Origins: Jack O’ Diamonds
The origin stories continue in the back pages of issue 40, this time continuing Cyclops’ adventure running away from the orphanage. Lost in the woods, he was beckoned into a creepy shack. We were promised the first evil mutant, and this issue delivers. However, the answer isn’t as lavish as Magneto or as powerful as Namor. Instead we have Jack of Diamonds, the man with diamond hands and telepathy. Get ready for sex-offender Emma Frost.
First he introduces himself to Scott as Jack Winters, and claims to be a mutant. That much we will debate a little later. Jack recognizes Scott as the mutant who made an ass of himself on television. He seems to have telepathy because he summoned Scott to the shack, and he can sense that the fuzz is around. Then he teleports both of them to a remote location.
The cops are baffled, and so is Professor X. He’s in his mansion tracking the rogue mutant with a new computer of his. It’s called Cyberno and it’s a prototype for what will later become Cerebro. Yet, as soon as he finds them they are gone, because Jack Winters has teleported them to a nuclear power plant. When Scott asks him why they’re breaking in, Jack decides to tell him a little story.
He had been an employee at the plant until an accident occurred. A tube of isotopes blew up and Jack suffered radiation burns. His hands were badly wounded and he gained mysterious powers. He should have been dead. Instead he could now read minds, teleport, and he had… wait for it… hands made of diamonds! He removes his gloves to reveal hands made of the hardest substance on earth.
He throws up some shiny jazz hands and then he slices a steel beam. Man stuff. Jack thinks he’s figured out that if he can only obtain more isotopes, he can increase his power, and have his entire body made of diamond. Scott thinks he’s figured out that Jack Winters might not be a very good friend. He doesn’t seem to like that this guy is leading him into crime. Then he hears even more voices in his head and realizes that there is another mutant nearby.
It’s Charles Xavier! The Cyberno machine worked and he has located them. Jack orders Scott to eye blast him, but Scott just throws his arms up instead. Jack Winters declares that his mutant name is Jack O’Diamonds, and he charges at Xavier with all that he’s got. Xavier’s mind powers are useless against another telepath, but Jack’s diamond hands will tear Charles to pieces. Oh the peril! I can’t possibly imagine where this is going. Time for Scott to man up.
That is where this story leaves off, but I want to take a moment to discuss Jack’s status as a mutant. Is he an actual mutant? He gained his powers after a terrible accident, through exposure to radiation. He wasn’t born a mutant, and his origin is much more similar to that of Daredevil or Hulk. Or is he a mutant? Marvel.com lists one of his mutant powers as “radiation resistance”. It states that this is likely his only true mutant power, and that it allowed him to gain his additional powers by absorbing enough radiation that would kill a normal man. So basically his mutant power is that he can gain super powers. It sort of feels like cheating. I can’t help but feel that Bruce Banner absorbed far more radiation and lived.