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X-Men #44 (1968, May)

October 2, 2012

This issue was co-written with Gary Friedrich, who had notable runs on Captain Britain, Sgt. Fury, and Ghost Rider, and did short stints on a bunch of other magazines, like Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD, and plenty more. Anyway, today’s issue is titled “Red Raven, Red Raven . . . !”

Red Raven, Red Raven . . . !

Dive-bombing seems a little extreme, under the circumstances.

Magneto’s gloating over the fallen X-Men, with Toad telling him to kill them. It’s interesting to note that Toad, back in the day, was really genre savvy. if Magneto had followed Toad’s advice more often, he probably would’ve conquered the Earth. Anyway, Quicksilver convinces Magneto not to kill them, and Magneto instead imprisons them. According to Toad, sticking Angel in an electrified cage was a move so brilliant only Magneto could think of it. Seems like a pretty obvious idea to me, but what do I know. Quicksilver argues with the X-Men, then leaves. Angel notices something outside his cage, and manages to reach it. It disintegrates the bars. But before he can free the others, Cyclops tells him to go to the Avengers for help. Angel escapes, and realizes he can go to the Avengers for help. Way to make it seem like your own brilliant idea. Angel.

He flies, but a storm kicks up. He lands on a small rock to wait out the storm, but then the rock rises up into an island. A metal door opens, and Angel decides to check it out, reasoning that Magneto won’t hurt the others for a while, since he wants them to join him. He’s attacked by Red Raven (an old Golden Age hero, here making his first appearance in the Silver Age), and they fight. The fight ends, and Red Raven explains that he’s protecting the secret of his people, the Bird-People. He was an infant when a plane he was on crashed on their flying island, and he was the only survivor. He was raised among the Bird-People, and when he became an adult, he learned the Bird-People planned to attack humanity. He asked to live among the humans, instead, to show that peace was possible. They refused, and insisted on attacking the humans, even though Raven knew the humans would beat them. He saw only one option and released a suspended animation gas. He put them in chambers that kept them alive but inactive, then separated the military complex from the rest of their sky continent and sank it into the ocean for 20 years. He’s going to start the cycle over again, but Angel argues against it. Red Raven decides to knock him out and leave him outside while he keeps his people in suspended animation and sinks the island again. Angel wakes up and continues his flight to New York to speak to the Avengers. So, this whole digression was completely pointless. Yeah, that sounds about right, given the rest of Thomas’s run.

The back-up feature details Bobby Drake’s origin. He was out on a date with a girl, possibly about to confess his love, when he was attacked by three bullies, led by a guy who’s interested in Bobby’s gal. The leader starts to leave with her while Bobby’s held back, and he uses his mutant powers to freeze him. The girl’s terrified and says she never wants to see him again. Word spreads through town about what happened. Bobby tells his parents about what happened, and a mob shows up at their house. Bobby tries to defend himself, but is taken down and hauled off to prison. Xavier reads a newspaper report about it, and decides to take Cyclops to check it out.

As a side note, the letters page has a letter from some nobody by the name of Keith Giffen complaining about how many villains don’t get used, and the lack of an X-Men Annual. I’ll bet this Giffen fellow didn’t amount to anything in his life. More seriously, it’s a shame Marvel wasn’t able to get Giffen to do much work for them. He had a pretty notable stint doing the pencils for the Defenders in the ’70s, and he wrote Annihilation a few years back, but he’s far more associated with DC.

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