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

Monday, August 9, 2010

X-amining X-Men #48

"Beware Computo, Commander of the Robot Hive"
September 1968

In a nutshell: Cyclops and Marvel Girl fight some robots.

Chief Data Processor: Stan Lee
Scriptographer: Arnold Drake
Pencil Pushers: Don Heck and Werner Roth 
Pen Pal: John Verpoorten
Letter Bug: I. Watanabe, Sam Rosen

Plot
As part of new cover identities, Jean is working as a model in New York while Scott has gotten a job as a radio news announcer. Meanwhile, somewhere beneath the city, Computo activates three of his Cybertron robots from the Hive and sends them on a mission. At the radio station, Scott is showing Jean  some new high-tech equipment when the Cybertrons attack and attempt to steal the equipment. Cyclops and Marvel Girl manage to fight them off, destroying two robots, but the third escapes.

 

Using Marvel Girl's telepathy, the pair is able to track the robot and find a tunnel leading to Computo's underground Hive. They observe Computo "recycle" the remaining Cybertron for his failure when suddenly they are detected. Computo releases the entire Hive of robots and sends them to attack the X-Men. Cyclops and Marvel Girl hold them off, and then Cyclops blasts Computo directly, revealing the machine's true master, Quasimodo, and  forcing the villain to flee. In the process, Quasimodo floods the underground chamber and escapes. Thanks to Marvel Girl's telekinesis, the two X-Men survive the flooding and make it to the surface, where they seal off the tunnel. 

2nd Story: Yours Truly, the Beast
Beast's mutant powers and his variety of personal interests, from science to engineering to arts and literature, are detailed.


Firsts and Other Notables
Arnold Drake comes aboard as the book's new regular writer. Principally remembered as a DC guy, Drake is most known for creating DC's Doom Patrol, a book which premiered within months of X-Men back in 1963 and also features a team of outcasts lead by a mentor in a wheelchair who fight a Brotherhood of Evil. All similarities, it seems, are purely coincidental, though it is kind of fun that Drake ended up working on both series.

Computo is just a big robot which creates smaller robots to do its unrevealed bidding. The villain behind Computo's curtain is Quasimodo the Living Computer, a little-known Fantastic Four villain.

 
This is the last "disbanded X-Men" story as the team will get back together next issue. The rotating cover feature ends with this issue as well.

The "next issue" box contains a blurb promising a battle between Beast, Iceman and Metoxo the Lava Man. Sometime between this issue and the next, gears were apparently shifted, as that story does not appear in the next issue (nor any other). Years later, a short story in the 1994 Marvel Holiday Special uses this lost tale as its inspiration.

A Work in Progress
Between last issue and this one, the FBI has assigned Cyclops and Marvel Girl to New York, Iceman and Beast to California and Angel as a "roving agent". Cyclops and Marvel have both gotten jobs in order to explain staying in New York.


The relative stodginess of the book's early years is washed away somewhat as a bit of sex appeal is injected: Jean spends most of the first four pages in one swimsuit or another.


Beasts skill and interest in science is recounted (he has 37 patents in his name), and his large vocabulary is attributed to his love of arts and literature.


Ah, the Silver Age
Jean's modeling goes about how you'd expect it go considering this is 1968.


Later, after secretively using her power to prevent an accident, Jean's boss proves to be a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen.


At the radio station, Jean is excited to get the new Chocolate Covered Ashcan recording. 


The radio station's new transmitter "uses vacuum tubes as big as a man!"


Beast can type with his feet...when they don't get caught in the ribbon.


Young Love
Scott and Jean are acting like a couple, confident in their feelings for one another, for seemingly the first time. They're even teasingly making each other jealous.


The Awesome and Terrible Power of Cyclops
Cyclops closing line is, "Evil is as recurrent as the cataclysmic upheavals of nature that convulse our planet from time-to-time!" That's some terrible dialogue.


It's in the Mail
Future comics pro Tony Isabella, creator of Black Goliath for Marvel and Black Lightening for DC, has a letter published in this issue.


Teebore's Take
More dreck. The setup of the new status quo (revealing where each member of the team is stationed, Scott and Jean's new job) would be more interesting if it wasn't all going to get swept aside in the next issue, having gone nowhere (as it stands, more was done with the new setup between issues then in any of the actual stories). The main story in this issue is little better than the last one. Cyclops and Marvel Girl fight some random, motivation-less robots (they're sent to steal the radio stations new transmitter for...some reason...) before Z-list FF villain Quasimodo pops out on the last page and reveals he was behind "it" all. Purely by-the-numbers stuff and lacking any Silver Age charm or verve to make up for it.

14 comments:

  1. how in the hell did Jean use telepathy to track the robuts? they don't have minds- they're machines!

    Also, clearly the word 'Zam' is not used often enough nowadays.

    Radio station announcer for Scott? Really? Why would anyone think that'd he'd be good at something like that? And of course Jean is a model.

    I call shenanigans on this whole issue!

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Anne: how in the hell did Jean use telepathy to track the robuts?

    There's some mumbo-jumbo about tracking thought patterns and electronic brains, but it's a lot of hogwash.

    Though to be fair, Professor X similarly was able to use telepathy when dealing with the Sentinels. Just as ridiculous, but at least there's precedent.

