Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #171

Issue Date: 
July 1983
Story Title: 

Chris Claremont (scripter), Walt Simonson (Guest Penciler), Bob Wiacek (Inker),Tom Orzechowski (letterer), P. Becton & J. Casey (colorists), Louise Jones (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in chief)

Brief Description: 

Storm announces to the Morlocks that she is now their leader and forbids them from harming any more humans, after which she antagonizes Callisto a bit more, leaving Nightcrawler to worry about the changes in her. Back at the mansion, Xavier and Lilandra are left to wonder whether Xavier’s continued difficulty to walk might have organic causes, rather than psychic ones. To the X-Men’s surprise, they are visited by Rogue, the youngest member of the Brotherhood of evil mutants, who begs for Xavier’s help. Her powers and the second personality she absorbed from Carol Danvers are driving her crazy. Sensing displeasure among the team, Xavier asks the antagonistic X-Men to leave, who try to work off their frustration with a Danger room session. However, the session Illyana programs turns out to be a facsimile of Limbo, bringing back her memories of her time there and causing her to briefly snap and attack Kitty with a magical sword she manifests out of nowhere. Later, Xavier tells the X-Men that he has decided to let Rogue both attend the school and join the X-Men. To make matters worse, they are joined by Binary, who instantly attacks Rogue. After some fighting, the X-men threaten to quit if Rogue stays, until Xavier reminds them of the X-Men’s reason for being and tells them that he will never abandon any mutant. Reluctantly, all X-Men, save Storm, give in. Carol angrily leaves and Storm is left to wonder whether she should stay on as an X-Man, even though that would mean giving up her beliefs or leave. In Alaska, Madelyne Pryor suffers through a recurring nightmare and confides to Cyclops that she is the only survivor of a plane accident. Scott is shocked to hear that the accident occurred on the day Phoenix died.

Full Summary: 

In the tunnels deep beneath Manhattan, Storm, now wearing Callisto’s leather vest instead of her cape – as sign of her newly won leadership – addresses the underground community of mutants called the Morlocks. Her word is now their law, she announces. If they prefer to live apart from humanity, then so be it. But no longer are they allowed to treat humans as prey. Some Morlocks protest. The humans hunt them, made them outcasts – why should the Morlocks treat them any better? Because she commands it, Storm replies coldly. Or is anyone willing to challenge her? Nobody says anything. She thought as much. She jumps from the dais and tells the Morlocks that, if they want a secure future and peace, they are to trust and obey her. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

Leaving the alley and entering one of the side tunnels, Storm runs into Callisto, the woman she replaced as the Morlocks’ leader. Still suffering from her injuries, Cal can barely stand. The Morlock snarls that Storm should enjoy her victory while she can, because Cal will lead the Morlocks again and have Storm’s heart in the bargain. Storm cuts her off by grasping the other woman’s throat, even that slight hold choking her. In a patronizing manner, she tells Callisto that they have crossed knives once – she shouldn’t push her luck. She carries Callisto to her faithful servant, Sunder, and orders him to take his mistress to bed and, this time, make sure she stays there.

Nightcrawler, who has been watching the display from the shadows, speaks up. Ororo seems to be going out of her way of making an enemy of Callisto. They were enemies the moment they met, his teammate replies, and will remain so until they die. Nothing she does or says will change that, she announces as she walks away. Perhaps, Kurt admit silently but the Ororo he remembers would at least have tried. She would have died rather than kill yet, in their duel, Storm stabbed Callisto in the heart. Storm is changing before his eyes but, what terrifies him, is that she doesn’t seem to mind.

Anchorage, Alaska, the middle of the night. Madelyne Pryor awakes, panicked from a nightmare. Scott Summers, who had just gotten himself a glass of water, hurries to her side when he hears her screams. Madelyne begs him to hold her, that she needs something real to prove to herself that she is still alive.

