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X-Men #56 (1969, May)

October 23, 2012

How did I get over 70 hits today already? Crazy. But Hopefully a sign of things to come. Anyway, today’s issue is “What Is . . . the Power?” Neal Adams joins up for art duty, most notably this awesome cover.

What Is . . . the Power?

Great cover, and the inspiration of the famous Dark Phoenix one. Great work by Neal Adams.

The X-Men come across an excavation site, hoping to find someone they can turn the Living Pharaoh over to, but it’s empty. Alex angsts over his mutant power. The Pharaoh’s goons attack from the tomb, and quickly beat the X-Men. They fly away with Alex. Angel follows, flying low to avoid detection, and sees them fly into another temple. There, the Pharaoh does some ranting, and reveals that he and Alex both draw power from cosmic rays, and as Alex’s power grew, the Pharaoh’s weakened. He cuts Alex off from the rays, and begins to absorb them by himself. The Angel flies out and warns the X-Men to back off, right before the Pharaoh bursts out of the temple as a giant. He now calls himself the Living Monolith.

Inside, Alex feels the air in his small tube getting thinner, and wonders if he could use his power to break free. Outside, the Monolith starts getting weaker, and starts shrinking back down. The temple collapses, with Alex still inside. Alex emerges from the rubble, full of power he can’t control.

Story-wise, the issue’s strictly OK. But the art is good. Neal Adams is a legend in the industry, and with good reason. The guy’s always been a great artist. Still, this issue doesn’t really stand out much. As an aside, years later, we would learn exactly why Alex and the Monolith both draw power from the same source, and the answer is Sinister. Sinister spliced Alex’s X-gene into the Pharaoh. Come to think of it, he hasn’t been seen for a while. Since the Apocalypse: The Twelve storyline of 1999-2000. He’s probably about due to pop up fairly soon.

The back-up is more of Angel’s origin. Xavier tells Scott and Bobby (who’s drawn in his snowman form, as opposed to the last few back-ups making him ice, even though it was issue #8 before he adopted the ice look) to bring Warren down, because Warren’s dangerous. Warren fights back. After a fight, Xavier contacts Warren telepathically, and tells him the vial he grabbed contained a nuclear explosive that was activated by Warren’s mutant body. Warren flies up until he starts freezing, then cracks open the vial, deactivating the explosive. Warren then meets Xavier, and agrees to join the X-Men.

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