That's more like it
To me at least, this was one of the most enjoyable issues of this series. The characters get a chance to interact out of costume, we get a bit more insight on Cyclops, the Mimic and even the Super-Adaptoid. The Factor Three subplot takes a backseat. We only learn they are active in Europe.
-Anyway, the issue starts on a quiet winter morning. All six young X-Men visit a frozen pond near the Mansion. The males heavily dressed, Jean in a miniskirt! Robert and Hank are eager to skate. Though their skills leave much to be desired. Their goofs set a comic tone for the scene.
Warren has completely healed. He is back in action. In more ways than one. He helps Jean put on her skates. Then the two perform skating as a couple. Yep, the love triangle is still going strong. Calvin briefly mocks his teammates. Before putting on his own skates.
Finally, some quiet scenes. Necessary for character building. By this point in the series, only Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl were regularly seen out of costume. But even them mostly received brief scenes with their respective love interests (Vera Cantor, Zelda Kurtzberg, Ted Roberts) Just about any issue featured an emergency or costumed X-Men waiting for one. A reminder that these were teens was needed.
- But there is one X-Man who quickly distances himself from the others. He is our usual suspect, Cyclops the resident loner. But this time he has an actual reason. He wants to practice if he can mentally control his powers. More accurately, Scott removes his glasses and tries to will his eyes not to blast energy in the vicinity. Hoping that experience might help him gain control for once. He soon fails and is left in anguish.
Good scene actually. The uncontrolled nature of his powers is supposed to be a curse for him, one that constantly haunts him. But we haven't really seen Scott attempt to wrestle his problem before. His fear that his powers keep him apart from Jean is also expressed. (Though honestly, that Scott kept avoiding might have more to do with that little problem). Fear is followed by anger at the thought of loosing her.
- He starts blasting ahead while shouting "I won't be alone any longer! I love Jean --- and I'll smash anyone -- anything that would keep me from her!" Obsessive isn't he? But at least the boys has a voice. His blind anger starts a rockslide. Which alerts the next threat to the X-Men: the Super-Adaptoid. It seems that Chris Claremont liked that scene, since he recreated it it in #96 (December, 1975).
The Adaptoid was last seen in "Tales of Suspense" #84 (December, 1966) when it finally defeated Captain America, leaving him half-drowned in a a river. In that some same issue the android decided to escape the control of AIM. So this issue has him figuring a new purpose for himself/itself. Roy Thomas defines said purpose as locating superhumans and converting them to subordinate Adaptoids.
Could be worse, could be better. And it would be entirely dropped in subsequent appearances. At this point, Alessandro has the combined powers of Cap, Goliath/Hank Pym, Wasp and all the trick arrows of Hawkeye. Which gives him a better arsenal of powers than the X-Men. This could get interesting.
-The regular five X-Men reject offers of conversion to cyborgs. So the Adaptoid briefly fights them. And knocks them all out with one of Hawkeye's trick arrows. not much to write about here. Handy having the "powers" of an Avenger who regularly plays dirty.
Then the real fun begins. Calvin has had a fight with the X-Men and is about to leave the Mansion. But his main reason for joining the X-Men was a hope to permanently gain powers. Becoming an Adaptoid is a serious temptation for him. So he volunteers for conversion.
I loved that scene. Calvin is a morally grey character, something rare in 1960s comics. The conversion process has started when Cyclops (paralyzed but conscious) points out a problem. That Calvin would loose both his humanity and individuality. Becoming a robot. Which alerts Calvin to the danger and has him interrupt the process.
The scene is set for a fight between the Mimic and the Adaptoid. A rather one-sided fight, which has Calvin seriously outclassed. The Adaptoid flies at the speed of the Wasp, Calvin's wings are slower. The Adaptoid has the strenght of Hank Pym, Calvin the strength of the Beast. Clearly no match.
Until Calvin takes a wild risk. He uses telepathy to influence his opponent. The Adaptoid suddenly gets the impulse to add the Mimic's powers to his own. Resulting in their powers canceling each other out. Two powerless individuals are left falling from the sky. But Calvin gets rescued by Warren. While the Adaptoid falls into a nearby river, lamenting "There's no one to save me". A poignant reference to the necessity of allies in life.
Thomas has finally made Calvin the hero, just as he is leaving the scene. While leaving the Adaptoid more determined than ever to savor "the sweet scent of life". It left me cheering for both nominal villains. Funny that the Adaptoide has more human moments than opponents such as Banshee and the Ogre.
Naturally neither of the two "powerless" characters was forgotten. The Adaptoid returned in "Avengers" vol. 1 #45 (October, 1967). The mimic returned in "Incredible Hulk" vol. 2 #161 (March, 1973).