Review of Uncanny X-Men Issue #54

Uncanny X-Men Issue #54 (March 10, 1969)

Story By: Arnold Drake                                        Art By: Don Heck

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Brief Description: Cyclops introduces the X-Men to his brother Alex! But the brother reunion is cut short when Alex is taken prisoner by the living Pharaoh and Cyclops is framed for murder! Plus the origin story of Angel!

Characters Introduced in This Issue:

*Havok (Alex Summers): Alex Summers is Cyclops’ younger brother. Alex was separated from Scott when they were orphaned and Alex was adopted before Cyclops.

-Powers: Havok has the power to absorb ambient cosmic energy, process the energy, and emanate it from his body as waves of energy that he can launch at his target.

*The Living Pharaoh (Ahmet Abdol): The Living Pharaoh was a professor of Egyptology and archeology who discovered he had the power to manipulate cosmic energy and projecting it in energy beams. He used this power to create a Cult of the Living Pharaoh and then planned to conquer the world.

-Powers: The Living Pharaoh has the same power set as Havok. 

Recurring Characters in This Issue: Jean Grey, Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman

Synopsis:

This issue begins with Cyclops waking up from unconsciousness with two police officers standing above him and accusing him of murder. Cyclops is confused at first, but then he remembers what happened to him and relates the story to us in a flashback.

This story begins with Cyclops brining the X-Men to come to Scott’s brother Alex’s graduation. Alex is excited to see his brother there and they plan to go out and celebrate, but Alex is taken prisoner by the Living Pharaoh. 

The Living Pharaoh plans on sacrificing Alex to gain more power, but he is thwarted by the X-Men, who arrive just in time to save Alex.

When the X-Men think that the battle is over, Cyclops asks for a moment with his brother and the rest of the team leaves. While Cyclops tries to explain to Alex how he became the leader of the X-Men the living Pharaoh returns and hypnotizes the Summers brothers.

The issue then shifts back to when Cyclops awakes from his unconscious state. Scott finds out that he is being accused of killing the Living Pharaoh and he realizes that Alex must have killed the villain and fled.

Cyclops leaves the scene and tries to find his brother, but instead finds the Living Pharaoh who is actually alive!

The issue then shifts to part 1 of Angel’s origin story. As a boy Angel always liked climbing up trees and other things that were up high, much to his parents’ dismay.

When he reached high school, Warren’s parents sent him to boarding school. When he started to sprout wings in boarding school, Angel became reclusive until his school caught fire one day. When he saw that his fellow classmates were in danger, Angel put on a costume that resembled a biblical Angel and rescued his fellow boarders.

The issue ends with one of Warren’s fellow students declaring that he will find out who this mysterious Angel is.

Review:

I very much enjoyed this issue, even though the Living Pharaoh is a bit silly. It was great to finally see the introduction of Havok and I can’t wait for his story to continue. I also enjoyed having Cyclops framed for murder and I’m intrigued by how that problem will resolve in the coming issues.

At first, I was hesitant towards the X-Men origin stories because Cyclops’ origin was pretty boring, but every other origin story has been great and Angels’ origin has been interesting so far. 

My only real problem with this issue is that I don’t like that Havok is introduced in such a nonchalant fashion. They gloss over the fact that he and Cyclops were orphaned and then separated. And they also don’t really explain why Scott never mentioned anything about his brother to his teammates before. Hopefully we get more Havok backstory in the next few issues!

After last issue was subpar, this was a nice step up for Arnold Drake in his final issue as an Uncanny X-Men writer. 

A few final notes:

1. Of course Angel has  $20,000 pool. Apparently they don’t have a pool cleaner though.

2. Would kids really notice if someone had abnormally large shoulder blades?

3. Why is every mutant good at sports, even before they gain their powers.

4. Angel’s Angel costume shown above is absolutely hysterical.

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11 thoughts on “Review of Uncanny X-Men Issue #54

  1. Yes, Alex fell in the long fictional tradition of siblings nobody ever mentioned until they were introduced. Even given that, as you say it’s daft he’s presented this casually, given Scott’s background.

  2. Alexander J. Wei says:

    It’s worse than that. So then they cooked up yet another long-lost brother of Scott and Alex, and the stories just keep coming… At this point, I’m hazy on the details, but apparently, the Summers parents were taken by aliens and some alien guy took a fancy to the mother. Scott’s father, of course, became the space pirate known as Corsair. At this point, I don’t feel like looking up the details of the other brother’s life; it feels kind of tedious.

  3. My only real problem with this issue is that I don’t like that Havok is introduced in such a nonchalant fashion. They gloss over the fact that he and Cyclops were orphaned and then separated. And they also don’t really explain why Scott never mentioned anything about his brother to his teammates before.

    As I was reading your review, the way Havok is introduced confused me as well. I was always under the impression that Scott thought his brother was dead and was surprised to find out that he’s still alive.

    I never really found Alex/Havok interesting, as I know very little about him, but as I’ve been reading some of the more recent comics, I’ve grown interested in reading more of his story. Young/Past Scott and Present-Day Alex meet in an issue of All-New X-Men (which has got to be one weird family reunion). Partly because of the Avengers’ presence in All-New X-Men, which got me interested in the team (mostly due to Rogue, Wanda, and Steve) I’ve also started reading Uncanny Avengers, a team Alex is part of, so hopefully there will be some fun stuff with his story.

    • It makes the most sense to me to assume that Scott didn’t talk about his traumatic past to his friends at all, what with Scott’s demonstrated reluctance to open up emotionally. When Scott learned that Alex was actually alive (or vice versa) some time before #54, they might well have restored their relationship without Scott’s friends learning. Perhaps Xavier helped reconnect them?

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