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X-Men #24 (1966, September)

August 30, 2012

If there are any issues or arcs of other Marvel comics you want to see me review, let me know. Today, by Thomas, Roth, Ayers, and Rosen, “The Plague of the Locust!”

The Plague of the Locust!

So stupid, it gave Xavier a headache.

It starts with Marvel Girl grabbing a couple books while getting ready to leave, and the others reflecting on how things will be different without her around. Warren and Scott drive her to Metro College (noting it’s where Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, goes), and Ted Roberts takes her to enroll.

X-Men #24

Ted seems like a nice guy. Good choice for a rebound.

We move scenes to where some moron dressed like an insect hatches some locust eggs, with the nymphs growing with each bite of grain. They soon grow to human size and devour a whole field of grain. The farmer calls the cops, but the bugs are gone before the cops arrive.

X-Men #24

The third cop knows what world he lives in.

The X-Men hear about the bugs, and go to fight them. Angel actually knocks out one of locusts. Good for him. The fight is interrupted when a crop-dusting helicopter flies by. The pesticide doesn’t kill the locusts, but National Guardsmen with flame-throwers manage it.

As few days later, Jean is talking to Ted, as August Hopper walks by. He’s an entomologist who was fired from the university for being kind of a crack-pot. He works for Ryan Chemicals now. We follow him to his apartment, where he uses a ray to increase the size of a couple bugs. He also rants that he’s the sanest one of all, which is always something people who are mentally healthy say. He reveals his plan: Let a bunch of giant bugs run around destroying stuff before killing them and becoming a hero. OK then, whatever works. I’ve read worse motivations fo villainy. Jean shows up at the Mansion and tells them about Hopper, and Xavier visits Hopper’s lab at the company he works for. The X-Men go to his next target and fight him. He’s wearing an armour that gives him flight and protects him from Cyclops’s optic blasts. He also has a ray beam he uses to knock Angel out of the sky. I’ll give Angel credit for not getting grabbed, though. Iceman trips him with ice, and he summons a giant beetle. Then he giants up some wasps. The National Guard shows up to burn everything. Xavier  puts on a disguise to talk the Locust down, but fails.

X-Men #24

Xavier’s speech is pretty cool when you imagine Patrick Stewart’s voice.

Locust hops away, and runs into the X-Men. And Beast demonstrates French isn’t one of his strong subjects.

X-Men #24

It actually means “head-to-head.”

Angel tries to get him, but gets caught in a silk net. But again, he didn’t actually get grabbed, so I won’t mock him for it. Locust embiggens two more beetles. Marvel Girl ties up his antennae, and they go after him. He hides in his trailer, which goes over the edge of the cliff, though not before the X-Men save him. His machines are destroyed, and he gives up on evil.

This issue is, um . . . something. The Locust is such a goofy villain. He’s stupid, and there’s a certain charm in just how stupid a villain he is. But there’s also a certain stupidity to it. One thing that I do find interesting is that, as Hopper, he’s using the bugs as tools to get recognition for himself. As Locust, though, he seems to feel a greater kinship to them, ranting about how great they are, and how they’ll show everyone. Clearly, this is a guy who needs a therapist, probably some medication. The plot I’m actually more interested in, though, is Jean going to college. I would have loved to have seen more of her life at college. We see bits and pieces here and there over the next while, but I would’ve liked even more. The mundane lives of superheroes always fascinate me.

The art’s OK. I maintain my stance that Roth was the least interesting Marvel artist of the ’60s. It’s not that he was bad, just that he wasn’t on the same level as the other artists of the decade. The art was serviceable, it told the story well enough, it just didn’t really do anything special.

All in all, this issue is either terrible or great, depending on your appreciation for stupid stuff.

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