Wednesday

OMU: X-Men -- Year Six

The fortunes of the X-Men finally began to improve in 1975, when Roy Thomas, now editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, decided to greenlight the new, international team he had always wanted to try. He charged writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum to reinvent the X-Men for a new quarterly publication to be called Giant-Size X-Men. Keeping only Cyclops and Professor X, Wein and Cockrum filled the book with colorful new characters such as Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. Thomas’s instincts proved right, and the book was a big success. Plans for the quarterly title were scrapped, and the X-Men’s regular book, which had been running reprints for years, suddenly came to life again and began its ascent to unparalleled heights of popularity.

However, George Olshevsky’s early chronological analysis revealed that the new X-Men actually spent as many as fifteen months training together between their initial adventure in Giant-Size X-Men #1 and their battle with Count Nefaria in Uncanny X-Men #94–95. What the original members did during this time is mostly unrecorded as well. Thus, another year of the characters’ lives is, by and large, an Untold Tale of the Original Marvel Universe.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Now, the seventh installment of… The True History of the X-Men!


January 1967 – After spending much of the last year separated, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, Havok, and Polaris train together to learn to work as a team again, under the watchful eye of Professor X at Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in Salem Center, Westchester County, New York. Aware that his students have all pretty much grown up now, Xavier has begun compiling dossiers on potential recruits to the team from across the globe.

February 1967 – Bobby Drake celebrates his 19th birthday.

March 1967 – Far north in the Canadian woods, the mutant called Wolverine battles both the Hulk and the mystical monster known as the Wendigo. Professor Xavier has been keeping tabs on Wolverine as one of his potential recruits to the X-Men.

April 1967 – Jean Grey celebrates her 20th birthday.

May 1967 – Iceman teams up with the Human Torch to battle the thermodynamic menace called Equinox in New York City. During the fight, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and the Angel arrive to tell Iceman he’s needed for an important mission. Iceman decides to help the Torch first, and after they defeat Equinox, he returns to Westchester. The X-Men leave on the aforementioned mission, to investigate an incredibly powerful mutant presence on an island in the South Pacific.

While the X-Men are away, Professor X is attacked by Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The Defenders come to Xavier’s aid, and Magneto’s plan to use “Alpha, the Ultimate Mutant” backfires and he, Mastermind, the Blob, Unus the Untouchable, and Lorelei are all regressed to infancy. Xavier arranges to have the babies taken to the Mutant Research Centre on Muir Isle, off the coast of Scotland, which is run by his old colleague Moira MacTaggart.

During their mission to the South Pacific, the X-Men disappear, and only Cyclops is able to escape. He reveals that the mutant they detected was the island itself, a sentient land mass calling itself Krakoa. Professor X then quickly gathers a new team of young mutants for an emergency rescue mission: Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, Thunderbird, Sunfire, Wolverine, and Banshee. Once Krakoa is defeated, hurled into space by the team’s combined powers, the original X-Men decide the time has come to leave Xavier’s and get on with their lives. Only Cyclops elects to stay. The new members begin a long period of extensive training.

June 1967 – Jean Grey moves into an apartment in New York City with a new roommate, Misty Knight, a private investigator. Misty is unaware of Jean’s identity as Marvel Girl, which she has abandoned to return to modeling while she figures out what to do with her life. While Jean is still moving in, Storm, a.k.a. Ororo Munro, comes to visit and they become fast friends.

August 1967 – Nightcrawler, a.k.a. Kurt Wagner, celebrates his 18th birthday. Meanwhile, Bobby Drake enrolls at UCLA, on a scholarship Professor Xavier helped arrange for him, where he will get a degree in accounting.

September 1967 – Professor X lends a hand to the Fantastic Four when they are attacked by a mutant named Jamie Madrox, “the Multiple Man.” Judging that Madrox’s needs would not be met by having him join the new X-Men, Xavier contacts Moira MacTaggart. Soon, Madrox takes up residence on Muir Isle.

November 1967 – Wolverine starts hanging around in New York City, getting acclimated to his new home. One night, he is pursued by a shadowy, threatening presence which he eventually realizes is his old nemesis Sabretooth.

December 1967 – In a bizarre incident, the X-Men find themselves trapped within impenetrable force-fields for many long, frustrating hours. Later, after celebrating his 24th birthday, Hank McCoy, who has come to terms with his transformation into the furry blue Beast, pays an impromptu visit to the mansion, but nobody is home. While there, he takes a strange phone call from the man formerly known as Captain America. Hank does his best to offer the disillusioned hero some words of wisdom.


