X-Men #2 (1963, November)
Now, the second issue of The X-Men. By Lee, Kirby, Reinman and Rosen, “Nothing Can Stop the Vanisher!” And he sure does look menacing, doesn’t he?
The X-Men are trying to make their way back to the school in Westchester, and they all show off their powers in the process. Beast shows his agility to climb a building and jump on top of a train, Marvel Girl uses her “teleportation” powers to move a bunch of girls who were molesting Angel.
Angel picks her up and flies, Cyclops blasts a wall that was falling on a construction crew, and then he and Iceman hop into an ice cream truck to take them to the school.
Then we get our first glimpse of the Vanisher, and . . . gah! I don’t even know where to start. I suppose I’ll start by asking: What’s that thing on his head? And what’s with that weird mask? And in the name of all that is holy, what is that thing on his head? What theme was he going for with this costume? It looks sorta like scales, so maybe a snake theme? But that collar . . . I’m going to spend the whole issue wondering what’s going on with that collar. I just can’t stop looking at it.
Anyway, he tells a cop he plans on robbing the bank. Now, I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that’s probably illegal. But I guess the cop didn’t feel like doing his job, so he just points the way.
Back at the school, Iceman flips out and starts trying to shoot the others with “machine-gun ice pellets,” because Iceman is apparently insane. He even says “zowee.” Marvel Girl uses her “teleportation” to send them back at him.
They fight Vanisher, aren’t able to stop him, fight amongst themselves, and then Professor X saves the day by erasing the Vanisher’s memory. Which is kinda like murder, when you really think about it.
But no one brings up the issue of how morally questionable it is, because it was the ’60s, and heroes could do anything short of put a bullet in a guy’s head. I guess if Thor could get away with nuking a part of China, Professor X can get away with psychically lobotomizing someone.
This issue does give an example of the fickleness of people on Marvel Earth. When the X-Men failed to stop the guy who’d just stolen defence plans from inside the Pentagon, people decided they weren’t so great after all.
Nothing said about how a building full of men with guns did even worse. Maybe if they’d actually used those guns, instead of just trying to grab a guy who they knew could teleport. I mean, I would think that when someone is stealing defence plans, you’re allowed to just shoot him.
There is also one other point of note. When they first go after the Vanisher, Jean says she can sense that he’s a mutant. I doubt Lee meant anything by the line, but in retrospect, it kinda hints at her eventual telepathy. It’s still fairly typical superhero fare at this point. The characters are still pretty basic, though Iceman may have gotten dumber since the first issue. The first hints of an attraction between Cyclops and Marvel Girl shows up here. Beast jokes about being smarter than the others, but doesn’t really do anything to demonstrate it. And Xavier shows himself to be really smug. But it hasn’t found its voice just yet.