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"

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