X-Men Into Darkness
Having hardly begun their search for the kidnapped Charles Xavier, our teenaged heroes are being dragged off on an unrelated adventure. The X-Men are going underground, delving far below the surface of the Earth to witness an epic battle between Mole Man and the mysterious Tyrannus. I love Mole Man, but Tyrannus kind of sucks. Still, issue 34 gives us a lot of characters, which is always fun. Charles will have to wait.
The story begins with the team rebuilding Cerebro, in hopes of using it to find Charles. Whoever kidnapped him knew enough to take out the machine that tracks mutants. The guys are welding and soldering machinery and electronics, activities a bit more advanced than when they simply picked the machine up after Juggernaut smashed it to pieces. Poor Cerebro. This machine has been beaten to hell and back these last few issues. Speaking of beating, Jean is threatening to spank the boys for misbehaving. She sure as hell doesn’t need to tell Scott twice, as he straightens right up and apologizes to Warren immediately.
When Jean gets back to Metro College, there is a message from Ted Roberts. He’s strung out because his brother Ralph (AKA Cobalt Man) has been captured. Ted asks her to get the X-Men, revealing that he apparently knows her secret identity. Jean calls up the mansion and reaches Warren. Not wanting to disturb Scott and Henry, who are still rebuilding Cerebro, Warren and Bobby spring into action.
They pick Jean up in the X-Plane, which has been upgraded with hover abilities. Pretty neat. They arrive at Roberts Research, Inc. to find Ted spouting off about the center of the earth. He tells them that Ralph was kidnapped by someone named Tyrannus. Warren remembers that name being mentioned before. It seems that Tyrannus is now interested in the super strong cobalt alloy that Ralph has invented. He has been taken into some unknown land located beneath the Earth’s crust.
Ted lets the X-Men borrow Ralph’s special underground digging car. They adventure far below the surface and discover a hidden world, and soon run into Mole Man.
I really like the Mole Man and the whole idea of him leading this underground army of creatures, ruling a world of dark caverns. It must be quite a thing for an underground creature to step into the light and start a war with the surface world. I admire Mole Man. Also, his stature and his goggles always remind me of another favorite villain of mine, Doctor Octopus. It’s great to see Mole Man show up in an X-Men comic. Also, his trickery does not disappoint. He fools Warren, Bobby, and Jean into following him past the magical mists of the River Lethe. It is a mystical river whose fumes render any mortal powerless and mindless. Mole Man has made them all slaves.
Meanwhile, Tyrannus is forcing Ralph to put his plan into motion. He has kidnapped Ralph so that he can use his cobalt alloy to outfit an enormous robot. This robot is to be the champion that will defeat Mole Man’s army. Mole Man has built a champion of his own, a robot of diamond. Tyrannus requires a substance even stronger than diamond, which is what has gotten Ralph into so much trouble. This whole situation is because of a rivalry that’s been brewing between these two subterraneous villains. This war isn’t going to stop with the Mole Man however, as Ralph soon learns that Tyrannus wants to create cobalt warriors to take over the world.
Not far away, we see that Scott and Hank are making their own descent into this cavernous realm, looking for their missing team members. They have no idea that their friends are now soldiers in the Mole Man’s army. Scott and Hank find the abandoned underground car and three sets of footprints.
Soon the epic battle begins as the two giant androids do battle. It’s not really as epic as it is short though, as the cobalt android makes short work of the Mole Man’s diamond plated effort. After it is destroyed, the three enslaved X-Men take down the cobalt monster just in time for it to explode. Keep in mind from issue 31 that the cobalt alloy explodes as it grows unstable. That’s the end of those robots. I was hoping that Ralph would secretly build another Cobalt Man suit while he was held captive, but it turns out that Ralph Roberts is no Tony Stark.
Then there’s a quick little fight where Warren, Bobby, and Jean go after Tyrannus and Scott and Hank go after Mole Man. By the end of it Tyrannus and Mole Man are both captured, and Warren, Bobby, and Jean are brought back to their senses.
Following in the example set by the good Professor, the X-Men somehow wipe the memories of both Tyrannus and the Mole Man, and release them somewhere beneath the surface of the Earth. Very convenient. I’m sure they’ll never bother anybody again. What if Tyrannus forgets that he’s allergic to shellfish or Mole Man forgets that he needs his insulin? Doesn’t anyone ever think of these things?
I feel like the X-Men might have an easier time with the human population if they actually captured a villain now and again. And by ‘capture’ I don’t mean ‘legally adopt and then chain in the basement for months like fucking Sloth from the Goonies.‘ Just a thought.