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Super Reads 140 (Fear Itself!)

Mistress of Magnetism!

Back once again, it's the Marvel Zombie report you crave!

Today, we check out Fear Itself: Sin's Past #1, Invincible Iron Man #503 and Blast to the Past for X-Men #49-52.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!


Super Reads 140

I'm not going to lie to you fine readers.  I didn't like these comics and I might be extra cranky about them.  You've been warned!

Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Heroic Age and beyond?  Check no further than this link right HERE.

And now, some reprints of comics that should never, ever have been reprinted.

Fear Itself: Sin's Past #1Fear Itself: Sin's Past #1
Writer: Jim McCann
Artist: Stefano Landini

In this issue:

• Aftermath from Captain America #615.  The Statue of Liberty has a black eye and search teams have found more explosives.

• Commander Steve Rogers recounts the origin of the Red Skull's daughter.

• Flashback-- Skull is going to kill his kid on the Isle of Exiles because she's not a boy.

• She is saved by Sister Superior who believes that something can be made of the daughter of the Red Skull.

• Years later, Sin is killing some dude to impress her father.  This is a sign that the girl is ready for intense brainwashing and quick aging to be the assassin the Red Skull wants.

If you're looking for the origin story for the Red Skull's daughter, Sin, you're looking in the wrong place.  This isn't her first appearance.  This isn't even a MAJOR appearance.  It's really just some random issues with Sin in them as a minor character.

Which is not what she is today.  In fact, before Fear Itself began, Sin was already setting herself up as a major player in the villain game as successor to the Red Skull.  One of her latest schemes was an attempt to kill the current Captain America, James Buchanan Barnes.  This was more complicated than I'm going to go in to, and while it didn't succeed, her real purpose was to give Lady Liberty a black eye.  Literally.

This is the aftermath of that little adventure.  The Statue of Liberty is being searched by authority figures and they find more explosives spread all over the place.  While bomb specialists move in, Commander Steve Rogers broods.  This whole incident frustrates the hell out of him.  He already figures that there's no detonator for those explosives and that the damage done is totally planned.  No-one can understand the daughter of the Red Skull because they don't know her like Steve does...

And: FLASHBACK!

A number of years ago, the Red Skull had a child on the Isle of Exiles.  This was supposed to be his heir but then the baby turned out to be female and disappointment reigned.  The only answer for someone as evil as the Skull is to kill his newborn daughter in a rainstorm.

Stopping him is Mother Night who agrees that this daughter isn't a suitable heir but that doesn't mean she can't be useful.  Night takes over the raising of this girl and makes sure Sin is raised to be particularly vicious.

We try to teach our kids the important lessons in life but then they just kill people indiscriminantly.  Being a father is hard.

So this teenager is already on the crazy murderous side but that's not enough for the Red Skull.  He decides there isn't enough time for her to age normally and learn to be super crazy.  The Skull has Sin artificially aged and brainwashed to be even further indoctrinated by hate and evil.

And that's about as much origin as you're going to get in this issue.  Here on in, you're just going to get some random Cap issues...
 
Captain America #355Captain America #355
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Penciler: Rich Buckler

In this issue:

• Cap is busy with important Avengers paperwork when he gets a call from an ex about her missing teenage sister, hoping that Steve can do something about it.

• Battlestar breaks into Fort George Meade, looking for answers on the faked death of John Walker.  Val Cooper confirms that the death was faked but won't give him any info on Walker's whereabouts.

• Cap learns that there is a spike in the numbers of missing teens and decides the only answer is to BECOME A TEENAGER.  It's this WAY outside-the-box thinking that has made Steve Rogers the expert Avengers leader he is.

• Rogers pays a visit to the Eternal, Sersi, and is turned into a non-Super Soldier Serum enhanced teenager.

• Battlestar visits Sam Wilson and ends up in the middle of a super-powered throwdown involving the Serpent Society.

• Teen Cap pretends to be a runaway and gets taken to a YMCA by two teenage girls.

• This is interspersed with Falcon and Battlestar fighting Serpent Society thugs.

• Steve is knocked unconscious by one of the girls and wakes up later on a bus loaded with other teens.  He realizes that the girls he was hanging with are actually the Sisters of Sin.

You have to love Mark Gruenwald for his meticulous knowledge of Marvel continuity and random trivia.  He also wrote some awesome comics including a Squadron Supreme maxi-series, a brilliant run on Quasar, and presumably some very good Captain America comics.  This right here is NOT one of those comics.  I've actually never found a Cap book penned by Gruenwald that I've really liked even though he was the writer on the book when I first tried it out.  He writes Captain America as an over-grown Boy Scout instead of the World War II vet that most other writers focus on.  Subtlety is also not a strong point in these books.  They hit you straight on the head with all of their points and just in case you missed it the first time, don't worry!  They'll drop the message back into the story a couple pages later.  This is classic "talking down to your readers" storytelling, and it never pleases me.  Except when it does.

I'm complicated.

OK, editorializing is done and it's time to get this thing over with!

Captain America is leader of the Avengers which means he's usually a man of action in the thick of excitement.  Just look at him now.  Doing paperwork with a bunch of computer monitors on in front of him!  Smell the danger!

Before we get to something approaching a plot, we've got to follow up on some earlier stories and establish continuity for other books.  To that end, Steve gets a call from Raymond Sikorsky from the Commission on Super-Human Affairs.  Recently, they made Cap step out of his red, white, and blue suit and put it on a new guy, John Walker.  This ended badly when Walker's secret identity made the rounds.  The new Captain America was killed and Steve Rogers got his old clothes back.  Sikorsky is calling Steve up to tell him that Walker's death was faked and that they'd like to put him in Rogers' "Captain" suit for a run on West Coast Avengers.  It's all about giving Walker a new secret identity and leads right into him being USAgent.  In return, Steve gets the right to be Captain America forever and the new USAgent is being supervised by an Avengers team.  All in all it's a good deal, even though Rogers isn't too happy about the man being an Avenger.

With that bit of housekeeping done, we're free to move right into the actual plot.  Cap gets another call, this time from his ex-fiance, Bernadette Rosenthal.  She's calling because her teenage sister has disappeared and the police haven't done enough to help out.  It's been a month now and Bernie's desperate.  While the Avengers don't usually handle kidnappings, Steve tells his ex that he'll see what his team of computer nerds (from his Captain America Hotline) can come up with.  That'll have to do.

We cut over to Maryland where at Fort George Meade, the costumed hero known as Battlestar is busy breaking in.  Battlestar is Lemar Hoskins and he played Bucky to John Walker's Captain America.  Lemar wasn't in on his partner's faked death but there's enough holes in that story to make him suspicious.  In fact, Battlestar is breaking into this government facility to get proof from Val Cooper herself.

BS fights his way through a couple Guardsmen but the numbers are against him and he's soon forced to surrender.  No worries.  This gets him brought right to Val.  Hoskins demands to know what's going on with John Walker's death. After some argument, Cooper confirms that Walker's death was faked.  She won't tell him where the former Captain America is because, hey, new secret identity!  This isn't good enough for Battlestar, who vows to find out where his old partner went.  Lemar walks out of the fort even though he should have been arrested for breaking into a federal facility.

Steve Rogers is still sitting in front of his array of monitors.  His nerd team has gotten back to him with disappointing news.  It looks like missing teen numbers are way up.  Many reports have last sightings in New York City.  Cap knows he'd never be able to pass for a teenager but still tries to figure out a way to investigate this personally.  His search leads him to the Eternal known as Sersi.

Steve pays a visit to the Eternal the next day and asks her to make him into a teenager for the next two days.  She agrees, but instead of this just being an illusion or a shape-changing stunt, Sersi really DOES de-age Captain America to his fifteen-year-old self.  She even quotes Jambie of Pee Wee's Playhouse fame while casting the spell.  Because that isn't lame.  The problem is Teen Cap isn't powered up by the Super-Soldier Serum.  He's weak, just like he was when he was actually fifteen.  He can't even lift his shield.  Still, it's a great disguise and it's temporary.

