Uncanny X-Men #505
Returning home to the pages where Alpha Flight was born, an Alpha Flight member is once again seen in the pages of the flagship book of the X-titles. Having recently lost nearly all but a handful of mutants following the events of M-Day, the future of mutantkind is further in question as only one mutant has been born since the depowerment. The Beast assembles a team of scientists tasked with solving the mutant birth crisis and out of the blue, Madison Jeffries is asked to join up.
Jeffries hadn’t been seen since Weapon X: Days of Future Now #1 (2005) where he was still brainwashed and working for Malcolm Colcord. Later, in The 198 Files (2006), we learned that his whereabouts were still unknown. It turns out he fled to a facility somewhere outside of the isolated area of Old Crow in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The actual Old Crow is north of the Arctic Circle and inaccessible by road, so this is likely meant to be about as isolated as one can get.
What he was doing in that facility is very unclear. He is shown scribbling furiously in a siege journal, describing a series of attacks that have been going on for weeks, something about sentient halogen lamps and Japanese toilets. After some impressive technomorphing, a bit of robot warfare and some odd binary-speak, he makes his way down to a nanolab, a strategic location that mustn’t fall into enemy hands for an unknown reason, when Dr. Nemesis suddenly calls out his name, almost giving him a heart attack. Nemesis, a character also lost in Marvel limbo for [many more] years who had been recruited in the previous issue, mentions that he thinks Jeffries is brain-damaged, probably because Jeffries asks him if he’s a robot, which is a very odd question. Unfortunately, this rude “brain-damaged” comment, taken at face value by readers who don’t already know from the previous issue that Nemesis is an arrogant jerk and just talks that way about everyone, tied in with all the Japanese toilet attacks and furious paranoid scribbling really leaves readers wondering about Jeffries’ mental state at the time, especially since we hadn’t seen him with all his marbles since, well, 1994 or so around the end of the first Alpha Flight series.
Jeffries’ own explanation for what he was doing there is also difficult to understand and adds to the notion that he’s still unstable. He says to McCoy, without being asked any particular question:
They got into my head, man. They used my powers to make automated mutant death camps. I came up here ’cause I wanted to be hard to find. Get it back together, yeah?
Ok, that part makes sense but when The Angel invites him to join the Science team, Jeffries responds:
I came up here to create in peace. Just wanted to make my machines and get smarter, yeah? Problem is, I did. Got too smart. So did the machines. They decided they didn’t need me anymore. Learned how to self-replicate and adapt. Sealed off the bunker to the outside world and have tried to kill me ever since.
His response to Angel is hard to understand. How Jeffries planned to get smarter is not clear, nor is the line he uttered right as he entered the nanolab, “I could’ve saved the world from this lab”, all hinting to some sort of delusional state suffered by a paranoid hermit.
Then he agrees to join the Science Team and tosses a bomb pack into the room, blowing it up.
Note that when Dr. Nemesis was recruited in issue #504, there was a similar type of “under attack” scenario by a team of Supernazi assassins, and in the subsequent issue #506, Dr. Takiguchi is also under siege by giant beach crabs and, oh yeah, a giant Godzilla creature (!!??!). Fraction was on a roll with these bizarre recruitment situations, for an unknown reason.
In future issues, Jeffries shows no signs of psychosis, plays a stable and respectable character, and actually does emerge as a much smarter version of the guy we knew and loved from the first series, so this confusing introduction by Matt Fraction far missed its mark and I’m still not sure what he was trying to do.
I will give him a high score for using the correct title “Mr. Jeffries” when The Beast first addresses him and for one line that Dr. Nemesis says: “He’s not even a doctor.” I have a thing about this (see previous rant).
Madison also sports a new look: no mustache, no muttonchops and newly greyed temples, presumably from the stresses of his experience with the Weapon X program. These signature greyed temples make him easy to spot: he would go on from here to appear in various X-books, in some issues unnamed and otherwise unrecognizable without them.
Note: this issue has a variant cover.
|Uncanny X-Men #505 – Villain variant by Greg Land|