    Also, clearly the word 'Zam' is not used often enough nowadays.

    Zamdeed. Let's bring it back.

    Radio station announcer for Scott? Really? Why would anyone think that'd he'd be good at something like that?

    Well, he's the NEWS announcer, which I imagine is about the stodgiest job in radio (and thus, highly appropriate). Look at that line from his broadcast: "How GOOD is the Good Government Administration of Mayor Van Clete? We'll spend this week unraveling that political puzzle!"

    It's certainly more Scott Summers than Howard Stern, that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  3. so jean has no other skills except to look pretty and be a model?
    That's sexist and ridiculous.
    she's not nearly pretty enough to be a model.

    ZAM!

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Falen: so jean has no other skills except to look pretty and be a model?

    Well, she wasn't going to make much money as a housewife, her typing is zaming terrible so secretary is out and Scott already had the news media market cornered, so what else was she going to do?

    she's not nearly pretty enough to be a model.

    I'll (loosely) paraphrase another sultry redhead: she's not unattractive, she's just drawn that way.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Apparently, according to writers, women are only good for sewing, cooking and looking good. So I guess Jean could have been a seamstress? But that won't sell comic books.

    Cyclops just needs to stop beating around the fire bush and steal Jean's shoes and throw her into a kitchen where she better both literally and figuratively have a bun in the oven.

    Bigotry aside, they had to defeat three Cybertrons? How do you defeat a planet? How does a planet fight? And how couldn't the rest of the Earth know that three planets were attacking? You'd think it'd mess with the tides or something....

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Dr. Bitz: So I guess Jean could have been a seamstress? But that won't sell comic books.

    Good point; I'd forgotten about the seamstress option.

    How do you defeat a planet? How does a planet fight? And how couldn't the rest of the Earth know that three planets were attacking? You'd think it'd mess with the tides or something

    Presumably the planets would transform like Unicron in order to fight. And then maybe they became really small robots, like when Soundwave goes from big robot to handheld radio, but in reverse, and that's why no one noticed?

    Or cuz Stan Lee said so?

    ReplyDelete
  7. obvs she could've also been a lawyer. But probably a paralegal would've been more approriate

    telepath as lawyer? they'd be the most successful lawyer evar!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Or a poker player...if they let women play poker back then.

    She could have gone on game shows! She'd rock Match Game.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Or a poker player...if they let women play poker back then.

    I'm pretty sure they didn't. It was too complicated a game for the women of that time. Zam!

    Jean would make a helluva game show contestant.

    ReplyDelete

  10. Scott is showing Jean some new high-tech equipment when the Cybertrons attack and attempt to steal the equipment.

    I feel like broken record here, but the pairing up is only attracting the super-villains, kids. Listen to Uncle Fred! Yeah, I thought breaking up was a cockamamie idea, too, but Angel went solo and his story co-starred a Golden Age superhero who only fought him for, like, one panel and then just talked him half to death.

    Arnold Drake comes aboard as the book's new regular writer. ...

    Drake also wrote what some consider the first graphic novel, 1950's pulpy melodrama It Rhymes with Lust. I reviewed it and talked about Drake a bit in a blogpost last year.

    Computo is just a big robot which creates smaller robots to do its unrevealed behind.

    Uh... Pardon? The Max line hadn't even been invented yet. 8^)

    "That is one large peanut whistle," indeed.

    VW: getshi — What Billy Tucci fans couldn't wait to do, back in the '90s.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Blam: I feel like broken record here, but the pairing up is only attracting the super-villains, kids.

    To be fair, Cyclops and Marvel Girl only got involved because they just happened to be witnesses to the attempted theft of the radio equipment. If they had, I dunno, stopped for a hot dog on the way to the radio station, they'd have never been involved (which makes for pretty weak plotting IMO).

    Drake also wrote what some consider the first graphic novel, 1950's pulpy melodrama It Rhymes with Lust.

    Cool, I did not know that. I'll have to check out your post on the matter.

    Uh... Pardon? The Max line hadn't even been invented yet.

    Haha! That was one heck of a Freudian slip.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mildly curious - do the ruby quartz glasses, giggles, visors, make everything look red-tinged to Cyclops? Can he distinguish colors? Does he even know Jean is a redhead? This is the stuff that bothered me when I was ten. Still does now.

    ReplyDelete
  13. @Joe: Mildly curious - do the ruby quartz glasses, giggles, visors, make everything look red-tinged to Cyclops?

    I've often wondered that as well. According to the response to a letter asking the same thing, the answer is yes: he sees everything with a red tint because of his glasses. Which makes his situation even sadder, IMO.

    I forget which letter column that was in. I want to say something from the early 90s.

    ReplyDelete
  14. @Joe Pace I have a book called "Science of the X-Men" by Link Yaco and Karen Haber (BP books, 2001) and they address the "Cyclops seeing red" issue, and the answer kind of surprised me.

    "Cyclops may initially have perceived objects with a constant red tinge, but as experiments on normal humans have shown, the mind learns to compensate and adjust. In fact, you can perform this experiment yourself with sunglasses or different color tints. For instance, if you were to wear red glasses for a week or two, you would eventually stop noticing any tint at all. Once you removed the glasses, your adjusted/altered vision would perceive the world around you as green -- the complementary color to red." (pages 85-86)

    ReplyDelete

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