Wednesday, January 19, 2011
X-amining X-Men: The Hiatus Years #2
April 1973-October 1974
The Avengers 110-111 by Steve Englehart and Don Heck
Incredible Hulk 172 by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe
Captain America 172-175 by Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema
Marvel Team-Up 23 by Lein Wein and Gil Kane
The Defenders 15-16 by Len Wein and Sal Buscema
(for full credits on each issue, please visit the Grand Comics Database)
The Avengers 110: The Avengers answer a distress call from the X-Men, who have been attacked by Magneto. The Avengers 111: The Avengers defeat Magneto, but Angel goes missing. The Incredible Hulk 172: In the wake of various mutant disappearances, The X-Men travel to the southwest to check on Havok and Lorna Dane. Discovering them misssing as well, they help Hulk defeat Juggernaut. Captain America 172: Captain America and the Falcon, on the trail of the Secret Empire, battle Banshee, believing him to be one of their agents. Captain America 173: Professor X, Cyclops and Marvel Girl (the other X-Men having disappeared) team-up with Captain America and the Falcon to take down the Secret Empire, whom Professor X believes is behind the mutant disappearances. Captain America 174: Cap and the Falcon infiltrate the Secret Empire, and alongside the X-Men, discover the missing mutants. Captain America 175: Captain America, the Falcon and the X-Men defeat the Secret Empire.
Marvel Team-Up 23: Iceman teams up with Human Torch to fight Equinox before the X-Men depart on a secret mission. The Defenders 15: With the X-Men away, Professor X asks the Defenders for help against Magneto and his newest incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The Defenders 16: Magneto reveals Alpha, the ultimate mutant, whom he has created. Professor X and the Defenders convince the rapidly evolving Alpha that Magneto is a villain, and Alpha reduces the Brotherhood to infancy.
Firsts and Other Notables
Magneto (and the rest of the Brotherhood) are turned into babies, a resolution which fits the kooky and offbeat nature of The Defenders and sets up Magneto's next appearance in X-Men.
The X-Men depart for a secret mission in the wake of Marvel Team-Up 23. It's never been definitively determined what this was setting up, but as Len Wein wrote both that issue and Giant Size X-Men 1, it's possible this is setting up the events of that issue.
A Work in Progress
It's revealed that the costume Magneto gave Angel in the Savage Lane was slowly collecting his energy so that Magneto could wear the costume and be restored to full power.
Marvel Girl is drawn in Avengers 111 with brown hair, most likely to distinguish her from the red-haired Scarlet Witch and Black Widow who also appear in the issue.
Havok and Lorna Dane, who were last seen returning to the X-Men in Incredible Hulk 150 apparently left the team and retired to the southwest before being captured by the Secret Empire.
Juggernaut escapes (again) from the Crimson Cosmos, his rapid aging in Amazing Adventures 16 revealed to have been a hoax perpetrated by the powers of that dimension.
Banshee's appearance in Captain America features his original "long face" look, the last such appearance.
Linda Donaldson, Beast's assistant/girlfriend/Secret Empire agent pops up again, her assignment monitoring Beast completed after he's captured behind the scenes.
The various mutant disappearances that are peppered throughout these issues are traced to the Secret Empire, who kidnapped the mutants and harnessed them to a machine which used their mutant energy to power the Secret Empire's equipment.
Throughout most of these issues, the X-Men appear in their original training uniforms with no explanation, until Steve Englehart drops a line of dialogue in Captain America saying the X-Men started wearing them again (though they'll be in their unique costumes in Giant Size X-Men 1). Not sure if the artists around this time had outdated model sheets for the X-Men, or if someone just liked the old uniforms better.
Magneto basically takes over the Mastermind/Blob/Unus Brotherhood from Amazing Adventures and adds Savage Land mutate Lorelei.
That 70s Comic
The culmination of the Secret Empire saga in Captain America is one of the definitive Marvel stories of the 70s. It is heavily suggested that the leader of the Secret Empire is President Nixon, who kills himself rather than face a trial. This makes Captain America so disillusioned that he abandons his costumed identity for awhile. The story was reportedly inspired by the events of Watergate, and Captain America's crisis of faith in America is meant to evoke the American zeitgeist in the wake of those events.
Magneto makes an enthralled Scarlet Witch dance for him, which becomes retroactively even creepier when it's revealed she is his daughter.
Steve Englehart continues to do the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping the X-Men around, working them (and mutants in general ) into his long running Secret Empire storyline. I'd be curious to know if this was done by editorial edict, or something Englehart chose to do on his own. The Secret Empire storyline has always been considered a very personal one and one which Englehart crafted more or less on his own, in which case it'd be interesting to know from where this seeming affinity for the X-Men came.
However, the biggest event in this chunk of issues will turn out to be the relatively ridiculous plotline involving Magneto and the Brotherhood being restored to infancy. This random and goofy event will, once Magneto is re-aged, create a sort of do-over for the character, allowing his origins to be explored free of any hassles brought on by Marvel's sliding timeline (because now the character will be younger). Chris Claremont, after restoring Magneto to adulthood, will see this opening and use it to great advantage.