In Ryhmä-X 11/1985 the X-Men – or rather just Kitty – face an alien monster in a Christmas special (notice, this was published in December in Finland). The alien from a race called N’garai in a story called “Demon” (orig. Uncanny X-Men # 143) is a clear tribute to Ridley Scott‘s Alien, but it’s not the only scary thing to happen in the story. Just take a look here…
The story is very simple. In some earlier story, not published in Finland to my knowledge, the X-Men had fought an alien race called N’garai from an alien dimension. Storm had blocked their entry to Earth, but one of them manages to escape and goes on rampage near the Xavier Mansion. Christmas is only a day away and the X-Men have left the Mansion to celebrate the occasion with their families. Only Kitty is left in the Mansion alone.
Of course the alien attacks the Mansion when she’s there alone and a battle for survival begins. Kitty’s ability to slide through objects comes handy, but it’s not good against the creature, as it’s able to hurt her even though she is in her insubstantial form. Kitty has to use all her wit to survive the alien and in the progress the creature pretty much destroys half the Mansion. When Kitty notices the creature is hurt by fire, she uses her newly learned ability to operate the Blackbird and lures the monster to her just when she starts the Blackbird engines, destroying not only the monster but also the hangar. When Xavier and Ororo/Storm return with Kitty’s parents, they find her in festive spirits and the whole place in ruins.
Even though the story is very different from the Alien movie, there are similarities. First of all it’s a survival battle of a lone woman against a superior opponent. But the most direct reference to the movies comes when Kitty lures the beast to the Blackbird hangar. It has the same intensity and same images as the Alien end scene where Ripley has found out she has an alien in her space shuttle and she has managed to put the space suit on, just waiting for the right moment to open the airlock and shoot the creature into dead space and finally fry it with the burners.
If you’ve seen the movie you know the the way the camera follows Ripley in her space suit as she tries to calm herself down and tries to see from her limited space where the alien has gone. Kitty experiences the same as she waits for the monster to get close enough to her to start the Blackbird engines.
The N’garai also bring to my mind a later invention, the brood (fin. “Niljahirviö”) of the 90s, a monster which infects it’s host turning them into brood monsters. The only thing I remember about them is that one of them got Wolverine, but his unique healing mutant powers prevented the brood from taking him over. But I’ll return to that when I get that far in my X-Men magazines.
He didn’t blush, he bruised
Even though the story was very much just about survival, there were these little details which really puzzled me. First of all, the cover has one detail I can’t ignore. The flashlight light looks really weird. It looks more of like a yellow toxic cloud than a beam of light. I understand the problem, though, it’s damn hard to draw light if you try to do it more realistically than as just a triangle of light.
On page 6 we are shown the monster’s first victims. A young couple are on their way to woods to get their Christmas tree. The man is pulling a hesitant woman forward. She says: “Douglas, you are a hopeless romantic.” Douglas answers: “So what? / Ellie, this is our first Christmas together. We have years to get our own plastic tree. / I want this one to be REAL.” Wait. Are you saying the woman insists on getting a plastic tree rather than a real one? Wow, times have truly changed! I remember my aunt had a plastic tree for Christmas in the early 80s, but now we all get a real tree for Christmas.
On page 8 there are two weird things happening. The most obvious one being the reaction Wolverine has when Nightcrawler goes on to kiss Wolverine’s date Mariko Yashida under a mistle toe. This being a tradition we Finnish people, thank the gods, don’t have. I would have found this extremely distressing as a teenager if all sorts of weird relatives and people would have come to my face waving one of those leaves. Anyway, Wolverine has the same reaction to Kurt kissing Mariko than I would probably have had had someone tried to give me a kiss on the same pretense. But since Wolverine has those lethal claws his reaction is bit overboard as he tries to cut Kurt into a pile of sliced meat. Luckily he has good reflexes and moves away just in time. It takes Colossus and Xavier to calm him down.
And then the other thing, the clothes. Just take a look at Wolverine’s, Mariko’s, and especially Kitty’s clothes. This story was published originally in 1981 and the sad part is this was trendy back then. Ugh. That style gives me headache.
But wait, Kurt’s kiss isn’t the only one to cause weird reactions. You see, Kitty has an obvious crush on Colossus and vice versa, but of course, since he is older, he hasn’t made it as obvious as Kitty. She tries to lighten the mood after Wolverine’s murdering rage, and gives Peter a kiss under a mistle toe. One would think he would blush, but no. Instead his face turns to many shades of violet like after a good beating. Wow, that must have been a potent peck. As Kurt says it, he was lucky she kissed him only on the temple or she would have knocked him out. ;)
The two other stories
In the last few Ryhmä-X magazines there were no secondary stories, but in this one there are not one but two stories.
In the first story the Avengers are shown doing whatever they do after saving the world. It seems they go goofing around. Some go for picnic, some to TV shows as freaks to children’s TV.
I have almost no recollection on what happened in the story, and it’s not surprising as it’s missing a point. There really is no story there. But, in the end two things happen almost in secret. First some kind of a robot comes and kills Wasp and then Tony Stark/Iron Man finds out someone has been stealing chemicals from the Avenger’s laboratory or from Stark Enterprises.
In the second short story the butler for Avengers, Edwin Jarvis, goes to visit his mom and finds out the neighbourhood is tormented by a bully. After finding out all the people running businesses or living on the street are afraid of the bully, Jarvis decides to face him in a valiant battle. To everyone’s surprise he is revealed to be a boxing champion for R.A.F (British Royal Air Force) and having taken some tips from the Avengers he beats the bully. But when the bully takes out a knife everyone following the match start throwing the bully with rotten tomates, beath him with brooms, and drive him away from town. Well, how nice. The only way to stop bullying is if everyone decides to stand against the bully together. I can stand behind that. But what I don’t sign is the method he is stopped with. Instead of beating him up to stop him, I would have rather seen a different approach. How about call the cops and let them arrest him.
In this magazine and in the previous one there was an advertisement for an X-Men special album called “Taivas palaa” (lit. Heaven on fire). It’s one of the first X-Men albums I ever bought and I had no idea it was this old until now that I saw the advertisements. Well, ain’t that nice. :) Until next time, over and out.