Mon, 19 July 2010
Sorry for the delays, folks. This project is still in progress. I promise.
So today on the X-Men Blob, we're going to be taking a look at the Blog's first appearance in The X-Men 3.
...see what I did there? I'm so clever!
So, we have another awesome Lee/Kirby issue to look at today. You know, I give these books a hard time because it's fun. But you have to know I love them. There are so many things created in these issues -- characters and plot tropes -- that forge the way for some of the greatest storytelling in comics history.
If you look at the cover, you'll notice a couple minor changes. The logo for "The X-Men" has changed just slightly, with a shrinking of the definite article and the addition of the Angel flying across the top. This is a nice addition because the corner icon only includes Marvel Girl, Cyclops, and Iceman. It's nice to have another character represented in the trade dress. (I've never used that term "trade dress" before. Does it work there?) Also, the slogan "The Stranges Super-Heroes of All!" is reworded and moved to the inside, so the opening splash reads "The Most Unusual Teen-Agers of All Time!" And it's a good thing they are because today they're up against "the Blob, one of the strangest foes of all!"
(page 1-5) Open to the first page, and our tale begins, as usual, right on the opening splash. Cyclops is doing a training exercise that gives place to a romp between the boys. Jean does an exercise and then Xavier senses the presence of a new mutant. The X-Men all go change to civvies and head out to find the mutant.
Lee had gotten some criticism that his X-Men didn't have much personality and that some of them seemed like cheap knockoffs of other characters (i.e., Iceman of the Torch, and the Beast of the Thing). So Scott (who has a name now besides "Slim") takes on his morose "oh if only my eyes weren't so deadly" character, and his secret unspoken love for Jean. And he's not alone in the love for Jean bit. Bobby hit puberty sometime since the first issue, and he and the Beast race for the chance to escort Jean on the mutant hunt. Even the Professor has a thought about his deep secret love for Jean, a notion that was evidently abandoned, brought up again only rarely and only after many, many years. But of course, it's Warren, now being played as the arrogant rich showoff type, who wins the getting-ready race and rides off with Jean in the passenger seat of his Rolls. The other X-Man to get a change is Hank, now the bookworm with a penchant for verbiage. (We find out much later that this is an act to get attention, but that's waaay down the road, and probably not part of Lee's intention here.)
Jean has got to be uncomfortable living in a house full of men and boys whose favorite passtime seems to be trying to get in her pants. I can't imagine what that's like for a girl. Obviously, that's partly due to differences in sexual wiring, cuz I know if the genders were reversed, and I were the object of affections, you wouldn't hear me complaining. At least, not until I'd banged each one several times.
Xavier's secret love for Jean is a bit beyond creepy, isn't it? There's really no way to make that unbad. I'm sooo glad it was (almost) never mentioned again.
Speaking of Xavier, since when does he have the ability to automatically sense mutants nearby? ...well, I guess since now. This is only the third issue and there is no Cerebro yet. Maybe we can justify it by saying that the circus just came close enough for his brain to react.
I have to admit, I grew rather tiresome of the Cyclops-Jean "romantic tension" (for lack of a better word). It starts here, and it doesn't end for several years, and it's just annoying after a while.
(page 5-12) All the heroes go out hunting. Some think they find the mysterious mutant, but those turn out to be false alarms. Meanwhile Scott Summers, the X-Man known as Cyclops, makes his way to a nearby carnival, where he finds an overweight man called the Blob. After a mental confirmation from the Professor, Scott investigates the attraction. A gang of roughs can't move him. Bullets bounce off his thick hide. Cuz, you know, he's a mutant and stuff. Cyclops, the Angel, and Marvel Girl convince him to come back to the school. There, the Professor tests the extent of his powers and offers him a place on the team, but the Blob refuses. The Professor is outraged. The X-Men try to subdue the Blob by force so the Professor can wipe his memory of their headquarters, but the Blob gets away.
