Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Red Raven (Issue #44)

Red Raven, Red Raven
Send ANGEL on ov...en?
Ah, issue 44! Do you know what that means? I do! It means that I/we am/is/are now 2/3 of the way through the Silver Age portion of the X-Men. So, 2/3 of the way to the series getting cancelled!

Quicksilver convinces Magneto to NOT kill the X-Men, only lock them up (like any good classic super villain should.) Within seconds, Angel escapes. When he asks Scott what to do, "Free us all, stupid!" is incredibly NOT what he says. Instead, he tells Warren to go get the Avengers, because they have cut a lucrative cross-over deal with the other franchise and it'll sell more books. "Meta," Angel mumbles, but flies off in search of the super-group, anyway.

Quicksilver - who can now FLY - chases him a bit, but his heart isn't in it, so Angel gets away. Two escapes in one day! Things are looking up for The Angel!

But the flight back to New York from ... where ever Magneto's fortress base is ... is long, so Angel stops to take a rest ... on a rock in the middle of the ocean. But it wasn't a ROCK ... it was a rock LOBSTAR ... no... sorry, it's an island that rises out of the sea. Angel is enRAPTURED by it. [What? It's not such a stretch to assume you comic lovers would get a Bioshock joke, is it?!] Seeing as how getting to the Avengers so he can rescue his friends - who could, remember, be killed at any moment depending on the capricious whim of a magnetic madman - isn't THAT important, Angel decides to play Rizzoli and Isles all by himself and do a bit of investigating. This is where the cover-character, Red Raven, shows up. They fight for a bit, but realize that that is SO cliche, so they call a truce so they can talk things over.

Now that's an ... INteresting turn of phrase.

Red Raven tells a story about bird people living in the clouds. They wanted to wipe out mankind, so he, Red Raven, put them all to sleep for 20 years. Twenty years have passed and the bird people are all going to wake up. Red Raven (Yummmmmm!) has to put them all back to sleep again. Angel says, "Why not let 'em wake up?! We can convince them that it's no use to attack!" Red Raven says, "Hey! That could work ... OR ... and just hear me out, ok? OR! I shoot you unconscious and put them all back to sleep, instead!" "Wha-" ZZZZZAP!

Angel wakes up adrift in the ocean and resumes his flight back to New York City. Does that make three escapes for Angel? Technically?

It's part 1 of Bobby "Iceman" Drake's origin story. Are you as excited as I am! Impossible.
In short: He's walking with his "best girl" and they are attacked by some jealous others, so Bobby freezes them. The girl freaks out, then the town freaks out and everyone tries to lynch him. They settle for only throwing him in jail. And THAT'S how he got his powers to control ice... What?!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Magneto's Back - and Front! (Issues #43)

Now you're playing with power...
MAGNETO power!
Fantastic Firsts: This next run will be the longest-parter yet, as it includes four issues. One of which is an issue of the Avengers. So, it's ALSO a "Fantastic First" [I JUST coined that phrase for this blog and, having used it just twice so far, already regret it] because it's our first true X-Men crossover. No longer do the X-Men have a guest star show up in their pages, THEY actually infiltrate another book's story. Does this show that X-Men was starting to get popular, as the team's appearance in another book wouldn't tank sales? Who knows! ALL SPECULATION from here on out, ok?! Deal.

Quicksilver, who has rejoined Magneto, drops in on Xavier's funeral, only to run away. (Which shouldn't have been too unexpected, really, since running is kinda his super power.

Fantastic First (ugh, I hate myself): Magneto's gang is called the "Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants"!
And, look, it takes a certain kind of person to be like, "Wait. What? We're EVIL?" and still stay in the club.
"No, I did NOT know the 'Baby Eaters of America' actually ate babies! I joined for the camping trips!"

Back at the mansion, the kids play a tape of Xavier's last words to them. It is revealed that the Professor has been teaching Jean telepathy, which is good, but that he fears Magneto is back from space, which is bad. Bad, especially, because we, the audience, didn't even know he went back to space! Are we to assume that space-cat, The Stranger, caught him and brought him back to the planet of inquisitive people? Guess so!

Here are some other things revealed in this issue that, apparently, happened either "off-camera" or in another comic book series that I am NOT going to read. (One comic book series, from beginning to end, is enough, thankyouverymuch!)
1) Toad is ALSO back! Yay...? Where did he go? I forget. How did he get back? No idea.
2) Quicksilver spent some time with the Avengers.
3) Scarlet Witch has lost her powers AND her mind
4) Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (his sister) still have their Facebook relationship statuses set to "It's complicated"

To move this along: Magneto is putting together a device that will enslave the earth with a mind control ray and the last components he needs are on a tanker ship, so he plucks it from the water as effortlessly as only the master of magnetism could.