Battlestar has driven to NYC in his search for John Walker.  He realizes that he can't do this alone but his contacts in the world of super-heroes, Captain America and D-Man, don't really like him.  His only other choice is to visit the publicly-known hero known as Sam Wilson and hope to make a good first impression.

His arrival is opportune.  Wilson is being threatened by members of the Serpent Society who demand his super-hero suit.

These probably aren't the worst costumes I've ever seen in a comic but they are still pretty bad.

Battlestar enters the fight, distracting the villains long enough for Sam to get into gear as the Falcon!  Wilson's first move is knocking out the whip-wielding Coachwhip.

Elsewhere, the teenage Steve Rogers gets off a bus at the Port Authority and does his best stray teen impression.  This gets him the attention of two teenage girls who tell the young Captain America that they have the perfect place for him to stay.

Back at the Falcon's place, Sam tells Battlestar to stop breaking his furniture.  Lemar leads his sparring partner straight out the window.  They both hit the ground hard, but the Serpent Society goon takes on most of the landing duties.

Rogers and his two lady friends enter a YMCA.  At the counter, Steve puts down a fake name ("Roger" for lack of originality) and heads to his room with these two girls.

And we swing right back to the Serpent Society fight.  Battlestar makes sure his last opponent is still alive (but knocked out) which gets him blindsided by newcomer, Puff Adder.  Hoskins gives as good as he gets, but makes the mistake of lifting the villain over his head.  Puffy starts growing until his weight is too much for Battlestar to hold up.

Over at that YMCA, Steve's new teenage roommates start smoking the marijuana.  When they asks "Roger" if he wants to partake of the weed, Teen Cap starts giving them a lecture on how drugs are bad for them.  He's just that kind of buzz-kill.  Worried about a contact high, Cap tries to open the window but is tripped by one of the girls.  She holds the weakling teenager down and hypnotizes Steve into passing out.

One more scene change, I swear.  At Sam Wilson's apartment, the Falcon notices Battlestar being crushed under the weight of Puff Adder and sends his falcon, Redwing, down to help out.  Redwing almost flies right into the poison breath of the villain but changes course at the last second.  Falcon himself flies down with the still unconscious Coachwhip and uses the villain's whips to startle the gigantic Puff Adder.  Battlestar takes advantage of the situation to shift the Serpent Society member off of him.  A couple swift punches and this fight is over!

The two heroes officially introduce themselves to each other and Battlestar prepares to ask the Falcon for assistance tracking down his ex-partner.

And here's our last scene change of the comic.  Teenager Steve Rogers wakes up on a bus full of teenagers.  He looks to the back of the bus and sees the two girls that apprehended him with a number of other teenage girls.  They send one of the girls up to check on Steve and our Star-Spangled Avenger finally figures out who he's facing.  This girl, Slash, has two robot claw hands.  These are the Sisters of Sin!

Cap only fought them as adults and didn't pay attention when they were reverted to their normal ages.  In fact, the daughter of the Red Skull was one of the girls that brought him to the YMCA!
 
Captain America #356Captain America #356
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Artist: Al Milgrom

In this issue:

• Teen Captain America is dropped off with a bunch of other teenagers at Camp Rage, where they will be taught to channel their hate.

• Steve gets in trouble for sticking up for a girl who doesn't want to get into her box.

• When the Sisters of Sin come to check on him later on, they find Rogers' box empty.  He's actually just holding on above the door and uses their surprise to run away.

• Teen Cap hides in the crowd at a fireside meeting to watch the propaganda being touted.  It's not very focused and is kind of stupid.  It still stirs them into a blind rage and they kill a  member of the Watchdogs.

• Steve Rogers runs off to call the Avengers but ends up rescuing that girl from earlier.  They race off to the main lodge to find a telephone...

• ...and find Sin instead.  She bests Rogers in a fight and brings the two escapees to Mother Night, the camp's director.

• Steve wakes up tied to a post in his Cap uniform.  The villains question him and then they kill the girl he saved.

• Teen Cap is untied and tries to fight all the Sisters of Sin at once.  He loses.  Badly.

They say anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering.  They say a lot of things.  Right now, it's the "hate" thing that we'll be focusing on as Steve Rogers, de-aged to a fifteen-year-old for forty-eight hours, is dropped off with a busload of other teens at their new home: Camp Rage.

The camp's director, Mother Night, gives them the newcomer welcome as the Sisters of Sin line the newbies up.  They're all runaways, and the underlying reason for that is obviously hate.  At Camp Rage (that's where they are now), they'll learn to hate pretty much everything in existance.  Then, they'll learn to lash out with their hatred.

One of these teenagers obviously isn't paying attention to the danger he's in and tries to hit on Mother Night and her crazy double eyebrows.  This gets him beat down hard.  Steve thinks about helping this moron but decides not to break his cover just yet.

No, that happens just a few moments later.  The teenagers are loaded into their rooms for the evening.  These rooms are "outhouse sized" boxes.  One girl protests too much about the living arrangements and is about to get a her very own beating (by Sin, even).  A Boy Scout like Steve could never let an innocent girl get hurt (only boys) and steps in.  Even as a depowered teen, Cap knows a thing or eighteen about hand-to-hand combat.  He just can't get his body to react fast enough.  For his troubles, he only gets swatted once before the Sisters put him into his own box.  They'll handle him later.

The box is dark and too small to lie down properly.  It's also served as a bathroom and not been cleaned out.  Steve recognizes it as part of the programming and conditioning process, and remains alert and active throughout the day he spends in the box.  He even does some exersizing.

When Rogers hears people approaching his box, he holds onto the sides of the cubicle near the top so when they open the door, they don't see him.  That gets a surprised reaction from the Sisters of Sin paying him a visit and they move in to investigate closer.  Cap drops down and kicks the first one into the ground.  He grabs some dirt and tosses it into the eyes of the second Sister.  With the two villains distracted, Steve Races off into the woods.

Teen Cap's first thought is to lose himself in one of those fireside rallies going on right now.  This also gets him a view into what Camp Rage is all about.  I mean, it's about hate but these kids are all fully brainwashed into the message.  When Mother Night asks the crowd who they hate, it's pretty much everyone and everything.

Now, I'm not an expert on channelling hate but I've read about those that are.  Let's take Adolf Hitler since this is a Cap book and just like the internet, everything in a Captain America book inevitably leads right back to the Nazis.  One of the things Hitler did is tell people what they should hate but even more important is whose fault it was.  In the Nazi's case, this came right down to the Jews.  That wouldn't work on this group because it's a multicultural group of runaways; and if you blame it on Jews, you're blaming it on part of the crowd.  In fact, the things these kids mention as "things they hate" are all things that most teenagers dislike.  It's just that Mother Night hasn't gotten around to give this group any focus or scapegoat so they could easily turn on her if it wasn't for all the brainwashing.

There's also a lot of mention on how drugs and casual sex are the right of every young person and anyone denying them either of these things is completely wrong and must be destroyed.  Really, it looks like Mother Night is less interested in creating an army and more concerned with ruining the lives of runaway American teenagers.  Which is possibly a deadly blow to the country, I guess, but this is a lot of effort into making angry teenagers more angry.  She's making violent hippies and that's terrible.

As a capper to this fireside youth rally, Mother Night brings out someone to blame: a member of the Right Wing group, the Watchdogs.  This is a man who is keeping these kids away from drugs and sex.  The crowd goes into a frenzy and rushes this dude, attacking him and throwing him right into the fire.  Teen Cap watches this all, helplessly.

Well, that's enough of that horror, Steve gets back to his feet and decides it's time to find a phone so he can get ahold of the Avengers and end this adventure.  He still hasn't seen any sign of Bernie's teenage sister but maybe they'll find something after busting the place wide open.

