Friday, October 31, 2008

Phoenix, a chip off the old mind control block

Ahh, the 1980s. A decade of change... But not for telepathic red heads in X-men comics written by Chris Claremont. And lets be fair... he wrote all of them.

Back in Uncanny X-men # 131,  Jean Grey mentally manipulated Kitty Pryde's parents into sending her to Xavier's school. Like mother, like daughter... in Uncanny X-men # 203, Rachel Grey, Jean's daughter from an alternate future time, tries to coerce the X-men to do her bidding as well.

Lets set the stage here. When it comes to early 80s Marvel crossovers, you just can't ignore The Beyonder. In 1984, he was introduced as the driving force behind the first company wide, massive crossover: Secret Wars. This 12 issue series was the biggest hit Marvel ever published, so it automatically merited a sequel.

The Beyonder, a supposedly all powerful being from a different dimension, came to this universe to learn more about humanity. This led him to visit all the different superhuman groups of the day in his quest for knowledge. Which, in turn, led to Secret Wars 2...

Much like a big child, the Beyonder quickly grew frustrated with his inability to grasp the intricate complexities of mankind. In one of his temper tantrums, he decided he wanted to die. His executioner was to be Rachel Grey... He granted her Phoenix-like powers (just like her mom) and basically dared her to confront and kill him. Rachel fell for his bait and decided to destroy the entire universe by breaching the M'Kraan Crystal.

But before confronting the Beyonder... Rachel decided she couldn't do it alone. She needed more power... She wanted the minds and souls of the X-men to fuel her as she fought the one from Beyond. Now, if you ask me, that's like trying to fight drought in the Sahara with 6 extra raindrops, but I'm sure Rachel had her reasons. Some of the team gave themselves willingly, some were sleeping and other like Storm protested heavily...

Nothing some mind control can't fix... The apple really doesn't fall very far, does it?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Selene brings out the be(a)st in people

One of the nice things about Selene: her mindcontrol comes in all shapes and sizes. There's the direct approach (as seen in the previous post) and there's this... Subtle mental manipulation. Selene turns the rather chunky Black Rook Friedrich von Roehm into a mindless killing machine... Again with the slave collar and chains and black leather. Oy oy... Talk about living your fantasy, Chris... (not to play devil's advocate, but doesn't Von Roehm look a lot like 1980s Chris Claremont? Just sayin'....)

The possessed Von Roehm is taken over by Rogue, who in turn gets mindcontrolled by Selene, who immediately goes after Rachel again... And hilarity ensues...

Selene sings a single tune

Selene is pretty much the quintessential Claremont villain. She hits on all the cliches people have been joking about for years now. She's an ancient, powerful goddess type figure who's used to being worshipped by slaves... Her dresscode is mainly black, leather outfits... and ow yes: she likes to control minds. She established her usual modus operandi during her first appearance in New Mutants # 11. The New Mutants had come to the hidden land of Nova Roma where Selene was posing as the seductive wife of one of Nova Roma's ruling senators. The immortal mutant Selene was actually the head priestess of a dark cult that worshipped death and celebrated human sacrifice.
Selene quickly developed an unhealthy obsession for Danielle Moonstar, better known as the illusion caster Mirage. She wanted to groom Danielle, looking to turn her into a being as dark as herself. Mirage and the New Mutants managed to escape, but Selene followed their trail back to New York.
There, she quickly adjusted to life in the new world by working her way into the Hellfire Club. The position of Black Queen was still vacant after the Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix debacle and it didn't take the superpowered Selene much effort to convince Sebastian Shaw to allow her a seat in the innercircle as the new Black Queen. And be fair, doesn't she just look ravishing in black leather?
Selene thrived in the Big Apple, randomly feasting on the lifeforce of bums and other lowlifes to restore her own life and beauty. But, always keeping an eye out for new subvertable talent, Selene soon noticed Rachel Grey-Summers. In Uncanny X-men 184, Selene first tried to claim Rachel...

Rachel was able to drive the age-old vampire of thanks to the timely intervention of Professor Xavier. Of course, if at first you don't succeed... A few issues later (UX-189, for those of you keeping track) Selene gets a new chance to take over not only Rachel, but the New Mutant Amara "Magma" Acqueilla as well. They both wanted revenge and snuck into the Hellfire Club to get it. Things... didn't exactly work out (chains and a slavecollar, Claremont? seriously? why not just whip them a bit to make the fantasy complete?!)

And a few years later... Uncanny X-men 454... Claremont's back and so are Rachel and Selene! Same old motivations, same old fight... same old outcome. -Yawn-

Whose mind controls who?

"Ah'm Carol... In all the ways that count!"

Welll, how to explain this one?

Remember how back in 1981, Rogue tok over the powers and mind of Ms. Marvel? Sure ya do, it was back in Avengers Annual #10. 

Yeah, funny story: turns out you can't just absorb another person without some serious repercussions. After getting drained, Carol remained dormant for a while... But all of that changed in 1984's Uncanny X-men # 182 in which Rogue lost control of her mind.

A little background: this tale is set right after the X-men returned from the gruelling events of the first Secret Wars. The X-men departed the Beyonder's Battleworld and, much to their own surprise, found themselves in Tokyo upon being returned to Earth. Before long, they'd be forced to fight Lockheed's dragon girlfriend who had grown to giant size and planned to turn downtown Tokyo into her nest... But before all that went down, professor Xavier asked Rogue to check in on the New Mutants back in Westchester... Which meant she had to fly halfway across the world.

