Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Abdicating All Control Of Your Mind Part II: "Heavy Is The Mind Controlled Head That Wears The Crown...

In the second and final part of this mind control heavy tribute to Dutch queen Beatrix abdicating the throne, we'll get to the actual mind control as Kitty 'Kate' Pryde receives a marriage proposal from the British crown prince William... No, this isn't an example of bad 2011 fan fiction, its Chris Claremont writing Excalibur, apparently with a crystal ball, in 1989...

In order to marry Kitty, William had to sorely disappoint the lady Kate, who had previously been promised to him. The fact Kate and Kitty are actually alternate counterparts is an interesting one. William fell for Kitty's adventurous spirit, which left Kate severly annoyed. But first, she had to deal with her soon to be inlaws... the queen (who doesn't look like the late Diana at allll...)

And more notably, queen mother of England...

Upon meeting Kitty, the Queen Mom soon realises that the young American girl is in no way suited for her future role as ruler of all Britons. Also... Megan and Rachel are causing quite the stir as well.

"Rest assured, Katherine Pryde... We shall endeavor to teach you better!"

Using her magics to teleport them away, the Queen Mom takes Kitty to a band of technomages who analyse her rather unique genetic structure. She's similar to princess Kate in virtually every conceivable way... And yet she's not.

Yup... here we have the Queen Mom and several top notch mages using magicks to warp Shadowcat's very essence, molding her soul, into their prefered shape. Magic words or not, it's still mind control. But Kitty proves she's defiant to the very last...

During those final moments as her own self, a desperate Kitty succeeded in contacting her teammate Rachel, who is able to track her location following the trail of the psychic transmission. However, by the time Excalibur arrives to rescue her, the damage to Kitty already seems to be done...

In an interesting turn of events, Rachel can't detect any signs of mind control or even the slightest mental tampering. Baffled, Excalibur is soon forced to make peace with the situation and is ready to bid Kitty adieu when she is attacked by the same kind of Shaitan-esque demons that kidnapped her back in part I. 

Yes, turns out Lady Katherine Pryde was content having prince William chase after her, especially since it was pretty much a given he'd propose to her eventually. But all bets were off  with the arrival of Excalibur and her alternate reality counterpart. And to add insult to injury: William proposed to the wrong Pryde to boot.

Katherine relied on her magic powers to control a small army of monsters to kill Kitty but she hadn't counted on the fact Kitty was pretty much invulnerable after her phased state had become her normal way of being. Phasing also interfered with the Queen Mom's transformation spell, so Shadowcat was back in the game and soon came up with an ideal way to resolve this particular predicament...

And with that, the prince of the realm still willi(am)ngly ends up with his Katherine, despite the Harry-ing conditions...So much for clever puns, time to follow Excalibur's lead and get out while we're ahead.

Until next time!

... This blog entry is respectfully dedicated to princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, always a queen in my book...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Abdicating All Control Of Your Mind Part I: And Then There Came A Day To Give It All Away

In all honesty, this post wasn't supposed to show up for at least a month or two. But since yours truly is undeniably Dutch and queen Beatrix of the Netherlands formally announced her abdication today, we might as well take on the time Chris Claremont wrote about royal succession in the pages of Excalibur. Not too surprising, it involved mind control.

To establish a little background: By the time issues # 12 and 13 rolled around, Excalibur had been a little lost thanks to the dimension hopping creature Widget. For the past several issues, they'd been trying to get home, reluctantly visiting alternate realities in an equally alternate train which hailed from a world where the Nazis won World War II.

The dimensional train's arrival startles a young child, who is taken aboard and cared for by the team.

What are the odds... Excalibur almost crushes prince William, the heir to the throne... But William doesn't seem to care about that at all. Instead, he seems to fall head over heels for Katherine... Erm, Kitty for short... Pryde. Its interesting to see how Claremont managed to have this character fall for a woman with the same name as 'our' prince William would eventually end up with.

But before 'Billy the Kid' can proceed to make more googly eyes as Shadowcat, the train is attacked...

The Shaitan kidnaps Shadowcat, forcing her teammates to follow as best they can. But why would an ancient demon have any interest in a girl from an alternate dimension who had only just arrived here? The answer is, as always, shocking...

A good decade and a half before the first Shrek movie, Chris Claremont takes advantage of the bad reputation ogres have by revealing this particular butch character as the master of the shaitan who kidnapped Kitty Pryde.

The ogre is a little strapped for cash so he kidnapped princess Kate in hopes of fetching a handsome ransom fee... When that didn't happen, allegedly because Kate's kingdom is equally poor, the ogre sent out the shaitan once again and it returned with Shadowcat.