In his search for a phone, Cap backtracks to the boxes containing all the other newcomers.  In one box, Steve hears the girl he rescued earlier crying and screaming to be let out.  This all has to do with some punishment her father used to do to her and the details are vague but still disturbing.  Anyway, she's causing more of a disturbance than the others and Teen Cap can't leave her without assuring the teenager that help is on the way.  He opens up her box and tells the girl, Jennifer, that he's going to get help and that it's best to remain in the box for now.  That's not going to fly, of course.  She begs him to let her come with and Steve can't really refuse.  For a moment, he considers freeing everyone but is worried that someone will get hurt in the escape attempt.

Jennifer and Cap race off until they find the main lodge.  Surely there's a phone inside!  Steve tells Jenny to wait in the woods and breaks in to the lodge.  No sooner does he locate the phone than Jennifer enters the room.  Rogers yells at her for not following orders but she tells him that there was someone entering the lodge and she wanted to warn him.

The warning comes far too late.  The person who entered the main lodge is the daughter of the Red Skull.  Sin.  Cap faces off against the teenage girl assassin but, again, his body isn't listening to instructions very well.  Cap is bested and tries to fake passing out.  Sin doesn't believe him, knocking him on the head with her bo staff.  NOW, he's knocked out.

Steve wakes up to find himself dressed in his Cap uniform and tied to a pole.  Jennifer didn't escape.  She's tied to a chair.

I hear open hunting on cosplayers coincides with San Diego Comic Con.  You've been warned.

Just underneath Steve's trenchcoat, he wore a good portion of his Captain America suit.  The rest was hidden on him.  When they searched his body, they found it and put him in it.

The Sisters of Sin, Mother Night, and Night's partner, Malachi, still don't realize that they're facing the real Captain America yet but they DO want to know why this kid had a full Captain America uniform on him.  To find out, they Malachi starts beating the details out of Teen Cap.  About here Rogers realizes that he's fought Mother Night and Malachi before, way back in Captain America #123.  At the time, they were known as Scarbo and Suprema.  I just leafed over that issue and, yep, it's totally them right down to Mother Night's double eyebrows.

Since this physical violence isn't doing the trick, Mother Night resorts to truth serum.  Steve knows how to fight this stuff and for the first time this issue, his body goes along with him.  He feeds them a story about him being one of the Captain America Hotliners and how he was looking for a friend when he got taken.  The group decides he's not a huge security risk but not worth the trouble converting.  He's about to go the same way that Watchdog did earlier at the campfire until the Sin pleads to kill the kid right now.

As an appetizer, Hoodwink snaps Jennifers neck.  It's violent and startling that it happened in a Captain America comic.  It also gets Teen Cap raging mad, especially when the bad guys all laugh like this was a joke.  When they untie him, he decides to take on all of the Sisters of Sin at once.

Ooooooh yeah... this doesn't end well.  If Cap couldn't fight one member of the Sisters in his current form, the whole lot of them isn't good odds.  Steve gets pummeled from one end of the room to the other but to his credit, he doesn't cry out in pain.  He goes down fighting but he goes down, nonetheless.

One of the Sisters lifts him up by the cowl and prepares to end this permanently.
 
 Captain America #357Captain America #357
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Artist: Al Milgrom

In this issue:

• Everyone fights about who will kill Steve Rogers.  Eventually, they agree to do it together but after getting pummeled a bit more, he reverts to his adult form ahead of schedule and starts handing out some payback.

• Everyone leaves to begin evacuating except for Malachi.  He sticks out to fight Captain America.  Steve wins this fight and then learns that the presumed death of Jennifer was only an illusion.

• Cap races around the camp, looking for Mother Night.  He finds her loading up a bus of kids and chokes her.

• He then gives a speech about how it's better to be happy than a hater.

• After the adventure is done, Steve visits Sersi and learns that she put a safeguard on him that would revert him to his normal age if he was beaten a certain amount.
• She then plays footsie with him.

This is just a quick twelve pages from Cap #357 so we should be out of this with only a little bit of crying.

Cap is about to be killed until the Sisters of Sin realize that each wants to do the killing personally instead of just watching.  They argue about who has the right to kill Captain America until Malachi breaks up the fight and asks Captain America which girl he wants to be killed by.  Rogers gets to his feet and says he'll take them all on.

This goes about as well as it did last issue.  The girls move in and just start beating him with brutality.  And then, suddenly, they aren't doing that anymore.  No, they're getting knocked around instead.  When all the girls have fallen, out walks a fully adult Captain America.

If you're wondering, the two days isn't up yet.  Steve wasn't expecting to revert to his adult self for another nine hours and change.  Still, this is a big advantage and he'll take it.

Mother Night and Malachi, who were watching from a distance, realize the trouble they're in and move right into action.  Night and the Sisters leave to start evacuating.  Malachi sticks around to slow down the Avenger and maybe kill him.  Yeah... maybe.  Malachi is more trained up than he was way back in Cap #123 but Cap is still the better fighter even without his mighty shield.  After knocking the villain down, Steve wraps up his hands and legs in an electric cord.

To take away the one surprising thing that happened last issue, it turns out Jennifer is alive and well... if freaked out.  Her neck was never snapped.  That was all an illusion on Hoodwink's part.  Steve unties the girl but tells her that this lodge is the safest place to be as he mops up the bad guys.  Her questions will be answered later.

With that done, Captain America races off into the woods to put an end to Camp Rage.  He finds teenagers running everywhere.  While he's not sure if these are the fully converted followers of Mother Night or some of the newcomers, we're pretty sure that most of them are all in this game.  Steve grabs one of the indoctrinated ones and demands to know where Mother Night is.  This kid isn't going to talk so Rogers tosses him away and keeps moving.

The teenagers are all getting on buses that are probably bringing them to other Camps.  Night is leading the evac effort until Cap finds her.  She orders the teenagers to attack him but the Avenger wades through the crowd pretty easily.  Heck, he's not even hurting the kids and it looks like nothing can stop him.

Mother Night tries a hypnotism maneuver and fades into the night itself but Steve was prepared for this and didn't look at her when the hypnotism went down.  He reaches into the "darkness", grabbing the villainess by the neck, choking her until she passes out.

Man, that was... kind of wrong even though this is a bad guy.  Hell, have you seen how many times people have been knocked unconscious in these three comics?  It happens every four pages.  At least no-one got amnesia.

With Mother Night defeated, Captain America does his best to turn her brainwashing around.

Nailed it.

When all is said and done, only a third of the camp's residents are rounded up.  That means a lot of buses got away.  Add to that Mother Night's speech about there being more camps just like this one all around the country and each one churning out hating time-bomb teenagers. You can see what a problem this is.  At least Malachi and Mother Night are apprehended.  The rest of the Sisters of Sin got away with the campers.

Steve catches up with Jennifer and tells her the short version on what happened.  It's not inspiring, but he DID promise to fill her in.

All that trouble and Bernadette Rosenthal's sister wasn't found at this camp.  In fact, she wasn't picked up by Sin and her cronies.  Bernie tells Cap that the girl returned home with her boyfriend with a story about taking part in the Grateful Dead tour.  This probably means they got in a lot of illegal drugs and premarital sex but probably didn't get indoctrinated into a dangerous cult.  Probably.

The only mystery left to solve this issue is how Steve became an adult nine hours ahead of schedule.  He meets with Sersi and learns that she set up a safeguard just incase Rogers was getting pummelled by bad guys.  If he got hit fifty times, he's change back into the Captain America we know and love.  Well, that solves that.

Steve asks what he needs to do in payment for Sersi's spell.  The Eternal starts running her foot up Rogers' leg and talks about the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  Nervous Cap is nervous.

Writer: Jim McCann
Artist: Stefano Landini

In this issue:

• Steve continues the history lesson on Sin leading right up to the present day.

