Pierce and his band of cyborg maniacs are hardly people... let alone people that take no for an answer. They wanted to kill some X-men, so they went out to find some. This led them to Moira McTaggert's research lab on Muir Island, where reservists like Banshee and Forge had been residing as of late...

Another former X-man happened to be there as well, Lorna Dane. After having been recently depowered, she went to Muir to gather her thoughts. But on the way there, she also discovered some new powers totally unrelated to her lost gifts of magnetic manipulation.

All of a sudden, she became like a mutant She-Hulk without the green skin. That didn't offer much protection against the Reaver Pretty Boy, tho...

Being raped isn't half as bad when its done by a pretty boy! Anyways... Pretty Boy used his mental powers "rewriting the mental wetware of the brain" to get Polaris to switch sides. Fortunately, Banshee was there to sever the connection just in time.

Still... poor Polaris, before long she was exposed to this...

Ah yes... THIS storyline then. Another new super power popped up that caused everyone around her to act far more agressively and violent. This made her a perfect recepticle for the machinations of the Shadow King.

More about his huge evil scheme next post, but the Shadow King took over Charles Xavier's son Legion and used him to practically enslaved all the super powered folks on Muir... Starting with, you guessed it, Polaris...

Mindcontrol is not a thing of the past

Now, for the past few months I've been making fun of Chris Claremont's past efforts in the field of comics. Of course, it might appear I'm just picking on a side of his writing that's long since a thing of the past. Well... just to prove that Chris still can't resist a good mind control plot, I give you this scene from Big Hero 6 issue 3, released last week.

Honey Lemon, the woman with the magic purse, gets attacked by a mysterious villain with a mind controlling whip... And before you can say 'plotdevice done to death and beyond'... Honey Lemon belongs to the bad side.


Back to some older comics?

Savage land, savage loss of any mental control

Uncanny X-men # 250! 

A nice round number waranting a big anniversary issue. Claremont decided to celebrate by taking the (by that time severely thinned out) team to the Savage Land again.

There, they faced off against Zaladane and a new band of Savage Land mutates. One of them was Worm, whose power... well... You can see what he does. Coating his victims with self produced jelly, basically turning them into his slaves...

Of course, in the same issue, Zaladane employed a form of control first used by Magneto. You see, the whole storyline began with the magnetically powered Polaris.

Lorna Dane was last seen as the mind controlled vessel of the Marauder Malice, but at the beginning of the story she appeared free of Malice's influence right before she was kidnapped to the Savage Land... Where she met Zaladane who claimed to be her sister (Lorna...Dane...Zala...Dane...see?).

Using some technology left behind by Magneto/the High Evolutionary/the aliens who built the Savage Land (take your pick) Zaladane robbed Lorna off her powers and claimed them for her own. This left the metallic Colossus especially vulnerable to her and she forced him to kill a young mother and her child...

How cruel...

(of course, they turned out fine...)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nanny knows best

One of the weirdest villains Louise Simonson ever came up with was Nanny. A rather misunderstood scientist who wanted to save mutants by... well... capturing and turning them into child-like robots. Of course, a form of mind control is used to do this... In Uncanny X-men 248, Nanny and her aide Peter (aka Orphan Maker) decided to save the X-men and proceeded to do so. As seen above, they first captured Psylocke. A smart move, because it gave Nanny (and Claremont) no less than two credible ways to mind control folks.

So, here we have a Nanny-controlled Psylocke taking on her teammates Storm and Colossus. Storm is able to break free, but Peter is not so fortunate. Before this scene, both Havok and Dazzler had fallen prey to Nanny... With Rogue and Wolverine gone, this only left Storm free to deal with Nanny and Peter. Which she did, by destroying Nanny's vessel... She seemingly died in that attack and the team buried her remains the following issue.

Of course, this being Uncanny X-men... no one ever really dies. A few years later, Storm turned up alive and welll. But she was mysteriously turned into a preteen. How, you ask? Well, as it turned out: Storm didn't really destroy Nanny's ship... In fact, she was captured and Nanny destroyed a fascimile of her own vessel as a decoy, so she could have her way with Storm. Look at what she did to the windrider: trying to control her mind by reverting her to a young child... But Storm is a powerful person, she fights to protect her own mind. Good for her... Makes me wonder why Claremont ever took a liking to her, though...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Maddie Pryor's prior mind control

The nostalgia factor is strong when yours truly revisited Uncanny X-men vol. 1 # 234, one of the first X-men comics he ever read.

It turned out to be a great issue, set in the middle of the team's period in the Australian outback. Madelyne Prior, Scott Summers' estranged wife, was functioning as the X-men's tech support gal, operating the massive computer complex underneath their new headquarters.

So far so good... but once Maddie discovered her husband was part of X-Factor along with his first love Jean Grey, she quite understandably got pretty miffed. Her intense anger made her susceptible to the machinations of Limbo's prime demon S'ym, who sought a powerful minion who could quite literally unleash hell on Earth... Madelyne proved to be a perfect and welcome pawn, as she  began her slow transformation into the Goblyn Queen...

As the Queen-to-be, Madelyne suddenly developed several powers. Immunity to mind control for one... Quite a shocker for Claremont... AND the Genoshan genengineer who wanted to turn Madelyne in a mindless mutate in service of Genosha.