I know this tale is set in the early 80s, welll before the internet made global communication a lot easier... But how about dropping a yen or two in the nearest payphone and simply call home?

Just a thought.

Still, flying from Tokyo to the States tired her out so much that Carol's spirit was able to gain dominance. Once she got home, she found the New Mutants missing, they were busy getting mind controlled by Emma Frost at the Massachusetts Academy, but the school's answering machine also included a call for help from one colonel Rossi... Hearing his voice was all it took for Carol to take over.

Rossi happened to be one of Carol's former lovers and he was being held captive. Carol/Rogue immediately flew off to rescue him and even invaded their fearsome flying fortress... the Helicarrier. In this really cool scene, Carol's smarts combine with Rogue's innate brashness to come up with an impromptu way of breaching the Carrier's defenses...

Penny for your thoughts...

She was able to rescue Rossi from SHIELD's clutches, but was shocked when the colonel (naturally) didn't recognise the young woman. When she told him the story, Rossi freaked out and slapped her. No way to treat a lady... especially one who can absorb your mind when her skin touches yours...

"I wish I had the power to kill you."

Wait, he *did* just hit her with his bare hand, right? So much for falling prey to her aforementioned powers!

Ow, continuity...

Diamonds are a man's best friend

"Yield me thy soul... so small a price for so great a gift..."

Owww brother... now even jewels do mind control.

In Uncanny X-men # 189, the Hyborean sorceror Kulan Gath was about to make a comeback.

Gath had been around to fight Conan the Barbarian. When his life seemed over, Gath used ancient magics to transfer his consciousness into a dark jewel of unspeakable evil. In recent times, the jewel came to New York City where a briefly revived Gath fought Spider-Man and Red Sonja (don't ask) in a very enjoyable Claremont/Byrne issue of Marvel Team Up

Now, Gath was about to claim a new host: Jaime Rodriguez, an honest, hard working Puerto Rican sailor who dregged the jewel from the bottom of the New York harbour. Pretty soon, Gath started to work Rodriguez, tempting him to give into his dark desires.

But he was getting nowhere, until this happened:

Gath quickly won over the already greedy crook and that led to all of Manhattan reverting into an Hyborean citystate ruled over by a revived Kulan Gath.

Sometimes, you just can't win...

Empath and his amazing friend

Say what you will about Empath, but the mind-manipulating Hellion sure had the right idea in Uncanny X-men # 193. For a while, Empath was Claremont's go-to-guy when it came to mental manipulations and other mind control shenanigans.

Here, he forced Anjelica Jones (aka Firestar) to not only do his bidding, but also love him unconditionially. Yes folks, it is more than a little disturbing.

Mind you, not as disturbing as the Red Queen loving, SM-enthusiast Empath featured in Brubaker and Fraction's Uncanny X-men run, but hey... It just goes to show that Empath's always had a thing for redheads... That's not just a fetish people, in comics it also counts as good characterisation and scores you major continuity points...

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Ah, that Emma Frost! She sure kept herself busy during her days as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club. Right before the Beyonder kidnapped the X-men to fight in the first Secret Wars, the White Queen had managed to entice Kitty Pryde's best Douglas Ramsey to join the Massachusetts Academy. Ramsey, as it turned out, was a mutant translator, able to speak and understand any and all languages. Kitty was worried that Emma Frost wanted to harm Doug so she accompanied him on his visit to the Academy.

Of course Kitty was right, the White Queen WAS up to no good. Her big plan was to use Doug as bait for both Kitty and the New Mutants. Emma wanted them to join her own team of young mutants, the Hellions. With the X-men missing, it was up to the New Mutants to help free Kitty. That didn't go exactly as planned and the entire team got defeated by the Hellions.

In a remarkable display of restraint on her behalf, the White Queen actually DIDN'T use mind control to force Kitty and the New Mutants to her side. No, she actually tortured Kitty in hopes of breaking her spirit. That Emma, all class...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mastermind's Merry Marvel Mutant Mind Control Marathon

Owwww snap!

Welcome to Uncanny X-men # 173, two issues before the big anniversary book and a tale filled with heartbreak for everyone's favourite claw-popping Canadian. After a romance that started when they met in Japan during Moses Magnum's attack, Wolverine and Lady Mariko Yashida had steadily been working towards their marriage.

Logan beat Mariko's father Lord Shingen in honourable combat back in the first Wolverine Limited Series and now the road was cleared for the two to tie the knot. Only, on the eve of the ceremony Mariko got... wait for it... mind controlled by Mastermind, who forced her to call off the ceremony and emotionally cripple Wolvie.

Heck of a wedding gift, guess the store must have been out of toasters or gravy boats.

Anyway, the cancelled wedding was part of Jason Wyngarde's big revenge scheme on the team. After the debacle with Dark Phoenix, he was rendered virtually insane but eventually got better. He began plotting his comeback by manipulating Cyclops into thinking his new bride Madelyne Pryor was actually the Phoenix.

Then he convinced the X-men in issue 175 that Cyclops was actually the Phoenix, forcing Scott to fight the entire team to a standstill in a somewhat confusing but ultimately rather amusing romp.