X-Men (Vol. 1) #8

Credits:

Cover Date: November 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“The Uncanny Threat of…Unus, the Untouchable!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Chic Stone

What’s Going On?

When Beast quits the team, how will the remaining X-Men defeat a foe that they cannot touch?  Not that he could touch Unus, either…it’s just that his exit weakens the team.

Details:

  • Cyclops is taking his job as Professor X’s replacement as team leader seriously, forcing the X-Men to practice at length in the Danger Room.

  • Soon afterward, the Beast saves a child from an accident. Instead of celebrating the hero, the crowd turns on him!

  • As a result, the Beast quits the team!

  • Cyclops reaches out to Professor X for advice, but is told that, as long as Hank doesn’t join Magneto, they have to respect his decision.

  • After leaving the X-Men, Hank becomes a professional wrestler, known as “The Beast.” He works his way up to face the champion, Unus the Untouchable —- and soon learns that Unus’ title is not mere words. Beast is quickly defeated, after failing to land a single blow.

  • After their match, Unus has a guest in his dressing room —-Mastermind! Apparently, Unus wants to join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but Magneto wants him to prove his worth by defeating an X-Man first.

  • As luck would have it, the X-Men were looking for Unus at that very moment, because Cerebro indicated the presence of a mutant in the area. When the X-Men arrive, Unus attacks.

  • The X-Men appear to be overpowered by Unus, but they still manage to outsmart the villain. When Unus grabbed Angel in a wrestling hold, Angel simply flew in the air and left Unus stranded on top of a building.

  • The X-Men returned home to regroup and strategize, only to find the Beast back in uniform, and working on an invention!

  • Beast’s invention will increase Unus’ mutant power, which seems like an odd thing for an X-Man to want done. The other X-Men, suspecting that the Beast May have joined Magneto’s forces, try to stop Hank, but he escapes with the device.

  • Beast uses his invention on Unus, making him even more untouchable. The X-Men arrive too late to interfere, and are confused by their friend’s apparent betrayal.

  • But Unus soon realizes that his increased power level has an unexpected drawback: he can’t touch anything now, even things that he wants to touch!

  • Unus soon starts to panic when he realizes that his power won’t allow him to eat.

  • Beast agrees to use his device to return Unus’ power back to its original level, on the condition that Unus agrees to stay away from Magneto and obey the law.

  • Relieved that Hank wasn’t really an evil mutant, he is welcomed back to the X-Men.

Is It Good?

It’s not great, but I enjoyed this issue. There’s definitely a level of silliness to the resolution of the story, but it gave us a new villain and introduced internal strife within the X-Men. That makes this different enough from the typical issue to make it stand out.

Continuity:

  • Cover Corner Box change alert! Iceman has lost his “snowman” look, and is no longer tossing snowballs.

  • Iceman is now able to attain a more transparent “icy” appearance than the “snowman” look he’s has thus far.

  • Scott and Jean are pining for each other, but not communicating with each other.

  • Jean is wearing her original cowl, after wearing a different mask in the last two issues.
  • Here’s a reminder that Cerebro doesn’t work in the Silver Age like it does in later years. Apparently, non-psychics can use it to communicate with telepaths.

  • Lucifer is mentioned for the first time in this issue. He doesn’t appear, but Professor Xavier is tracking him.  It is unclear whether or not the X-Men know what Xavier is doing, or why.
  • This is the first appearance of Unus the Untouchable. He has a force field that protects him from physical attacks, and repels his attackers.
  • Mastermind last appeared in Journey Into Mystery #109.
  • The X-Men apparently own a large helicopter. Cyclops presumably has a pilot’s license.

  • This is the first instance of an outside device being able to increase or decrease a mutant’s power level. Magneto and Xavier have used devices to amplify their powers briefly, but this is the first device that appears to permanently increase power levels.
  • This issue has a pin-up of the Beast:

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Professor Xavier’s paraplegic spelunking trip is interesting enough for its own story, right?  It feels strange that the attitude here is, “Why wouldn’t Charles Xavier be descending into a bottomless cave?  Why would that be a problem?”

  • Hank was easily identified by a crowd as the Beast (of the X-Men) when he saved a child earlier in the issue, despite the fact that he was out of uniform. Why does he think that no one will connect him to the X-Men when he is wrestling in front of crowds, and calling himself “the Beast”?
  • Beast has apparently already forgotten the time when a sports crowd (correctly) assumed the Toad was a mutant in X-Men #5 because of his jumping.

  • “If I’m going to be an evil mutant, I might as well burn down every other bridge behind me. Who needs a mask when they’re breaking the law, anyway?”

  • Unus must really like cake.

  • Beast’s power amplification Ray seems like it would come in really handy, especially since it might be able to permanently decrease power levels. Too bad everyone forgets that this exists after this.
  • I initially laughed at the idea of Unus returning to his wrestling job without any repercussions. But really, how serious were his crimes here? He stole money from bank robbers, but he left it on the ground outside of the bank while he fought the X-Men; it could be argued that he stopped the theft. Presumably, someone at the bank grabbed the cash after Angel stranded Unus on top of a skyscraper, too, so the money is probably not even missing any more. Aside from some general disturbing of the peace, Unus didn’t do anything wrong.

 

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • White people dressed up as Indian soldiers and slaves is obviously problematic, but I will admit that the offensiveness fits in the professional wrestling circuit.

<<<X-Men #7

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