A new chapter
I have noted before that Roy Thomas seems to have done his homework on the X-Men prior to writing stories about them. The strongest point of the issue is addressing a long-standing plot hole of the series. The Xavier Mansion is known to the public as a private school. With Xavier actually incorporating preparatory school courses in the curriculum. But the X-Men already had their graduation day in #7. It had been left unclear why they had yet to attend a college.
In this issue, the parents of Jean Grey have her enrolled at Metro College. Requesting her to continue her education. She is reluctant but does move out of the Mansion. The X-Men act as if they won't see her again. But she makes an effort to take part in missions taking place over the weekend. The saddened reactions of most of the X-Men make it clear how important she is to all them. Some decent human emotion here.
The love triangle between Jean, Scott and Warren is also examined a bit. Warren is afraid of loosing Jean for good. But he keeps up a brave face and tries to cheer her up. Even escorting her to the campus on her first day. Scott is the only X-Man who expresses no feelings over her departure. With Jean contemplating: "He never cared for me... and never will!" While Cyclops' thought balloons reveal that the man is heartbroken. He simply has no idea how to express that. This issue introduces another love interest for Jean: Ted Roberts. He is depicted as handsome but not given much depth here.
Otherwise, the issue has the X-Men combating giant insects. Xavier is primarily interested in finding out if the insects are mutants. His secondary interest being on preventing a large-scale famine. The battle scenes this issue are quite good. I have to admit I love stories where the insect world gets the spotlight for a while. Roy Thomas his first original X-Man villain: the Locust, the mastermind behind the attacks. So how interesting is August?
Well, he has his good points. But he is not exactly ready to rival Magneto here. August Hopper is an expert entomologist and a master in the creation of insecticides. But his name remains obscure since former employers took credit for it. His theories on how ionic energy could mutate insects to a larger size brought him only ridicule. So he sets out to create the giant insects himself (proving his theory) and then stopping them from spreading famine. Some typical mad scientist stuff.
in combat, the Locust gets to shine. His armor is strong enough to endure blasts from Cyclops with no scratch, easily evade the Beast and contains enough tricks to make a fool out of Angel. Only when Jean telekinetically damages his equipment, does Locust find himself in trouble. Not bad for a novice villain. With some better motivation, Locust could be a classic villain of the 1960s. As it is, he seems a bit of a throwback to Marvel's numerous mad scientists of the 1950s.