With superheroes continuing to dominate pop culture right now, here’s a look at the first twenty stories of the “All New, All Different” X-Men beginning in 1975. I have a soft spot for superhero stories because reading them as a kid served as a gateway to two of my adult passions – mythology and opera.
GIANT-SIZE X-MEN Vol 1 #1 (May 1975)
Title: Deadly Genesis
NOTE: This was the very FIRST appearance of the new team of X-Men who replaced the original, blander team launched in 1963. That team’s original series had been canceled and reduced to reprints (reruns).
Synopsis: The story opened with a series of vignettes featuring Professor X traveling the world rounding up a new batch of mutants detected by his invention Cerebro. Three of them had prior history in the Marvel Universe:
*** WOLVERINE (real name unknown at the time), who had fought the Hulk and the Wendigo in Canada. Wolverine willingly joined the X-Men and angrily resigned from Canada’s Department H, which had been sending him on missions up to that point. This would have repercussions down the road.
*** BANSHEE (Sean Cassidy), a sometime foe and sometime ally of the original team of X-Men. This Irishman had also fought Captain America and the Falcon.
*** SUNFIRE (Shiro Yoshida), a Japanese mutant who had fought the original X-Men as well as Sub-Mariner, Iron Man and Captain America.
The rest of the mutants Xavier rounded up were new:
*** STORM (Ororo Munroe), from Africa, where her weather-controlling powers had made her revered as a goddess by an isolated tribe.
*** NIGHTCRAWLER (Kurt Wagner), a German circus performer whose monstrous appearance made him the target of a mutant-hating mob from which Professor X saved him.
*** COLOSSUS (Piotr Rasputin), a Russian teenager working on a Collective Farm in the Soviet Union.
*** THUNDERBIRD (John Proudstar), a Native American mutant from a reservation in the American Southwest.
Once they were all assembled at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, the professor introduced them to Cyclops (Scott Summers), the leader of the original X-Men, who briefed them. He had led the original team – Iceman, Angel, Marvel Girl, Polaris and Havok (Beast was joining the Avengers at this point) to investigate a new mutant detected by Cerebro on a Pacific Ocean island called Krakoa. The original team vanished and only Cyclops escaped in their aircraft, but with no memory of what happened there.
Cyclops led this new team to Krakoa, where it turned out the entire island and all living organisms on it were one vast mutant colony creature. The team fought living trees, giant crabs and other mutated creatures there, ultimately finding the original X-Men being held unconscious and captive by Krakoa. The colony creature was feeding off them, leeching the X-Waves from their brains.
NOTE: X-Waves, named for Charles Xavier, were emanations unique to mutant brains and could be used as a power source. The Super-Skrull used them this way during the Kree-Skrull War and so did the Secret Empire in an attempt to take over America.
The new X-Men freed the original team, then learned from Krakoa that it had released Cyclops with his memory wiped in the hope that he would bring it more mutants to feed upon. And he had. The new and old team fought side by side to defeat Krakoa, with the colony creature ultimately being expelled into outer space to die. The heroes all returned to their HQ in the X-Men’s plane. NOTE: Naturally, Krakoa was later revealed to have survived and encountered the X-Men again.
X-MEN Vol 1 #94 (August 1975)
Title: The Doomsmith Scenario
Villains: Count Nefaria and the Ani-Men
NOTE: Chris Claremont kicked off his notoriously long run of writing the X-Men with this issue.
Synopsis: Sunfire returns to Japan, uninterested in joining the new X-Men. The original X-Men all officially leave the team. The Beast is in the Avengers, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) becomes a roommate of Misty Knight over at Iron Fist’s series, Angel and Iceman move to California for post-graduate studies, and Havok & Polaris move off to work on their doctorates in geophysics and/or geology.
Cyclops ignores Jean Grey’s pleas that he leave with her and remains behind to lead the new team of X-Men. He quickly develops a contentious relationship with Wolverine and Thunderbird. The new X-Men slowly and – in some cases – reluctantly, settle in to the daily regimen of training in the Danger Room.
Weeks later, Count Nefaria, deported leader of the Maggia (Marvel Comics’ version of the Mafia), takes over Colorado’s Valhalla Nuclear Missile Base with the help of his new Ani-Men. NOTE: Count Nefaria started out as an Avengers foe but also battled the original X-Men. He had used technology stolen by the Maggia to increase the powers of Daredevil’s old foes the Ani-Men (Cat-Man, Bird-Man, Ape-Man and Frog-Man) and to create their new female member Dragonfly (Veronica Dultry).
Nefaria informs the media all around the world that he and his Ani-Men have taken Valhalla Base and demands trillions of dollars in ransom or he will unleash a nuclear holocaust on the world by launching all of the base’s nuclear weapons. He gives a three-hour deadline. With the Avengers off on another mission the X-Men fill the gap, flying out to Valhalla Base to attack the villains. Nefaria uses conventional missiles to blow apart the X-Men’s aircraft. They all manage to eject but are in freefall.
X-MEN Vol 1 #95 (October 1975)
Villains: Count Nefaria and the Ani-Men.
Synopsis: Banshee and Storm manage to save all their teammates and get them safely to Earth. Colossus is powerful enough to just fall on his own and survive the impact. The X-Men invade Valhalla Base where they defeat Nefaria’s Maggia troops and the Ani-Men.
Count Nefaria flees in a jet but Thunderbird jumps on the plane and tries to break into the cockpit. Banshee flies alongside telling him to jump off and he’ll shoot Nefaria down with a sonic blast but Thunderbird refuses. He also refuses to obey Professor X’s telepathic order to jump off, and while trying to force his way into the cockpit the jet explodes, killing Thunderbird and seemingly Count Nefaria (who it later turned out survived).
The X-Men are horrified at their teammate’s needless death and Professor X, who was in telepathic contact with John as he died, is deeply traumatized by the incident.
X-MEN Vol 1 #96 (December 1975)
Title: Night of the Demon
Villain: Kierrok of the N’Garai
Synopsis: Two months after Thunderbird’s death, Cyclops is still blaming himself for it, since he is the team’s leader. In a fit of remorse he unleashes his optic blasts at full force for awhile, wiping out an entire orchard on Xavier’s estate and inadvertently knocking the top off of an ancient cairn on the property. As Cyclops chides himself for losing control like that, a monstrous entity emerges from the mystic cairn.
Back at the mansion, the X-Men are working out in the Danger Room, supervised by Banshee in Cyclops’ absence. When Wolverine overreacts to accidentally being hurt by Colossus during the workout, Storm uses winds to save Piotr/ Peter from Wolverine’s wrath.
Nightcrawler laughs at the sight and Wolverine loses even more control and tries to use his claws on Kurt, who teleports away. Banshee chews out Wolverine, telling him he could have killed Nightcrawler just now. Wolverine chillingly replies with a casual “Yeah … I know.”
While the workout continues, Moira MacTaggert arrives for her FIRST EVER appearance. Though she turns out to really be Xavier’s research associate of many years and a former lover, Charles introduces her as “the new housekeeper”, proving again that he’s a pathological liar. (I’m kidding, but countless X-Men retcons over the decades are justified by saying Xavier lied about various things.)
Cut to the secret headquarters of Project Armageddon, where Major Mickey Rossi (later revealed as a former love interest of Carol Danvers/ Ms Marvel) is shown around by Dr Steven Lang, the head of this anti-mutant research project. NOTE: Years later it will be revealed that Lang was a former colleague of the mutant-hating Donald Pierce from the Hellfire Club.
Lang quotes Bolivar Trask and his son Larry, the scientists who ran the first two Sentinel projects, about the “menace” posed by mutants. In addition, he takes seriously Magneto’s frequently stated threats that mutants will replace the mainline human race as the inheritors of the world. Rossi foolishly tells Lang that he disagrees and plans to shut down Project: Armageddon as soon as he gets back to Washington D.C. Lang, standing beside what alert readers would recognize as the huge leg of a Sentinel, plans to kill Rossi before he can reach Washington.
Banshee and Moira establish a flirtatious relationship while Storm tries to get Professor X to tell her Moira’s REAL story. The professor further explains to his X-Men that Moira will be “watching over them” while he takes a necessary leave of absence. Needless to say, he’s not telling the whole truth.
Suddenly, Cyclops and the dark entity he’s been having a running battle with for over an hour, burst into the mansion. The monster speaks, at one point saying “I am Kierrok” in a cutesy in-joke about William Shatner’s “I am KIROK!” line on an old Star Trek episode.