• We focus right on the black eye of  the Statue of Liberty, and Steve talks about finding the daughter of the Red Skull before it's too late.

We're back in the present where Commander Rogers follows up on this tale of his past adventures by bringing us up to date on what's gone on with Sin since.

It's quick so I'll try to be quicker.  Sin was caught by SHIELD and they attempted to brainwash her into being a normal teenage girl.  This kept until Crossbones broke into the SHIELD facility and escaped with her.  After a severe degree of torture, the old Sin reappeared and the two went on a killing spree across the United States.  In Captain America Reborn, Sin's face was disfigured in a giant explosion, birthing a brand new Red Skull.

What's gone on since then has seriously rattled the former Captain America in a way that the Red Skull didn't.  Maybe it's the recklessness of it all.  Maybe it's the killing spree.  Maybe it's because this is a Fear Itself tie-in.  Whatever it is (it's the last one), Steve needs to act.  He calls up Tony "Iron Man" Stark and has the Avengers meet.  As we focus on the black eye on the Statue of Liberty, Steve's internal monologue tells us that he needs to find the daughter of the Red Skull before things get worse.

Well, he doesn't find her.  Things get worse.


Invincible Iron Man #503Invincible Iron Man #503
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca

In this issue:

• In the past, Otto Octavius bests Tony Stark in the arms game.

• In the present, Otto Octavius bests Tony Stark in the "tell me I'm better than you" game.

• Pepper Potts chases down Sandman and Electro and fails to capture them.

• Stark Resilient brings the proposal to rebuild Asgard to Thor and the Aesir.  They accept.

• Dr. Octopus watches the tape of himself pwning Tony Stark.  We all cringe.  A hammer lands in NYC.

• The members of Stark Resilient grumble over the project being taken out of their hands and put into the hands of the Avengers.  Another hammer streaks across the sky.

While this is a Fear Itself tie-in, it's also part three of a Doctor Octopus story.  Let me catch you up to speed on everyone.  Doctor Octavius is dying from repeated head trauma.  He's brought the issue to Tony Stark in the hopes that Stark won't be able to solve the problem and will admit to failure.  To provoke Iron Man to even look at this issue, Otto has a nuclear bomb rigged to go off.  To up the ante further, two of his cohorts, Sandman and Electro, put Stark Resilient employee Tim Cababa under house arrest and were ordered to kill the man if they hadn't heard from Octavius at scheduled intervals.  Pepper Potts interrupted this plan by checking on Tim and starting a big fight over the issue.  Then, just to confuse things further, Mr. Pimacher shows up with a beer and pizza looking for some love.  Everything goes crazy and Cababa gets seriously injured.

In our A Story, Dr. Octopus decides he's rather blow up New York than get help from the Avengers (mostly Tony Stark), and activates his explosive device.

And we're all caught up.  Seriously, not much has actually happened.  If it feels like they just stretched one issue over the course of three, well, you're in the same boat I am.  Decompression, but NOT at its finest.  This issue right here?  It's the exact opposite of how you'd want a story you'd invested twelve dollars (and tax) in to end.  But more on that later.

First we get to our retcon flashback that tries to tell us why we care about Doctor Octopus and Tony Stark fighting.  This has also been going on since the start of this particular story, and it's terrible.  It paints the scientist Doctor Octavius into the war category, and makes Tony look like an even worse businessman than he is in the present (and he's a pretty bad businessman in the present).  Otto Octavius was an atomic researcher, which means he might have been involved in making nuclear bombs, but mostly he just did scientific stuff.  Tony Stark might have had problems with his business but it wasn't because he didn't know what he was doing.  It was mostly because his security was crap.

Still, this takes place before either of these two became the super-powered individuals that they are today.  It's an unnecessary way to connect two characters who haven't shared very much panel time in the last forty years but this story is kind of useless without it.  I guess if you can't find a logical reason for two characters to meet up, you alter their backstory to make it work instead of actually working with the material you're given.

ANYWAY, Tony's drunk on the beach after making an @$ of himself at this arms summit.  Otto comes out to talk to him with a beautiful woman on his arms.  He tells Tony that all Stark's brilliance won't get him anywhere unless he knows how to play the game.  Take Octavius for example.  He had this woman on his arm sleep with a bunch of people at the summit to win contracts.  That's right.  She's a hooker.  Octavius tells Stark that you have to "cheat to win."

This leads to a Doc Ock in the present who suddenly hates Tony Stark for being smarter than him and for never admitting defeat.  Or something.  Octavius is crazy on his best days so maybe he just remembered that his past had been retconned to have this random throwaway past experience with Tony Stark that really shouldn't lead to any grudge.  This is becoming a thing with me, isn't it?  OK.  I'll just say one more time that the flashback is stupid and be done with it.

The flashback was stupid.  Moving on...

It's the present again, and Doctor Octopus has just started a countdown for a giant thermo-nuclear device to detonate in the heart of New York City.  Ock doesn't seem too worried that he'll go up in the explosion, probably because his life is kind of drawing to a close due to too many head injuries.  When Tony tries to disarm the bomb, Octavius attacks him.  It's finally fighting time for a minute!  Stark swings around and elbows Otto in the back of the head, delivering yet another head injury and putting more pressure on some neck bones in the process.  Then he gets back to work.

In Broxton, OK, Pepper, Pimacher, and Tim Cababa hang out in a dark room in the aftermath of a super-villain attack.  Cababa is badly hurt and Pim is tending to his boyfriend with tears in his eyes.  Pepper runs out to deal with the bad guys, armed with the knowledge that "sand can conduct electricity."

Sandman and Electro look like they're making their getaway when Pepper Potts hits the scene.  She's not in her Rescue armor but she's got some abilities without it.  Potts fumbles off some attempt at entry lines and then the fight is on.

Which means it's time to switch scenes.  Doctor Octopus has attacked Iron Man again but Shellhead fends him off once more so that he can get a good look at the bomb.  Stark removes the outer panel and gets a good look at the timer.  Tony thinks he has a chance until the timer goes from "4:02" to "2:01" in one panel.

With no time to lose, Tony Stark gets rid of his helmet and really starts groveling.  I mean he starts kissing Otto's @$$ like he has no shame and doesn't know what pride would look like if you showed him a picture.

Whatever it takes to get you through a stupid story arc, I suppose.

This is all forgivable behavior, of course.  Stark is saving lives and the fact that he can suck it up and do something so humiliating is probably a good character trait.  Wait for it...

Otto relents and says he won't blow up the New York area in a fiery explosion.  He doesn't turn off the bomb, though, because it's not real.  There's a nuclear device but there's no igniter.  Tony just got duped.  Again, all readings pointed to this being an actual bomb so, again, perfectly understandable that Iron Man fell for it.  Wait for it...

Tony fights Otto about him saying there was an actual bomb, but Doc Ock just says he probably lied and repeats the line "Cheat to win" before leaving.  Yep.  He just leaves.  Even though he has no threat to hold over Tony's head, Stark just lets Doctor Octopus leave.  That just happened.

Now, maybe Tony is still worried about the safety of Tim Cababa since he hasn't gotten a report back on that situation.  I don't know.  All I know is that there better be some tracking device put on Dr. Octopus's ship otherwise Iron Man is dong a terrible job.

And now for the gigantic rant.  If you don't want to read about me complaining about the current Iron Man, skip ahead until I tell you I've stopped.

Since The Invincible Iron Man relaunched in 2008, Tony has won, like, one fight and that was in Iron Man 500 against stupid terrorists (he also got rid of the Ghost by sending the Thunderbolt through a cell phone but it wasn't an actual FIGHT).  During World's Most Wanted, this was fine because the whole concept was "Run, Tony, Run."  Now, he's got a shiny new suit of armor and either has incomplete battles or is saved outright by other people.  It's getting ridiculous.  Sometimes you just want to see one solid win.  Just one.  This book just isn't satisfying and if I didn't love Iron Man so much I'd just read his adventures in the Avengers.

