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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

X-amining X-Men #18

"If Iceman Should Fail--!"
March 1966

A Fair Story by
Stan Lee
Adequate Art by Jay Gavin
Tolerable Inking by Dick Ayers
The World's Greatest Lettering by Artie Simek (Marvel's Birthday Boy of the Month)

Magneto hypnotizes Angel's parents into submission and sends them to bed while he first destroys Cerebro and then proceeds to enact his master plan: using Professor Xavier's laboratory and Angel's parents' genetic makeup, he intends to create an army of custom-made mutant slaves with which he'll subjugate normal humans and rule the world. As he works, doctors use an experimental treatment to bring Iceman out of his coma. Professor X, floating miles above the earth with the other X-Men and running out of air, manages to overcome the Mental Wave Distorter and telepathically sends the still-weak Iceman to stop Magneto. Meanwhile, he revives the X-Men and using Marvel Girl's telekinesis and Cyclops' optic blast, the X-Men return safely to the ground. They arrive back at the mansion just in time to help Iceman against Magneto, fighting a delaying action while Professor X telepathically summons the Stranger, who returns to Earth and re-captures Magneto. Angel's parents awaken, and one memory-wipe later, are none the worse for wear and pleased that Xavier and the X-Men have returned early from their "field trip."

Firsts and Other Notables:
This is the first issue lacking the involvement of Jack Kirby in any way, shape or form.

Professor X telepathically reads Magneto's memory of his escape from the Stranger. Basically, while the Stranger was out cruising the galaxy, Magneto and Toad were stuck on his museum planet. Magneto fixed a spaceship, abandoned Toad, and returned to Earth.

Magneto destroys Cerebro 1.0, marking the last appearance of the "radio in a desk with removable labels" version of the device.

This is the oldest single-issue of "X-Men" I own, thanks to a gift from Dr. Bitz, back in the day.

A Work in Progress:
Magneto uses his heretofore unseen power of "magnetic attraction" to hypnotize Angel's parents into doing his bidding. Also, this being the Silver Age, Magneto can basically do anything, so long as the word "magnetically" is stuck in front of it. For example, he's able to "magnetically" control ice.

Professor X is able to break free of the Mental Wave Distorter thanks to his great "counter ego" which is also, apparently, the source of his powers. You're just making this up as you go along, aren't you Stan?

Iceman has taken to calling Warren "Warrey". Apparently he was more ill than anyone thought...

Ah, the Silver Age: If Magneto's actions last issue were the stereotypical Silver Age villain approach to defeating his enemies (by placing them in an overly-complicated death trap instead of killing them outright) than his ultimate goal in this issue falls back on equally Silver Age-y pseudo-science to create an army of customizable mutant clones by scanning Angel's parents with a device he cobbled together on the fly from spare parts in Professor X's lab.

"Simplicity" is NOT the word I'd use to describe this scheme.

A doctor uses a Kirby-tech laser gun to inject Iceman with a drug.

It appears Marvel Girl is back at work in the kitchen by issue's end.

"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!": Professor X demands more space from the X-Men in order to...think.

"Back away"? You're all trapped in a gondola, Chuck. It's not like they can go hang out in the Rumpus Room...

And of course, the issue ends with Xavier wiping the Worthingtons' memories, because this is the sixties, and Xavier had yet to meet a memory he didn't want to erase.

For Sale: Look out or I might pull a fooler on you.

It's in the Mail: Steve doesn't want any of that mushy stuff mucking up "X-Men."

Whereas Robert wants to see Cyclops and Marvel Girl get married already (I wonder if he stuck around the thirty years or so it took for that to happen?).

While Fred wants better art, and more spankings.

Teebore's Take: This is a good old-fashioned rollicking issue, containing everything that makes the good Silver Age stories enjoyable: the main characters escaping a needlessly-complicated death trap, the villain working on an outlandish plan based on questionable pseudo-science, one outmatched hero valiantly standing against the villain, who ultimately gets defeated. The only thing that could have made it better is if some of Magneto's subservient mutant clones finished "cooking" in time to fight the X-Men. It may not be a terribly complicated or sophisticated issue, but it's fun.

Also, something that's amused me throughout the series thus far that comes to a head in this issue is the fact that Iceman is consistently referred to as the weakest member of the team due to his age, when, in fact, his power probably make him one of the most powerful, at least, theoretically: all he really does at this point is create ice walls and projectiles, but frankly, that's more useful than Angel and his ability to just fly. If anyone on this team, at this point in time, is a weaker fifth wheel, I'd say it's Angel, but the thus far, the stories have pretty much taken it as an accepted fact that it's Iceman.


  1. The title for this post should have been "It's Raining X-men"

  2. it's interesting to finally know that Mags mapped the human genome YEARS before us mere mortals did.

  3. Donotech: Hallelujah!

    Falen: Well, Magneto does have magnetic powers, so I'm sure he just magnetically mapped the human genome.

  4. "Back away"? You're all trapped in a gondola, Chuck. It's not like they can go hang out in the Rumpus Room...

    Wait, you mean he didn't want them to leap out of the gondola?

    Whereas Robert wants to see Cyclops and Marvel Girl get married already (I wonder if he stuck around the thirty years or so it took for that to happen?).

    It's a sign of the times that so many Marvel characters in the 60's would angst and agonise over the fact that they couldn't marry whomever they liked. Off the top of my head, I know for a fact that Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and I'm fairly sure Hank Pym would all go through such angst. It's weird in today's context, since they'd literally have gone on only a handful of dates with their love interests, and here they are agonising about marriage!

    While Fred wants better art, and more spankings.

    ... No comment.


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