The X-Men and a machine-gun wielding Moira MacTaggert engage in a long, drawn-out battle with Kierrok, who at one point seems to have been slashed to pieces and killed by an out-of-control Wolverine, only to rise again and resume the fight. Professor X probes Kierrok’s mind and learns that this demon is a member of the N’Garai, another of Marvel Comics’ imitations of H.P. Lovecraft’s Old Ones. (Like the Undying Ones over at the Defenders) The N’Garai ruled the Earth long ago and want to again, etc. You know the trope.
While the other X-Men continue fighting Kierrok, Xavier telepathically guides Storm to the cairn that Cyclops accidentally opened. Lesser N’Garai in the form of solidified smoke-monsters, serve as guardians of the cairn and try to drag Ororo down into the cairn with them, reviving claustrophobic memories of her childhood. Amid tantalizing glimpses of what we will eventually learn was her own parents’ death, Storm lashes out with lightning, utterly destroying the cairn below and blocking off that particular portal for the N’Garai.
Elsewhere, we are shown the burning remains of Mickey Rossi’s plane from Steven Lang’s plan to murder Rossi and prevent him from shutting down Project: Armageddon. Lang, watching the burning crash remains on his viewscreen, is content that Project: Armageddon will continue.
NOTE: The N’Garai would next show up in Chris Claremont’s Iron Fist stories in the black & white comic book Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.
X-MEN Vol 1 #97 (February 1976)
Title: My Brother, My Enemy
Villain: Eric the Red
Synopsis: We readers join Charles Xavier in what we are told is a recurring nightmare of incredible psychic potency. He sees two enormous star fleets battling around a small planet in a binary star system. We get graphic descriptions of the carnage and the death and the disturbing silence of such a battle in the vacuum of space. He puzzlingly incorporates his X-Men into the dream, sensing this battle has or will involve them in some way.
One lone spaceship survives the mammoth battle and flies away with an unknown purpose. As always, just as Xavier makes out the vague outline of the pilot’s face he wakes up screaming. Moira MacTaggert joins him for tea downstairs and we learn that this dream/ psychic vision is the reason he’s taking a leave of absence.
He fears he is going insane and is unable to run the X-Men for the time being, so he wants Moira to do it for him. (So he described her to them as a “housekeeper”. Ooookay.) Their conversation makes it clear that they have a romantic past with hints at a dark secret which caused their breakup long ago.
Cut to the American Southwest, where Havok (Alex Summers, Cyclops’ brother) and his girlfriend Polaris (Lorna Dane) live in a cabin and are pursuing their respective doctorates. A supervillain shows up dressed in red armor and calling himself Eric the Red, a nom de guerre that Cyclops used years earlier to infiltrate a group of evil mutants called the Demi-Men. As puzzling as that is, he goes on to enthrall Polaris and Havok, whom he says will help him kill Charles Xavier.
At JFK airport, some of the X-Men plus Jean Grey are seeing Professor X off for his departure on his leave of absence. The X-Men are all in civilian clothing, since they have secret identities. (Nightcrawler is using an Image Inducer provided by Tony Stark as a professional courtesy. It lets him look like a normal human until it’s time for action.) Banshee and Wolverine are the only X-Men absent, since Wolverine was feeling antisocial and Banshee is spending the afternoon with Moira MacTaggert.
As Xavier is taken aboard a government Starcore jet, Eric the Red shows up with his thralls Polaris and Havok. They try to kill Xavier before the plane takes off, but are stopped by the X-Men, who have donned their costumes and attacked them. Charles telepathically contacts Banshee and Wolverine, telling them what happened and to get to the airport to help their teammates.
Cyclops tries to deal with the confusion over why this new foe is using his old Eric the Red identity and battles his brother Havok while trying to talk him into breaking free from the villain’s mind control. Polaris, who knocked Jean Grey/ Marvel Girl unconscious with a sneak attack, battles Storm in an aerial dogfight, while Nightcrawler and Colossus fight with Eric the Red.
Storm turns the tide of battle, defeating Polaris, which causes her man Havok to vow to kill the X-Men if she’s seriously harmed. Eric the Red notes that Banshee and Wolverine have by this point arrived in one of the X-Men’s aircraft. Wanting to retreat, he summons his thralls to him, and supporting one with each arm, flies off with them to an unknown destination.
Another ugly exchange breaks out between Cyclops and Wolverine as the latter accuses Cyclops of being too gutless to try hard enough to stop Havok and the others from escaping.
X-MEN Vol 1 #98 (April 1976)
Title: Merry Christmas, X-Men, The Sentinels Have Returned
Villains: Steven Lang and the Sentinels
NOTE: This is the first time it is revealed that Wolverine’s claws are part of his body and not just weapons that he wears on his gloves.
Synopsis: The story opens at Rockefeller Center on a snowy Christmas Eve. The X-Men and Moira MacTaggert are all there in civilian clothing. Cameos of Matt Murdock (Daredevil) plus Nick Fury and Contessa Valentina were depicted in the crowd as in-jokes.
The team members start to part for their own plans for the evening. Scott and Jean go to an expensive dinner at a high-end restaurant, Kurt and Peter go off on a double-date with Amanda Sefton (FIRST APPEARANCE) and Betsy Wilford. Wolverine, despite saying he has no use for Christmas, hangs around with Sean, Moira and Ororo as they go to take in a show.
Steven Lang launches the active phase of Project: Armageddon by unleashing his Mark III Sentinels. Some of them attack Cyclops and Marvel Girl at the skyscraper restaurant. When wreckage from one of the Sentinels destroyed by the two mutants lands in the streets below, Banshee, Storm and Wolverine are among the pedestrians who see it. Banshee, who was among the mutants captured by the previous iteration of Sentinels, leads Storm and Wolverine up to the restaurant battlefield.
Moira goes to round up Kurt and Peter. High above the city streets, a group of Sentinels capture Banshee and Wolverine while Storm destroys a Sentinel who was about to kill Cyclops. Marvel Girl, out of practice, was captured by the first wave of Sentinels. Cyclops wants to alert Professor X about the new Sentinels.
Cut to a yacht off the coast of Florida. Charles Xavier has been spending his leave of absence there with old friend Peter Corbeau, astrophysicist and supporting character over at the Hulk back then. While unwinding he has also confided in Corbeau about his recurring nightmare/ psychic episodes and had him try to determine if the binary star system he dreams about really exists.
Peter, head of Marvel’s fictional Starcore Project, notes that even though that project has mapped over half the Milky Way galaxy there has been no sign of such a binary star system. He even ran a query through the Avengers and Fantastic Four’s star charts of alien galaxies and found nothing. He gently suggests to the professor that the binary star and the battle may be all in his mind.
Suddenly a Sentinel attacks from the Atlantic Ocean. While Corbeau radios an SOS Professor X tries to fight back but is hindered by the fatiguing dream, a fragment of which surfaces amid the tension and he screams as the pilot’s face from that dream once again threatens to take shape. The Sentinel captures Professor X and overturns Corbeau’s vessel, the Dejah Thoris. (Claremont would later write some of Marvel’s John Carter of Mars adaptations, too.) The Sentinel flies off, broadcasting that it needs to return with Charles before solar radiation levels reach a critical stage.
Cut to three days later. At Project: Armageddon headquarters a technician reports to Steven Lang that solar storms will prevent the Sentinels from being dispatched to capture additional mutants for several more days. Lang states they will make do in the meantime with the four captive mutants they have.
He and his technicians continue studying the bound Marvel Girl, Banshee and Wolverine. Professor X is kept unconscious in a separate device. Banshee makes with light-hearted mockery of Lang, who goes on to argue with the trio about the ethics of his project.
Eventually the conversation grows heated enough that Lang loses his cool and backhands Jean Grey across the face. In the first hint that Wolverine is getting the hots for Jean, that makes him angry enough that he breaks free of the chromalloy shackles restraining him. Lang flees while Wolverine kills the Project: Armageddon soldiers he sics on him.
Next, a Sentinel stationed nearby attacks Wolverine, who fights back and slashes it to pieces. He frees Banshee and Marvel Girl, following which an argument breaks out as Jean and Sean insist on taking the unconscious Charles with them but Wolverine insists he’ll slow them down too much. It becomes a moot point as additional Sentinels suddenly attack and the three X-Men are forced into a running battle with them.
Eventually, Banshee takes Wolverine in one hand and Jean in the other and flies off with them, using his sonic blasts to bust through walls and everything else in their way. Suddenly his sonic scream is cut short by something we readers don’t see but which stuns Sean, Jean and Wolverine.
