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X-Men #102 (1976, December)

December 26, 2012

I’ve got nothing to say today. So let’s just get right to “Who Wll Stop the Juggernaut?”

Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?

Yet another cool cover. Cockrum was great.

Juggernaut attacks the X-Men while Banshee goes after Black Tom. They’re immune to each other’s powers, so Banshee instead uses his fists. Storm is still freaking out. While the Juggernaut beats the team around, Storm cries, and has a flashback to her childhood. She sees her parents – a photojournalist and a Kenyan princess – leaving a Harlem apartment to go to Cairo. Five years later (in the story, the Suez War, though it’s been retconned to no longer refer to any specific conflict), a fighter-bomber is shot out of the sky and crashes into their home. Ororo’s parents were killed, and she was buried. She eventually pulled her way free, was raised to be a beggar-thief, and at 12, she left Cairo and walked down to the Veldt.

Xavier picks up Storm’s distress, and tells Scott to go to Ireland to help the team against the Juggernaut. Scott refuses, and Xavier yells at him, until he sees the face from his dream in the mirror. While that conversation was going on, Jean was in her hospital bed, talking to her New York roommate, Misty Knight, and seems unsure of how to handle dying and bringing herself back to life.

Back to Cassidy Keep. Nightcrawler continues to try to keep Juggernaut busy, and hits him in the face with a torch, which actually hurts Juggernaut. Black Tom blasts Nightcrawler form behind, and he falls in some shadows, which actually causes the part of him that’s in shadows to disappear completely. Luckily, he’s saved by . . . leprechauns. Yeah. Back at the fight, Black Tom taunts Banshee for not asking any questions, and refers to Banshee’s past as an INTERPOL agent, a new twist for the character. Banshee’s momentary distraction lets Black Tom knock him out. Colossus comes back to pound on Juggernaut, but accomplishes nothing. Storm overcomes her fear enough to hurl a lightning bolt, but it’s reflected back at her, and knocks her out. All that’s left is to lure out Xavier.

Another very good issue. Nightcrawler shows a lot of resourcefulness, and Storm’s past is revealed and examined, particularly her claustrophobia. We also see Nightcrawler’s invisibility for the first time. That ability didn’t get used all that much, but it’s interesting. We also learn that Banshee was an INTERPOL agent, contrary to his comments a few issues ago about being a “barely-literate ex-cop.” Jean dealing with what happened to her, and Scott choosing her over the X-Men, were also interesting developments. The sub-plot of Xavier’s dreams continues, as the mystery takes another step forward. There’s also some mystery in terms of who hired Black Tom and Juggernaut to kill the X-Men. It’s all very cool.

The X-Men also showed up in the 1976 Marvel Team-Up Annual #1 in December, by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. The beginning shows a secret nuclear research facility being blown up, a while ago. Cut to the present, and a 747 carrying a bunch of scientists for a conference on man-made mutation. Peter Parker’s there as a reporter, and the X-Men are there in civilian clothes to escort Xavier. The plane starts to go down, and comes under attack from a bunch of robots (seen in the earlier segment). They start breaking in, but the X-Men and Spider-Man fight them off. The plane is landed, and the heroes, after being given an anti-radiation spray, follow a geiger counter to a buried lab. They’re all defeated when they get there, by the scientists seemingly killed in the lab explosion. They all have personalities and powers based on gods from Hindu mythology. They want to use Jean – Phoenix – to drain enough energy from the planet to sustain their lives. While they explain this, the X-Men secretly free each other, with Nightcrawler coming up with the successful strategy. The X-Men beat them, but they reveal that their energies are bound up with those of the planet, so if they die, so does the Earth. So the X-Men send them off the planet. Day is saved. Yay. It’s an OK story, but not a great one.

And as an aside, I should mention that Captain Britain started up in the UK around this time. However, he wasn’t associated with the X-Men at this point, so I’m going to skip them.

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