Let's do one more of these Retro-Reviews tonight since I'm already digging through my back issues. This time we'll head over to Marvel and take a look at an early issue from one of the most polarizing X-scribes ever, Chuck Austen! This should be interesting...
Uncanny X-Men #412:
What Happened: Black Tom has had himself a secondary mutation and had captured and begun to feed off of several X-Men, as well as his perpetual partner in crime, Juggernaut. The only member of the X-Men not captured is Nightcrawler, and try as he might, Crawler is unable to convince Tom to stop leeching the strength of the X-Men(and Juggy). Since words have failed, Nightcrawler frees Stacy X from Tom's vines to attempt a plan. Meanwhile, Nurse Annie hits on Havok, who was catatonic at the time. Cyclops(before he became the Dread Lord Summers) arrives and sees Nurse Annie crying into Havok's lap(yes, really!) and decides to take Havok back to X-Mansion to be cared for. Nurse Annie asks a disturbed Cyclops if she could go along... The best part of this whole situation? Cyclops takes her with him!!! Back with the X-Men, Nightcrawler tells Stacy X to work her phenomenal magic on Black Tom, which she does. Now distracted by Stacy, Tom let's the X-Men(and Juggy!) get free, at which time Iceman freezes all of Tom's vines. That pisses Tom off so he decides to destroy his castle headquarters in an effort to kill the X-Men(and Juggy!). The team gets outside and Juggy confronts Tom, allowing the X-Men the opportunity to board the just-arrived Blackbird(Prof. X and Beast were picking up Squid Boy prior to getting the distress signal from the X-Men). Tom berates Juggy as a failure before tearing the ground apart under Juggy's feet, causing Juggy to fall into the murky waters below. While the X-Men are trying to figure out which one of them had the strength to save Juggy, Squid Boy hops outside and finds Juggy floating towards the bottom of the sea. Squid Boy tells Juggy not to give up, so Juggy takes Squid Boy's hand and the two head back into the Blackbird. With that, Prof. X thanks Juggy for saving the X-Men and offers Juggy a spot at X-Mansion. After temporarily scoffing, Juggy reconsiders and takes Prof. X up on his offer.
The Good: There was good here?! Um, the art was good. I did like the idea of Juggernaut attempting to reform. I've always been a sucker for reformation tales. I forgot how formidable Nightcrawler could be. He was used really well in this issue.
The Bad: Juggernaut was saved, from DROWNING(!!), by Squid Boy!!! Need I say more?! No, but I will. The scene with Nurse Annie begging the catatonic Havok to sweep her off her feet was just horrible in every imaginable way! She's supposed to be his nurse and she's professing her undying love for him! And to make matters worse, Cyclops actually takes her up on her offer to care for Havok! If MY brother was catatonic and I found his nurse crying into his lap because she wanted him to wake up and sweep her off her feet(literally! She literally said that!!), you can bet your ass I wouldn't be taking her with me to care for him!! Prof. X catches Wolverine, who was tossed from the ground to the Blackbird by Juggy, and pulls Wolvie inside... By himself!! Think about that! This is Wolverine, adamantium-laced skeleton and all, being caught in mid-air and pulled into the Blackbird by Prof. X!! Yeah, this was one of THOSE comics!
The Verdict: You know what's interesting? I have lukewarm memories of Austen's Uncanny run. When I first got back into comic collecting after my hiatus, Austen was the writer of Uncanny, and I recall hating some of his run, but thoroughly enjoying other parts... After reading this, I get the feeling that if I read Austen's entire run again, we'd be WAY closer to the “hate” side of things now... This comic was SO much worse than I remember! I mean I was stunned by some of the stuff I read here! The Nurse Annie stuff was particularly terrible. I remember the Squid Boy/Juggernaut scene as being dumb back when I first read this issue, but upon this reread, it wasn't just dumb, it was downright embarrassing... Before I end this post, I just want to point out how fitting it was that this issue ended with some fart jokes... Because it stunk!!
Score: 3 1/2 out of 10.*Angrily shakes fist* Damn you Black Tom Cassidy!!! Goddamn you to hell!!!!!