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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

X-amining X-Men #5

"Trapped: One X-Man"
May 1964

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Paul Reinmen

Plot: Returning home from Santo Marco after last issue, the X-Men attend to their powerless mentor when Marvel Girl's parents show up for a surprise visit. After scrambling to get them out of the mansion without exposing themselves as the X-Men (which leads to Cyclops getting locked in the Danger Room) the X-Men relax by watching a televised track meet (??). After seeing a winning athlete mobbed because the crowd believes he's a mutant, the X-Men rescue him, only to discover he's Toad, disguised to lure the X-Men out. Magneto and the Brotherhood arrive and Angel is captured. Shortly thereafter Toad enters a trance that compels him to return to Magneto, so the X-Men follow him to Asteroid M, where they battle the Brotherhood and rescue Angel. Upon returning home, they discover that they've passed their "final exam" and "graduated."

First and Other Notables: The first appearance of Magneto's orbitting base, Asteroid M.

Marvel Girl's parents also appear for the first time, not that they're much of a big deal. They'll pop up now and then through the years, usually in the wake of their daughter's deaths.

A Work in Progress: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch continue to play the role of conflicted villains, as they outright disobey Magneto. Scarlet Witch is shocked, SHOCKED that Magneto would ever consider murder (because would-be world conquerors are known for their benevolence and non-violent methods?) but the pair remains with the Brotherhood due to their debt to Magneto.

Ah, the Silver Age: Well, there's a track meet on TV. And somehow, the X-Men are able to see a mob threatening a mutant on TV and make it to the same track meet before the mob actually attacks the mutant.

Also, Cyclops gets locked in the Danger Room, for no reason other than it seems each issue was required to have a scene set in the Danger Room at this point.

And, when Asteroid M is breaking up and Cyclops is on a piece that is drifting away from the other X-Men, Iceman creates an enclosed ice bridge to protect Angel from "the bitter cold" of outer space as he flies to rescue Cyclops.

Maybe the next there's a fire, Human Torch can create a "fire tunnel" to keep out the heat...

No mention of whether or not Iceman's bridge protects them from the bitter lack of breathable air in outer space.

"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!": Remember last issue, when Professor X heroically threw himself onto a booby-trap to save the X-Men's lives, at the cost of his own power? Turns out he was just faking that whole "lost power" thing in order to see if the X-Men can function without him, as a "final exam" for them. Fooled you!

I'm sure that would have comforted Angel (or at least, his parents) had the X-Men "failed" their exam and Magneto killed him.

Human/Mutant Relations: Humans attack the in-disguise Toad at the track meet after he uses his powers to win. It's one of the first signs of overt fear and hatred towards mutants in the book.

It's in the Mail: This issue marks the first in which a Letters Page appears, including this raving missive:

Teebore's Take: Where last issue was a solid X-Men vs. Brotherhood Silver Age showdown, this issue suffers a bit from largely rehashing that same story without adding much new to the mix. Toad remains a sycophant, Mastermind is creepy, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch remain uneasy and openly defiant towards Magneto, and the X-Men fight them.

The issue is noteworthy for the first appearance of Asteroid M, which becomes a mainstay of Magneto's schtick, and memorable for the first big instance of Professor X being a complete dick to his students. In principle, his desire to see his students excel knowing he's unable to help them is understandable, but there has to be better ways to accomplish that goal. Fake a head cold or something, Chuck.

Meanwhile, the X-Men's passing of their "final exam" seems like less of an accomplishment considering there doesn't seem to be much Xavier could have done to help them, anyways. Powered or not, he wouldn't have journeyed to Asteroid M with them, and the X-Men more or less handled the Brotherhood themselves last issue; all Xavier did was throw himself onto a booby trapped door, and it doesn't take awesome telepathic power to help the X-Men in that way.


  1. You know, space crap always peeves me off. Yeah it's cold. And yeah there's no air - but i was always taught that air isn't the problem - the extreme pressure is - your blood would boil long before you suffocated.
    Whether that would happen before you instantly froze, though, i don't know.
    I'm not an astrophysicist.

  2. Technically outter space is dangerous because of it's lack of pressure...which...creates extreme pressue...ummm...anyway, space is a vacuum amd particles in a vacuum want to expand to fill the space up. Hence, the blood boiling and exploding heads and such.

    My point is, I think technically the ice bridge would boil upon creation. Or, more to the point, it would instantly evaporate. Perhaps I don't understand the nature of Iceman's power, but the ice he creates can melt into water, right? If so, then he definitely shouldn't be able to create it in space. Also, where does that water come from? If he can just create the ice out of nothing, why doesn't the US use Iceman as an unlimited source of freshwater?

    You see what happens when you have adventures in space? The physics is usually completely wrong and it just brings up questions that shouldn't be asked.

    Oh, and is it me or is the Danger Room the biggest piece of crap in the world? Sure, a "holodeck" sounds good, except this one has a habit of trying to kill it's occupants...or, at the very least, inconveniencing them by locking.

  3. Technically, Iceman's creates ice by manipulating and freezing the moisture around him (in the air, usually, or a nearby lake, etc.) so he isn't a potential source of unlimited freshwater.

    (Which, of course, raises all kinds of questions regarding the fact that Iceman never has any problem "icing up" regardless of whether or not he's in a dry climate, or that if Iceman is using up the ambient moisture in a given area, shouldn't that area become incredibly dry and desert-like as a result? All the more reason to not think too hard about anyone's powers.)

    I believe that when Iceman created the ice tunnel, we're supposed to think he was in a part of Asteroid M that still had "air" (and presumably moisture) and he funnled that out into space to create the tunnel. Of course, if that were the case, then the air in his location should have been venting into the vacuum of space at such a rate that he'd be sucked out with it.

    But hey, it's the 60s. Space was different back then.

    As for the Danger Room, while it isn't quite up to Holodeck level yet, having an "auto-lock, auto-start" mechanism is beyond moronic.

    Personally, I think it's just one more example of Professor X being a dick.


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