Cut to the X-Men’s headquarters that same night. Cyclops has been using Cerebro to scour the Earth for any sign of the captive X-Men and the professor but no luck. Nightcrawler tries to warn him that his concern for Jean is making him push too hard but is rebuffed. Peter Corbeau arrives at the mansion and compares notes with the X-Men. Given Cerebro’s inability to locate the captured mutants AND the Sentinel’s reference to solar radiation levels, it must be that the Sentinels’ headquarters isn’t on the Earth at all, but in orbit.
To confirm Corbeau’s suggestion we cut back to one last glimpse of a frightened Banshee, Wolverine and Marvel Girl, whose escape attempt ended when they burst free into the vacuum of space.
X-MEN Vol 1 #99 (June 1976)
Title: Deathstar Rising
Villains: Steven Lang and the Sentinels
NOTE: The “Deathstar” in the title refers to solar flares. Star Wars would not debut until 1977.
Synopsis: Since Project: Armageddon wants the X-Men alive for further study they have the Sentinels rescue Marvel Girl, Wolverine and Banshee from space in “enviro-bubbles.” When the heroes come to, Steven Lang taunts them that escape is impossible and has Jean and Charles imprisoned on one floor, while Wolverine and Banshee are imprisoned on another floor.
Cut to the Earth, an unknown number of days later. With the very public attack of the Sentinels on Christmas Eve, another public debate has broken out about mutants and about the use of Sentinels against them.
Meanwhile, Peter Corbeau has used his government connections to learn that an old orbital S.H.I.E.L.D. station was reassigned to Project: Armageddon for use in their anti-mutant project. He also learns that Steven Lang was an acolyte of Bolivar and Larry Trask, thus confirming that the orbital station MUST be the new base for the Sentinels.
Because the X-Men have saved the entire world multiple times over the years, Corbeau has no qualms about calling in favors to get another Starcore Space Shuttle launched with himself as the pilot, ostensibly to prepare for further study of solar storms. In reality, he and like-minded pro-mutant colleagues sneak Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus onto the shuttle WITH Corbeau, with the X-Men impersonating crew members and scientists. With another solar flare imminent, our heroes are in a race against time to raid the orbiting Project: Armageddon space station, beat the Sentinels, free their friends and get back to Earth before the flare reaches Earth’s vicinity.
Cooped up in the shuttle, Storm grapples with her claustrophobia while Cyclops obsesses over Jean, and Colossus is reminded of his Cosmonaut brother Mikhail’s death in a launchpad fire.
In Ireland, Banshee’s villainous cousin Black Tom Cassidy approaches Sean’s solicitor Mr Flaherty. Learning that he is too late to prevent Flaherty from sending out a notification to Banshee about an undisclosed situation, Black Tom uses his mutant power to blast Flaherty to death. NOTE: Black Tom Cassidy is a mutant who can project energy through contact with wood, like the Silver Samurai and El Aguila can project energy through metal and Gambit can project bioelectrical energy via playing cards and other objects.
Eventually, as the Starcore Space Shuttle approaches the orbiting headquarters of the Sentinels, the sensors detect the approaching shuttle. Lang sends out some Sentinels to attack the approaching craft and they damage the hull of the shuttle. Colossus learns that in his metallic form he doesn’t need to breathe, and he manages just fine in fighting off the Sentinels. Meanwhile Corbeau rams the orbiting space station, puncturing its own hull and letting the X-Men raid the station, secure within its artificial environment and gravity. They defeat all the Sentinels sent against them.
Cyclops learns that Jean and the Professor are in one location and Banshee & Wolverine in another. He wants to be alone with Jean and the professor when he finds her and Charles, so he sends Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus to free Banshee and Wolverine while he goes to Marvel Girl’s location. Fighting his way there, he overcomes Steven Lang and nearly beats him to death, knocking out one of his teeth, too. Jean, like Charles imprisoned in a Nega-Tube which negates her mutant powers, talks Scott out of killing Lang. Cyclops is then knocked out from behind by an unseen figure whose appearance shocks Marvel Girl.
Elsewhere, Banshee, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus are all together now and are on their way to link up with Cyclops, Marvel Girl and Professor X. Along the way, they are stunned to encounter Professor X, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, Angel, Polaris and Havok. From his wheelchair Charles orders the original X-Men to kill the new team. The new X-Men assume that Eric the Red must have been working for Steven Lang and has now enthralled all the other original X-Men like he recently did Polaris and Havok. The two teams clash.
X-MEN Vol 1 #100 (August 1976)
Title: Greater Love Hath No X-Man
Villains: Steven Lang and the X-Sentinels
Synopsis: The new X-Men and the original X-Men fight it out, with all kinds of fan service dialogue through the whole battle. At length, Wolverine fights his way over to Professor X, demanding answers. He is stunned when Charles STANDS UP and punches him. Marvel Girl then attacks him with her telepathic and telekinetic powers, but at last Wolverine catches enough of a scent from her to realize she’s not really Jean Grey. He slashes her open, revealing that she and the other seemingly enthralled original X-Men are actually robots.
Nearby, Steven Lang is furious at this turn of events. While the viewscreens behind him show the new X-Men now overcoming and trashing the android originals, Lang engages in a Villain Rant to Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Professor X and Peter Corbeau in their Nega-Tubes. Lang reveals that he spent years studying the Vanisher and every other mutant in captivity and came to consider mutants a huge threat to mainline humanity.
He fell in with co-conspirators called the Inner Circle (of the Hellfire Club it turned out later), who had big money and big government connections, so they were able to help him start a new Sentinels project. The Inner Circle wanted to study mutants, hoping to find a way of tampering with unborn children to mass-produce super-powered mutants for their own uses. Lang double-crossed them, since he wants mutantkind dead in the long run. He used the bulk of the money on “X-Sentinels” – android duplicates of the original X-Men, planning to use them to infiltrate and destroy mutants, Terminator-style. (Though Terminator was still 8 years down the road in 1976.)
Cyclops blasts free from his Nega-Tube, then frees Jean, Charles and Corbeau. Lang reaches his hovering attack craft and rains energy blasts down on the mutants below him. Eventually, Marvel Girl uses her telekinetic powers to cause Lang to crash into the viewscreen and he dies in the subsequent explosion. The other X-Men find Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Peter Corbeau and the still-unconscious Professor X and they all assess their situation.
The Sentinels and X-Sentinels are all destroyed, all the surviving personnel of Project: Armageddon evacuated to the Earth below in escape pods while the X-Men fought the X-Sentinels, and no escape pods are left. The orbiting space station has multiple fires burning throughout it, meaning it’s only a matter of time before it blows up or shatters.
Furthermore, the damage to multiple parts of the hull is so extensive that even if they risked staying on board the space station until the solar flare passes, they would not have sufficient protection against the flare’s solar radiation. Their space-suits were all destroyed in the fight with the Sentinels. The Starcore shuttle is flight-worthy but the onboard computer was destroyed when they rammed the space-station AND there’s a big hole in the shuttle’s hull from when the Sentinels attacked the shuttle as it approached the orbiting station.
Peter Corbeau could pilot the shuttle, but he’d never survive the solar flare, due any minute now. None of the other X-Men know how to pilot the shuttle, even if one or two of them might be powerful enough to survive the flair. Jean Grey grimly points out that, actually, SHE can pilot the craft by telepathically accessing Peter Corbeau’s knowledge of how to fly the shuttle. With her telekinetic powers she will block the hole in the shuttle’s hull long enough to hopefully survive against the massive dose of solar radiation from the flare. The others can all be safe and sound in the heavily-insulated passenger section.
Cyclops objects, because the odds are AGAINST Jean being able to survive against the solar flare with all the damage to the hull. Jean knocks him out with a psychic blast and has Banshee carry him to the passenger section. Wolverine brusquely tries to talk Jean out of doing this, but she furiously hollers at him to knock it off and join the others in the passenger section. When Ororo approaches her, Jean begs her not to join the line of people trying to talk her out of this and Storm complies. They hug, crying, and Jean asks Storm to tell Scott she loved him if she doesn’t survive.
With the X-Men, professor and Corbeau in the passenger section, Jean pilots the shuttle craft away from the space station. She reflects that she won’t make a very good pilot, but the knowledge she drained from Peter Corbeau will be good enough to get them to a safe landing … maybe.
As the time goes on during the shuttle’s descent, the flare hits the vessel. Marvel Girl has a harder and harder time trying to keep the hull together enough to keep out the radiation from the massive solar flare. Back in the passenger section a grief-crazed Scott has come to and desperately tries to go to Jean. Nightcrawler restrains him, reminding him that if he opens the door he’ll let in the flare, killing them all. Scott and Kurt lapse into tears like most of the others, including the now-conscious Xavier.
