Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Brood her? I hardly know her!"

As if it wasn't too obvious by now... Chris Claremont sure loves mind control. Take Uncanny X-men # 155 for instance, in which the team has to face Deathbird, an old Ms. Marvel villain who turns out to be princess Lilandra's sister.

Kidnapping both Lilandra and professor Xavier, she almost got Earth destroyed by the Shi'ar imperial fleet. But despite all these grand schemes, she was also ready for some one on one action. For instance, in the panel above where one of Deathbird's henchmen fires on Storm and Corsair.

Apparently, it was some form of mind altering beam, which caused them to hallucinate and attack their friends. Same old, same old, you might say... Yes. But the tentacle pulling the trigger actually belonged to a member of the Brood species. Artist Dave Cockrum originally designed it as a one off character, but both he and Claremont agreed that the creature's look merited further stories... So,  a few issues later (Uncanny X-men # 162) we are treated to this delicious scene...

Gotta love that Dave Cockrum artwork.

Fleshing out their backstory, Claremont reveals the Brood are parasitic race of insectoids that infect other species with their offspring. The Brood eggs slowly mature in the host's body and once they hatch, they literally transform the body and mind of their victims.

The Brood are led by a gigantic queen who showed up shortly after the X-men's fight with Deathbird. The team was mind controlled by the queen, thinking they were at a fancy Shi'ar banquet in their honour when in fact, the queen was planting her royal embryos in each and every one of them.

But the Brood queen hadn't taken Wolverine's mutant healing factor into account. His immune system saw the Brood egg as an infection and proceeded to deal with it accordingly, very nearly killing Wolverine in the process.

Naturally, Wolverine survived.

Learning of his fate from a Brood he ambushed, Wolverine rejoined the X-men but couldn't bring himself to tell them they were carrying young Brood queens. Through various rather well plotted means, the other X-men (and Lilandra!) eventually did find out and in the end managed to beat the embryos.

And that, as they say, is that... Well, no... There's just one little snag. The Brood queen boasted that the X-men had already lost, despite the fact they just beat her on the Brood homeworld of Madrizar. Y'see, there was one egg left. Guess who got it...

You guessed it! None other than the X-men's leader had become infected by the Brood. Racing back to Earth, the X-men tried to save their leader but to no avail. Charles Xavier turned and in his place, a young Brood queen arose.

After a fierce battle, Xavier briefly managed to regain control of his mind, begging his students to kill him. Luckily, thanks to the advanced Shi'ar medical knowledge no one had to off the prof. Using some skincells, the Starjammer's doctor Sikorski cloned a new body and managed to remove Xavier's mind from the Brood creature.

Incidentally, the Brood embryo had been infuencing Charles' decisions for quite a while. Long before he turned, Xavier was doing the Brood's bidding. For instance, by gathering a new group of young mutants around him. Officially, he merely wanted to help them learn to control their powers... unoffically, the Brood wanted to infect these New Mutants as well in their first steps to conquer Earth

In New Mutants # 3, semi-psychic mutant Danni Moonstar finally discovers the source of the nightmares she's been having. Its the alien Brood queen, prepping her and her teammates for the big change. The Queen would have succeeded too, if not for the timely intervention of the X-men, the Starjammers and Binary.

With all the Brood eggs destroyed, Earth seemed safe... But heck, you just can't keep a good space parasite down. A few years later, a band of Brood crashlanded their space shark (don't ask) on Earth and the game was on again.

Their game plan hadn't really changed: conquer Earth, but this time around the Brood only infected mutants so they could create a formidable fighting force of super powered Broodlings. Naturally, once the X-men got wind of the Brood's presence, they came a-running to do some emergency extermination.

That didn't go exactly as planned... The Brood had infected a mutant called Temptress, who was able to use her pheromones to... wait for it... mind control people. Temptress took control of Rogue and was bringing her and the recently re-infected Wolverine to the Brood Queen when the inevitable happened back in Uncanny X-men # 234.

Sigh... You'd think the Brood would have caught on after the first time. You just don't waste a perfectly fine egg on the Wolverine...

Or, to coin one of Claremont's own pet phrases "That trick NEVER works!"

Dracula drains control... mind you!

Poor Storm, in the early Uncanny X-men run, she couldn't catch a break. Emma Frost blasted her with a mind control gun back in # 152 and a mere three issues later, Vlad the Impaler shows up, better known to haemophiliacs everywhere as Dracula.

The count infects Storm with the curse of the Vampyr, causing her to fall under the vampire lord's spell.

Yes, she's forced to do his bidding, ever so slowly becoming his mindless puppet. Needless to say, she breaks free in the end but not before she fought the entire team... AGAIN!

How I Long For A Gun...

Now this, this is Mind Control Madness at its finest.

In Uncanny X-men 152, the Hellfire Club decided to move against the X-men and devise a mindboggling scheme.

First, Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost convinced Kitty's parents to transfer her from Xavier's to the new Massachusetts Academy run by Emma Frost. Of course, the X-men were reluctant to see Kitty go, but the transfer was perfectly legal, so what choice did they have?

