X-Men #4 (last issue | next issue)

"The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!"

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Inker: Paul Reinman
Letterer: Art Simek
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cover date: March 1964
Cover price: 12 cents

Yet another training session opens the book. Well, it is a school, after all. Professor X announces that class has been in session for exactly one year, and he has brought a cake to celebrate that occasion. Cyclops cuts the cake with his optic blasts and they all dig in. Meanwhile, another group of mutants are also eating. They are the obnoxious acrobat the Toad, the speedster Quicksilver, his sister the hex wielding Scarlet Witch, and the illusion casting Mastermind. The Toad's poor table manners begin a squabble, but the thought of their leader keeps them in check.

That leader is Magneto, and at that moment he is stealing a vintage armed convoy freighter. In a remarkable coincidence, the Angel flies by and notes the seemingly unmanned freighter but doesn't stop to investigate. A few days later, the newspaper headline reads "Tiny Republic of San Marco Shelled by Mystery Naval Craft!" Magneto and Professor X have a telepathic chat about the fate of humanity and the professor leads his team into action.

Down in San Marco, Magneto has quickly conquered the country and sets himself up as the Big M. The Professor and his students infiltrate the country by cleverly disguising themselves as a professor and his students. Magneto's troops look like the spitting image of WWII vintage German troops, with an "M" armband in place of the swastika, something that is quite ironic given that Magneto was later revealed to be a Jew who was interred in Auschwitz.

The X-Men infiltrate Magneto's castle in San Marco and fight the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The fight looks like it's going the Brotherhood's way, but the X-Men manage to drive them off. Suddenly, the team is trapped by a river of flaming oil, but Professor X emerges from the flames and reveals it to be merely one of Mastermind's illusions. Magneto sets a pair of traps: one bomb on a booby trapped door to take care of the X-Men, and a nuke to destroy the entire country, which is after all a tiny nation.

The X-Men come upon the trap and the Professor, somehow sensing the danger, foolishly throws himself in front of the blast. He doesn't appear to be injured, just dazed. The Brotherhood flees. Quicksilver, arrogant and haughty though he may be, is a moral man and no senseless killer. He speedily defuses the nuclear bomb and disappears before the X-Men can react. The Professor then reveals that the blast has caused him to lose his vast mental powers, and a despondent X-Men shuffle home.

Worry not, true believers, Professor X never lost his powers, and reveals his ruse next issue. The Brotherhood would also show up next issue too, and Magneto's group would torment the X-Men again and again. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were obviously set up to be good guys from the beginning, if only because they are the only Brotherhood members who aren't ugly. It's clear that they aren't evil like the rest and follow Magneto only because he saved their lives from a mob of angry European villagers. They'd abandon Magneto in X-Men #11 and soon became members of the Avengers. They will be stunned to learn years later that they were actually Magneto's children. Other teams would take up the name of the Brotherhood and fight the X-Men without Magneto. The second Brotherhood eventually became Freedom Force, a group of US government enforcers.

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