Soon, it reaches the point where an overwhelming amount of solar radiation begins penetrating the cockpit of the shuttle and Jean frantically thinks about Scott as she feels her death nearing.
X-MEN Vol 1 #101 (October 1976)
Title: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes
Villains: Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut
Synopsis: The Starcore Shuttle, with a rapidly dying Jean Grey still piloting it, reaches JFK airport and after a crash landing which lasts the length of the runway and ultimately spills over into the Atlantic Ocean, it sinks below the surface. The X-Men make it to the surface, as does Peter Corbeau carrying Professor X. Cyclops resolves to go back for Jean but before he can dive back under, Marvel Girl, in her new Phoenix costume, bursts out from the water, flying and ranting that she is no longer the woman they knew. “Now and forever … I AM PHOENIX!”
Then, overcome by exhaustion from her ordeal, which apparently included a further mutation into this Phoenix identity, she flames out and falls down into the water. Our heroes all get to shore and Professor X uses his mutant powers to let the X-Men slip away, while Dr Corbeau poses as the shuttle’s “sole survivor.”
Two or three days go by and, eventually, Wolverine buys some flowers and heads for the hospital intent on giving them to Jean at her hospital bed if she’s okay. He is surprised to see the other X-Men, Moira MacTaggert and Professor X there in the waiting room, still waiting for word about Jean. They’ve been there for days, but the detached and often friendless Wolverine hadn’t anticipated that. He tosses the flowers and joins the others in their vigil.
Ultimately, they get word from Jean’s doctors that she will survive and they are delighted. Scott slips into a nearby room to cry and do prayers of thanks (I’m not joking). Kurt, himself very religious, is sensitive enough to not intrude on him. Meanwhile, the professor tells the new X-Men that since Jean will need a lot of help and attention, he, Scott and Moira will stay in New York to care for Jean. In the meantime Charles wants the others to take a vacation.
Sean mentions that his solicitor, Flaherty (killed off two issues back), has informed him that he has inherited Cassidy Keep, the ancestral castle of the Cassidy family. Arrangements are made for Banshee, Storm, Wolverine, Colossus and Nightcrawler to visit and stay at Cassidy Keep for the foreseeable future.
The new X-Men reluctantly agree, and fly to Ireland, then do some sightseeing in Dublin before driving to Cassidy Keep. A lot of bonding between these characters is taking place through all this. At any rate, they arrive at majestic Cassidy Keep and go on in. The steward, Eamon O’Donnell, is threatened by Black Tom Cassidy to greet Sean and the others but not give away the fact that he is holding “the families” hostage.
Eamon tries his best, but Sean can tell he’s a bit nervous. He plans to press him after the formal dinner planned for that night. Our heroes dress up and head toward the dining hall, only to fall through a massive trap door. They switch to their costumes and find themselves facing Black Tom Cassidy and his ally – the Juggernaut, an old foe of the X-Men who is meeting the new team for the first time.
Banshee and Black Tom, bitter enemies for years, exchange hostile words and Tom taunts Sean that he and the other X-Men are at the mercy of him and the Juggernaut, trapped far underground in a dungeon which will become their tomb. Storm’s claustrophobia overwhelms her and she screams, adding to the cliffhanger ending.
X-MEN Vol 1 #102 (December 1976)
Title: Who Shall Stop The Juggernaut?
Villains: Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut
Synopsis: Colossus, Nightcrawler and Wolverine battle the Juggernaut while Banshee and Black Tom Cassidy fight each other. Their mutant energies are neutralized when they try to blast each other with them, a common bit of Marvel Comics stories with mutants who are related to each other, just like Cyclops and Havok’s bodies simply metabolize each other’s energy blasts against each other.
Tom and Sean engage in bitter conversation while they duke it out and periodically try to blast objects to make them fall on their opponent. It becomes clear that Banshee and Black Tom have clashed multiple times over the years, but, like Wolverine and Sabertooth, those battles had never been shown to us readers. It turns out Sean and Tom once even fought over the same woman.
Meanwhile, Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler do their best to keep Juggernaut away from the petrified Storm, still suffering through her traumatic claustrophobic episode. Colossus is far stronger than any of the original X-Men and is close to Thing-level strength, which is the only reason the X-Men have lasted this long against the Juggernaut, who usually can handle an entire team of X-Men himself.
Ororo flashes back to her origin years. Her American father David Munroe had wooed and married her African mother, N’Dare. They were on a visit to Egypt during her childhood when planes attacked, bombing Cairo. Storm’s parents were among the people who died when their hotel collapsed on them from the bombs and little Ororo was trapped in the wreckage for a long while until rescued. This left her permanently traumatized.
Now orphaned, she wandered Cairo as a thief until, at 12 years of age her mutant powers manifested themselves and she flew south to the Kalahari. Over the years an isolated tribe came to worship her as a goddess given the way she used her weather-controlling powers to help them.
Back at Jean’s hospital, Misty Knight talks with Jean about her ordeal, and Jean is still trying to piece together what happened to her. Though the professor and Moira MacTaggert believe that the solar radiation Jean was hit with in the return flight to Earth triggered a secondary mutation into Phoenix, Jean confesses to Misty that she herself feels that she died and was reborn.
Nearby, Scott, Charles and Moira are having a conversation when Charles is again plagued by the images from his recurring nightmare. He looks in a mirror but instead of seeing his own reflection, he sees the half-formed face of the pilot from that dream. He lapses into unconsciousness and for the first time Moira tells Scott why Charles summoned her and why he took his leave of absence. Moira explains that either Charles is going insane or his mind is merging with the mind of an alien. And she doesn’t know which would be worse.
Back at Cassidy Keep, Nightcrawler gets bashed against a wall and knocked out by Juggernaut. While Colossus and Wolverine continue battling Cain Marko (the Juggernaut) and Banshee continues fighting Black Tom, a group of leprechauns … yes, LEPRECHAUNS, open a secret passageway and drag the unconscious Kurt through it. I’ll deal with this idiocy when reviewing the next issue.
At any rate, Black Tom manages to outfight Banshee for once and knocks him out. Juggernaut downs Wolverine and when Colossus asks what motivated Juggernaut and Black Tom to work together, they tell him that Eric the Red brought them together to capture the X-Men and Professor X. Colossus now falls to defeat. Seeing Peter fall, Storm pulls herself together and blasts the Juggernaut with blast after blast of lightning. His armor allows him to absorb it and shoot it back at her, knocking her out, too.
X-MEN Vol 1 #103 (February 1977)
Title: The Fall of the Tower
Villains: Black Tom Cassidy, the Juggernaut and Eric the Red
Synopsis: WHAT WAS CHRIS CLAREMONT THINKING? We pick up this issue with those absurd leprechauns dragging Nightcrawler through a secret passageway until they get him into a cell with them. Kurt comes to and is shocked to see over a dozen or more actual damn leprechauns before him. Eamon O’Donnell is now in the cell with them and they all explain to Nightcrawler that these are the last of the leprechauns, who seemingly have no supernatural powers (but even THAT is contradicted later in this issue). The Cassidy family has taken care of them for centuries and kept their existence a secret.
Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut took the leprechauns captive and have been threatening to kill them if Eamon did not do as they said. They lured the X-Men here, hoping Professor X would be with them.
NOTE: Yes, these families of leprechauns are the “families” that Black Tom and Banshee separately referenced over the past few issues. It’s idiotic and after this issue the leprechauns are forgotten about, thankfully. I guess Chris Claremont or his editors got sufficient feedback about how stupid the concept was. Why not just have Black Tom and the Juggernaut be holding actual Cassidy family members hostage? They could have had a few little kids be small enough to slip into the secret passageway and haul away the unconscious Nightcrawler, but the older kids and the adults would still be in the cell.
At any rate, the next day Black Tom and the Juggernaut visit the X-Men in the dungeon, where alien technology provided by Eric the Red has made bonds and cages powerful enough to hold the now-conscious X-Men. Black Tom plans to indulge his sicker tendencies and announces he will start torturing the captives while they await further instructions from Eric the Red.
Tom indicates that he will start with Storm, so Nightcrawler, watching from the secret passageways that the (sigh) leprechauns are leading him through, knows he can’t wait to take action any longer. He teleports into the dungeon and, using Tony Stark’s image inducer which has allowed Kurt to appear human to the rest of the world in his secret identity all these issues, makes himself appear to be Charles Xavier, Juggernaut’s hated step-brother.
