X-Men (Vol. 1) #5

Credits:

Cover Date: May 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Paul Reinman

“Trapped: One X-Man”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Paul Reinman

What’s Going On?

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants strike again, capturing Angel and torturing him in their space headquarters! Will the X-Men be able to rescue their teammate without the help of the de-powered Professor X?

Details:

  • The X-Men return home, unsure of what their next step as a team will be. Professor X no longer has his mutant powers, so the direction and leadership of the team are in question.

  • The team observes a track and field match on television, and believe that the star athlete is a mutant. They head out to save him from an angry crowd.

While the X-Men were able to grab the new mutant, their escape didn’t go as planned. They wind up on the New York subway, where Beast discovers that their “new” mutant is actually the evil Toad in disguise! Toad was trying to trick them into showing him their secret base!

The X-Men easily overpower Toad…

  • …but Toad is not alone. The rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants joins the fight!

  • The X-Men hold their own in the fight —- and they hold onto Toad —- but Magneto leaves with Angel as a captive; the Brotherhood (minus Toad) escapes to their orbital headquarters.

  • In captivity, the Angel is tortured by Magneto, but he refuses to divulge the location of the X-Men’s headquarters.

  • The Scarlet Witch seems to realize that the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants might not be the wholesome organization that she once thought.

  • Back on Earth, Toad started acting strange, almost like he suffered a mental break when he couldn’t follow Magneto. The X-Men allowed him, in his stupor, to summon a spacecraft so they could sneak into Magneto’s base.

  • While the X-Men fight their way through Asteroid M’s defenses, Magneto plans to blow them out of an airlock, which would kill them. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch prevent Magneto from doing so.

  • While Magneto argues with his underlings, the X-Men strike! They manage to free Angel and take the fight to the Brotherhood.

  • In the fracas, someone apparently touched a “self-destruct” button for the base, and Asteroid M started to fall apart.

  • The X-Men managed to escape in a spacecraft and land safely back on Earth. However, the craft was recalled remotely back into space, so it appears that the Astroid M was not completely destroyed, and that the Brotherhood survived.

  • Upon returning to their school, the X-Men learn that Professor X never actually lost his mutant powers; he was faking the entire time. It was part of a test, and the X-Men passed!

Is It Good?

In many ways, this is a sloppily plotted issue. Did we really need Jean Grey’s parents to show up? How did the Brotherhood know where to search for the X-Men’s base? Why did the Brotherhood need a ship last issue, when they have a space base?  How convenient was Toad’s mental haze?

Even with all of those legitimate questions left by the plot, I found this an entertaining read. I am really enjoying the Brotherhood’s bickering, and Kirby turned in some fun pencils. In particular, I think this panel of Cyclops is one of the coolest images he’s created for the series thus far:

Even the things that were ridiculous in the story were so over the top that I had to laugh. Toad’s disguise, the entire plan that required the X-Men to watch track and field on television, Magneto’s space base —- these are fundamentally unrealistic, but Stan and Jack committed to the bit so much that I had to go along for the ride because it was fun.

Continuity:

  • We have a new cover corner box! Odd that it omits Angel. Maybe it’s because Angel is flying over the title?

  • This is the second consecutive issue to miscolor Magneto’s helmet (it should be red, not purple), the Scarlet Witch’s costume (it should be red, not green), and Quicksilver’s costume (it should be green, not blue). The interior of the issue colors them all correctly.

  • The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Magneto, Mastermind, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Toad) last appeared in X-Men #4.
  • Professor Xavier appeared to lose his mutant power of telepathy at the end of last issue.
  • This is the first time Beast has mentioned a preference of studying over super-heroics.

  • Angel’s wing harness was developed by Professor Xavier.

  • This is the first time Cyclops mentions that his optic blasts are controlled by his glasses/visor, but he’s not complaining about them…yet.

  • This is the first appearance of John and Elaine Grey, Jean’s parents.

  • The US government apparently contacted the Greys to convince them to allow Jean to attend Xavier’s school.

  • Assuming that the “Washington DC” person that persuaded the Greys to enroll Jean at the school wasn’t just Professor X messing with their minds, that means a government agent —- probably FBI Agent Duncan —- likely knows the true identities of the X-Men!
  • This is the first time Cyclops has fussed over someone touching his glasses/visor.

  • The humans chasing after Toad are the first example of humans hating and fearing mutants in this title.
  • Cyclops is able to utilize his optic blasts without touching his visor. Until now, it seemed like he had to manually press a button on the visor to open it.

  • This is the first appearance of Asteroid M, Magneto’s orbital base of operations.

  • The X-Men have passed their “final exam” at school, which implies that (at the very least) they won’t be spending as much time in the Danger Room going forward.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Why does Professor Xavier need mutant powers to lead the X-Men? I mean, yes, he shouldn’t get involved in a massive battle with evil mutants, but why are they talking like he can’t still teach them?

  • Congratulations, Jean! You’re a condescending bigot!

  • So the Danger Room is set to start a training session whenever the door is closed? That seems like a pretty terrible bit of programming.

  • Does Beast think the Professor’s psychic powers made him smart? That’s not really how his powers work.

  • The Brotherhood were searching for the X-Men’s base, and Mastermind came astonishingly close —- he stopped near the gates of Xavier’s property —- before giving up. My question is what clue he was working with that helped him get so close, and yet still fail?

  • I am seriously loving the team dynamic in the Brotherhood. Insubordination, stupid lies, and bullying: this is a team that is fun to watch lose.

  • The X-Men went on a mission is a regular sedan? Couldn’t someone track their license plate?

  • As much as I enjoy Scooby-Doo villain reveals, this looks like Toad was wearing a cheap plastic Halloween mask. Maybe the X-Men shouldn’t have been fooled in the first place?

  • Why can’t you use your optic blasts? It was established just a few pages earlier that you can operate your visor without touching it.

  • I love that Magneto felt the need to monogram his spacecraft.

  • This is the first time that Xavier was a complete jerk to his students. It won’t be the last time.

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>>>X-Men #6

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