Saturday, 9 July 2011

UXM #36: "Mekano Lives!"

(...But Lego and Playmobil remain in critical condition.)


I've been waiting to cover this issue since I started the blog, because it's by far my favourite in Roy Thomas' run.  Sure, the second half is the same morass of camp mediocrity we've come to expect of him, but the first half is sure lunatic genius.  The X-Men now finally know the location of Factor Three's secret headquarters (somewhere in the eastern Alps), and are dead-set on crossing the Atlantic and laying some mutant smack-down on the gits who kidnapped the Professor, only... they can't afford the plane fare.

For a comic that until now has had a vehicle for any occasion, including one issue in which one half of the X-Men use a jet to save the other half who've lost their helicopter, basing an issue about begging for the cash necessary to fly economy is a brilliant move.  Thomas even goes to the trouble of pointing out the X-Jet is out of fuel.  You could maybe quibble about the idea that a lack of proper paperwork would make it impossible to exchange a Rolls Royce for cold, hard cash, but I can't really blame Thomas for the way '60s superheroes always act so squeaky clean.

This gives us half a dozen or so brilliant pages in which the X-Men try to scrounge together the cash.  First, they apply for a loan to help their sick teacher, which is denied because they can't find Warren's parents to vouch for them (I guess Jean's parents aren't wealthy enough to count).  Then they try to get jobs as construction workers - a nice glimpse of what life as a mutant would really be like - only to be told that they can't be paid because the union would throw a fit.

Indeed, if you wanted to push things a bit (well, probably quite a lot) you could even convince yourself that this is the story where the first strands of the "mutants as race metaphor" start to appear.  The banks won't touch the X-Men, even though their story is true and they can easily pay back the money in time.  The foreman won't hire them either.  It's not his fault, he says, it's those pesky unions: they won't wear it.

So no help from the man, no chance of employment even though you clearly have the skills.  What do you turn to?


Even then, problems arise.  Beast and Iceman are putting on a street show, without conning anyone or causing any kind of ruckus, and yet a pair of white policemen are standing by, ready to arrest them on the flimsiest of pretexts.  As soon as a costumed maniac appears and claims the X-Men work for him, the boys in blue reach for the handcuffs and wade in.

I'm not saying - and indeed, I highly doubt - that this was on Thomas' mind at the time, but that doesn't mean nothing's going on under the surface.

As for the rest of the issue, it's crap. Spoilt rich boy gives X-Men a lift.  Spoilt rich boy turns out to be supervillain who wants to wreck Daddy's library.  X-Men stop spoilt rich boy.  Daddy pays X-Men in gratitude and they board a plane.  Rubbish.

(This issue marks the fourth anniversary of the comic's run)

The majority, and perhaps whole, of this issue takes place over a night and a day.

Since Cyclops has only just worked out Factor Three is hiding in the Alps, and Jean showed him a map of a Central European mountain range at the end of last issue, we should probably assume this story follows straight on (assuming Scott didn't take some time off to make his eye-beams do push-ups). 

The X-Men acquire the money for their plane tickets early the next day.  It's not explicitly mentioned how long it takes for them to book a flight, but let's assume they found something that day.  There's bound to be plenty of flights from New York airports to Europe.


Saturday 5th of April, 1980.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 1.99 standard years.

(Iceman is 40 years old)

"Y'know, group, I'm getting
worried about Beastie"

Contemporary Events

Final days of the 1980 Islamic uprising in Syria, which ultimately leads to legislation three months later making membership in the Muslim Brotherhood punishable by death.

Standout Line

"Hmmm -- Hank and Bobby were pretty secretive about their plan!" I'll bet they were.  The evidence just keeps pouring in, doesn't it?

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