X-Men #23 (last issue | next issue)

“To Save a City”

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Werner Roth
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Artie Simek
Editor: Stan Lee

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover date: August 1966
Cover price: 12 cents

Our heroes are in a tight spot. Count Nefaria will hold Washington DC hostage and will force his captives the X-Men to collect the ransom for him. Nefaria gets the money and resumes his place as a Maggia kingpin, while the mutants get all the blame. While the X-Men watch, helpless, Nefaria seals off DC in an unbreakable transparent dome (Acme Dome Company product #247, only $19.95). Axes, drills, even bombs cannot penetrate it.

Then the X-Men walk into the Capitol Building and demand a ransom of 100 million dollars from Congress or else in three hours the citizens of DC will perish due to lack of oxygen. Then the X-Men literally disappear, obviously images faked by Count Nefaria.

Back at the mansion, Professor X gets a call from General Fredericks, who apparently is that unnamed general the Prof was advising about the Sentinels back in X-Men #17. Learning that the X-Men are apparently holding the capitol hostage, the Prof contacts them with his telepathic powers just as they’ve freed themselves from their chains. (Note to super-villains: your captives will always escape.) Instead of kicking Nefaria’s ass right there (and risk setting off any booby traps he planted in the city), they agree to work with Nefaria. So two trucks head out to DC, a milk truck filled with the X-Men, and (unbeknownst to our heroes) an army truck filled with Nefaira’s quartet of supergoons: the Eel, Plantman, Porcupine, Scarecrow, and the Unicorn.

Professor X arrives in DC, where General Fredericks is convinced that the X-Men are the culprits. The Prof, who seems to be taking a nap, sends his astral body in search of Nefaria. The X-Men arrive at the dome, where an opening appears. They enter and head to the Capitol Building, secretly observed by Nefaria’s quintet. The Angel retrieves a suitcase full of gold certificates from a lone congressman, while a guard (apparently someone “neglected to brief” him on what was going on) takes shots at him until Iceman freezes his pistol.

The X-Men head down the Mall when they are attacked by a mob who is understandably miffed at being held hostage in a transparent dome. A conveniently placed pile of bricks provides ammunition for the mob. The mob manages to separate the group and corner the Beast, who amusingly runs up the side of the Washington Monument.

Then the quintet arrives to “help” them and runs off the mob with less gentle means. They attempt to relieve the X-Men of the money, and the pouch gets passed from person to person until it ends up in the hands of the Unicorn. But the Army arrives and a bazooka shell hits the Unicorn, causing him to drop it. The Unicorn flees while Cyclops hands it off to Marvel Girl with instructions to bring it back to Nefaria. The X-Men and Nefaria’s goons both manage to escape the Army, and the latter slink back into obscurity.

While Nefaira practically drools over the thought of the money when the truck arrives with Jean, a mysterious masked stranger shows up at Nefaria’s HQ, and his goons are frozen in place, unable to prevent him from entering. Nefaria and Marvel Girl are shocked when the stranger enters and manipulates the dome projector, eliminating the threat to Washington DC. Nefaira escapes with the money just as the rest of the X-Men arrive. They watch as Nefaria boards the freighter and heads out to see and the Unicorn flies out to meet it. But the mysterious stranger is unconcerned, and reveals himself to be none other than Professor X, with his newfangled invention: powered metal braces for his legs so he can walk, at least for a few hours at a time. And the money? The Professor calmly lights a pipe and explains that the money is still in the room and he used his mental powers to make Nefaria think he had the pouch of certificates. So Nefaira and the Unicorn brawl over nothing while the Coast Guard is overtaking the ship, and everyone lives happily ever after.

But wait, there’s more! The Professor apparently not only saves the day, but carries mail for his students into battle with him. Through rain and sleet and snow and all that. The letter is for Jean and it is bad, bad news, and Jean announces that she must leave the X-Men forever.

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