Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #198

Issue Date: 
October 1985
Story Title: 
Lifedeath - From The Heart Of Darkness

Chris Claremont (writer), Barry Windsor-Smith (artist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In Africa, Storm confronts her inner fears and must choose between life and death. She decides to live and love again after helping a young woman deliver her baby and being counselled by illusionary X-Men during a bout of delirium.

Full Summary: 

Ororo Munroe, the fallen goddess, walks alone in the desert, prey to illusions from exposure to the sun and having been shot by the Von Strucker siblings. She believes she can fly again and falls against the ground where she is welcomed by a hallucination of Forge, the man she both loves and hates, who discloses that Von Strucker's bullet caused a cranial traumatism; he suggests Ororo should hide behind the dunes to avoid an incoming sandstorm. Ororo, still angry at him, sends him away and gets faces a viper. She manages to thorw it away, but believes that she was bitten by it.
The X-woman manages to reach a cave and waits for her end; suddenly, the X-Men are present, asking if Ororo got hurt. Ororo confides that she lost her powers and her status as a godess and that she feels so empty. She regrets that she couldn't help her friend Jean Grey; Jean comforts her saying that she chose her life and the way she died. Ororo realises she is being feverish, yet she smells Wolverine's cigarette and wonders how the X-Men arrived there. Wolverine pops his claws and offers Ororo her wish : to die. Then Xavier reproaches to be cowardly, to be a frightened child who refuses to fly unless she is cast out of the nest. To her, Africa was a womb : if Xavier hadn't recruited her, she would have been behaving like a child forever.
Incensed, Ooro calls Xavier a liar and calls to the vanishing X-Men for her rescue; she awakes alone in the desert, with the viper crawling around her; Ororo catches the snake but decides to let it live.The smoke she thought was coming from Wolverine's cigarette was coming from a bus that crashed nearby; inside is a survivor : a pregnant teenage girl, suffering from the shock of the accident and minor wounds. Shani begs Ororo to take her home, and along the way through the desert, Shani tells her story of how she left the village for the city, but there she got pregant and now returns to her people.
Shani points how important it is to feel part of a family; Ororo pensively agrees : the X-Men where her family; she is amazed by Shani's courage who took the road without knowing how her life would be. After discovering how damaged this land is after the white man turned a once fertile country into a desert, the two women arrive at Shani's village. Shani receives a cold welcome from a family, but Mjanari, head of the village, decides to open his home to the wandering duo. After days of trials and tribulations, Ororo collapses. Later she is awakened by Mjanari who recognised the weather-goddess. Shani asks for her help as she is going into labor, it is a difficult birth and there is no hospital nearby.In a long, harrowing sequence alternating dancing and birthing, Shani gives birth but the child doesn’t breathe. Ororo successfully performs mouth to mouth, but worries the baby might suffer from a cerebral damage, as he was dead for a few minutes.
Death balances life : Mjnari feels his time has come and forsakes his position of village chief; Mjanari explains to the apalled Ororo that in ancient times, his people lived in harmony with mother-earth; life was harsh but satisfying. Then came the white man who said that with machines, the desert sand would be fertile. It was true for a time, but eventually the land was asking more and more water and efforts, while Mjaniri's people forsook its age-old values. War made the machines useless without oil, used-upparts couldn't be replaced and eventually all the surrounding lands became sterile. Hence, the balance between life and death must be kept : when a baby is born, the oldest of the tribe must go.
Ororo feels guily : because of her, Mjnari is a dead man. Mjnari calls Ororo a fool : she saved two lives, Shani's baby brought a new hope to the tribe. A bridge must be built between the old generation and the new one, a bridge that will replace fear and ignorance with knowledge and wisdom to the African people. Ororo realises she is that bridge and chooses life over death. Her powers died, but she still lives, her heart and soul fly higher than the stars ...

Characters Involved: 


Shani, an african village girl

Mjnari, head of Shani's village
As hallucinations :

Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Phoenix II, Shadowcat, Wolverine, Professor Charles Xavier (all X-Men)


Story Notes: 

This is the end of Ororo's saga in her homeland, beautifully portrayed by Barry Windsor-Smith and Chris Claremont. Ororo next appears in New Mutants #32-34 only to get tranported to Asgard along them in New Mutants Special Edition #1. In Uncanny X-Men Annual #9 she is reunited with the X-Men.

Issue Information: 
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