Uncanny X-Men #65
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #65
This issue is unusually written by Denny O'Neil. I actually have a hard time believing it wasn't really plotted by Roy Thomas, considering his involvement on the book to date, as well as the strange nature of the plot and the significance of it. Seems like the sort of story that Thomas would write, and seems odd to leave an important development (more below!) to a fill-in writer.
This is also Neal Adams' last issue on the book.
The issue begins with the X-Men finally having returned home to Xavier's school only to find Havok and Lorna Dane in costume on the front porch...
...yelling at them to hurry up and get into their uniforms as well. The X-Men respond crankily, especially Iceman, who is pretty annoyed to notice that Alex and Lorna are acting like a couple.
Now, the big reveal is that Professor Xavier is back from the dead.
But that information is held back for the first 5 pages of this issue while Alex and Lorna first waste time trying to get the tired and befuddled X-Men into costume and in the meeting room and then explaining the current crisis. I don't know why Xavier has to wait in the back room during all of that; things might have gone a lot more smoothly if he were waiting on the porch.
Although Xavier's behavior is consistent with his explanation for why he was pretending to be dead all this time. It turns out an alien race called the Z'Nox are heading to Earth on their planet/spaceship.
Their MO is to fly close enough to a planet that they intend to invade and let their planets' gravitational pull do all the work.
Xavier became aware of the Z'Nox while "engaged in telepathic star-scanning" and was "desperately seeking a means of countering it" when the Changeling showed up. Changeling had been diagnosed with a sickness that gave him 6 months to live, and he wanted to make up for the bad things he'd done in his life.
Xavier had him mimic him and "divide[d] some of my powers between him and Jean".
Well, i guess that settles why Xavier had to fake his death, putting his poor students through all that heartache (and forcing Jean, who knew about it, to lie to her friends), right? No? You say that if he needed some time to prepare, Xavier could have just asked his students to give him some alone time? Hrmm. I guess he hadn't thought of that. Also not even a token explanation as to why he wouldn't have reached out to the Fantastic Four or Avengers for help (even though the Avengers were providing minor support to the X-Men during the time period that Xavier was thought dead, and even though the FF are shown in this issue).
Anyway, the X-Men don't really have time for recriminations because there is an alien invasion on the way. And SHIELD has discovered the Z'Nox's homing beacon ship and launched an attack (voice-over by Nick Fury)...
...forcing the X-Men to act before the Z'Nox react to SHIELD's overt assault.
The X-Men fight their way onto the beacon ship, fighting past a lizard-man guard (and this is Marie Severin's sole contribution for the issue; Stan Lee apparently didn't like whatever Neal Adams drew here so he had Severin redraw it)...
...and once the team is strategically situated, Xavier funnels through a mental blast that, well, expresses the compassion and good thoughts of every person on Earth who doesn't harbor hatred, cruelty, prejudice, or love of death (the Fantastic Four, at least, are shown to be good people).
As Shar notes in the comments, that picture of the FF is "inspired by" the opening splash in Fantastic Four #72.
Z'Nox are a compassion-less race, so this wave of hippie goodness repels them, and they flee the solar system.
The effort causes Xavier to pass out.
Pretty weird. Xavier has been shown to keep secrets from his students before (like when he had the Juggernaut locked up in the back room) but this return from the dead really puts him in a bad light. There's no time devoted to addressing it this issue, and with Xavier's coma being the plot point of the next issue, which is also the last before the series goes into reprints, there won't be time to get into it at all. John Byrne's Hidden Years series will make an attempt, but that book had its own flaws. So the idea that Professor Xavier is really this manipulative guy takes hold here.
As for the quality of this story, well, i guess i shouldn't be so cynical about the Kumbaya ending. But the X-Men's involvement in the plot is pretty contrived; Xavier probably should have been able to do his thing on his own. Neal Adam's art is generally ok but there's a few panels where things are looking rushed or otherwise off.
So this is hardly a classic, although clearly some significant events (compounded by the fact that it was during the channeling of Earth's feelings that Xavier first got the attention of Lilandra of the Shi'ar).
There's a scene with Angel looking at his old costume and then showing up at the meeting in his new one. I imagine Adams intended the script to cover a decision to keep wearing the new costume even though it was designed by Magneto, but O'Neil doesn't go there.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: At the start of the issue, the X-Men were expected back "days ago". The issue ends with Xavier unconscious, but doesn't necessarily lead directly into the next issue. The MCP places the Fantastic Four's cameo here during the same gap as their appearance in Hulk #123, which is between FF #93-94.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
Xavier's had some manipulative moments before this though. In issues 4-5, for example, he lets the X-Men think that he's lost his powers in order to test them. I think that those issues are really where Xavier as Manipulative Bastard started.
Posted by: Michael | January 30, 2013 8:44 PM
Yeah, you're right. I was going to make a labored distinction between dickery for the sake of testing your students and dickery for no sensible reason at all, but ultimately you're right.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 30, 2013 9:42 PM
1st & only O'Neil/Adams teaming at Marvel, which may have been done before their Green Lantern/Green Arrow run.
Martin Goodman may have been the one to crab about Adams' art; some articles mention him engaging in Shooteresque micromanagement during 1969/70.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 2, 2013 7:36 PM
Doug Moench has a letter here.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 29, 2013 4:24 PM
Adams must have used the opening splash of FF #72 (1968) as reference for his depiction of Ben, Johnny and Crystal here (and he added Reed to the mix).
Posted by: Shar | October 30, 2013 7:03 PM
Thanks for that, Shar. I've added the scan to FF #72 and linked to it from this entry.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 31, 2013 12:07 PM
In Historical Significance you could also mention that this is the issue when Lorna & Havok are officially inducted into the team.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 9, 2014 1:37 AM
Thanks, Jay. I've also added a Join indicator that will appear on the Category/Search pages.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 9, 2014 10:09 AM
According to Thomas' intro to the Marvel Masterworks reprint of this issue, Neal Adams plotted it alone. When it came time to script the issue, Roy was too busy. Since (as per his account) he had no vested interest in a story he didn't co-plot, he gave it to Denny O'Neil to script (perhaps to entice O'Neil back to Marvel).
Posted by: Haydn | June 2, 2014 8:05 PM
Man, that Severin lizard looks SO out of place in the middle of all that Adams art.
Posted by: Dan Spector | July 9, 2014 5:45 AM
An unfortunate side-effect of the lizard re-draw is that Cyclops, Beast, and Iceman end up staring at the thing's crotch in that first panel.
Posted by: Dan H. | May 20, 2017 1:53 AM
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