I've been talking about Chris Claremont a lot, recently. In the recent review of ML14 Psylocke, I mentioned that Claremont has certain "tics," little things you can always count on in his stories. Here's a partial list:
- Repeated Stock Phrases: "I'm the best there is at what I do." "I am now his... body and soul!"
- Foreign Words: foreign characters will speak perfect English, except for simple words and phrases, which will be in their native tongue. Da, tovarisch? Also, clumsy attempts at conveying accents, me boyo.
- Possession/Mind Control: Jean's transformation into Dark Phoenix. The entire "Muir Island Saga," and Proteus before that.
- Telepathy as an intrusive assault - "mind rape." Related to the above entry.
- Torture as a transformative agent for female characters. Psylocke was raped, her boyfriend was killed, then she had her eyes gouged out.
- Body Modification: As above. Rachel Summers had "psychic tattoos." Storm was turned into a child. Anyone infected by a Brood alien transforms into one painfully.
- Faked deaths: as when the entire team relocated to Austalia
- Stuck in alternate dimensions, whether via kidnapping or simple mistakes.
- Slave traders: related to the kidnappings above.
- Bondage and other sexual humiliations. Often happens after a kidnapping. By slave traders.
- Flirting between platonic friends. It comes out of nowhere, makes no sense, and is eventually forgotten.
- Age-inappropriate relationships: Colossus and Shadowcat. Psylocke and Cypher. Professor X and Jean Grey. Gambit and child-Storm.
- Mentoring: usually a "soul bond" between an adult woman and a teenage girl. Or a teenage girl and Wolverine.
- Family connections. It's never enough for a character to be by themselves - their family has to be specially targeted at some point, or they have to be related to new characters. Cyclops' dad is a space pirate who works with Professor X's alien girlfriend and is hunting Marvel Girl.
- Betrayal. Dark Phoenix, Archangel, Gambit, etc.
- Property Damage that is easily repaired, cartoon-style. Characters will comment on the damage they cause to buildings and such.
- The United Kingdom: there will always an excuse to go to England or Scotland.
- Old characters: even when writing Fantastic Four, the X-Men and their villains were constantly showing up. He brings his favorites with him from book to book, even if they don't really fit.
Psylocke fits almost all of those themes. Poor girl. Can you think of any more?
Uncanny Exposition: Claremont's insistence on retelling important character backstory points or mutant powers--IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ACTION SEQUENCE. Storm's claustrophobia is the most obvious example, but it seemed like he'd detail nearly everyone's powers like every other issue, and the origins of most characters were covered several times in any given story arc.
Although honestly, for me, that was great since I only had a few issues of Uncanny spread out throughout the years, but I always felt like I knew that characters. Musta been a drag in sequential readings, though.