With Professor X gone and on the start of his mission (That we will see more of next month) we have Cyclops leading the team. At the unset of the story we have the X-Men undergoing a training session. When compete the team is given leave and Beast and Iceman take off to Greenwich Village, un the way beast intervenes in saving a child needing rescue and as thanks invokes the rage of the crowed. Building on the idea of anti-mutant hatred more then I recall seeing before this issue.
The result an angery and upset beast quits the team and takes up the role of using his powers as a wrestler. It is in the ring that he faces off and meets Unis “the Untouchable”. He also learns that Unis is being courted by Mastermind to join Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
As the story progresses we see Unis face off against Beast in the ring, then later the X-Men Sans Beast in the field. The X-Men returning after there battle, concerned about the possibility of Unis joining Magneto discover Beast working on a device. Unsure and distrusing of the Beast they follow him and witness him using the device to boost the power of Unis. The X-Men feel betrayed but in the end, it turns out the beast was showing himself to be cleaver
In a resent Sgt Fury we dealt with similar themes of distrust of a teammate and betrayal, and in the latest Adventures we dealt with a newcommer being tasked with taking out one member of a team. But I am not surprised to see similar themes come up from different Stan Lee stories of the time, even if the closeness of the spread (in terms of time) may discount the ones that are read later.
Characters & Development
Perhaps no X-Man grows more this issue then the beast. Seeing him pushed to his last straw , quit the team and use his powers to start living a life where he can try to be both himself and not a hero is just the start of a glimpse into him.
More importantly is his return to the X-Men, his drive to make an invention as a solution to the problem that is Unis. More so, it is not just that he invents a device, but the cleaver way it works to defeat him by making the villain more powerful. beast the inventor and the mastermind is being born.
Scott and Jean
Stan is starting to flesh out the unspoken love between Scott and Jean more, unspoken but loudly thought in bubbles that we can read that is. To quote Cyclops:
If only I could tell her the words I Really want to say! How gorgeous her lips are… how silken her hair is… how I Love her! But, I dare not.Cyclops (Scott Summers) X-MEN #8
I haven’t the right! Not now, when I’m supposed to be their Leader! I can’t listen to my own heart! I must be detached… unemotional!
While on the same page we have Jean thinking the following:
Oh, Scott… If only you felt about me as I do about you! but you dont… you just don’t”Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) X-MEN #8
As you can see, they love each other; but in great comic book fashion the feelings will go unnoted by the other… For now.
As much as I love there romance, I can’t help but note that Marvel Girl as the lone woman on the teams training amounts to using her telekinetic power to thread a punchboard in a regular pattern. In issue #1 where she was new to the school this seems acceptable, but here we witness her being underutilized in a way that is unfortunately common and telling of comics of the era.
Last, I want to talk about Iceman and him pushing his powers further, going transparent (being more like ice) In many ways this is the start of the evolution that will take us from the Snowman that was of the early X-Men to the Iceman he becomes.
Originality And Continuity
we cannot deny that this picks up where the last issue left off, Cyclops lonely and in charge with the professor gone and the X-Men making a go of it themselves. It also has panels that lead into the upcoming issue while we see where the Professor is off to when Cyclops seeks his advice and input (if not return). In fact as an ongoing narrative I have to say that X-Men at this point is developing nicely.
So thus far in my review, I have been seeing a well rounded story that while with its flaws (Mostly speaking to the era) is well done. The same is true for the Artwork. We have some solid work of the X-Men’s training early on. But then we have Beast with a torn up suit and look that speaks volumes of the experince that transpired leading to him quitting. Last we have the visualization of Unis , being even more untuchable at the climax of the story.
This is an enjoyable read that builds upon the narrative of the X-Men issues of the day, while it may feel in some ways like a transition from the last issue to the bigger next issue. It does offer some solid character growth for our hero’s.