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X-Men #42 (1968, March)

September 30, 2012

Ooh, a death issue. And how timely, too – Xavier just died again in AvX #11 a couple weeks ago. Anyway, “If I Should Die . . . !”

If I Should Die . . . !

Ah, the good old days when they had to specify that a death was actually happening in-story.

Angel is telling off Jean for not going to help Cyclops and Beast. Xavier comes in and tells Angel and Iceman to stay at the school, as well. Angel complains that he feels Xavier’s changed, that he’s not the same person he used to be. I honestly have no idea if this foreshadowing was intentional, but it sure seems that way. Beast and Cyclops are fighting Grotesk, and not finding much success. The fight’s interrupted by another tremor, and Grotesk sees a vision of a man operating the device. He leaves to find the machine. Cyclops and Beast return to the school, and Jean tells them they can’t see Xavier. She holds them back telekinetically, until she gets a telepathic command to bring them. Beast wonders why they didn’t all hear it, but Marvel Girl says she can’t explain.

Grotesk finds the machine, and Xavier attacks him with mental bolts. Grotesk manages to resist enough to activate the machine. Angel shows up and blinds Grotesk with solar orbs, but Grotesk throws Beast into him. While the X-Men fight Grotesk, Marvel Girl finds she can’t turn off the machine, because the lever’s jammed. Xavier and Marvel Girl bombard the machine mentally, hoping to slow it down and stop it. Grotesk realizes what’s happening, and distracts the X-Men long enough to reach Xavier. He tries to increase the machine’s power, but it blows up, seemingly killing him. (He survives, and is next seen early in Ms. Marvel’s original ongoing, in 1977.)

Sadly, Xavier was too close to the explosion, and is dying himself. He explains that he was already dying of an incurable disease, and had little time left him. Then he dies.

And, the back-up feature finishes Jack O’Diamond’s story. Xavier says he wants to help Jack, but Jack doesn’t feel he needs held. Xavier finds his mental blasts can no longer penetrate. Before he can attack Xavier, Scott pushes him back with optic blasts. Xavier and Scott run into the building, and Xavier talks about having lived as a recluse for years. Xavier plans to use an ultra-sonic vibration inducer. Jack busts in, and Xavier telepathically commands Scott to activate the device. Jack feels himself getting stiffer, and Xavier tells him to relax, so that he can escape his diamond-form. Jack doesn’t want to stop being a living diamond, and resists. Then he explodes. Xavier takes Scott back to his Westchester mansion, and gives him a uniform and visor, as the first member of his team.

As a side note, the cover is actually mocking DC’s tendency to do “imaginary tales” back in the day. It became something of a meme among comics at the time.

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