But I do love the character so I'll stick with the book.  For now.  You're on notice, Fraction!

OK, rant over.  Let's return to the action, such as it is.

While we've been focusing on Tony getting made a fool out of, Pepper Potts has been attacking Sandman and Electro.  Her forcefield somehow expels the villains in opposite directions and when the smoke clears, they're gone.  Pepper vows to become a better hero.

An ambulance takes Tim Cababa to the hospital.

Tony meets up with Pepper at the motel as a repair crew takes care of the damages.  Pepper catches him up on all the office gossip he's missed... and the super-villain fight.  She tells him how Pimacher stepped up and attacked Sandman and Electro which doesn't surprise Tony since Pim was in the Army Corps of Engineers... then he remembers that he's still got Spymaster hiding somewhere in Stark Resilient and recalls that Dr. Octopus said that his spy would "show some value and then cast doubt on himself."

This is just messing with Tony's head and the only real answer is to start pulling rubber masks off his employees until he finds the spy he's looking for.

When Stark learns that Cababa is ok and only has a concussion, he thinks that it's good news because they can deliver the Stark Resilient plans to the Asgardians and not mess with their timetable.  Pepper can't believe this guy but Tony is oblivious to his failings as a human being.  It sucks when you're focused.

A very minor plot going on here is the plans Stark Resilient has to rebuild Asgard as a fully Repulsor-powered city of the future.  Tony brings the plan and designs to Thor and the other leading Asgardians.  Since they've opted to remain on earth, Tony thinks the city should be built with the help of mankind.  If not Resilient, then someone else but make it humans.  The three Asgardians think it over and then whisper their answer to Thor.  Long story short, Resilient is put in charge of rebuilding the city of the gods.

If you've read Fear Itself #1, you know it doesn't actually go down in the end but the thought is there and it makes this issue tie-in to the main series.

In his secret bunker, Doctor Octopus keeps going over the tape of Tony Stark begging him to save the city.  Like a dog.  Over and over, Otto watches this clip like a guy who has only won one fight in his life.  Suddenly, his sensors pick up one of the hammers summoned in Fear Itself #1 as it streaks through the sky and lands in New York City.  Doc Ock doesn't know what it is but he's intrigued.

Over in Broxton, Tim Cababa, Pimacher, and Pepper Potts sit in a hotel room.  Cababa is griping because this project to build a new Asgard that he'd been working on for so long has been taken away from him and given to the Avengers.  Pepper tells Tim that there will be other projects to gain fame and recognition with.  This one needed to establish good will for the world.

It didn't work, of course.  The world is about to go very, very wrong.  Pimacher calls them over to the window as lights fill up the sky.  This is either another hammer striking the earth or, given their proximity to fallen Asgard, it's the gods leaving.  Either way, it's trouble.

 Expect to see Iron Man groveling again soon.


X-Men #49X-Men #49
Writer: Arnold Drake
Pencilers: Don Heck & Werner Roth

In this story:

• Angel returns to the X-Mansion just as Cerebro starts going off the hook.  He telepathically contacts Jean Grey who hooks him up with the rest of the X-Men.

• This endangers Beast's life because he's skydiving at the time.

• At a nearby San Francisco mansion, Mesmero summons the latent mutants.  They come from all over the world, enticed into a hypnotic state.

• One of them is Lorna Dane, who almost gets hit by a car in her trance.  She's saved by Iceman.  Bobby brings the girl to his apartment because she's not from San Fran... and maybe he's looking to score later.  Lots of reasons.

• The X-Men show up and search the area for whatever mutant set off Cerebro.  Beast stays home and works on a portable version of the mutant locator.  The X-Men run into some of Mesmero's mutant followers.

• Lorna wakes up from a nap and sees Beast in full costume.  That's ok because he sees her natural green hair.

• With the portable Cerebro built, the X-Men return to Hank and Bobby's apartment to really begin this thing.  Lorna is found to be a latent mutant so Iceman sticks around to guard her.

• As soon as the X-Men fly off, Mesmero and his mutant minions show up to acquire Lorna because she's their queen.

October 1968!  Other books on the stands were Amazing Spider-Man #65, Fantastic Four #78, Captain America #106, Incredible Hulk #108, and Iron Man #6.  Avengers #57 also came out with the first appearance of the Vision... but more on him later.  Today, we're talking Lorna Dane!  She was pretty much codename-less at this point in time and even when she got all dressed up for a super-villain party, she didn't have any special name.  She got the name we know and love her by in 1975 with Giant-Size X-Men #1: Polaris.  Her powers have changed over the years but she usually ends up with some form of magnetic manipulation.

And this is her story.

Let's look at where the X-Men were at the time.  Well, truth be told, they weren't much of anything.  With the death of Professor Xavier (actually the Changeling), the FBI had forced the team to disband, sending them across the county to fight evil mutants individually or in pairs.  This was a bad idea and most of the team knew that.  Still, they were good mutants and that meant being government lackeys.  The team was still spread out over the country when the Angel checked in at the old X-Mansion.

Xavier's family estate has been vacated and mothballed for months at this point.  Warren doesn't show up here for any particular reason.  He looks to be mostly nostalgic for the good old days.  An alarm breaks his silent reverie and he flies around, looking for the source.  He finds it in Provessor X's own private rooms.  It's Cerebro and it's going wild detecting a whole lot of mutants converging on a single area: San Francisco!

Now, this isn't the modern day so he's not picking up the migration of the remaining mutants to Utopia.  This is something else.  Something... sinister.  With so many mutants in one place, Warren Worthington III finally has a reason to get the band back together.  He shouts in his brain until Jean Grey, with newly emerged psychic abilities, hears him and conferences in the rest of the X-Men.  Her power isn't to full strength yet so she can only hook up the X-Men with a high capacity for psychic reception.  That SHOULD mean bouncing Hank McCoy but he's not paying her much attention.

And that's because he's dropping out of the sky with Bobby Drake.  They've become stunt men or something.  Right now, the duo is jumping out of a perfectly good airplane to parachute down.

Artistic inconsistancies.

Getting in on the telepathic conference call actually distracts Hank so much that he doesn't pull his chute in time to make a safe landing.  Not to worry.  Iceman creates an ice clamp to slow his buddy down and a mutant life is saved.  Jean isn't in on this and just wonders why Beast was talking to her and then just hung up his mental phone so suddenly.

But on to the evil mutant business!  In another part of San Francisco, at an old mansion, the disciples of Magneto are meeting.  Their leader?  It's not Mags.  Magneto was actually "killed" in Avengers #53.  This is his greatest follower.

No, it's not the Toad.  It's Mesmero!  It's his first appearance so don't feel bad!

Just a little while ago, Magneto was trying to lure Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch back into the fold because of some attempt at restarting the Brotherhood.  Now, we learn that he had a whole lot of other followers that no-one's ever seen before.  It's quite possible that Magneto never even knew about these guys.  More on that later.

Right now, Mesmero continues to build his army.  He turns on a machine that will summon all of the latent mutants subconsciously to San Francisco!  It's pure EVIL!

Throughout the country, those people that don't have mutant powers but could POTENTIALLY have them are called to San Fran.  They all come in their hypnotic state, hardly paying attention to where they're going.  So, basically like any other drunk driver.  Once of these latent mutants is a cute brunette who walks into traffic without really caring.  Fortunately, she's in San Francisco and even more fortunate is the fact that Bobby Drake is done with his job leaping out of planes and causes her to slip on some ice to get out of the way of a car.  It sounds crazy because it is!

This sudden shock wakes the girl out of her trance and she finds herself in Bobby's arms with no idea how she got to San Francisco.  She tells the young mutant that her name is Lorna Dane.  Since she's so far from home, Drake offers to put her up at his place.

