Appearing in "The Crawl"
- Bounty Hunters
- Maryanne's husband.
- Magneto (Mentioned)
- Klyruvians (Mentioned). Grovel's race.
- Cody Robbins (Mentioned)
- Carol Danvers (Mentioned)
- Marauders (Only in flashback)
- Bastion (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "The Crawl"
The issue opens at the World Trade Center. Maggott is there, experiencing memories of other people and overhearing their conversations. One memory involves a gorilla. Another features an elderly couple, Maryanne and her husband, who discuss how they are going to get through a difficult situation. A third one involves a young boy looking through his binoculars, and his father instructing him that they can see their house in Canada from there. Which the boy finds silly. These random flashbacks have no meaning for Maggott.
Then Maggott finally locates a flashback about the man he is searching for, Joseph. In a scene taken from Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 341 (February, 1997), he sees Joseph kissing Rogue on the forehead. He is wishing her Merry Christmas. The memory ends and Maggot is confused. He recognizes the man but not the woman in the flashback. He questions what did Joseph do that was so great for her.
One of his two slugs lets out a sound of impatience and attracts Maggot's attention. He asks the "girl" to wait a minute before they do their thing. He asks whether the slugs are capable of thinking. The two of them were able to lead him on Joseph's trail and devoured anything that stood in their way. But now they are looking at New York City, which Maggott thinks is "the biggest city in the world". Are they capable of looking and dreaming? As if in answer, the slugs merge with him. He glows with energy and his skin seems to shift in color.
Maggott gazes down into the city below. He thinks that it was not so long ago that he lived a life of indentured servitude in a place far away from this metropolis. Then he changed, something began to grow inside him. Then came the slugs. Sometimes he wishes that things could go back to the way they were, and that very thought both frightens and shocks him. His thoughts turn back to Joseph. He is confident that they are getting closer to their target and that they are going to meet him face to face. Then things will get better and Maggott may finally be free.
The scene shifts to Antarctica. Trish Tilby looks behind her back and thinks of how she got there. She recalls going on her own to search for other survivors from the crash-landing of their spacecraft. She did find survivors but could not help them when they were carted away by unfamiliar forces. She is trying to get back to the Beast in hopes that he can help. She fears for her own safety while walking these dark tunnels. Suddenly, a hand grasps her from behind.
Two hands cover her eyes and voice asks her to guess who. She recognizes the voice of her blue-furred boyfriend. Hank says that she is close to the truth, but still incorrect. He is her boyfriend but no longer blue. She turns and is surprised to see Hank without his fur, in a completely human form. She claims it is only twenty minutes since they last saw each other, and wonders what happened to him. His hypothesis that a device within these caverns has left some of his own DNA sub-structures dormant. He is temporarily depowered and became a common human, rather than a mutant. He clarifies that there is nothing wrong with that.
The scene shifts to the base of Magneto, built above the caverns below. Gambit sits prisoner alongside the snoring Grovel. He thinks that this should have been the happiest day in his entire life. He and Rogue were finally able to touch each other with no fear of her dormant powers and for the first time were able to fully express their love for each other. Remy is however brooding and thinks this was a mistake. After all he has done, Remy still tried to convince himself that he deserves to be happy. He now faces the fact that this is never going to happen, either for him or for Rogue. He has to face his past once and for all.
Rogue touches him gently from behind. She thinks Remy is brooding over failing to find a way to escape and tries to comfort him. She says that she does not care about anything but the two of them. She thinks back to their first ride on his bike and how she could feel that Remy was a person who actually cared about her. Remy was a person who loved her and a person that she could love. She declares that she does love him, but Gambit protests. He claims that Rogue can not love him because she does not really know him.
Rogue acknowledges that Gambit has his secrets, but she hopes that in time he will share them with her. He is certain that if this happens she will be unable to forgive him. He quickly gets away from her by jumping to the other side of Grovel. A surprised Rogue attempts to follow him, but Spat intervenes and yanks the chain attached to Rogue's neck. Spat stops her from following Gambit and wants to talk about the memory flashes Rogue is having since her powers turned off. After their talk she wants to see how eager Rogue will be to chase after Remy.
The scene shifts back to New York City. Maggott attends an art exhibit and thinks that he can not figure humanity. This exhibit supposedly celebrates what is different in this world. Meanwhile the people involved in it go about their lives and ignore Operation: Zero Tolerance. The Operation is rounding up mutants because they are different and these people do not react. He thinks there is no figuring some types. A voice from the shadows responds to his thoughts, and proclaims that Maggott himself is one of the types that are difficult to figure out.