Storm offered to drive her there, but on the way home the weather goddess got attacked by Emma Frost, who used a mind control gun to change minds with Ororo.

I'll repeat that.
I'll repeat that... because its the kind of plot point that makes your head go boom.

Emma Frost. The White Queen. One of the most powerful telepaths on the planet. Able to wipe minds, delete personas and control crowds of people at once... Needs a gun... To switch minds.

I need to lie down for a bit now.

Days of future mind control's not a thing of the past

"Days of future past" in Uncanny X-men 140-141 is considered one of Claremont's high points in the series. It certainly ranks up there with the Phoenix Saga as best remembered moment in the history of Marvel's mutants. A shame Cordial Chris wasn't able to write it without resorting to a form of mind control.

In the future (the year 2014, no less... Only 6 years to go, people!) Sentinels rule America and the remaining mutants are placed in camps. The few X-men still left alive are desperate to change the course of history and decide to travel into the past, using the powers of a certain red head called Rachel. She uses her psychic abilities to send the mind of Kathryne Pryde back in time to inhabit her younger self for a while. In effect, the Kitty of 1980 gets mind controlled by Kathryn. Sure, its basically the same person but its definitely not Kitty....

Mind control, cos Jean felt like having brunch...

Uncanny X-men # 131, just before the Dark Phoenix saga. The X-men were introduced to two new female mutants who would go on to become future members of the team.

First, they ran into the light generating songstress Dazzler and then, there's Kitty Pryde. She was just 13 years old and had only barely begun to understand her phasing powers. Yet, the X-men showed up at her parents' doorstep anyway to whisk her away, only to be met by some initial scepticism from her parents...

I suppose that's only understandable. Who would jump at the chance to send their children off to a private school ran by a creepy, bald headmaster who drops by your house, accompanied by a white haired African American woman, a small, gruff Canadian and a blushing, dumbstruck Russian?

But lo and behold, once Jean and Scott made an appearance, the Prydes practically packed Kitty's suitcase for her. That is... after Jean mental convincing. Yes, Jean caused Kitty to join the team.

Cyclops is shocked at her behaviour, Charles is dumbstruck. And Jean? She just wanted a free lunch out of the whole deal.

Of course, in retrospect this wasn't Jean at all, but the Phoenix Force posing as her... A few issues after this, Phoenix' ravenous hunger flared up and only got stilled after she was finished snacking on a star.

How's that for brunch fixings, Carmen?

Smart girl!

Mastermind masterminds... mind control?

Whoops, almost messed up the chronology. In Uncanny X-men 125, the seeds are laid for the corruption of Phoenix. Former Brotherhood of Evil Mutants founding member Mastermind had been propped up in a new identity as the mysterious Jason Wyngarde. Jean was being subtly manipulated to fit her upcoming role as Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. As this picture shows, she had no idea she was being molded and prepped...

Ah yes, its come to this... In a year's worth of issues, Claremont had managed to change Jean from the strong, independent woman to Mastermind's puppet. "Jean Grey belongs to the Hellfire Club, body and soul, now and FOREVER!", or so Wyngarde boasted. A couple of pages later, the Phoenix force that was posing as Jean burst free and went on to destroy the D'Bari, aka the Asparagus People.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mutant X spells Mind Control

And so we reach Uncanny X-men # 127, the one where we finally meet Moira McTaggert's son: Kevin, better known as Mutant X or Proteus. Anyways: he can change reality but his mutant energies consume his physical form so he needs to body-jack others in order to survive.

He takes over their bodies and consumes their lifeforce and souls. Kevin jumped from his own form to that of curmudgeon Angus McWirther, one of Multiple Man's clones and then by way of the Scottish police officer in this picture to the girl who finally led him to his father, Joe McTaggert.

In the end, Colossus destabilised Proteus' energy form, dispersing and seemingly killing him.

The Proletarian Cometh...

After the business in the Savage Land, the X-men got side-tracked in Japan where they fought Moses Magnum alongside former X-man Sunfire.

Magnum threatened to sink the Japanese islands with his seismic powers, but the X-men managed to prevent this from happening. After that adventure, they finally got home and enjoyed a brief respite... But before long, they got kidnapped one by one by assassin for hire Arcade.

He trapped the X-men in Murderworld and subjected them to psychological torture. The claustrophobic Storm was almost drowned, Wolverine was almost driven insane and Colossus?

Colossus was brainwashed by one of Arcade's robots posing as KGB big wig Colonel Vazhin (the Russian's answer to Nick Fury). 'Vazhin' called Peter a traitor to the Russian people, causing the young Russian to flip his wig and turn into... the Proletarian.

Ready to kill his teammates for the good of Mother Russia.


Sauron signals swaying of the mind

And here we are again.

After breaking free, the X-men fought Magneto in his subterranean lair located within an active volcano on Antarctica (such a delightfully retro location for a supervillain headquarters).