Now I want to be clear on this point. The Blob is all but coerced into going to the school. Cyclops tries bullying and when that doesn't work, the Angel takes advantage of Jean's good looks. It's only Blob's groin reaction that gets him to follow the X-Men back to their place. He didn't want to go. And so, when he gets there, and he doesn't want to join the team, the Professor is outraged and surprised why? I realize this is only the third issue and so we're expected to allow the Professor to make this mistake once, but let's use our heads here. Xavier should have realized what was going on here from the start. The fact that he didn't was a big error in judgment on his part. One I hope we never see again.
(page 12-13) The Blog returns to the circus via the sewers, takes over, and starts getting the carnies together as his thugs.
First things first. The sewers? Really? That's the best way to travel back to the circus? I guess, since he thought he was being followed, but I think I'd avoid poop water at all costs.
Second. I'm thinking I should be offended on the behalf of carnival workers that the Blob was able to just get them all to go into crime for him. Surely the majority of the people could have decided to get out while the getting was good?
And finally, here's "homo superior" again. You know, I guess I'm gonna go with the idea that Magneto made some sort of worldwide television broadcast while he was trying to take over Cape Citadel before, where he would have used that term. And now, through news media and such, it's entered the common lexicon. Cuz that could explain where all these random mutant baddies are picking up the term. In this particular case, I guess it'd also be possible that Xavier used it back at the mansion, but I get the feeling so far that it might not be a phrase the Prof likes all that much.
(page 13-24) The Angel does some reconnaissance at the carnival and is almost shot down for his troubles. He reports back to Professor X, who is building an electronic mass influencer, to amplify his own mental powers over a crowd and erase all their memories of the Professor's school once they've attacked it. While the Angel alerts the rest of the team, the attack comes! Marvel Girl opens the front door telekinetically so they can rush in, and Cyclops is standing ready to blast them back out again. The tightrope walkers throw a line in through the window but are faced down by the Beast as they try to walk across. Hank then has to take down a gorilla while the Angel is faced with a lariat-wielder and a pair of human cannonballs, who take him down. Cyclops blasts an elephant and its rider into the dirt, but Iceman is subdued by fur coat-wearing thugs. The rest of the X-Men are taken down one by one through various means, and the Blog leads the carnie gang into the mansion. However, as Xavier realizes he is in danger, he mentally coaches Marvel Girl in her telekinesis. She undoes her blindfold and mentally manipulates a knife from the carnival equipment to cut her own bonds. She then frees the others, and they all rush the mansion and go on the offensive once again. This gives the Professor the opportunity to use his device in close proximity to the Blog and his thugs, wiping their short-term memories of all knowledge of the X-Men's HQ and relationship to Professor Xavier. They then rush back to the carnival to avoid losing their jobs, and the day is safe once again.
This is basically the closing fight, and I don't really have a whole lot to say about it. Each member of the team gets a chance to shine before being taken down. No one is overcome too easily, and it's a pretty solid fight.
I still think, though, that this whole thing could potentially have been avoided if Cyclops had approached the Blob in costume and been a bit more genteel about the whole thing, getting the Blob's opinion of the idea before bringing him back to the mansion.
It's probably worth mentioning that this is our first indication of Professor X's penchant for psycho-electronic tinkering. Here we see his "electronic mass amplifier". This same talent will later produce Cerebro, the mutant-finding computer.
Overall, I guess this isn't one of my favorite issues. Though I applaud Stan for giving each of the different members of the team a bit more personality, the actual story here doesn't really grab me. I'm definitely looking forward to getting into the drama involved with the Brotherhood of Mutants next issue.
Well, that brings us to a close. I hope to have the next one up in a much more timely manner. Trying to juggle my various comic-related projects and commitments has become a more-involved task in recent weeks, but I'm determined to try. Thanks for reading, and please comment below!
Category:X-Men blog -- posted at: 3:43pm EDT