Notes:

March 1967 – Wolverine’s debut story is featured in Hulk #180–182. This is his first mission for Department H as the costumed super-agent Wolverine. Prior to this he was a regular intelligence operative known as Logan.

May 1967 – Iceman and the Human Torch fight Equinox in Marvel Team-Up #23. Professor X and the Defenders square off against Magneto in Defenders #15–16. The subsequent trip to Muir Isle is revealed in flashback in X-Men #2. Then, the genesis of the new team of X-Men is chronicled in Giant-Size X-Men #1, with further details provided in Classic X-Men #1. The original team members, save Cyclops, take their leave at the beginning of Uncanny X-Men #94.

June 1967 – Jean and Ororo’s friendship blossoms in the second story in Classic X-Men #2.

August 1967 – Nightcrawler’s birthday will be established in Uncanny X-Men Annual #4. Bobby Drake’s college career is revealed in Champions #1.

September 1967 – Madrox the Multiple Man is introduced in Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4. Professor X makes a cameo appearance.

November 1967 – Wolverine’s extracurricular activities are documented in the second story in Classic X-Men #10.

December 1967 – The X-Men’s ordeal is a result of the events depicted in Thor #233. Later, the Beast makes a cameo appearance in Captain America #183. He discusses how he came to terms with his transformation in Avengers #137.





Friday

OMU: X-Men -- Year Five

While their book continued to run only reprinted stories, the X-Men were at least involved in an ongoing storyline of sorts during the next twelve months experienced by the characters. Between a minor guest-starring role in a couple issues of Avengers and the Secret Empire saga in Captain America, members of the X-Men made only a few cameo appearances, but they were tied into a vague “missing mutants” scenario. Much of their role in this storyline, however, occurred behind the scenes and remains unrecorded. As such, it would make a fascinating Untold Tale of the Original Marvel Universe, in the “Ten Little Indians” psychological thriller mold.

During this time, the X-Men were frequently depicted wearing their original uniforms again, rather than the individual costumes introduced back in Uncanny X-Men #39. I believe this is merely an error in presentation, and, despite efforts to account for it in the dialogue and in later retcons, it does not reflect what was actually the case in the Marvel Universe. Such mistakes were not uncommon, particularly where the X-Men were concerned. For example, in Captain America #173, we see Cyclops blasting the ground with his eye beams and starting a raging fire. On the cover of that issue, his optic blast is shown to be melting a gun. However, we know for a fact that his eye beams generate force, not heat. In the preceding issue, Marvel Girl is shown to levitate both Captain America and the Falcon simultaneously from within a city all the way out to a rural area. I don’t think she was that powerful. Likewise, in #174, the Falcon receives a telepathic warning from Professor X, who then comments that the Falcon’s reception of the message marks him as a man with a paranormal mind. This is clearly ridiculous, since Professor X can project his thoughts into anybody’s mind with consummate ease. In fact, that’s his power. It requires no special qualities in the mind of the receiver. Also, in the Beast’s appearances in Captain America #173, 174, and 183, he is colored gray again rather than dark blue. Rather than trying to explain away these obvious gaffes, it is easier to just acknowledge that the comics themselves sometimes are an unreliable account of what transpired in the Marvel Universe.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


And here is the sixth installment of… The True History of the X-Men!


January 1966 – Magneto breaks into Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, knocks out the Angel, and steals back the costume he had given the young mutant in the Savage Land over a year ago. Magneto then defeats the X-Men in a surprise attack. During the battle, the unconscious Angel is kidnapped by agents of the Secret Empire. The Avengers arrive on the scene, and are nearly defeated by Magneto as well, but with Daredevil’s help, the heroes ultimately triumph and the villain is taken into custody. Professor Charles Xavier then realizes the Angel has disappeared, but they are unable to find any trace of him. About a week later, the Beast is ambushed in the Canadian woods by agents of the Secret Empire, and he too is taken prisoner. Soon, Professor X learns of the Beast’s disappearance as well.

February 1966 – Professor Xavier enlists the aid of FBI Special Agent Fred Duncan to locate his missing students. Bobby Drake celebrates his 18th birthday. Meanwhile, Mesmero is kidnapped by agents of the Secret Empire.

March 1966 – The Blob and Unus the Untouchable are both kidnapped by agents of the Secret Empire.

