Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nightcrawler's Nearly Non-Existent Mind Control part III: Wrapping It Up As We Go

It's the third and final chapter of Nightcrawler's Nearly Non-Existent Mind Control in which the wrap up of his umpteenth bout against the Shadow King is prominently featured. It's a Claremont classic, meaning that all of Chris' beloved tropes are trotted out to shine... Let's dig in.

When we last left Kurt, he was in China trying to save his ladyfriend Bloody Bess from the Shadow King, who had used his massive psychic powers to take over the X-Men, the Bamfs and Bess' old teammates the Sea Dogs and the Crimson Pirates. In an impressive show of force, Nightcrawler defeated the possessed X-Men just as his pupils arrived in a stolen Blackbird, all ready to aid their fuzzy blue teacher.

"Watch me fool... as I break your would-be rescuers to my will."

Oh boy... the King is out on another recruitment drive... And in true Claremontian style, before bringing in the Bamfs, he first takes the time to introduce himself by shouting his own name. 

"They are my creatures now. As you soon will be."

The kids are in trouble, but there's really very little Nightcrawler can do to help out. At the moment, he's a little too busy trying not getting killed by Psylocke, who also appears to be enthralled by the Shadow King... Or is she?


Another Claremont trick: the last minute fake-out... Turns out Psylocke was only pretending to be possessed. Right after she went after the escaping Bloody Bess last issue she'd managed to free herself. So how did she escape the Shadow King's control? Well, wouldja believe it happened through mind control?

                                                    "We're sympatico psychics, elf.
Once Psylocke got inside my head, I stole her away from the Shadow King's control."

Sure, that makes sense... If you ignore all the implications of this statement. Apparently, this makes Bloody Bess a stronger telepath than both Psylocke and the Shadow King, who's supposed to be the strongest telepathic presence in the entire omniverse. But hey, the Nightcrawler series is ending in two months so it's only logical little facts like that are glossed over to get the story done in time.

Speaking of which... a hastily agreed on plan is put into action. The Shadow King needs to be put back in his proverbial cage before he escapes inside a new host. In order to prevent that from happening, a lot of punching is involved.

"Possessing Betsy was a mistake... and he failed to seize control of Bess...
their psi-powers protect them."

So, having psi-powers prevents you from getting mind controlled now? Well, can someone explain that to Rachel Grey, who the King controlled last issue without any noticeable difficulties? At any rate, Nightcrawler succeeded in locating and knocking out the King's latest host body forcing him to fully revert to his non corporeal form again. All part of the plan, just like this...

                                                              "Time to go to work!"

Using their psi-powers, Psylocke and Bess launch Nightcrawler's spirit on to the astral plane, sufficiently empowering him to take the Shadow King head on. And when you're fuelled by Betsy Braddock and Chris Claremont is writing you, chances are pretty good you'll get to do this...

                               "This psi-sword focuses every scrap of power from Bess and Betsy.
Plus the totality of my will"

Heck yeah, a last minute "psi-blade/sword/katana that represents the sheer totality of my will"- reference... Truly a can't miss evergreen, not including it would be like a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert without them performing Free Bird. Speaking of birds and freedom, the Shadow King ultimately gets defeated using a subtler form of mind control...

                        "Before the Shadow King can recover, we have to return him to his prison."

His "prison" is Omega Black, a comatose superhuman operative built from the remains of Omega Red. For some reason, the Shadow King can't escape from her mind. Because, well... mainly because the alloted 22 pages were about used up. Thus ends another thrilling Shadow King adventure. Not with a bang, but with a decidedly underwhelming whimper.   


Nathan Adler said...
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Nathan Adler said...

You will recall that the post-Siege Perilous Psylocke who ends up on the private island of Emil Vachon in Uncanny X-Men #255 (revealed to have become the base for Matsuo Tsurayaba's branch of the Hellfire Club) is still British Elisabeth Braddock. Contrary to what was believed by the general fan population at the time, Psylocke did not emerge from the Siege Perilous in an Anglo-Chinese body, but as the following issue (#256) suggests she is metamorphosised into this physiognomy by Spiral's Body Shoppe at the behest of the Hand. Although Psylocke had simply been through Spiral's Body Shoppe like Lady Deathstrike in Uncanny X-Men #205 in 1986, after Claremont left Fabian Nicieza had to complicate the whole plot by revealing she'd instead switched minds with a Japanese assassin.

However, on his Facebook page this past week Claremont has revealed an additional layer to his original plot. He advises that if his Nightcrawler series wasn't due for cancellation, he'd have gotten around to revealing that Bloody Bess from the Crimson Pirates was meant to be the Betsy Braddock who "got away" – i.e. who wasn't transformed into an Anglo-Asian physiognomy, perhaps even being the original Elisabeth.

The original question that arose from Uncanny #256 for me at least was how the Hand came to make their deal with Spiral and Mojo, but this additional revelation from Claremont raises the further question now of which Betsy's body did Spiral transform into an Anglo-Chinese if our British Betsy went on to become Bloody Bess of the Crimson Pirates!?

Does this suggest there was some third party in the Hand/ Mojo alliance, involving the Crimson Pirates' employer, extradimensional slaver, Tullamore Voge? Once the Hand "handed over" our Betsy to Spiral, did she trade this one to Voge for one he had obtained from another reality which she metamorphosised in her Body Shoppe and gave over to the Hand?

And Voge is another fat powerful telepath, so might this suggest he was intended by Claremont as another host for the Shadow King while the astral fiend was taking his own cross-time jaunt hinted at in Excalibur #22?

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