Friday, May 4, 2012

Classic X-men mind control

Hard to imagine as it is... the X-men weren't what anyone might consider popular...

Once that changed, Marvel started reprinting the earlier, hard to find issues of Uncanny X-men in a series called Classic X-men. Printed on better paper, the best feature of the book were the Claremont penned back up stories... In these little 8 to 12 page vignettes, Claremont could indulge himself. This resulted in brief, yet surprisingly intense character studies that fleshed out the decisions and thinking behind whatever characters featured in that reprinted issue.

Those back up tales made for interesting reads, but even they weren't free from their fair share of mind control. Nothing proved that point better than Classic X-men # 17, a reprint of Uncanny X-men # 111, better known as... the one where Mesmero mind controls the whole team and forces them to work as circusfolk. For more on how that caper unfolded, look HERE.

Most of the back up stories offered valuable character moments that told you something new about the X-men, their foibles and weaknesses... Yet, reading Mesmero's dialogue in the panel above is all anyone would have needed to understand how the X-men had been captured.

Because, yes, all this tale tells you is how Mesmero captured each and every X-man. It all started simple enough...

"Jean Grey... Your will is mine!"

Interesting to note that Mesmero only fought the X-men once before (in issue # 49) and he never saw Jean unmasked or out of uniform... So having him recognise her is a bit of cheat, especially since his power is hypnosis, not telepathy. Still, what dire fate did Mesmero have in mind for his one time adversary?

Mesmero was using his powers the way any other red blooded, green skinned, man would in his place... make beautiful women fall in love with you, ever ready to service you in the most skimpy of lingerie. He was still looking for a fiery red head to complete his set of service ready sluts.
So, by all means Mesmero, hop to it... 

Turns out all the mind control in the world isn't powerful enough to beat the Phoenix Force... Or the Comics Code Authority for that matter. See, this wasn't actually the real Jean, only a manifestation of the universal power known as the Phoenix Force, that had taken Jean's place and... Ow, never mind all that, Mesmero can't touch her, that's all you need to know for now.   

"I can't touch my new toy... But I sure can use her!"
What happened wasn't half as dirty as that last remark implied. But that just gave the man an idea as he forced Jean to take him home with her. And this is still a Chris Claremont comic, so Mesmero had Jean dress in black leather. All set, he simply walked into the kitchen and started mind controlling X-men left and right.

With Kurt being the first to fall, there wasn't anyone left who could make a quick escape. Next up... the one mutant who could yell and alert everybody.

Two down, another three to go....

Effortlessly nailing all of her teammates, only Wolverine is able to take action... And he does. 

Actually, Wolverine was just playing along to get close to Mesmero in order to finish him off. Mesmero caught on early enough and had the team pound Logan into submission. 

After an afternoon or so of having the X-men fight each other, Mesmero got bored with the bickering and decided to look for new ways to torture them. At a loss for ideas, a picture of Nightcrawler during his circus days provided inspiration for this...

So that's how the X-men ended up as circus performers. Twelve pages to tell a backstory that was more than adequately established in a single panel of the decade old comic it preceded?

Forget Bendis. The hell of decompressed storytelling really started here.

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