Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Beautiful Panel

This Panel is from the Blob's first appearance in the sixties X-Men. And it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

awful suit plus Xavier being creepy

There are so many wonderfully horrible/hilarious aspects to this panel that I don't think I could name them all. I mean...

1) The suit.

2) Jean's expression, which seems to me, to be this incredibly amusing mix of lust and disgust. I imagine her thinking "Oh...oh, honey. We...we can fix this. It'll look much better on my bedroom floor. Then I'll burn it."

2) Scott's expression which really seems to say "My plan to scare you away with my ugly suit has failed. Damnit."

3) "Ol' Prune-Face."

4) Xavier's angsty monologue. It's especially amusing given that Jean doesn't even seem to remember he's in the room.

5) Pipes make angsty monologues inherently awesome.


  • At January 07, 2010 1:45 AM, Anonymous buttler said…

    The whole "Xavier loves Jean" subplot, if you can even call it that, was so freaking creepy. I'm glad they swept that one under the rug.

  • At January 07, 2010 5:40 AM, Blogger Menshevik said…

    @ buttler:
    And then the writers in the 1990s had to go and reopen that can of worms!

    Actually, after the discussion Kalinara and I had two threads down, I actually think I have two things to say in favour of the "Xavier loves Jean" thing: 1) it was a rare occasion where Charles was shown reacting like a human being and 2) he broke it of before doing anything anything improper. But the way these few panels keep getting brought up may be yet another indication of how sex trumps violence in American pop culture and superhero comics in particular. A lot of fans got worked up over Xavier having "creepy thoughts" here, but what he actually did with his students - recruiting them as child-soldiers for his private war, training them with death-traps and what have you seems to have received a lot less attention than it deserved.

    During the aforementioned discussion with Kalinara I checked in the early issues and it really struck me how crazy and creepy the set-up must have been in the context of their publication in 1963/64. For instance, the scene in X-Men #1 where Professor X recruits Jean really creeped me out because of the way he approached Jean via a secret message (telling her not talk with anybody about it but her parents) and then presented an argument that was so full of holes that it made me wonder why Jean would come to Xavier - unaccompanied! - in the first place and why she would so readily agree to join the X-Men. The way it was presented, there was not as yet a "mutant problem" in the public consciousness (Xavier had to open his recruitment spiel by explaining to Jean what a mutant is) and it really is not self-evident that the best way to foster good relations between mutants and "normal humans" was to seclude his mutant students from humanity (including their own families) in a private school and train them in nothing but combat skills and continually endanger their lives (let's also not forget that in X-Men #1 Xavier showed no hesitation to send Jean into battle against Magneto before she had the chance to train with the team for as much as a minute). My thought was: And he got their parents to agree to this??? I really should have thought that Bobby, Hank, Warren and Jean must have wondered whether or not Charles telepathically made their parents go along, but maybe they were dazzled by the exclusivity and high quality of living in the mansion. (I love how Stan Lee really hammered that home in X-Men #1: the story opens with "In the main study of an exclusive private school", then in his interview with Jean Xavier speaks of "this most exclusive school", then Jean tries on her costume in "a dormitory room at the world's most exclusive private school" and then the X-Men "are driven to the airport in Professor Xavier's specially-built Rolls Royce, with its dark-tinted windows!")

    Yeah, back in the 1960s smoking a pipe showed you were an awesome intellect (Reed Richards smoked one too, as did Bruce Banner, at least in his first appearance, can't recall if Hank Pym did), while cigars showed you were a real man from a blue-collar background (Ben Grimm, Nick Fury).

  • At January 07, 2010 6:01 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    :-) Ultimate X-Men kind of revisited that little bit too.

    To be fair, as much as I mock Xavier's inappropriate crush (and it IS to his credit that he never acted on it), it's hardly the creepiest aspect of the whole deal too.

