Monday, September 20, 2010

X-Men 102: Juggernaut - n. A force considered as unstoppable.

(December 1976)

"Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?"
Chris Claremont-Dave Cockrum/Sam Grainger

Doug: If you are a full-peruser of our site, you have probably seen our teaser on the left side, boldly announcing where we're going to head topic-wise. Well, if that's you, then you've seen our interest in taking a look at the All-New, All-Different X-Men versus none other than Magneto! And we'll get to that. But, we thought it might be fun to back up just a bit and continue where we left off, back when we were evaluating the Sentinels/Phoenix storyline.

Doug: The only problem with that last issue (#101) was that it was a split story and we only looked at the first half. The latter half goes like this: After Jean had stabilized in the hospital, Professor X decided that the rest of the team needed some time away to recover. In the days since the new team had formed, they'd gone from one death-defying adventure into another. This would be some time to bond as a team and to simply relax. So Banshee offered his ancestral home, Cassidy Keep, in Ireland as their place of refuge; Scott chose to stay behind with Jean. Once there, the time was indeed refreshing and author Chris Claremont used the absence of Cyclops as an opportunity for more character development. All did not end well in that story, though, as the team was ambushed by Banshee's cousin Black Tom Cassidy and cohort, the Juggernaut! As that book ended, the cards were definitely stacked against our band of merry mutants, as the opponents were formidable and Storm had collapsed to the floor in an acute attack of claustrophobia!

Doug: So we pick up right where we left off, with the Juggernaut launching a violent attack against the team. Banshee moves against his cousin, leaving Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus alone. But mysteriously, Peter turns from the fight to attempt to help Storm. Wolverine chastises him (insults him, actually), and in the midst of this brawl which could certainly kill them all, they begin to argue! This was just great -- we all know Marvel was built on dysfunctional relationships and this is a great legacy from Stan and Jack.

Karen: We're thrown right into the action here. One thing I always wondered about: Black Tom says he's immune to Banshee's sonic powers. Why? Because they're related? How does that work? That just never made sense to me. But this opening sequence is a lot of fun, especially when Wolverine flings Colossus into the Juggernaut! This really was a throw-back fight, with Wolvie and Colossus yelling at each while Juggernaut takes advantage of the situation to pound on both of them! Interestingly, our little buddy's adamantium claws seem to have no effect on Juggernaut -I doubt this would be the case today!

Karen: Choosing a wiser course, Nightcrawler tries to get Storm into the fight, but it appears hopeless. Kurt knows that without Storm they haven't the power to face Juggernaut. I really liked Nightcrawler as a kid, and one of the reasons why (besides his appearance) was that Claremont always portrayed him a
s a very thoughtful character.
Doug: As the battle rages, Storm gets introspective, hating her paralysis. Memories begin to flood back to her and we see her origin for the first time. I have to say, this is one of the highlights of the issue. Claremont weaves a very believable tale that is anchored in historical events. Now, what might be problematic for some is the old Marvel time/Real time paradox. Claremont chooses 1951 as Ororo's birth year -- in 1976 that would have made her 25, and it had been understood from the beginning that this team was older than the original X-Men. But it's just a great backstory that ends with Xavier's recruiting trip to Africa (which we were privy to in Giant-Size X-Men #1).
Karen: Storm's origin story is just terrific. I understand from reading others' commentary that many elements of her past were apparently borrowed from other sources, but as a kid, I knew none of this. It was just an amazing journey, from the streets of New York -yes, Ororo is an American! - to Egypt and on into Africa. Cockrum draws a beautiful picture of the young Ororo -in fact, the entire sequence is wonderfully drawn. Of course, as time has gone on, I'm sure any thought of Storm being born in 1951, and the events which surrounded her becoming an orphan, have been swept under the rug!

Doug: Two other interesting bits of foreshadowing take place. In the first, after Xavier has ordered Cyke to get over to Ireland and help the team (which Scott flat-out refused, drawing a quite-inflamed retort from the professor), he sees a vision in the mirror -- a very alien vision. The second tidbit comes in the form of Nightcrawler, knocked out by the Juggernaut and landing in the shadows. For the first time we see that he becomes invisible when in the dark. His limp body is then dragged through a trap in the wall by... leprechauns?

Karen: Cyclops standing up to Professor X was unexpected but worked perfectly, as we knew (after all the events of the preceding issues) that Scott had finally realized that Jean was more important to him than anything else. Professor X has always been a bit of an enigma: at times kindly, at time imperious. But his mysterious visions were intriguing and created a storyline for him, which was a nice change.

Karen: Then we come to the leprechauns...Okay, I don't know why I
can believe in mutants, aliens, and mystic forces, but start to feel annoyed when leprechauns are brought into the picture! But I did think this was one step too far.
Doug: That's funny that you brought up the unbelievability of the leprechauns because I was thinking the exact same thing! Yep, my suspension of disbelief only goes so far...

Doug: Near the end of the story, there's a great half-splash of Colossus and the Juggernaut in final combat. Alas, it's the Juggernaut who comes out on top, and coupled with Black Tom's besting of Banshee, the stage is set for a not-so-good opening to issue #103!

Karen: Colossus comes back and gives Juggernaut his best shot, but it's not enough.
Seeing Peter go down, Storm starts to come out of her stupor, but it's too little, too late. Juggernaut takes her down and triumphantly hoists Storm and Colossus over his head while Black Tom proclaims that Xavier will be next!


Anonymous said...

I think Cockrum may have been at the top of his form in this issue.

J.A. Morris said...

Yep,the leprechauns have always been a bit much for me. I guess it's partially because I'm a serious student of Irish history,I've learned that the Irish get a little sick of talk about fairies and banshees and shamrocks.
Plus it's just too cutesy,just like the Ewoks. Other than that,this was one of the first X-men stories I ever read(borrowed a friend's copy in 1980) and the Juggernaut is still one of my favorite villains.

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