Tuesday, 28 February 2012

X-Men #3: "It is he! The one called the Blob!"

The first two issues of X-Men provide the template for one type of X-Men story - the X-Men are alerted to some evil mutant seeking to take his rightful place as Homo Superior - who they must defeat. X-Men #3 adds a new type of story, one essential to the mix, and yet of a kind that X-Men comics abandoned telling for several years recently (until the emergence of Generation Hope). The X-Men become aware of a new mutant - the Blob (who the cover correctly describes as "one of the strangest super-foes of all") - and seek to recruit him.

The Blob, who they find working as an attraction in a carnival, is brought to the mansion under protest, and declines to join the X-Men. One might wonder whether Cyclops picking a fight within him is something to do with this. Xavier's reaction is the remarkable

This is unheard of! No one has ever refused us before! You cannot be permitted to leave now that you know our identities -- it is out of the question!
Stop him, my X-Men!  I must drive this memory from his mind!  Take him to my lab!

At least Xavier realises he's made a "really serious mistake" a few pages later.   The Blob runs off, gets his colleagues at the roadshow to join him, and then makes a pre-emptive attack on the X-Men.  Having driven Magneto and the Vanisher away in the first two issues, it is a little undignified that the attractions nearly defeat the X-Men, being saved only at the last possible moment by Xavier directing a subdued Jean.  This time, Xavier only removes the memory of the X-Men from the antagonists' minds, rather than the full mindwipe we saw in #2 - a rather more proportionate response. By the logic of the "sliding scale of villain threat" we take away that the Vanisher is a more powerful threat than Magneto, and that the Blob (with allies) outweighs both of them.

Away from the plot, we see characterisation developed here.  Beast is now Beast, complete with long words and an avowed aversion to violence.  The first issue saw general leching over Jean from a mass of undifferentiated boys.  It now becomes a bit better drawn, with Hank, Bobby and Warren all competing for her affections, but Jean picking Scott instead.  Poor repressed Scott, who we learn here dares not open up while he "possess[es his] dread power".  The most disturbing aspect of this is that every named character appears to be carrying the torch for Jean.  Xavier has the thought bubble
"Don't worry"!  As though I could help worrying about the one I love!  But I can never tell her!  I have no right!  Not while I'm the leader of the X-Men, and confined to this wheelchair!

I'm not even going to try to unpack all the fail in that sentence.  Thankfully the matter is never referred to again.

And so we have a X-Men story that resembles the X-Men a little more.  Characters for Beast and Cyclops, and a bit of interpersonal dynamics, a new mutant emerging and our merry mutants needlessly antagonising them.

Continuity notes

First appearance of The Blob [no name given]; Cyclops named as "Scott Summers"; first appearance of Bobby Drake in de-iced form.


  1. Just to be annoyingly (and typically) pedantic, Xavier's feelings for Jean are mentioned once more, over thirty years later, in X-Men #54, as Onslaught attempts to recruit her.

    1. I just had a horrible vision of a Deadly Genesis/Dangerous-style character assassination story based on that. I presume it's not quite at that level?

      (Mind, Xavier clearly doesn't have much character to assassinate here. At least Superman mostly only kept his superdickery confined to covers).

    2. No, it's just mentioned briefly as proof that Jean can't really trust anyone, even her old professor, to be entirely forthcoming. It's part of a larger point about the duplicity of man, but really it's just Waid stooping himself in continuity; even the bits better left forgotten.

  2. Claremont has Xavier mention it again in a thought bubble before the fight vs. the Shi'ar Imperial Guard during the Dark Phoenix saga too.