Maggott is alarmed and prepares for a fight. He challenges his unseen opponent to show himself and allow them to throw down like real men. His opponent turns out to be a woman, Psylocke. She attacks with a series of kicks to his face, which break his glasses and draw blood from fresh wounds. Maggott touches his face and explains that he already figured he would encounter the X-Men types. But judging from their reputation, he expected them to be a bit more reasonable.
Psylocke points that she usually is more reasonable. But she senses a great darkness within him. She introduces herself and finds his codename "Maggott" to be suspicious in itself. She became aware of his existence only moments ago and she is there to prevent him from hurting her fellow X-Men. Maggott seems to transform, as his black skin turns blue and his clothes are torn from raw muscle. He seems pissed and unleashes his slugs. He threatens that "harm" does not even begin to define what they are going to do to her. She is surprised to see the slugs as she did not sense them before.
The scene shifts to Archangel, who is flying above the city and looking for Psylocke. He thinks about the recent changes in his lover, and that she is no longer the same person. His only clue for her whereabouts is that she was last seen staring at the World Trade Center, though he figures it could be something random. He listens to someone screaming about mutants and "giant worms", and decides to respond to the call for help. He comments that he is still getting used to dating "a telepathic ninja".
The scene shifts back to Antarctica. Grovel is awake and has noticed Gambit brooding by his side. He admits that among Gambit's old allies, he is not the one who loved him most. But his race, the Klyruvians, do not like seeing anybody with a sad-on. He encourages Gambit to tell Rogue his secret. He loves her and she loves him, and things like that do not happen every day. He points that Remy can not keep outrunning his past forever.
Gambit tells the "old man", that this is really simple. If he does tell Rogue, he will lose her. Grovel tells the "kid", that this is simpler than Gambit thinks. If Remy does not tell her, he will not lose her. But only because she was never his to lose. The thought seems to get to Gambit.
On the other side of Grovel, Rogue is speaking to Spat. She admits to having had to share her mind with many people over the years. She says this started with Cody Robbins, continued with Carol Danvers, and has since included anybody that she ever touched. But she does not know how to handle the memories from Gambit, which are different than the others. They have left a scar in her own memory but she has failed to make sense of them.
Spat asks Rogue what she remembers seeing in these memories. Rogue responds that she remembers mostly "shadows". A flashback reveals a number of shadowy figures, with none of them recognizable. One figure seems to be kneeling on the ground, and another seems to be towering above it. Others are standing nearby. Rogue theorizes that the kneeling figure is Gambit. Spat instructs that these should be eight people and that Gambit is arguing with the towering figure. (By implication these are the original Marauders and the towering figure is probably an unnamed Sabretooth). Rogue says that she can not hear what the shadowy figures are saying, and the flashback ends.
Spat concludes that Rogue can not listen to them, because she is afraid of the truth. Spat then falls silent, as do Rogue and the listening Grovel. Gambit adds that the truth is subjective and means different things to different people. Their conversation ends when Joseph breaks into their cell, breaking walls. He proclaims that their personal drama is insignificant and informs them of Operation: Zero Tolerance has launched a dull-scale offensive against their mutant comrades. He wants them to break free and go help them.
Gambit wants to know hod did Joseph manage to break free of his own cell and get in their cell, passing through several levels of his own old base. Joseph wants to know if Gambit is still suspicious of him and implying something about his escape. Rogue breaks up their confrontation with a vote of confidence for Joseph. She then notices that Gambit has escaped his own chains and is working on releasing her from the chains. She asks whether Gambit could have freed them at any time before Joseph's arrival. Gambit replies that before they had no plan, now they do.
Gambit released Rogue and works on releasing Spat next. Someone instructs him to leave the bounty hunters behind, as they have no time to waste. (The speaking balloon points at Spat, but the words seem to be Joseph's instead. This is probably an error). Gambit disagrees and points that he is not not going to abandon them in the middle of Antarctica. Spat seems puzzled by his intentions to help her.
The scene shifts to the area of the World Trade Center, where Maggott's slugs are devouring the remains of the art exhibition. Maggott continues to fight Psylocke, although he claims that he does not actually want to hurt her. This is why he has not send his slugs against her. Psylocke finds his attitude condescending, but points that she does not care about what he wants to do. She simply intends to take him down. Maggott feels that she talks too much and is not impressed with her fighting techniques. Psylocke prepares to use one technique that he has not seen yet.
