As we have shared before, some of the best issues of the X-men, especially during the Chris Claremont era, were the issues that fall between the major storylines. In the summer, it is the softball issues. Not that the story is a softball plot; it is the issue where the team actually played softball. It is a moment to pause and give us some character moments, a deeper look into what everyone is thinking.
Now, we have waxed on about how much we love the Australian Outback era of the X-men and Uncanny X-men 230 falls at the very early part of that story. The X-men have “died”, taken over the Australian Outback base away from the villainous Reavers and are basically cleaning up the place. (When Wolverine says that the Reavers were gross, you KNOW it is bad.)
Through that, we discover how different characters are feeling. Most notably, Dazzler, the light producing former disco queen, seems to really be struggling with their new hidden lives and what that means.
So what makes this a Christmas issue? Ah, it all starts with Longshot.
Longshot has this power that doesn’t get talked about much but he can touch an item and then give a little bit of its backstory. The more emotionally important the item, the more that residue speaks to him. Well, in the course of the story, Longshot discovers this large room smack full of loot. And the power of so many items wrecks him, putting him in a kind of psionic shock for a few days.
When he comes to, the team works out a plan. With Psylocke helping shield him, and with Madelyne Pryor working some serious pre-Google mojo on computers, the team divides out the loot into the 6 continents and makes a plan to return all the items. This requires the help of Gateway, the native Australian who has the ability to teleport. It is a great plan that turns out to be even more amazing because it is on Christmas Eve.
It is a touching moment to see people reunited with things that they must have considered long ago lost, since they were stolen from the Reavers. Dazzler herself has to concoct a story about being Santa’s helper when some kids bust her. At the end, it is a really feel good story and one worth checking out.
I love this story in particular because it shows the “lesser” characters using their powers together. Rogue, Wolverine and Colossus can’t just punch and Fastball Special their way out of this issue. It takes all the work and by doing some further cements Longshot, Psylocke, Pryor and Dazzler as true X-men, which is what these “softball” issues always do well. (And maybe in the future we can discuss what a missed opportunity it was for the team to have had a rugby issue while in the Outback.)