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X-Men #22 (1966, July)

August 25, 2012

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!”

Divided . . . We Fall!

I’m almost embarrassed to know all those villains.

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.

X-Men #22

Jean still gets surprised at how stupid Angel is.

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.

X-Men #22

I really can’t blame him for making this mistake.

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.

X-Men #22

And Warren is deluding himself.

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.

X-Men #22

People already cringe at the name “Plantman.”

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.

X-Men #22

Angel, you are the goddamn worst.

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.

  1. I like the idea of putting a character in a world which is unusual for him/her, even if he/she is a loser, because you don’t know how things will go. For example, if you put the Riddler in a Batman comic, you know that Bruce, with his detective skills, will solve his riddles in a minute… but what about if you make the Riddler interact with a less lucid and patient superhero, like Grifter?
    That’s why the integration of the Wildstorm world into the DC universe has a great potential, in my opinion. The Wildstorm world has a lot of intriguing superheroes and villains who never met the DC ones, so their union is a potential goldmine of brand new stories. At present it’s not working, though: Voodoo closed, Grifter is about to close, and Stormwatch sells quite well, but is boring as all hell. I hope the potential I see will be expressed in the upcoming Team 7.
    Each time I see an old comic book, I feel overwhelmed by nostalgia.
    I admit it, I’m a nostalgic. When I started to read comics, colour wasn’t digitally added, superheroes did not look like a bunch of body builders and they did not hold ridiculously oversized weapons. Actually, they didn’t need any weapon at all: when they had to solve a problem, they used their brain instead of violence.
    The stories were better as well – of course we can find something good and something bad in each era, but at those times there was more irony, more deepness, and, most of all, more hugely talented authors. Nowadays, even if you find an ironic author, he’s ironic in a Tarantino way, like Garth Ennis. And even if he/she is talented, he/she will never reach the level of authors like Frank Miller or Chris Claremont.
    Anyway, the 10s started in a very good way. Both Marvel and DC are printing some high quality stuff: Marvel has Waid’s Daredevil and the brand new Hawkeye, while DC has some wonderful series, like Animal Man and Blue Beetle. Even the other publishers, like Image and Dynamite, are regularly offering something intriguing.

    • My understanding is that comics became much more editorially-driven around the time Claremont left. Part of that was the fan demand for consistency between books – that was the responsibility of the editors, and it ended up causing them to micromanage, telling the writers what to do, rather than what they CAN do. That’s the case with Marvel since the early ’90s, anyway. I doubt it was much different at DC.

      While I don’t have the same nostalgia other people do for the comics of the past, I do think they’ve taken themselves a little too seriously of late. The best books strike a balance between humour and drama – X-Factor, Journey Into Mystery, Daredevil, even Avengers Academy. This past year has actually been a great one for comics. Sadly, a lot of the best books and runs are coming to an end – Academy’s canceled, Gillen’s leaving JiM and Uncanny X-Men, Punisher’s canceled, plenty of others – in the wake of Marvel NOW!. We’ll see how things go after the massive shuffle.

      Though I don’t know what any of this has to do with Angel getting defeated by a trio of tame birds.

      • In the 90s some teen dramas like Beverly Hills 90210 and Dawson’s Creek had an enormous (and deeply deserved) success: this led to the creation of comics about young superheroes who were facing not only this villain or that, but also their youth problems. The best one definitely was Generation X, in my opinion: that marvellous comic book closed in 2001, and since then every similar title didn’t last more than a few years. Avengers Academy was no exception, and it’s a real shame. Unfortunately, it seems that teen-drama-like comics are not a big thing anymore. The only one still surviving is exactly Teen Titans, as far as I know – and, as chance would have it, the writer of Teen Titans is the creator of Generation X, Scott Lobdell. He’s simply born to write this particular genre of comics.
        I didn’t know Punisher had been cancelled – all his titles are gone?

      • A new Punisher series was started late last year, and it’s ending soon. But the Punisher just doesn’t seem to be able to hold a series any more. Shame, because this one was fantastic.

        Marvel will be doing another teen hero team book starting in December. (It’ll include Kid Loki, Miss America, and Wiccan, among others who haven’t been announced. The first two are worth the price of admission alone.) And they have been kinda vague on exactly what’s going to happen with Academy – Gage is definitely off it, and issue 39 is being advertised as the final issue, but there’s been statements that imply it may continue in some form. We’ll see.

        And yeah, Generation X was awesome. Loved that book.

  2. Thank you for your replies and informations! : )

    • Well, I am declaring myself an X-Pert, so I figure I’m sorta obligated. But you’re welcome.

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