It’s a Girl

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The X-Men have been on separate paths lately, disbanded and disheartened. With Professor Xavier still deceased, times are rough. What would it take to get this team back together? The greatest threat ever, obviously. Lucky for them such a threat is about to strike.  This story arc is one of the boldest Marvel had delivered up to this point, spanning four issues, 49-52. We’ll see new enemies, new allies, and the return of an old favorite.

 

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The story begins with Angel, as it should. The last two issues have focused on pairs of X-Men, first Hank and Bobby, then Scott and Jean, as they set out for opposite coastlines. Now it’s Warren’s turn to get the spotlight. He bursts in through a window of the now abandoned Xavier school for Gifted Youngsters. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for him to be here other than nostalgia and lack of purpose. He’s touring a shell of a former life, looking to the past instead of the future. I can relate.

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Warren isn’t prepared for what he finds there. What seems quiet and haunting at first gives way to a terrible siren. It’s coming from cerebro, which is programmed to activate when it senses enough mutant activity. Great timing Warren. At that moment the single highest recorded concentration of mutants is detected and is on the move. Angel reaches out to Jean, alarming here of the situation. Hank and Bobby are having some needless skydiving expedition at the moment so she isn’t able to make contact at the moment.

Warren’s spotlight in this issue doesn’t last long before he reaches out to his teammates. Keep in mind though that Angel had his own issue recently when he met the Red Robin. Now he has to share his solo issue with the rest of the gang.  This is what he gets for galavanting around with some other bird man when he was supposed to be saving his friends.*

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Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in a creepy mansion outside of San Francisco. A mysterious new villain named Mesmero is commanding an army of henchman. He’s spouting a lot of rhetorical garbage about the destiny of mutants. Then we see that he is a pupil of Magneto, no doubt spreading his message and pushing his radical in his absence.

He has built some sort of psyche-generator, a machine that seems to work a lot like cerebro. With it, Mesmero plans to control ‘latent mutants’ and gather them into some sort of army. What is a latent mutant? Is it someone who carries a recessive mutant gene? Or is it a legitimate mutant whose powers simply haven’t manifested yet? I have no idea. Mesmero activates the machine and it seems to affect tons of seemingly random people within a certain radius.

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One of those people is a cute young brunette who was trying to cross the street. Just her luck she was getting eyeballed by Bobby Drake because she was walking right into the street. She was put into a daze by Mesmero’s machine, and almost stepped right into oncoming traffic. Bobby ices the road so she slips right into her arms and out of harm’s way. Smooth Bobby. Smooth as ice.

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With his heroics, good looks, and natural charm, Bobby easily gains her trust. The girl is confused, shocked to be in San Francisco. She claims that she is from 1200 miles away and that her name is Lorna Dane. Yes, that’s important. The two of them go to get a cup of coffee. Sadly, the scene cuts away before we get a look at a west coast coffee house.

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Things are going pretty alright for Bobby. What we didn’t see was what I can only assume was the first date any of the X-Men has ever had that wasn’t ruined by bikers, super villains, angry mobs, aliens, or whatever other kind of shit these guys have to face on a regular basis. It seems like they actually had a pretty good time. Is that even allowed? Bobby didn’t have to ditch his date, get into uniform, or make up some lame excuse as to why he disappeared. I bed he even paid. Zelda would be so jealous… or maybe it’s Vera. Lorna Dane even goes home with Bobby, and he was a real gentleman about it.

Unfortunately, the rest of the team isn’t as thrilled. Hank comes back to their place… wait… Hank and Bobby have a place together in San Francisco? What the hell are they doing in San Francisco? They’re supposed to be in New York. What the hell is going on?  Anyway… Hank comes back to their place and he is furious that Bobby has brought some strange girl to their apartment. The rest of the X-Men are about to arrive and Hank doesn’t need this bullshit. At this point I’ll assume that Jean assembled the team, Hank and Bobby left New York, got an apartment in San Francisco, moved all their stuff out here, and even had time for a date in the time it took Scott and Jean to arrive, even though Scott and Jean were already in California. Although actually, Scott and Jean borrowed a flying car from the Avengers and the Avengers live in New York City. At the start of this issue the two pairs have switched coastlines for whatever stupid reason. Whatever.