In New York, the rest of the X-Men are joining up.  Angel got his hands on an Avengers transport jet (they hadn't started with the Quinjets yet).  They make a quick flight over to San Francisco to face whatever mutant thread that's there and to meet up with Hank and Bobby.

Hank is pissed at his friend for inviting a girl back to their place.  For one, if he isn't getting any, then Bobby shouldn't be either.  For another, Drake knew that the rest of the X-Men were coming over and you KNOW they're going to show up in full costume.  Bobby plans on waking Lorna up before the others arrive but it's too late now.  Here they are.

And just like that, the X-Men are back together again!  Woo!

The team knows that there's a high concentration of mutants in the city but they don't know WHERE these mutants are.  While Hank puts the finishing touches together on a portable Cerebro unit, the rest of the team joyrides around town "investigating."  Lorna is left to sleep since she's not going to see any costumes with the X-Men gone.

With a luck that can only happen in comic books, the X-Men happen upon a squad of costumed individuals and guess rightly that they've found some of those mutants!  These followers of Magneto turn and attack the team but don't expect a wide variety of powers on display from the mutant army.  They all use hand blasters instead of flashy mutant powers.  The X-Men are a little rusty at this teamwork thing but it turns out that it's just like riding a bicycle.  Soon, they're covering each other's backs like they were never disbanded.  There's still a degree of luck involved and that luck runs out as the last evil mutant falls, when one stray shot wings Angel.  Warren isn't permanently hurt but he did scare the rest of the team for a moment there.

Back at Bobby and Hank's apartment, McCoy has put on his X-Men costume for NO GOOD REASON.  He wasn't wearing it when we saw him last and the only reason he would put the thing on is so that Lorna would see it when she woke up.  That's exactly what happens.  Beast pretends he's off to a costume party and the young lady falls for it.  It's not like she doesn't have her own secrets.  It looks like she hit the shower before walking out of Bobby's room which explains why she's wearing the towel.  It also explains why her hair is green.  No, she didn't just go in and color it.  This is the result of the brown hair coloring washing out.  She swears Hank to secrecy just as the rest of the X-Men show up.

That's going to be harder to cover for and Hank doesn't see the need.  Lorna's hair is a visible indicator that she's a latent mutant so this is soon to become her fight.  Hank's got the portable mutant detector up and running and the team makes ready to find out just what is going on in San Francisco.  Iceman is left behind to protect Lorna though they still don't share the fact that beneath that icy exterior is Bobby Drake.  Secrets are awesome.

As the X-Men fly off, Cyclops has a feeling that they just left Iceman and Lorna to the wolves.  It turns out he's right.  Mesmero himself and a couple of minions charge into the place.  For some reason, Beast's portable Cerebro doesn't track them... or maybe they just figure it's just detecting Bobby and Lorna.  The thing might not be the height of accuracy.  Anyway, no help is coming.  It's Iceman versus a platoon of evil mutants.

He holds his own for a while but Mesmero ends things.  Using his mutant ability to control bodies, Mesmero takes over Iceman and stops the X-Man's attack.  The bad guy talks about how awesome it'll be to have "the M-II weapon" before moving on to Lorna Dane.  She panics and tries to back away from the evil mutants but it's no use.  They've got her.

Instead of taking her prisoner, though, they fall down and bow at her feet.  Even Mesmero.  Lorna and Bobby don't know what to do about this but look confused.


X-Men #50X-Men #50
Writer: Arnold Drake
Penciler: Jim Steranko

In this story:

• Mesmero's goons pack Iceman and Lorna into crates and bring them off to the CITY OF MUTANTS!

• Once there, they hook Dane up to a machine and draw out her latent mutant powers.

• The X-Men attack Mesmero's previous hideout, that mansion from last issue.  After some fighting, the team is captured.  The evil mutants bring them to their city.

• Lorna emerges from the machine with a new costume and magnetic powers.  Mesmero declares her the daughter of Magneto.

• Iceman breaks out of his containment chair.  Mesmero tells Lorna to kill the X-Men but she attacks the evil mutants instead, freeing the rest of the X-Men at the same time.

• Before the X-Men can attack Mesmero, they're stopped by someone else's magnetic abilities.

• It's not Lorna.  It's Magneto... or a reasonable facsimile.

Hey!  It's the fiftieth issue of the X-Men!  You know what that means!  No, not a double-sized offering of mutant mania with a holofoil cover.  It means NEW LOGO.  Look at that thing.  It replaced the original logo and has pretty much been the standard ever since.  The original logo came back in slightly altered form for the Age of Apocalypse storyline and now graces the covers of the adjectiveless X-Men book.  The rest of the titles uses a variation of this one because it's pretty awesome.

The other change this issue is a brand new penciler.  Jim Steranko.  You might know him better for his work on SHIELD, but he did the rounds on a variety of Marvel titles.  This work came out at the tale end of his run on Nick Fury/SHIELD.  Steranko didn't stick around long but the change in the comic is definite.  The dude had a style and it's unmistakeable.

But we left Iceman and Lorna surrounded by enemies that were worshipping the green haired girl and that just won't do.  This issue, we catch up on that scene but we see it through Lorna's eyes.  Iceman is already immobile, through the power of Mesmero.  Once Lorna looks at him, she finds that she can't move either.  Mesmero's minions pack the two into caskets and take them out of the apartment without drawing any unnecessary attention. This means that they change out of their super-villain clothes but judging by the rocket car they load the two mutants into... I doubt it makes a difference.

So, yeah, they probably get noticed but this is San Francisco and the residents might just think these undertakers are letting their freak flag fly and let them off on principle.  Lugging two bodies around might have been a bit too much.

Mesmero doesn't take the two back to his mansion, though.  No, that base has served its purpose.  Now, it's time to drive right to the City of Mutants.  You can tell because someone wrote it in a mountain.

No one will know that our secret city is here!  Bwahahaha!!!

Mesmero gets back into his mutant suit and orders Lorna hooked up to the mutant energy stimulator.  It's time to make a LATENT mutant a full on mutant.

We left the rest of the mutants following the unmistakeable signal of mutants given off by their portable Cerebro.  It doesn't bring them to the mutant city but is DOES lead them right to Mesmero's mansion.  Inside are more evil mutants who use guns rather than their mutant abilities.  The X-Men note this, but the battle is too quick paced to figure out that mystery.

In the middle of the fight with these mutants, Marvel Girl gets a telepathic alarm, telling her that Iceman has been taken prisoner.  She can't track Iceman's location so she comes up with a wacky plan.  If they get themselves CAPTURED, they'll end up with Iceman and then it's just a matter of one of them getting free and they'll win the day!  It's foolproof!  Or full of fools... I forget which.

So that's what they do.  Yep.  That solid plan to throw a fight and put themselves at the mercy of their enemies was the best plan anyone could come up with to find Iceman and Lorna.  Go team.

Back at the city of mutants, Lorna is still getting powered up by the mutant energy stimulator.  Iceman, still controlled by Mesmero, is strapped to a bed that will kill him if he attempts to escape.  Mesmero allows the X-Man to watch as Lorna's transformation is completed.  She emerges from the machine out of her street clothes, clothed in a suit more appropriate for... the DAUGHTER OF MAGNETO!

That's what Mesmero declares her and she instantly acknowledges how true it sounds.  She feels like the Queen of Mutants and acts accordingly.

At the same time, the rest of the X-Men are carted in to pay homage to their new ruler.  For some reason, the evil mutants decided to bring in the X-Men in without shackles on.  They have no reason not to just attack except for fear that Iceman, who's actually in danger, would suffer for it.  Jean gets rid of that danger by mentally breaking through Mesmero's hold on Bobby.  Free to act, Iceman shuts down the machine with his control of temperature and escapes.  Yeah, that death trap wasn't well built.

Mesmero senses losing control of the icy X-Man but isn't concerned.  He tells his new Queen to kill the X-Men where they stand.  Lorna raises her hands in the air and unleashes a magnetic volley...

