Character Saves the Issue (Not the Day)
...huh? First, though, we should say the character moments in this issue are the real highlight, even though they are mostly negative. Finally the facade of "fighting team" comes down long enough to see some antagonisms: Warren has had enough of Jean and Xavier's secrecy, especially now that their teammates and the world are in genuine danger. Xavier's "Cyclops and Beast are all right" is total nonsense, and everyone knows it. Jean finally asserts herself for the first time in dozens of issues, acting like she's a real person. Most women have slapped the other X-Men long ago, especially Hank and his "you're such a girl" garbage. The death of Xavier is also a fairly touching scene, if abrupt and poorly blocked. Even the final splash page with Warren carrying Xavier's body is confusingly upstaged by Grotesk's giant boot (and the promise of Magneto's return).
The bad, though, tends to overshadow the good, especially in sheer volume. Again, not much makes sense in this issue, especially the timing of everything. The speed with which people get to the mansion, to Grotesk, back to the mansion, and back to the oscilloscope (enough with the names, Thomas), it's like everything is happening in the basement or something. Xavier's "plan," disguising himself like someone he's never seen, leading the indestructible monster to the one thing he wants, not having the X-Men there to attack, all of it is confusing. Based on the letters pages of the past few issues, the original audience thought these issues were the best thing that ever happened to them, which is a bit sad, since I'm pretty sure Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare were available in the '60s but perhaps not. Out of nowhere Angel brings solar-powered hand-discs to attack Grotesk, having stolen them from Xavier's study - his reasoning sort of makes sense but the sudden appearance of things simply because Thomas wants them to exist continually hamper the intellectual enjoyment of these issues. Grotesk similarly pulls mighty technological solid-smoke bombs from his outfit. Comics don't have to be inane; sometimes Thomas proves he can do enjoyable, intelligent things, but then he will have elements like Xavier using his telepathy on machines. What? He and Jean use their telepathic skills to stop the earthquake machine? In the origin of Cyclops b-story, Xavier probes the machines in the warehouse as well. He can't scan Jack O'Diamond's diamond brain, but he can scan machines. I dunno. He's the strongest mind on the planet, or so we keep hearing, but he has to push himself ever harder to scan the brain of a radiation-debilitated sub-human. There is mighty promise here and there, but the overall conflicts and issues are not living up to the possibilities presented in scattered moments and frames. The initial Roy Thomas run is going nowhere fast. Will the death of Professor Xavier ironically resuscitate the life of the series? Let's hope so.