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    Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 - Claremont, Byrne Pérez



    Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 - Claremont, Byrne Pérez
    Dave Cockrum & Frank Miller (covers/portadas)
    Chris Claremont always had a very special talent as a writer: he could balance high octane action with character development and even references to real world problems. Thirty years ago, in New Mutants, he talked about deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest and the importance of having a more ecological approach. And in “Cry for the Children” (published in Uncanny X-Men # 122, June 1979), Claremont and Byrne place the most powerful member of the X-Men in a most unusual setting.

    I am talking about Storm (Ororo Munroe), who out of curiosity decides to visit her parents’ former house. As she walks through the dangerous streets of Harlem she realizes that either her memories betray her or the “sweet” home no longer exists. Indeed, what the Mistress of the Elements sees is something that goes beyond filth and poverty, what she sees is depravation and human misery on a scale she could hardly conceive. In order to portray all of this visually, Chris Claremont needed a talented artist like John Byrne who could “focus on a single character or a group, showing not only Ororo’s reaction to the ruined, devastated space her childhood home had become but the wasted lives that inhabit it now”.

    When Storm opens the door of what was once her parents’ apartment, she stumbles upon a group of young people injecting themselves with heroin. Ororo’s impeccable attire is contrasted against her surroundings: broken condoms in the floor, and a plethora of graffiti covering the building’s walls (curiously, John Byrne includes the names of dozens of Marvel creators as part of the graffiti, from Jim Shooter to Bob Wiacek, from Roger Stern to Jo Duffy and so on). This is an amazing page with hundreds of little details, but the large panel in which we see the boys and girls in a complete state of abandonment is priceless. “Children everywhere -- all young, all painfully thin, all filthy as the room itself. Some look up as Ororo enters, most don’t care -- too far gone into their private, heroine-created fantasylands, or desperately intent on getting there themselves”.

    But this is not only a room; this is a reflection of the entire neighborhood: drugs, robberies and murders are quite frequent in Harlem. After facing Magneto, after fighting against the Shadow King, after struggling with the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, the Mistress of the Elements suddenly finds herself at loss. With the ability to control weather patterns worldwide she has enough power to defeat an entire army, but what can she do against a group of kids addicted to heroin? 

    A couple of black urban heroes, Misty Knight and Luke Cage (Power Man), appear in the proverbial nick of time to help Ororo. Storm is horrified by the age of the children that tried to attack her to get money and buy more drugs; Luke Cage doesn’t try to console her but he shares some of his insights about “a society more concerned about caging 13-year-olds for life than trying to give them a decent chance […] we can save humanity from Doc Doom or Galactus -- but not from itself”. Finally, painfully, Storm accepts that some things can never be fixed by superheroes.  

    Immediately after this harsh encounter with reality, the X-Men are captured by Arcade and are forced to fight for their lives in Murderworld. In “Listen -- Stop Me If You’ve Heard It -- But This One Will Kill You” (Uncanny X-Men # 123, July 1979), the villainous Arcade manages to brainwash Colossus and turns him into the Proletarian, a blatant reference to communism and the Soviet Union. The fight against Arcade concludes in “He Only Laughs When I Hurt” (Uncanny X-Men # 124, August 1979). 
    Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 - Claremont, Byrne Pérez
    Storm visiting her old home / Storm visitando su antiguo hogar

    Finally, we have “A Fire in the Sky” (The X-Men Annual # 3), written by Chris Claremont and penciled by the great George Pérez. Pérez is now famous for drawing the entire DC Universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths and for his long run on Wonder Woman. In 1979, he was a very promising artist but not as famous as he is today. As Chris Claremont explains, John Byrne was too busy to draw the annual (which was a double-sized issue) so they needed a penciler of John’s caliber, and George was the right choice, he could “handle team choreography, action galore, physical and emotional characterization, spectacular visuals, special effects…” And indeed, George Pérez’s pages turned out to be magnificent.

    In this annual, once again Storm plays the most important role, as she is persuaded by Arkon, the Imperion, to save an alien planet that is on the verge of extinction due to atmospheric conditions. Originally, Arkon had tried to find Thor, the god of thunder, but in the end he finds that the Mistress of the Elements can be every bit as effective as the Norse god. 

    To be continued...
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    Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 - Claremont, Byrne Pérez
    The perils of heroine / los peligros de la heroína

    Chris Claremont siempre tuvo un talento muy especial como escritor: podía balancear acción a raudales con el desarrollo de personajes e incluso hacer referencias a problemas del mundo real. Hace treinta años, en New Mutants, habló sobre la deforestación de los bosques de Brasil y la importancia de la ecología. Y en “Llanto por los niños” (publicado en Uncanny X-Men # 122, junio de 1979), Claremont y Byrne colocan al más poderoso miembro de los X-Men en un escenario sumamente inusual.