Much later, after a lot of comforting, Madelyne tells Scott the cause of her nightmare. Before she came to Alaska, she was a commercial pilot flying 747’s. Her last flight was a long haul to San Francisco, but they ran into a freak storm, lost an engine and, as they touched down, a wing collapsed. The plane crashed. Everybody died but Madelyne – she wasn’t even scratched. She still has nightmares, she admits. September 1st, 1980, her personal day of infamy. Scott automatically keeps on stroking her hair, even though the date gives him a shock. It’s the exact day that Phoenix died…

Beverly, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, the home of Joseph and Marie Danvers. The middle-aged couple asks their daughter, Carol Danvers, when they will next see her. The mood between them is awkward. Carole avoids a straight answer, stating that she’ll be moving around a lot, to some pretty hairy places. Her father asks her to stay in touch. They’ll miss her. She automatically replies the same. Marie tells Carol to take care and wonders if she is all right. She seems different lately. Carol assures her she is fine and steps outside.

She thinks to herself that she never could fool her mother. When she was Ms. Marvel, her mother recognized her right of the bat and now she knows Carol has changed, although she has no idea how much. After Rogue had stripped her of her powers and memories, Charles Xavier did his best to restore the memories. Thanks to him, she remembers pretty much all of who she was but there are no emotions to go along with them. Where once she loved her parents, now all she feels is a vague affection and this irreplaceable loss enrages her. What’s done is done, she decides and transforms to Binary to fly away. Carol’s life maybe over… Binary’s has just begun.

At Professor Xavier’s School, a remarkably recovered Kitty Pryde is throwing a temper tantrum watched by her clearly annoyed roommate, Illyana. Kitty angrily tosses stuff around, announcing that she is going to kill the New Mutants. How can she do her schoolwork if the X-Babies keep on swiping her floppy disks? She’s looked everywhere. Illyana points at Kitty’s keyboard, under which the disks lay – right where Kitty left them. Kitty feels like a jerk. Illyana agrees.

Further down, Charles Xavier does his exercises in the Danger Room, set to gymnasium mode, while Lilandra watches. Exhausted, Xavier breaks off. When he tries to use his legs, the psychosomatic pain inhibits his psi powers, especially his ability to screen out the thoughts of others. Kitty’s temper tantrum has given him a headache. Exhausted, he falls back, wondering why he can’t eliminate his phantom pain that inhibits the use of his legs. Lil kisses him, agreeing that he should be able to. She suggests playing doctor. Xavier is somewhat embarrassed until Lil explains she is serious. Can they be certain that Charles’ problem is psychical and not physical?

Upstairs in the kitchen, Peter Rasputin is delving into the mysteries of preparing a quiche, when Xavier telepathically alerts him that they have a visitor. Peter hurries to the front door, thinking that, as Xavier addressed him as Colossus, there may be an element of danger involved. He’d better change to his steel form. He does so as he opens the door and stares incredulously and angrily at the visitor before him: a slender, seemingly innocuous young woman who panics as she sees him and begs him not to hit her – she needs the X-Men’s help or she is as good as dead.

Later, the X-Men, Lilandra and Illyana have gathered in the living room as Storm announces the identity of the trembling visitor to everybody: Rogue, a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who can absorb powers, abilities and memories through physical contact.
Could this be the prelude to an attack, Nightcrawler wonders. Xavier scanned the estate - the girl is alone. He addresses her and asks her what she wants.

Rogue is shaking so hard that the tea in her cup spills over. “You’re the telepath, you tell me, Xavier,” she answers. “Professor Xavier,” Xavier corrects her coolly and then informs her that he cannot effectively read her mind, as she possesses two diametrically opposed thought patterns, one of them alien. This sets up an interference pattern he is thus far unable to penetrate. That’s the persona she absorbed from Carol Danvers, Rogue explains. She didn’t intend the transfer to be permanent and it’s been driving her crazy ever since. Xavier has to help her.

Kitty interrupts, telling Rogue that she has a lot of nerve asking for help after what she did. Xavier tells her to shush and asks Rogue to continue. Her powers are out of control, the nervous girl continues with sweat appearing on her brow. The slightest touch triggers the transfer. It’s getting so she doesn’t even know which thought and memories are hers. An apt punishment for her crimes, Nightcrawler interjects.

Rogue breaks down. She tried to make Mystique understand, but she wouldn’t listen. She was certain they could work things out. She loves Mystique like a mother, but she knew she was wrong. Xavier is her last hope.

