Wednesday, 15 June 2011

UXM #12: "The Origin Of Professor X!"

(Guess who's coming to smash up dinner?) 


I really like this story.  Ratcheting up the tension by degrees each time the unseen aggressor smashes unharmed through another obstacle and trap is a really nice device, especially since the build-up ends with the Juggernaut just sweeping the whole team aside with his first blow.

The only thing that really spoils it is Xavier's twin convictions that a) there isn't time to describe Juggernaut's power set, and b) the explanation of the attacker's motives must include the period when he bullied Xavier as a child.  There's a time and a place for this kind of exposition: it's called "therapy."

This issue, it's Cyclop's turn to be hit with the idiot-stick.  "Stay out, all of you!  No one is supposed to know about the Professor's Cerebro machine!"  Well done, Scott: you've just hit upon the X-Men equivalent of "Don't tell him, Pike!"  And how exactly did the other X-Men think Xavier was powering his radar-image beam last issue, anyway?

Cerebro seems to be working somewhat differently in these early days, able as it is to pick up powerful aliens (as it did last issue) and now magically-enhanced people, though Xavier takes great pain to insist that the Juggernaut is a mutant.  If memory served, it took a long time for the comic to stop creating back stories to explain why people became mutants.  Xavier himself, of course, implicitly credits the nuclear tests his parents were engaged in for his mental powers (a claim which causes something of a headaches continuity-wise, see below).


This story takes place over a single day, the same day on which Magneto and the Toad are abducted by the Stranger. 

Xavier's origin story, as predicted after reading issue #1, causes us some difficulty.  The earliest Xavier could have been born to parents who had worked on the Manhattan Project is 1943, which would put him at two years old when the Trinity test (the only nuclear test performed at Alamogordo) killed his father, and ten when the Korean War in which he took part ended. [1]

Time, then, for a little creative book-keeping.  Let's assume Xavier only served in the final year of the war, and that he was eighteen at the time - we know that he had at least headed to college beforehand, but we don't know how long he was there for.  That would make him ten when his father died (which seems about right, judging by how he's drawn).  We'll just have to assume that the Americans of the Marvel Universe were tinkering with the atom in the mid '30s. 

All of this puts Xavier at 43 years old at this point, which seems entirely plausible.


Tuesday 22nd August, 1978.
Compression Constant
1 Marvel month = 4.65 standard months.
Contemporary Events

The Sandinistas occupy the national palace in Nicaragua.
Stand-Out Line
"But, our next defence should hold him!  It's the gas that causes loss of balance!" It's actually rather cool to watch how honed the X-Men's team-work has become,  but at the risk of playing armchair general, I'm not convinced that following concrete-strength ice-walls, electromagnetic force fields, electrified cables, and sleeping gas, your best bet is to hope you opponent will fall over and lack the will to crawl.
[1] It's a little strange to hear the oft-called Martin Luther Xavier shouting "The Reds are shelling this area!" Apparently Xavier's dream of peaceful existence between all peoples of the Earth doesn't extend to those stinking Communist dogs.

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