Just how someone whose natural state is being intangible gets abducted against her will is beyond me... but hey. It turns out princess Kate is actually that reality's Kitty Pryde without mutant powers so it makes a decent amount of sense the shaitan zoomed in on Shadowcat. Needless to say, Excalibur and prince William soon traced shaitan to the ogre's base and defeated both of them. Then, William dropped a bit of a bombshell...

For more on that, check back for part II of Abdicating All Control Of Your Mind: "Heavy Is The Mind Controlled Head That Wears The Crown...

Oh, and for those of you waiting and wondering what's keeping the whole mind control motif... Check out these scenes taken from Excalibur's daring rescue... During the raid, Rachel 'Baby Phoenix' Grey touches the waters in the castle mote and hilarity ensues...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I Vant To Control Your Mind (... and suck a lil blood as vell!)

For today's entry, we'll remain in New Exiles territory. During the team's first real adventure together, they visited an alternate Earth that had been ravaged by a meteor storm 50 years earlier. This cataclysmic event caused massive changes in both climate and power balance which slowly tilts to all out global warfare.

Sabretooth picks Psylocke, Mystiq, Rogue and Sage to go in and help him prevent this. No small order, especially considering that upon arriving they almost immediately run into Black Dog and the Bloodforce, a super powered group from Wakanda determined to stop them... And succeeding.

Just who Black Dog is, not to mention the other Bloodforce members, is never reallyexplained. Luckily this is still a Chris Claremont comic, so alternate Earth or not, chances are pretty decent everyone will yell out his or her codename sooner or later. So lets have the mysterious woman Sabretooth is punching take care of her own introduction...

Ahhhh yeah... Bloodwitch turns out to be a vampire who decides to feast on Creed. Or maybe she isn't, after all its daytime and she doesn't seem affected by the sunlight, despite being pale and half naked in the desert. But who has time to waste on such minutiae? Luckily, his teammates have his back.

"Oh bloody hell...!"

Ya gotta love the continued stream of vampiric puns. It seems Claremont managed to tap a... rich...vein... of and the comedy, it flows... like blood.

Ignoring all conventional notions on how a vampire's control over his victims are supposed to work, Bloodwitch proved able to mind control Creed with a single bite... As he obediently follows her instructions and attacks Psylocke. 

But right before Bloodwitch can claim her second victim of the day, the blackening skies erupt in a furious thunderstorm, courtesy of Queen Ororo, archenemy of the Black Panther.

Figuring any enemy of the Panther's might be a potential ally, Ororo invites the Exiles to her palace in Alexandria to plan their next move. There, Psylocke and Sabretooth realise Bloodwitch's influences isn't as easily shaken as they'd hoped  judging from the way they suddenly can't seem to keep their hands off each other. 

Try and ignore the dialogue straight from a dimestore romance novel as we try and find out what's really going on here...

"GOTCHA! I tagged your leader, little Psylocke and through him Bloodwitch's fangs have bitten deep into your soul! Both of you now belong to ME!"

Ah, yeah, so... vampiric mind control is like an STD now? Easily spread with the exchange of bodily fluids? That's going to be an interesting public service announcement in the age of the Twilight movie saga. "Kids, only you can prevent third party mind control... Go team Jacob!" 

In New Exiles # 3, the team faced off against Blackdog and the Bloodforce again and Bloodwitch was more than a little prepared...

Not to mention overconfident, as she mindjacks Sabretooth and Psylocke and plans to bend them to her will forever (... and when a vampire says something is 'forever', you can take that literally). 

But, considering this is New Exiles and not Bloodwitch featuring the Bloodforce, it doesn't exactly turn out the way she'd planned.

Defeating a vampire without garlic and overcoming mind control thanks to your healing factor... The Omniversal world of New Exiles truly is the gift that keeps on giving!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Profusely Protesting Proteus' Premedidated Morphin'

Sometimes, one can't blame Chris Claremont for using mind control.

When Claremont took over Exiles, he was handed a bit of a conundrum regarding long time, shapeshifting member Morph. Y'see, he wasn't exactly the same, fun loving miscreant everyone had grown to love. 

Shortly before Claremont was announed the new Exiles writer, long time scribe Tony Bedard had put the team through the wringer during their World Tour. This extended storyline saw the Exiles chasing Kevin MacTaggert, better known as the reality warping mutant Proteus. Due to the nature of his powers, Kevin was a discorpeal energy form in a never ending need for host bodies. However, each and everyone he inhabited soon was consumed by his powers...Everyone, that is... until he inhabited Morph.

