Uncanny X-Men #54-56
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #54, Uncanny X-Men #55, Uncanny X-Men #56
The story wastes no time dumping some new information on our lap; it turns out that Cyclops has a brother named Alex, and he's known about him all along but never mentioned him to the other X-Men (or us). Scott seems to be aware that he's a mutant (demonstrated by his athletic prowess at college)...
...but Alex isn't aware of it and hasn't demonstrated any actual powers.
Scott brings the other X-Men along for Alex's graduation, but Alex is soon kidnapped by some goons in Egyptian costumes.
Their leader, also a mutant, is a direct descendant of the Egyptian pharaohs, who he claims were all mutants as well.
He calls himself the Living Pharaoh, and he says that he felt Alex's blood call to him, and so he intends to kill him. The X-Men show up in time to stop the ritual.
Even though the Pharaoh knows he's a mutant, he refers to his powers as magic while he fights the X-Men, and similarly uses a smoke bomb that he also calls magic. The X-Men call him out on both counts.
Comparing his powers to the other X-Men, Angel says his contribution isn't as gaudy.
Sorry, Angel, as long as you're wearing that costume, you're the gaudiest X-Men of them all.
The poor guy gets his wing pinned to the wall with a spear at one point, so i guess i shouldn't be too mean.
The X-Men drive off the Pharaoh and his goons, but when Scott requests that the other X-Men give him some privacy so that he can explain things to Alex, the Pharaoh circles back, knocks out Cyclops, kidnaps Alex, and leaves a body double to implicate Scott in the Pharaoh's murder.
Instead of trying to explain things or maybe ask the guards to call up FBI Agent Duncan, Cyclops gives the guards a good whopping and heads off to find the Pharaoh again. The second confrontation doesn't end for Cyclops any better than the first, and this time he's knocked out, put in a weird mask, and brought to Egypt along with Alex.
Meanwhile the other X-Men are searching for Scott and Alex, and Marvel Girl detects "a mental power somehow like Scott's... yet, somehow horribly... evil!".
Whatever she's detected isn't made clear in these issues; was it supposed to refer to Alex? The Living Pharaoh?
The X-Men have a pretty groovy space ship at this point...
...but it gets shot down by the Pharaoh's powers.
They do make it to the fight eventually, which ends when Alex's mutant power does accidentally manifest.
As Angel notes, the Living Pharaoh was previously able to shoot his energy beam from his hands as well as his ankh, but now that Alex's power has destroyed the ankh, the Pharaoh seems helpless.
Now we get into some Neal Adams.
The X-Men book recently had brief visits by Jim Steranko and Barry Smith, but unlike them Neal Adams will actually stick around for a little while. Having a really good artist on this series really makes a big difference and you can see the difference in quality right away. Unlike Steranko's stylish psychedelia or (early) Smith's Kirbyesque bombast, what Adams brings is a realism that has some similarities with Gene Colan's art...
...but it's with a much more dynamic quality so that the realism doesn't preclude good action sequences.
Storywise, we learn that the Pharaoh and Alex are somehow tied to the same power source, so when the Pharaoh places Alex in a sealed container, he absorbs all of the cosmic power and transforms into the gigantic Living Monolith.
Wherever Drake and Thomas were going with the uninteresting Pharaoh before (and maybe this was the plan all along), having him turn into a giant stone dude would have been an unexpected twist, and Adams sells it well.
The Monolith isn't really defeated by the X-Men; he loses his powers when Alex escapes his prison. Alex, however, is terrified of his powers, a theme that will extend a while longer.
Alex will of course become Havok but he's not given a super-hero name or costume in these issues. His introduction here is a little flawed (the sudden revelation that Scott has a brother, and permanently tying Alex to the Living Pharaoh/Monolith, which will prove to be a bit tedious in the long run) but things may have been lost with all the creative shifts. Having Alex afraid of his powers is a nice way to get back to the theme of mutation as a dangerous and unwanted development instead of just a super-power.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The scene at the end of this arc continues directly in issue #57 but i've separated the issues into separate entries for organizational purposes. The origin back-ups from these issues are covered in a separate entry (note that some comments below address the back-ups, since they used to be part of this entry before i split them out).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): show
Alex's graduating college in issue 54 caused a lot of confusion, since later stories implied that Scott was at least a few years older than Alex.
