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X-Men #132 (1980, April)

March 16, 2013

This is a big issue, so let’s get into it. “And Hellfire Is Their Name!”

And Hellfire Is Their Name!

This cover’s too good to make a joke about it.

We start with Angel welcoming the X-Men to his Aerie, out in New Mexico. Scott asks to talk to him somewhere private, so Warren grabs him flies out to an isolated butte. Xavier doesn’t like it – Scott disobeyed Xavier’s orders by bringing the X-Men to New Mexico instead of back to the Mansion, and he flew off with Warren without explaining why. Scott explains their recent experiences to Warren, and says the Hellfire Club’s behind it. Warren says he’s a member of the Hellfire Club. Scott also mentions that something weird’s been happening to Jean . . . who chooses that moment to make her appearance. Apparently, Scott and Warren had been talking for hours – a neat trick, given it’s only been a couple pages. Anyway, she brought a picnic. Warren flies off, to leave Scott and Jean alone. She takes off his visor, and holds back his optic blasts telekinetically. That’s a lot of power.

Cut ahead a week, and to New York under heavy rain. Wolverine and Nightcrawler are making their way through a storm sewer. Wolverine strips the insulation from some power cables – once the water rises high enough, it’ll cut the Club’s lights. Outside, Scott, Jean, Ororo and Peter are all in fancy dress, ready to sneak in. Xavier’s concerned about the plan, and the fact that he can’t establish a psychic rapport with the team. In a hidden sub-basement, the Hellfire Club – Pierce, Shaw, Leland and Wyngarde – see Scott and Jean on a monitor.

While Scott and Jean dance, Wyngarde cuts in, and slides Jean back in time. Scott’s suspicious. Wyngarde starts taking Jean upstairs, and Scott follows. He briefly sees Wyngarde’s real face – Mastermind. Then he gets blasted by Jean, the Black Queen. Storm and Cyclops rush upstairs, and Colossus fights Shaw. Turns out Shaw absorbs kinetic energy. Like punches. Or kicks. Colossus goes down quickly. Downstairs, Nightcrawler and Wolverine sneak in, and Nightcrawler’s grabbed by Donald Pierce. Wolverine cuts open Pierce’s arm, but it’s robotic. Pierce is a cyborg. Harry Leland also makes his entrance. He can increase a person’s mass. He uses it on Wolverine, and eventually, the floor gives way, slamming Wolverine into the flooded storm sewer. Upstairs, Shaw manages to grab and knock out Storm.

The issue ends, of course, on one of the most iconic panels of all time:

X-Men #132

Hell yeah.

It’s a great issue. The Hellfire Club are great villains. The ease with which they defeat the X-Men is impressive. Scott’s continued concern about Jean and her power levels is nice. The tension’s been building for months, and this issue builds it even more. You just know something big is coming. The X-Men are defeated and Jean’s joined the villains, and still there’s a sense that this is all just building up to something much, much bigger. It’s quite a feat.

Also in this month, Dazzler showed up in Amazing Spider-Man #203, by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard. He sees her being chased by a ball of light. He saves her, but she’s not sure she can trust him, and blasts him. Later, the light finds her and possesses her, and Lightmaster reforms. Spider-Man sees him chasing her, and jumps in to stop him. He gets soundly defeated, and Lightmaster escapes with Dazzler. In his lab, he explains his big plan to her while she’s strapped down, but Spider-Man busts in. Things start exploding, but Spider-Man saves himself and Dazzler. Then Dazzler attacks him, because Lightmaster’s possessed her. She chases after him, until he eventually lures her back to the lab, reverses what Lightmaster did, and saves Dazzler. Hurrah.

I also want to mention Incredible Hulk #246, which has a truly touching scene where the Hulk finds Jarella’s body. And Iron Man #133, where Scott Lang, as Ant-Man, makes his way through Iron Man’s armour in order to get it working enough for the mouth slit to open and air to start getting in. It’s a really fun story.

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