Hank is left behind to watch over a sleeping Lorna Dane while the rest of the team goes searching for the mutant migration, building by building. It would make more sense for Bobby to stay with Lorna, except that Hank is building a portable cerebro, something that will help narrow their search considerably.

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The team seems to be doing just fine without ecerbro. They spot a squad of mutant henchman, and follow them to a creepy old mansion. The X-Men simply attack, no questions asked. Cerebro finds more mutants than ever before and the X-Men run in guns blazing. Classy. Great job fostering peace and goodwill and all that crap. As you can imagine, a huge brawl breaks out. I would show you the image but it has one of those angles where a character is throwing a punch and his fist is drawn abnormally huge in a poor attempt to create depth. It ends up looking like a huge cooked ham and it’s unbearable. The culprit in this case is Angel, and fittingly he is soon knocked out of the sky and seriously wounded. That’s what you get.

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Meanwhile, back at the apartment Lorna Dane has woken from her slumber. She is of course schocked to find Beast there instead of Bobby. Hank is even in uniform, which only requires even ore explanation. However, Lorna seems more concerned with her own secrets than Hank’s. She has green hair!  She took a shower and now her green hair is clear as day. Hank promises to keep her secret, understanding that she is a latent mutant.

The X-Men return, giving Warren time to recuperate and Hank time to finish his portable cerebro. This time Iceman is chosen to stay with Lorna, but she doesn’t know that it’s really Bobby. I’m thinking it would be easier to have just had Bobby stay with her, without ice, so as not to alarm her. Logic, meet window. With their portable cerebro device on board, the other four X-Men set off to further investigate the strange mansion outside of town.

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It doesn’t take long before the henchman are breaking down the door, and they’re coming straight for Lorna. She would have been a goner, except they’re not out to hurt her.

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On the contrary, they worship her. They all bow down and grovel at her feet. Lorna has no idea why.

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The cover to X-Men #50 does give us a clue. The green hair tells me that is Lorna Dane, but she looks like far more than an innocent bystander walking into traffic. What’s with that outfit? Lorna and Bobby have been taken hostage, taken to a City of Mutants out in the desert. There Mesmero performs sadistic, painful experiments on Lorna, activating her latent mutant abilities.

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The rest of the X-Men return to find Bobby missing and immediately ran after him. They’re determined to get him back, storming the gates of Mesmero’s city. They put up a great fight, but decide to purposely get captured. They can’t risk what they might do to Bobby, and they think this will get them close to him.

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They regret this pretty quickly when they see what Mesmero has created. Lorna Dane emerges, born anew as a mutant princess, destined to extend Magneto’s legacy. Bobby becomes so upset that he breaks free from his bonds and joins the fray. Now Lorna Dune, the Mutant Queen, is free to unleash her full wrath onto our heroes.

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Bobby pleads with her at the last moment. It is unclear if that is what triggers her change of heart, but regardless her full power isn’t unleashed onto the X-Men. Instead she attacks Mesmero, decimating his troops with one attack.

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It takes everything out of her, but it gives the X-Men a window of opportunity to save the day. The team rushes Mesmero with full fury, but are stopped before making contact. The metal beneath them literally rises up to shield their attack. Who could have done this?

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Magneto! Of course! He was never dead, and he’s been hiding in the shadows this entire time. Mesmero only lead us to believe that he was in charge. I must say, Magneto really has stepped up his game with Mesmero and his army of Henchman. It sure beats Toad’s bumbling and groveling. And didn’t I tell you that Magneto never drowned? Amazing how I knew that.

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Magneto announces that Lorna Dane is indeed his daughter, his very real flesh and blood. Lets all just believe him. He gives her a choice. She can either join the X-Men or she can rule by his side. Together they can rule the galaxy and all that crap.

