In a nutshell: The X-Men fight Frankenstein's Monster. But not really.
Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Don Heck, Werner Roth (Backup Story)
Inker: George Tuska, John Verpoorten (Backup Story)
Lettering: Art Simek, Al Kurzrok (Backup Story)
(Main Story) Professor X reveals to the team that scientists have recently located Frankenstein's Monster, encased in ice at the Arctic Circle. He believes that Mary Shelley's book is based on fact, and that the Monster is an android built by an advanced mutant. The X-Men and Professor X travel to the City Museum to investigate, arriving just as the unfrozen creature goes on a rampage. Fighting off the X-Men, it heads for the docks and boards a freight ship bound for warmer climates. The X-Men follow and confront the Monster. Professor X, believing the creature to be vulnerable to cold, has Iceman freeze it, causing the Monster to explode. He then reveals that he probed the Monster's mind before it exploded and learned it was an android sent by an alien race from a tropical world to Earth 150 years ago. Meant to be an emissary to Earth, it malfunctioned and was fleeing from its alien masters when it was frozen in the Arctic Circle.
(Backup Story, "The First Evil Mutant!"): Scott meets Jack Winters, a fellow mutant who sensed Scott's mutant brain and called him to his side. When the police arrive at his shack, Jack teleports the two away. Professor X, using his makeshift new device Cyberno, detects their energy signature and begins to triangulate their position.
Jack and Scott arrive at a nuclear power plant, and Jack reveals his origin: he once worked at the plant, until he stole radioactive material to pay off his gambling debts. Contact with the material triggered his mutant mental powers and transformed his hands into flexible diamond. He believes a higher does of radioactivity will expand his power further and make his entire body indestructible diamond. Xavier arrives, hoping to rescue Scott, and Jack orders Scott to blast the professor. Scott refuses, not wanting to become a murderer. Xavier tries to disable Jack with a telepathic attack, but Jack's own power deflects it, and the villain turns his attention to Professor X...
Firsts and Other Notables
An extra-terrestrial, android version of Frankenstein's Monster appears for the first, and only, time.
However, Marvel will later publish a "Monster of Frankenstein" series featuring the non-alien, non-android version of Frankenstein's Monster depicted in the Mary Shelly novel. Because one panel in the flashback of the Frankenstein Monster's previous activities must be a reference to that character and not the alien android one, this issue is, retroactively, also the first appearance of the "real" Frankenstein Monster in the Marvel Universe.
And yes, that means that in the Marvel Universe, Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" novel (as well as Bram Stoker's "Dracula", for that matter) are considered historical accounts wrongly accepted by the denizens of the Marvel Universe as fiction.
After a cameo at the end of last issue's backup, Jack Winters aka Jack O'Diamonds appears fully for the first time. Despite being the first super-villain encountered by Cyclops, he is largely forgotten outside of this story.
A Work in Progress
X-Men #65 will reveal that between this issue and the last, a terminally ill Changeling approached Professor X, asking to make amends for his past misdeeds. Xavier, preparing to go underground in order to secretly stave off an alien attack, asked Changeling to "fill-in" for him with the X-Men, bestowing the shapeshifter with a portion of his telepathic power to that end. According to the Official Index to the Marvel Universe, the novel "X-Men Legends" reveals that in order to ease the transition, the substitution was initially part time. Thus when Xavier is briefing the X-Men in this issue it's Changeling, while the real Xavier accompanied them in the field.
Angel reference's Marvel Girl working with Professor X on a secret project; I believe this is a reference to the same plan that led to Changeling impersonate Xavier (only she of all the X-Men remained fully aware of Xavier's plan and the Changeling substitution), a plan which will be revealed in its entirety in issue #65.
Professor X mentally projects an image of Frankenstein's Monster on the wall, something telepathy probably shouldn't be able to do, at least as depicted.
In the backup story, Professor X uses a prototype of Cerebro called Cyberno to locate Cyclops and Jack O'Diamonds. Later will stories will establish that Cerebro existed long before the events depicted in this story.
Ah, the Silver Age
Marvel Girl: "The answer to that question, Warren, is... yes and no!"
Angel: "And if that isn't a typical woman's answer, I don't know what is!"
Professor X has "always believed the book [Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"] was based on an actual occurrence", for some reason.
Jack O'Diamonds origin story is classic Silver Age stuff, featuring stolen radioactive material intended to be sold in order to pay off gambling debts. And, of course, because it's the 60s, exposure to that radioactive material doesn't harm Jack, it just activates his super powers.
It's not "Superboy made me bald!", but it's close.
Professor X has a personal computer. Jealous? You're jealous. He probably also has two televisions in his house.
"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!"
While this issue retroactively kicks off the whole "let the X-Men think he's dead for the good of the world" plot, I'll cover that in more detail when we get to the issue that establishes the retcon.
Meanwhile, in this issue, Professor X, eager to get into the museum where the monster is being held, orders Marvel Girl to telekinetically knock out a guard.
Wouldn't it have been easier (and more humane) to just telepathically order him to let them in? Or telepathically make the guard think they were allowed access? Or just tell the guard to go to sleep instead of forcibly knocking him out?
Marvel Girl worries about Cyclops while in battle.
Do you like surprises?
Stan Lee on the Comic's Code.
Of course, Marvel will feel less charitable towards the whole thing by the time the 00s roll around and they simply stop submitting books for approval. Heck, three years from the publication of this column Stan himself will publish three issues of Amazing Spider-Man without code approval, as they dealt with Harry Osborn's drug problem, a plot the code felt inappropriate for comics but one which Stan felt was important to tell as it focused on the negative side effects of drug abuse.
The backup story hums along, glacially paced as it is. Seriously, reading this in monthly installments back in the day was probably the equivalent of watching paint dry, but the Jack O'Diamond's origin story adds a touch of enjoyable Silver Age goofiness to this chapter.