Thursday, July 15, 2010
X-amining X-Men #46
In a nutshell: Juggernaut returns and the X-Men disband.
Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Layouts: Don Heck
Penciller: Werner Roth, George Tuska (2nd Story)
Inker: John Tartigalone
Lettering: Artie Simek
Following the defeat of Magneto, the X-Men gather at the grave of Professor X, faced with uncertainty over their next move. Fred Duncan, Xavier's liaison within the FBI approaches the team, asking to speak to them in private. They return to the mansion, where Foggy Nelson, of the law firm Nelson and Murdock, is waiting to read Xavier's will. After the reading and Nelson's departure, the X-Men investigate a disturbance in the mansion's basement. They discover Juggernaut, seemingly returned from the Crimson Cosmos by an automated device of Professor Xavier's.
The X-Men try to tell Juggernaut that Xavier is dead, but he refuses to believe them, and storms out of the mansion. They follow him to Xavier's grave, where Juggernaut starts to accept that Xavier is dead. The battle continues, and just as Marvel Girl is able to telepathically talk down Juggernaut, he grabs Angel and threatens to kill him unless the X-Men stand down. Just then, Juggernaut disappears, transported back to the Crimson Cosmos. Cyclops reasons that Xavier's device was designed to send Juggernaut back if he didn't receive an additional treatment within a set amount of time. Fred Duncan catches up with the team, and tells them the confrontation with Juggernaut proves the point he came to make: the X-Men need to disband. Gathered together, they make too large a target for evil mutants, and on their own, they can spread out and do more good. Cyclops reluctantly agrees, and the X-Men go their separate ways to await specific orders from Duncan, and close the school.
2nd Story: "And Then There Were Two!"
The lynch mob comes across Cyclops and Bobby, their powers exhausted. The sheriffs refuses to let the mob hang the two mutants without due process, but the mob overpowers him as well. Cyclops receives a telepathic message from Professor X that he is on his way, and that the two just need to stall things for a bit longer. The mob takes long enough preparing for the hanging that the mutants' powers return, and they're able to break free and rendevous with Professor X at Bobby's house. There, Xavier reveals he has wiped the memories of the incident from everyone in town, including Bobby's parents. Bobby agrees to join Cyclops at Xavier's school, and the X-Man has become the X-Men.
Firsts and Other Notables
The X-Men official disband in this issue, because, according to Duncan, the X-Men "make far too easy a target for the ever-growing population of evil mutants" and they "can be much more effective if you spread yourselves out across the country", which is pretty weak reasoning, though Beast does point this out (don't worry, the book'll stick around and the X-Men will be back together in no time). This marks the first time the team breaks up and the members go their separate ways, but it won't be the last.
Juggernaut returns from his exile in the Crimson Cosmos (sent there in issue #34) and then goes back just as quickly.
FBI Agent Fred Duncan also returns, though he's called Amos Duncan in the story for some reason. The other X-Men don't know him, but Cyclops remembers meeting him years ago (as detailed in Cyclops' backup origin story).
Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock's (Daredevil) law partner, makes an appearance as Xavier's laywer, because every main character in the Marvel Universe uses Nelson & Murdock for all their legal needs.
A Work in Progress
Xavier's will is read; his fortune goes into a charity for mutants, the school and all his scientific equipment are left to the X-Men, with Scott as the executor. As Jean points out, Xavier really didn't have anyone else.
Apparently, at some point Xavier created a machine designed to return Juggernaut from the Crimson Cosmos (presumably so Xavier can separate his step-brother from the power of Juggernaut) and then as a fail safe, return him there after a period of time.
At one point, Juggernaut fires "globules of sheer energy", a manifestation of his power never seen before or since. Also, Marvel Girl is able to use her telepathy on Juggernaut while he is wearing his helmet. His helmet shields him from mental attacks (in Juggernaut's first appearance, the X-Men needed Human Torch's help to get the helmet off so Xavier could attack him out telepathically).
One panel shows Jean thinking about how sad she is that Xavier is dead, which is erroneous in light of the future retcon that reveals she knew the real Xavier was still alive. While she has to act sad in front of the other X-Men, she shouldn't be thinking about Xavier being dead because she knows better.
Ah, the Silver Age
Iceman asked Beast to make like Bob Gibson, a Hall of Fame pitcher for St. Louis, but Beast doesn't know him; he's a Mets fan.
"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!"Just like keeping his murderous, uber-powerful stepbrother secretly locked in the basement was a jerk move, so was building a machine to bring him back and then forgetting to turn it off before dying/fake dying.
Professor X wipes the memories of everyone in Bobby's town so they forget he's a mutant, which makes sense, considering they were about to hang him for it. But then Xavier wipes his parents' memories too, which seems a bit excessive.
Both Scott and Jean are torn up over the X-Men disbanding and what it could mean for their relationship.
The mob gets as far as stringing up the noose before Cyclops and Bobby's powers return.
First a submarine, now a tank.
"Comics Economics" according to Stan.
The "anything goes" experiment continues, as the X-Men split up to make it easier for characters to headline the book solo or in pairs. The team breaking up doesn't quite work for two reasons: the rationale is flimsy at best (and clearly a means to the end for the book's creators), and the benefit of foresight suggests this new direction won't stick around for long. This story in and of itself serves mainly to justify the team breaking up, so with that rationale being flimsy, the story doesn't quite work (for example, the method of Juggernaut's return (an automated device) means he would have returned regardless of whether or not the X-Men existed as a team, despite what Fred Duncan might say). With the team disbanded, we've definitely hit the climax of this interesting, if not altogether enthralling, direction for the book.
Iceman's origin story, meanwhile, peters out with a whimper, as Professor X sweeps in to Deus Ex Memory Wipe everyone and Iceman realizes the goon who blasted him with eye beams last issue was right about ordinary humans hating him. At least Cyclops' origin had the laughable Jack O'Diamonds to liven things up...