Review of Uncanny X-Men Issue #20

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Uncanny X-Men Issue #20 (May 10, 1966)

Story By: Roy Thomas                                Art By: Werner Roth

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Brief Description: It’s mutant mania when the Blob and Unus tag-team the X-Men! Featuring the origin of Professor X!

Characters Introduced in This Issue: None

Recurring Characters in This Issue: Unus the Untouchable, Blob, Lucifer, Professor X, Beast, Angel, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman

Synopsis:

This issue begins with the Blob and Unus the Untouchable robbing a bank in X-Men uniforms. Since the general public fears the X-Men already, they are quick to assume that the two criminals really are members of the X-Men.

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Meanwhile at Xavier’s mansion, Cyclops decides that he needs to leave the X-Men until he is able to either find a cure for his eye beams, or find a better way to control them. He leaves a note for his team and leaves.

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Lucifer is then reintroduced and it is revealed that he is the one behind these burglaries with Blob and Unus.

As Cyclops tries to get out of town he notices Unus and Blob robbing another bank and he tries to stop him. However the bad guys escape. Seeing the robberies on the news, the other X-Men (besides Jean) confront the two evil mutants at their next robbery, but once again the bad guys escape because the general public gets in the way. The public attacks the X-Men, fearing that they are all bad.

While this is happening, Lucifer fully paralyzes Professor X using a mind machine and Jean has to find a way to save him. With the help of one of Professor X’s machines, Jean is able to communicate with Xavier telepathically. Professor X tells her the story of how he became paralyzed.

A long time ago, Professor X heard of a walled in city in the Himalayas where there was a strange ruler. Xavier went to the city and discovered that there was an evil and powerful being (Lucifer) controlling the city. He worked with the townspeople to break into Lucifer’s base and he attacks Lucifer. Lucifer is able to crush Professor X with a slab of concrete he then escapes. Professor X was paralyzed from that point forward.

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The X-Men, including Scott, return to the mansion after Blob and Unus escape and Professor X discovers where Lucifer’s new base is. The issue ends with the X-Men taking a jet to the evil headquarters.

Review: 

I was pleased to see the return of three major X-Men villains in this issue with Blob, Unus, and Lucifer. The three of the them semi-together causes a unique problem for the X-Men.

I also loved the concept of Blob and Unus dressing up as X-Men and committing crimes. It was humorous and it was another big catalyst to spread human fear of mutants.

I found the origin of Professor X’s paralysis very interesting, but his storytelling seemed misplaced. His body is completely paralyzed, but instead of trying to figure out how to save himself and stop Lucifer, he tells Jean about his backstory. He tells her that she needs to hear this so she can understand Lucifer better, but the story really doesn’t give much insight on Lucifer.

Professor X did this same thing again (telling backstory in the midst of danger) when Juggernaut was approaching the mansion. There needs to be a better way to incorporate backstory than this.

Another problem I had with this issue was Cyclops leaving the X-Men. Beast already tried to leave the X-Men. I felt like it was too soon for another member to try and quit. Granted, Cyclops has a better reason to quit the team than Beast, but I still didn’t like that story thread.

In general, I enjoyed this issue and I’m looking forward to the rest of this story arc. I’m not quite sure what Lucifer’s plan is yet, and I look forward to it unfolding.

A few final notes:

1. The Cyclops-Jean drama continues.

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2. The general public physically attacks the X-Men in this issue, including an old woman!

photo 2-23. Professor X continues to have ridiculous powers he shouldn’t have. In this issue, he is able to locate electronic controls with his mind.

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4. This helmet that the X-Men create to protect Professor X’s brain from Lucifer’s machine is ridiculous.

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5. The X-Jet is finally here!

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6. Lucifer’s costume looks a lot like Magneto’s costume.

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4 thoughts on “Review of Uncanny X-Men Issue #20

  1. Alex Wei says:

    The writing is clearly inferior at this point. Many works of fiction need devices so they can explain things to the audience; but if they do it in a way that seems implausible, the whole work suffers. (Another way is if they say, “as you know, blah blah blah” when it’s fairly clear that they should all know that stuff without any need for explanation, because only the audience doesn’t know!)

    Another example of poor writing are these bogus “I’ve got to leave the group” things. We’ve already seen this with Jean Grey’s “I’ve graduated and my parents want me elsewhere” scene. These things are simple bald attempts to create more interest in the readers. As you’ve mentioned, now Cyclops and Beast have had bogus exit scenes, too.

  2. Alex Wei says:

    “I, Lucifer” recalls two other works; “I, Claudius”, Robert Graves’s “autobiography” of the a Emperor Claudius, and “I, Robot”, Isaac Asimov’s science fiction anthology about robots. It was made, very unfaithfully, into a Will Smith movie several years ago.

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