A Tale of Two Brothers
The Living Pharaoh might seem like just another villain-of-the-month crony, and he is, but don’t be fooled. Issues 54 and 55 deliver kidnapping, ritual sacrifice, family secrets, and a trip to the pyramids of Egypt. It’s nice to be getting some storytelling after our little pit stop with Blastaar. This is a solid story arc that introduces another major character. We will discover that Scott has a brother! That’s right, this is the introduction of Alex Summers, who will later become Havok.
Scott and the gang are attending his brother’s college graduation. That’s sort of strange because Scott doesn’t have a brother. Right? Does he? He’s never mentioned him. It would be strange for him to suddenly have a brother and for the entire team to feel obligated to attend his graduation. Anyway, that’s what’s happening. It’s nice that they aren’t coy about how dumb this is.
Scott’s thoughts during the ceremony give some insight into Alex Summers. He is both an accomplished athlete and student, aided by his mutant genes. Somehow Scott knows that his brother is also a mutant, but Alex has not developed any abilities or abnormalities. It isn’t made clear if Scott assumes this because they’re brothers, or if he has another reason to feel so sure.
Scott congratulates his brother and invites him out for a beer. Alex is of age now, which in 1969 would make him 21. This gives us some idea of how much Scott has aged since the series began, since he is of course the older brother. The X-Men were all teenagers when they started, and Bobby was only 14. There isn’t much time for nostalgia, however, as Alex is accosted by two men dressed like Egyptian thugs. He is gassed and kidnapped. They knock off his spiffy grad hat. The X-Men find him missing and Jean begins tracking his whereabouts with her psychic abilities.
Meanwhile, Alex is in more trouble than they realize. He’s still unconscious. He’s been disrobed and laid out up by some lunatic dressed as an Egyptian Pharaoh, claiming that all of the Egyptian pharaohs were mutants. This guy thinks that Alex is of a royal Egyptian bloodline, and that he is the only person who can stand in his way. Alex is going to be sacrificed to please Ra! Behold our latest super villain, the Living Pharaoh.
The Egyptian psyco raises his blade, but the X-Men rush in to save the day. Jean successfully located Alex, and they tracked him all the way here. Now it’s go time. Some of the henchman emerge from coffins that are up against the wall, which makes me wonder. Is it their job to just stand in coffins all day, waiting for threats? How often is this guy attacked? How long have they been in there? The team makes short work of the Pharaoh’s minions, but the big man gives them more trouble. He has smoke bombs and he can shoot some sort of lightening out of his hands. He can emit a wall of sound waves strong enough to aid his escape.
The day is saved however, as Scott releases Alex from his bonds. But oops, he slips and reveals his true identity. Alex finds out that his brother Scott is also Cyclops, leader of the fearless X-Men. The rest of the team leave Alex and Scott so that Scott can tell him everything. He doesn’t get upset. He doesn’t tell Scott he lied and then run away in tears. He doesn’t act frightened or betrayed or ashamed. Alex tells Scott that he is the greatest. Alex rules. Lets hear it for Alex Summers.
Unfortunately, the happy moment doesn’t last very long. Does it ever? Scott and Alex were so busy talking that they didn’t notice the Living Pharaoh creeping up on them. He has returned to the scene of the crime, using some sort of hypnotic magic to subdue them. Scott wakes up in a daze, his brother missing and the Living Pharaoh less living and a lot closer to dead. In fact, he’s dead. Two police officers have drawn their guns and are arresting Scott for murder. They also seem to be taking no small pleasure in the arrest, revealing a blatant racist streak.
Scott blasts his way out, but the situation isn’t good. He just assaulted two police officers. Scott may be innocent of murder, he is now certainly guilty of assault on an officer and resisting arrest. No time to worry about that now though, Scott has to find his brother before it is too late. He goes searching in some underground tunnels beneath the Living Pharaoh’s hideout and discovers that the Living Pharaoh is actually not dead at all. It was a ruse. The two of them battle it out, exchanging fire and tackling each other.
Meanwhile up above, both the police and the X-Men are out searching for him. It’s a race to see who will get to him first. Also, just what the hell are the X-Men flying around in? That’s not the X-Plane. It’s some sort of rocket ship, closer to the Fantasticar. Is this still the vehicle that they borrowed from the Avengers? Are they just keeping it? You guys have your own jet. Stop being dicks.
Scott is defeated by the Living Pharaoh, bound so that he is blind and without his power. With the secret hideout compromised, Scott and Alex are being taken to Egypt so that the sacrifice can be completed. The X-Men try chasing their plane, but the Living Pharaoh’s magic sends them crashing to the ground. It’s a scene where they’re falling from the sky, similar to issue 37. Jean, Bobby, and Warren use their powers to brace their fall while Hank guides the ship. The Avengers probably aren’t lending them any vehicles any time soon.
Once in Egypt, the Living Pharaoh tells them that Alex is to be sacrificed, and that they are doomed. Scott is not impressed. They are imprisoned until the time of the ceremony.
Of course they break out, and of course they kick ass together. Alex has a mean right hook and Scott blasts everybody. The X-Men have been tracking their psychic frequencies since they woke up in Egypt, and they show up to lend a hand. The Living Pharaoh’s army is decimated.
He feels he needs to step in and finish the job himself. When he does, Alex instinctively gestures at him, as of to channel his hatred or his energy. Some sort of shock wave is emitted from Alex, and it sends the Living Pharaoh hurtling towards the ground. Angel catches him because you know… good guys. The Living Pharaoh is defeated and his forces are scattered and terrified.
When the dust has settled all eyes are on Alex. He seems to be in disbelief of what just happened because he asks why everyone is staring at him. They have to tell him that he just discovered his mutant ability. Alex Summers realizes that he is a mutant, and that he can do extraordinary things. This has to worry Scott. Throughout the issue we’re shown that Scott has protected his brother from the life of the X-Men. He was relieved that Alex hadn’t manifested mutant powers. Now Alex has to carry the burden that comes with it. He’ll have to withstand the scorn and racism that comes with it. Being an X-Man isn’t all about adventure and saving the world. Your day-to-day life sucks.
This was a great story. I didn’t really know anything about Alex’s beginnings as an X-Man. I really like the relationship that he has with Scott, and it seems to be one of the healthiest relationships in this series. You really get a sense that they care about each other. The team also worked like a well oiled machine from beginning to end, kicking ass, solving mysteries, and saving the day. The Living Pharaoh was a little kitsch, but whatever. I’m a sucker for human sacrifice. It was fun meeting Alex and seeing him discover his powers. He’s also not going anywhere just yet. He’ll be sticking around for a while as the X-Men do battle with… the Sentinels!
Alex will later assume the codename Havok, and will become a very worthy X-Man in his own right. He is probably most famous for leading X-Factor after its reformation in the early 90s, alongside two other characters we’ve met, Polaris and Quicksilver. Today Havok is the leader of the Avengers Unity Squad, and can be found in the pages of Uncanny Avengers.