Wednesday, August 18, 2010
X-amining X-Men #49
In a Nutshell: The X-Men reform in response to Mesmero's summoning of a group of mutants to San Fransisco.
X-Tatically Presented by Stan Lee
X-Citingly Written by Arnold Drake
X-Huberantly Designed by Don Heck
X-Traordinarily Drawn by Werner Roth
X-Quistitely Inked by John Tartigalone
X-Ecrably Lettered by Herb Cooper, I. Watanabe (2nd Story)
Feeling nostalgic, Angel returns to the X-Mansion just as Cerebro detects a sudden large concentration of mutant energy. Angel telepathically alerts Marvel Girl, who spreads the word with the rest of the team. Meanwhile, Mesmero, a self-avowed pupil of Magneto, uses a Psyche-Generator created by Magneto to amplify his natural power of hypnotism in order to lure all the latent mutants in the country to his base in San Francisco.
One of those mutants is a woman named Lorna Dane. Iceman, now stationed in California along with Beast, prevents her from stepping into traffic in her dazed state. She doesn't remember how she came to California, so Iceman brings her back to his apartment, where the rest of the X-Men have gathered. They proceed to search the city for Mesmero while Beast works on a portable Cerebro unit. The other X-Men encounter a patrol of Mesmero's Elite Guard and fight them off. They return to Iceman's apartment just as Beast finishes the portable Cerebro and realize Lorna is, unknownst to her, a latent mutant. Iceman stays behind to guard her while the other X-Men leave to confront Mesmero. Just then, Mesmero and his guards attack Iceman. Mesmero hynotizes Iceman into inaction before bowing before Lorna.
2nd Story: A Beast Is Born!
Beast's parents Norman and Edna McCoy, fall in love and get married. His father takes a job at a nuclear power plant and is forced to expose himself to high doses of radiation in order to prevent a meltdown. He survives, but Edna forces him to take a new job and the couple move away. A few years later, Edna gets pregnant and worries that the radiation Norman was exposed to might affect the baby. When Hank is born, however, he is healthy, though his hands and feet are disproportionately large and he's already quite strong.
Firsts and Other Notables
Lorna Dane, who will eventually join the X-Men as Polaris, makes her first appearance as one of the latent mutants affected by Mesmero. It will shortly be revealed that she has magnetic powers not unlike Magneto, but for now the only indication of her mutant nature is her green hair (which she usually dyes brown). Mesmero and the Demi-Men seek her out in this story because they believe her to be Magneto's daughter (the M-II, or M2, weapon), but by the end of the story, those claims will prove to be false. For the next 35 years or so, the official position is that Polaris is not Magneto's daughter and they simply share a unique powerset. Then Chuck Austen (considered by many to be one of the worst comic book writers, ever) had Polaris take a DNA test which proved she was Magneto's daughter after all.
Mesmero, a recurring but relatively minor villain, also appears for the first time. He has the mutant ability to hypnotize people. In this story, he claims to be a disciple of Magneto and is leading the Demi-Men, a group of like-minded followers (though the story never refers to them as such). He is hoping to swell the ranks of the group by bringing latent mutants into the fold.
Angel's backup story should have appeared following Iceman (as he was the third to join the team) but for whatever reason Beast's backup origin begins in this issue, before Angel's.
It's worth noting that Beast is the only one of the original X-Men whose mutation is linked to a specific event (his father's exposure to atomic radiation).
A Work in Progress
The X-Men are officially back together as a team, as they come together to deal with the menace in San Fransisco with little fanfare. Accordingly, the X-Men logo has returned, and the "rotating headline character" experiment has been dropped.
The term "latent mutant" is used for the first time, to describe someone who is a mutant but whose mutant power hasn't manifested itself yet.
Marvel Girl is seen using her telekinesis to fly, which is a bit outside her abilities at this point.
Hank and Bobby are "working" as skydivers.
Ah, the Silver Age
Angel gets out his purple crayon to color his prose.
Later, Angel compares himself to Nancy Drew.
As the power plant comes dangerously close to a meltdown, it's decided to withhold a public warning to prevent a panic.
Iceman is smitten with Lorna Dane; no word on what his previous girlfriend, Zelda, who last appeared just two issues ago, thinks about that.
Plastic pillows? That just doesn't seem right...
Well, it's not groundbreaking or awe-inspiring, but at least it's the X-Men again, and it's a fair sight better than the dreck of the last two issues and the general meandering of the last several. This issue kicks off a four part story that, between the introduction of Polaris and Mesmero (as well the work of the artist who fills in on the next two issues, but more on him later) is arguably the most significant long-term X-Men story since Factor Three. This issue on its own is a bit dicey, as the plot mechanics required to move the X-Men through the story are largely ignored (no real explanation is given for Angel's return to the mansion; the X-Men leave, get in a fight with some Demi-Men, return to the apartment, then leave again, and little attempt is made to disguise that the excursion was just an excuse for some obligatory fighting). It's clear Arnold Drake (either of his own volition or at editorial's behest) is mostly concerned with getting things back to normal: a team of X-Men fighting evil mutants. In that regard, he can be forgiven for rushing things along.