Saturday, 10 March 2012

X-Men #17-#18: "You'll have to get down, Angel. That's against hospital regulations"

X-Men #17 picks up immediately from the fight with the Sentinels in #16, with the Beast and Jean injured and Iceman in a coma. The first order of business is keeping Xavier's secret identity while he visits the X-Men in hospital. We see now why he has previously been so anxious about not being seen with the X-Men in public - he is a recognised media pundit. Xavier stresses the importance of keeping the X-Men's parents safe. He really shouldn't think things like this, as the situation degenerates and by the middle of issue #18, Magneto (for he has returned!) has all the X-Men bar Iceman in a gondola, control of the school, and a plan to use the body cells of Angel's parents (who are captive in a room upstairs) to create an army of mutants, with which he will take over the world. It's not immediately clear how Magneto knew the X-Men were based at the school. Certainly in issue #5 he had minions snooping around there, and this foreshadows the later information that he had a pre-existing relationship with Xavier.

After several pages, we are told story of how Magneto escaped from the Stranger, by Xavier mindreading him for our benefit. (The Stranger had made the schoolboy error of leaving him unsupervised on a planet with lots of metal spaceships). Rather capriciously, he'd left Toad behind. Back at the action, Magneto starts his machine, which turns out to actually create mutants from whole cloth, rather than mutate existing humans. Iceman arrives on the scene to distract him, and then the X-Men break free and join in the fight.

This story, along with the preceding Sentinel three-parter start to consider what the X-Men's secret identies actually mean, and how they keep their cover story of school going. Turns out a telepath with an ethics problem can keep a pretty good cover.

Continuity notes

Magneto returns from space. Jean's power is getting stronger - she's able to levitate herself down from a third-floor window now. Bobby is the youngest X-Man. "Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters" is used as a name.


  1. Did we ever learn how Toad eventually made it back to Earth? I've got that on my list of "Things I could never figure out."

    X-Men #18 stands out as one of the maddest issues of the original run. I still can't read anything involving Magneto's cloning machine without shaking my head in astonishment. Not just the cloning booths itself, but the idea he's rigged up a machine which will let him choose the power of each clone.

    Maybe that shouldn't strike me as more ridiculous than him being able to assemble a space-station within an asteroid, but for some reason it does.

    1. According to the Chronology Project Avengers #47-#49 goes between this and X-Men #43-#45 for both Magneto and Toad, so I'd assume any explanation would be there.

      Absolutely, it's more ridiculous. One can have space stations without distorting things too much, but the ability to create life basically ex nihilo would completely break any attempt to make 616 be our-Earth-but-weirder if taken to its logical conclusion.

      Which of course it never is (Act II of Avengers vs. X-Men notwithstanding).

    2. Thanks for that! I shall see if I can track it down.

      The other problem with schemes like this one is you're always left wondering why it's never tried again. Sure, Magneto was defeated, but if he can just take any parents of a mutant and splice together this kind of machine, then why didn't he ever give the idea another whirl?