The Exiles finally came up with a way of defeating Proteus, by using B-Mod technology from the Squadron Supreme reality they visited during their hunt. 'B-Mod' is short for 'behaviour modification' and that's exactly what happened to Proteus Morph when he donned a crown that was secretly lined with B-Mod circuitry. It essentially reset Morph's mind, returning him to his old self, while Proteus aspect was rendered dormant... Bottled up, ever ready to resurface.

During Chris' run on both Exiles and New Exiles, the threat of Proteus reemerging was repeatedly hinted at. The notion of your teammate effectively being a single moment of clarity away from turning into a genocidal omniversal overlord gave everyone the shivers...

Yet, everything seemed pretty much okay, until the events of New Exiles Annual # 1. Morph was put in charge of the team as they responded to a distress call from an alternate Earth specifically asking for their assistance...

As it turns out, it was Valeria Richards, the daughter of Reed and Sue Richards they had encountered during one of their earliest missions. This Valeria was pretty similar to the Valeria that Chris introduced during his late 1990s Fantastic Four run. This meant she possessed many of the traits a typical, young Claremontian leading lady has: acting both chipper and delightfully snarky, with a genius level intellect and amazing powers to boot.

How amazing, you wonder? Well... after their initial encounter, Valeria constructed a means of following the Exiles on their adventures across the omniverse, even travelling to the alternate Earths they would eventually visit.

However, for some unknown reason, Valeria arrived early on a world that also happened to be in the grips of  The Maker, an alternate reality Shaper of Worlds who had gone mad. Instead of longing to improve worlds, this one actually got his kicks from causing as much destruction as possible. In this case, by challenging five supervillains to outdo themselves.

Valeria called in the Exiles to set things right. And so they did, defeating crossdimensional counterparts of Doctor Doom, Magneto, Red Skull, Green Goblin and a Baron Mordo/Dormammu mix who wasn't beyond using mind control, by the way.

Making short work of the five baddies meant the Maker was forced to deal with the team himself. Teleporting everyone to his base on a second, smaller Moon orbiting Earth, the final confrontation got underway just as something went wrong with Morph....

For some reason, Proteus was starting to break free from his mental prison, but the Exiles were a tad too distracted to notice. Psylocke and Valeria combined their telekinesis and force field powers to protect everyone from the Maker's fury... But simply throwing up a shield doesn't save you from a being capable of reshuffling existence at a whim.

Ow yeah... the bad guy has managed to sink his claws into one of the good guys... We all know what happens next, right?

Yeah... that's the Shaper of Worlds for ya... mad or otherwise, he is always at the ready to reshape and remold everything you once held as true about yourself or those you trust. Speaking of reshaping those you could trust, Proteus finally makes his move...

"There's someone else inside my head!"

Well of course there is, Morph/Proteus! After all, this is New Exiles, the comic in which Chris Claremont had  no less than 4 main characters go through the exact same thing in the space of 18 issues. It happened to Cat, Sage fell prey to it as well and even Psylocke had to fight her way through it... So why not you?

One might simply dismiss this as a case of lazy writing or even call it a blatant copycat approach to character development... But consider this: maybe Claremont was going for a motif...? Perhaps he was trying to do a subtle study on how everyone deals differently with their less than desirable traits and urges? Do we vehemently deny and cast them out, like Pylocke did? Do we let them overwhelm and change us, like Cat? Or do we accept our darker sides, becoming more powerful in the process... like Sage and Morph...

Ow wait, did I just give away the ending?

"You're not alone inside this head, this body, this soul".

Defeated by the Shaper, sorry Maker, Proteus retreats into his own mind and finds the spirit of Morph there. Kevin Sydney happened to be alive and well... or something... and grabbed the chance to stage an intervention of sorts. "I can sense all this supervillainy stuff isn't making you happy... let me help you learn to help yourself".

Before those lines cause all of us to burst into a rousing rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson, let's see if Mister Proteus took the long dead former inhabitant of his body up on his offer...

Oh, right, right... more talking... Guess convincing someone to essentially give up being themselves isn't done in a panel or two. But finally, this happens...

And in a flurry of bright, pink lights, Morph and Proteus become one... Morph's cheery nature washes away the hurt and pain that made Proteus into a supervillain. Just like one appeases an angry dog by removing the thorn from its paw. The new patchwork persona was immediately accepted by the others and all was right in the world again.

Forget the fact he's essentially a lobotomized supervillain responsible for burning through at least a dozen host bodies during his reign of terror across the multiverse... I guess being given a new lease on life in an immortal, shape shifting body is punishment enough, right?

