X-Men #54 (1969, March)
This issue introduces a rather notable character, one who’s getting a major boost right now. This issue is titled “Wanted: Dead or Alive . . . Cyclops!”
It starts with Cyclops waking up in a museum, with a cop arresting him for murder. Cyclops tries to think back to what happened. He had taken the others to Landon College to see his younger brother, Alex, graduating third highest in his class. Alex was also a star athlete, on account of being a mutant, and I actually find that a really interesting revelation. It’s saying that mutants, regardless of the exact nature of their powers, are more physically fit than humans. This makes sense to me. Anyway, Alex goes to get out of his graduation robe, and is attacked by a couple guys in pseudo-Egyptian garb. He’s taken to some other dude, who reveals that the Egyptian pharaohs were mutants. Before he can kill Alex, the X-Men show up. The Living Pharaoh orders their deaths. At one point, during the fight, a spear pins one of Angel’s wings to a wall, but he doesn’t seem bothered. Interesting, that.
Anyway, the Pharaoh and his goons escape, and Cyclops reveals to Alex that they’re brothers. The others leave while Scott tries to figure out how to explain things. The Pharaoh sneaks back in and knocks them out. That brings us back to the present, where Cyclops is being accused of murder. The Living Pharaoh is on the floor, seeming a little less alive than usual. Cyclops guesses Alex must have killed him and run away. He beats the two cops and flees to look for his brother. The other X-Men hear a radio report and look for Scott. Scott happens to be in some tunnels, where he finds . . . the Living Pharaoh! Duh-duh-duuuuh!
This is a fairly standard issue. Not great, not bad, just serviceable. It does, however, introduce Alex Summers, who becomes Havok in a couple issues. Havok becomes an on-and-off member of the X-Men, leads X-Factor for a good chunk of the ’90s, leads an alternate reality version of the X-Men in Mutant X, and now, he’s leading the Uncanny Avengers. The next couple issues reveal a strange connection between Alex and the Living Pharaoh, one which actually ends up being retconned years later to be even stranger.
The back-up is Angel’s origin. It shows a young Warren climbing a tall tree, totally unafraid, while his parents freak out. A bird startles him, and he falls out. He grabs a branch on the way down, which breaks, and he lands in the swimming pool. He gets sent to his room, and then his parents decide to send him to a private boarding school. He proves to be the top athlete and student. One day, he finds a feather in his bed, and when he checks a mirror, sees he’s grown small wings. He keeps them hidden, and manages to get himself put into a private room, isolated from the others, as his wings grow bigger. A fire starts, and he learns he can fly. He hears some people still trapped, so he goes to get a rope, and also finds a white robe and blond wig. He saves them all, then flies away and returns as Warren.