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X-Men #97 (1976, February)

December 11, 2012

I read a leaked version of Avengers Arena #1. Mettle dies. Arcade just blows him up. It was such an insulting death, I’ve actually decided not to buy anything Dennis Hopeless writes. Anyway, today’s X-Men story is titled “My Brother, My Enemy!”

My Brother, My Enemy!

The X-Men seem to have the worst luck with planes.

It starts with Xavier having weird dreams. Dreams that include a battle in space, including a bug-shaped scout ship escaping the battle. Xavier feels himself drawn into the ship, and sees the hints of a face behind an insect-like helmet. It’ll be a few issues before we learn what that’s all about. He goes downstairs to make himself some coffee, and Moira talks to him.

We cut to Alex and Lorna out in the Rio Diablo mountain range, where they’ve apparently become quite close. Alex goes out, and Lorna’s soon knocked out by a stranger at the door. Alex hears the scream and runs back. Lorna knocks him out, and calls herself Polaris. This is the first time that name is used.

Three days later, the X-Men (sans Banshee, Moira and Wolverine) are seeing Xavier off. Havok (who’s continually called Havoc here) and Polaris show up and attack. Xavier’s plane gets away. Havok and Polaris are revealed to be following the orders of . . . Eric the Red. Who you may remember (from X-Men #52) was Cyclops in disguise. The fight continues, with Cyclops managing to sucker-punch Alex while Nightcrawler and Colossus take on Eric the Red. Storm and Polaris fight, and after Polaris calls it a game, Storm gets just a little annoyed, and brings down a positively Biblical amount of lightning. Eric grabs Alex and Lorna and flies off. Cyclops can’t bring himself to blast them down. Wolverine – who’d just shown up with Banshee – yells at him, and gets a backhand for it.

X-Men #97

Behold the mighty Pimp Hand of Scott Summers.

Why yes. Yes, I did have to include the panel of Cyclops bitch-slapping Wolverine. So, so satisfying. Anyway, pretty good issue. Things are beginning to improve quite a bit.

A letter this issue from a Native American asked why Thunderbird had to die. The answer given was that he had no powers which weren’t duplicated by someone else, and that his character had nowhere to go. He was called, and this is a direct quote, “a wise-cracking, insolent, younger, not-as-interesting copy of Hawkeye” – ouch. I’m not completely sure I agree. I think Thunderbird had some potential as a character. And it was very disappointing to me that he was killed off.

As a final aside, two big things happened in January 1976. The first is Howard the Duck getting his own series. It was an awesome series. The second is Jack Kirby returning to Marvel, starting with Captain America #193. This was less good. Kirby was writing, drawing and editing all the books he worked on during his return. This would prove to be awful. He was a terrible writer, and his art looked worse than it did in the ’60s. Reading through his comics was painful. I honestly don’t understand how anyone liked them.

  1. Hamburger Time permalink

    I find it kind of interesting that Native American readers liked Thunderbird, both because I thought he was too short-lived for anyone to really become attached to and because he’s a Captain Ethnic.

    • I think the fact that he was killed so quickly was part of the problem. Native Americans finally got a superhero of their own – there’d been a few Native Americans in the Western comics, and Red Wolf had three issues set in the present before his series was canceled and he started doing the occasional cameo in other titles, but he was forgettable – and he gets killed off in the third issue he appears in. He didn’t even have time for people to get attached to him, or to develop a real character beyond “jerky Native American guy.” So even though I’m Caucasian, with not a hint of Native American in me, I agree with Tom Runningmouth’s dissatisfaction.

  2. Unfortunately for the native American culture, there is still somewhat of a shortage of good characters representing their culture.

    In marvel, it would still be a couple years, I think, before Moonstar would show up with the New Mutants and even longer before Warpath showed up to investigate/ avenge his brother’s death.

    • October 1982 for Dani. Forge would follow in 1984. Warpath the same year. Shaman debuted in 1979 – Canadian, but still counts. There’s also American Eagle, who debuted in 1981. Despite never having his own series, he’s still got a bit of a cult following. I actually think Marvel should give him a shot. Stick him on the Avengers or something. He really deserves to be showing up in a monthly title somewhere.

      There was also Echo, who debuted in 1999. And Wyatt Wingfoot, as I mentioned, debuted in 1966. He was never actually a superhero, but he was pretty badass.

      At least Dani’s going to be appearing in Fearless Defenders. That’ll be cool.

      • Dani’s story was the first major story arc in New Mutants if I remember correctly. That’s one of those series that I desperately need to go back and read. New Mutants #1 through to X-Force and beyond. It’s on my list of stuff to read or read again.

        I have so many series on my list of stuff to read though… not enough time in the day…LOL.

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