For those of you new to the series, Days of comics past is a series devoted to chronicling the X-Men comics through the Stan Lee era, starting with Uncanny X-Men #1. I have read through them twice already but my intention is to try and keep an open mind and see if I was too harsh on them in the past.
In the last issue Cal Rankin showed back up vowing he’d figure out how he knew Jean or he’d die trying. Well, look at that, Cal blows himself up and then he regains his memory. If Charles Xavier, the most powerful mutant in the world, has mental blocks that can be overridden by a rap on the noggin...well then, I’m sorry magneto I disagree.
So there’s a one off type villain in the form of the puppet master. It turns out that because he has...uhm...radioactive clay? The puppet master can make voodoo dolls of people and then control them. Man. I dunno. The biggest takeaway from this issue is that Scott, feeling guilty over zapping Angel (see last recap), quits as leader of the X-Men. Somehow this means that because Cal is now the strongest, he should be leader. The second biggest takeaway is they get “new” costumes. Mostly Jean no longer looks indistinguishable from every other X-Man because she has a mask instead of a balaclava. Oh also there are now red belts. Honestly if you try to picture this on a real live human being your eyes will melt. It’s just science.
I only read it less than a week ago but I honestly cannot remember how they beat the puppet master. It was that forgettable. At least he references Factor 3 first. So I believe this is the first real, multi story arc and it’s....not bad so far. A mysterious group known only as Factor 3 is after the X-Men, and Charles in particular for nefarious reasons. They don’t blow it all at once here and I’m up to maybe....40? Heck I dunno, but they still haven’t revealed everything!
The bad news is the next few arcs are all one off for the most part. While they involve the greater plot sometimes, they’re mostly one and done stories which are my least favorite since they tend to simplify the story into BAD GUY ATTACKS RANDOMLY>XMEN FAIL TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT>XAVIER SAVES THE WORLD.
Sidebar: I’ve started watching Legion and the main mysterious government type is called Division 3. I don’t remember who Factor 3 ends up being (I think Magneto is involved) but I wonder if it’s an homage or if there’s an actual division 3 in the comics.
In the next issue, we finally meet a fairly famous X-men compatriot: The Banshee. Only of course, he’s a villain. The Banshee and The Ogre are after Charles and Banshee does basically everything in his power to get caught before the attack. It turns out it was intentional incompetence since he’s being used by Factor 3.
The X-Men manage to create magic wax, but again, in a nice twist, it kind of doesn’t work very well and Banshee is able to subdue them. For some reason or another he escapes and then the Ogre and him return to X-Manor to X-Kidnap Professor X. Their plot is foiled and they manage to remove the X-ploding helmet Banshee was forced to wear (suicide squad style). Banshee takes off, pledging to find out more about the enigmatic Factor 3.
Jean has been forming a relatively normal relationship with Ted Roberts. His brother is an Iron Man Groupie that gets burned by stark because cobalt armor drives people crazy. Of course Ted’s brother Ralph believes he’s smarter than everyone who says he is stupid, and activates his suit. He instantly goes nuts and begins trying to X-terminate iron man (who won’t even cameo in this issue he’s so embarrassed of Ralph). Unfortunately the X-men are here to ....this
They manage to deactivate the suit before it goes supernova and levels half the city. This was actually a decent one off story because:
- It drew from existing characters instead of randos which helped to strengthen the overall story.
- The stakes were relatively low. I know that leveling half the city is high stakes but every week it is the fate of the world hanging in the balance so this is a nice change.
- There’s some allusion to the fact that Ted isn’t a goddamn moron and has figured out that Jean if MARVEL GIRL
- For once the villain wasn’t some mustache twirler with eyes on owning the planet. Ralph is ultimately misguided and a little stupid, but he’s at heart a good person. He’s something of a sympathetic villain.
Because the last story was decent, the law of “Good MS Windows Releases” states this one must be a steaming pile of garbage. ANd boy howdy does it ever deliver on that front.
We begin our tale with everyone going for a jaunty ice skating trip. It’s the first time I can recall that the X-Men are all hanging out together. Even the leader (who is not a mutant btw), Cal is there being brash, but not overtly cruel. Scott of course is busy Scotting it up.
This is where I pulled the image from last time. Scott runs off into the forest and laments his powers in order to fulfill his quote of powers based lamentations for the issue.
He seems to have made up his mind that he’s going to kill warren, when...
DUST AND STONES. He is just sitting in a chair. Doing nothing. And now he’s ready to kill the X-Men because Dust and Stones Dislodged On His Head. This gentleman is the Super Adaptoid as he has all the powers of the Avengers. Yeah. Cal fights him and lets him try to take his powers which causes him to die or like...burrow back in the ground. There’s a sub plot where Professor X pretends to expel him and then I think he loses all his powers at the end and takes off. Bye Cal you will be ...uhm...missed?
