Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Vanisher, The Blob (#2 and #3)

Magneto shows up in issue #1 and becomes the greatest nemesis to the X-Men.

The Vanisher shows up in issue #2 and is probably never heard from again (though I guess I'll - eventually - find out if that's true). His plan? To steal the Continental Defense Plans. Which are being securely held at the Pentagon... inside a briefcase, on a desk.
Top level security at the Pentagon.
(One wonders if the briefcase is even locked.)
After the X-Men rumble his plans, Professor X then wipes his memory, stripping The Vanisher of every last memory and sense of self. We're supposed to cheer as Ice Man snickers and comments that The Vanisher is now, " a helpless child!"

But upon reflection, it's a chilling ending, as we realize that Professor X has destroyed this man's mind with what is, essentially, an X-lobotomy. One almost feels bad for the poor The Vanisher as he starts to panic, realizing that who he was is gone forever.

Once this man's life is permanently destroyed, The Prof says, "Always remember, my X-Men!.. The greatest power on earth is the magnificent power we all of us possess... the power of the human brain!" He does not follow it up with, "You know? The magnificent power I took away from that one guy just now, leaving him a wreck of a human being?!" (Also not shown, the round of high-fives between The Prof and the X-Men.)

ISSUE #3 is an issue of firsts:

We get to see the appearance of The Blob: A man so fat he is immovable. "One day I hope to be fat enough to have mutant powers!" - Probably said by at least one kid, growing up.

We get a hint that not only is Professor X a strict disciplinarian with punctuality fetishes, but he's also a dirty old man who has the hots for one of his teenage students. He knows he can never act on it though, since it would be wrong.

Uh... wrong reasons, Chuck, but I'm
glad you arrived at the right place.
Another first: Cyclops is called "Scott Summers" when not in his X-Men get-up. Before now, they have referred to him as "Slim", yet never in a nickname-y way, which was weird. So it's our first Ret-Con!

(Retroactive Continuity: It's when the writers change something, then tells you you were wrong for ever believing it was anything else. Like when Lucas told us all that Han ''never'' shot first ... except in comics it's ok for some reason.)

For the first time, we are told to believe that The Beast is NOT a fat lummox, as previously hinted at, but a super-smart, learned man who reads calculus textbooks ... for fun! ... holding the book with his feet!

The mark of high intelligence (Einstein
wrote out the theory of relativity with his feet)

A Non-First of the issue is that, once again, the villain is defeated using a Professor X mind-wipe, so that The Blob, as well as all the dangerous carny-folk, forget where the X-Mansion is AND that they ever fought the X-Men. Though it seems that between last issue and this one, the Prof has gotten better at intricately removing memories, rather than a whole-sale wipe, because The Blob and the carny-folk are not shown to become gibbering, tearful vegetables after their memories are taken from them. Maybe The Vanisher was Professor X's first mind-wipe and he didn't really know how to do it? "My bad, Bro! Sorry you lost ALL your memories! You'll make new ones!"

I won't lie to you, these early comics are slow going. Thankfully, I only have ... ulp ... SIXTY FOUR issues left in the Silver Age to get through! LAWKS!

Want to read along? These stories are covered in X-Men Volume 1 (Marvel Masterworks)