Last week’s installment gave us a glorious stand-alone 100th-issue anniversary of the X-Men team debuted in Giant-Sized X-Men #1. The following issue gives us a similarly awesome experience, also written by Chris Claremont and pencilled by John Romita, Jr. with inks by Dan Green and Steve Leialoha, which opens with a layout of five horizontal panels, each taking up 20% of the page. In each of them, a large, red-haired figure in civilian clothes looms ever closer as he walks through a New York City street. There are sirens, and a police officer giving calming words to nearby citizens. The big man asks what the problem is, and on the next page, we get the answer–THE JUGGERNAUT’S BACK IN TOWN! The large, red-haired man is, of course, the reason for the state of emergency, though the cop doesn’t recognize him in civvies. Fans of this era of X-Men comics may recall the last appearance of the Juggernaut, in issue #183, where Wolverine used a random encounter with Juggy in a bar to teach Colossus a well-deserved lesson on how one should treat their friends.*
Ol’ Juggy must have gotten up pretty early for his NYC stroll, because some of the X-Men are still in bed. Nightcrawler reacts as the X-Men’s field leader should, bolting upright when his radio blares the news of the Juggernaut’s arrival. Shadowcat’s reaction is similarly genuine for a girl of her age; she phases her hand through her alarm clock, killing it. Now, you have to give Claremont a bit of artistic leeway, here: there’s no reason as yet why the media would even know Cain’s in town, or why Kurt and Kitty are sleeping with the radios on (or else, their alarms have just gone of in convenient timing with the news). But a couple pages later, Claremont gets us where we need to be, and it’s fun to see a few panels of each X-Man starting their day (or wishing they’d never rolled out of bed).
A brief interlude with Storm in Kenya gives us the first appearance of the Strucker twins, Andrea and Andreas, known together as Fenris. They are the children of HYDRA baddie Baron von Strucker and have the mutant ability to fire concussive and disintegrating blasts as long as they are physically joined to one another. We don’t see that in this issue, though. The two blonde, European tourists get into it with Ororo when Andreas tries to put the moves on an African woman working at the safari-style rest stop they’re at, but limit the combat to simple hand-to-hand and firearms. Ororo wins, of course–as if there’d be any doubt!
We cut back to the X-Men in New York, surveilling the Juggernaut as he sits in a bank; it looks like he’s applying for a loan or opening an account–anything but what you’d expect him to be doing (i.e., robbing the joint). The X-Men decide to observe Cain and leave him alone as long he doesn’t start trouble. Right after that, Nimrod teleports into the bank announcing his intention to eliminate the criminal Juggernaut as well as the two mutants his sensors have identified in the bank–Kitty and Phoenix II (Rachel Summers), who’d been shadowing Juggy from inside the bank, in plainclothes.
A quick word about Nimrod, here. His first appearance was in issue #191, only three issues prior. The Sentinel from Rachel Summers’ future had appeared in a few pages here and there, and he’s the focus of a couple other mid-eighties X-Men stories, but this fight with Juggernaut is his first major action. Nimrod is important because he ends up being one of the main components of Bastion, a late-90s character introduced in Uncanny #333, and the mysterious leader of Operation: Zero Tolerance.
Nimrod gives the Juggernaut the beating of his life. Cain battles back well enough for the first few pages, but just as the X-Men begin to intervene, Nimrod knocks the Juggernaut’s helmet off and hits him with a sonic blast that knocks him flat out. Rachel figures out Nimrod’s a robot because she can’t read it’s thoughts, and telepathically notifies Kitty, who’s in the process of being rescued by Rogue after a failed attempt at disrupting Nimrod’s electronics by phasing through him. Kitty makes skin contact with Rogue, giving her the information. Rogue then proceeds to steal the powes of Nightcrawler and Colossus, who along with Wolverine have all been laid out by Nimrod. Rogue trashes Nimrod with a combination of super-strength and teleportation, but the Sentinel teleports away before Rogue can finish the job.
In the aftermath, Juggernaut struggles to his feet. He and the X-Men decide not to engage in combat, since Cain didn’t start the fight, and Cain wanders off to lick his wounds. The very last page is an exchange between Cold War colonel Vashin, who instructs his minion to get information on Nimrod, followed by a brief discussion of the X-Men and an ominous, epecially for the time the comic is set in, mention of impending armageddon.
NEXT WEEK–The Power Pack kids are abducted by the Morlocks!
*And those who’ve come into the X-Men more recently, say, around the time Necrosha came out, might be interested in knowing that that issue featured an early cameo appearance by Selene, at the bar disguised as a single girl looking for a good time. Juggy may very well have had his life-force siphoned off, had Wolvie not provoked a fight between Cain and Piotr.