Uncanny X-Men #191

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Romita Jr. & Dan Green
Editor-In-Chief: Jim Shooter
Publishing Date: March, 1985

Let me start by saying that this issue is undoubtedly a departure from the normal X-Men stories. There are no Sentinels or half-witted street toughs for the X-Men to knock around. The opening splash shows Spider-Man beaten, bloodied and shackled. The reader is thrown into the storyline right away; no back-story or foreshadowing. I have to admit that it makes for a very confusing story (at least for me) as lots of story is thrown at the reader very quickly. Another wrench in the works for me was the villain. The baddie in this story is some evil wizard who wears a black dunce cap and appears to have a serious epidermal condition. His name Kulan Gath, and apparently he was able change Manhattan into a brutal hellscape. Everybody and everything in the city changes to reflect a medieval time period, with the exception of Spider-Man, Magik, Warlock and Dr. Strange (who was imprisoned in a stone-form). The X-Men, Avengers, New Mutants and all city inhabitants are either captured or unaware that anything bad happened. I was wondering why some characters are aware that their world had been tampered with, and others were not. The story was balls-to-the-wall confusing.

So, in the end, you learn that the necklace he wears is the source of his power. Magik is able to strip the necklace from him, and Dr. Strange gets released from his prison. He creates an alternate reality that changed the course of events in the past so that the necklace is not found by the weak-willed hood who found it originally. I suppose it is like the "One Ring" from Lord of the Rings. The item survives for great periods of time, and it grants its wearer significant evil powers. I had to look up Kulan Gath on Wikipedia to make any sense of the character. He started out as a villain from the Conan books, which makes sense...but how was I supposed to know that unless I read Conan books? There were no editor's notes to help me out--throw me a freakin' bone here Scott! The necklace ends up with one poor sap who either gets killed or somehow gets rid of the necklace. If someone of weak willpower finds the necklace, they are likely to be the next host for the Kulan Gath spirit...or something like that.

The writing was good if you look at it for face value as the dialogue and narration were high quality, in my opinion. The artwork was good, as John Romita Jr.'s style still has a contemporary look at that time. The big problem was the overall story and not knowing how and why things were happening. Info from Wikipedia made the story make sense a bit, but they didn't have Wikipedia in 1985...so those original readers probably thought that they were idiotic dolts by not understanding what was going on.

I'd give Uncanny X-Men #191 a 4/10.