Uncanny X-Men #41-42
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #41, Uncanny X-Men #42
His name was Gor-tok, and he was the prince of an underground kingdom that was hit by an underground nuclear test. The explosion and radiation killed his people and mutated him; it's the Beast who calls him "grotesk", but the name sticks.
The Beast and Iceman have trouble getting the other X-Men to help against Grotesk because strange things are afoot with Professor X. He's been holding secret sessions with Marvel Girl and is acting unusually strict, not even allowing the pair to explain the crisis and restricting the full team from leaving the mansion.
Scott is of course worried that Xavier might be in love with Jean and keeping her to himself.
We'll later learn that Xavier has brought in the Changeling to replace him some time before the start of this story. The intention at this time was to kill off Professor X by having him die fighting Grotesk after revealing that he had a terminal illness.
Per Roy Thomas in the intro to Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men vol. 4 (written in 2004):
At the time, I believe it was our intention that he was really dead - as dead as Bucky Barnes, and that's dead, my friend - but I recall mentally leaving myself an "out" to bring him back, if we ever wanted to.
The "out" is using the Changeling, and that's what ultimately is used to bring Xavier back.
Angel uses "solar orbs" in the fight against Grotesk. He should have hung on to them; it makes him halfway effective for a change.
I'm a little disappointed to see Roy Thomas introducing yet another subterranean race in this story; after depicting the war between the Mole Man and Tyrannus a few issues back, you'd think he'd realize that there isn't enough room left under the Earth before the whole surface collapses under its own weight.
There have been a number of attempts to shake up the X-Men book in recent issues with the introduction of the back-up origin feature and then the new costumes last issue. Now we have the death of Professor X and also a change to the cover logo. Instead of a large "X-Men" logo, starting with issue #42, there's a small X-Men logo and then a larger logo individualized for the issue, focusing on a specific character. #42 says "The Death of Professor X". Next issue has "The Power of Magneto". And then each issue will have the name of one or more of the X-Men's names in big letters. None of it really makes up for silly looking characters with names like Grotesk.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: 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: Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men vol. 4
Inbound References (11): show
The numerous shake up attempts at this time is strong evidence that sales were tanking. There has been a noticeable decline in quality for the past 20 or more issues so Thomas is obviously hoping at least one of the changes will turn things around.
Posted by: Chris | January 2, 2013 8:29 PM
Roy's inspiration for Grotesk was the Golden Age Captain Marvel villain King Kull.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 6, 2013 5:10 PM
Maybe I'm misunderstanding your policy for flashbacks and whatnot, but should Jack O'-Living-Diamonds be tagged for these issues?
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 28, 2015 12:23 AM
I don't tag characters that only appear in flashbacks, and since i'm treating the origin back-ups as flashbacks, he won't get listed. What i really need to do is cut up these issues and place the origins in their proper place. Maybe when i get to his appearance as a zombie in She-Hulk #35 it'll inspire me to do so.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 28, 2015 7:54 AM
OK. I wasn't sure, since you do tag the Inhumans in the concurrent Thor flashback stories, but I guess there's something I'm missing. Sorry to bug you.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 28, 2015 5:47 PM
Some of those Inhumans back-ups take place in the modern era, concurrent with the Thor stories, is why. Happy to clarify, and there's always a possibility i'm doing something wrong, so no one's bugging me. :-)
Posted by: fnord12 | April 28, 2015 5:54 PM
It's hard to believe that no one ever drew a connection between Emma Frost and her diamond form and Jack O'Diamonds...
Posted by: BU | April 29, 2015 2:38 PM
Or maybe Grant Morrison gave her a diamond form and made Scott then attracted to her because of... issues? ☺
Posted by: PeterA | July 17, 2015 1:10 AM
...well, now that you've drawn attention to it, I'm certain that this will become a plot thread shortly...
Posted by: kirk g | January 19, 2016 1:57 AM
"As dead as Bucky Barnes!"
Well, I guess technically we can now say he WAS as dead as Bucky Barnes. LOL
Posted by: mikrolik | May 1, 2016 6:03 PM
I liked Grotesk as a villain but I agree that Subterranea was becoming overpopulated. I can see Grotesk as being inspired by King Kull but I think he in turn inspired Atalon the underground villain in Malibu's Ultraforce. I was stunned by the Professor's death at the time but later realized that it was a set up.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 13, 2016 7:07 PM
I vaguely recall a Byrne interview where he talks about the "Everybody Dies!" cover of Uncanny #142 being unusual at the time in character deaths being used to sell the comic (presumably in part to follow on from the success of #137). Issue #42 is something of a precursor to this as anyone unfamiliar with the comic might think it is not called "X-Men" but "The Death Of Professor X", being that it is in the place of the usual logo & in much larger type than the actual name of the book. (Though as Fnord states, they will continue to use this format for non-death related stories in following issues.)
The cover also features what I'm told is the first use of the famous blurb "Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary tale!" (though I guess it does turn out to be a hoax...) Not sure if anyone can confirm? I seem to remember DC regularly had covers with blurbs like "Not a hoax! Not a dream!" and then it would turn out to be an imaginary tale or whichever one they hadn't mentioned.
Amazing Spider-Man #42 from 2 years earlier features a similar dig at DC ("Nor are you witnessing an imaginary, or a dream sequence! Since this is an actual, honest-to-merry-Marty-Goodman Marvel mag, this scene is really happening!"), so maybe there were other earlier examples in slightly different formations.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | September 15, 2017 4:58 AM
If Byrne really said that, then it was selective memory. The classic cover of Spider-Man 121 proclaims "Someone close to me is about to die!" (and also goes the "not a trick; not an imaginary tale" route.) And of course, we now have at least one Gwen Stacy running around, two if you count Gwenpool, more if you count all the clones.
Posted by: Andrew | September 15, 2017 9:35 AM
Mort Weisinger and DC used dreams and imaginary tales increasingly often as Marvel started, to the point where DC had to start specifying that this issue *wasn't* a dream or imaginary tale. I think the "hoax" comes from the fact that often DC covers didn't match their interiors, so that, say, you buy a comic with Superman in a chicken suit on the cover and that scene never shows up in the book.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 15, 2017 10:16 AM
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