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Thursday, July 15, 2010

X-amining X-Men #46

"The End of the X-Men!"
July 1968

In a nutshell: Juggernaut returns and the X-Men disband. 

Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Layouts: Don Heck
Penciller: Werner Roth, George Tuska (2nd Story)
Inker: John Tartigalone
Lettering: Artie Simek

Plot
Following the defeat of Magneto, the X-Men gather at the grave of Professor X, faced with uncertainty over their next move. Fred Duncan, Xavier's liaison within the FBI approaches the team, asking to speak to them in private. They return to the mansion, where Foggy Nelson, of the law firm Nelson and Murdock, is waiting to read Xavier's will. After the reading and Nelson's departure, the X-Men investigate a disturbance in the mansion's basement. They discover Juggernaut, seemingly returned from the Crimson Cosmos by an automated device of Professor Xavier's.


The X-Men try to tell Juggernaut that Xavier is dead, but he refuses to believe them, and storms out of the mansion. They follow him to Xavier's grave, where Juggernaut starts to accept that Xavier is dead. The battle continues, and just as Marvel Girl is able to telepathically talk down Juggernaut, he grabs Angel and threatens to kill him unless the X-Men stand down. Just then, Juggernaut disappears, transported back to the Crimson Cosmos. Cyclops reasons that Xavier's device was designed to send Juggernaut back if he didn't receive an additional treatment within a set amount of time. Fred Duncan catches up with the team, and tells them the confrontation with Juggernaut proves the point he came to make: the X-Men need to disband. Gathered together, they make too large a target for evil mutants, and on their own, they can spread out and do more good. Cyclops reluctantly agrees, and the X-Men go their separate ways to await specific orders from Duncan, and close the school.

2nd Story: "And Then There Were Two!"
The lynch mob comes across Cyclops and Bobby, their powers exhausted. The sheriffs refuses to let the mob hang the two mutants without due process, but the mob overpowers him as well. Cyclops receives a telepathic message from Professor X that he is on his way, and that the two just need to stall things for a bit longer. The mob takes long enough preparing for the hanging that the mutants' powers return, and they're able to break free and rendevous with Professor X at Bobby's house. There, Xavier reveals he has wiped the memories of the incident from everyone in town, including Bobby's parents. Bobby agrees to join Cyclops at Xavier's school, and the X-Man has become the X-Men.


Firsts and Other Notables
The X-Men official disband in this issue, because, according to Duncan, the X-Men "make far too easy a target for the ever-growing population of evil mutants" and they "can be much more effective if you spread yourselves out across the country", which is pretty weak reasoning, though Beast does point this out (don't worry, the book'll stick around and the X-Men will be back together in no time). This marks the first time the team breaks up and the members go their separate ways, but it won't be the last.

Juggernaut returns from his exile in the Crimson Cosmos (sent there in issue #34) and then goes back just as quickly.

FBI Agent Fred Duncan also returns, though he's called Amos Duncan in the story for some reason. The other X-Men don't know him, but Cyclops remembers meeting him years ago (as detailed in Cyclops' backup origin story).


Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock's (Daredevil) law partner, makes an appearance as Xavier's laywer, because every main character in the Marvel Universe uses Nelson & Murdock for all their legal needs.

A Work in Progress
Xavier's will is read; his fortune goes into a charity for mutants, the school and all his scientific equipment are left to the X-Men, with Scott as the executor. As Jean points out, Xavier really didn't have anyone else.


Apparently, at some point Xavier created a machine designed to return Juggernaut from the Crimson Cosmos (presumably so Xavier can separate his step-brother from the power of Juggernaut) and then as a fail safe, return him there after a period of time.

At one point, Juggernaut fires "globules of sheer energy", a manifestation of his power never seen before or since. Also, Marvel Girl is able to use her telepathy on Juggernaut while he is wearing his helmet. His helmet shields him from mental attacks (in Juggernaut's first appearance, the X-Men needed Human Torch's help to get the helmet off so Xavier could attack him out telepathically).

One panel shows Jean thinking about how sad she is that Xavier is dead, which is erroneous in light of the future retcon that reveals she knew the real Xavier was still alive. While she has to act sad in front of the other X-Men, she shouldn't be thinking about Xavier being dead because she knows better.


Ah, the Silver Age
Iceman asked Beast to make like Bob Gibson, a Hall of Fame pitcher for St. Louis, but Beast doesn't know him; he's a Mets fan.


"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!"Just like keeping his murderous, uber-powerful stepbrother secretly locked in the basement was a jerk move, so was building a machine to bring him back and then forgetting to turn it off before dying/fake dying.  

 Professor X wipes the memories of everyone in Bobby's town so they forget he's a mutant, which makes sense, considering they were about to hang him for it. But then Xavier wipes his parents' memories too, which seems a bit excessive.