April 1966 – Jean Grey celebrates her 19th birthday. Professor Xavier and Agent Duncan contact S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jakuna Singh and Shanna O’Hara to tell them the mutant known as the Mandrill is at large in their area, as is a very powerful unidentified second mutant, and potentially they threaten all of Africa. In closing, Professor Xavier asks that they be kept informed of any unusual occurrences either Singh or O’Hara might encounter. Meanwhile, Mastermind, still recovering from his recent mental breakdown, is kidnapped by agents of the Secret Empire.

May 1966 – While Iceman is off searching for clues as to the disappearances of his teammates, Morbius escapes from the Professor’s laboratory. Cyclops offers to go after the vampire, but Professor X says it is more important that they focus on the problem of the missing mutants. Meanwhile, Alex Summers and Lorna Dane are both kidnapped by agents of the Secret Empire.

June 1966 – Bobby Drake receives his high school diploma and graduates from Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Then, feeling rather shorthanded, Professor X, Cyclops, and Marvel Girl travel to New Mexico to enlist the aid of Havok and Polaris, only to discover their abduction. While there, the trio find themselves called upon to defeat the Juggernaut after his battle with the Hulk. Meanwhile, while on another scouting mission, Iceman is kidnapped by agents of the Secret Empire.

September 1966 – Agent Duncan is murdered by the Secret Empire when his investigation of the “missing mutants” phenomenon brings him too close to the truth.

October 1966 – While investigating Fred Duncan’s murder, Professor X finally discovers a connection between the mutant abductions and a PAC known as the Committee to Regain America’s Principles, which is a front for the subversive organization called the Secret Empire. The X-Men begin investigating the Committee.

November 1966 – The Committee to Regain America’s Principles is engaged in a media campaign to discredit Captain America and to promote the armored gladiator called Moonstone as a true hero for the American people. The X-Men’s investigation leads them to join forces with Captain America and the Falcon to bring down the Secret Empire. In the subversive organization’s secret underground base, located somewhere in the American southwest, the heroes finally discover the nine missing mutants, all hooked up to a sinister machine that is siphoning off the peculiar mutant energies within their bodies. Unfortunately, before they can effect a rescue, the heroes are laid low by the Secret Empire’s energy weapon called an “atomic annihilator.” However, they are revived shortly afterward by Gabe Jones and Peggy Carter, two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who have infiltrated the organization and made sure the weapon’s rays were not lethal.

While Professor X stays with the X-Men’s aircraft, Cyclops and Marvel Girl join the two secret agents, Captain America, and the Falcon in stowing away on the flying saucer with which the Secret Empire intends to conquer America. Once the saucer has landed on the White House lawn, the heroes attack the Empire’s personnel and defeat them. Outside, Captain America tackles the Secret Empire’s leader, known as Number One. Then, after defeating Moonstone, Cap chases Number One into the White House. Moments later, Marvel Girl receives a psychic flash from Captain America, who has just unmasked Number One and discovered him to be none other than President Morris N. Richardson himself. His secret revealed, President Richardson pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the head. Cap is devastated, and Marvel Girl feels sick to her stomach. The government is able to cover it up, however, and Vice President William Miller, cleared of any connection to the Secret Empire, is sworn in as President. Only Captain America, Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Professor X, and various S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel know the truth behind the conspiracy. Warren, Hank, Bobby, Alex, and Lorna remember little of their period of captivity.

December 1966 – Having realized that they need to learn to better control their powers, Alex and Lorna agree to return to Xavier’s school and join the X-Men. Warren must begin physical therapy to recover from his ten months of confinement. Hank is devastated by the revelation that his beloved Linda Donaldson was an agent of the Secret Empire, and so he elects to strike out on his own again, to rebuild his life as a furry blue Beast. Later, he celebrates his 23rd birthday.


Notes:

January 1966 – The X-Men team up with the Avengers to battle Magneto once again in Avengers #110–111. The abductions of the Angel and the Beast are shown in flashback in Captain America #174.

April 1966 – Professor X makes a cameo appearance in Shanna the She-Devil #5. The unidentified second mutant turns out to be Nekra, which Xavier was presumably informed of later.

May 1966 – Morbius escapes the Professor’s lab in the flashback presented in Adventure Into Fear #20.

June 1966 – Professor X, Cyclops, and Marvel Girl put the kibosh on the Juggernaut in Hulk #172. Their discovery of the kidnapping of Alex and Lorna is shown in flashback in Captain America #173. Iceman’s disappearance is mentioned in the same issue.

