UXM First Class: Old Acquaintances

Jean Grey and Storm team up with the Sisters of the Dragon for a martial arts extravaganza

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UNCANNY X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #4 preview art by David Williams
By Marc Strom

Who doesn't want to see some X-Men kung fu fighting?

Writer Scott Gray and artist David Williams bring you back to the early days of Marvel's Merry Mutants to deliver just that in UNCANNY X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #4, on sale October 14.

The story returns to a time when Jean Grey roomed with Misty Knight, one-half of the Sisters of the Dragon along with Colleen Wing.

"I've always loved that idea: that the Marvel super hero world in New York was so well-populated that two heroines could end up accidentally sharing an apartment," remarks Gray. "In reality it was [writer] Chris Claremont who brought them together, of course. He was also writing Iron Fist, Misty's boyfriend, at the time. But Chris never got much of an opportunity to show the worlds of the X-Men and Iron Fist overlapping. There was one very funny story where Misty and Jean threw a party which turned into a huge scrap between Iron Fist and the X-Men, but that was about it. I figured there had to be a few untold tales in there; if you've got a super-cool, bionic-armed detective and a telepathic mutant goddess sharing a roof, domestic life is gonna get a little wild from time to time!"

While Gray will play off of pre-existing relationships between Jean and Misty, he'll also add a new element to the mix with the villainous Nightshade, who will plague Jean, Storm and the Sisters of the Dragon for the first time.

UNCANNY X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #4 preview art by David Williams
"I think Nightshade is the most underrated villainess Marvel has on its books," asserts the writer. "She should be a major player! Tilda Johnson's got everything: she's genius-smart, witty, sexy, cunning, a great fighter and has the best hairdo in the entire Marvel Universe. She had already clashed with Misty, so she was a natural choice for the enemy here.

"And then I realised how much she has in common with Storm. They both came from Harlem. They were both dirt-poor. They both had to survive on the streets relying purely on their wits and skill. Even their costumes are similar. But Storm went from thief to hero, and Nightshade went from thief to even bigger thief. That's always interesting, when you can draw a direct comparison between your two opposing players and ask: What made them head in different directions?"

An issue such as this could only have occurred in the beginning years of the All-New, All-Different X-Men, and Gray would like to continue examining a number of other inter-character dynamics that have since changed or disappeared.

"There are miles and miles of uncharted territory," Gray opines. "Charles Xavier and Lilandra, for instance. He's a buttoned-up guy who hasn't had a proper girlfriend since college; she's an alien princess suddenly living on a primitive planet-was that smooth sailing from the start? I suspect not!

UNCANNY X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #4 preview art by David Williams
"I'd also like to delve into Storm's relationship with the X-guys. She kept them all at arm's length at first, so what made her loosen up and start trusting them? And just when did Wolverine start to view Nightcrawler, Colossus and Banshee as genuine friends, as opposed to a bunch of sappy do-gooders? I'd love to explore all of this, but that would mean moving UNCANNY X-MEN: FIRST CLASS past the eight issues we've got, and that'll only happen if sales are strong-so buy an extra copy for a friend, Marvelites!"

Issue #4 sends the X-Men into a genre they don't often play around with, with a strong dash of kung fu mayhem thrown into the mix.

"Yeah, I had 'Kung Fu Fighting' by the legendary Carl Douglas running through my skull the whole time I was writing this story," confesses Gray. "I was addicted to IRON FIST and MASTER OF KUNG FU in my misspent youth, and 'Enter the Dragon' made me a lifelong Bruce Lee devotee. And Misty Knight is such a '70s character-she's Cleopatra Jones meets the Bionic Woman! Her presence instantly gives the comic a Quincy Jones soundtrack."

And looking towards the future, Gray promises to put the X-Men in at least one other genre they may not typically find themselves in.

"I'm planning to throw the X-Men into another genre in issue #8," he vows. "It's one I don't recall them ever entering before, in fact. But it's probably a bit soon to be talking about that yet..."

UNCANNY X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #4 cover by Roger Cruz
Before that, Gray has plenty planned for the young mutants, beginning with this issue's conclusion:

"Well, issue #4 ends on an ominous cliffhanger that leads into a three-issue storyline, a proper cosmic-level battle for our heroes. The X-Men clash with some brand-new enemies, with the survival of Earth at stake-but even if they win, two of them will never be the same again."

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      Comments

      3 comments
      sickenly
      sickenly

      Ok, I really do not like to bad mouth, but UXM First Class #9 was horrible!!!!!!!! What the heck is all that cliche' for? It was kinda racist for one, and two I thought that marvel got past generic themed comics. I kinda feel bad for the team that put this together. I can honestly say I am done with this series.

      neling
      neling

      [quote] And just when did Wolverine start to view Nightcrawler, Colossus and Banshee as genuine friends, as opposed to a bunch of sappy do-gooders?[/quote] Oh how I would love to see this too.

      dcinti
      dcinti

      I am really enjoying this series. Please I hope this doesn't end after no.8. :x-men: