Amazing Spider-Man Classics
The X-Men Blog -- The X-Men 5

 

I spent all weekend reading comics.  Gearing up for the next recording sessions for Amazing Spider-Man Classics (one of which is now past, which means yes, new episodes ARE on the way), catching up on reviews for spidermancrawlspace.com (soon to be posted), and now it's time for another entry in The X-Men Blog.  ...and THEN I'll do my Spanish homework and housework.

The last time that we were in an actual issue of The X-Men, the Professor had lost his powers in an explosion.  We took a sidetrip to a book published in the meantime and saw Iceman playing on a boat with the Torch.  Now we're back to the main book to see how it all works out.

I find the cover very interesting.  Usually when someone is trapped, the camera is outside showing lots of interesting things, and you can see the person through a little window or some such.  Here it's the opposite.  We're inside the Angel's cell with him, looking out through a window at the Brotherhood and the attacking X-Men.  Nice job, Mr. Kirby!  Too bad the colorist STILL doesn't know what color Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are supposed to be.  Ah, well...

ACTION!! SURPRISES! SUSPENSE! All in the magnificent MARVEL MANNER!!  See the most unusual teen-agers of all tie at their fighting best, when they learn: "The Angel is Trapped!"  Magneto and his Evil Mutants, more dangerous than ever, STRIKE AGAIN!

Open to the splash page and YIKES! it looks like Cyclops is seriously about to kill me.  He's right there big in the foreground looking straight at the reader, and he is NOT happy.  The other X-Men are forlorn, but it looks like the Angel and Beast are the only ones moving.  Everyone else is just posing for the camera.  We again have our banner, "X-MEN the most unusual teen-agers of all time!"  It was there last issue too, but I forgot to mention it.  It's in a caption box in the top corner, though.  And the title is given here as "Trapped: One X-Man!"

What's funny is that Stan Lee says the readers were instantly fascinated by Magneto's group of evil mutants.  Even with the bimonthly publishing schedule, how could he possibly know that?  I'm pretty sure the copy for this book had to be written before the last issue hit the stands.  Who knows, though?  Maybe I'm wrong. (Yeah, like that ever happens!)

(pages 1-6) The X-Men arrive home from their outing in issue 4.  They put the Professor to bed so he can rest from his ordeal.  Jean Grey's parents show up for an unexpected visit.  During a tour, Cyclops gets trapped in the Danger Room and has to shoot stuff.  The Greys leave, driving past Mastermind, who is prowling the area, trying to locate the X-Men.

Iceman seems to have lost his boots since the last book.  Not sure what happened to those, but I recall letters complaining about it.  Personally, I think he looks better without them.  They're like little elvish twinkle toe shoes.

I'm not sure, but wouldn't it make sense that the Professor might have a concussion or something bad?  Shouldn't they take him to the hospital?  I'm pretty sure my mama told me that if I ever threw myself in front of an explosion to protect my mutant students, that I should seek medical attention.  And I think the movies say that if you have a concussion, you shouldn't be allowed to sleep.  So the kids fail several different ways here.

Each hero gets a panel to sorta sum up his character in a sentence or two, while changing clothes.  They like to play up the angst of Scott and Hank, and the free youth of Bobby and Warren.

Something confuses me here.  It seems that Jean's parents have absolutely no understanding of her mutant abilities.  Does that make sense?  I know later it'll be retconned that the early onset of her powers was highly traumatic and of course her parents know, but even though that story hasn't been told yet, surely they would know SOMEthing, right?  I have a hard time believing a girl would develop telepathy in a vacuum.

Speaking of her parents, I hope you enjoyed this moment with them.  You won't see them again for about 100 issues.

I find it interesting that simply closing the Danger Room door with someone inside activates a pre-determined automatic series of deadly attacks.  Interesting in an "OH MY GOD WHAT WERE YOU THINKING PROFESSOR XAVIER??" kind of way.

(pages 6-9) Mastermind reports in and Magneto commands his return.  Quicksilver retrieves him in a magnetically-controlled craft, and they then fly up to an orbiting asteroid that has been developed by Magneto into a life-supporting habitat called Asteroid M.  Toad annoys both of them when they arrive, so he gets slapped around.  Magneto then begins formulating plans for their next attack, and his strategy will involve the snivelling Toad.

God, I hate Toad.  I'm so glad they made him devious and more animalistic in the first movie even if his powers still kinda suck.  Basically, he jumps, and he's a toadie to Magneto.  And he has the social skills of a manic jackrabbit.

Quicksilver suggests leaving the X-Men behind.  Is this cuz he doesn't agree with the violence?  Cuz they're fellow mutants?  Or cuz, as he says, they don't seem to be a threat?  Somehow, I don't the character is nearly as complex inside as I'm trying to give him credit for being.

ASTEROID M!!  Yay!  What is more awesome than having a hollowed-out asteroid as your headquarters?  IN SPACE!!  It's nice to know that his Atlantic island fortress had a back-up facility.  I always liked Asteroid M.  This is the first time we see it, but it's retconned later that he's had it up there since just before bringing Q&SW into the Brotherhood.

(pages 9-11)  Bobby invites Scott to watch a track meet with them but has the door slammed in his face for his troubles.  Jean wheels the Professor into the TV room, and all the teen (except Scott) watch the program as event after event is won by a prodigiously leaping athlete.  The competitor's leaps are so extraordinary that the crowd is upset that it's a fake.  The X-Men decide to rush over and help him.

Ok, for all you chronology nuts out there, I'm going to squeeze Strange Tales 120 in right here.  Sometime between getting home at the beginning of the book and now, Iceman went on his cruise with the Torch.  The Official Index to the Marvel Universe suggests that that tale coincides with this one somehow, and so that's how I'm gonna run with it.  The caption "Not long afterwards" means long enough for Bobby to go on a cruise to try and get laid, and fighting pirates.  This makes Scott's strong reaction to him a little bit more believable because he's off gallavanting around and living a normal life while the Professor is ill.  The track meet was just the final straw.

You know and I know this is the Toad.  How the X-Men don't know is a bit beyond me.  Yes, they only met him the once.  And possibly the context of an everyday track meet has thrown them off, but still.

It annoys me how the Beast is silently bemoaning Xavier's loss of brilliance, how his "brain is now merely that of a normal human's".  Very racist of him.

(pages 11-17) The X-Men arrive at the race track in time to rescue the athlete.  They get on a subway to head presumably back toward Westchester, but on the way, the Beast deduces their new companion is the Toad in disguise.  Once they reach Grand Central Terminal, the Toad bounds away, the rest of the Brotherhood shows up, and fighting ensues.  The upshot is that the Angel is bound in iron bars and captured by the Brotherhood, while the X-Men regain possession of the Toad.  The Brotherhood, with the Angel, board a magnetic ship and ascend to the asteroid, where Magneto tortures the Angel to learn the location of X-Men HQ and Professor X.

I'm having a really hard time with the track meet scene.  Ok.  So, the school is in Westchester county, but not in the city.  But somehow they manage to make it to the racetrack in time to save the Toad from a mob that was beginning their attack live on television while they were at school.  That to me seems rather impossible.  Especially because heading back up, they make a big deal about having to take the subway and how they're attracting the commuters' attention.  And THEN, wherever the race was located, they have to make a train change in Grand Central Terminal before heading north.  So, getting to the race should have taken a good long while, not the 30 seconds it seemed to take.  And if they could get there in 30 seconds, why couldn't they get BACK to school in 30 seconds?  Oh.  Wait.  I just saw at the bottom of page 11, they came in a car.  ....okay.  So they drove from the school to the race, which is located in some area where they can't take a direct train north to the school but have to detour through Manhattan.  That doesn't seem to make my question any easier.  Sigh.  Stan and Jack, these guys LIVE IN NEW YORK!  They should know better than this!

Love how Magneto just casually dismantles the famous clock in the train station and uses it as a weapon.  Pity the fool who has to put that sonuvabitch back together.

I don't know whether to say the X-Men perform pretty pitifully here, or that Stan and Jack have crafted a team that is pretty evenly matched with our merry mutants.  None of their fights has had a clear winner yet.

Poor Toad.  Left behind by his beloved master, who secretly hates him.

