“I tell you, it was quite a workload!”

Ryhmä-X 4/1985 Cover
Ryhmä-X 4/1985 Cover

I love the feel of a smooth magazine. Most of my older Ryhmä-X magazines have been in active use, probably read through a couple of times and have been left lying around wherever. The covers feel a bit rough and worn to your fingers, the pages have turned yellow and have minor tears down the sides. When I turn their pages I can feel how the pages have become a bit frail.

This issue of Ryhmä-X, 4/1985, is in perfect condition. It’s cover paper is still shiny and feels perfectly smooth under my touch. When I open the magazine the pages still have that resistance of a newly acquired magazine – they want to keep together, closed. I love it. A perfect specimen. And it’s 26 years old. Amazing.

The plot (thickens)

The X-Men are united and on their way back to their headquarters, the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Professor X’s mansion. Scott and Jean finally have time to talk about Scott’s involvement with Colleen Wing. Scott says they were only friends, and that the reason he didn’t mourn after Jean was because he was blocking his emotions, and Jean buys it just like that and they kiss. Ok, maybe she’s feeling guilty because she’s been daydreaming of Jason Wyngarde. But Scott, I would have never believed you were such a liar and what about Colleen! I wonder how she’d feel about you being “only friends”, Scott?

Let’s see… In Ryhmä-X 3/1984 Colleen makes her move on Scott. They are seen walking arm in arm and going for lunch (p. 38-39) and Colleen gives Scott the key to her appartment (p. 45). Ok, still quite innocent and that key thing we can blame on Colleen. But by Ryhmä-X 1/1985 things have gone a bit further. Spider-Man sees Scott and Colleen walking down a street and thinks: “Colleen and Scott. I didn’t know they were dating.” (p. 4) Ok, Spider-Man just sees them walking and draws conclusions from what he sees. No solid proof yet, but obviously they act like they were dating. But wait no more, because at the very second panel of page 5 Scott says: “Colleen, did you know that you and Jean are the only ones I have ever dated.” The word he uses in Finnish is “seurustellut” and that means going steady. No excuses there. He’s serious about this relationship. I don’t know which word he uses in English, but if it’s “dated” then it could be he meant only that they have gone on a couple of dates, maybe had romantic dinners and such. Nothing too serious. After that incident, the X-Men find out they all survived the collapse of Magneto’s headquarters (Ryhmä-X 1/1984), and there are no more scenes of Scott and Colleen together.

But really, that key from Colleen is a call to mating, and if the other X-Men have felt awkward enough to think about Scott and Colleen in the presence of Jean, the two of them must have been more than just friends! And just look at that scene (now back at Ryhmä-X 4/1985). Scott says: “I need to talk to you about a few things.” Who knows what he was going to talk about. Maybe about some tactical details or something, but Jean replies: “About Colleen Wing? No need to. I already know about it.” I bet this is when Scott almost wet himself – it’s never a good idea to anger Phoenix. Jean continues: “I would never read your thoughts, but the others thought about it every now and then -” Since there is that en-dash I suppose Scott interrupts her by saying: “Jean, Colleen is a friend, that’s all.” OH PUH-LEASE, SCOTT! You really couldn’t come up with anything better! I bet he sighed in relief when Jean said she hadn’t read his mind and then he just abruptly cut in, saying: “We were just friends.” I can hear it in my mind how he’s said it very quickly, trying to hide his guilt.

And two panels later he says just before they kiss: “I used to say I loved you without knowing what I meant buy it, but now I do.” Oh, I bet! So he’s admitting it used to be just words to him. Oh Scott, you little…

Scott explaining his relationships with style.
1) Scott: "I need to talk to you abotu few things." 2) Jean: "About Colleen Wing? No need to. I already know about it. I would never read your thoughts, but the others thought about it every now and then-" 3) Scott: "Jean, Colleen is a friend, that's all." 4) Last panel. Scott: "... I used to say I loved you without knowing what I meant by it, but now I do. ..." OH PUH-LEASE, SCOTT!"