Juggernaut ignores Tom’s comment that it CAN’T be Xavier, especially not walking around under his own power, but Juggernaut’s hatred gets the best of him. Before Tom can calm Juggernaut down, Nightcrawler has agilely been dodging his blows, at last causing the brute to punch a hole through the castle wall to the outside. The hole in the wall allows Storm to access the outside elements.
Ororo causes a flash tornado which blows herself, Wolverine and Colossus outside the castle. She frees herself and Colossus, who in turn frees Wolverine. Black Tom and Juggernaut take the still-bound and metallically gagged Banshee up to one of the towers of Cassidy Keep and threaten to kill him if the other X-Men don’t come up and fight them.
Storm, Wolverine, Colossus and Nightcrawler begin their assault on the tower, with Nightcrawler freeing Banshee. Banshee then joins the attack on the Juggernaut, and at one point flips his attacking cousin Black Tom off the tower and into the rocks and waves far below. The Juggernaut, paniced at losing his ally and meal ticket, leaps over the edge to try to find Tom but the pair vanish amid the churning of the waves below.
The X-Men free Eamon and the leprechauns. NOTE: During the battle, one of the leprechauns addressed Wolverine as Logan when he was alone with him. So, yes, the first revelation that the enigmatic Wolverine’s name was Logan came from a ridiculous leprechaun! Why not have Howard the Duck make the reveal? (And yes, I know that decades later, even the Logan name was retconned and “James Howlett” was revealed to be Wolverine’s real name.)
Cut to Eric the Red in his spaceship in orbit around the Earth. He has Polaris and Havok in stasis and is communicating with a figure we will soon learn is Emperor D’Ken. Eric apologizes to his Emperor for failing with his first two plans against the X-Men and Professor X, but states he has at last been able to locate Magneto, who, with his Mutant Brotherhood, was reverted to infancy months earlier by Alpha the Ultimate Mutant in the pages of the Defenders.
Eric the Red promises that Magneto should prove powerful enough to destroy the X-Men.
X-MEN Vol 1 #104 (April 1977)
Title: The Gentleman’s Name Is Magneto
NOTE: This issue began Chris Claremont’s lengthy and extensive retcon of Magneto’s personality and personal history. At this point, Marvel Comics had not yet even bothered giving Magneto a REAL NAME.
Synopsis: Eric the Red visits the infant Magneto in his captivity at Muir Island, which this issue is revealed to be Moira MacTaggert’s high-tech and high-security scientific base for mutant research. We learn that this is where Magneto, Mastermind, Blob, Lorelei and Unus the Untouchable have been held ever since Alpha the Ultimate Mutant reverted them to infancy in Defenders #16 in order to give them a second chance at life.
NOTE: Apparently, Xavier refused to ever tell the X-Men what he had done with the infant Mutant Brotherhood, since, though the team clearly knew that Magneto was now a baby at least since Giant-Size X-Men #1, none of them knew that Moira was a researcher or that Muir Isle was where Magneto was being held.
At any rate, Eric the Red plus his thralls Polaris and Havok defeated the mutant Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox), whom we learn has been assisting Moira run Muir Isle since his and Xavier’s appearance in Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4. Because Jamie can split into literally dozens of super-strong bodies, that is how one guy can run the entire island for Moira. Madrox was able to fight the entire Fantastic Four, so defeating him was no mean feat.
After taking down the Multiple Man, Eric the Red restored Magneto to adulthood, but wisely stopped the aging process when Magneto’s body was in the equivalent of his 30s. This ensured he was at maximum power and later served as the explanation for how a Holocaust survivor like Magneto was still alive and well so long afterward.
Eric the Red restored Mastermind, Blob, Lorelei and Unus the Untouchable to full adulthood, but they refused to serve Eric and also refused to serve Magneto any longer. They went their separate ways while Magneto stayed behind on Muir Isle to ambush the X-Men when they inevitably came to check out why Jamie Madrox hadn’t been in contact with Moira in days. In fact, Moira had at last had no choice but to call Banshee and the others at Cassidy Keep and confess her secrets, then have the X-Men go to check on Muir Isle. Moira and Cyclops had already begun flying there from New York in their SR71 Blackbird (FIRST APPEARANCE).
Enroute to Muir Isle, the costumed Banshee, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler rent a hydrofoil from a mutant-hating man named Angus MacWhirter. As it approaches the island, Magneto projects a massive magnetic wave to rip the vessel to shreds, so that he can observe the new X-Men, whom he’s never met, as they use their powers. When the team successfully reaches the island and marvels at how high-tech Moira’s research center is, Magneto reveals himself and attacks the surprised X-Men.
While the five new X-Men continue fighting Magneto, Cyclops and Moira MacTaggert arrive at the landing strip on the other side of the island in the SR71 Blackbird. Exiting, they eventually come across the fallen Jamie Madrox, who explains about Eric the Red and his thralls attacking him. Cyclops rushes off to the sounds of battle, where he finds the other X-Men have just been defeated by the younger and more powerful Magneto.
Cyclops distracts Magneto, then revives the defeated X-Men and ushers them off to the Blackbird, since he has figured out that this battle with Magneto must be a distraction on Eric the Red’s part so that he can have a clear shot to kill Professor X back in New York. He also tells the new X-Men about the professor’s ongoing mind-merge with an unknown alien.
On the flight back to New York, Wolverine taunts Cyclops that he was actually too scared to continue the battle with Magneto. For his part, Magneto, still partially being written by Claremont as his old megalomaniacal self, comes to the same false conclusion, figuring the X-Men fled in terror from him. As Magneto leaves Muir Isle, we readers are shown that the battle accidentally shut off the restraining barrier on the cell of a mutant designated Mutant X by Moira.
Meanwhile, in the far-off binary star system which Xavier has been seeing in his recurring nightmare/ alien mind fusion, we see the FIRST APPEARANCE of the space pirates called the Starjammers. We only see two this time, their leader, Corsair and their Hulk-sized amphibious brute named Chod. The pair discuss how the Emperor D’Ken must be waiting for a certain star alignment to let him access something on the small planet which the massive space battle from Xavier’s visions was fought over long ago.
Back to the Earth, approaching the planet from space is … the lone surviving spaceship that Xavier always saw flying away from the end of the massive battle. Its still-unseen pilot is the alien whose mind Xavier’s is merging with. Just as the pilot prepares to enter our atmosphere, they are alarmed to see that an Imperial battleship has arrived to intercept them.
Piling on ANOTHER cliffhanger for this issue, on a rooftop opposite Jean and Misty Knight’s apartment, where her parents and Professor X are visiting them, we see Eric the Red and the enthralled Polaris and Havok. Eric says they are awaiting one last figure and then they will attack and kill Charles Xavier.
NOTE: This issue’s cover was a tribute to X-Men #1 from 1963.
X-MEN Vol 1 #105 (June 1977)
Title: Phoenix Unleashed
Villains: Eric the Red and Firelord
NOTE: This issue is littered with elements that don’t make sense, reflecting rushed and outrightly poor writing on Chris Claremont’s part. The review of this issue would go on for thousands of words if I took the time to deal with every slipshod element. I will simply give a synopsis. Know that the obvious flaws in logic and disregard of continuity are in the original story.
Synopsis: The X-Men arrive back at their HQ in their SR71 Blackbird. They find the lone Eric the Red there and attack him, only to be attacked from behind by Firelord (like the Silver Surfer, a former herald of Galactus). The X-Men battle Firelord, who has been duped into thinking that Eric the Red is a benevolent space explorer who stumbled on to an X-Men plot to take over the world. Firelord defeats Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Banshee, Colossus and Nightcrawler, then Eric the Red tells him he must finish the job by dealing with the team’s mentor, Professor X, who is visiting Jean Grey, Misty Knight and Jean’s parents.
In space just above the planet Earth, the alien pilot that Charles Xavier is mind-merging with gets attacked by what we eventually learn is a Shi’Ar Imperial battleship. The pilot, face still unseen, has to teleport down to Xavier’s location, which at present is Jean and Misty Knight’s apartment. Jean’s parents are stunned by this development.
Xavier, at first horrified to see his nightmare figure now actually face to face with him, is calmed when the pilot removes their helmet and we at last see that they are a beautiful alien woman. Xavier telepathically teaches her English, aided by their ongoing mind-merger. That mind-merger has given the pair a shared history together and they are immediately in love.