The Scarlet Witch is very bothered by Magneto's violence.  She seriously needs to get out of that place.

This form of torture is physically painless but mentally gruelling.  All LOSTies are familiar with a similar torture method used by the Others on their misbehaving members, such as the boy who was dating Alex.  The fact that the Angel went through hours of this and was then up for action in the next scene is nothing short of astonishing.

(pages 17-24) The X-Men can't take the Toad home cuz it'll reveal their location, but their dilemma is solved for them as the Toad slips into a trance where he must return home.  He pulls out a device and uses it to call a magno-ship.  The X-Men all follow him aboard to go up to the asteroid.  Fighting ensues immediately, with Magneto using a magnetic intensifier to expand his power so he can control all metal in the entire asteroid.  The Angel is rescued.  Q&SW may hate Magneto, but they also help to fend of Cyclops and the other X-Men from attacking him.  Magneto throws Cyclops into an airlock that breaks apart from the rest of the facility as the asteroid begins to break up.  Iceman forms an ice tunnel through space, so the Angel can fly to the other section and save Cyclops.  The asteroid continues to break up, but the X-Men use a magno-ship to return to the surface.  The ship then flies back up automatically, presumably to save the Brotherhood.  The X-Men return to school to give the Professor their report, only to find that he followed the whole thing mentally.  He didn't regain his powers, though.  He actually never lost them and was just pretending the whole time.  And now that the X-Men have succeeded in a mission with no help from the Professor, they've passed their finals and are no longer trainees.

Ok, final action sequence.  Few things to discuss.  Firstly, why the hell did the Toad go into a trance?  Plotwise, I can see it gives the opportunity for the X-Men to accompany him if he isn't conscious of events.  But it's never explained why it happened.  And I'm pretty sure it never happens again.  Very weird.

Mastermind needs to stick to illusions of bodily malfunction.  Those seem to be the most effective.  When he creates false surroundings, like attacking monsters, if the X-Men know he's around, they just ignore the illusions.

Magneto needs magnetic intensifiers a lot.  He must not be as powerful as he likes everyone to think he is.

Ok.  So, you're gonna use an ice tunnel through space to link two facilities and then casually fly from one to the other?  There's no air, remember?  How will you breathe?  Against what will your wings be pushing to propel you?  Another example of the days before manned space flight when the common Joe just didn't. understand. space. AT ALL.

Professor X.  WHAT THE FUCK!!  Seriously, dude, that was some messed up shit you just pulled.  You pretended to be all hurt and let your students, your family, get all worked up and worried about you, and you were just fine the whole time?  And you KNOW Scott's gotta be pissed about this.  He was so upset about the Professor.  His line "But...WHY, sir?" has gotta be filled with so much shock and anger.  Crazy bald son of a bitch.  You think you're so clever with your pipe.  Oughtta smack you.

 

And joy of joys, we have a letters page!!  This month, the number of magazines carrying letters pages went from two (Amazing Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four) to five (adding The X-Men, The Avengers, and Sgt. Fury).  It's called "Let's Visit the X-Men".  Let's see if anyone had anything interesting to say...

The talk seems to be largely in regard to the third issue, but I know I've read letters about the first issue or two, so maybe those were printed in The Fantastic Four.  That letters column ran letters from all the Marvel books, not just in regard to the FF's issues.

Overall, though, not a lot of note is said.  Many favorable reviews, especially to the addition of individual personality traits in the third issue.  Mary Ann McClain does ask, though, how the Professor got the teens together in the first place.  They promise to explain eventually.  Poor Mary Ann will have to wait a couple years, though, for the Origins of the X-Men backup feature.

 

And that pretty much sums us up for this issue.  The X-Men is still bi-monthly at this point, and in the month between this issue and the next, they guest-starred in an issue of The Fantastic Four, so we'll talk about that next time.  As always, please comment below.  You'll notice all the spam is gone as I've switched on some moderation filters.  So, your comment won't appear immediately, but it will eventually, and I love to read feedback.  Or write an email and we'll read it on the podcast.  Thanks for reading!

 

Category:X-Men blog -- posted at: 9:33am EDT