X-Men #22 (1966, July)
Any issues or arcs of other Marvel comics you want me to review, let me know. For today, by Thomas, Roth, Ayers and Simek, “Divided We Fall!”
It starts in the Danger Room, with the X-Men facing a big robot named . . . Colosso! Angel starts off by getting blasted by the robot, because it’s Angel.
They fail one at a time, and then use teamwork to take it down. Xavier gives them all a vacation. Warren asks Jean out, and Jean invites Scott along, just to screw with both their heads. And Xavier angsts about being crippled. Then we pop over to Count Nefaria, who decides to recruit the X-Men as allies. In the city, Hank accidentally hits on a dude he thought was Vera.
Fun story: This happened to me once. A few years ago, I put some pink streaks in my hair, and a couple days later, at work, a guy saw me from behind and thought I was a new girl and was about to flirt with me, until I turned around. Anyway, Scott, Jean and Warren have dinner, then Scott leaves to brood while Jean pines for him.
I love Warren’s utter lack of awareness here. “I think she likes me!” Scott sees Marvel Girl in the park while he angsts. He’s actually trying to get out of the way while Warren makes moves on Jean. Which is actually a pretty bro move by Scott. He thinks Jean and Warren like each other, so he’s trying not to cock-block. That’s very nice of you, Scott. Jean’s at Grand Central Station and hears a report about a flying X-Man in the park, and decides to see what it’s about. She gets caught by Plant-Man in record time.
Then Warren hears a news report and sees someone impersonating him, and gets caught in a net by crows trained by Scarecrow. Meaning Angel lost a fight to a handful of birds.
Beast is the next to respond to a new report, where he quickly loses to the Porcupine. Iceman (who a caption refers to as “Bobby Blake,” in a Stan Lee-level screw up) runs into the Eel, but before the Eel can beat him, Cyclops blasts him. Then the Unicorn shows up, and he and the Eel capture Cyclops and Iceman. The five obscure and ridiculous villains take the X-Men to Count Nefaria. He asks the X-Men to join him, and they refuse.
The group of villains who took them down is laughably pathetic. They all popped up here and there, both before and after this issue. Unicorn was mostly associated with Iron Man, while the others fought a variety of heroes. At this point, Plantman had two run-ins with the Human Torch, the Eel had two with the Torch and one with Daredevil, the Porcupine had two encounters with Ant-Man/Giant-Man, and Scarecrow had only one prior appearance, against Iron Man. So, you know, not exactly the cream of the crop of villainy. They were losers, and they remained losers throughout their careers. On the other hand, they are a little endearingly useless. In fact, it may be about time for a new Porcupine. Get on it, Marvel.
This issue is mixed, I think. The personal stuff is actually pretty enjoyable, especially the Scott/Jean/Warren triangle. I would have loved more time spent on that. Like, a few panels of them having a really awkward dinner together would have been wonderful. But alas, it’s a superhero comic in the ’60s, so they have limited time to spend on personal dramas, as they need to get to the action. And that’s where this issue falls flat. The plot forces the X-Men to go to the park one at a time. The radio has to inexplicably report on X-Men sightings in the park. Even in the ’60s, New York was full of super-people. Spider-Man was probably fighting Sandman a few blocks away from where Daredevil was fighting, I don’t know, Matador. And yet, the X-Men running around Central Park doing nothing was apparently Breaking News. And then, for some reason, even though Hank and Bobby are together, Hank says he’ll go check it out himself. I just find the whole thing forced.
The art, I think, is better than last issue. Still not an art style that particularly excites me, but eh, there really isn’t any ’60s comic art that excites me. Roth does a decent job here. It serves the story well enough. It’s fine. It doesn’t turn me off, which is the best I could hope for from ‘6os art.
On the whole, this is an issue where Angel got defeated by goddamn birds.