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Friday, March 5, 2010

X-amining X-Men #35

"Along Came a Spider..."
August 1967

In a nutshell:  The X-Men fight Spider-Man

Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Werner Roth
Inker: Dan Adkins
Letterer: Jerry Feldman

Plot: Banshee is in Europe, trying to locate Factor Three's hidden base. He discovers a hollow mountain that most likely serves as their headquarters, but is attacked by one of Factor Three's robotic spiders before he can relay the information to the X-Men. He does manage to send them a warning before passing out: beware the spider. Factor Three's goons retrieve Banshee, and Changeling sends a reconnaissance spider robot to the X-Mansion.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man is traveling through Westchester County when the spider robot lands. The two battle and Spider-Man ultimately destroys the robot, after which it disintegrates. At the nearby X-Mansion, the X-Men are desperately trying to locate Professor X when the arrival of the spider robot triggers an alarm from Cerebro. Leaving Marvel Girl behind to monitor Cerebro, the other X-Men race to the sight of Spider-Man's battle with the robot. Seeing Spider-Man, the X-Men remember Banshee's warning and attack him. Back at the school, Marvel Girl discovers Professor X gave Banshee a headband with a communication crystal in it, and she's able to locate him. At the same time, she realizes Cerebro is no longer alarming and thus, Spider-Man isn't the menace it was detecting. She alerts the other X-Men, who apologize to Spider-Man and return to the mansion. Once there, they make plans to travel to Europe and rescue Professor X.

Firsts and Other Notables
Factor Three member Changeling appears for the first time, though he won't be named until next issue. Thanks to a retcon much later in the Silver Age run, Changeling will eventually (behind the scenes) become the second person to join the X-Men. This iteration of the character is fairly unremarkable, but he does serve as the inspiration for the 90s cartoon's Morph, as well as fan favorite Morph from the "Age of Apocalypse" storyline, who, like an alternate Mimic, is featured prominently in the reality-hopping series "Exiles" in the 00s.

 
This is Werner Roth's final issue as the regular penciller.

Spider-Man's appearance in this issue marks the first time the character was written by someone other than Stan Lee. You'll be happy to know, no matter who is writing him, Peter Parker is still a colossal nerd.


A Work in Progress
The X-Men now know where Factor Three's base is: a mountain range in Central Europe.

It's revealed that Banshee has been working for Professor X, attempting to locate Factor Three, and has been given special equipment, including the headband with the communication crystal in it, to that end.

Iceman's dialogue is a lot more fun if you read it in the voice of Dean Venture.


Ah, the Silver Age
The X-Men are processing data as part of their search for Professor X. Processing data was quite different back then.


Banshee's method of locating Factor Three's base is apparently to soar over Central Europe until something catches his eye. Also, his warning to the X-Men is awfully specific and less than helpful (after all, he had no idea Factor Three was going to send a robot spider after them, and the X-Men have no idea where the base is).


Changeling says of Banshee, "I should have realized...that a mutant who had to be forced to join us would ultimately betray us!" Ya think? 

After locating Banshee, Marvel Girl looks up the location of Factor Three's base in a good old fashioned atlas.


Young LoveWe almost made it through the entire issue, but then the second-to-last panel has Jean gushing over Scott.


Human/Mutant Relations
Angel comments that the only thing mutants haven't been blamed for yet is flying saucers. 


For Sale
Ah, X-Ray specs, the gold standard of the comic book mail away offers. Either they won't work or you'll die of horrid radiation poisoning.


Bullpen Bulletins
There's a nifty new Mighty Marvel Marching Society Membership Kit!


Teebore's Take: While it may seem like this is another case of Thomas forgetting he's writing the X-Men and not a different Marvel book, Spider-Man's appearance in this issue isn't as egregious as some past instances of such. For one, he's more the story's antagonist than a guest star in his own right (though it is telling that the X-Men, who are supposed to be stars of the book, comes across as bullies who attack Spider-Man with little warning or explanation while Spider-Man comes across as the aggrieved party). For another, Thomas manages to work in the Spider-Man appearance without completely derailing the Factor Three story or trying to change the story to match the guest star. Finally, it's generally considered that at this point, the sales of the book were low enough that it's likely Editor Stan Lee mandated an appearance by Marvel's sales-boosting star to help shore up the numbers of "X-Men".

14 comments:

  1. HAHA! That Peter Parker - what a noouche (that's my new term i just made up. it's a cross between a noob and a douche).
    "lah lah lah, i'm just riding my motorcycle and WHOA I"M LOST!"

    HA!

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  2. Noouche! I love it.

    Yeah, it's great how Thomas doesn't even bother trying to give Spider-Man a reason to be near the X-Mansion.

    "Boy, it sure is nice to get out of the city suddenly and for no apparent reason. Look, a spider robot! I shall fight it!"