Well, if anything it also made Proteus into Doctor Phil clone, with a similarly annoying accent.

... #whitepeopleproblems.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sage Under Pressure: Purging The Mind Controller

So, yeah...

Time to come clean. While post 125 bragged all the Sage related mind control stories had been told... today's Sage centered entry kind of disproves that statement. And yes, while its true the content of this post was previously featured, however briefly, in the final part of the Sage Saga... It does require further examination.

In a way, this post is a sequel of sorts to the anniversary blog... Turns out, Sage was facing identical problems as teammate Psylocke was at the time: someone who was essentially them was trying to usurp control of their minds... In the case of Betsy Braddock, it was her evil alternate reality counterpart Lady Mandarin...

But before we get to Sage's adversary, lets set the scene first. The book is New Exiles, obviously the writer is Chris Claremont, and the situation?

Well, the Exiles had teleported to an Earth where Atlantis had literally emerged to become a super power centuries earlier than they would in 'our' universe. In a world of warring empires, the Atlanteans controlled the seas and therefor  all warfare and technology. As all of this occurred well before the American revolutionary war of the 1770s, this meant the British were still in control of North America, while France had become a major world dominating nation in its own right.

Britain and France were on the brink of war, with France planning to invade America. The French invasion force was set to land in New York, just as the Exiles arrived to aid in the city's defense.

Alas, during one of the initial confrontations, both Sage and Morph were kidnapped by the French... And that's where the mind control comes in...

Take a few seconds to read Purge's dialogue. He is a French operative, ever so clearly enjoying his task... that is controlling the minds of his victims. Even Sage seemed unable to deal with his powers because, well... you've read all of this so far, right? Go on...

Yes, there are just so many things wrong here. From Purge manhandling the sweaty, bound Sage to her desperate and slightly unbelievable promise she'd break free... Purge, whose gloves are awfully reminiscent of Nightcrawler's original costume, seems to be the man in charge and takes active glee in watching Sage suffer while her personality is being erased. However, he did not expect this...

Ah yeah... Way before Chris Claremont wrote Sage in New Exiles, he made her star in New Excalibur in which Sage had offered to infiltrate the criminal organisation of Albion, an evil Captain Britain counterpart.

To make sure she couldn't be detected, Sage's computer brain produced the persona of Diana Fox and made herself believe she was indeed the aforementioned blonde bombshell. It allowed her to do her work undetected, but it also had a lasting effect on Sage, as 'Diana Fox' became a new, seperate identity within her mind, taking every chance to wrest control away from her... And with Purge taking care of Sage's dominant personality, Diana was allowed free reign....

So how did Sage's actual body transform into Diana's form? That's never truly explained... It might be an unexpected effect of her powers to catalyse (physical) mutations in others. Or not... but hey, whatever works right? Purge wasn't so easily beaten and he once again tried to take control of Diana/Sage by taking the fight to the astral plane... Alas, that didn't exactly work out for him either...

All the dialogue speaks for itself. While Sage is knocked out, keep that in mind, the Diana Fox aspect of her mind appears without a face in her astral form... yet is indeed capable of transforming Sage's physical form into hers? Yeah, that makes a decent amount of sense...*cough* NOT * cough*

Anyhoo, how will all of this end then?

With Purge out of the picture, Morph and Sage quickly recovered and helped prevent the French invasion of New York harbour. But despite the fact Sage passed out on deck in her Diana Fox form, she wakes up as her old self and no one seemed to have a clue about what had just happened...

"... So HOW did we defeat Purge?"

Well, Sage... mainly because you're being written by Chris Claremont, the man who loves you and mind control so much, he doesn't mind controlling the forces of logic... Shine on, you crazy diamond!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Celebrating 125 Mind Control Moments: Psy versus Psy

Its official! It took close to 5 years, but this is blogpost 125!

And what better way to celebrate 125 moments of mind control than by focussing on Psylocke, star of this blog's second most popular post? Well, focussing on the most popular blog, sure, but that's the first part of the Sage Saga and though it took five mind control stuffed chapters, her story has pretty much been told.

Still, Sage does make an appearance in today's entry, because she was part of Chris Claremont's 2008 Exiles reboot, the rather unimaginatively called New Exiles. Fans of the original Exiles were a little afraid Claremont would blatantly ignore the beloved continuity outgoing writer Tony Bedard had created in favor of his own pet characters...

They weren't too wrong.