An attempt at mind control that failed? Ouch... that's gotta smart!

Bargain Basement: One storyline, two kinds of mindcontrol!

Meet the Dire Wraiths. Back in the 1980s, these aliens were a big threat to the Marvel universe. Sort of like the Skrulls nowadays. The Wraiths were busy infiltrating Earth, sort of like Secret Invasion, only their way of replacing people was a little more... drastic. A Wraith would use its dartshaped tongue to literally suck out the victim's brain thereby assuming his or her form. Not exactly mind control... but at the very least its an other example of people acting against character in order to advance the story. No... When it comes to actual mind control, the Dire Wraith storyline gave us the following in Uncanny X-men 188...

Yup... Nazé, Forge's Cheyenne mentor had been replaced by a Dire Wraith back in Uncanny 186 and now both of them were claimed by an unseen mystic force*. Two for the price of one... Ow Claremont, talk about spoiling yourself with sweet deals like that!

* In case you care: The unseen force was the big chaos demon only known as The Adversary who would cause major trouble for the X-men somewhere down the line. The Adversary used Nazé as a puppet in his schemes to take over the omniverse. I'll save you the scans, trust me: it was mindcontrol at its finest.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Malice Masters Mindcontrol

John Byrne and Chris Claremont have very different creative processes. Byrne loves to plan ahead, while Clarmont prefers to have plenty of room for last minute improvisations. Yet, when they were co-plotting Uncanny X-men together, these disparate styles led to some truly creative, great storytelling.

And as this post will show, great minds *do* think alike. Sort of. Confused? Don't be. We'll get to the point eventually.

First, lets revisit Uncanny X-men # 214, in which Storm, Rogue and Wolverine meet up with Allison Blaire, the mutant songstress Dazzler. After she'd been publicly outed as a mutant in the Dazzler graphic novel, she'd changed... carelessly showing off her mutant light powers on stage, which isn't the smartest thing to do in a world that hates and fears you.

What's gotten into Dazzler, you might ask? Well, its more of a question WHO, as we meet Malice, a psychic entity capable of controlling both mind and body. As as a sign of her presence, Malice's hosts manifest a slave-collar like choker around their necks. Very tasteful. Malice bodyhops around quite a bit during her first appearance... Which causes fun scenes like this...

"There's more malice in her sweet soul than she gives herself credit for.
But I go where I can have the most fun... and do the most harm!"

Ah, exciting... Wolverine in a berseker rage about to attack his teammates. When has that ever happened before, eh?

In the end, Malice is driven out... yet, a few issues later, we discover Malice was actually part of Mr. Sinister's Marauders. In order to be a more effective part of the team, Malice decides she wants to bond permanently to a host. Awww... it's truly heart warming to see even violent psychic entities feel the need to settle down and be exclusive.

Oh, look who she picked to go steady with, by the way...

"Malice... you possessed her!"

Her being Lorna Dane, better known as the X-men's Polaris! Quite a nice reveal back in the day and one of the few instances Claremont's dabbling with mind controlled heroes wasn't quickly reversed. Malice stuck with Polaris for a good few years before she was cast out. She briefly reappeared alongside Sinister in X-Factor during the mid 90s but remained mostly forgotten after that. It wasn't until Mike Carey's run on X-men  (Legacy) that Malice showed up again to take control of Karima Shapandar, the Prime Sentinel... A possession that gave us the immortal soundbite "I've gone digital, bitches"*

Soo, what does all this have to do with John Byrne ? Well... At about the same time Malice appeared in X-men... Just look who the Fantastic Four had to deal with...

Meet Malice, mistress of hate. And no She-Hulk, she's not kidding. Malice was mean and nasty, dressed in black leather with a spikey slave collar to boot. If that doesn't sound like a typical Chris Claremont female, I don't know what does... Ow, and here's the final straw...

Surprise, surprise... Malice was actually a mind controlled Sue Richards... Ow Invisible Woman, when will your suffering end?**

* No, the actual panel didn't say 'bitches', but it sure felt like she meant to say it.
** Not quite as sarcastically hypothetical as you'd expect, considering Millar's current run on FF is called 'The Death of the Invisible Woman"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mind control? Not even Power Pack is safe!

Say what you will about Chris Claremont, when it comes to mind control he's an equal opportunity offender. At least, that's what he proved in Uncanny X-men # 195 when he subjected small kids to it.

The story: Morlock and natural mother Annalee was desperate after her children had mysteriously disappeared.

So, what do you do? Well, you could always search for them of course. Maybe ask your fellow Morlock Caliban to help out, he's able to sense mutants after all... Or, you could go and kidnap someone else's kids. Yeah, that is indeed the easiest way out.

The Morlocks went out to get Annalee some replacement kiddies and, instead of raiding an orphanage, they opted to go after the Power children... Better known as Power Pack.

The kids got their minds tampered with, convincing them they were indeed "momma Annalees's children". But young girl Katie Power managed to break free and informed the X-men of her situation. So, the team came down into the tunnels and set the matter straight.

Lessons learned? You're never too young to be played like a puppet when Chris Claremont is writing you... And, for those of you wondering what happened to Annalee's actual children? They were killed. By Scalphunter. Of the Marauders.

Hey kids... comics!