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Bobby is so mad! That’s his woman that he met on the street and hardly knows! Anger!

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Scott has had enough, prompting him to do one of the only badass things we’ve seen him do so far. He punches Magneto right in his fucking mouth. Bam. Fuck you, Magneto. Even better, he screamed out, “You Lose!” right before he did it. Good for you Scott. Stand up for yourself. That guy is a punk and you don’t need to take his shit.

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Bobby grabs Lorna and the team starts to fight their way out. In one of the best displays of Magneto’s power that we’ve seen so far, he sends all sorts of small metal bits, machinery bits, around the room. They swarm around the X-Men and are almost enough to subdue them. Scott has no choice but to blast the shit out of everything, bringing down the house around them. Way to go Scott! You’re becoming a much better leader. Did Jean ‘make you a man’ in California, because you’re finally fighting like you have some hair on your balls.

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The diversion allows the X-Men to make their escape, but without Lorna. She stays behind with Magneto. Bobby is pretty shaken up about it, being that he’s known her for about a day, and Scott rightfully suggests that Bobby sit out the rest of this adventure. Bobby won’t accept this and a fistfight breaks out. By the end of it, Bobby has stormed out, saying that he’s quit. The team knows he just needs to blow off some steam. Back to the task at hand, Scott announces that he has a plan to deal with Magneto.

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Meanwhile, back at the City of Mutants, a mysterious fearsome warrior has shown up at their gates, attacking and demanding to see Magneto. He calls himself Erik the Red, and he seems to be challenging Magneto for superiority. Immediately after arriving he gets into a scuffle with Mesmero’s troops.

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Once he is greeted by Lorna he explains that he is no threat. He hasn’t come to usurp Magneto but to support him. His challenge is not to Magneto, but to Mesmero, for the role of second-in-command. Lorna goes along with this, but she suspects other motives.

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Meanwhile, Jean, looking sultry as ever, receives the order from Scott to begin something called Operation Twilight. She is to gather the team and infiltrate the City of Mutants. Once inside, she finds Erik the Red and mesmero bickering over who has managed to lodge themselves further up Magnetos ass. They’re as pathetic as Toad. Lorna senses something different about Erik. Her suspicions are proven correct as soon Erik the Red runs into the X-Men. Surprise! Erik the Red is really Scott Summers working undercover. They set a trap for Magneto, ready to electrocute him when he runs through the door. Unfortunately, Bobby Drake comes bumbling through before Magneto has the chance. This City of Mutants must not be well guarded since everyone is just walking in. Thanks to Bobby, their trap becomes a beacon for Magneto’s troops. They descend upon the X-Men and violence ensues.

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Admist the chaos, Bobby finds Lorna and tells her some startling news. It turns out she actually is not Magneto’s daughter! She has been tricked this entire time so that they could exploit her power. Both Magneto and Iceman are of course lacking any sort of proof whatsoever, but no worries. Lorna is gullible.

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In the end it is Lorna who confronts Magneto and saves the team. Lorna also possesses the power of magnetism, and although I’m pretty sure Magneto is more powerful, she is able to take him on in this instance. Her power is at least enough to make Magneto run with his tail between his legs. His parting gift is a 60 second bomb countdown, ending the entire conflict.

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Back at the mansion, Lorna is cozying up to Bobby and making herself right at home. I have no idea if she plans to join the team, but I hope she sticks around for a while. Lorna Dane will later go by the codename Polaris, and will serve as a long time ally and friend to the X-Men. She is probably most famous for her role in X-Factor following their rebuilding in the early 90s. She wasn’t referred to as Polaris once in all four issues, and I’m wondering then that will come into play.

This story arc was full of action, introduced a major character, and provided a lot more than monster-of-the-month. Arnold Drake had been writing the story for a few issues at this point, and this story is the first one where I think his work really shines.

 

*Issue 44

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Posted on September 2, 2014, in Cerebro, Ed Posts, First Appearances, Magneto, Mesmero, Polaris and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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