Posted by: Michael | January 20, 2013 7:52 PM
An answer to a letter in issue #56 suggests that Alex may have been exceptionally smart and therefore graduated early.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 20, 2013 9:03 PM
Angel...WITH A GUN!!! (doesn't have the same ring as "Elf with a Gun" but it would have done Warren better in the long run)
Posted by: Ataru320 | January 21, 2013 8:48 AM
That costume in the Angel introduction story is a couple of tweaks from being pretty good. The yellow trunks and blue belt are throwing it off, but it's better than what he had in the main stories at the time. Fortunately, Magneto will be along shortly to get his fashion right.
Posted by: Todd | January 21, 2013 2:46 PM
I think Barbara Streisand was already quite popular by 1963.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 26, 2013 5:43 PM
Considering later ret-cons that Mister Sinister was involved in linking Alex and the Monolith, and considering Sinister's involvement with the Summers family, perhaps he is the "mental patern like Scott's, but evil!" that Jean senses?
Of course, Sinister won't be invented for many years, but since when has that ever stopped us?
Posted by: Berend | January 1, 2014 9:55 AM
I had totally forgotten that Angel was retconned into having been a pre-Avengers solo NYC hero. Did Marvel ever do any "flashbacks" to his teaming up with Spider-Man, Iron Man, or Ant-Man (the other NYC soloists of the time)? A What If? with Warren as an original Avenger would be damn interesting, too.
Posted by: Dan Spector | July 9, 2014 1:11 AM
Not just the first Havok, but the first "let's suddenly expand the Summers clan with no warning whatsoever".
It's astounding the difference between Roth / Heck and Adams. Not only does the art leap forward incredibly, but at least Adams knows what color Jean's mask is.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 28, 2015 8:49 AM
Introducing a heretofore unknown brother is sloppy, bad writing, but it can be forgiven in this case because Havok turns out to become a likable, interesting character in Claremont's hands much later. It helps that Neil Adams designed his costume.
Posted by: Chris | February 14, 2015 11:56 AM
Alex exceptionally smart? Did he get lobotomized later on?
I always thought of Alex as the older but lamer than his younger brother, where Scott has to take care of him instead of the other way around...
Posted by: PeterA | July 19, 2015 3:03 AM
How come this is just C, haha. I could recommend this to anyone!
Except the first goofy issue I guess. Ok that makes it C.
But otherwise this is where the awesome run begins. I cannot wait to finish it again
Posted by: Karel | July 4, 2016 9:12 PM
How many minds did Neal's pencils blow when this first came out?
I want to thank Stan for pairing him with Tom Palmer first time out...I mean, what if some tool had put Vinnie the Butcher on inks? Just like PPTSSM #58, I don't he could have done much harm, but why even commit to such a sin?
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | August 3, 2016 7:40 AM
This was probably Neal Adams' first Marvel work but he had already been the star DC cover artist for over a year before coming to work Marvel. He got his big start at DC, and was probably best known for creating Deadman.
He was one of the first artists to publicly break an old industry taboo against working for both DC and Marvel at the same time, without using a pseudonym. He could get away with it because he was DC's most popular artist at that time.
Posted by: James Holt | October 16, 2016 7:06 PM
Neal Adams was pure avant-garde. Terrific.
Posted by: JTI88 | November 1, 2016 5:06 AM
What's odd is that no one yet has ever depicted the first meeting of Alex and Scott.
Also did Alex, like his eventual lover, also dye his hsir at first?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 4, 2017 1:03 AM
Wait... yet another mutant who has exceptional athletic AND mental capabilities IN ADDITION to the "actual" superpower/mutation. Was this a thing? On the one hand it makes certain sense, fits the overall evolution theme of homo superiors... And it helps explain the abilities and recovery times of heroes supposedly NOT having invulnerabilities and healing factors. But narratively it's... somehow off. Bit too "cursed by awesome". Bit too übermensch. And power-up inflation of course.
Posted by: Catherine | May 17, 2017 4:30 AM
Comments have been disabled for the summer while i'm not around to moderate.
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