X-Men #12 (last issue | next issue)

"The Origin of Professor X!"

Writer: Stan Lee
Layouts: Jack Kirby
Penciller: Alex Toth
Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Art Simek
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cover date: July 1965
Cover price: 12 cents


This issue is particularly effective in building suspense as the unseen menace (not fully revealed until the last panel) approaches the mansion, destroying layer after layer of defenses, intercut with Professor X telling the team about his childhood and how it relates to the terrifying danger they will soon confront.

The last issue ended and this issue begins with the wailing of Cerebro, the Professor's mutant detection machine. The Prof orders them outside to build formidable defenses: thick walls of ice, trenches filled with electrical wire, hollowed out logs filled with grenades. Back inside, the Professor reveals that the unseen menace is actually his brother.

Cue the flashback music. His father, Dr. Brian Xavier, and Dr. Kurt Marko worked on the atom bomb project in Alamagordo, New Mexico. An atomic blast somehow killed Dr. Xavier, but Dr. Marko somehow escaped. (No further explanation for this errant blast is given.) A rainy funeral is always bad news, and it's compounded by the fact that Dr. Marko is putting the moves on widow Sharon Xavier while a scowling li'l Charles watches. Within months, Sharon and Kurt were married, but Charles knows that Kurt only wants her money. He knows this not because he's paranoid or perceptive for his age, he can read minds, remember? His power worked even as a boy, though it wasn't as potent as it is now. Kurt soon turned out to be to be a distant and cruel husband. Then Cain Marko showed up. The aptly named Cain, who was Marko's son from a former marriage, storms into the house and immediately upon meeting Charles literally slaps him upside the head.

The mansion shakes violently as the approaching menace bursts through the thick wall of ice as if it weren't there. The Professor returns to his story: Cain turns out to be even nastier than his father and tries to extort money from his father using the knowledge that Dr. Marko was responsible for the death of Xavier. Charles overhears this and bursts into the lab. Cain starts a scuffle which knocks over some chemicals, producing an explosion. Dr. Marko performed "the one unselfish deed of his life" and carried both boys to safety. Marko's dying words reveal that the Alamagordo blast was an accident, but Marko did not attempt to save Xavier. Then he warned Charles to beware of Cain when Cain finds out about Charles' powers.

Outside, Cain shrugs off the electrical current and tears the cable apart. The Professor speculates that his powers were caused by the radiation his parents were exposed to in their work. His powers manifested themselves early, though the only outward sign was that Charles lost all his hair as a teenager. He managed to excel in academics and became a quarterback and track star because his powers allowed him to anticipate his opponents' moves and counter them. Personally, I think this is cheating, but technically I suppose athletic rules do not outlaw telepathy. Cain was jealous of Charles' successes and rows of trophies, but could not effectively physically bully him because Charles could use his telepathy to avoid Cain's blows.

Cain reaches the gas grenades, and the sleep gas seems to stagger him a bit but does not stop him. Time is running out so the Professor skips ahead to the part where Cain gets his powers. Charles and Cain are serving together in the Korean War and while under fire, Cain flees into a cave and Charles goes after him. In the cave, they stumble upon the legendary lost temple of Cyttorak. Cain grabs a ruby with an inscription: "Whosoever touches this gem shall possess the power of the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak! Henceforth, you who read these words shall become forever more a human juggernaut!" How Cain read an inscription on an ancient temple in Korea is unexplained, but I chalk it up to magic.

The shelling caused a cave-in and Charles escaped. Cain was buried under tons of rubble, but he was not killed. The curse left on the gem by Cyttorak transformed Cain into the unstoppable Juggernaut, and now he's really pissed off since he's spent years digging himself out of the rubble. To make matters worse, Cain also has powerful defenses against the Professor's telepathy. The Juggernaut burst through a steel wall into the mansion and sweeps the X-Men aside with ease. And now finally we see what Cain Marko was transformed into as he confronts his stepbrother, but the real battle to defeat the Juggernaut would happen next issue.

The Juggernaut is one of the classic X-Men villains and would frequently appear to torment the X-Men and many other superheroes over the years. He was often defeated using a variation of the method the X-Men used to defeat him next issue (no I'm not telling you what it is yet). He wasn't much of a team player but did acquire a best friend and partner in crime named Black Tom Cassidy. Juggernaut was always more nasty and selfish than truly evil, and in recent years he's even teamed up with the good guys.

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