Oh yeah, the plot!

So the X-Men return to the mansion and find Xavier! He’s returned! …But acting very strange. He’s being very harsh with the X-Men and gnawing their self esteem with constant remarks. For once I’m on Scott’s side when he has to endure Xavier’s rude behaviour.

We are also introduced to two new mutants: The first one is Katherine “Kitty” Pryde (later becomes Sprite and even later Shadowcat). Her parents are getting a divorce and she has developed splitting headaches – and an ability to slide through solid objects. The second is Dazzler, a disco queen with an ability to make light out of sound vibrations, being her own lightshow. When the X-Men are divided into two teams and go to find the new mutants, they are both attacked by people in armour designed specifically for each X-man. They first group is defeated by the X-Men, but are accompanied by the White Queen of the Hellfire club, Emma Frost, and captured. Kitty gets a chance to warn the other group and sneaks into Emma Frost’s transport and finally to the Hellfire club where the captured X-Men are held.  And wait, isn’t that Xavier tied to the table. So if he’s here, then who..?

The story ends when the second team of the X-Men manage to escape their attackers with Dazzler and head to the other team’s rescue. But there is one delicous moment when Jean slips back to her imaginary world in the middle of the disco and ends up kissing Jason Wyngarde there in front of Scott. Haha, Scott! There’s some of your own medicine!

You call it cheating, I call it justice, Scott.
Haha, Scott!

The magazine also holds the final part of the adventure of the previous assemblage of the X-Men. Remember still? Xavier in coma. Need some part for that brain machine from Dr. Bruce Banner, but he has turned into the Hulk. Well, let’s cut the story short. They fight Hulk some more, find Banner’s lab, retrieve the missing object and wake up Xavier. Job well done!

“It was quite a workload!”

I love reading the reader mail, but this magazine came with a true gem! Listen to this:

An amazing reader mail from Ryhmä-X 4/1985.
An amazing reader mail from Ryhmä-X 4/1985.

Mail-Man,

you must have read the adventure where Jean turns into Phoenix (you referred to it in Ryhmä-X 2/84). Would you please publish the story in Ryhmä-X. This is wished by… (27 signatures!)… You must be wondering where we managed to get so many signatures. At first we asked all our friends who like Ryhmä-X to sign the petition, if they agreed with it. That’s how we got 18 signatures, but that wasn’t enough. We began to go to different places where they sell magazines and waited until someone came and bought a Marvel magazine, at which point we told them our cause. I tell you, it was quite a workload! These signatures were collected from Lielahti – in Helsinki or Tampere it would have been much easier.

We doubt anybody would have anything against [publishing] this story and since you said you were making this magazine for its readers, then…

By the way… [The letter continues with few questions concerning other Marvel magazines.]

Best regards, Jari and Hannu

Aww! I mean, aww! These boys went all around Lielahti (never heard of the place) (Lielahti in Wikipedia: English, Finnish with more pictures) collecting signatures for their petition to get the birth story of Phoenix published. I’m so impressed! I’m not sure, but from the language and words they used I could imagine they were at elementary school age – under 13 years, that is. I wonder what came of them when they grew up? Do they have an active role fighting for some other injustice, collecting names for petitions?

Fan drawing from Ryhmä-X 4/1985
The first published fan drawing in Ryhmä-X, published in 4/1985. Signed, "X".

In my youth I went around collecting names for a petition to keep Pihlajasaari dog friendly. I must have been 7 or 8 years old. Unfortunately my petition didn’t achieve its goal. They made the island a nudist beach, dogs not allowed to enter. But maybe I have had it in me always, because later in life I became an activist for Amnesty International and I have been, and still am, an active part of student politics in my university.

And if you wondered, the boys did get what they wanted. Mail-Man promised them he’d get the birth story of Phoenix onto a future publishing list. He couldn’t say for sure when it would come out, but soonish. Yay for you, Jari and Hannu!

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