July 1984: Uncanny X-Men 186 – Or, shall we not think about how Forge knew what size clothes to buy?

Synopsis: Uncanny X-Men #186 was written by Chris Claremont with art by Barry Windsor Smith and Terry Austin. It starts with Ororo ‘Storm’ Munroe waking up in the Dallas home of the mutant inventor Forge. She is there because she was hit by neutralising weapon, which unbeknown to her was designed and built by Forge who tried to stop it being used on Storm’s team-mate Rogue. She wakes up, aware that the power that has defined her since her teens has gone. Forge tries his best to convince her that without her gifts, life is worth living.

Slowly Storm ventures out of what I am assuming is Forge’s spare bedroom wearing a swimsuit, she see’s Forge swimming and she asks to get in for a swim herself. She then learns that Forge’s right leg is prosthetic. Storm starts to warm to Forge’s plan to help her adjust to a more human life and she joins him for dinner, wearing a pink shoulderless dress that provokes a shocked reaction from her host. (Do we ask how he knew the size? It’s very well fitted. No we’ll leave it.) Embarassed, Storm changes into dungarees and the two enjoy some wine. By this point, it’s clear they both have feelings for eachother. This sounds like a nice love story starting doesn’t it? Well this is Claremont’s X-Men and we can’t have nice things.

We have some subplot scenes with Rogue staying with Val Cooper a federal agent who is attacked by a Dire Wraith (from the Rom series) who were becoming a bigger deal at Marvel. We also have Professor X talking about being unable to find Storm with Nightcrawler.

Then Storm picks up the phone to call the Professor, but overhears a call between Forge and nobody’s favourite Fed Henry Peter Gyrich. During this call she learns that Forge created the weapon that has essentially crippled her. Betrayed, terrified and heartbroken, Storm attacks Forge, when the dust clears she leaves. Telling him, that powers or not, she will fly again.

Notes: For a comic series/franchise based on high-concept action, it’s amazing how many of their best issues are smaller character pieces. Here we get a completely believable and complex love story in a single comic. Forge, the maker of technology and artificial things is so hopelessly lost when it comes to Storm, who even without her powers is a force of nature. Storm is vulnerable and is caught up in the kindness of this man, who walks her through the reawakening of her humanity. This is a woman who was considered a goddess and is now dressing to impress  a man. To see them growing together, knowing that this is going to end badly is effecting. Claremont knows these characters well and paces it effortlessly.

The art is fantastic as well, the colours are not muted, but not garish and Smith’s pencils make it look very not like a X-book, but still very recogniseable.

This is a beautifully written and drawn comic that is worth reading both as part of the X-Men and as a single issue.

Next Time: Back to Canada with a Guardian-less Alpha Flight.

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