September 1966 – The death of Special Agent Duncan was never detailed in any canonical story, but he disappeared after his cameo in Shanna the She-Devil #5. Thus, it makes perfect sense to have his death be tied in to the Secret Empire storyline.

November 1966 – The X-Men guest-star in the Secret Empire saga in Captain America #172–175. For the full story on President Morris N. Richardson, see OMU: POTUS -- Part Three.





Thursday

OMU: X-Men -- Year Four

Due to the fact that their title had been effectively cancelled—running only reprinted material—the activities of the X-Men during the next twelve months of the characters’ lives remain essentially unrecorded. It is unlikely that they spent the whole time sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee, so the entire year is basically one big Untold Tale of the Original Marvel Universe! Since the characters did make a number of guest appearances in other titles, and one of them, the Beast, was given a brief solo run in a “try-out” series, we can construct a rough framework of the context in which these unknown adventures occurred. Some things we do know: Iceman returns to the fold after striking out on his own; Lorna Dane is a member of the team for about the first seven or eight months of the year; Magneto is out of commission for most of this period; and Hank, Scott, Warren, and Jean finally all graduate for real. Beyond that, readers are free to invent their own tales, for the Original Marvel Universe is a closed system, and such made-up stories therefore carry no more nor less weight than anything cooked up by people like Chris Claremont and John Byrne. The only sin is violating established continuity (or common sense), and even the pros are frequently guilty of that.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Onward with the fifth installment of… The True History of the X-Men!


January 1965 – Professor Xavier travels to Hoover Dam to join Reed Richards, as well as General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross and his staff, to initiate their project to cure the Hulk. Sure enough, the Hulk is lured into their trap and subjected to tremendous amounts of electricity, which renders him unconscious. However, as they are moving the Hulk to a stasis chamber where they will be able to study him, the green-skinned brute suddenly vanishes into thin air. Both Professor Xavier and Reed Richards are baffled, and neither is able to find any trace of the Hulk anywhere on earth. Frustrated, General Ross orders the project suspended indefinitely.

Meanwhile, Magneto has escaped from his specially-prepared prison and kidnaps Black Bolt, drawing the mutant master of magnetism into conflict with the royal family of the Inhumans. Magneto’s powers, which have been slowly affecting his brain for years, have now driven him almost completely insane. At the climax of the battle, Magneto is caught in a tremendous explosion and is nearly killed. It will be many months before he recovers.

February 1965 – In New York City, Bobby Drake celebrates his 17th birthday. He continues to pursue a career as a solo crime-fighter, although this means delaying finishing his junior year at Xavier’s. He begins to find his solo act to be lonely and dispiriting.

March 1965 – After spending what would normally be “Spring Break” with his parents on Long Island, Bobby decides to return to Xavier’s school and finish his education. The X-Men are happy to have him back, and he and Lorna decide they can just be friends.

April 1965 – Jean Grey celebrates her 18th birthday.

June 1965 – Scott Summers, Warren Worthington III, and Jean Grey all finally receive their high school diplomas from Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Hank McCoy also graduates, having earned a B.S. in genetics. Hank is eager to begin his career as a researcher at the Brand Corporation, a job which Professor Xavier helped secure for him. Hank says goodbye to his teammates and drives away. Bobby starts an intensive summer school program to make up for the time he spent in NYC. After a couple weeks of vacation, Hank reports to his new job at Brand’s Genetic Research Subdivision complex on Long Island, where he is assigned a laboratory and an assistant, a beautiful young blonde named Linda Donaldson. He also meets a more senior scientist, the temperamental Dr. Carl Maddicks.

July 1965 – After working closely together for a few weeks, a romance develops between Hank and Linda Donaldson. Sadly, her eagerness to get close to him is merely a function of her role as a spy for the subversive organization called the Secret Empire. Blissfully unaware, Hank throws himself headlong into his work, trying to isolate the hormone that triggers human mutations.

August 1965 – Professor Xavier becomes concerned about the dangerous potential of Alex Summers’ mutant power, and so he asks Lorna Dane to visit Alex in New Mexico to persuade him to return to the X-Men. On her way out to the remote house where Alex is staying, Lorna is accosted by a motorcycle gang. However, she causes them all to wipe out with her magnetic powers. Frightened, Lorna flees into the desert and eventually finds Alex. The Hulk suddenly drops out of the sky, however, believing her to be his lost love Jarella. The Hulk is angered when he realizes he is mistaken, and Alex must use the power of Havok to rescue Lorna. Afterwards, Alex convinces Lorna to leave the X-Men and stay with him in New Mexico. Their long-simmering romance finally comes to a head and they become lovers.