    I think Scott's most screwed out of the deal, potential telepathic interference aside. Jean, Warren, Hank and Bobby at least had family. (And I always thought it was awesome how her parents actually made her go to a real college eventually.) Granted that it took awhile for them to invent the worst fucked-uppery of Scott's backstory, but even in the earliest version, Xavier saves an abused orphan from a superpowered thug and indoctrinates him as the first member of his little paramilitary club.


    I thought I remembered Hank Pym smoking a cigarette in an old Ant-Man comic, but I might be wrong about that.

    What does a cigarette signify?

  • At January 07, 2010 6:38 AM, Blogger Menshevik said…

    Indeed, and re. Scott one would have to add that the later addition of Scott's and Alex's grandparents (as Madelyne Pryor's employers) made things worse in retrospect, because there really was no valid reason why Xavier and Scott should not have tracked them down a lot earlier if they had wanted to (Xavier even had an FBI liason, for Pete's sake!). But one rather suspects that Charles Xavier found it very convenient that Scott apparently had no living relatives (apart from his brother, who was suddenly added to the mix during Xavier's apparent death).


    The significance of a cigarette? At first blush I'd guess it was at least vaguely negative. Stephen Strange smoked cigarettes both in his "arrogant, selfish surgeon" phase before his car accident and the "down and out drifter" phase before he found the Ancient One. Of course things became really bad if you smoked cigarettes with a holder, like Doctor Doom and the Kingpin (I may be misremembering, but I think the Black Widow also did that when she still was an evil Soviet spy).

  • At January 07, 2010 7:29 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Well, Scott always had memory problems, but yeah, it does seem like Xavier could have tracked them down.

    But then, come to think of it, in that one Claremont story with the orphanage that I posted about last week, there was a part where Rick-the-Air-Force-Guy is trying to figure out Scott's parentage based on his comments. Since he doesn't use an alias, I wouldn't think it'd be THAT hard to find a Blackbird pilot named Summers. Maybe we can infer some sort of weirdness in the records (Sinister? Shi'ar-related cover-up?), rather than Xavier's fault this time.

    Alex did kind of appear randomly, but he might actually be a plus in Xavier's column, since Scott apparently knew him before the graduation ceremony, and there was mention of correspondence. Xavier would have had to be the source of that information.

    He's still a bad father-figure though. :-P

    (Maybe cigarettes = sexy? I mean...there are a lot of advantages to size shifting.)

  • At January 07, 2010 7:29 AM, Blogger Menshevik said…

    I should point out that I was talking specifically about the subtext Marvel gave to different ways of consuming tobacco; I suspect that e.g. cigar-smoking Jack Kirby's self-image had a bit to do with it. Elsewhere and in different contexts things were quite different. For instance in "Lucky Luke", cigarettes were the coolest, especially because of the sequences showing Lucky Luke rolling his own. Cigars indicated wealth (with distinctly negative undertones most of the time) and pipes, if they weren't peace pipes, were of the corncob variety and designated ornery crustyness (especially if clenched between a lady's teeth or gums).

  • At January 07, 2010 8:05 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh, I know. But I'm incapable of discussing things too long without sarcasm or a dirty joke. :-)

    I blame school. :-)

  • At January 07, 2010 9:48 AM, Blogger Menshevik said…

    Re. Scott's grandparents: Once again you sent me off thinking. Sinister obviously had his hands in it - it obviously was no coincidence that Madelyne wound up working for the eldest Summerses and it was extremely convenient/suspicious that they were absent (IIRC "on vacation") when Scott finally started looking for Maddy in Anchorage in early X-Factor. Could it be that Sinister had either brainwashed them or even killed them off and later replaced them with agents of his own? Come to think of it, what did happen to them after the dust settled on Sinister and Madelyne? What did they do in their post-Inferno appearances (if there were any?)

  • At January 07, 2010 10:12 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    That's a good question! I thought I remembered seeing them mentioned later, but to be honest, I can't recall at all. It might have been when Scott and Jean were going to retire after the whole nano-bomb-in-chest fiasco. But maybe not.

