X-Men #64 (1970, January)
Election Day in the US. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on what happens, out of simply curiosity. Anyway, the ’60s are over, and the X-Men are almost over with them. But that’s OK. They came back, better than ever. For today, though, “The Coming of Sunfire!” This issue was drawn by Don Heck.
We first get a glimpse of Sunfire as he rants, then we cut to the apartment of the X-Men, where Beast reports their mini-Cerebro has picked up a mutant. He also calls Warren “Scottie.” For some reason, Warren got confused with Scott a lot. Which is weird, because Scott’s actually useful. Cut back to Sunfire as he goes to a ceremony at the UN, where Mr. Yoshida, a Japanese statesmen, is unveiling a new statue. Sunfire destroys the statue. The X-Men pop up to stop him, and overhear someone in the crowd say she heard they were criminals. They fight him, Beast gets hurt, and Iceman’s unable to bring Sunfire down. Sunfire leaves. Back at the apartment, Jean tells Beast he’s sidelined.
Sunfire – whose real name is Shiro – is in another apartment, being told what a good job he did by his uncle. We get a flashback. Sunfire’s mother a few miles away from Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped, but she was still rendered an invalid. His uncle raised him, and recently brought Shiro to some ruins in Hiroshima. Shiro dug his hands into the burnt soil, and discovered his mutant power to shoot flames from his hands. At his uncle’s insistence, he vowed to avenge what happened to Hiroshima.
The X-Men try to find Sunfire, and their mini-Cerebro points to a diplomatic car. Angel recognizes the Yoshida family when they get out of the car, but doesn’t see which plane they board at the airport. He tries to check each plane, but because he’s an idiot, he almost gets sucked into a jet intake. Iceman and Marvel Girl save him, but I’m not convinced they shouldn’t have just let him go. Darwinism at its finest. Shiro and his uncle are talking about making the Americans pay, and his father, the statesmen, slaps him. Later, the father trails Shiro into a bathroom, and sees him getting into his Sunfire costume. Shiro punches him, then prepares to attack the Capitol Building. The X-Men attack him, but he easily takes out Angel and Iceman. Cyclops stops Sunfire’s blasts with his own, then makes a dive for him, but misses. Sunfire’s father yells at him, tells him to give up his hatred. His uncle shoots his father in the back. Sunfire blasts him in turn, then mourns his father’s death.
Kind of a shame that Adams wasn’t on this issue, because it might be Thomas’s strongest, writing-wise. Heck’s not a bad artist, but he’s no Neal Adams. The writing is solid, though. Some good characterization, and an interesting story. The only real complaint I have is with Angel almost getting sucked into a jet intake. That just seemed silly to me. But this issue also talked about the “hated and feared” thing. In fact, the second page actually calls them “outcasts of a society which fears and hates them.” Sadly, this theme ends up being largely abandoned in the final two issues, neither of which is all that great.