"I'm going to call it the Myrmidon! That'll show everyone that my
degree in Greek Classics wasn't a waste of time!"

Too bad it was a ploy by the X-Men! A Trojan horse, if you will (thanks again, Greek Classics education!). Magneto picks it up thinking "parts for my ray" and gets a face-full of eye-beam. How does he react:

He immediately regretted smashing his
"World's Greatest Magneto" mug.
Also: up to this point, we did not see Magneto drinking
coffee, so this is all just the illustrator being like, "Well, when *I* get mad,
I break my coffee mug ... let's have Magneto do THAT!"

Magneto and the X-Men start to scrap and Magneto says:

Panels later:

I guess you can be a hypocrite when you are, essentially, insane.


The first "Green" superhero? (Excluding THE HULK, of course! Oh, we have FUN, don't we?!)

Friday, November 23, 2012

SPOILERS: Professor X DIES! (Issue #42)


WARNING! If you have not read my recap of issue #41 "Grotesk To The Max", please do so right now, or nothing you read from here on in will make any sense! (Well, that's not true at all, really. It'll make just as much sense, but I'll get another click for that last post. It's all about the clicks-jamins.)

"Clicks-jamins" is a play on "Benjamins", as used in rap song lyrics by Masters of Ceremonies-es. "Grotesk To The Max" is a play on the old 80's expression "grodie to the max", as used in, I dunno... the 80s? Tentative, in both cases, I know. What's the old saying? "When your blog needs a glossary, you need to re-evaluate your blog?" (That is not a real saying, until I made it up, just now. And since I made it up, I can choose to ignore it.)

Well, let's GLOSSary over that opening preamble, and get to the "good" stuff:

Marvel Girl and Professor X continue to act cagey, to the point of denying help to Cyclops and Beast in their fight against Grotesk (a sub-human) which is currently happening down in the subway tunnels. Further: Professor X (soon to be EX, eh, as he's about to DIE!) even forbids Warren and Ice "Bobby" Man from returning to the caves to help. Something mysterious is going on, and I don't like it. OH! I like mystery, just fine, I just like them presented to me in 60-minutes chunks by 20/20. (It's always the husband who did it, right?!)

MEANWHILE (in all caps, for no reason except I'm feeling like I'm not being as funny as I should be, in this post, and want to "spice things up" for you guys, and CAPS ALWAYS DOES THAT) down in the tunnels, Cyke and Beast's fight against Grotesk is - as any long-time reader of my blog and/or the early X-Men comics will know by now - going typically VERY poorly for the heroes. The only thing that stops Grotesk handing their spandex-clad asses to them is that a small tremor happens. This send Grotesk into a rage, so he runs off to find the tiny man in his head who is causing these earthquakes. NOT KIDDING:

A headache can feel like a tiny man operating an earthquake
device in your brain. Try Tylenol. 

Licking their wounds (gross), Cyclops and Beast return to the mansion and are all like, "Where was back-up?!" and Jean is all like, "Reluctant to say things!" But then a mental summons from Prof. Deadxavier commands her to, like a good little girl, bring the other men folk to him. As long time readers of my blog will no doubt have already assumed: She responds to his beck and call with unquestioned obedience. Subtle misogyny is the best kind, because it sneaks behind you, while you're not looking, and - POW - has you make it a sandwich.

Meanwhile, at the laboratory that MAKES EARTHQUAKES (not kidding), Grotesk attacks! But the man running the Earthquake-o-Tron 5000(tm) is ... Professor X! And why wouldn't he be?! See, it was all part of Professor NotALotOfTimeToLive's strategy of luring Grotesk to where he could be incapacitated. That is, Grotesk is the one that is supposed to be incapacitated, not Professor X, as my dangling modifier might have led you to believe ... though something tells me the tables are about to turn. FATALLY! And if this "clever" plot is the reason why Professor X dies, I think you can agree with me that he deserves it, as it is a sloppy ploy. A ploy so sloppy it has mustard stains on its pants, and it hasn't had a hot dog in WEEKS. Probably not since the July 4th BBQ. Gross.

Well, guess what?! EXavier can't incapacitate the sub-human, so the monster throws the "hoisted by your own petard" switch that'll cause massive earth-killing earth-quakes that will kill the entire earth.

Everything is funny out of context.
(And when you have a gutter for a mind.)

Just in time to NOT stop him from throwing the switch that will cause the thing to happen, eventually, that will destroy the world: The X-Men arrive. Punctuality is the politeness of kings, apparently, not mutants. "Sorry we're late!" they say, but how can the professor believe them when they are always late? Saying your "sorry you're late" means you'll try to do better in the future! It does not excuse your rampant lateness. [Look. What I'm saying is that I hate when people are late, ok? To the point that I, personally, wind up showing up early - maybe too early - to events, then get mad when people show up on time, because it feels like I've been waiting forever. I am a frustrating enigma to my friends and loved ones.]

