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Thursday, January 14, 2010

X-amining X-Men #30

The Warlock Wakes!
March 1967

Editor: Stan Lee
Scripter: Roy Thomas
Designer: Jack Sparling
Delineator: John Tartaglione
Letterer: Artie Simek
Manicurist: Irv Forbush

Plot: While training in the Danger Room, a giant hand suddenly materializes, drawing Marvel Girl, and to a lesser extent, the other X-Men, with it. A funnel is formed, and when Jean emerges on the other side, she discovers a stunned Professor X, drawn to the place before her. Their captor reveals himself: a mutant with tremendous power who calls himself Warlock. While using his power to null Xavier's, and with Jean in a trance, the three climb aboard winged horses and fly into a large cavern, inside which is Warlock's castle, adorned with modern weaponry and goons with machine guns dressed in chivalric armor.

Angel, who was closest to Jean when she was drawn to Warlock, arrives and follows everyone to the castle. Warlock explains that he was once known as Merlin, and that his mutant abilities allowed him to survive, in a coma-like state, for over a thousand years before he awoke recently and battled Thor. Warlock monologues that he's built a device which, when powered by his mutant brain, will revert human civilization back to what it was at the time of King Arthur, allowing him to rule the world, with Marvel Girl as his queen.

While Warlock is unveiling his master plan, Xavier manages to break free of his control long enough to draw the remaining X-Men through negative space (where they were stuck after Angel and Marvel Girl arrived) to his side. Warlock easily overpowers them, then offers a deal: if they fight in his arena and defeat his goons, he'll cancel his plans for world domination. With the fate of the world at stake, the X-Men overcome their opponents and rush Warlock, who uses a still-entranced Marvel Girl as hostage. When Cyclops is threatened, Marvel Girl regains her senses and turns on Warlock. Together, the X-Men overpower him long enough for Xavier to telepathic revert the villain to his comatose state. The X-Men depart, leaving Warlock's captured goons for the police. 

Firsts and Other Notables: This is the first issue drawn by a fill-in artist. Jack Sparling isn't a name with which I'm familiar. His work is different enough from Werner Roth's to stand out, but still very much in the house style.

Warlock, appearing here after battling Thor as Merlin in Thor #96 and Thor Annual #2, claims to be the Merlin of the King Arthur stories. Merlin in particular and the trappings of Camelot in general, has long been a muddled mess for Marvel, as they've had several versions of the character show up as both hero and villain throughout the years.

It is eventually determined that this version of the character, who's claiming that Merlin's magic was simply the result of mutant powers, is not the "real" Merlin, and simply someone who impersonated Merlin for a time (it's a long, complicated story).

A Work in Progress: Factor Three gets name-dropped in the last panel of the story, keeping that subplot slowly simmering.

No mention of the mysterious door in the mansion's basement.

Professor X uses his mechanical legs briefly (he's in a wheelchair at the beginning of the story, but then is able to walk later, after making some adjustments.

Ah, the Silver Age: Warlock is the epitome of the Silver Age villain: he has a gang of criminals dressed up according to his "theme", a secret headquarters, ambitions to rule the world and he isn't afraid to reveal the intricate details of his plan to the heroes.

Warlock is defeated when Beast pulls Warlock's cape over his head, distracting the villain enough for Professor X to work his telepathic whammy on him. That's the second villain to be defeated by his cape.

Professor X leaves Warlock's castle with the other X-Men, riding some kind of scooter with wings. No idea where that came from.

Build up your Vocabulary with Beast: Pulchritudinous
 \ˌpəl-krə-ˈtüd-nəs\, adjective. Physical comeliness. As in, "Namely, the pulchritudinous Marvel Girl!"

Young Love: Cyclops worries about having to choose between the fate of the woman he loves and the fate of the planet.

Later, Cyclops is enraged by Warlock using Marvel Girl as a hostage.

As the X-Men leave the Warlock's castle, Marvel Girl and Cyclops thoughts are of each other.

It's in the Mail: How does Cerebro work? Glad you asked!

Teebore's Take: Another issue, another lame villain. The only thing that stands out about this one is the art, which is decidedly more realistic and a definite break from the house style (though still very much of its time), and the sheer absurdity of the villain. Otherwise, it's another example of Thomas not quite knowing what to do with the X-Men, as their involvement here is flimsy, at best. Warlock just happens to find Jean attractive, which, considering he's thousands of years old and she's a teenager, is kinda creepy. No explanation is given as to why or how Warlock even noticed Jean or the X-Men in the first place, other than a vague pronouncement about how someone who's discovered immortality knows lots of things. Ultimately, it's silly without also being fun, and altogether pointless. A largely forgotten chapter of X-Men history.


  1. I love that scooter with wings. And i'm sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation of finally learning what might be behind that mysterious door

  2. Me too! This post Lee/Kirby, pre Thomas/Adams run of X-Men is the one with which I'm least familiar, so a lot of times, it's like I'm reading these issues for the first time.

    Thus, I have no recollection at all of what's in that door.

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