Uncanny X-Men #43-45
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #43, Uncanny X-Men #44, Uncanny X-Men #45
Professor X is dead, and that would have been a pretty significant event at the time. Really a first for Marvel, not counting Bucky's retroactive death or Wonder Man's death in his first appearance and things like that. So this issue has Xavier's funeral, and we even get to see the reaction of Xavier's arch-rival Magneto. Unfortunately this is a pre-Claremont Magneto, so his reaction is a bit... unhinged.
It's also kind of sad that Xavier has literally no one but the X-Men and (a lurking Quicksilver) to attend his burial. No one thought to even draw in a few unnamed extras. I guess the X-Men wouldn't have thought to contact Moira MacTaggert, Gabrielle Haller, or anyone else. Xavier was supposed to be a renowned genetics expert; wouldn't at least some colleagues have attended? Maybe Xavier secretly contacted (or mind-wiped!) other people the X-Men tried to invite.
After the funeral, the X-Men discover a projector that presents Xavier's last words, including a warning that Magneto "has returned to Earth". The X-Men seem to be already aware of this; they say "he must have made this film before even the Avengers knew of Magneto's escape!". Hey, maybe the X-Men contacted the Avengers about the funeral but they said they were too busy because of Magneto.
We also learn that Xavier has secretly been teaching Marvel Girl telepathy. Years later, we'll learn that she's had telepathy all along and Xavier (i assume, and not Changeling), was merely removing mental blocks that were earlier placed for her own protection.
Meanwhile Quicksilver returns to Magneto's hidden base on an island in the Atlantic...
...to get berated about attending Xavier's funeral. But poor Toad (who, we learn, Magneto forces to wear a metallic belt so that Magneto can abuse him easily) winds up taking the brunt of Magneto's clearly deranged rage.
"A few days" later, the X-Men arrive at Magneto's base by hiding in a freighter that they (correctly) assume Magneto will bring to his island to raid for parts.
Here's a decent group shot ruined a bit by the wordy dialogue about Angel's allowance.
Magneto handily defeats the X-Men, with Jean especially taking some nasty blows to the head.
Angel is able to escape captivity. Cyclops worries that the escape was too easy, so instead of having him free the others, he sends Angel off to get the Avengers.
Angel apparently forgets Cyclops' instructions, because two pages later while he's flying away and thinking about how Quicksilver deserted the Avengers, he thinks to himself, "...that's it! That's who I can ask for help! I'll return to New York and go directly to the Avengers' headquarters!"
But the weird distractions are just beginning. Because the rest of issue #44 is devoted to Angel getting tired and landing on a rock that suddenly rises above the sea, revealing the secret city of the Bird-People. He's attacked by Red Raven...
...and then given a lengthy history of the Bird-People.
Due to later retcons, this is actually not the Red Raven that appeared in Red Raven Comics #1 and the Invaders series, hence the II designator in the Characters Appearing section. The origin of Red Raven given here is different than the one from the Golden Age in that instead of sending the Red Raven down to Earth to help the humans, the king of the Bird-People instead wanted to invade them.
Red Raven decided to prevent the invasion, as much to prevent the Bird-People from getting wiped out by the humans' superior numbers as to help his own birth-race. He released a suspended animation gas and sank their floating island below the ocean. "Twenty years later", just as Angel landed on the island, the Bird-People are about to be automatically awakened.
After talking with Angel, Raven decides that the Bird-People still shouldn't invade Earth. Weirdly, Raven then blasts Angel, knocking him out...
...and then re-applies the gas and re-sinks the island.
Angel does have a feeling that he'll meet Red Raven again (which never happens) but even with that this was a really weird interlude at a time when the X-Men are Magneto's prisoner. Angel doesn't even come out of the encounter with anything useful. Like, if the purpose of this was to upgrade Angel with some Bird-People powers or device, or to establish some sort of connection between Angel and the Bird-People (which would have been a bad idea, but i at least would have understood the point of the issue), it would have made more sense. Instead it seems to be that Roy Thomas just really liked Red Raven and wanted to cram him into this story.
I should mention that this issue was the one with Angel's name on the cover, but i can't imagine that anyone not already reading X-Men but intrigued by the character would be interested in seeing him talked at for half an issue.
Next issue (#45), clearly not able to rely on Angel, Cyclops escapes and goes looking for the other X-Men but ends up chasing Toad (for this issue, Cyclops is headlining). There is a really poorly drawn panel where he jumps through a closing door and uses his ricocheting eye beam to hold the door open for the last critical second.
