Stan Lee, Master of Suspense
The creators of the X-Men book seem to be doing some readers' request lately. Readers complain the Brotherhood is overused? So long Brotherhood. This issue seems to be an answer to the request of a specific fan, Barbara Hannah. Back in issue #10, her letter was requesting an origin story for Professor X. Well this is it.
The previous issue ended with Cerebro locating a new threat starting an alarm call. Which startled Xavier and Scott. This issue follows directly from that scene. Hank, Jean, Robert and Warren respond to the alarm and enter Xavier's office. It is the first time they see or hear Cerebro. Cyclops tries to get them away but Xavier decide the time for secrecy has just ended.
The rest of the issue is divided between flashback scenes and present-day scenes. The former explain the shared origins of Xavier and his step-brother Cain Marko. The latter have the X-Men fortify the Mansion in preparation for an attack. Only for an attacking enemy to break in through all their defenses.
In the flashback scenes there are several points of interest:
*The very first panel of the flashbacks features a nuclear explosion at Alamogordo, New Mexico. An explosion whick kills Brian Xavier and leaves Kurt Marko with a broken arm. Naturally Alamogordo is an actual location, famous because of the Trinity test occuring in its vicinity on July 16, 1945. The very first testing of an atomic bomb and the birthplace of the so-called Atomic Age. Xavier claims that his powers are a result of "all the radiation my parents had been exposed to at the nuclear research center before I was born". Placing his birth in the 1930s or early 1940s and introducing the concept that nuclear energy causes mutations.
**Sounds influenced by the novel "Children of the Atom" (1953) by Wilmar House Shiras: "A group of incredibly gifted children — all approximately the same age, all preternaturally intelligent, and all hiding their incredible abilities from a world they know will not understand them. These children were born to workers caught in an explosion at an atomic weapons facility, and orphaned just a few months after birth when their parents succumbed to delayed effects from the blast."
*Kurt Marko is featured as a typical gold digger, marrying a rich widow to get his hand on the considerable Xavier estate. The tension between Kurt, his biological son Cain and young Xavier make for some decent drama. Particularly as Charles blaims Kurt for the death of his real father and Cain accuses him of murder. Cain accidentaly causing the death of his own father is another good dramatic scene.
*We get a pretty good look at Charlie as a young man. Gifted scholar, award-winning star of American football and various track events and very effective unarmed combat practitioner. Even knocking down an enraged Cain who has troubles with being the inferior brother. Naturally he uses telepathy to anticipate the moves of opponents.
*We also see the brothers fighting in the Korean War (1950-1953), where Cain deserts his position in mid-combat to seek a safe place to hide. Charles follows him to warn him that this would be a court-martial offense. He sees his brother transform at Cyttorak's temple, "the most mysterious of all the deities of black magic". (Also a minor crossover with Dr. Strange where Cyttorak's crimson bands are regularly featured). Next seeing him trapped under a mountain of debris. Xavier is content to abandon him there, hoping it will take years for the new Juggernaut to find a way out. To be honest, the scene establishes that Cain has a genuine reason to hate his step-brother. A family member abandoning you to your fate? Who would n't hate such a traitor?
The present day scenes built the suspense as Juggernaut breaks through the best of the X-Men's defenses. A wall of ice as thick as concrete, electromagnetic force fields, enough sleeping gas to knock out a herd of elephants, a steel door thicker than the walls of a battleship. He barely notices as a long-missing brother is coming home. By the end of the issue he is clearly established as a force to be reckoned with. Nice work. Characterization may not be too deep but the set-up of brother versus brother is going to be refined in the following years. With additional explorations of their drama.