    I'd like to think they exist, just because it seems kind of wasteful of Sinister to get rid of them. They're still useful enough genetic material after all, (especially if Corsair had siblings. I don't remember if he did or not, honestly.) And he could still mentally influence them, especially since he'd likely have been watching them the same way he watched Jean or Xavier or Alex grow up.

    It'd be easy enough for a telepath like Sinister to keep the red tape busy enough that the kids were never found, whether alive or not, or to get them to hire Maddy.

    (Also, agents probably wouldn't have gotten past Xavier's scrutiny, and Sinister would have had to know that'd be a risk.)

    It'd be interesting if any of the writers decided to catch us up to what they're presumably doing now and what they think about all this. (Not to mention the untapped potential of MORE insane relatives coming out of the woodwork. The Summers family tree will consume us all!!!)

  • At January 07, 2010 11:23 AM, Blogger Menshevik said…

    Well, I thought: if Norman Osborn can replace Aunt May with a genetically altered actress, can Mr. Sinister do any less to Scott's grandparents?! ;-)

    Seriously though, I'm not sure if he'd really be that much interested in their genetic material (leaving aside that he could have collected all he needed to clone them after he killed them if he wanted to) given that he always seemed a little too ready to have people killed. After all, he could have continued to find uses for Madelyne after she gave birth to Nathan, yet he then sent the Marauders to kill her). And I also always was struck by how little interest he showed in Alex Summers, even though he sprang from the same pair of loins as Scott (or, for that matter, in Jean's family, even though she has a sister with two mutant kids). He always did seem completely fixated on those two individuals, not their close relatives.

  • At January 07, 2010 11:28 AM, Blogger Menshevik said…

    Oops, that should be "two pairs of loins". :-)

  • At January 07, 2010 2:52 PM, Anonymous buttler said…

    John Byrne's WWII-set Batman/Cap crossover really missed an opportunity to have a Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers pipe face-off.

  • At January 07, 2010 3:01 PM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    Scott's grandfather showed up at one point during the mid-to-late '90s, didn't he?

  • At January 07, 2010 4:46 PM, Blogger SallyP said… regards to Scott's suit, all I can think of, is that somewhere a Volkswagen is missing its seat covers.

  • At January 07, 2010 5:09 PM, Anonymous Dan Coyle said…

    Actually, Scott's expression says to me, "Oh Professor, why can't I admit to you how I truly FEEL!"

    Which would have made things a lot more interesting back then.

  • At January 07, 2010 5:12 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    buttler: Can't disagree there. :-P

    Ununnilium: I think you're right. That'd fit with the timeline I vaguely remember, though I don't think I read that issue.

    Menshevik: Sinister is smarter than Osborn. :-P Even if he doesn't care as much about genetics, it'd probably be too much effort to replace them when he can mindwipe them Hanover.

    But really, he's always kept a closer eye on the Summers line than the Grey line. He's been shown keeping watch over Alex (even though Alex is clearly more "spare" than "heir" in his mind) where Jean's sister has apparently never been interesting to him. Alex IS at least on his radar. I think he'd still keep an eye on the rest of the family.

    Though, Scott does seem to be "special" to Sinister beyond the genetic element. (Heck, he's not even fixed on CABLE to the level he is on Scott, even though he essentially engineered him.) And unlike Jean, he hasn't seem to have created a back-up clone when Scott appeared dead, despite having ample sample-gathering opportunity. That was always interesting to me.

  • At January 07, 2010 5:13 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Aw, missed two replies!

    SallyP: Maybe that's where he got the material. Scott Summers, closet seamstress?

    Dan Coyle: ... that would make for even more entertaining drama. :-P

  • At January 07, 2010 9:34 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    Y'know, between those suits, the dark glasses, those suits, HIS internal monologue about how he could never open up to Jean because of "his eyes", and those SUITS, I thought Scott was BLIND for a while when I first discovered the X-Men in the early '70s.

  • At January 07, 2010 11:36 PM, Blogger Diamondrock said…

    Will Magnus also smokes a pipe.

  • At January 10, 2010 7:14 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Nice suit, Scott. Who shot the couch?


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