Then Quicksilver shows up asking to talk. Acting completely out of character, Cyclops refuses to talk and attacks Quicksilver instead.
The Scarlet Witch is still dopey from her bullet wound.
Then the Avengers show up.
As we've seen, there have been a number of changes to the X-Men title, presumably in attempt to address low sales. This crossover with Avengers is probably another such effort. With Roy Thomas leaving the book (the title to issue #43 is "The torch is passed...!" but i almost wonder if it should have been "Rats abandon ship"), Marvel probably wasn't banking on the quality of the writing, but the crossover would have had the benefit of introducing the team's new costumes.
Of course, Angel is wearing something that even Daredevil would refuse to wear.
Instead of an origin story, issue #43 has an explanation of Cyclops' powers, clearing up some points, including the fact that he draws his energy from the sun...
...the fact that his eyebeams shoot force beams, not heat rays...
...and the fact that there are buttons in his gloves that allow him to control his visor without touching it.
Beginning in issue #44, we have Iceman's origin back-up, which i covered in X-Men Origins: Iceman #1.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly in (and partially concurrently with) Avengers #53.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men vol. 5
Inbound References (9): show
X-Men #45 was first reprinted in the last reprint issue of X-Men before the New X-Men show up. That's where I first read it, and it confused me to no end because the last panel showed the Avengers---but the Black Panther's costume had white highlights, and his chin was colored caucasian. For a long time I thought this was some other forgotten Marvel guy, not the Black Panther.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 7:58 PM
One of Jean's thought balloons contradicts the later Changeling retcon- she seems to think that Xavier is dead.
Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2013 11:59 PM
In UX 43 Marvel Girl thinks, "It's hard to believe we're hearing his voice--for the last time!" "Is there anything he could ask of us... that we wouldn't do?" Factoring in the ret-con, she knows Xavier is actually still alive, which creates an interesting twist to Jean's thoughts.
She had probably became pretty close to Changeling as they were practicing their telepathy on each other, so she would be genuinely grieving for him here. That leads us to conclude: she's realizes she can't believe they're hearing Changeling's voice for the last time... which means she knows the recording was made by Changeling and not Xavier.
As for her second thought balloon, you could say that Jean's doing a rather brutal "anything" for Xavier at that point by having to cover up the fact that he isn't actually dead. Poor Jean!
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 6, 2013 5:04 AM
There is a rather brilliant short story in the X-Men Legends book (edited by Stan Lee with 1 page illustrations by Mike Zeck at the beginning of each story) by Keith R.A. DeCandido called "Diary of a False Man" that I wish was part of the official Marvel canon. It takes place during UX 43 where Jean discovers Changeling's journal while cleaning out Xavier's desk and fleshes out the events from UX 40-43.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 6, 2013 5:28 AM
Was this crossover supposed to help the fading X-Men?
Posted by: Steven | September 27, 2014 2:01 PM
Was this the first example of Roy Thomas bringing back a Golden Age character (even if it was later retconned out)?
Also, a good sign of the relative popularity of the books - X-Men and Avengers both debuted the same month. Yet, the Avengers has already been printing so much more often that by this point, X-Men is still only at #45 and Avengers is at #53.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 23, 2015 11:25 AM
You can accept that Xavier's funeral and will including Moira or Gabby Haller would be a retcon, although it actually works. Jean knew about Moira and would have told her Xavier wasn't dead so she shouldn't bother showing up. Gabby would have regretted not letting her son meet his father before it was too late - I don't remember Legion's origin well enough to be able to speculate if he would have had his multiple personalities/powers by this point - but otherwise Xavier just an old flame. I doubt they'd seen each other in years.
But where's Fred Duncan? And what about other superheroes? Xavier had been invited to the Baxter Building for Reed and Sue's wedding! He's even visible in the 'I now pronounce you man and wife' panel which is an awkward angle. Somebody must have had high regard for him, yet none of them could be bothered to show up at his funeral. Mutant prejudice?
Posted by: ChrisW | February 14, 2016 3:16 PM
Stan the Man should have allowed Big John Buscema the exclusive artistic control after his Avengers #49 debut right into X-Men issues 43-45 to tighten the spiritual connection of this crossover adventure..the Maniacal Magneto that might snap at any unknown cause makes for a riveting central character in these comic offerings that may have lost it testosterone without Buscema.
Posted by: RocknRollguitarplayer | March 22, 2016 12:44 AM
A green school bus.
Posted by: kveto | August 14, 2016 1:39 PM
I liked this storyline because I like Magneto and liked the idea of bringing back Red Raven but this was poorly handled.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 13, 2016 10:45 PM
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