Anyway! While the rest of the X-Men (Rest-Men?) keep the G-dude (Geodude?) busy (Philips?),  Professor "I'm not dead yet" X and Marvel "Death Happens To Ugly People" Girl manage to slow the earthquake machine down. Just as it looks like everyone is about to not die, Grotesk realizes what they've done, breaks off his x-attack, and tries to reactivate the quake-machine. It explodes, killing him. So that's one loose end tied up.

But Xavier has survived! Yay!

But then he dies of an illness he knew he was dying of, anyway! Boo!

WHERE, has he gone Angel? Oh! Right. Sorry.
Also: You know this is a serious moment, because
Iceman's tears are not drawn as tiny ice cubes.
That've been hilarious.

To "cheer" us up, they include the last installment of the Cyclops "origin" story. And it DOES cheer me up a bit, because its finally over and I don't have to read any more of it.

Essentially: Jack O'Diamonds has succeeded in turning his whole body into living, flexible diamond (so, something without two of the BIG properties of a diamond) by bathing in rays from a nuclear power plant's cyclotron. Easy peasy. Xavier convinces Scott to get a "vibration ray" and use it on Jack ... which makes Jack explode. Scott, the poor orphan, laments that, with the death of this diamond monster, he is even more alone than ever and that he has no where to go. Xavier over-hears his all-too-obvious fishing for a place to crash and says, "Why not come be a superhero with me?" "Really mister?!" "Really!" "No kinky stuff, though." "Wouldn't dream of it. Here are your spandex. Put them on and work out in this torture chamber I have built in the basement of my secluded mansion." "Uh.... OK!"

"You, young Scott, will be the first into danger,
while I sit at home watching Roseanne reruns on The Hub."

So, lets review. Xavier uses a lonely orphan to commit murder, then tells that orphan that he can protect him from the authorities if the teenager joins his crazy gang of mutants? That's f*cked up.


Wanna read the source materials? Have fun with THAT! They're in here:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men - Volume 4

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Grotesk To The Max! (Issue #41)

This issue features a Sub-Human named Grotesk. Don't you just HATE when people use "alternative" spelling for their kid's names?! Speaking of names, he's not a "sub-human" in the way you think. He's "sub" because he lives underground ... and might be slightly stupid, too. And violent. Ok, so it is a bit of what you think.

Anyway, Grotesque is an underground dweller that is the sole survivor of underground nuclear testing by our aboveground government. His entire civilization has either been wiped out in the blast or by the radiation. Tough break. Now, G-tesk is alone and possibly driven mad by it all ... so he attacks a subway car. Luckily, Hank and Bobby (Beast and Iceman, respectively, if you're just joining us) are with their dates (Zelda and Vera, irrespectively) on that very train! Talk about coincidence! Sometimes truth IS stranger than fiction.

Lets talk about Zelda and Vera. They've been around for ages, but I rarely mention them. This is because the marginalization of women in these comics is starting to rub off on me. Female readers: Go make me a sandwich, would you, doll? Whoa. Sorry. I'll shake it off. Sorry, toots!

Vera, Zelda. Zelda, Vera. There will be a test.

But back to Grow-teck and his revenge-quest against those who nuclear-ized his under-home: Is this supposed to be some kind of moral story for the kiddies? Like, "Hey! Maybe you should tell your dad to stop nuclear testing, lest a ... THING from underground comes up and kills him!" If that's the case, then that's pretty two-faced of the writers of the X-Men, don't you think? You can't have it both days, oh tellers of story. On one hand, you're feeding us a line that awesome nuclear power is responsible for eye-beams and foot-hands, but on the other, you're saying it can lead to catastrophic sub-human attacks. Do I ban the bomb or not?! I await your answer, comic writers from the late 60s. You know where to reach me.

So, compounding the Groddie-esque problem is that some egghead professor over at Archer College (go Fighting Arrows!) has invented an earthquake machine. It creates earthquakes. And these are making Grossy even more annoyed than when his entire race was destroyed.

My life was terrible, until my house was destroyed by an
earthquake! Thanks,  Dr. Hunt! Your earthquakes are a benefit to humanity!

In what will be dubbed his biggest "Manson Moment", Grotesk assumes that these tremors are aimed at him! Whoopsie! So he's off to destroy the earthquakes. Yes, he's not sure there is a machine, so his plan is to destroy the earthquakes. Sub-human ... INTELLIGENCE, AMIRIGHT?! [sub-high-five? Whoops, too slow!]