During their fight, Magneto's lair was breached and lava started pouring in. The mutant master of Magnetism used his powers to escape unharmed, and left his enemies to die. Phoenix used her powers to get herself and Beast safely to the surface, but the other X-men would surely die...

No, of course not... Cyclops had Storm cool off the lava long enough for him and Banshee to carve a an escape route straight through the crust of the planet... Before long, they ended up in the Savage Land.

There, Chris Claremont wrote a little homage to the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams run, pitting the new X-men against Karl Lykos, better known as the mutate Sauron. He feasts on mutant energies and ow yeah... employs mind control!

All the old tricks are new again as Wolverine's mind is clouded. Logan perceives his teammates as horrible monsters and attacks them.

Naturally, everyone survives...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mesmerizingly magnetic mindcontrol

Disclaimer: Chris Claremont did not create the mindcontrolling mutant Mesmero. He was one of Roy Thomas' creations near the end of the original X-men run.

In this story, Mesmero is gunning for revenge by enthralling the entire team. He first nailed Jean Grey in the train station and then forced her to lead him back home, to enslave the rest of the team. He succeeded in mindgrabbing them all and took his revenge by forcing them to work in a circus.

That's where former X-man Beast found them. Mesmero tried to take over Beast as well and would have succeeded, if not for Magneto. The mutant master of magnetism suddenly showed up, wanting to humiliate the X-men all by himself... After dismissing Mesmero, he abducted the team to his hidden base in Antarctica where he easily knocked them all out.

And when they came to... this happened.

Yup... rescued from one source of mindcontrol, only to be subjected to another. Magneto had them chained  up in special chairs that reduced their minds to the state of a mere infant.

Such a classy form of mind control... Being mentally aware, but stuck in the body of a toddler. And how about that robotic Mary Poppins' style nursemaid...

I'm guessing she even had to change them, which begs the unforgivable question: do healing factors take care of diaper rash?

Meet Evil Xavier, he looks snappy in green

Well, this is a bit of a doozy. In Uncanny X-men # 106, Charles Xavier's own mind turned against him. His long supressed evil tendencies manifested themselves in a very real way, as the Evil Xavier.

Think Onslaught, without the cool design.

Evil Xavier created his own version of the original X-men to fight the current team. And he was winning, until Xavier finally took control again and ended the charade, right in time for this embarrassingly awful filler issue to end.

Evil Xavier resurfaced years later in the X-men/Micronauts miniseries where he threatened the microscopic heroes and the mutants alike.

2nd post, brotherly love of mind control

And here we are again. These panels courtesy of Uncanny X-men # 97, one of Claremont's first stories.

This tale saw the introduction of Eric the Red, a mysterious Shi'ar agent who had a bone to pick with the X-men and used their former teammates Havok and Polaris in his schemes.

Naturally, Alex and Lorna were subjected to mind control to ensure their cooperation.

"It was Eric... he... my mind..." 


First New X-men issue, first Mind Control

Granted, this is a bit of a stretch seeing as Chris Claremont didn't even write Giant-Size X-men (we have Len Wein to thank for that)... But consider it an eery preview of things to come when Chris Claremont properly starts writing the book.

Who is this Krakoa then? Well, after extensive nuclear testing on an uninhabited atol, the collective flora and fauna of the small island mutanted into a single consciousness that called itself, you guessed it. The birth of the living island caught the attention of Charles Xavier, who sent his original team of X-men to investigate.

The team was easily beaten and only Cyclops managed to escape... But, with good reason, or so Krakoa reveals: he wanted Cyclops to lure some more mutants.

Or, as Scott so poetically says: "You used me like a lousy judas goat". 

Naturally, this gets even more silly when you take into account what the 2006 miniseries Deadly Genesis revealed about the Island That Walks Like A Man.

Turns out, it wasn't sentient at all, the voice of Krakoa was a ruse by Xavier to cover up the fact that he'd sent in Cyclops with four other mutants who all died on the island.

So, reread Krakoa's lines again and realise its actually Xavier who is using the monster like a ventriloquist dummy.

Not too hard to believe Charley turned evil once or twice over the next couple of decades... He talked the talk, even if his wheelchair prevented him from walking the walk.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kick off!

First things first: I love Chris Claremont's writing. He's been responsible for some of the best X-men stories I've ever read. From the Dark Phoenix saga to Days of Future Past... The encounters with the Brood, or the demonic infestation of Inferno and The Fall of the Mutants... Along with some of the best artists, he defined Marvel's mutants for more than a decade.

But he's only human. I have been following Claremont's writing for a few years now and I've noted some remarkable, well, lets call 'em... recurring plotdevices, shall we?

You just know you're reading a Chris Claremont comic when someone:

a) is subjected to mind control, any type will do.

b) ... starts wearing black leather outfits afterwards for no apparent reason.

c) is being mindcontrolled and suddenly develop an eery master/slave loverelationship with the person who's controlling them.

Don't believe me? Well, read on true believers as we take a look at Chris Claremont's writings for Marvel Comics for the past few decades. As always, images and text are copyright their respective owners... please don't sue me, I'm just a fan boy with way too much time on my hands.