Tuesday, September 6, 2011

X-Men 45

Here's that back issue I bought at Brumcon. X-Men 45 from June 1968, written by Gary Friedrich with art by Don Heck, Werner Roth and John Tartaglione.
The X-Men have been captured by Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. There was no messing about with the names of the bad guys groups in the sixties. "Yeah, we want to be called the Evil Mutants!" Cyclops manages to get free and starts wandering round Magneto's super-villain castle type lair. He is attacked by Quicksilver, an "evil" mutant who has super speed. They fight for a bit before stopping to have a philosophical discussion about the mutants' struggle to be accepted by the rest of humanity. The X-Men books have always been about discrimination and prejudice, although this has started to get a bit silly over the years. How many times can the X-Men save the planet before humanity realises that they are the good guys after all?

Anyway, Cyclops and Quicksilver debate the best approach to their struggle. Is it Magneto's militant, aggressive approach? Or should they follow Professor Xavier and his non-violent protest? It's like Malcolm X versus Martin Luther King. Cyclops is tempted by Quicksilver's arguments but eventually decides that his loyalties lie with Professor X and he proves this by punching Quicksilver again. There's a lot of resolution through violence in this book. There's a back-up strip showing Cyclops recruiting the young Ice-Man to the X-Men group and inevitably, like in any other super-hero book, they end up just hitting each other. Or blasting each other with laser eye-beams and ... errr.. snowballs.

There's also a lot of telling as well as showing in here. Sixties comic books could be quite wordy. It's not enough for Cyclops to blast open a door with his eye-beams, he has to tell us what he's doing at the same time. Likewise Quicksilver can't just grab some nearby stuff and jam it into Cyclops' visor, he has to think aloud about cracking open a computer casing to find some "graphite padding", whatever that is.

And super-speed. I've written here before about the problems of super-heroes who can fly. There's a similar problem with super-speed, how can Quicksilver see where he's going? Or the Flash over in the DC, or any other speed based character? I ride my bike pathetically slowly, but even I need to wear glasses to keep bugs out of my eyes and to stop my eyes watering when I get up a head of steam riding downhill (using pie based technology to increase my speed!). There is a funny moment in the Incredibles movie when Dash runs through a cloud of bugs and gets splattered all over his face, but his eyes aren't streaming. Why aren't super-speedsters always crying, where's their goggles? In fact, goggles would look cool and help with the whole hiding your identity problem.

X-Men 45. A cool cover and a so-so story about super people who learn to resolve all their problems by hitting each other and thinking out loud while they do so.

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