X-Men #53 (1969, February)
So, after a four-issue arc introducing Lorna Dane, she gets completely dropped without any explanation. Oh well. She’ll be back eventually. For today, “The Rage of Blastaar!”
Blastaar’s whining about having been outcast from Negative Zone society, and how he wants a good fight. He wants to attack Earth, but his anti-matter make-up means he’d explode if he set foot on it. Cut to Jean, testing out one of Xavier’s mind-machines with the help of Hank and Scott. It can transform her matter into energy. Se’s going to be super careful. Something goes wrong and the device explodes, putting Jean into mild shock. By random chance, the machine – still going, and unable to be deactivated – pulls Blastaar to Earth. Blastaar shoots Beast, and Iceman and Angel show up. He misses Angel, then flies after him, and Angel’s too stupid to get out of the way. He’s taken down. Cyclops hits Blastaar with an optic blast to help Angel, while Marvel Girl and Iceman wake up Beast.
Iceman goes after Blastaar, and Marvel Girl goes with him, tell him not to say anything about her staying safely out of the way. Iceman growls that he sometimes thinks giving women the right to vote was a mistake.
She has him create some ice mannequins. Cyclops isn’t doing well against Blastaar, so Beast shows up to get a shot in. The ice mannequins attack, and Marvel Girl’s telekinesis apparently allows her to actually move their arms and stuff, and they actually beat him back until they fall through a hole back down to the room with the machine. He destroys the mannequin that fell with him. The melted ice short-circuits the machine and kills Blastaar (seemingly – he returns a year later in Marvel Team-Up #18, in 1974). Marvel Girl feels really bad, since she was the one who brought him to Earth in the first place, making her responsible for his death. Cyclops tells her to chill.
It’s a pretty meh issue. Not much to say about it, really. The bit with the ice mannequins was really silly, and Blastaar was never a particularly interesting villain. This issue does feature, however, the Barry Windsor-Smith’s first pencils for Marvel. He would later work on Marvel’s Conan series, did the two Lifedeath Storm stories, and wrote and drew the Weapon X feature in Marvel Comics Presents. This issue also has a letter from Mark Gruenwald, who claims that Angel can’t fly by his wings, explains why, and claims that Angel actually flies by way of levitation, with his wings being a secondary characteristic.
The back-up starts with El Conquistador having his minion set up the experimental solar generator Hank stole. Wait, I thought Hank stole a nuclear generator? Well, anyway, Hank tries to rush past to destroy the transmitter’s, and gets in a fight with Conquistador. The X-Men show up, and beat up the guards, but Conquistador activates his doomsday device. The X-Men leave before the place explodes as a result of Xavier using his telekinetic power to alter the circuits. Wait, Xavier has telekinetic powers? Since when? Xavier wipes the town’s memories of Hank’s powers. Of course, since Hank was actually seen on TV across the country, I’m not sure how much that was meant to accomplish. Hank joins the team as the Beast. This finale to Hank’s origin story got really, really sloppy. Perhaps Angel’s origin story will be handled better.