In 1986 the Finnish publisher for Marvel superhero comics, Semic, had to find new partners in order to keep publishing the X-Men or “Ryhmä-X” comics. Since Finland is a small market area, the publishers have always tried to find other publishing companies abroad to even out the printing costs. You see, back in the day the magazines were printed most likely using offset technique, which meant that you had to make pressplates for all the colours (red, blue, yellow, black) used in the magazine individually. Making these press plates was the most expensive part of the procedure meaning it was almost all the same how many magazines you were going to print. With joint printing expenses you could re-use the red, blue and yellow plates and only needed to have the black plate made invidually for each language, which saved lots of money.
For most Finnish companies the most natural way is to search for business partners from other Northern European countries and print the magazine with them. Unfortunately, according to Mail-Man, the other northern European publishers had decided to stop publishing X-Men and thus Semic had to find new partners. They did, from the Netherlands.
The time leap of 1/1986
Unfortunately the Dutch were ahead of us and thus the Finnish magazine had to catch up with the Dutch with a compilation of all the important events. Not only did Mail-Man list some things which had happened, also the comics pages themselves were cut and pasted compilations from various comics.
Mail-Man lists some of the changes that have happened:
The X-Men have been adventuring in space. Kitty had met Lockheed, the little dragon. Lilandra has been dethroned. Xavier has received a new cloned body, which should allow him to walk. Carol Danvers has also received new superpowers.
Also the Morloks have been introduced to the Marvel Universe and Storm has defeated their leader Callisto, thus becoming their new leader.
Mail-Man also lists an event that has not yet happened: Rogue asking joining the X-Men.
And THAT’S why I HAD to go and buy the comics from USA when I visited there last summer. I have always wanted to know how Madelyne Pryor became part of the X-Men. And since Mail-Man wrote that Madelyne was the sole survivor of a plane crash I just had to find out.
But now I’m having a bit of a problem since I want to go through all the magazines they have published in Finland, but in this case the magazine is something completely different, including many noteworthy events. So, instead of writing about the magazine in just one post, I’m going to write many posts on Ryhmä-X 1/1986 as I read the stories which were skipped back then, and see how they were handled in the Finnish issue.
The last Uncanny X-Men story published in Finland was # 143 and it came out in Ryhmä-X 11/1985. Ryhmä-X 12/1985 included stories from different Avengers comics, so we can forget that magazine for now. Since Ryhmä-X 1/1986 is just a compilation of many magazines, the next “true” X-Men comics in whole were printed in 2/1986 and included stories from the Uncanny X-Men #177-178.
Thus we are missing issues #144-176.
The Ryhmä-X 1/1986 has small pieces from issues #168, #170, #171, #173, #174, #176, and #177.
However, in year 2006 Egmont Kustannus, the current publisher of Marvel comics in Finland, published some of the skipped issues in Ihmesarja #8. The comic book holds black and white prints of The Uncanny X-Men #145-157.
And then I have that Essential X-Men vol. 4, which I bought from the USA, which holds black and white reprints of Uncanny X-Men #162-179, Annual # 7, and Marvel Graphic Novel #5.
Thus I’m happy to say I have almost all the missing issues. But the most important point is that I have the book which holds Madelyne Pryor’s first appearence and that’s all that counts.
So welcome to follow the nearly lost stories of Ryhmä-X!
Many of my friends who read Marvel comics when they were younger love Rogue. They think she is the perfect female role model, someone to identify with. Rogue was one of the strongest characters in the X-Men and a great fighter. She also cought the best looking man in the group, the mysterious and bit naughty Gambit, and had a particularly problematic relationship with him. She also had her mutant powers, which made her suck out the life force from her victims including their possible mutant powers and their memories and inner feelings.
But the most dominant part was that she couldn’t have any physical contact with Gambit. I know, there must have been countless hours of young girls sighing when they compared their own life situations to Rogue’s. In my youth I had crushes on boys, but I was so shy I never approached them. Well, once I did and it was a total catastrophe. Ok, I didn’t send him into coma like Rogue did, but might have just as well. And I think pretty much all teenage girls had to go through the same problems. You want to, but you can’t and you wonder if you ever will. So in a way Rogue was in all of us. And yet, even though she was sometimes depressed about her inability to touch others, there was no denying she was a strong female. A complex female. Just like us.
Once again, I’m quite excited and a bit scared to see how she comes out now that I’m older. But on the other hand I’ve been watching X-Men: The Animated Series cartoon from Marvel.com (I’ll write about it later once I’ve finished the show) and there Rogue is definitely just as cool and full of spunk as I remember her.
In the beginning we are shown Spider-Woman saving a woman from falling off a bridge. On closer look it’s revealed she’s Carol Susan Jane Danvers aka Ms. Marvel, a former member of the Avengers and it seems she didn’t jump off herself but was thrown off the bridge and her self-consciousness is missing. Spider-Woman alerts Professor Xavier to the case in hopes he’ll find out what’s happened to her. And he does: Rogue.