Though, on the way to smash-town, he has a change of heart. When he finds the machine, he decides to NOT smash it, but use it to destroy all above-dwellers in revenge for us killing all of his cave people, including his cave dad the king, cave sweetheart, his cave puppy (one assumes), and all his Nick Cave albums. Turn about is fair play, right? Not if the X-Men have anything to say about it!

And where are they now? Well, the X-gang are in the subway tunnels [which, as a native New Yorker look NOTHING like the real tunnels! (could you hate me more, at this very instant? No. You could hate me none more.)] trying to track down this sub-menace. Actually... all but Marvel Girl are on the Grotesk-finding mission, as she stayed behind to - ahem - "help Professor X with some 'experiments'". This has been the seed idea for many a fan-fic story, methinks.

And since it's been a while since I showed you a picture, here:


Asking Slake to step aside, so they can crash through his limbo, the X-Men find Growth-x's cave... but wait, it's not just a cave, it's an entire city! Just sitting there, behind a subway tunnel, for all these years. Strange that, what with all the construction that would have to go on for the subway to be built, that it wasn't discovered before. Again: Truth is stranger than fiction! [That's called a "call-back", it's what humorists use, when they can't come up with a new joke.]

To report their find, Angel and Bobby return to the mansion in person, since they can't seem to raise him on the wrist radios [remember, they all wear wrist radios? You do?! Then you've been paying too much attention to my blog. Please go outside and play for a bit ... but come back. Yes. Always come back, my preciouses .. What?!] Marvel Girl starts acting all squirrely and tells them that the professor "went out". Is she hiding something?! We'll never know, because that is the end of the issue.

Well, it SHOULD be, except that there is that damn, ongoing "Scott Origin Story" - or "Scorigins", as I have never called it until I just made it up, this instant.

SUMMARY: Scott is dragged along by this guy and does next to nothing as the guy turns himself into a living diamond man. 'Nuff said!

Wanna read the source materials? Have fun with THAT! They're in here:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men - Volume 4

Friday, November 16, 2012

The X-Men Meet Frankenstein! ZOWIE! (Issue #40)

In this issue: The X-Men meet Frankenstein! Gosh. Um... what?!
Was there something going on at this time? Some kind of resurgence of love and appreciation of the old Universal monsters? Someone who cared would do some research, read some articles, write a book / thesis about it. I am not that man. I'm just gonna go with my gut and say: Yes. People of 1967 were crazy over Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, et al. (Though, I guess "et al" is just "The Wolfman" ... OH! And The Creature (the one from the Black Lagoon) so I guess the "et al" was deserved! Good for me!) Anyway, in '67, there were crazy Frankenstein parties, where everyone would come dressed as the mad scientist - because even back then there were pedantic jerks.

It is into this atmosphere that this comic was released.

Get this, here is the plot: Frankenstein ['s MONSTER] is found frozen in ice. But he's really an android from space. He once went amok, and was defeated by being trapped in ice. (Ice: Trapping monsters in, since 1967!)

Somewhere along the course of the story, it is said that Mary Shelley probably saw the old android go nuts and just wrote it all down as a work of fiction. I found this a clever, subtle way of being demeaning to women. Think of it! It's like saying, "Nah, no woman could have come up with such a story, she probably SAW it and just wrote it down!" We all know women make GREAT secretaries and stenographers. Gosh, even when these stories aren't being outright sexist, they still manage to sneak some sexism in there. Good work, boys!

Or am I reading too much into this? No. No I'm not. I refer you to this comic's past atrocities against women.


Conclusion: This issue sucked and I'm not going to tell you any more about it.


Except that it was a short story because, again, they crammed a "bonus" story at the end, that continues the "origin" exploits of Cyclops. Though it doesn't really explain any origins of his powers, just how he got on the X-Men.

This month, Cyke, as you may remember, ran afoul of the first ever evil mutant. Meanwhile, Prof X is using CYBERNO to find him.

Well played, writers, to retcon a typo from years ago into canon. Clever bastards!

Turns out, Cyke is hanging out with Jack O'Diamonds, a man who got his name from the fact that his hands are made of diamond and his parents named him Jack. Both of them are in a nuclear facility and they're going to rob it. Why? Because Diamond Jack hopes that stolen nuclear isotopes will turn the rest of him into a diamond. Then - only then - will he be a girl's best friend. Also: Diamonds are forever. Also: How can one months' Jack last a lifetime? Also: They call him the Diamond Dog. Also: Then the world will NEIL before him. Also:

ALL over. ALL.

But who is this busting in to confront them and ask them to put aside their robbery-type ways and go straight? Oh, it's just Professor X? That was expected. Next month: A fight, probably.

Added to my auto correct dictionary: cyberno

Wanna read the source materials? Have fun with THAT! They're in here:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men - Volume 4