X-Men #20 (1966, May)
Today’s issue marks a changing of the guard, with a new writer. By Roy Thomas, Werner Roth, Dick Ayers and Artie Simek, “I, Lucifer!”
The issue starts with two guys in X-Men costumes smoking cigarettes and robbing a bank. One of the guys is morbidly obese, and bullets fail to harm him. The other has some sort of force field. Who could they be? Why, it’s the Blob and Unus, natch! They leave with the money. It cuts to the school, and Scott’s secretly leaving the X-Men to find someone who can turn off his eye beams.
The others see a news report on the X-Men robbing a bank. Hank goes to tell Xavier, who calls him Warren, because names are hard to remember. Xavier tries to figure out who’s behind Unus and Blob working together, but a name eludes him. Then the story gives it away by telling us it’s Lucifer. We learn that Unus and Blob met when they wrestled each other, and neither could harm the other.
There’s also this:
We cut back to the present, where they’re putting the money from another robbery into a truck. Scott happens by at that moment, and confronts them as Cyclops. They keep up the charade that they’re teammates, and a mob chases Cyclops off. The rest of the X-Men show up, and Beast’s ray does nothing to Unus. The crowd then attacks Beast and Iceman, delaying them long enough for Unus and Blob to get up after Iceman tripped them. Cyclops blasts the ground beneath them, and they fall onto a subway train.
Back at Lucifer’s base, he detects Xavier’s brainwaves, and fires a beam back along them that renders him comatose.
Xavier’s brain still works, so he tells Jean, telepathically, of his first meeting with little Lucy. He was traveling through Tibet, and was permitted into a forbidden city. He learns the ruler of the city is an alien. He leads a revolt against the alien, and gets crippled when Lucy drops a stone slab on him.
Back in the present, Lucifer is pondering his plan to subjugate the whole world the way he did the Tibetan town. He reports to his superior that it’s time for . . . Dominus!
What is . . . Dominus? We’ll find out next issue. With Xavier’s telepathic help, Beast puts together a beam distorter that’ll fix him up. Then they get in the plane to head out and fight Lucifer.
It’s an OK issue. Not great, just OK. The whole bit in Xavier’s past with him freeing a Tibetan village is really bad in retrospect. Very White Saviour. Especially since he pretty much single-handedly does everything in the assault. He disarms all the traps they come across, while the villagers just panic. Because they’re villagers in the ’60s, and they’re not mystics, so they have to be panicky morons. Blob and Unus teaming up is kinda fun. Their friendship actually lasts a long time, and is often very endearing. Especially on Blob’s part – he sees Unus as his only friend, and as a result, he often gets really protective of him. This issue actually does a good job laying that foundation. They seem to genuinely like each other, and be having fun. Their plan to discredit the X-Men is one of those goofy ideas that really only works because Marvel civilians are really paranoid and gullible. Thomas does come in with a strong handle on the character’s voices. And an initial plot that’s pretty good, for the ’60s. It’s goofy as hell, but that’s just what comics were like back then.
So, yeah, an OK issue.