On the bad guys.  That's right!  Dane is on the side of the angels and was just waiting for an opportunity to help out.  With the effort, Lorna passes out for a moment.  The X-Men fill in the gap and try to defeat the last evil mutant standing.  That's right, it's Mesmero.

Before they can attack, a metal wall rises up to stop them.  Since this isn't Lorna's doing, there's only one answer.

Magneto has returned.


X-Men #51X-Men #51
Writer: Arnold Drake
Pencilers: Werner Roth & Jim Steranko

In this story:

• Iceman tells Lorna the truth about her father.  Bobby's ready to throw down with Magneto one-on-one, but the X-Men hold him back.

• Then, convinced that Iceman won't back down, Cyclops leads the charge against Magneto.  The rest of the evil mutants join the fight.

• Completely outnumbered, the X-Men decide that a strategic withdrawal might be a good plan.  Even that proves a challenge because Mags doesn't want them to leave alive.

• Cyclops brings down the roof, crushing Magneto's legs.  Lorna sticks around to assist her dead-beat father.  The rest of the X-Men run away.

• When they're back at Bobby and Hank's place, Scott takes Iceman off this mission because of his emotional connection to Lorna.  They almost get in a fist fight but Bobby storms off instead.

• Erik the Red shows up at the City of Mutants.

Magneto is back and claims Lorna Dane as his daughter.  Magnus probably didn't reveal himself earlier to avoid all those child-support payments.  He tells her that she can share in the rule of the world.

Mags gives no explanation on how he survived the destruction of his base in Avengers #53.  This is strange in a time when such explanations were pretty much mandatory.  There's a good reason for that, but the original creative team probably didn't imagine it.  While Magneto DID survive Avengers #53, THIS Magneto didn't.  This dude turns out to be a robot which is a couple steps above being a clone.  It's not revealed in THIS story, though.  When Roy Thomas took over the title again with artist Neal Adams, it's almost a side-note reveal in the Return of the Sentinels story.  Thomas and Adams had other plans for the Master of Magnetism and he had to get rid of THIS version to make it work.

But that's enough of that.  For now, we'll just pretend that this is the real Magneto because that's who he was intended to be.  Well, if I can make a joke out of him being a robot...

So Mags claims Lorna as his daughter and promises her the power that would come from her dad ruling the world.  With an offer like that on the table, the X-Men can't see why she'd refuse.  To put some holes in Magneto's offer, Iceman tells the girl he's infatuated with that her daddy's a megalomaniac, attempted world conqueror, and just not a very nice guy.  Then he challenges the mutant despot to a fight.  Just the two of them.

C'mon.  You're curious, too.

The rest of the X-Men hold back Bobby, even though some of them would like a shot at the Master of Magnetism one-on-one style as well.  After making sure that Drake won't back down from this fight, Cyclops leads the charge against the head evil mutant.  Which is kind of the X-Men's job so you wonder why there was so much debate over the issue.

It looks like the rest of the evil mutants have recovered from Lorna's attack last issue.  They counter attack with Mesmero.  Again, the X-Men are outnumbered and overpowered.  Heck, just taking on Magneto would be trouble enough.  The army of mutants just makes the odds ridiculous.

Priorities.  Iceman races in and scoops up his lady friend, Lorna.  Ms. Dane doesn't know why this X-Man is paying such special attention to her.  He still hasn't revealed that he's Bobby Drake and even if he had, the two have only known each other for about fifteen minutes.  Ah, teenage love...

Bobby's romantic tendencies will have to wait.  Right now his talents are needed on the battlefield.  Iceman puts Lorna down and returns to the battle, blanketing the evil mutants in a sheet of ice.  This prevents them from moving around but the bad guys are still able to fire their weapons at the X-Men.  It also severly weakens Drake, so he's out of the fight for now.

It wasn't all-inclusive, either.  Cyclops is attacked by a trio of baddies who weren't hit by Iceman's special attack.  They clamp special headgear on Scott's to prevent those concussive blasts from doing much of anything.  This happens ALL THE TIME.  It lasts about as long as it always does.  If the blocker isn't ruby crystal, it isn't going to work.  Summers blasts it off within one page.

After a little trash talk, Magneto magnetically picks up every loose bit of metal in the complex and rains them down on his enemies.  Beast is able to get under Jean's TK shield with the still recovering Iceman.  Angel, still airborn, isn't as lucky.  Warren's pummelled by the metal projectiles.  Cyclops calls Angel over before it's too late, and uses his optic blasts to keep the sky around them clear.  This is hard work but Scott Summers keeps the trash talk coming while he does it.

The X-Men defences start dropping.  Marvel Girl's shields fail first and the metal starts pouring in.  The X-Men finally conclude that this isn't a fight they can win and decide to make their getaway.

Too late.  The evil mutants have formed a human chain around the battle.  Summers gives one mutant a punch only to have his fist fly right back at him.  That's this mutant's power but there's more.  Linked as they are, the evil mutants share powers.  No link in the chain is any weaker than another.  It also extends to the ceiling.  No way out!

Well, one way out.  Cyclops blasts the roof, bringing it down on Magneto and breaking the villain's leg, even if they're only robot legs.  Something like this is bound to distract Magneto's disciples.  The X-Men retreat while the bad guys are trying to rescue their master.

You know who's not joining them?  Lorna Dane.  She might not truck with all the evil but Magneto is STILL her father and she's got a responsibility to him.  The X-Men aren't super cool about this but most of them understand it.  For now, they're focused on escaping.  The team finds a rocket and takes off for their temporary base.

Which is still Bobby and Hank's apartment back in San Francisco.

So that didn't go well, did it?  Scott pulls rank and tells Bobby that he's off this case.  At first, he tells Iceman that it's because Drake is too fatigued, but when he's called on it, Cyclops admits that it's all about Lorna Dane.  Bobby's feelings for the daughter of Magneto make him a liability in the field.

What Bobby hears is "you're a potential traitor."  Them's fighting words, yo.  Scott and Bobby square off for a fist fight but Cyke backs down after a speech by Jean about what the X-Men stand for.  Bobby's not calmed down yet (probably because Summers keeps on insulting him even after backing down) and the youngest X-Men takes off.

The rest of the team let him go.  They have to get working on Cyclops' master plan.

A few days later, the City of Mutants gets another visitor: Erik the Red.  The new mutant demands an audience with Magneto.


X-Men #52X-Men #52
Writer: Arnold Drake
Pencilers: Don Heck & Werner Roth

In this story:

• Erik the Red fights his way through Magneto's mutant army until he meets up with Lorna Dane.  Here, he admits that he looks up to Magneto and wants to lead the evil mutants for the Master of Magnetism.  Erik has a new job.

• The X-Men prepare for Operation Twilight!  Edward Cullen is put on stand-by.

• Erik the Red orders Mesmero and the guards on a scouting mission.  The X-Men sneak inside.

• Erik is actually Cyclops.  The team reunites and sets a trap for Mesmero when he returns.  They get Iceman instead.  Oops.

• Mutant fight!

• Bobby tells Lorna the truth.  She isn't really the daughter of Magneto and doesn't owe him a damn thing.

• When the truth is revealed, Magneto takes off and destroys the city.  The X-Men escape just in time.

• Lorna helps Bobby recover.

There have been at least three Erik the Reds over the years and there's something interesting about this character.  He's always someone else.

This is the first Erik the Red, and he starts his career with a frontal assault on the City of Mutants.  He's reading as a highly trained mutant even though the "powers" he's using aren't his actual mutant abilities.  Erik is firing blasts out of his finger tips.

Regardless, Mesmero and his men are no match for this space-age viking.  Erik the Red doesn't allow Mesmero the chance to use his own mutant power to control his body.  The intruder fires his finger blasters at some machinery that spreads destruction throughout the city.  Mesmero and his cronies race off, saving their own lives but leaving their boss, Magneto, with only one line of defense left.

