Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nefarious Off-Screen Beasts (Issue #94)

August 1975

If you're wondering how we went from issue #66, back in the 60s through Giant Sized X-Men #1 in 1975, then on to issue #94 to resume the franchise, it's because, for the intervening years, Marvel was reprinting old issues with new issue numbers.  Fact. A kid picking up issue #65 was greeted with a story they'd already read. It was like reruns, but for comics.

So this first, non-supersized issue, hits us right in the kisser with ... Count Nefario?! After coming off the awesome Giant Sized in which we get a new team and island-fighting fun, they go with the guy who brought back all the old, dumb, super villains from before any of us were born and had the "awesome" plan to cover Washington DC in a dome? That guy?!

You know who else had the "awesome" idea to cover a town in a dome? Stephen King.

This issue starts Chris Claremont's 100-year run on the X-Men. From what I've heard from people more nerdy than I, things are supposed to get real good. I am rubbing my hands in anticipation. MOSTLY because of this comic, but also because I have a french bread pizza in the oven and I'm hungry.

Anyway, Chris Claremont is supposed to be my reward for slogging through all those Silver Age books. This is my x-dessert! Bring it on!


So, all the original X-Men - who the new X-Men rescued from Krakoa Island (who tried to eat them) - leave. They just pack up and go. Well, except for Cyclops. He's true blue and would never do anything as exciting as leave the X-Men. What a pill.

So, poof! They're all gone. Just like that. Where are they going? No idea. Maybe they're going off to wherever it was that The Beast went? Where did he go? No idea, they didn't care to show us. Also: Why do they all go off together? Are they just forming another super group, on their own? I hope they are all getting an apartment together. The weird landlord downstairs thinks Angel is gay. Hilarity ensues.

Count Nefaria (One! One Nefaria! ahahah!) pops up and, this time around, he is employing Ani-Men.

They're all listening to Q95.7 FM for the phrase that pays.

Ani-Men are men which Nefaria turned into animals ... or vice versa. It's hard to tell. Apparently, his plan is to take over NORAD. I assume it's so he can dismantle the Santa Tracker, leaving dozens of nerdy kids slightly disappointed next X-Mas eve. Dastardly!

But how do we know about any of this? Why, The Beast placed a video call to relay the deets:

Hey Beast, why so blue?!
Uh. What happened to the X-Men?! What happened to YOU, Beast?!

I mean, I knew that at some point he got all blue, but I thought I'd get to see it! Off-screen blue-turing is so disappointing. I feel cheated! My entire life, I've always wanted to know this story - even avoiding reading the Wikipedia page, in the hopes of one day discovering it on my own - and it happened elsewhere?! Plus, The Beast says he's an Avenger now?! Ugh.

I'm not sure I'm conveying my absolute disappointment and annoyance at this. Honestly. Admittedly, it's greater than it should be, given that we're talking about how a man became a blue fuzzy beast in a comic book, but still ... it rankles me. Rankles!

Ok. I'm going to track down the relevant issues and read them. Please hold ...



Uh, ok... let's see if I can do this quickly and painlessly.
The story of beastly Beast is covered in Amazing Adventures #11 and it goes a little something like this:
Hank McCoy leaves Xavier's school and gets a job at a genetics lab, where he discovers an enzyme that will, for an hour, turn a normal man into a mutant. A coworker is going to steal his secret recipe, so Hank, instead of calling the cops or buying a disguise, decides to drink his discovery because it'll hide his identity, so that he can stop the crime, himself, without anyone figuring out that Hank is a mutant. It changes him into a GREY beast and as he is foiling the robbery, he loses track of time. Since that "for one hour" time-limit wasn't one of those "automatically turn back" Cinderella-type limits, but a "you're stuck forever looking like a grey hairy freak" type, now Beast is a real beast.

Upside? The money he'll save on Halloween costumes will be substantial.
"Hank came as The Beast AGAIN this year, I see. Surprise, surprise!"

I hope this origin gets retconned, because I feel Hank is too smart to have made this decision. Also: I think that last sentence reveals how invested I've become in these comics. Yay?!

Anyway, back to the story at hand:
Tempers flare between John "Thunderbird" Proudstar and Scott "Crooked-I" Summers (that's a malt liquor joke) because T-Bird was injured by a laser during training and Cyke doesn't want him to come along on this mission ... for his own good.

I titter every time he calls Scott "one eye". I am 13 years old.

Prof X overrules Scott and allows Proudstar to join the mission. Which is just irresponsible, if you ask me. "Oh, he's injured, but he's yelling? Ugh, just let him go to shut him up!" That's good leadership, right there! If Professor X was a mom, he would never get out of the supermarket without a cart-full of Pop Tarts and Crunchberries, having caved to every tantrum his x-kids threw.

Before the Internet, cats watched humans do silly things on TV.

After flying around a bit, the X-Men's Blackbird is destroyed by Nefaria-fired missiles. Artisanal missiles from our nefaria-fired ovens? (That's an "artisanal wood-fired pizza" joke.) Luckily, the X-Dudes had a tinier craft hidden within their Blackbird that they can escape in.

Until that one is destroyed by a ray beam. Artisanal ray beams, locally sourced. (THAT is a call-back to the previous "artisanal" joke that I'm SURE was super funny, the first time around.) Too bad they didn't have a THIRD, even smaller aircraft inside that smaller craft ... no no no, that would have been silly.

Now our heros are plummeting through - sorry, "thru" (to use the comic spelling that would have gotten me a "see me after class" in grade school (grade schu?)) - empty air towards certain ... Cliffhanger!!!

Almost NOTHING happened in this issue, huh?