Psylocke strikes Maggott with her psi blade, which cleaves through an individual's mental defenses, disables the brain's higher functions, and briefly bonds her target with her own mind. However she finds that this mind is already tethered elsewhere, connected with his slugs. The slugs seem enraged at the attack and one starts roaring. Psylocke starts feeling the effects of the incomplete bonding, looses focus, and seems dizzy. Maggott is still conscious but looses control of his slugs. He pleads with Meany to not attack, but "she" does anyway. Archangel appears and batters "her" up with a pole, rescuing Psylocke from the attack.
Warren addresses Betsy, pointing that they have more things on their plate. Members of the X-Men have been captured by Bastion and they have to find them. Other members of the X-Men have disappeared into space and they have to figure out ways to contact them. He asks whether she actually needed to go in search of a different threat. Psylocke, who has recovered, claims that Maggot is much more than simply a threat. She looked within him and all she saw was a great darkness. The two lovers look at Maggott's unconscious body and Warren comments that this can not be good.
The scene shifts back to Antarctica. Gambit, Grovel, Joseph, Rogue, and Spat have escaped and are making their way through the caves. Gambit doubts that their captors are going to let them leave that easily. For the time being they are simply following their "savior", Joseph. Joseph finds Gambit annoying and asks him to shut up. He points that Remy's other option is to stay there, wallowing in self-pity for the unspeakable crimes he has committed. Joseph himself has grown tired of being manipulated by events beyond his control. Rogue complains that Joseph is being too harsh with Remy, but he denies it. Spat sarcastically asks whether the X-Men always get along this well. Both Joseph and Rogue answer "no".
A sudden explosion of light and sound right in their way prevents the five from continuing walking. The others seems shocked, but Joseph seems enraged. He wants an end to this "nonsense" and challenges whoever is responsible to step forth from the shadows and confront them directly. Nanny steps forward, with an army of cyborgs and robots standing behind her. She points that Joseph sounds cranky, and she offers a solution. It is time for their nap, their final, eternal sleep (death).
Gambit points that they are outnumbered and overpowered. He says this is exactly the situation he was hoping to avoid. He concludes that they should not have left their cell until they knew what was actually going on here. A mysterious figure watching them from a monitor, the new Erik the Red comments that none of them have the slightest clue as to what is going on.
Nanny claims that she has tried being nice to them, being kind, being patient. But they wanted to play. She proclaims that play time is over. As she speaks, Nanny transforms. The familiar features of the feminine robot in a French maid's uniform change to those of a combat robot. Her eyes glow, her artificial hair are replaced with long sharp tacks, her arms are now metallic fists with spikes, and her lower party is transformed to a giant mace-like Wheel. She seems deadly.
Rogue asks her fellow escapees if any of them have any powers. In turn, Joseph, Gambit, Spat, and Grovel answer that they do not have powers. Nanny prepares to kill them all, but she is suddenly decapitated. As she "dies", the powers of the mutants return. She has time to tell that the foolish children only delayed the inevitable and that the trial has only begun. Gambit realizes that the device keeping them powerless was built within Nanny herself.
Joseph wonders who rescued them, as he can not see who destroyed Nanny. Gambit uses energy to shed a light at the area next to Nanny. The light reveals that the killer of Nanny and their rescuer is Trish Tilby. Trish holds a crowbar in her hands. She greets them and explains that she was only the muscle in this rescue plan. "Blue" (the Beast) provided the brains. Hank appears next to her.
Beast examines what remains of Nanny's head. He claims that he did not attempt to destroy Nanny himself, not because he was a coward. He figured that a regular human like Trish would be able to approach their target without being noticed, staying under the radar. Trish asks the gang to not get used to being rescued by her. She is the superheroine of the day, but she fully intents to return to her career as a news anchor.
Beast points that they still have a mystery to solve. Joseph was not the one who recreated Nanny and upgraded her with the technology necessary to negate mutant powers. But they still do not know who was responsible. They also do not know why they were brought here, Or what drew them into this place. Rogue points that there are more important questions in need of answers. She figures Gambit can provide them with some answers.
She asks her lover what he has been hiding from them all this time. He refuses to answer, but also proclaims that he is also tired of hiding, tired of running from his past, and tired of living with shame. He turns himself in to the bounty hunters, with Spat tying up his arms. He asks Rogue to forgive him, as he will never forgive himself. As Gambit, Grovel, and Spat step away, the story ends.