October 1965 – At the Brand Corporation, Hank McCoy succeeds in isolating the mutation-triggering hormone, but learns that spies intend to steal it that night. Panicking, Hank ingests the hormone extract and is suddenly transformed into a gray-furred ape-like creature with fangs. He goes on a rampage, attacking the Brand Corporation personnel, and nearly kills the treacherous Dr. Maddicks before regaining his senses. Later that night, he receives a telepathic communiqué from Professor X and Marvel Girl, but he angrily rebuffs them. That night, he crafts a disguise that will allow him to pass as Hank McCoy, but he realizes he has been permanently transformed into a new kind of Beast.

The next night, the Beast battles Iron Man, and is tricked by Mastermind into believing he has killed the Golden Avenger. Unable to think straight, the Beast then falls in with Mastermind and his two associates, the Blob and Unus the Untouchable. With the Beast’s help, they steal a large diamond from a Manhattan townhouse, but later Hank’s mind clears and he defeats the three criminals, leaving Mastermind suffering from a mental breakdown. Later, Hank finds Iron Man and learns that he is still very much alive. Then, he returns to Brand and tries to explain away his disappearances to security chief Captain Robert “Buzz” Baxter.

Meanwhile, the X-Men team up with Spider-Man to battle Morbius, the Living Vampire. Professor X again tries to contact Hank, but, intent on finding a way to reverse his transformation, he tells the Professor that he is unavailable. Morbius is defeated and imprisoned in Professor Xavier’s lab, so that a cure for his vampire-like condition may be found.

The Beast then fights Quasimodo when the villainous android breaks into the Brand Corporation complex. Injured in the battle, Hank stumbles into the arms of Captain Baxter’s red-haired wife, Patsy. Unexpectedly, the Beast’s fur suddenly changes from gray to bluish-black, as his body adjusts to the artificially-induced mutation. After he comes to, Hank confides in Patsy, and she is sympathetic. However, she extracts a promise from him to make her a super-heroine in exchange for keeping his secret. With little choice, Hank agrees. Later, the Beast is attacked by a creature called the Griffin, who is in the employ of the Secret Empire. Their battle is interrupted by the Angel, who has come to see what has happened to Hank. Warren provides an alibi for Hank with the people at Brand, which Patsy Baxter happily corroborates. Later, the Beast and the Angel defeat the Griffin.

After Warren leaves, Hank is surprised by Vera Cantor, who has been searching for him. She desperately needs his expertise in mutations, and he agrees to go with her to Canada. Unfortunately, when Hank requests a week off, he is fired for excessive absenteeism. After giving in to a temper tantrum, Hank storms out of Brand. He and Vera get on the road immediately. On the way to Québec, however, their car breaks down just outside Rutland, Vermont. It is Halloween, and the city’s annual Halloween Parade is underway. During the festivities, Hank is drawn into battle with the Juggernaut. The Beast is able to defeat him, though, and finally the Juggernaut is drawn back into the other dimension from which he emerged. The next morning, Hank and Vera buy a car from a local farmer and continue on their way north.

November 1965 – Hank and Vera finally arrive at their destination, a remote cabin in the Canadian woods, where they find Calvin Rankin, the Mimic, who is now Vera’s boyfriend. Hank learns that Rankin’s mutant powers have gone haywire, and threaten to absorb the life force of everyone on earth. The Hulk is drawn into their plans, but in the end, Rankin decides to sacrifice his life rather than pose a danger to the human race. The Hulk goes on his way, and Hank tries to comfort the distraught Vera.

December 1965 – With no job to return to, Hank stays in the remote cabin, where he celebrates his 22nd birthday alone. He is reevaluating his life in light of his transformation, and whether it is worth the trouble to continue trying to disguise himself as a normal man. He is tormented by the fact that, unless he can reverse his transformation, he cannot continue his love affair with Linda Donaldson.


