Uncanny X-Men Issue #22 (July 10, 1966)
Story By: Roy Thomas Art By: Werner Roth
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Brief Description: The X-Men test their mettle against the robot Colosso, but are lured into a trap by some of Marveldom’s earliest super villains! What does Count Nefaria have in mind for them, and for the Maggia?
Characters Introduced in This Issue:
*Count Nefaria (Luchino Nefaria): Count Nefaria is a wealthy Italian aristocrat who is frequently the leader of the Maggia, who are Marvel’s version of the mafia. The Maggia is the Marvel universe’s largest criminal organization that focuses solely on conventional crime.
-Powers: At this point in time Count Nefaria does not have any powers but later on in the comics he gains the powers of extreme energy projection, strength, and speed. Once he gains his powers, Nefaria becomes one of the strongest known humans in the Marvel Unvierse.
*Plantman (Samuel Smithers): Plantman was a poor London orphan who found work as a lab assistant for a famous botanist. Once the botanist died, Plantman moved to the United States and began inventing devices that could help him communicate with plants.
-Powers: Plantman uses various devices to control plants. He has a gun that makes plants grow rapidly and a gun that makes plants come to life (movement and consciousness life). He is able to control the plants he animates.
*Scarecrow (Ebenezer Laughton): Scarecrow was raised by an abusive mother. When he was young he became a circus escape artist and contortionist. He then later because a professional thief.
-Powers: Scarecrow is very flexible and agile due to a great deal of training. He can fit his body through any hole at least one foot wide. Scarecrow also has a flock of two dozen pet crows which he has taught to attack and kill people.
*Porcupine (Alexander Gentry): Porcupine was originally a scientist who worked as a weapons designer for the US Army. While working there he invented a suit that imitated a porcupine. When the government wouldn’t pay him sufficiently for his suit, he stole the suit and began a life of crime.
-Powers: Porcupine’s suit gives him enhanced strength and durability. The quills on his suit are razor sharp. The suit has quills for protection and can shoot the quills out as well as shooting gases, flames, chemicals, or bullets.
-Powers: Eel can shoot large bursts of electricity from his suit. The suit can also build up an electric current that would shock anyone who touches it.
*Unicorn (Milos Masaryk): Unicorn is a Soviet Intelligence Agent who got tricked into defecting to America by Iron Man. He is often a villain for hire.
-Powers: Unicorn wears a helmet that can shoot energy blasts. The helmet also gives him the ability to create force fields and levitate objects magnetically. Unicorn also wears a belt that allows him to fly.
This issue begins as many issues begin with the X-Men having a training session in the danger room. Professor X has created a giant robot called Colosso for them to fight. The young mutants have to work as a team to defeat the robot.
After their training session, Professor X gives them another vacation. With their free time, Iceman and Beast go on a double date and Cyclops crashes a date between Jean and Angel.
The X-Men do not get to relax for very long though because they hear on the news that the X-Men are in Central Park. Knowing that this can’t be true, each of the X-Men goes to Central Park on their own and are captured by a group of super villains who are led by Count Nefaria.
The X-Men are brought to Nefaria and the Count reveals that he plans on holding Washington DC hostage. He is going to offer a $100 million ransom and he wants the X-Men to get the money for him.
The issue ends with the X-Men in captivity and Count Nefaria beginning his plot.
I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. It started a bit slowly with the Danger Room sequence, but it quickly got better. Both date sequences were great. I laughed out loud when Beast mistook a male rock singer for his date. It was great commentary on how rock stars looked back then.
I also enjoyed the tension in the dinner between Angel, Jean, and Cyclops. Poor Angel is going to be disappointed eventually when Scott and Jean get together. I didn’t remember Angel having feelings for Jean but it seems like every male X-Man has feelings for Jean at some point.
I wasn’t sure who any of the villains besides Count Nefaria were, but I found them interesting and amusing. I thought it was funny that they were all animal themed. Scarecrow is clearly a copy of DC’s Scarecrow who was introduced long before this character. The Marvel Scarecrow even gains the power of fear induction at one point.
I laughed out loud once again when Cyclops says that there must be a homecoming for obscure villains. These villains truly are obscure and I wonder if they will become major players in the Marvel Universe now that they have been reintroduced. (I’m bringing this panel back one more time for emphasis on the joke)
One thing I am not quite sure if I dislike or not is the fact that the X-Men keep going on vacation. Professor X always treats the vacation as a rare event but they seem to happen all the time. Granted, their vacations are always interrupted but they still get a lot of them. Although I find the vacation concept silly, I don’t mind it too much.
Overall, I had nothing much to complain about this issue. These villains may not be exciting as individuals but this new team of antagonists intrigues me. This issue seems to heavily hint that Count Nefaria will be defeated by dissent in his ranks and I predict that this will be the case.
A couple final notes:
1. Beast continues to refer to Jean as “Girl” and “female” which is condescending. Beast is starting to become my least favorite character in this X-Men lineup
2. Beast’s excuse to leave the double date is ridiculous and funny.