The X-Men have barely had time to calm down since the excitement of the mutant genocide and they’re about to face a monster. This isn’t a lost, hapless mutant. This isn’t some guy in a suit with a fancy gadget. This isn’t a bank robber, a robot, or some pathetic megalomaniac plugging the holes in his ego. This isn’t Magneto’s crazy face. This is a god damn monster. Sauron is one of the first villains they’ve faced that could easily rip them limb from limb. He is a villain to fear, and I’m excited to see where he comes from. Issues 60 and 61 tell the story of his origin, his tragedy, and his first encounter with the X-Men.
Before we find out what those Sentinels are up to, lets pause to check out the side story in the back of issue 57. Marvel Girl is finally getting her time in the spotlight. She’s shared issues with Scott, but this is the first time the series has spent any significant time on her specifically. To mark the occasion, Marvel actually allowed a woman, one of the “supposedly weaker” gender, to write a comic book. But how will she manage that with her smaller, more lady-like brain? Immediately I’m wondering just how sexist this segment will be, and just how much of that sexism we can blame on “the times”. The first thing Jean says here makes me think that my suspicions were correct, but the second thing she says leaves me feeling that perhaps I assume too much. Lets not overthink this. Give Marvel the benefit of the doubt and all, right? I mean heck, these days Thor and Captain Marvel are both women. So lets get back to Jean and her cool powers. This will give us a look into her mutant abilities and all of the amazing things she can do.
Did you think we were done with the Living Pharaoh? Didn’t I warn you not to be fooled? He isn’t done giving the X-Men trouble, and he still has it in for Alex. What seemed like another short encounter with another forgettable villain has instead turned out to be a much greater plot that connects directly into the nest story arc. This tale will lead through the next four issues, and here we’ll talk about the first two, 56 and 57. We get some nasty new villains and the return of another old favorite.
Finally, Angel gets his origin told in the back pages of issues 54-56. This is the origin story that I was most excited to read. I might not have mentioned this before, but Angel has always been one of my favorite X-Men. He is my favorite original team member. Warren Worthington III is a very tortured soul, suffering from deep seated body image issues that Ben Grimm and Curt Connors might understand.
His origin stands out from the others in that he became a superhero completely on his own, fighting crime and busting crooks before the Professor ever discovered him. Warren even had an original costume that we’ve never seen before.
The X-Men recently had an encounter with the Juggernaut that was completely random and pointless. Cain Marko had been trapped in some strange reality when suddenly he was transported to the mansion. He broke everything, hurt everyone, and then just as suddenly he transported back to that strange reality. Now the same damn thing is about to happen again, so lets get ready to rumble. However this time it is a new enemy, Blastaar! Lets see how the X-Men perform when up against this cosmic creature.
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.
While Hank and Bobby are battling Merlin back in New York, Scott and Jean are soaking in the sunshine of Hollywood, California. Jean is creating quite a buzz as a swimsuit model, posing for the cameras and breaking hearts wherever she goes. The two of them are actually having a pretty nice vacation, but how long can it last? Will issue 48 be the first time anyone’s been able to have some relaxing time off in this comic?
Issue 48 gives us a glimpse into the powers of Dr. Henry McCoy, the strong man of the group. Every super hero team needs its strong man. The Avengers have Hulk. The Justice League has Superman. The Fantastic Four have the Thing. The X-Men will have many strong men in their group over the years, but Hank is the original. He is also very unique, in both his physical and mental prowess. This little vignette sheds some light on who he is and what he can do.
Issue 47 ends with another vignette, this time exploring the powers and abilities of Bobby Drake, the Professor’s sub-zero student. These are really fun to read, and clear up a lot of questions I’m sure their early readers had. We know he ices up and creates ice, but to what extent? Is he solid ice or coated? What are his limits? Lets find out what Ice Man can do.
Issue 46 promises us a lot of satisfaction, as it delivers not only the supposed end of the X-Men, but the return of the Juggernaut. The team will have to face their most ferocious opponent without the aid of the Professor. Without Charles, they may have never defeated Cain Marko during their first encounter. How will they survive now? And is the team really finished? Can they somehow continue without Charles? (SPOILER: Yes, they can, but that happens much later.)