“Gimme a break,” Kitty thinks sarcastically, only to be reprimanded by Xavier. She angrily protests that she didn’t say anything, to which Xavier replies that her thoughts were plain. Kitty protests that this is unfair. Xavier asks if they are being fair to Rogue. Is there any reason why they should be, Kurt hurries to Kitty’s defense. Xavier states that he accepts the X-Men’s dislike of Rogue, but he would rather not examine her surrounded by such concentrated negative emotions. He’ll summon them when he’s finished. Storm asks whether it’s wise to leave Xavier and Lilandra alone with Rogue. Looking at the girl cringing in her chair, Xavier replies that he doubts they have anything to fear from her.

Given the bum’s rush, the X-Men each react in their own manner. Colossus wonders why Xavier is so angry with them. Kurt is worried about Charles and Kitty wants to hit something. So what else is new, Colossus replies with a grin. Storm agrees with Kitty, though. A Danger Room session may help cool their tempers and frustrations.

Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler wait in the room until Kitty and Illyana in the Obervation Booth are finished with their preparations. Ilyana asks Kitty if temper tantrums have become her solutions to all problems and then announces that the program is her surprise. With the flick of a switch, the room changes to the throne chamber of the other-dimensional demon lord, Belasco, complete with pet demon, S’ym, corpses of alternate X-Men and Belasco himself. The X-Men are shocked and Illyana just stammers, “Belasco.”

Kitty angrily asks her if she’s flipped and terminates the program. Did she do that intentionally, she continues, not noticing that Illyana seems to have gone into some kind of trance. Belasco is one creep she never wants to see again, Kitty continues impatiently, and she thought Illyana would feel the same. Noticing that Illyana seems spaced out, she asks if her friend is okay. Instead of an answer, Illyana suddenly manifests a glowing light sabre-like sword coming out of nowhere and attacks Kitty with it. Kitty phases, but then notices with a shock that the other girl nevertheless managed to cut her cheek, something that shouldn’t have happened. Kitty ducks beneath Illyana and kicks her swordhand. The moment Illyana lets go of the sword it disappears again. Illyana slowly breaks out of her state asking Kitty where she is. Kitty tries to calm her telling her she is home with friends. Illyana breaks down, telling her she saw Belasco. She remembered.

By now, the other X-Men have rushed into the observation booth. They ask what’s happened and why Illyana is crying. Kitty makes excuses for Illyana, telling the others that it was a glitch in the program and that Illyana freaked when she saw Belsasco. She’ll be okay, the others should just let them have some time to themselves. She’ll be fine.

Later, in Ororo’s attic loft, Storm stares at Callisto’s vest in her hand. She thinks that they have often wondered about any remaining links between Illyana and Belasco but were reluctant to pry. Perhaps it is time they did.

Noticing hat one of her plants looks parched, she creates a tiny raincloud above it and then continues to brood over her own problems. The morning’s fight with Callisto: it flies in the face of all she ever believed about herself. And yet, this inner metamorphosis seems to be making her a better team leader. Is that bad? She realizes that she in standing at a crossroads: to stay – especially as a leader – she will have to sacrifice the beliefs that give her life meaning. To leave would mean abandoning her loved ones and to no longer use her powers in the service of humanity. As Ororo agonizes over her choices, the tiny rains shower grows into a full-fledged storm destroying her plants.

Surveying the damage Ororo realizes that her anxiety reflected itself in the weather. At that moment, a psychic transmission by Xavier appears. He tells her that he has finished examining Rogue and would like her to report to his study. As his “head“ disappears, Ororo angrily draws a knife and throws it at the apparition, shouting that she became an X-Man because of him and that decision is destroying her.

In his study, Xavier tells Lilandra that he caught a thought-flash from Ororo. She’s unusually disturbed but that will have to wait. Rogue is his primary concern now. If there is a problem Storm will certainly tell him.

After the others have gathered, Xavier announces that he has questioned Rogue at length and is convinced of both her need and her sincerity. Therefore, he has decided to admit her to both the school and the X-Men as a probationary member. Storm interrupts with a curt “no.” As team leader, she feels she is entitled to some say in the matter. How are they supposed to fight besides someone they dare not trust?

To make matters worse, Binary chooses this exact moment to visit the X-Men. She walks into the mansion and, moments later, a punch hurls Rogue through the roof and literally into orbit.
The nigh-invulnerable young woman has no idea who Binary is or why she just hits her, but she aims to make her regret as she flies back to Xavier’s.