    Hablo de Storm (Ororo Munroe), que llevada por la curiosidad visita la antigua casa de sus padres. Mientras camina en las peligrosas calles de Harlem, se da cuenta que o bien sus recuerdos la traicionan o bien el "dulce" hogar ya no existe. De hecho, lo que la Señora de los Elementos ve es algo que supera la inmundicia y la pobreza, lo que ve es la depravación y la miseria humana en una escala que apenas puede concebir. Para expresar todo esto visualmente, Chris Claremont necesitaba un artista talentoso como John Byrne que pudiese "enfocarse en un sólo personaje o grupo, mostrando no solamente la reacción de Ororo ante el espacio arruinado y devastado en el que se había convertido el hogar de su infancia, sino también las vidas desperdiciadas de quienes lo habitan ahora".
    Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 - Claremont, Byrne Pérez
    The Proletarian / el Proletario

    Cuando Storm abre la puerta de lo que alguna vez fue el departamento de sus padres, se tropieza con un grupo de jovencitos que se están inyectando heroína. El impecable atuendo de Ororo contrasta con el lugar: condones rotos en el piso, y una plétora de grafitis que cubre todas las paredes (curiosamente, John Byrne incluye el nombre de docenas de creadores de Marvel, como Jim Shooter, Bob Wiacek, Roger Stern, Jo Duffy, etc.). Esta es una asombrosa página con cientos de pequeños detalles, pero la viñeta grande en la que vemos a los chicos y chicas en un completo estado de abandono no tiene precio. "Niños por doquier -- todos jóvenes, todos dolorosamente delgados, todos inmundos como la misma habitación. Algunos alzan la vista cuando Ororo entra, a la mayoría no le importa -- demasiado idos en sus tierras de fantasía creadas por la heroína, o intentando desesperadamente perderse en ellas".
    Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 - Claremont, Byrne Pérez
    the villainous Arcade / el villanesco Arcade

    Pero esto no es sólo un cuarto; esto es el reflejo de un barrio entero: drogas, robos y asesinatos son frecuentes en Harlem. Luego de enfrentar a Magneto, luego de pelear contra el Rey Sombra, luego de luchar con la guardia imperial Shi'ar, la Señora de los Elementos repentinamente está perdida. Con la habilidad de controlar los patrones del clima en todo el mundo tiene suficiente poder para vencer a un ejército, pero ¿qué puede hacer contra un grupo de chiquillos adictos a la heroína?

    Un par de héroes urbanos negros,  Misty Knight y Luke Cage (Power Man), aparecen en el momento justo para ayudar a Ororo. Storm se horroriza por la edad de los niños que intentaron atacarla para conseguir dinero y comprar más drogas; Luke Cage no intenta consolarla pero comparte algunas de sus reflexiones sobre "una sociedad más preocupada con enjaular a niños de 13 años de por vida que intentar darles una oportunidad decente [...] Podemos salvar a la humanidad del Doctor Doom o Galactus -- pero no de sí misma". Finalmente, dolorosamente, Storm acepta que algunas cosas no pueden ser arregladas por los súper-héroes.
    Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 - Claremont, Byrne Pérez
    George Pérez

    Inmediatamente después de este duro encuentro con la realidad, los X-Men son capturados por Arcade y son forzados a pelear por sus vidas en Murderworld. En "Escucha -- deténme si lo has escuchado -- pero esta te matará" (Uncanny X-Men # 123, julio de 1979), el villanesco Arcade se las arregla para lavarle el cerebro a Colossus y convertirlo en el Proletario, una burda referencia al comunismo y la Unión Soviética. La pelea contra Arcade concluye en "Sólo se ríe cuando me duele" (Uncanny X-Men # 124, agosto de 1979). 

    Finalmente, tenemos "Un fuego en el cielo" (The X-Men Annual # 3), escrito por Chris Claremont y dibujado por George Pérez. Pérez es famoso ahora por dibujar al universo DC entero en "Crisis en Tierras Infinitas" y por su larga etapa en Wonder Woman. En 1979, era un artista muy prometedor pero no tan famoso como hoy. Tal como explica Chris Claremont, John Byrne estaba muy ocupado para dibujar el anual (que encima tenía doble cantidad de páginas), así que necesitaban a un artista del calibre de John, y George fue la elección correcta, él podía "manejar la coreografía del equipo, la acción trepidante, la caracterización física y emocional, los espectaculares efectos especiales y visuales..." Y de hecho, las páginas de George Pérez fueron magníficas.
    Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 - Claremont, Byrne Pérez
    X-Men versus Arkon

    En este anual, nuevamente Storm desempeña un rol clave, al ser persuadida por Arkon, el Imperion, para salvar un planeta alienígena al borde de la extinción a causa de las condiciones atmosféricas. Originalmente, Arkon había intentado encontrar a Thor, el dios del trueno, pero al final descubre que la Señora de los Elementos puede ser tan efectiva como el dios nórdico.

    Continuará...

    Originally Published at http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2012/10/marvel-masterworks-uncanny-x-men-vol-4.html

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    About the Author - Arion


    Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog -  http://artbyarion.blogspot.com – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.

     


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