She tells Professor X and the others that she is Princess-in-Exile Lilandra Neramani, rightful ruler of the Shi’Ar Empire in a far-off galaxy. When Xavier used his psychic powers to their fullest to drive the alien Z’Nox invaders off of the Earth when they fought the original team of X-Men (X-Men #65), that caused a psychic linkup with Lilandra which began the process of the mind-merger, which has stopped now that they have met face to face.
Lilandra was the sole survivor of the massive space battle Xavier kept seeing in his recurring nightmare. Years earlier her evil brother D’Ken had usurped the throne and became Emperor, prompting a war between them. That massive battle which Xavier saw in their mind-link wiped out Lilandra’s forces and left D’Ken unopposed after the years Lilandra spent rebelling against his rule. Emperor D’Ken plans to unleash “the end of all that is”, an as-yet unexplained phenomenon which D’Ken thinks will give him unlimited power but will actually result in the destruction of the entire universe.
Firelord bursts in and attacks, Jean becomes Phoenix in front of everyone, at last revealing to her parents that she is a mutant superhero. While Phoenix shows how powerful she is by doing well in her fight with Firelord, Eric the Red arrives to kidnap Lilandra. He is really Davan Shakari, a Shi’Ar imperial agent sent to the Earth long ago by D’Ken to either destroy the X-Men, or Professor X, or prevent Lilandra from getting help from them … or something.
(Wondering where the enthralled Polaris and Havok are? Forget about it!)
The other X-Men arrive to battle Eric the Red while Phoenix and Firelord continue fighting. Eric the Red manages to seize Lilandra and take her to the apartment building rooftop. Once there he opens a Stargate and rushes through with Lilandra, shutting the power off behind him so that the X-Men can’t follow.
Phoenix buys time by blasting Firelord several miles away, then uses her own abilities to power the Stargate. She and the X-Men go through but it closes before Professor X or anyone else can enter it. Firelord returns to the rooftop, demanding to know where Phoenix is. Xavier tells him that she and the other X-Men are on the other side of the universe trying to prevent “the end of all that is.”
NOTE: Okay, to address a frequent complaint that elements of this story “rip off” Star Wars: Remember that that movie did not come out until May 25th of 1977. Claremont started the subplots of this X-Men story beginning in My Brother, My Enemy, back in FEBRUARY OF 1976, which means that the planning began in 1975 considering the limits of publishing technology at the time.
Neither Star Wars nor this X-Men storyline ripped off the other. They were both just drawing on the same general inheritance of sci-fi space opera tropes, like galactic civil wars, empires, emperors, princesses, space pirates, rebels, etc.
X-MEN Vol 1 #106 (August 1977)
Title: Dark Shroud of the Past
Villain: The Entity
NOTE: Due to various behind the scenes problems, Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum did not have the next issue of the X-Men ready in time.
This issue ran an out-of continuity flashback story with a brief wraparound bit featuring Professor X explaining to Jean Grey’s parents, Firelord and Misty Knight about the real background of the Shi’Ar Eric the Red.
The flashback story was a lame throwaway tale which featured the new X-Men battling constructs of Professor X’s dark subconscious. The constructs looked like old X-Men but since an old X-Men vs new X-Men battle was just done a few issues ago it should have instead featured the new team fighting mental constructs of several old X-Men villains. (Maybe the Mimic, the Vanisher, Mechano, Lucifer and Maha Yogi.) This tale was set between X-Men #s 95 and 96 and featured Wolverine blaming Cyclops for Thunderbird’s recent death.
Imagine how annoyed you’d have been in 1977 waiting two months to see the next installment of the Lilandra/ Emperor D’Ken/ “end of all that is” storyline only to find this trash. And knowing you had ANOTHER two month wait to get the REAL next installment.
X-MEN Vol 1 #107 (October 1977)
Title: Where No X-Man Has Gone Before
Villains: Emperor D’Ken, the Imperial Guard and the Soul Drinker
Synopsis: Phoenix, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Banshee, Colossus and Nightcrawler emerge from the stargate at its other end, which is where Eric the Red and the captive Lilandra went ahead of them. It is a small(ish) planet at the so-called “center of the universe” and is called “the World” because it was supposedly the very first planet formed in the very first star system in the universe.
The X-Men see Emperor D’Ken standing on a raised platform in front of an enormous (as in house-sized) pink jewel called the M’Kraan Crystal (FIRST APPEARANCE). This jewel is the source of the unimaginable power called “the end of all that is.” Only during certain alignments of stars is the crystal vulnerable to being tapped into and its energies supposedly harnessed.
Lilandra, still held by Eric the Red, is beside D’Ken and warns him for apparently the umpteenth time that the power of the M’Kraan Crystal cannot be controlled, and if he unleashes it he will bring about the destruction of the entire universe. The Emperor dismisses that as nonsense and asserts that he will instead have the power to conquer the entire universe.
D’Ken is protected by 18-20 superpowered members of his Imperial Guard (more on them in a moment), making their FIRST APPEARANCE. Cyclops orders the Emperor to turn Lilandra back over to the X-Men and he laughs it off, then sics his Imperial Guard on our heroes.
NOTE: The Imperial Guard, their members drawn from various worlds in the Shi’Ar Empire, are a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of DC Comics’ Legion of Superheroes, just as the Squadron Sinister/ Squadron Supreme were pastiches of DC’s Justice League. Like the Squadron, this was done as friendly rivalry action, sort of an “our superheroes can beat up YOUR superheroes” element. For instance, some members of the Imperial Guard are Oracle, a pastiche of Saturn Girl … Gladiator, a pastiche of Superboy and/or Mon-El … Fang, a pastiche of Timberwolf, and so on.
Despite being outnumbered nearly 3 to 1, the X-Men manage to hold the Imperial Guard at bay. Emperor D’Ken, not wanting to waste any more time, summons a dark alien being called the Soul Drinker to kill Lilandra and take her soul, permanently eliminating his rival to the throne. The Soul Drinker is an energy being which is mostly a huge face with a large, long tongue in its mouth.
Nightcrawler saves Lilandra and gets her over to the X-Men’s side of the battlefield. Once summoned, the Soul Drinker will not leave until it has consumed a soul, so it feeds upon an unnamed member of the Imperial Guard, then teleports back to its home dimension.
The battle before the M’Kraan Crystal continues, with Wolverine at one point getting his costume blasted away by one of the Guard members. Now naked, Wolverine attacks Fang/ Timberwolf, the DC character he may or may not have been a partial imitation of. (Timberwolf debuted in 1964) Wolverine wins and dons Fang’s costume.
Eventually, though the X-Men have defeated several Guard members, numbers at last seem to be telling the tale, when suddenly the space pirates called the Starjammers (from a few issues back) arrive on the scene. In addition to Corsair and Chod, whom we met previously, we see their members Raza and the female Mam’selle Hepzibah (yes, a tribute to the original comics character of that name). With their powers and weapons, the Starjammers turn the tide of battle and help the X-Men finish off the Imperial Guard.
Introductions are made, and we learn that the Starjammers are outlaws who have been hunted by the Shi’Ar Empire under D’Ken for years. They are known to Lilandra, who would occasionally work with them back when she was leading her rebel forces. These space pirates have also been trying to prevent D’Ken from unleashing whatever he came to the World in search of.
Phoenix, wary of these newfound allies from out of nowhere, probes the mind of Corsair, who seems to have originally come from the Earth. She is incredibly shocked by what she discovers about him, but we readers won’t learn what that is until next issue.
Before the X-Men or Starjammers can take further action against D’Ken, the stars come into alignment and with a soul having been offered up to the M’Kraan Crystal’s sentry the Soul Drinker, the power of the gem is being unleashed. Lilandra was right, it will actually be “the end of all that is”.
The enormous crystal pulsates once, a cosmic incident felt instantaneously all over the entire universe. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.) Back on Earth, the Fantastic Four, having detected the blink, consult with Dr Peter Corbeau, now back aboard the Starcore space station in orbit around Mercury. He confirms for them that even Starcore’s instruments detected the pulse or “blink” and that for a brief moment, the universe ceased to exist.
X-MEN Vol 1 #108 (December 1977)
Title: Armageddon Now
Villain: Emperor D’Ken
Synopsis: On “the World”, the M’Kraan Crystal again pulsates or blinks, causing another phenomenon felt simultaneously all over the universe, in defiance of the known laws of physics, presumably because of how powerful the crystal is. Back on Earth, Dr Corbeau is now in a teleconference with political figures plus the Avengers and Fantastic Four. The consensus is that the blinks are being produced by some sort of energies in a distant galaxy, energies which could wipe out the universe. The heroes feel helpless since this phenomenon is too far away for any of them to do anything about it.
