Welcome back, dear reader, to the series where I trudge through X-Men comics from the Stan Lee era. I’m trying to keep an open mind to see if my initial read through of them (two decades ago) was too harsh. Today I’m covering just two issues because I took far too many screenshots. There’s some gold here! So read on to discover the mystery of EL KUKULCAN!!!!
Let’s just jump right in today. We pick up right where we left off, with the kids riding high on their victory over Dr. Hopper and The Locust. Jean has to get dropped off at school and on the way the X-Men save some kids from an orphanage burning down. Good guy Xavier. Jean gets dropped off and we’re treated to Scott ruminating on Jean hanging out with people that aren’t him:
I almost uninstalled my phone.
The villain for the next arc is “El Tigre” a South American Indiana Jones type who is handled about as delicately as you’d expect.
El Tigre’s deal is basically that he’s sort of Juggernaut? He finds a pendant which he picks up and voila! now he’s half a supervillain. He needs the OTHER half of the pendant in order to become El Kukulcan, a God. The other half of the pendant is in a museum, hence his arrival in Nueva York.
Cut to one Scott Summers, king of the X-Men
Again. We have technology that can do this...
...but magical contacts, or an elastic band is incomprehensible. It does create interesting canon-Scott is immune to his own ray blasts otherwise he’d be disintegrating his own hand, right? But regardless, here’s the LEADER of the X-Men pretending to be a magician while spraying red lasers at all the innocent people on the street while blindly groping about for his glasses.
The X-Men track El Tigre to the museum he broke into and in true X-Men fashion, are summarily rendered unconscious by an assortment of advanced modern weaponry such as, “A Bola” and “A Blowgun”. Scott is held at gunpoint by a mind controlled guard while El Tigre grabs the other half of the pendant.
and thus El Tigre becomes El Kukulcan!
The X-Men are left for ...unconscious. El Kukulcan travels back to a temple in San Rico to recreate paradise on earth or something. He brings jobs and prosperity to the locals.
Xavier is able to determine the whereabouts of El Kukulcan by reading a book. Sort of.
So the X-Men race off to confront El Kukulcan
“H’yah” they shout as they rush toward their foe. Nothing will stop them now!
Oh gosh diddly. Captured twice in one arc. That’s a new record.
The X-Men horribly play fight with the God until Angel and Beast figure out that the pendant El Kukulcan is wearing is powered by a serpent tower that is taking in solar energy. OK. sure. Angel distracts El Kukulcan while Scott sneaks around to get in better position. He charges up his power beam optic blast boomshot and lets her rip as hard as he can...right as Angel flies in front of El Kukulcan. Angel, rightfully bummed about being murdered, mutters “Dude, you can HAVE Jean Grey, I don’t GAF you didn’t have to zap me” (Roughly summarized from “you zapped me because I love Jean too” and then his subsequent apologies and genuine “moving on” later)
The statue falls and El Kukulcan is turned back into El Tigre. The X-Men mercy flight Angel home and he is almost dead. Professor X gives him the once over and because everything in the X-Men universe so far has been an absolute, declares, “Angel may NEVER fly again!” Cyclops is riddled with guilt, which is nice, because honestly if I’d never once used my power to stop a bad guy in 20+ encounters, and then the one time I incapacitate a guy it’s friendly fire —-yeah I’d feel bad too.
There are more pining looks between Scott and Jean and more thought bubbles filled with wistful sighs. Scott at one point pulls an “ONCE THIS IS ALL OVER, I’M GOING TO TELL JEAN HOW I FEEL”:
*zaps Angel* “ok...maybe not.”
What’s interesting is how well Warren is taking all this. He recognizes that Jean likes Scott, and that Scott likes Jean and so mostly just gracefully bows out. He doesn’t pout about it he says “there are plenty of fish in the sea, and Warren Worthington is about to go fishing” or something along those lines. He’s slowly becoming my favorite of the characters.
- Overall this arc was actually pretty fun. Notwithstanding some mild stereotyping, I felt the globe trotting was handled pretty well.
- Warren is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. He’s well adjusted, has a sense of humor, and doesn’t hang out in beatnik cafes for fun.
- The pacing seems to be a little better than the prior installments. This is probably because they ditched the training room exercises for rescuing kids.
- There is some minor development in Jean’s character in that she forms relationships with people that aren’t predicated on thought bubbles about how F*$(#( HOT she is. She actually Re-Meets Cal Rankin, the Mimic. I don’t think I wrote about the mimic before but he’s kind of interesting - he isn’t a mutant but he can mimic any mutant’s power so long as they’re near him. He wanted to use the X-Men’s power to unearth his dad’s experiment because he thought it was designed to give him his powers permanently, he was successful (because c’mon, like the X-Men could stop a slow moving bicycle let alone an actual willful antagonist) but it turns out his dad just wanted him to have a normal life and the machine zapped him of his powers and then Charles just effin’ mind wipes him. So Cal is now a university student where Jean goes to school.
Random Thought: Charles is actually the villain of the X-Men stories. He is the shining example of when the far right will say “SEE YOU ARE ACTUALLY THE DICTATOR!” He really is-he will stop at nothing to make sure that the world is how he wants it. Messing with people’s minds the way he does is profoundly irresponsible and highly unethical.
- I’ve never wanted two people to never consumate their love for each other as much as I don’t want Jean and Scott to be together. He’s a controlling, sulking, misbeguided, “what about me?” kind of guy. I know their intention is create pathos but there are so many easy solutions to all of their problems:
- Scott believes that Jean won’t understand his problem with his eyes. How can a person be so self absorbed that they’d think someone who has a similar condition wouldn’t understand it?
- Scott has literally never acted nice to Jean. She has to pick up on tiny little breadcrumbs like when she gets hit or something and then it’s a thought bubble of “was that more than just the concern of a leader I heard?” Neither of them communicate at all.
- He’s literally a violent psychopath:
- There are just too many simple solutions for Scott’s eyes for it to be that much of an impact on his life. Hell, does he expect to be kissing Jean with his eyes wide open? Who does that? Hell I’m pretty sure if she can make a shield she can just localize it to his eyes right? or have professor X do it. Lollll
- There’s just no internal consistency here at all. In one issue he’s holding the most powerful part of the blast with his hand with no injury whatsoever. Then in this issue this basically knocks him unconscious.
- While El Kukulcan is not a horrible bad guy, his motivations, are to RULE THE WORLD. It’d be great if there were some smaller stake battle thrown in the mix. Every single bad guy is out to enslave humanity. It gets a little much. Also the bad guys continue to act with no real rationale other than I LIKE POWER.