Notes:

January 1965 – Professor X joins Reed Richards and General Ross in their attempt to cure the Hulk in Avengers #88. The Hulk’s sudden disappearance is due to his being kidnapped by the insectoid creature Psyklop. Magneto’s battle with the Inhumans is shown in Amazing Adventures #9–10. The degenerative effects of Magneto’s powers on his own brain were explored specifically in later issues of various X-Men titles, but it is clearly evidenced in this story, in which he is portrayed as very nearly a gibbering lunatic.

June 1965 – Jean Grey apparently transferred back to Xavier’s for her senior year, after spending the previous academic year at the school in Manhattan, since the whole storyline, and Ted Roberts with it, was dropped, never to be mentioned again. Hank’s job at the Brand Corporation, and the various people he met there, were all part of his series of solo stories in Amazing Adventures #11–16.

August 1965 – The Hulk’s battle with Havok is presented in Hulk #150. Presumably, Lorna Dane has been a member of the X-Men for the last ten months, learning to control her magnetic powers. It is unclear whether she has yet adopted the code-name “Polaris,” which was thought up years later.

October 1965 – All of the Beast’s solo stories in Amazing Adventures take place in the span of a single month. The mutation-triggering chemical that Hank McCoy discovers is basically the same thing that the Inhumans call terrigen. Patsy Baxter is soon revealed to be none other than Marvel’s “girl comics” star Patsy Walker, who has married Buzz Baxter, her sweetheart in those stories. She would later become a member of the Defenders as the acrobatic Hellcat. Reportedly, comics like Patsy Walker and Patsy & Hedy exist in both the real world and the Marvel Universe; only in the latter, they’re based on real people. Patsy makes a deal with the Beast in a flashback in Avengers #144. Hank loses his job in a flashback in Avengers #140. Meanwhile, the X-Men, appearing only in street clothes, join Spider-Man to battle Morbius in Marvel Team-Up #4. The Beast remains unaware of all the other weirdness going on in Rutland on Halloween night.

November 1965 – The Beast witnesses the sad fate of the Mimic in Hulk #161. Despite retcons to the contrary, Calvin Rankin really did die at this point in the Original Marvel Universe.





Tuesday

OMU: X-Men -- Year Three

While many of Marvel’s other titles were really starting to take off, the beleaguered X-Men continued to falter. The book suffered numerous changes in creative personnel, and perhaps inevitably, it often wandered rather far afield of its basic premise. Instead of meeting and/or battling interesting new mutants, the team too often tangled with non-mutant menaces from the backwaters of the Marvel Universe, such as Merlin/Warlock/Maha Yogi, Tyrannus, Blastaar, and Frankenstein’s Monster. The revolving door in the artistic department didn’t help matters any, and even the management’s hopes of kick-starting the franchise by offering it to hot new artist Jim Steranko were dashed when he quit after two issues. The X-Men’s fortunes began to improve dramatically when Roy Thomas returned to work with fan-favorite artist Neal Adams, ably abetted by star inker Tom Palmer. Unfortunately, the writing was already on the wall, and, citing consistently low sales, Marvel cancelled the book. Things did not look at all promising for the future of Marvel’s merry band of mutants.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


And now, we continue with the fourth installment of… The True History of the X-Men!


January 1964 – Early in the month, the X-Men are attacked by a sorcerer calling himself the Warlock, who had previously fought Thor. After his defeat, the X-Men are startled when they hear HYDRA’s worldwide broadcast of their ransom demands. Professor X assures the team the proper authorities have the situation well in hand. A few weeks later, the X-Men must battle Ted Roberts’ brother Ralph, a former Stark Industries engineer who has invented his own high-tech suit of armor and is calling himself Cobalt Man. During the battle, Ted realizes that Marvel Girl is really his classmate Jean Grey.

February 1964 – After celebrating Bobby Drake’s 16th birthday, Scott Summers and Jean Grey finally reveal their feelings for each other. They take their first tentative steps toward having a romantic relationship. Then, the X-Men must battle the Juggernaut after he escapes from a cell in the school’s basement where Professor X has spent the last eight months trying to telepathically rehabilitate him. While the X-Men are busy stopping the Juggernaut’s rampage, with some assistance from Doctor Strange, Charles Xavier is kidnapped by agents of Factor Three.

March 1964 – While the X-Men work to repair CEREBRO in order to search for the Professor, Ted Roberts calls Jean to ask for the X-Men’s help finding his kidnapped brother. They discover he was abducted by Tyrannus as part of his subterranean war with the Mole Man. The team rescues Ralph Roberts and returns to the surface.