Claremont came on board with issue 90 and did indeed get rid of most of the cast, replacing them with his personal favorites. As is any incoming writer's prerogative, to be fair. Claremont decidedly made the book his own by writing out everyone but Sabretooth and Morph, bringing in the 616-versions of Psylocke and Sage, and pairing them with alternate reality versions of other favored Claremont creations such as Kitty Pryde (Cat), Rogue (erm, Rogue), Mystiq (Mystique) and Gambit (the son of a black Namor and the Invisible Woman!) Staying on from the team's previous incarnation were Morph and Sabretooth.

But make no mistake, this really became the Psylocke show, as Betsy quickly took center stage and  remained there for all of the 18 issues New Exiles lasted.  Of course, when you're the feature star in a Chris Claremont comic, getting mind controlled is as inevitable as death and taxes. But this time around, she actually mind controlled herself... No really!

In New Exiles # 7, the team lands on an alternate Earth where the French are a world power and are about to invade the United States. The Exiles are sent in to right some wrongs, but seconds after arriving Psylocke is struck down by a mysterious force.

Just as her teammates come to her aid, Betsy wakes up a totally different person; speaking Mandarin Chinese and not recognizing any of them, Betsy uses her telekinetic powers to flee the scene.

For some unknown reason, she flies halfway across the globe to Shanghai, all the while feeling like she should be someone else. 

The rings she thinks of are actually the powerful Mak'luan artifacts worn by Iron Man's arch enemy the Mandarin. Late in Claremont's first run on Uncanny X-men, Betsy was brainwashed into believing she was Lady Mandarin, and wielded the same power rings as the villain. Arriving in Shanghai, she makes a terrible discovery.

Finding her alternative self dead at the hands of an equally alternate Slaymaster brings back unpleasant memories for Psylocke. She herself was once blinded by the Slaymaster of her own reality and this incident always left her more than a little afraid to face the villain. With good reason, because for a man without superpowers, the ruthless Slaymaster is remarkably lethal...

And now it seems a Slaymaster is killing Betsy Braddock in every alternative world he visits. Psylocke is so rattled by this discovery, she doesn't notice that someone is sneaking up behind her until its too late and he knocks her out. Much to her chagrin, she doesn't find it was all a bad dream after she recovers.... And worse than that, this world's Lady Mandarin might not be as dead as she looked.

But before we get to that, Psylocke is confronted by the owner of the house she just broke into: it happens to be none other than everyone's favorite immortal sensei/demon Ogun. Lady Mandarin was his prized pupil and he is more than a little annoyed at Slaymaster for killing her. After a brief struggle, Ogun makes an offer Psylocke can't refuse: he will train her to face her fears so she can stop Slaymaster and avenge his victims.

Naturally, she agrees, but during the intense training sessions in New Exiles # 10, it becomes apparent that, in her dying moments, Lady Mandarin used her own psychic powers to place her mind inside Psylocke. Lady Mandarin is slowly changing Betsy's body to mirror her deceased form, starting with the Crimson Dawn tattoo appearing on her face. As the training continues, the differences between Betsy and the assassin's apprentice slowly melt away. They become one.

But before she is allowed to pursue Slaymaster, Ogun asks his obedient pupil to perform one final, tiny little task: go to Paris and kill France's emperor Bonaparte. She merrily agrees and takes off for Europe, only to discover nothing was quite the way it seemed.

Yup, turns out Ogun was just grooming her to be a lethal weapon in Bonaparte's war with the Atlanteans. Namor's race rules the oceans with an iron fist and doesn't allow mankind to defile their waters. All they're allowed to use are wooden galleys from the 18th century. As fascinating a story idea as this really is, let's get back to the mind control mirth at hand...

Emperor Bonaparte uses a mind lock on Lady Mandarin's psyche in hopes of controlling her. However, the lock actually allows Psylocke to regain control of her mind and body. Quickly seizing the emperor, she uses him as a hostage to end the crisis the Exiles had come to prevent and everyone went home happy. Except for one little thing: Lady Mandarin was still in Betsy's mind and she brought company...

In New Exiles # 13, Betsy discovers both Lady Mandarin and Ogun have taken up residence within her mind, once more ready to completely take over. But just as the battle seemed hopeless, Betsy was pushed to the limits....

"Its not fair. I just want to live. I swear I'll be good. I can help..."

Ignoring Lady Mandarin's soul rendering pleas for life, Betsy finishes what Slaymaster started and kills her other self in a flurry of all things pink.

"Finally... I'm free."

Well, for the moment at least... So long as you're in a Chris Claremont comic, one is never truly safe... as we'll continue to highlight!