Lorna Dane might not like her dead-beat dad all that much but he's her supposed father so she stands up for her injured poppa.

I... I thought their love would last...
At this point, Erik admits that he didn't come all this way just to beat up some evil mutants.  The man in red is here because he really likes Magneto's style and wants to be Mags' second-in-command.  After talking it over with her daddy, Lorna returns to tell Erik that he's got the job.  Mesmero isn't going to be pleased at his demotion but he just ran off when needed so... yeah.  Yeah.

The X-Men are spread throughout San Francisco but they're brought back together when Cyclops contacts Jean through her telepathy.  It is time to initiate... OPERATION TWILIGHT!    So many jokes... so much apathy for them.

Instead, let's just keep going.  Marvel Girl, Angel, and the Beast walk into the ruins of the City of Mutants unopposed.  Even when Erik the Red sends Mesmero and the rest of the evil mutants out on a scouting mission, they don't seem to notice that they've already been infiltrated on their way out.  When they meet Erik in the lonely corridors of the City, the X-Men greet him as an ally.  If you haven't already guessed, that's Scott Summers in the future Viking gear.  This is all part of his plan.

Mesmero and company were sent out so that the X-Men could prepare a trap for them when they come back.  This trap is a lethal electric wire that the bad guys will pass over when they return.  This is a lot more blood thirsty than the X-Men usually are and there are definitely flaws in the master plan.  For example: what happens when one of their own teammates passes over the wire when he's bringing them surprising news?  Hmmm?

Oh, that's just Iceman.  He's not even supposed to be here today.

When the X-Men notice their junior teammate running into the City of Mutants without a care in the world, they call out for Cyclops to lower the current before they toast a friend.  They get the power down to non-lethal levels but Iceman is still left unconscious and unable to deliver his game-changing announcement.

His arrival also blows the surprise with the death trap.  The evil mutants return in time to watch Iceman get fried and don't plan on being a second course.  The power supply is destroyed from a distance and we're basically back to the X-Men being outnumbered again.  The good news is Magneto is out of this fight so it's not completely lopsided.  The bad news is Iceman isn't any help so it's four good guys against an army of bad guys.

Of course, it's the X-Men so they have their moments.  Their name is on the title of the book.  Oh, the team has also been in daily training since before the book began so they know what they're doing better than any random mutant in the book... especially when most of the evil mutants are just using ray guns.  Mesmero tries out his body-controlling ability, only to have it countered by Jean's new telepathy.

Iceman has managed to hobble away from the fighting and made his way to Magneto's personal chambers.  He's not looking for Mags.  Lorna Dane guards her father and it's HER that gets Bobby Drake's heart going pitter patter.  To her, he has some shocking news.  SHOCKING.

While he was banned from working with the X-Men on this mission, Bobby Drake used the time to travel to Lorna's hometown and do as much stalking as possible.  He talked to her parents who revealed to him that Lorna's real parents were killed in a plane crash.  She was raised by the sister of her real dad.  They never told her the truth because it just never came up in conversation and they wanted it to come out in the most emotionally devastating way possible.  This'll do.

Bobby tells Lorna that he has legal proof of this and it's more than enough to convince the daughter of Magneto that she's not REALLY the daughter of Magneto.  Seeing that she was tricked into her current position by a mutant with no scruples, Lorna turns on the crippled Magneto.

We all know that the X-Men's weakest link is Angel.  Warren's got some awesome wings but no combat abilities.  Sometimes he carries a bazooka and we all laugh at the thought of him firing that thing while flying.  Seriously.  Think about it.  What I'm trying to get at is that the evil mutants take Angel as a hostage and give the rest of the X-Men an ultimatum.

Ms. Dane arrives to clear the battlefield of all opposition and this time she's fighting with the good guys once more.  Magneto's mutant army is whipped up in a magnetic whirlwind and dropped back down again.  HARD.  Magneto contacts her... magnetically?  Yeah, let's go with magnetically.  He asks her why she's betrayed him and Lorna just yells at her former robot dad for being a liar, cheat, scoundrel, and all around jerk.  The battle is over and Angel didn't even get shot in the head.

Magneto, still crippled but also still a robot, makes a hasty retreat, not even caring about his army.  This is very typical Magneto behavior.  Heck, even rigging the base to self-destruct is all normal.  If you're going to work a cliché, you might as well go all the way.

The X-Men, of course, escape in time.  Magneto's army?  Well...

I don't believe they're ever seen again.  Mesmero makes a sparse few other appearances over the years but the mutant army is a no-show.  It's possible that they were also robots.  Most of them didn't use mutant powers and relied on guns instead of natural abilities.  Even the ones that supposedly DID use some sort of power could have just been programmed with them like the robot Magneto.  Whatever the actual answer, Mesmero wasn't in on it.  When he learns he's been serving a robot Magneto, he breaks down and cries.

Either way, if any of these evil mutants ends up dead in the explosion, we never miss them because they're a faceless army and not identified as individuals.

As I said, the X-Men all make it back in one piece.  Bobby is the only one with injuries and that's because he walked on the X-Men's own death trap.  Helping him recover is Lorna Dane and the two seem to have a budding romance.

Which doesn't last.  Lorna's interest in Bobby Drake lasts only so long before she meets Scott's younger brother, Alex.  From that point on, she has eyes for Havok and no time for Iceman.  Polaris has a history with the X-Men that is VERY confusing to describe.  She's been a villain on occasion but only under mind control or another form of influence.  She had a sister called Zaladane who stole her powers for a time.  She gained new, secondary mutations after this that included increased height, strength, and a negative aura that made everyone around her pissed off.  When she got her original powers back, Lorna joined the government-sponsored mutant team called X-Factor, serving on the team for a most of its remaining run.  When Magneto gained control of the island nation of Genosha, Lorna joined him, amplifying his weakened powers.  When the island was destroyed by crazy Grant Morrison Sentinels, Lorna Dane was one of the only survivors.

She came back from this with some serious mental problems but also supposed proof that Magneto was her ACTUAL father.  These were the Chuck Austin days on the book, and some things are confusing, so it's best not to try fitting this in with any other events in either her or Magneto's life.  It's probably true and hasn't been disproven but Lorna was also crazy in the head when the revelation came out.

After M-Day, Lorna Dane was one of the many mutants to find themselves depowered.  She went on a roadtrip of self-discovery only to end up as one of Apocalypse's Horsemen, Pestilence.  Somehow, she ended up with her magnetic powers again and went on a journey with an X-Men squad to outer space to stop Alex's insane younger brother, Vulcan, from killing the Shi'ar.  She ended up sticking around on the Starjammer with Alex Summers and Rachel Summers as freedom fighting pirates trying to restore Majestrix Lilandra to her throne.  When both Vulcan and Lilandra were declared dead, Polaris and her fellow X-Men disappeared from the cosmic side of the universe and haven't been seen since.  Like I said, it's complicated.

Expect Lorna and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Alex, to reappear in the X-Men universe in X-Men Legacy #150.  It might even make sense this time!

And that brings us to the ever lovin' end!  This has been one difficult article to write and I can only hope that it's not as painful to read!

Until next time:  Excelsior!

Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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About the Author - SuperginraiX


SuperginraiX is the biggest sap on The Outhousers' payroll (wait, we get paid?). He reads every issue of every crappy Marvel crossover so you don't have to. Whats worse is that he pays for his books, thus condoning Marvel's behavior. If The Outhouse cared for his well being at all, they'd try and get him into some sort of rehab center. But, alas, none of us even know how to say his name. For a good time, ask Super why Captian America jumped off the Helicarrier in Fear Itself. Super lives in the frozen wastland that is Minnesota with 15% of the state's population living under his roof: a wife he makes wear an Optimus Prime mask, two gremlins, and his mother-in-law.

 


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