Back on the World, entities generated by the M’Kraan Crystal reveal to our heroes the true nature of the crystal. It is the triggering object for each successive universe. It is now beginning the reversal of the Big Bang, a reversal called the Big Crunch, in which, instead of everything in the universe being hurled outward by a Big Bang, everything in the universe flows back together, being destroyed into a Big Crunch.
From that Big Crunch a new Big Bang eventually erupts, creating an all-new universe with different laws of physics, different life-forms, etc. Normally it takes billions upon billions of years from Big Bang to Big Crunch but D’Ken’s meddling has unleashed the process prematurely. The M’Kraan Crystal – and the World upon which it sits – have been the center of countless universes before our own and will go on being the center of countless universes after ours is destroyed.
The X-Men and Starjammers battle assorted high-tech defense mechanisms of the M’Kraan Crystal, set to destroy anyone who tries to halt the process after it’s been unleashed. Wolverine is nearly killed by one of them, but Corsair contacts Waldo on board the Starjammers’ ship (also called the Starjammer) and has him teleport Wolverine to their Sick Bay to have their physician Sikorski heal him. NOTE: Waldo is the Heinlein-style “waldo” – think facial waldo for special effects – who is the artificial intelligence which runs the systems on the ship called the Starjammer. Sikorski is an insectoid alien whose race makes excellent surgeons because of the dexterity of their multiple limbs.
Emperor D’Ken enters the M’Kraan Crystal, the surface of which becomes intangible during the alignment of stars. He is followed by the X-Men and Starjammers, all of whom face psychic attacks once inside the abandoned alien city that exists within the crystal.
For instance Corsair, an Earth man abducted by the Shi’Ar decades earlier, suffers the reliving of his wife’s murder at the hands of Emperor D’Ken when she resisted being one of his sex slaves. Each X-Man and Starjammer suffers similar psychic assaults, with Cyclops losing control of his optic beams since that is his big fear. To prevent Scott from accidentally injuring any of our heroes, Phoenix renders Cyclops unconscious and tells Corsair to watch over him, because … Scott is his long-lost oldest SON.
Corsair, now revealed to be Christopher Summers, weeps tears of mingled grief and joy as he cradles the unconscious form of his son. Meanwhile, Phoenix uses her powers – augmented by telepathic/ spiritual strength drawn from each of her fellow X-Men – to prevent the unleashing of the Big Crunch trigger, thus saving the universe and restoring the billions of years left in this universe’s natural lifespan.
With that menace averted, the X-Men, Starjammers and Emperor D’Ken find themselves outside the M’Kraan Crystal once again. D’Ken has collapsed into helpless madness from the psychic attack he suffered inside the crystal. Since he is no longer fit to sit on the throne of the Shi’Ar Empire, the rule automatically goes to Lilandra, so the Imperial Guard and all other Shi’Ar forces will need to recognize her as the new Empress.
X-MEN Vol 1 #109 (February 1978)
Title: Home Are The Heroes
Villain: Weapon Alpha
NOTE: This issue had another one of the countless comic book covers which reflect a title different than the one actually used for the story. In this case the reference to Wolverine being wanted dead or alive by the Canadian government will actually be used for the X-Men’s first encounter with Alpha Flight (X-Men #120).
Synopsis: Back on the World, the X-Men and Starjammers are saying their goodbyes, while the Imperial Guard and assorted Shi’Ar officials tell Lilandra it will take months of obligatory political moves before they can hold her coronation as the new Empress. Lilandra tells them that she will spend the intervening months with her newfound love, Charles Xavier, back on Earth. (Her coronation takes place in X-Men #122.)
Meanwhile, Corsair and Phoenix are having a heated conversation. Corsair is adamant that Jean never tell Cyclops that his father is still alive. They’ll likely never meet again and since Scott moved on with his life without a father from childhood on, there’s no point in telling him. Reluctantly, Phoenix agrees.
Storm overheard the conversation, and asks Jean if she is sure she wants to withhold such vital information from Scott. Jean says yes and swears Ororo to silence, too. The Starjammers have no intention of abandoning their outlaw lifestyle, so they head for parts unknown. The X-Men return to the top of Jean and Misty’s apartment building via the stargate.
Cut to the X-Men’s school headquarters later. Lilandra and Jean Grey’s parents have accompanied our heroes from Jean’s apartment to the school. Charles makes a throwaway reference to having found and freed Polaris and Havok from Eric the Red’s mindlock. Jean fills in her parents about her life as Marvel Girl and relates the incidents leading up to her further mutation into Phoenix. From nearby, Cyclops reflects that he feels like Jean is a totally different person since turning into Phoenix. He takes his anger out on the clowning Nightcrawler.
Lilandra and Charles spend time together, comfortably intimate from their near mind-meld. One day Moira MacTaggert and Banshee plan to go have fun at an upstate New York lake that she and Charles used to use for getaways back when they were an item years before the X-Men were founded. They invite their teammates to come along but only Colossus, Storm and Wolverine take them up on it.
Meanwhile, in Canada, Department H, from which Wolverine resigned in Giant-Size X-Men #1, has resolved to take him into custody and make him return to work for their government. They assign that mission to James MacDonald Hudson aka Weapon Alpha. (Wolverine was originally called Weapon X in the pages of the Hulk.)
Hudson was Wolverine’s closest friend in Canada, and is sort of a Canadian Captain America, since his high-tech armor is designed after the Canadian flag. He dons his Weapon Alpha armor and flies off to trace Wolverine via Department H’s version of Cerebro.
At the aforementioned private lake in upstate New York, Banshee, Colossus, Storm and Moira are all in casual swimwear. Sean and Moira frolic in the water like newlyweds while Peter and Ororo hang out and sun themselves on the shore. In the forests nearby, Wolverine is engaging in his non-lethal version of “hunting” in which he simply practices his stealth to approach a skittish deer and gently touch it unexpectedly.
In the middle of his hunt, Wolverine is attacked by Weapon Alpha and his built-in energy weapons. During their fight he addresses Wolverine as Logan, which SHOULD have been the first time readers were privy to his real name at the time, but no, a silly leprechaun spoiled the surprise. Their running battle eventually winds up intruding on the others at the lake.
With Wolverine temporarily out of action, Colossus attacks Weapon Alpha. One of the Canadian’s energy blasts ricochets off Colossus’ metal body and wounds Moira Mactaggert. This infuriates Banshee, who goes all out against Hudson with his sonic blasts. Weapon Alpha recognizes Banshee from his old Wanted posters from his fugitive years and realizes that these seeming innocent bystanders at the lake must ALL be Wolverine’s X-Men teammates.
Banshee is soon joined by Storm in attacking Hudson. They fly after him but he escapes and heads back to Canada for now. Moira turns out to be okay.
MARVEL TEAM-UP ANNUAL Vol 1 #1 (December 1976)
Title: The Lords of Light and Darkness
Villains: The Lords of Light and Darkness (Duh!)
NOTE: Though this comic book was published months earlier, it is set after the X-Men’s other recent adventures.
Synopsis: A flight headed for the International Conference on Man-Made Mutation is flying over Arizona with plenty of prominent passengers. Charles Xavier is on board with his X-Men secretly accompanying him in civilian clothing. Peter Parker/ Spider-Man is also on board as part of the press sent to cover the event.
A Senator Turner (no first name given) is also on the flight, along with reps from other nations. Turner’s open disgust with mutants prompts Wolverine – out of costume – to start arguing with him in a threatening manner. At one point the plane gets attacked by large androids which used to provide security for a Nevada research center called the Nest.
The X-Men and Peter Parker surreptitiously get into costume and battle the robots. When the pilots are wounded by the androids Cyclops has to land the plane. Our heroes and everyone else on the flight see a huge radioactive blast crater where the Nest used to be, the result of an accident which has been covered up for months.
One of the scientists on board coats the X-Men and Spider-Man with a spray to protect them from the radiation and the superheroes all go forward to investigate the blast crater. Cyclops has Storm and Banshee fly in ahead of the rest of them to scout out the situation, causing Spider-Man to ask if he’s sure the pair will be able to deal with whatever menace is there. This ignites an argument between Wolverine and Spider-Man, but before they can start actually fighting each other all of them are attacked by eight humans who used to work in the Nest.
Those eight – a mix of men and women and all races – were transformed into super-powered figures calling themselves “the Lords of Light and Darkness.” At one point Wolverine slashes open the body of one of the Lords and instead of blood and entrails sees a self-contained universe inside their body. The Lords defeat all of our heroes and confine all of them except Phoenix inside an energy prison.