The X-Men are standing or lying somewhat bedraggled in what’s left of their living room, with Xavier inquiring if everybody’s all right. Binary, they realize, is outside, waiting for Rogue.

Rogue flies towards Binary, who’s egging her on and lets her have another punch. This time, Colossus grabs Carol and asks her to stop. Binary tells him to let her go, she wants vengeance. Xavier announces that, as long as Rogue is under his roof, she has his protection. How can he say that, Carol demands, he knows better than anyone what Rogue did to her.

Storm sarcastically states that Rogue repents and has been forgiven. Behold, their newest X-Man. Is that true, Binary demands. How can they be so cruel? Rogue angrily asks Binary what her problem is. She’s never even met her before today. She changes her tune quickly when Binary changes into the human form of Carol Danvers, the woman whose life Rogue destroyed - except that now Carol has the power to do the same to Rogue.

Storm announces to Xavier that, if Rogue stays, she goes. Nightcrawler adds that they will all go. Oh, so they pick and choose whom to help now, do they, Xavier asks. Some are worthy, others not. Wasn’t it Ororo who told him once that Wolverine wasn’t an X-Man because of his “Sterling” character, but his potential for good? That to deny him - much as they abhor his violent nature – would thereby deny the X-Men’s reason for being, which is to help him achieve his potential? The same argument holds for Rogue, does it not? With them, she has a chance for better life. If they deny her, she is condemned from the start and that he will never do to any mutant.

Properly chastised, the X-Men give in. Colossus states that he trusts Xavier and therefore puts aside his fear, asking his friends to do the same. Kitty reluctantly agrees but adds that she will never like her. Ever. Kurt concedes that Xavier wins. Xavier turns to Carol. She cuts him off asking what he wants from her. Understanding? Approval? She concedes the former, but not the latter. Rogue tore her life and soul to shreds and that can never be forgiven. Carol has nothing to lose here, she is no X-Man and all of a sudden she’s glad. With those words, she turns to her Binary form and flies away.

The others, with the exception of Storm, turn to the house. Will Carol be back, Rogues asks. In time, perhaps, when the hurt is less, Kurt replies. Xavier addresses Storm, who states that both he and Carol are right, so which is the better road to follow? That decision she must make for herself.

Storm stays outside for a long time as afternoon turns to night, wondering what to do, wishing she could just return to her former life, wishing she were the goddess she was believed to be in Africa, then she cold solve every problem with a wave of her hand. But she is only human and must therefore cope as best she can. She wants to leave, but duty demands she stay, which means accepting Rogue. Whatever she does, she will no longer be the woman she was, but what will she become? As she turns to the mansion, she wonders who to be: Ororo or Storm?

Characters Involved: 

Ariel, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Storm,(all X-Men)


Illyana Rasputin

Madelyne Pryor

Binary / Carol Danvers


Callisto (former leader of the Morlocks)

Sunder and unnamed Morlocks

Joseph and Marie Danvers (Binary’s parents)

Story Notes: 

Considering that Kitty uses the name Ariel in several other appearances (e.g. X-Men/Micronauts, God Loves, Man Kills) around this time, one might as well assume that she uses her name from here on, as during their Morlock adventure [Uncanny X-Men #169-170] she complained about her old codename,“Sprite“

The date given as Phoenix’s death date and as the date of Madelyne’s accident shouldn’t be taken too seriously, as the Marvel universe exists on a sliding time scale, meaning the characters age only very slowly, if at all.

Rogue stole Carol Danver’s powers off-panel in Avengers Annual #10. More of that can be seen in the Ms. Marvel story in the Marvel Super-Heroes Fall Special (Fall 1992)

This issue’s implication that Illyana had repressed her memories of her time with Belasco until the Danger Room scene contradicts previous scenes (e.g. in Uncanny X-Men #164 and New Mutants #3) when she seemed to clearly remember and even referred to what had happened to her in Limbo. (Her time in Limbo is chronicled in the Magik Limited Series)

Ororo’s comment about Wolverine’s “sterling character“ is from Uncanny X-Men #148, when Xavier and Angel had an argument regarding Wolverine’s worth as an X-Man (ending with Angel leaving, as he refused to be on the same team as Wolverine)

Issue Information: 
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