Young Love
Both Scott and Jean are torn up over the X-Men disbanding and what it could mean for their relationship.
 

Human/Mutant Relations
The mob gets as far as stringing up the noose before Cyclops and Bobby's powers return.


For Sale
First a submarine, now a tank. 


Bullpen Bulletins
"Comics Economics" according to Stan.


Teebore's Take
The "anything goes" experiment continues, as the X-Men split up to make it easier for characters to headline the book solo or in pairs. The team breaking up doesn't quite work for two reasons: the rationale is flimsy at best (and clearly a means to the end for the book's creators), and the benefit of foresight suggests this new direction won't stick around for long. This story in and of itself serves mainly to justify the team breaking up, so with that rationale being flimsy, the story doesn't quite work (for example, the method of Juggernaut's return (an automated device) means he would have returned regardless of whether or not the X-Men existed as a team, despite what Fred Duncan might say). With the team disbanded, we've definitely hit the climax of this interesting, if not altogether enthralling, direction for the book. 

Iceman's origin story, meanwhile, peters out with a whimper, as Professor X sweeps in to Deus Ex Memory Wipe everyone and Iceman realizes the goon who blasted him with eye beams last issue was right about ordinary humans hating him. At least Cyclops' origin had the laughable Jack O'Diamonds to liven things up...

8 comments:

  1. god xavier is a jerk.
    "Hey boys, i know you're being lynched, but could you stall for a bit? kthx, bai"

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  2. @Falen: "Hey boys, i know you're being lynched, but could you stall for a bit? kthx, bai"

    Seriously, right? I mean, drive a little faster Chuck. If you see a cop, just wipe his memory of you speeding. You wipe everyone else's memory.

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  3. Angel: "Not to mention he's playin' erector set with that strange-looking machine!

    I realize that boys like to knock stuff down as much as they like to build things — often the very things they've just built (no gender/social commentary intended). The nephew just turned three and can go all "Hulk smash!" in an instant. But how in the Don Heck does Juggernaut trashing the place look in Angel's eyes like "playin' erector set"?

    Teebore: Fred Duncan catches up with the team, and tells them the confrontation with Juggernaut proves the point he came to make: the X-Men need to disband. Gathered together, they make too large a target for evil mutants, and on their own, they can spread out and do more good.
    ... which is pretty weak reasoning


    No kidding. "Xavier's been training you in the use of your powers individually and as a team. So you might be able to get along all right on your own, but you're even more formidable complementing each other's strengths and making up for one another's weaknesses. The bad guys'll come after you regardless, so I think it's best if you split up unhappily and get kidnapped or worse."

    Teebore: "Comics Economics" according to Stan.

    What Stan couldn't say was that Marvel itself had been wanting to expand its line for years — for the sake of its readers, its staff and freelancers, and its own bottom line — and in fact it had practically glutted the market for much of its history. Problem was that it had to cut back its entire line when it switched to distribution by Independent News, a sister company of rival DC, ramping up its output with a vengeance when it left.

    VW: warfaere — Mortal combat waged by pixies.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Nelson and Murdock must be rich

    But i do appreciate seeing them all over the place

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  6. @Blam: The bad guys'll come after you regardless, so I think it's best if you split up unhappily and get kidnapped or worse."

    Exactly. Someone, maybe Friedrich, maybe incoming writer Arnold Drake, maybe even ol' Stan himself, seemed to realize the absurdity of the premise fairly quickly, as next issue has Beast contemplating more or less the same thing and hoping it doesn't take the death of a solo X-Man to prove Duncan wrong.

    And of course, this whole "disband the team" business lasts for all of two or three issues at best, so clearly, no one's heart is really in it.

    Problem was that it had to cut back its entire line when it switched to distribution by Independent News, a sister company of rival DC, ramping up its output with a vengeance when it left.

    Very true, and this issue was published shortly after that new deal was put into place. I think I touched on that in one of the previous reviews. Or maybe it was a comment. Or a fever dream. I can't remember.

    @Anne: Nelson and Murdock must be rich

    They must be. A healthy bottom line is one of the few good justifications I can think of for why Foggy would put up with all of Matt's BS through the years.

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  7. "While she has to act sad in front of the other X-Men, she shouldn't be thinking about Xavier being dead because she knows better."

    Ah, but read that panel again. All of Jean's thoughts refer to "He." "He told me weeks ago he was dying ..." Never specifies who the "He" is about.

    She's mourning the Changeling! I mean, c'mon, he's not the professor, but he was still a person. Jean's a compassionate lady!

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  8. @Jason: She's mourning the Changeling!

    Ha! Fair enough. And you're right, she never explicitly refers to Xavier.

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