The villains explain to Phoenix, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Banshee, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Spider-Man how they were mutated by a nuclear accident at the Nest and will die soon if they can’t find a ninth member powerful enough to exist in an anthropomorphic energy state like they do. They sensed Phoenix’s presence on the flight and sent their androids to abduct her.
They offer Phoenix a chance to join them as a higher life form by being their ninth member, at which point they will be able to continue their existence by drawing on enough energy to obliterate the entire Earth. At this point in time, Jean is still able to resist such a temptation and she refuses. Nightcrawler, meanwhile, manages to free himself and the others and another battle breaks out between our heroes and the Lords of Light and Darkness.
The fight goes on so long that the Lords wind up using so much of their power that their deaths become imminent. Spider-Man, drawing on Peter Parker’s knowledge of biochemistry, comes up with a solution to the situation. He coaches the X-Men how to combine their powers with the faltering energies of the Lords of Light and Darkness in order to transform the eight Lords into a huge energy colony creature.
The X-Men then force that entity out into space, where the Lords can roam the universe, drawing energy to keep themselves alive without having to destroy an entire planet. The Lords even drain off all the radiation caused by the accident at the Nest and take it with them into space.
The battle is over and Professor X uses his mind powers to adjust the memories of all the other passengers so that they will not remember that the X-Men and Spider-Man came from on board the plane. The flight resumes to the international conference.
IRON FIST Vol 1 #15 (September 1977)
Title: Enter, The X-Men
Villain: Iron Fist
NOTE: This was at the time when Chris Claremont and John Byrne were working on both The X-Men AND on Iron Fist. This was the last issue of Iron Fist, which had just been canceled, and features an ultimately light-hearted story in which Iron Fist first meets the X-Men.
Synopsis: Iron Fist visits Misty Knight and Jean Grey’s fifth-floor apartment in New York City. He enters in costume from the rooftop, unaware he’s been spotted by an X-Man across the street. Misty, Iron Fist’s romantic partner, is in the Caribbean on a mission and the apartment is set up for a party that night. Unknown to Iron Fist/ Danny Rand, Misty’s roommate Jean (Phoenix) and her boyfriend Scott (Cyclops) have stepped out for some last-minute purchases related to the party.
On the streets outside the apartment, Wolverine, in civilian clothes, was the first partygoer to arrive because, since he is still lusting after Jean Grey at this point, he was hoping to talk to her alone before the other guests arrived. He was contemplating her and looking at a picture of her with Scott. He jealously slices off Scott’s half of the picture, leaving just Jean in the photo.
NOTE: Yes, this is the torn photo of Jean that Wolverine carries around with him for several issues of The X-Men, stealing looks at it at various times, like in their upcoming adventures in the Savage Land.
Anyway, while pondering all this and the fact that he still does not YET feel close enough to any of the X-Men to tell them that his real name is Logan, he spotted Iron Fist as just a shadowy costumed figure covertly entering the apartment via the skylight.
Assuming that it’s a supervillain or burglar he gets into his own costume, charges across the street, and bursts through the door of Jean and Misty’s apartment, demanding to know what Iron Fist is doing in “my woman’s place.” Since Iron Fist knows that Jean is involved with Scott Summers, he mistakenly and jealously thinks that Wolverine is calling Misty Knight “his” woman.
The two fight it out for awhile until Iron Fist manages to knock Wolverine through the balcony window and to the streets below, where the arriving Nightcrawler teleports to his rescue. Kurt has arrived with Peter (Colossus) and was discussing with him that he no longer wants to use Tony Stark’s Image Inducer to hide his real appearance. Peter was siding with Professor X’s view that Kurt should keep using it to help the X-Men keep a low profile in public.
Wolverine has Colossus serve up a Fastball Special which hurls the Canadian back up to the apartment to resume his fight with Iron Fist. Nightcrawler begins fighting Danny, too, compounding the misunderstanding.
While Iron Fist holds his own against both Wolverine and Nightcrawler, Colossus reaches the 5th floor apartment and rushes to help his teammates. He now battles Danny and we readers see that the power of the Iron Fist is strong enough to knock the incredibly strong Colossus partway through a wall, but certainly not strong enough to knock him out.
Next, Storm arrives in semi-formal wear, but quickly switches to her battle suit and attacks Iron Fist, who must dodge her lightning bolts. Banshee and Moira MacTaggert are approaching Jean’s building now, while discussing the future of their relationship and how Moira wants to show some delicacy toward Charles Xavier’s feelings given their past together. They spot Storm’s lightning bolts and Banshee gets into costume and flies to the attack.
Banshee now tangles with Iron Fist for awhile, then teamwork between Storm and Colossus lets them capture Danny. Colossus is holding Iron Fist motionless while Wolverine threatens him with his claws, starting to interrogate him about what’s going on, when Jean and Scott return.
Jean turns into Phoenix and uses her powers to separate the combatants and explains that Iron Fist is really Danny Rand, her roommate Misty’s boyfriend. So now ALL the X-Men and Iron Fist know each others’ secret identities. Everyone calms down, then they clean up the place, get back into civilian clothing and go through with the party.
Charles and Lilandra show up as guests, too. As it gets late, Jean and Misty’s landlord shows up wanting to evict them over this second round of damage to the building. (The first was when Firelord attacked, of course.) Since Rand-Meachum owns the building, Danny, who is recognized by the landlord, steps in to ensure that Jean and Misty will not get evicted.
NOTE: In the previous issue, Iron Fist had battled Sabretooth in that villain’s FIRST EVER appearance. In this issue, while fighting Wolverine, he wondered to himself if the two were connected, since they were both bestial and clawed, plus both called people “Bub” a lot. Sabretooth’s connection to Wolverine would not be revealed for years, however.
X-MEN Vol 1 #110 (April 1978)
Title: The X-Sanction
Synopsis: The X-Men and Moira MacTaggert are relaxing by playing a game of softball on the sprawling lawn of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Moira goes inside to open the door for a technician paying a service call. That technician shoots her with a knockout gas gun and reveals himself to be the blue-skinned supervillain Warhawk, an old foe of Iron Fist.
Warhawk is being paid by the Hellfire Club to bug Cerebro and booby-trap the Danger Room in the X-Men’s headquarters. The White Queen telepathically reminds Warhawk that he will only be allowed to retain his sanity, which she has temporarily restored to him, if he succeeds in getting in and out without the X-Men ever knowing he was there.
Outside, the X-Men finish their softball game and head inside for a session in the Danger Room. Jean puts off going along, however and remains with Professor X for a private conversation. She is concerned about the cosmic levels of power she wields now as Phoenix. Even more, the use of her powers is such a rush for her that she fears getting addicted to using them.
Warhawk, unprepared for the X-Men to have come back inside so quickly, takes out Charles and Jean with a knockout gun that goes “phut.” (Deep Cut joke for hardcore X-Men fans.) Meanwhile, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Banshee, Colossus and Nightcrawler are working out in the Danger Room.
The technical sabotage worked by Warhawk causes the Danger Room to amp up to full power and override all safety settings. It runs amok, trying to literally kill the X-Men inside and preventing them from leaving. When Cyclops tries the emergency shutdown button even THAT has been sabotaged and won’t work.
Cyclops orders Nightcrawler to teleport himself and Wolverine outside the Danger Room. Kurt does so, but both of them are out of commission for awhile afterward since this was before Nightcrawler was able to teleport people with him in a painless manner.
Back in the Danger Room, Storm, Banshee, Cyclops and Colossus are struggling against ever-escalating menaces, video game style. Outside the room, Wolverine recovers and then damages the master power to the Danger Room, causing it to shut off. He gets attacked by Warhawk and fights him, with his claws managing to cut through the villain’s steel-hard skin.
The other X-Men burst out of the Danger Room now and surround Warhawk. He tries to use knockout gas on some of them, but Nightcrawler prevents this. Colossus fights Warhawk and knocks him out.
As threatened by the White Queen, Warhawk’s failure causes her to let his mind revert to the insanity he suffered during his first battle with Iron Fist. The madness prevents Professor X from being able to read the villain’s mind to see who sent him and why, but on the plus side his madness prevents him from being able to describe to the arresting police officers that the School for Gifted Youngsters is really the headquarters for the X-Men.
Jean is hopeful that the professor will be able to help her deal with her increased power levels. Wolverine tells his teammates not to worry about who sent Warhawk. He says the X-Men will be able to defeat whoever it was and the others cheerfully agree in Pep Rally fashion.
WELL, THAT’S TWENTY STORIES! I’LL DO ANOTHER ONE OF THESE POSTS SOON.
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