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  3. I do love a good crossover

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  4. Eh, calling it a crossover is being generous. It's more like something in between Roy Thomas deciding he liked Spider-Man more than the X-Men this month and Stan Lee saying "throw Spidey into this issue; the kids'll love it!"

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  5. I'm not sure I like that asterisk pointing me to a different issue. It tells me that this story is bigger than the current issue. That makes me feel small, ignorant, unimportant and frightened.
    Why would I want to expand my knowledge of the Marvel universe and know more about what's be referenced in that panel? Please take it way...PLEASE!!!

    (Also, each issue should be renumbered to 1 so I don't feel like I ever miss anything.)

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  6. @Dr. Bitz: Understood, mythical comic book fan who doesn't really exist yet somehow still manages to scare the beejesus out of Marvel and DC such that they alter their business practices to appease you!

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  7. What was intended for you Lost post? Bwahahahahahaha!!!!!

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  8. Nice writeup!

    Good memory:
    In the days of my deep X-Men geekitude (early '80s), I picked up The X-Men Chronicles, a one-shot fanzine from FantaCo. Outside of a single back issue that I'd had forever, it was my first exposure to pretty much anything between the first X-Men story and the "All-New, All-Different" revival. We didn't have comprehensive TPBs or the Internet back then, so its synopses and viewpoints were the only way I learned what had gone on pre-Claremont. Later experience confirmed that reading about it was generally better than actually reading it.

    Bad memory:
    That shot of Pete on the moped reminds me of Spider-Man 3. And in particular it reminds me how utterly ridiculous it was that the alien Venom-to-be substance landed smack at his feet out of the starry black sky. Okay, the comic-book origin would've been impossible, but all they had to do to increase believability by a gajillion percent was have it be some mysterious substance in Dr. Connor's lab.

    Good memory:
    Actually, in addition to the one reprint back issue, I had an issue of Marvel Team-Up featuring, whaddaya know, Spider-Man and the X-Men, from before the revamp as well. It involved Morbius and had the X-Men operating in streetclothes, which I always thought was the way to do the movie (until the actual movie came along, although the streetclothes would still be an interesting take).

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  9. @Blam: Shortly after I first got into the X-Men (early 90s) Marvel published a new version of their Index for X-Men and Avengers as two five issue series. Those indexes were some of my first encounters with a lot of the old stories (this still predated the huge reprint boom by about 8-10 years) and a lot of them definitely read better as synopses than as stories themselves. :)

    As for Spidey 3, I always thought they had the perfect Venom setup in establishing Jameson's son as an astronaut (and within the radius of Peter Parker via Mary Jane) in the second film.

    It seemed so elegant to me that John would come back from space with the symbiote and it would somehow find Peter. Having it in Connors lab, as you suggested, would have also been an elegant and simple solution that avoided the "cosmic coincidence" they used instead.

    The X-Men in street clothes issue of MTU was actually one of Marvel's pre-"All New, All Different" attempts to revive the characters. Roy Thomas talks about it in his section of "Comic Creators on X-Men" and the thought was that the X-Men were so distinctive when using their powers that traditional costumes weren't needed, so they tried it out for a bit before going with the new international team.

    I'll probably discuss it a bit more in this series of posts when I get to the break between X-Men #66 and the revival of the title in Giant Size X-Men #1.

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  10. "Spider-Man's appearance in this issue marks the first time the character was written by someone other than Stan Lee."

    Actually, that would be those couple panels in X-Men #27, no?

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  11. Technically, yes, though I only think that amounted to a line or two of dialogue on Spidey's part, basically saying something along the lines of "nuts to you" when the X-Men asked him to join.

    Anyways, in this post, I was going off of Roy Thomas' recollection from his chapter in Tom DeFalco's "Comic Creators on X-Men" that this issue marked the first time he'd written Spider-Man, and it was the first time someone other than Stan had done so.

    At the risk of putting words in his mouth, I guess I could argue that while Thomas wrote a few lines of dialogue for what was essentially a Spidey cameo in issue #27, this is the issue where he felt like he truly "wrote" Spider-Man as a whole character (for example, this issue has a heaping dose of Peter Parker's internal monologue).

    Or, I could just be perpetuating less-than-clear memories of the Silver Age. :)

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  12. As for Spidey 3, I always thought they had the perfect Venom setup in establishing Jameson's son as an astronaut (and within the radius of Peter Parker via Mary Jane) in the second film.
    Ooh... Good call.

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  13. Banshee's method of locating Factor Three's base is apparently to soar over Central Europe until something catches his eye.

    My personal theory is that he had some old Interpol contacts help him track them down through whatever method, and that he's just looking for the entrance to the base now.

    @Falen:"lah lah lah, i'm just riding my motorcycle and WHOA I"M LOST!"

    +5 Internet points for you today.

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  14. @Harry: My personal theory is that he had some old Interpol contacts help him track them down through whatever method, and that he's just looking for the entrance to the base now.

    Works for me. I like it.

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