The Less Invincible Cobalt Man
Get ready as the X-Men take on Cobalt Man, which is almost like taking on Iron Man. Cobalt Man is obviously derivative of Iron Man, but he turns out to be a fun villain and worth the read. Iron Man is awesome, so why shouldn’t there be an evil version of him flying around somewhere? Plus, this issue has a lot of great X-Men drama, as we get “gripping glimpses” into the lives of these teens. Will Scott finally make a move on Jean?
Things start off with a string of staple X-Men situations, and while repetitive it does bring us back to the basics. The team is once again training in the Danger Room, facing smoke fields and pillars of fire. Bobby finds another reason to make a stripper pole. At the end of their session, Scott tells Warren that he’s done an excellent job, and we see that their friendship has been repaired. Scott thinks he’s a ‘great guy’ and wishes they weren’t rivals. Then Hank mentions Cal Renkin, which made me realize that this is the first time he’s been mentioned since his fight with Super-Adaptoid. I ended that issue unsure if Mimic would continue with the team, but the guy is so annoying that I didn’t even notice he was missing in the last issue. Good riddance.
Continuing the string of textbook routine X-Men, Xavier gives them a vacation. They have the weekend off to go do as they please. What could go wrong? What they each decide to do is getting very predictable. Bobby wants to go on a double date with Hank, Zelda, and whats-her-face. Warren is going to go drive around in his car, and Scott is such a stick in the mud that he’s staying home to help the professor.
Charles then mentions that he has some overdue library books, the ones that Jean brought him way back when they fought el Tigre. Even though Warren is about to go driving, and is’t obvious that they both love Jean, Charles is careful to ask Scott to deliver them instead. This does not go unnoticed by either Scott or Warren. Charles sits and smokes his enchanted pipe of smugness as we discover that he’s known about this love triangle for quite some time. Of course! He can read minds! (duh)
However, Scott doesn’t get far before Warren buts his big arrogant face into the situation. Then again, he is the one with the car. What would Scott take, the X-Plane? How could he? Apparently it’s gone. Warren offers to drive him and suggests that they let Jean decide between them once and for all, today. Boy oh boy, Jean is a lucky girl. She’s going to be forced to choose between dating one of two bros from her old school. Once and for all. Today. Man, they sure do speak the language of love.
Then we see Hank being all down on himself while he puts his shoes on, trying to fit his big monster feet into something less conspicuous. Some guy pokes his head in and refers to him as ‘Beastie’, making Hank question just how much of a beast he’s become. Oh Hank, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Then our scene moves to Metro College, where Jean is chatting it up with Ted. Once again, Ted is going on about his amazing brother Ralph, in a doting way that I feel is sure to repel any girl within a certain proximity. All these guys are such dopes. And then who pulls up but Ralph himself. It’s immediately obvious why his brother admires him so much. Check out that bitchin’ van!
The brothers waste no time trying to outdo each other. On the same page they go pole vaulting, and Ralph manages to knock himself in the head. With all the build up to this guy’s supreme athleticism, he sure fails to impress.
The three of them grab a quick bite to eat at a local diner. There we learn that Ralph had recently been employed byTony Stark, a bit of information that I’m sure we should remember. He, for reasons he’d rather not go into, decided to branch out and form Roberts Research Lab. That’s as far as we get before Scott and Warren arrive. Now we have a table with Jean and four dudes, three of which, heck for all we know four of which are madly, sadly in love with Jean. Warren, an experienced lady’s man, knows that this won’t be worth the trouble, and he decides to jet. The rest of them head over to Ralph’s lab to see some experiment.
I take back anything disparaging I may have said about this issue being predictable. I could never not enjoy another X-Men romp in Greenich Village. Here we are at the Coffee A Go-Go, Hank and Bobby watching the ‘talented’ Bernard pontificate his pop philosophy. Like, life is a yo-yo. Deep. The girls are going nuts over it, but the guys are less than impressed. Bobby uses the old ‘pie a-la-mode’ trick that he taught himself back around Thanksgiving to leave this guy completely befuddled.
Warren is having a much better time over at the Monkee’s Paw, where he runs into an old flame, Candy Sothern. She seems to be an old girlfriend from his home town.
Meanwhile, Jean and the guys are at Ralph’s lab, looking at all kinds of science. Scott and Jean are left alone as Ted is taken into a secret room. His brother has a surprise to show him.
It turns out that Ralph has been building his own Iron Man suit. His is made from a cobalt alloy, and is powered differently. If you wear it for more than two hours, you turn into a human C-bomb. Plus it’s blue. Awesome, right? Even better, it was built in a hurry with motives of revenge and profit. What could go wrong? He’s confident that the US government will buy it, since we all know that the federal government loves a bad idea. In his first display of power, he blasts a hole in the roof of his own lab and flies out, screaming things about how strong he is.
By the time he lands he has transformed into a complete asshole. ‘Cobalt Man’ is spouting off about Iron Man being a traitor, and then he slaps his brother across the face. That’s like being hit with a sledgehammer, and he’s lucky if his brother is even still alive. I’m sure he’ll need dental work. Then, in a display of absolute restraint and mental superiority, Cobalt Man destroys all of Ralph’s equipment, ensuring that there can be only one Cobalt Man. His buyers at the Pentagon must appreciate that.
Cyclops and Marvel Girl spring into action, and just as Scott was about to man up. Instead they suit up and kick more ass than I’ve seen this team dish out in quite a while. Go Cyclops and Marvel Girl! They’re up against what is basically an Iron Man clone, which is nothing to shake a stick at, and with no back up they manage to put up one hell of a fight. Cobalt Man runs off, believing them dead, when they are in fact merely trapped beneath some rubble.
They send a distress signal to the Professor. He is too busy doing science stuff outside the spooky door to be of much help, but he summons the rest of the X-Men to their aid. Hank and Bobby are still at the Coffee A Go-Go, where Hank is cutting a rug with Vera (that’s her name!). They are soon interrupted and once again have to leave these two nice girls all alone. Warren is at the other club, where they’re playing Bob Dylan. He’s still talking to Candy, but soon speeds off in his Ford Mustang, racing to Jean and Scott.
Speaking of Jean and Scott, in the meantime they manage to free themselves from the wreckage in Ralph’s lab. Jean is doubting her abilities as an X-Man, and worrying abut Ted. That’s when they seem him fleeing the building in Ralph’s bitchin’ van, and they jump in the back unnoticed. Now Cyclops and Marvel Girl know that it was Ralph that they fought, and they are all on their way to Stark Industries.
Hank, Bobby, and Warren are way ahead of them. Angel’s Mustang arrives at the factory, where we get a bit of information on where Iron Man is, and what he’s been up to lately. However, Iron Man does not make an appearance. Bummer. On their own, Angel takes to the skies to get a look around. Cobalt Man finds him right away and they all go at it. Once again, the X-Men put up a god fight, yet Cobalt Man escapes. That’s when Cyclops and Marvel Girl show up with Ted in that bitchin’ van.
Ted warns them that Cobalt Man’s armor will reach critical mass within two hours, and that two hours are almost up. While Beast creates a diversion, Iceman freezes Cobalt’s suit, shorting out the circuits. He plummets to Earth and Angel rescues him just in time.
In the end, Ralph has learned the error of his ways. We never did get to see Iron Man, but it was nice to see a few things from over in his niche of the Marvel Universe. Scott and Jean are left a couple of hard-luck Harrys as now they’re filled with doubt over their superhero identities. Exactly what the two of them needed, right?
Also, Next Issue! Juggernaut, My Son! ‘Nuff Said!