- The mysterious man monitoring events in Magneto's old base is heard only once in this issue and not actually seen. The following issue reveals the man and the mastermind of this entire plot to be the new Erik the Red. Who is in turn revealed to be the original Magneto, reducing Joseph to merely a clone of the original.
- Archangel, Beast, Eany, Grovel, Joseph, Maggott, Meany, Psylocke, Spat, and Trish Tilby are all effectively members of the main cast of this storyline and go on to appear in the next issue, which concludes it.
- The only character who is not really a member of the core main cast is Erik the Red/Magneto. The Marvel Chronology Project, which tracks character appearances, has the following information on him:
- He was behind-the-scenes since Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 346 (August, 1997), throughout the X-Men's stay in Antarctica. His previous chronological appearances were (in order) a full appearance in X-Men Vol 2 43 (August, 1995), a flashback in Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 366 (March, 1999), flashbacks in X-Men Vol 2 86 (March, 1999), and a flashback in Gambit Annual Vol 1 1999 (September, 1999). In other words, he had not been used in stories set in the present since 1995.
- It is unclear why the Beast lost his blue fur when he became depowered. His actual powers are superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility, reflexes, and dexterity, and a healing factor. The fur is the result of a mutation by his own scientific experiments, not a mutant power. He ingested a Mutant Growth Hormone as seen in Amazing Adventures Vol 2 11 (March, 1972) and this radically changed his appearance. He has actually switched back and forth between his mostly human and furry forms before. He lost his original fur in X-Factor Vol 1 3 (April, 1986), and regained his blue fur in X-Factor Vol 1 31 (August, 1988), albeit with an unstable form. He was switching constantly. He was stuck in furry form in X-Factor Vol 1 33 (October, 1988).
- The great darkness Psylocke senses within Maggott was never really explained. Later writers hinted that it had something to do with his slugs. Some demonic connection was possible as the slugs resemble the demon Pilgrimm of the Ru'Tai. However the resemblance was also left unexplained and the slugs never received a proper origin.
- Despite Psylocke's concerns that Maggot is a villain who is going to harm the X-Men, the issue portrays their fight quite differently. She effectively attacks unprovoked and with extreme violence. He is trying to defend himself without actually hurting her.
- Maggott has claimed before that his slugs can eat humans, though this is unconfirmed. In this issue Meany is enraged enough to attack Psylocke on "her" own and the implication is that "she" it trying to devour Betsy.
- The issue reveals that Grovel is one of the Klyruvians, but never explains what kind of a race are they. Given Grovel's reptilian race, they are probably not Humans or closely related to them. Whether they are a terrestrial race or an extra-terrestrial (alien) race is unclear. Grovel made no more appearances following the conclusion of this storyline and the actual nature of the character remains a mystery.
- The issue says that Gambit and a depowered Rogue were able to touch and fully express their love for the first time. The implication is that they had sex for the first time, though this is left up to the imagination of the readers. Subsequent issues have cast doubts if this was Rogue's loss of virginity.
- It is unclear how does the Sliding Timescale affect this issue. All New York City scenes take place in the World Trade Center and its vicinity. Is the Center supposed to exist in the altered timeline or was it destroyed before the timescale even started?
- There is a bit of a dropped subplot from the previous issue. In Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 348 (October, 1997), two mysterious figures were portrayed standing behind the Beast, unnoticed. This issue simply ignores the existence of these figures, who are consequently forgotten and their presence is left unexplained.
- The escape of the X-Men seems a bit too easy. Joseph escaped his cell, despite being powerless and chained. He then escaped Nanny's robots and cyborgs, located where the other prisoners were held, and actually knocked down the walls of their cells. How strong is he supposed to be without his powers? Because the fit seems like implying superhuman strength. And Gambit was struggling futilely with picking up a single lock of his chain in the previous issue. In this one, Remy effortlessly frees himself, Rogue, Spat, and Grovel from all of their chains.
- This is actually the first time, Nanny attempts to kill her charges instead of simply keeping them prisoner and trying to discipline them. Her combat mode and ability to transform are also new features.
- While it is refreshing to see Trish Tilby rescue the lives of the X-Men, instead of the other way around, there is one inconsistency. She apparently was able to approach Nanny without being noticed, because Nanny only focuses on mutants instead of ordinary humans. What happened to all the cyborgs and robots that were standing behind Nanny? They are seen in a single panel and then forgotten.