April 1964 – In Europe, Banshee finally locates Factor Three’s headquarters, but a misunderstood warning causes the X-Men to get into a fight with Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Marvel Girl is able to pinpoint Banshee’s location through a device Professor X had given him, and the team is soon on their way to Europe. However, the X-Men are captured by their enemies and are shocked to discover that Factor Three consists of their old foes the Vanisher, the Blob, Mastermind, and Unus the Untouchable, as well as a new evil mutant called the Changeling. After an epic, globe-spanning battle, the X-Men defeat the forces of Factor Three and reveal its leader to be an alien attempting to conquer the earth. Freeing Professor X and Banshee, the team returns to Westchester, where Marvel Girl once again presents them with new, individualized costumes. Jean then celebrates her 17th birthday. A couple weeks later, the X-Men tangle with an android version of Frankenstein’s Monster.

May 1964 – The X-Men battle a subterranean menace calling himself “Grotesk,” but at the conclusion of the battle, Professor X is apparently killed. The X-Men are stunned and wracked with grief. After the Professor’s funeral, the X-Men attack Magneto at his island base in the Atlantic Ocean, but they lose the fight and are imprisoned. The Angel escapes and brings the Avengers to the rescue. The teams join forces and Magneto is defeated, but he is lost at sea. Returning home, the team is visited by Xavier’s old colleague, FBI Special Agent Fred Duncan, who officially disbands the X-Men. While trying to figure out what to do next, the Beast and Iceman have a rematch with the Warlock, now calling himself the Maha Yogi, in Greenwich Village.

June 1964 – Scott and Jean decide to spend the summer in New York City, where Jean gets work as a photographer’s model and Scott gets a job at a radio station. Warren Worthington III is also hanging around New York, where he and Agent Duncan solve the murder of Warren’s father. Meanwhile, Hank McCoy and Bobby Drake move out to San Francisco.

July 1964 – In San Francisco, Hank and Bobby meet a green-haired girl named Lorna Dane, and subsequently discover a plot by a mutant calling himself Mesmero to tap the power of the world’s many mutants with latent powers, such as Lorna. They are soon rejoined by Scott, Jean, and Warren, and the X-Men go into battle with Mesmero and Magneto (really a robot built by the Machinesmith). Lorna’s mutant powers are released, which are similar to Magneto’s. Cyclops infiltrates the villains’ headquarters disguised as “Erik the Red,” and this gives the X-Men the advantage they need to defeat their foes. The X-Men then take Lorna back to San Francisco.

August 1964 – The X-Men return to Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and soon must battle Blastaar, who materializes in their headquarters. After getting nearly electrocuted, Blastaar’s comatose body is taken to the installation in upstate New York that will eventually be known as Project: PEGASUS, thanks to the intervention of Special Agent Duncan.

September 1964 – The X-Men attend the chaotic wedding of Janet Van Dyne and Henry Pym. Later, at the school, the team listens helplessly as an unidentified villain broadcasts a threat to blackout the entire nation if his demands are not met. Then, the X-Men meet Scott’s younger brother, Alex Summers, who is suddenly kidnapped by a villain calling himself the Living Pharaoh. Channeling Alex’s cosmic ray powers allows the Pharaoh to transform himself into a giant called the Living Monolith. He is no sooner defeated than the X-Men are captured by Sentinels, under the control of Larry Trask, son of the late Bolivar Trask, who wants revenge for his father’s death last year. The Sentinels manage to capture a number of mutants before the X-Men finally defeat them. Cyclops tricks the logic-bound robots into flying into the sun. Trask has given Alex a special costume that allows him to control his devastating mutant power, and also gives him the code-name Havok.

October 1964 – Alex is injured in the battle and is taken to Dr. Karl Lykos, a former associate of Professor Xavier’s. He, too, has superhuman powers, and exposure to Alex transforms him into the pterodactyl-like monster Sauron. After a battle with the X-Men over Manhattan, Sauron travels to Antarctica, where Lykos, after becoming human again, tries to commit suicide by throwing himself into a crevasse. The X-Men follow him down, and wind up back in the Savage Land. There, they discover the real Magneto, who has created a group of powerful mutates from the primitive Swamp Men. With a little help from Ka-Zar, the X-Men defeat Magneto, who is buried under the rubble of his destroyed fortress. Then, on their way home, the X-Men fight the Japanese mutant called Sunfire, both in New York City and Washington, DC.

