X-Men #5 (last issue | next issue)

"Trapped: One X-Man!"

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

Cover date: May 1964
Cover price: 12 cents

At the end of last issue, Professor X lost his mental powers after a battle with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The X-Men slink back to their mansion and put the injured professor to bed. Just then, a car drives up to the mansion. Jean Grey's parents have stopped by for a visit, so the X-Men hurriedly put on their street clothes and make a lame excuse for the Professor's absence. Mr. and Mrs. Grey are full of praise for the school and its stamp of approval from the US government (a jarring element given the team's outlaw status years later). The visit is milked for comedic value, as Mrs. Grey tries to take Cyclops' protective glasses off and she and Mr. Grey wander into the Danger Room. (Incidentally, this is the first time the phrase "Danger Room" is ever used, though they are careful to call it merely a gym in front of the Greys.) The first ever Danger Room out of control scene (which thankfully were not as frequent as holodeck accidents on Star Trek) occurs as the hapless Cyke gets locked in the room and has to fight his way out of the Beast's training program.

The Greys leave without incident and drive past Mastermind on their way out of town. Mastermind is looking for the X-Men HQ. Why is he looking here? Does the Brotherhood really have the location narrowed down so closely? Why can't he find the HQ of the X-Men when he's a block away from it? What's going on? These questions are never answered, as Mastermind gives up and summons a ride back to base. Quicksilver picks him up in a silent plane that runs on magnetic energy and they return to Asteroid M, a huge complex orbiting the Earth. If I had an asteroid HQ and I wanted to conquer puny homo sapiens, I would fire weapons from orbit or just launch rocks and space junk at targets. Instead, Magento's plan involves the sophisticated use of a rubber mask, as we soon shall see.

The X-Men are watching a track meet on TV and are amazed at the superhuman acrobatics of one of the competitors. The crowd turns against the athlete and the X-Men, concluding that he's a mutant, rush to the rescue. Thankfully, the stadium is only a short drive away and they arrive two panels later. The enraged mob charges and they abandon their car and flee to a train with the athlete. While the shocked commuters look on, the Beast finally figures out what we already figured out two pages ago, the athlete is really the Toad.

Yup, it's an ambush, and the Brotherhood attacks in a large train station. (Shades of the first X-Men movie.) Magneto wraps Angel in an iron gate while Mastermind panics the crowd with an illusion of a rhino. The crowd cuts off the rest of the X-Men and the Brotherhood escapes with their prisoner, but they leave the Toad behind in the hands of our heroes.

On Asteroid M, Magneto has ways of making men talk. But all of his psychological tricks can't make the Angel reveal the location of the X-Men's mansion. On Earth, the Toad is in some sort of trance which forces him to return to Asteroid M. The Toad summons a capsule and the X-Men pile in, wary of what they think is a trap. But it's not, and the Brotherhood is surprised. Magneto is about to blow the X-Men out the airlock, but the Scarlet Witch hexes the controls to save their lives. Before Magneto can punish his underlings, the X-Men burst in and free Angel.

During the battle, someone must have pressed the wrong buttons, because Asteroid M starts breaking apart. Ooops. Magneto callously tosses Cyclops into outer space and seals the section. Iceman whips up an ice tunnel to keep the vacuum out and Angel fetches him. Then they pile back into the capsule and head back to Earth. The Brotherhood is long gone and what remains of the asteroid explodes.

Back on Earth, with only three panels to go, Professor X reveals that he never lost his mental powers, he only pretended to lose them to see how the X-Men would handle things without him. The X-Men have passed their final exam with flying colors and have successfully graduated. Never mind that Magneto is quite a bit more hazardous than the SATs, that the Angel was captured and tortured, and that Cyclops almost died in the vacuum of space, the X-Men survived this dubious curriculum and all is well.

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