X-Men #12 (1965, July)
The previous issue was lame, but now we’ve got the start of a much better story. By Lee, layouts by Kirby, pencils by Alex Toth, inks by Vince Colletta and letters by Sam Rosen, “The Juggernaut!”
The issue picks up where the last issue left off, with Cerebro emitting a loud alarm noise. Xavier sends them out to prepare some defensive measures, and when they return, he tells them his brother’s attacking, and launches into a story about his past. His dad was killed in an atomic blast, and his friend, Kurt Marko, married his widow. Then Kurt’s son from a previous marriage, Cain, comes home. Cain’s a dick. The mysterious menace that the cover showed us but which the comic itself is trying not to show breaks through the first line of defence, and Xavier continues the story.
Xavier takes storytime very seriously. Nothing gets in the way of storytime. Anyway, Kurt died in an explosion, after saving Xavier and Cain. Xavier’s brother is temporarily halted by the second line of defence, an electromagnetic force field. Xavier’s relieved, because it means storytime can continue.
Back in the story, Xavier uses his telepathy to become a star student and athlete. Cain’s halted again by the third line of defence, sleeping gas.
Xavier talks about how he and Cain joined the Army and went to fight in Korea. Cain takes cover in a cave, and finds the lost temple of Cyttorak. He grabs a ruby, reads the inscription, and starts to change.
And Xavier’s story is done. Cain Marko was turned into a human Juggernaut, completely unstoppable. The Juggernaut reaches the house, and easily swats aside the X-Men. And we finally get our first look at him. And he actually looks kinda silly. Oh well.
This issue was mostly exposition. The funny part is that Xavier’s just calmly telling his life story while an unstoppable force of destruction is on his doorstep. Wouldn’t that time be better spent, I don’t know, coming up with a plan to fight him? He seemed pretty certain that the defences prepared wouldn’t do anything more than slow the Juggernaut down. Do not mess with Xavier’s storytime! Xavier’s origin is decent. Some bits that made me roll my eyes – the wicked step-father and weak-willed mother, who apparently left Kurt but left young Charles with him? Why? Why did she not take her son with her? Oh well.
I should talk about the art! This issue wasn’t penciled by Jack Kirby. Instead, he did layouts, while Alex Toth did the pencils. He’s not an artist I’m familiar with, as he did virtually no work for Marvel. A few isolated issues here and there, mostly in the ’50s, but this issue seems to have been the only superhero comic he ever did at Marvel. Going by Wikipedia, he looks to have had an illustrious career elsewhere, with other comic publishers and in animation. His style here is pretty good. I like him more than Kirby, to be honest. His style’s just a little bit softer, and less detailed. While “less detailed” may seem like a knock, I always found Kirby’s art too detailed, in that it had too many pointless details. Toth’s style feels less busy. Facial expressions work well. All in all, Toth was a good artist. This issue also had inks by Vince Colletta, a legend in the industry.
The next issue is much cooler, but this issue sets it up, so I’ll forgive this one. On another amusing note, though, one of the letters has a reader mention being a reader from “way back,” meaning since the early ’40s. Marvel replies by wondering if people will be remembering the stories of the ’60s 20 years later. Almost 50 years later, here I am talking about it, though I obviously wasn’t around when these ones were written.
Meanwhile, over in Avengers, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch helped fight some Asian Communist warlord. Because Stan must have had a quota requiring so many “Red menaces” get beat up every month, or something.