UNCANNY X-MEN #395-398 (2001): Poptopia!

Here’s the story in a sentence: Amidst all the anti-mutant hate, new British pop superstar named Sugar Kane decides to date a mutant. 

How cool an idea is that?

The issue starts with Kane getting mobbed by fans and saved by Chamber.  She’s clearly smitten with him, and they end up getting involved. 

Admit it: When I led with the fact that a pop star was dating a mutant, you didn’t think it would be Chamber, did you?

The X-Men are visiting London both to look for Chamber—who has gone missing since Generation X broke up—and also because Cerebra has identified a group of Morlocks called the London Tunnel Dwellers.  (They won’t ever have the kind of celebrity status of guys like Caliban and Masque, so I’m group tagging them.)  The Dwellers live in secret and are killing people who discover them, so the X-Men’s “no kill” rule runs counter.  The X-Men decide to relocate the Dwellers, but before they can take action the Dwellers are attacked by a new villain: Mr. Clean.

He’s got a flamethrower and he “genetic cleanses” most of the Tunnel Dwellers.

Meanwhile, the X-Men find Chamber in Sugar’s hotel room…

…With handcuffs on his wrist from the night before.  Nightcrawler warns him that all this press attention will end badly for him, but Chamber scoffs at it.  And really, can you blame him?  Sugar is hot and uses handcuffs.

In the end, though, she breaks Chamber’s heart when she tells him she was only dating him to help with her “bad girl” image.

I feel so bad for Chamber. 

That art is by the great Sean Phillips, who just does this one issue.  The eyes in those panels are great.

What follows is an interesting parallel: Chamber is going to parties and banging a pop star, and we see how the mutant prejudice plays out in the press and nightclubs.  The X-Men are investigating a mass murderer of mutants forced to live beneath the streets to hide from the hatred in the world above.

The X-Men fight Mr. Clean (who has hardened skin and significant combat prowess), with Wolverine joining the fight.  On the one hand, Wolverine is everywhere all the time.  On the other hand, this is the perfect time to bring him in: He’s fought the Hellfire Club in the sewers, he’s a tracker and a warrior, and they’re going after a psychopath.  He’s the right tool for the job, and…He kills Clean.

Clean’s hardened skin can’t be cut, but apparently he can be burned alive.

At the end, Chamber flies home with the X-Men.  He might be joining the team?  (He’ll go to Grant Morrison’s team.)

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