byzantine's The X-Men #18 - If Iceman Should Fail! review

Magneto the Mad Scientist

While I find several of the 1960s stories charming and at times intriguing, this issue was a mix of mad scientist clichés  , dated science fiction concepts and plain, old poor characterization.  
Well, let us begin. Magneto has captured all the X-Men except Iceman. He proceeds to place all his captives into "a high altitude hot-air balloon" and expects this would be the end of them. They are supposed to suffocate from lack of oxygen. Not that bad of a plan, but there isn't really something stopping them from using their powers when waking up.  
These kind of baloons are generally unmanned and can reach an altitude of  reaching between 60,000 to 120,000 feet (18 to 37 km).    That is properly termed "near space". Other than a few throwaway lines concerning that their oxygen supply is small, the X-Men hardly display any discomfort. Nor does any of them comment on the temperature or any other discomfort. For a death trap this sure looks cosy.  
On the surface, Magneto has decided to use Xavier Mansion as his new headquarters. Blaiming his past defeats on the weakness of his servants (the Brotherhood and its associates), Magneto decides to go solo. Not that unreasonable. But it doesn't take him long to work on creating his own army. His method? He will analyze the body cells of the Worthingtons and duplicate them. Since they already gave birth to a mutant, their cells can create additional mutants. So far so good.  
But Magneto spends a few hours in a laboratorie and instantly creates new life. Purple-colored humanoids whose cells seem to be created by pure energy. Instantly adult bodies, no apparent minds. And the entire process of creation can cease by simply stopping scanning the Worthington's bodies. Yeah, right. Just like that.  Cease the life-creating process and you don't end with fresh corpses. They simply vanish into thin air.  Besides the desire to take over the world, we now have Magneto declaring that millions of his creations will overrun the Earth. Not to mention isolating himself in the Mansion and paying no attention to the outside world for a while. I'd almost expect him to shout "It's Alive".  
In the hospital, Dr. John Thomas uses a "laser-induced hypodermic" (needle?)    to inject Iceman with an experimental sulfonamide-based drug. Hoping it will save his patient's life, though it is a long shot. He wonders aloud about the reasons the X-Men could have for abandoning his patient. Lets get this straight. While the Doctor had wanted to contact Iceman's parents in the previous issue, the X-Men never told him about their identities or whereabouts. Thomas has no legal permission to perform a potentially-lethal treatment to his patient. He has no knowledge of Mr. Drake's medical history and doesn't really understand his mutant physiology. That said, he is trying to bring a comatose patient back to life by using sulfa, a well-known substance in antibiotics. Actually the most popular antibiotic of the 1930s and early 1940s. It may be great for treating bacterial infections but that is it. By the way, 3% of the general population are estimated to be allergic to sulfa or otherwise adversely affected by it. With severe symptoms including the appearance of dangerou skin diseases. Too bad Stan Lee faiils to adress that.  
Back to the other X-men. Xavier is the first one to wake up, but still unable to use his telepathy. Also tied up and unable to use his hands to free himself. So he rationalizes that the source of his powers is his "counter ego". He then uses that same "counter ego" to put pressure into the machine preventing him from using his powers. Said machine is then destroyed by his mind powers. Wasn't that machine supposed to disrupt his mindwaves, not simply negate his telepathy? I am also kind of lost on how can our resident telepath telekinetically destroy a device. I am not sure on what Lee was referencing with the "counter ego" concept. In psychology, it is an alternative term for the concept of "shadow aspect" as perceived by Carl Jung (1875-1961):  "a part of the unconscious mind  consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts." Rather irrelevant to Xavier's actions here. 
Anyway, once free Xavier does with his telepathy something his speaking voice couldn't have accomplished. The marvelous feat of urging Hank and Jean to wake up. Amazing. Jean then wakes up Scott and Hank wakes up Warren. Xavier finishes the task by telepathically waking up Robert. He is just out of a coma, drugged and disoriented. Naturally, Xavier sends him to confront Magneto. It takes a while for the still trapped X-Men to figure a plan. But Xavier comes up with one and starts giving orders. Jean telekinetically prevents their baloon from gaining further altitude. Cyclops then uses a beam to open a small hole in the baloon, sending it to a downwards course. Then Jean has to slow down their fall and prevent them from crushing. Naturally Charles is congratulated, Jean isn't even thanked.   
A flashbacvk explains how Magneto returned from outer space. He and Toad were the sole living captives on a planet which the Stranger uses to keep his collection of artifacts from around the universe. Magneto uses his powers to re-activate an alien ship which was out of fuel. Using it to return to Earth and abandoning the Toad in the process.
Back in the present, Iceman confronts Magneto in a short fight which leaves the two of them trapped within a rather large igloo. Magneto is about to kill Mr. Drake, when the X-Men land nearby. Wasn't Xavier Mansion in New York? There is a location where baloons are able to land relatively close to their launching site: Antarctica, due to its polar vortex. Anyway, the X-Men keep Magneto occupied while Xavier prepares a surprise for his foe. He contacted the Stranger, who appears eager to recapture his valuable sample. Magneto has to escape on his space ship, with the Stranger in hot pursuit. Iceman then destroys Magneto's creations.  
The following morning the Worthingtons awake with their memories erased. They join the X-Men in having breakfast. A scene of domesticity with Jean wearing an apron. A strange issue with a perfectly normal finale. Which actually made more sense than most of the issue.

Magneto would return in "Avengers" vol. 1 #47 (December, 1967). 

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