Finally, the exhausted X-Men return to Westchester, where Alex and Lorna are waiting. The teammates are shocked to discover that Charles Xavier is very much alive. His apparent death was an unfortunate development in an elaborate ruse made possible by the terminally-ill shape-shifter called the Changeling, who wanted a chance to make up for his evil deeds. The Professor needed to prepare for a battle with the approaching Z’Nox invasion force. His gambit is successful, and the aliens are driven off. However, the Professor collapses from mental exhaustion, and while the X-Men are seeking an experimental treatment from Bruce Banner, they fight with the Hulk in Las Vegas. Their mission is successful, however, and Xavier makes a full recovery. Not long after, Bobby becomes jealous that Lorna prefers Alex, and they get into a fight. Alex moves to New Mexico to start college, and Bobby takes a leave of absence and goes to stay in New York City. Shortly, Iceman and Spider-Man get involved in the election shenanigans in the race between Franklin “Foggy” Nelson and Sam Bullit for District Attorney of New York. Bullit is corrupt, and when the two heroes expose him, he drops out of the race.

November 1964 – On Election Day, Republican candidate Morris N. Richardson defeats incumbent Lyndon Johnson in the presidential election, riding a wave of anti-mutant rhetoric. Sensing the mood of the country is turning especially ugly, Professor X decides the team should keep a low profile until it blows over. Later, Xavier is contacted by Reed Richards, who enlists his aid in a project designed to capture and cure the Hulk.

December 1964 – While the X-Men help Lorna learn to use her powers safely, Charles Xavier works with Tony Stark and Reed Richards in designing the devices that will shock the Hulk into unconsciousness and then free Bruce Banner from his monstrous alter-ego. The project is set up at Hoover Dam on the Nevada-Arizona border, under the supervision of General T.E. “Thunderbolt” Ross of the United States Air Force. Meanwhile, Magneto joins forces with the Sub-Mariner and launches an attack on the Fantastic Four. However, after betraying Namor, Magneto is defeated and taken into custody. Later, Hank McCoy celebrates his 21st birthday.

Notes:

January 1964 – We pick up the X-Men’s adventures in Uncanny X-Men #30 and following. The team makes a cameo appearance in the S.H.I.E.L.D. story in Strange Tales #156.

February 1964 – Bobby Drake’s birthday is established in Uncanny X-Men #32. Although the story claims it is Bobby’s 18th birthday, in fact the X-Men proved to be somewhat younger than at first thought. Scott and Jean’s heart-to-heart talk, begun in this issue, is continued in flashback in Uncanny X-Men #138.

April 1964 – Jean Grey’s birthday is shown in the non-canonical X-Men Unlimited #42 (April 2003).

May 1964 – The conclusion of the X-Men / Avengers team-up against Magneto is presented in Avengers #53.

June 1964 – The obscure tale of the Angel solving his father’s murder is featured in back-up stories in Ka-Zar Quarterly #2–3 and Marvel Tales #30.

September 1964 – The wedding of Yellowjacket and the Wasp is shown in Avengers #60. The unidentified villain is Egghead, and his broadcast is heard by various superheroes, including the X-Men, in Sub-Mariner #14.

October 1964 – To repel the Z’Nox invasion fleet, Professor X generates a telepathic field of such power that he inadvertently makes mental contact with the alien princess Lilandra of the Shi’ar Empire, who is on the run from her despotic brother Emperor D’Ken, as revealed in Uncanny X-Men #107 and the back-up story in Classic X-Men #14. The X-Men’s battle with the Hulk is seen in Uncanny X-Men #66, after which the book contained only reprinted material for several years. Despite this semi-cancellation, however, members of the team continued to make guest-appearances in other titles during this period. Iceman’s fight with Havok over who gets to be Lorna’s boyfriend appears in a flashback in Hulk #150. His subsequent team-up with Spider-Man occurs in Amazing Spider-Man #92. Since Sam Bullit is still campaigning, it must be more than two days before the election, which was held on November 3, 1964—therefore, the story must be set in late October, not early November.

November 1964 – For the full story on Morris N. Richardson, see OMU: POTUS -- Part Three.

December 1964 – The project to cure the Hulk undertaken by Reed Richards, Tony Stark, and Charles Xavier is revealed in Avengers #88. Magneto’s battle with the Sub-Mariner and the Fantastic Four is chronicled in Fantastic Four #102–104. As previously stated, the Beast’s birthday is established in the non-canonical X-Men: The Hidden Years #22 (September 2001).


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