Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

X-amining X-Men #7

"The Return of the Blob "
September 1964

Writer:
Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Chic Stone

Plot:
After the X-Men's graduation ceremony, Professor X appoints Cyclops field leader, shows him Cerebro for the first time, then departs on personal business, leaving Cyclops in charge. Meanwhile, Magneto decides to recruit the Blob, who, after a knock on the head restores the memories Professor X wiped in issue #3 and he remembers what jerks the X-Men were, is all too happy to join him. The X-Men, the Blob and the Brotherhood all fight at an army base until Magneto makes it clear he's willing to sacrifice the Blob in an effort to kill the X-Men. Swearing off all alliances, good or bad, the Blob departs and the Brotherhood escapes.

Firsts and Other Notables:
Cerebro, the high tech computer Professor X uses to amplify his telepathic powers and locate other mutants, debuts. He says that Cyclops is the first person besides himself to see it, though later stories reveal Jean was aware of it when she was one of Xavier's pre-X-Men students. At one point, like seemingly everything Xavier builds, Cerebro will gain sentience.


Hank and Bobby visit a Greenwich Village coffee shop. In issue #14 it will be named Coffee-A-Go-Go.

Zelda, a waitress at the coffee shop and Iceman's girlfriend, shows up for the first time. She remains a footnote in X-Men history.


Bernard the Poet, a character representative of the Silver Age X-men, makes his first appearance at the coffee shop as well. He reads shopping lists and calls them "zen poetry." Clearly, Bernard the Poet is one of Lee and Kirby's greatest creations.

A Work in Progress:
We'll find out what Professor X is up to in issue #9.

Magneto displays telepathic prowess again, probing the Blob's mind and finding Xavier's mental blocks.

Marvel Girl's mask is similar to the one she wore last issue, with her hair exposed, only now sans the pointy tips.

Ah, the Silver Age:
Magneto has a "Magna-car", shaped, again, like a horseshoe magnet.


Here's an ad for a martial art I've never heard of before, but it sounds pretty awesome.


Cerebro triggers an alarm the very moment the Blob agrees to work with Magneto. I'm not sure how it knew such an event was occuring, nor how Cyclops automatically knows it can only mean the Blob's memory has returned and he's joined the Evil Mutants, especially since the X-Men don't know Magneto was recruiting the Blob. Do they truly have an alarm set for such an exact occurence?


Oh yeah, and there's all that business about the beatnik coffee shop the X-Men frequent and Bernard the Poet. Doesn't get much more Silver Age-y than that.


Young Love: Marvel Girl's affection for Cyclops is clear even to Angel.


Mastermind continues to strike out with Scarlet Witch.

Human/Mutant Relations: The beatniks at Coffee-A-Go-Go are mesmerized by Beast's large feet, certain they'll put their establishment on the map, and carry him about on their shoulders.


When Magneto begins tussling with the Blob at his carnival, a fellow carny calls his friends into action with a cry of "Hey Rube"



"Hey Rube" is, apparently, the time honored battle cry of Carnies.

You have to wonder if Stan is making this all up, or if he has some carny experience. His "Stan The Man" persona while schilling for Marvel would certainly feel at home at a carnival.

The Awesome and Terrible Power of Cyclops: Cyclops hasn't even done anything as the X-Men's leader and he's already wondering if he's up for the job and thinking about quitting the X-Men outright.


He's also expresses for the first time the loneliness of being a leader. Get used to it.



It's in the Mail:
This letter calls for the X-Men to receive individualized uniforms. It will be quite some time (around issue #40, if I recall correctly) before this happens. In fact, many theorize that one of the reasons the X-Men of the 60s never really took off was because they all looked alike, costume-wise, for far too long.


Here's the first of many Scott/Jean shipper (Sceaners? Jotters?) letters. He also asks why the Scarlet Witch always appears in green on the covers.


Teebore's Take: After a couple of fairly boring issues, this was refreshingly fun and exciting, easily my favorite issue since #3, the last appearance of Blob and his crazy Carny crew.

Of course, some of the goofy Silver Age elements like Coffee-A-Go-Go add to the fun, but the characterizations of the X-Men also continue to develop. The seeds of Cyclops' "brooding leader" persona are planted and we see some of the X-Men having fun outside the school (I hesitate to say "acting like teenagers" because I have no idea if teenagers in the sixties wore hideous suits to beatnik coffee shops, but I have a feeling they probably didn't). It also helps that, as with Sub-Mariner last issue, the Brotherhood aren't the only antagonists featured.

Even Kirby's art appears more refined and Kirby-esque in this issue, as though he was enjoying himself a bit more, too. Some fans speculate that Kirby's heart wasn't in his work on X-Men as much as it was on some of his other books (which why X-Men is considered one of his lesser Marvel works, especially when compared to the Fantastic Four or Thor).

Also, Bernard the Poet makes his first appearance. 'Nuff said.

7 comments:

  1. oh man - Iceman's pickup line is guaranteed to make a girl swoon - "You know, if you twist my arm, i think i could learn to like you". Whoa slow down there kid - you don't want to flatter her or anything.
    And music where you can't even understand the melody? that sounds terrible

    ReplyDelete
  2. LMAO! This post just cracked me up! I love the Yubiwaza ad- i just had to google it (apparently it's a type of jujitsu finger technique, not an entire martial art)
    -A

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah, Iceman's a pretty "cool" cat when it comes to the ladies...

    ReplyDelete
  4. As I recall, Cyclops calls Mesmero's carnies into battle by shouting "Hey rube!" in Claremont & Byrne's issue #111. You may be on to something.

    Also, I find the constant use of the Brotherhood over this span very "daytime cartoon"-ish (i.e., G.I. Joe vs. Cobra or Autobots vs. Decepticons every single day for 65 weekdays in a row).

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Matt: As I recall, Cyclops calls Mesmero's carnies into battle by shouting "Hey rube!" in Claremont & Byrne's issue #111.

    I haven't come back to that issue for this series yet, but my recollection gels with yours. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the carny action in issue #111.

    Also, I find the constant use of the Brotherhood over this span very "daytime cartoon"-ish

    Ditto.

    Which begs the question: were the writers of those shows influenced/inspired by these early Lee/Kirby stories, or is it just a shared convention of two genres that were being written, at their respective times, primarily for kids?

    With the exception of FF and Spider-Man, probably, Stan certainly did seem to fall back on specific recurring villains in the early goings of many of his books: the Brotherhood here, Loki in Thor, the Masters of Evil in Avengers, etc., but that was largely, I'd guess, just to make things easier on him.

    ReplyDelete
  6. At one point, like seemingly everything Xavier builds, Cerebro will gain sentience.

    Have Xavier's leg-braces ever turned sentient? That would make one hell of a story!

    In fact, many theorize that one of the reasons the X-Men of the 60s never really took off was because they all looked alike, costume-wise, for far too long.

    Which is sort of weird since the Fantastic Four were (obviously) a massive hit, and they've all pretty much had the same costume for decades... although I suppose the fact that the Thing and Torch look visually unique to the others helps. But yeah, you do have a point (and I normally find that the FF having the same costume is the exception, not the rule), and let's face it - those early, default uniforms don't really start looking good until the New Mutants adapt them.

    Out of curiosity - is rube supposed to be slang for a carnie?

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Harry: Have Xavier's leg-braces ever turned sentient? That would make one hell of a story!

    I would appreciate any story that referenced Xavier's leg braces. :)

    Out of curiosity - is rube supposed to be slang for a carnie?

    Maybe? I honestly have no idea, but it seems to work that way.

    ReplyDelete

Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Am mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!