On next page Rogue beats Captain America and steals his powers with a kiss. In doing so she reminds herself to be careful because if she touches him too long absorbing his powers, the transformation will become permanent.
While this happens, Beast takes care to control Wanda’s eating habits and tells her to stay away from cakes or she’ll grow fat. He, of course, is sipping tea and has a slice of the same cake on his plate. Nice job, Beast. You little swine…
Next we are shown how Mystique takes down Iron Man, and she reveals she’s working with Rogue to bring down the Avengers. After Rogue’s attack on Thor goes wrong, she and Mystique go off to rescue the rest of the New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants captured in the last issue where they tried to murder senator Kelly, but are defeated by the Avengers. That’s all quite uninteresting, because the true drama lies with Carol Danvers.
The writers and the Avengers let her down
You see, Carol Danvers had left the Avengers after she was first kidnapped and then raped and then gave birth to an alien child, who after his birth fell in love with her and took her with him to his dimension or something. Wow, talk about bad taste in storywriting. In fact, I believe that story is infamous for obvious reasons amongst the whole comic reading world. And for being subjected to such a horrible fate, when Carol Denvers gets her consciousness back with help from Xavier, she calls the Avengers to come for a visit and lets them know her mind.
“I had become pregnant for unknown reason and gave birth to a child in few days… Naturally I was confused, frightened and in shock.
“I turned to you in search for help, but all I got were jokes. Jan thought it was wonderful news. Beast offered to be the child’s teddy bear. You all just thought of the child. Nobody bothered to give me a moment in their mind.
“You took everything Marcus had told you to be truth. You suspected nothing. You even let me go with him and waved your goodbyes when you let me go with him.
“I have paid for your mistakes.
“My mistake was to trust in you.”
Ouch! But really, they deserved it. She was raped, got an alien baby inside of her, and they all go giggly for the prospect of her having a baby. And when her child wants her as his lover, none of them think it’s, you know maybe just a weeney bit, sick!
The second story: Strom meets Black Panther for the first(?) time
There is still room in the magazine for another short story and this time it’s about Storm. She’s walking on a street when suddenly a sniper shoots her in the head. Yep, that’s right. The end.
WELL OF COURSE IT AIN’T! The bullet only scratches her and she learns from the assassin he was hired by Andreas De Ruyter aka “The Bull-Ruyter”. The man had tried to capture the Wakandan prince T’Challa in the past. When Ororo goes to visit him he is revealed to be Black Panther. They go after Ruyter and have to fight a robot. After defeating it they find Ruyter sitting dead in his chair. He had controlled the robot with a mental link and after Storm and Black Panther had defeated it, it had also killed him. The end.
Except not quite. Then something weird happens. Black Panther looks at Ororo and says: “It was nice to see you after such a long time. It makes me wonder…” Ororo continues: “…what might have been. Me, too.” The narrator: “They had a special moment in their lives… / …a moment, which once past can never return. They both know it. And maybe that’s what makes the separation so painful. / And yet, they leave. / But they will always be good friends, nothing more. Never.”
Excuse me, did I miss something? It’s implied they had romantic feelings for each other, but now it’s over. Could someone, please, explain? When? Where? Or is it only because they are both dark skinned they are somehow expected to feel attraction to each other?
Well, now everyone who has read the story lately knows Storm and Black Panther are married, but I doubt they knew that would happen in the early 1980s when this story was written.
In fact, this story was probably cut down from a story spanning two issues and they cut off all the juicy parts. That would explain why the artist changes mid-story from John Byrne to Bob McLeod.
Rogue – nimi kauniille kuolemalle…
“Rogue – name for a beautiful death…” It says so in the cover and beside it walks Rogue looking as pretty as Byrne can draw her. At least I think it’s his cover, there is no signature visible. Well, inside the artist has changed into Michael Golden with Armando Gil in inks.
In Finland we have a law – at least today we have – which says you are not allowed to make a statement about a product in advertising that is not actually true. I think this magazine cover broke the law. Just look at this.
Here is another flaw the artist repeats. Below is the right side page from the magazine and my instinct is to read these panels starting from top left, then go one panel below and then to the top right panel. Wrong! There is a small arrow that tells the correct direction is to read first the top left panel and then the top right panel and then turn back to the panel below the first one. I think a skilled artist would have figured out some other solution for making the reading order more obvious to the reader than an undersized arrow which interrupts the natural flow. Besides, the page looks messy, there is no space and no eye catcher.
Yep. It’s moments like these which make us appreciate the good artists. Byrne, please come back!
I did Google for more art by Michael Golden and he has made better looking art, so it could very well be this comic was drawn in a hurry, or the co-operation between Golden and Gil didn’t work or something. So don’t label him yet under “the bad artists”. We must wait for another specimen from him to be sure. Let’s give him another chance to prove himself.