- Nanny seems dangerous but is easily taken down with a single blow with a crowbar. So much for the main villain of the last couple of issues.
- This is technically the last issue of Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 where Scott Lobdell is credited as the main writer of the series. He was likely the uncredited co-plotter of Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 350 (December, 1997), but that issue only credits Steven T. Seagle as its writer. The Gambit storyline that Lobdell has been advancing for several issues concludes in #350, with Lobdell's clues to Gambit's past being revealed in full. Gambit is finally revealed as a former agent of Mister Sinister, ally (or member) of the Marauders, and reluctant accomplice in the Mutant Massacre. This was most likely plotted by Lobdell, not Seagle.
- Scott Lobdell was a co-writer or sole writer of Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 from issue #286 (March, 1992) to issue #349 (November, 1997). His run on the title lasted for 5 years and 8 months. Counting Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 -1 (July, 1997), this translates to 64 regular issues of the title. He had the longest run of any X-Men writer of the 1990s. This tends to result in him both getting praised for many of the series' strengths in this period and blamed for its perceived flaws.
- Scott Lobdell has received a mixed reputation as an X-Men writer. He is commonly perceived as being particularly strong as a writer, when it came to handling the relatively quiet moments of the X-Men and their individual characterizations. His battle scenes are considered far less memorable in comparison. His contributions to crossover storylines such as Onslaught were memorable but often poorly regarded by readers. However many of these crossover storylines were affected by editorial decisions, and it is unclear how much influence Lodbell actually had on them.
- In an interview, Scott Lobdell recalled training Steven T. Seagle as his replacement and giving him writing tips about the X-Men. Lobdell left the title rather abruptly, however, due to declining relations with the editorial staff of Marvel. Seagle later recalled that the editorial staff had him, as the new writer, on a tight leash during his entire run and often asked him to completely rewrite stories to fit their own constantly changing ideas. The writing process of the series kept being chaotic for the rest of the decade. The effects this had on the quality and consistency of the book is often debated.
- Besides the main storyline about Gambit and his past, Lobdell spend his last few issues on the series introducing subplots about several X-Men-related characters. These included Bishop (feeling disconnected from the X-Men and lonely, potentially romantically interested in Deathbird, stranded in space with her), Callisto (mentor and mother figure to Marrow, severely wounded and needing care from her), Deathbird (potentially romantically interested in Bishop, keeping her love interest prisoner, effectively running away from her position as viceroy of the Shi'ar Empire, plotting to run her own empire by Bishop's side), Joseph (loosing his innocence, recalling some of Magneto's memories and becoming a bit angrier at the world, potentially inheriting Magneto's grudges), Maggott (obsessed with tracking down Joseph across continents, potentially very dangerous and with darkness within him, but not a villain at heart), Marrow (bloodthirsty and cynical, daughter-like to Callisto, seeking to aid the X-Men and join them despite their ideological differences). Several of these subplots were picked up and continued by other writers, possibly in ways unintended by Lobdell.
- A number of subplots introduced by Lodbell in either Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 or X-Men Vol 2 were ignored by later writers and consequently never resolved. For example, there was a subplot about Jean Grey's powers acting in mysterious ways. In X-Men Vol 2 61 (February, 1997), Jean found herself briefly in a version of Manhattan devoid of life. In X-Men Vol 2 65 (June, 1997), Jean was briefly teleported to Counter-Earth and met its version of Iron Man. How and why she kept teleporting was never explained. During Operation: Zero Tolerance Lobdell prominently used Sabra as a new ally of the X-Men. He explained in an interview that he planned for her to become one of the new members of the X-Men. With his departure the idea was ignored. Maggott, Marrow, and Cecilia Reyes joined the X-Men, Sabra did not. The effects of her pro-X-Men actions on her contacts with the Mossad were never explored.
- Lobdell did not keep away from the Uncanny X-Men for long. He returned to Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 to write issues #390-393 (March–June, 2001). He replaced Chris Claremont and was in turn replaced by Joe Casey. Lobdell also co-wrote Uncanny X-Men Annual Vol 1 2000 (February, 2001).
- This is the first issue of Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 where the art is credited to Chris Bachalo, who is mentioned as a guest artist. Bachalo went on to several regular runs of the title, being an artist in issues #353-356 (March–June, 1998), #358 -360 (August–October, 1998), #362-363 (December, 1998-January, 1999), #365 (February, 1999), #464-468 (November, 2005-March, 2006), and finally #472 (July, 2006).