X-Men #2 (last issue | next issue)

"No One Can Stop the Vanisher!"

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Inker: Paul Reinman
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cover date: November 1963
Cover price: 12 cents

Eratta: the splash page features Beast wearing gloves as part of his costume, something he hasn't worn before or since, or even later in this issue.

The X-Men have been summoned by Professor X, but they're not in Westchester, they're in New Haven. And, of course, wacky hijinks ensue on their way home. The Angel is mobbed by adoring teenage fans, so Marvel Girl telekenetically deposits them on the top of a theater marquee. (The marquee advertises "A Teen-ager's Tears" starring Tuesday Weld. While Weld was a famous teen actress at the time, I can't find a record of that particular film. I suspect it didn't exist and was a sly crack at the type of films she made then, crap like "Because They're Young" and "Sex Kittens Go To College".) Cyclops saves some construction workers from a falling wall and receives hearty manly thanks. I am constantly amazed when I see scenes like these two in early X-Men comics. During the years I read the book, the X-Men were outcasts, hated and feared by the people they fought for, and usually greeted with cries of something like "mutant freaks!"

Cyclops and Iceman hire an ice cream truck to drive them to the doors of the school mansion. So much for your secret identities, kids. Everyone else is already home, so Professor X starts the briefing. Instead of using a slide projector, he projects a series of "mental images" on the wall, another one of those weirdo powers (like controlling the jet with his mind last issue) that later writers would (thankfully) forget about.

The subject of the briefing is the evil mutant d'jour, the Vanisher. They watch the Vanisher rip off a bank by, well, vanishing with the money. And they're off to the Danger Room for a quick training session before they take him on. While the X-Men train, the Vanisher visits the Pentagon, taunting the helpless brass by promising to steal the US continental defense plans. Then he vanishes back to his hideout, where he's waited on hand and foot by a posse of underworld goons. Wouldn't you suck up to a guy who could vanish you out of jail?

And the X-Men are still training when Professor X gets a call from FBI agent Fred Duncan in the Department of Special Affairs. In a sharp contrast to later years when the US government considered the X-Men a dangerous enemy, in the early days the government supplied them with intelligence and equipment. Duncan, their government contact, has a "psionic headband" he can use to communicate with Professor X. Duncan warns them of the Vanisher's threat and supplies them with a McDonnell XV-1 Convertiplane. (At first, I thought this was a fanciful invention, but the plane is real: http://www.nasm.si.edu/nasm/aero/aircraft/mcdonnel_xv1.htm)

In the Pentagon, the plans, instead of being cleverly hidden or shredded, they are instead on a table surrounded by four guards dressed like Capone era hoodlums. Military intelligence at work. The Vanisher swipes them and evades the guards and the X-Men quite easily. The media announce the Vanisher's next move; he has demanded ten million dollars in exchange for not giving the plans to the commies. Professor X decides it's time to bring in the big guns, namely himself, and plans to accompany them to confront the Vanisher.

The Vanisher brazenly shows up on the White House lawn with his army of goons to receive his cash. There, the X-Men are ready, and the Vanisher is stunned to discover that he can't vanish, thanks to Professor X's telepathic powers which give him a case of amnesia. The pissed off goons attack, but the X-Men make short work of them. The students have learned a valuable lesson: brute force alone will not always win the day. "The greatest power on Earth is the magnificent power we all of us possess…the power of the human brain!"

The Vanisher would eventually remember who he was and show up again from time to time to battle the X-Men and the Champions. He was a member of the short-lived group Factor Three whose plans to conquer Earth were of course foiled. He later joined up with the Fallen Angels, a motley crew of heroes and anti-heroes.

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