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Friday, February 26, 2010

X-amining X-Men #34

"War--In a World of Darkness!"
July 1967

In a Nutshell: The X-Men get dragged into a war between Tyrannus and the Mole Man

Editor: Stan Lee 
Writer: Roy Thomas 
Artist: Dan Adkins 
Lettering: J. Feldman

As Beast and Cyclops work to repair the damaged Cerebro so they can locate Professor X, Marvel Girl returns to college and receives a frantic call from Ted Roberts. His brother Ralph was kidnapped by subterranean villain Tyrannus and, suspecting the X-Men's real identities, he is asking for their help in getting him back. Using Ralph's new earth-borer vehicle, Marvel Girl, Angel and Iceman track Tyrannus beneath the Earth's surface. They emerge near Mole Man, who is fighting with Tyrannus over underground territory. The three X-Men accidentally inhale the mists of the River Lethe, giving them amnesia and putting them under the sway of Mole Man.

Meanwhile, a captured Ralph is forced to coat Tyrannus' giant robot with his cobalt alloy in an attempt to make the robot impervious to Mole Man's diamond robot. Cyclops and Beast follow the trail of their teammates and arrive underground just as Mole Man's diamond robot and Tyrannus' cobalt robot do battle. The amnesiac X-Men help defeat the cobalt robot (thanks, in part, to Ralph's sabotage of the alloy) and capture Tyrannus just as Beast and Cyclops defeat Mole Man, forcing him to restore the memories of the other X-Men. With Ralph rescued, the X-Men wipe the memories of both villains using the river mists, rendering them both harmless.

Firsts and Other Notables
Marvel Girl continues to suspect that Ted's knows the X-Men's real identities, but frankly, there's little to suspect. He calls her up and asks for the X-Men's help; it couldn't be more clear he's put two and two together.

As far as I know, this is, sadly, the final appearances of creepy Ted Roberts and his boy industrialist brother, Ralph. Frankly, I'm surprised no writer in the intervening years has dusted Ted off to use for the shocking identity of a mysterious villain.

Tyrannus and Mole Man are two of Marvel's subterranean overlord villains. Mole Man, the first villain the Fantastic Four ever fought, was spurned by the surface world and uses monsters to strike back at it while Tyrannus, who started out as a Hulk villain, is a "sorcerer" from the Roman Empire who discovered an underground fountain of youth. Each holds sway over different factions of the dim, brutish Subterranean species, the appropriately-named Moloids and Tyrannoids.

Jean's college roommate Carole appears for the first (and I believe, only) time, to give Jean a message from Ted.  

Dan Adkins fills in for regular artist Werner Roth. The art is serviceable if unremarkable, though he does draw Cyclops as being noticeably slimmer than the other X-Men at times (something overlooked by most artists, considering Stan Lee was calling him Slim early on).

In two separate panels, dialogue mistakenly refers to Angel as Scott instead of Warren.

A Work in Progress
It's revealed that when they captured Professor X, Factor Three also destroyed Cerebro. This leads the X-Men to conclude that Factor Three must be, in some capacity, evil mutants that wanted to prevent the X-Men from locating them via Cerebro.

Thankfully, since their helicopter was destroyed last issue, the X-jet has a helicopter-like hovering capability.

Professor X may be out of the picture, but the X-Men still find a way to wipe the villains' memories in the end. 

Ah, the Silver Age
Cobalt again. The story makes it clear: cobalt > diamond. 

Angel refers to Mole Man's glasses as "3-D goggles." Which isn't as dated now as it was ten and thirty years ago, I suppose. 

Mole Man can't get a date, but he does have a giant robot made out of diamonds. And Tyrannus doesn't need industrialist Ralph Roberts' help building a giant robot, just covering it with cobalt.

Young Love
Jean fawns over Scott after he orders Angel and Iceman to bed (seriously).

For Sale: By the power of Grayskull?

Teebore's Take
Roy Thomas' obsessions with cobalt and villains that have nothing to do with the X-Men surface again, pushing the Factor Three story into the background. This issue isn't bad; enjoyment of it will vary greatly depending on how much you enjoy these kinds of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" stories involving hidden worlds and races beneath the surface of the Earth, and there's definitely some fun to be had in a war between Marvel's two subterranean villains. But the timing of it is awful, as it saps away all the momentum gained by Professor X's abduction last issue and makes Mole Man and Tyrannus seem even more out of place in an "X-Men" story then they would have been already.  


  1. You kind of stole my thunder by the end of the post but, while reading the plot, I had two thoughts:

    1. Is this another example of Roy Thomas wishing he was writing anything other than X-Men?

    2. In what universe is cobalt impervious to diamond?

  2. To answer your questions: yes, and the Marvel Universe, apparently.

    It makes you wonder if, in the Marvel Universe, men give their fiances cobalt engagement rings?

    Or is it just the super-villain population that is enamored of cobalt?

  3. So... after all this Ted buildup, that's it? No more Ted?

  4. Unfortunately, yeah, this seems like the end of Ted.

    The rest of this run is filled up with Factor Three stuff, and then Roy Thomas leaves the book and no one else picks up the Ted ball (not even Roy when he comes back).

    I can't find anything about why Ted was created or what, if any, plan Thomas had for him. Seems like he was just intended as a stock Silver Age character, used to prolong the Scott/Jean merry-go-around and cause some mild secret identity angst.

    Ted doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page. Near as I can tell, no website as written about him more than this one. Which is kinda cool and sad at the same time.

  5. In two separate panels, dialogue mistakenly refers to Angel as Scott instead of Warren.

    Pfft, who *doesn't* know Scott is Burning Eye Man?



    Ted doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page.

    Ha! This pleases me more than it should.

    "Do unto others as they would do unto you - only do it first!"

    Haha! It makes no sense and yet it makes all the sens in the world! It's Zen.

    I have said it before and I'll says it again - I love these posts, Mr.Teebore :D

  6. I will ask you to kindly ass an 'e' to the end of the word "sens".

  7. Ha!

    Consider an "e" assed to the end of "sens". ;)

    This pleases me more than it should.

    Me too.

    Glad you like the posts!


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