X-Men #20 (last issue | next issue)

"I, Lucifer!"

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Jay Gavin (A pseudonym for artist Werner Roth taken from the first names of his sons. He would be credited under his real name starting with X-Men #23)
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Artie Simek
Editor: Stan Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cover date: May 1966
Cover price: 12 cents

Now that the Sentinels are destroyed and Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is kaput, who's left in the X-Men's rogues gallery? Let's see, the Blob, Unus the Untouchable, and Lucifer, last seen in X-Men #7, X-Men #8, and X-Men #9, respectively. New writer Roy Thomas threw those ingredients in a pot and stirred it all up.

The book opens with two cigar-smoking men in ill-fitting X-Men costumes robbing a bank. One of the pair even carries a baseball bat. A guard decides to make his move, but the bullets just bounce off the pair. They make off with the loot in the bank honcho's limo.

At the X-Men's mansion, angsty Cyclops is packing his bags. He's madly in love with Marvel Girl but feels he can't declare his love for her when he leads the X-Men and while his optic blasts represent a danger to others. So he leaves in search of a doctor who can cure him. The rest of the X-Men don't notice his departure, engrossed in a news report about the bank robbery committed by the faux X-Men. Professor X puts the finishing touches on a new version of Cerebro, the mutant detection machine destroyed by Magneto back in X-Men #18. Cerebro's "radar-image beam" displays the images of Blob and Unus. The Professor somehow detects a third entity behind the scenes, but neither he nor Cerebro can discover the identity of the unseen villain. Iceman find the note left behind by Cyclops, but the X-Men have no time to worry about him now.

That unseen villain is Lucifer, who is now gloating into his ultra-scanner at his base in the desert in the southwest US. I bet the X-Men are sorry they let him go after defeating him in X-Men #9. Lucifer tells the story, to himself I guess, about how he planted the idea to team up against the X-Men in the tiny brains of Blob and Unus. Unus was back in the wrestling ring, offering a hundred bucks to any challenger who could take him. (Hey, isn't this how Spider-Man started out?) The Blob, back to being a circus freak, decides to take him up on the offer. Since the Blob is an immovable force, and Unus has an impenetrable force field, the match ends in a draw. After the match, they decide to team up against our heroes.

Now the faux X-Men are robbing a second bank, and Cyclops just happens to be passing by. Reluctantly, Cyclops suits up and takes them on solo. Infuriatingly, the Blob and Unus pretend to be teammates while Cyclops tries to fight them, and an angry anti-mutant mob starts chasing Cyclops. Leave it to an angry mob to get it wrong every time.

Just as Cyclops flees, Angel, the Beast, and Iceman arrive. The Beast uses the ray he used to defeat Unus back in X-Men #8, but this time Unus is immune to its effects, thanks to his unknown benefactor, Lucifer. The mob turns on the real X-Men and a cop opens fire on the X-Men. Cyclops picks an opportune moment to return and blasts a hole in the pavement clear to the subway. The Blob and Unus fall on top of a subway train and ride the rails out of this story.

Back at the mansion, Marvel Girl and the Professor build a "Mechanical Memory-Inducer" to detect Lucifer's presence. Lucifer, however, has his own item from the Acme catalog, a "Mento-Wave Receiver" which detects the Professor's probe. Lucifer fires a blast of energy from a big cannon which mentally assaults the Prof. "My brain -- it's on fire!" The Professor is physically paralyzed but can still communicate mentally with Jean. She slips on another gadget, the "Mental-Wave Amplifier", to better communicate with him, because the Prof has his own flashback story to tell.

The Professor was tooling around Tibet in a jeep to find a "mysterious walled city in the shadow of the Himalayas". He finds the citizens of this city are under the mental domination of an unseen alien ruler with a mind control machine. Since extraterrestrials can't be allowed to rule Earthlings whenever they feel like it, the Professor organizes an uprising and storms the castle. Lucifer, or "Agent One" as his boss calls him, is ordered by "The Supreme One" to abandon this particular base. But before he can escape, the Professor confronts him. Lucifer activates a trap and a big slab of stone falls on the Professor, crushing his legs and crippling him.

Lucifer is communicating with the Supreme One from his desert base and announces that the time has come for Dominus, which means the aliens will soon conquer this planet. At the mansion, the X-Men return and they build a "Beam Distorter" which restores the Professor, and he reveals that he now knows the location of Lucifer's base. Then they all pile into their new private jet and head off to fight Lucifer and find out what Dominus is.

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