Next up is the Warlock
This is just a creepy effing issue. The Warlock, who is actually Merlin, kidnaps Jean to make her his wife and then *sigh* rule the world with her at his side.
X challenges him to a game of “my x men vs. your thugs with guns” and for once it’s a pretty one sided victory on the X-Mens’ part. The less said about this issue the better.
So guess what happens next?!!?
This time however, X wants the kids out of the house so that he can continue...uhm...experimenting.
You may recall that some time ago, Juggernaut (my favorite) attacked the X-Men and was beaten off by the X-Men. At that time I said I don’t really know what happened to juggernaut. Well it turns out that in addition to mentally violating everyone he comes across, he also has imprisoned Cain Marko mentally and physically! Tyrant!
Meanwhile Bobby and Zelda finally kiss?
Warren meets up with an old friend, Candy Southern who if I recall correctly will play an important role later. What’s great though is that Warren is the best. I actually got a little chuckle from this.
But see, Warren is forthcoming with his feelings with the understanding that not every single woman is going to want to hang out with him. He’s OK and mentally well adjusted to the point where he doesn’t expect or feel entitled to female attention, but he asks, and allows that he may get shut down.
OK So let’s get moving with the actual story - Juggernaut of course gets free with some mental help from Factor 3. He is able to trick the X-men using a very sophisticated and clever ruse that takes several days to put into place.
Nah, I’m kidding:
Professor X is incapacitated from the force of the mental feedback. Since there’s no Professor X to zap Cain like he did last time, removing his helmet does no good. The X-Men need a new plan so after successfully not drowning from a burst drain pipe (yes really), they contact Dr. Strange.
Before that I just want to post this panel because I mean...look at how proud this lil fella is
So Jean uses a mental amplifier that Xavier had laying around to determine that they need to contact Dr. Strange.
I’ve always kind of disliked Dr. Strange. He’s so ...pompous and full of MYSTICAL SERIOUSNESS that for the longest time I couldn’t really get into anything Dr. Strange related. I found a trick for this thought, are you ready? First, watch this:
Now, read this:
Much better, right?! Scott and Jean go on a mission to enter the crystal and the other X-Men go to slow things down. There’s the obligatory DID I PICK HER BECAUSE SHE IS BADASS OR DID I PICK HER BECAUSE I SCOTT SUMMERS AM AN INCEL
The two manage to fight off the guardian of the crystal by placing their watch on the guy. It’s actually fairly clever and makes sense in the context of what’s going on - the guardian has been there for millenia stuck in a time loop so they introduce the flow of time back into the loop and he turns to dust. They snag the crystal but not before this happens
which, I mean,
They bring the crystal to the Juggernaut who, since his powers were endowed by the crystal and since there is currently no guardian, the crystal claims him as the new guardian.
Kind of sucks for him. The weary X-men travel back to the mansion only to realize that professor X has kidnapped. Joke’s on factor 3 though, he was a vegetable. So I guess it’s time for the hotsprings episode as next up we have a filler issue that they admit is a filler issue (but is alternatingly infuriatingly stupid and has hints of greatness. I feel like you could actually use a lot of it to make a Marvel movie but maybe I’m being too generous)
- I am always happy for a Juggernaut story. This one was OK, pretty decent plus I got to hear Byron Orpheus which is always a pleasant surprise.
- Can we please never go to the coffee shop again or hear about bertrand the bard?
- That said, and again Legion related - Jermaine Clements plays a character that is STRAIGHT out of these comics. He’s basically a mutant version of Bertrand, all beat poetry and snazzy threads.
- Legion is fantastic btw. It’s by far my favorite TV representation of the X-Men, that bar is pretty low though but seriously. It’s good. Aubrey Plaza deserves awards.
- I wish they knew what to do with the mimic but the poor writing from earlier issues painted them in a corner and now he’s just generic jerk #1. A non-mutant who has some mutant powers when he’s nearby other mutants would be a potentially game-breaking level of overpoweredness I guess. Plus, with him around what do the X-Men really have to do? Still, maybe he can only copy one at a time due to ...reasons, or something. Like that could have been an interesting turn. Oh well!
- The X-Men didn’t really get too incapacitated or captured this batch. They’re truly growing up. It brings a tear to my eye
- Also Jean is still in school so they have done an OK job with keeping that front and center as she wrestles with having to flit between college student and Ms. Marvel/Marvel Girl. (I THINK I KNOW WHY THEY JUST SWITCHED TO JEAN GREY)
- I know it’s kind of early to want this but I’d kill for additional heroes to switch up this dynamic that is going on. Or like, a boulder to fall on Scott.
- Have you realized that I don’t like Scott much? I actually thought I’d gain a greater appreciation for him but instead with my years of experience in the world, I’ve instead become convinced he’s an incompetent, whiny, brat.
Yes. Although some of the stories are grating, there’s some actual overarching plot development. I’d go so far as to say if you were to start reading the series you should start here.
If you’re seeing this remind me to add some tags (i’m scheduling these like....weeks out now)