Silver Age Saturdays: Uncanny X-Men Issue #27

Uncanny X-Men Issue #27: “Re-Enter: The Mimic!”

Written by Roy Thomas. Penciled by Werner Roth. Inked by Dick Ayers. Cover Artwork also by Werner Roth and Dick Ayers.

This issue was published in December, 1966. Previously, the X-Men fought a Mayan superpower called Kukulcan in Central America and Cyclops accidentally hit Angel with a powerful optic blast. Both Scotty and Warren are crushing on Jean, and Warren called Scott out, implying that the blast was intentional because of this… oh the drama!

20161201_200305.pngThis issue starts us off in the middle of the story for a change. This is a nice concept that I can only remember seeing very early on in some of the very first Fantastic Four issues, but here I feel that it gives a fresh plot device to a magazine run that has been very lackluster previously. Roy has been teasing a return for the Mimic during the last couple issues, and here we see him taking on four of the X-Men. Angel is still recovering from a high intensity optic blast that Cyclops creamed him with, and so is not present in the fight. Cal Rankin really mops the floor with the super team, even though Jean Grey uses her signature “Now you see me, now you don’t!” telekenetic shenanigans.

20161201_200646.pngAfter Mimic stands victorious, we rewind to the beginning of the story. The Angel is being carted into the X-Men mansion and Professor Xavier takes a look at him. The prognosis is that Warren will be okay, but that he’s way too hurt to do anything but rest. Warren Worthington also apologizes to Scott about chirping him after the incident, confiding in his teammate that he didn’t hold it against his leader.

Meanwhile at Metro College, Jean Grey is hard crushing on her schoolmate Ted Roberts. She’s attending every sporting even the guy goes to – even practices – she’s constantly asking the guy to buy her drinks, and she’s even considering peacing the superhero scene to go steady with him. Ted eventually starts to open up to her, too, beginning to talk about how he’s jealous of his older bro – Ralph Roberts. He’s interrupted at this point by a loud explosion that came from the campus chemistry building… And wouldn’t you know Calvin Rankin stumbles out of the smoke acting quite grumpy when he sees Jean Grey. He’s got his memory back, and by extension, his powers.

Enter the Puppet Master – !?!? – who is planning on destroying the Fantastic Four by using the X-Men to do it this time. He tries to make a model of Xavier out of his radioactive clay, but Professor X detects the intrusion and throws up a Psychic Shield that prevents poor Mr. Masters’ plan from succeeding. But we all know he won’t give it up. Professor X, on his part, has been working on updating and improving Cerebro, as he’s received a warning that a new and dire mutant threat is on it’s way to New York. Apparently the new Multifrequency Booster is going to allow Cerebro to pinpoint the location of mutants. Say word.

Professor X lets the three remaining X-Men have the night off – even though there’s a new and dire mutant threat approaching? Huh? – and decides to try recruiting more members to the group in his Astral Body. This is new to me, and I didn’t know he could do this, but he literally pulls a Doctor Strange here. Anyway, he astrally projects himself to Europe to petition former enemies Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, who excuse themselves as they are members of the Avengers. Xavier is determined to find some help and is super worried about the coming threat; he goes so far to complain that Angel is “an invalid.”

Back in New York, Bobby and Hank are on a date with Vera and Zelda, their own love interests. Witness to a bank robbery, Iceman and Beast lose their dates in the confusion and make to catch the robbers for good press. Ironically, Spider-Man beats them to it, and they catch him snapping pictures of his victims afterwards! Professor sends them a psychic message ordering the two heroes to offer Spidey a spot on the team. He also turns them down, and Bobby for his part is relieved.

The next afternoon, everybody except for Warren heads to Metro College to pick Jean up, hoping to enlist aid from Johnny Storm while they’re there. The Human Torch is off messing with an unbreakable barrier with Wyatt Wingfoot on another continent, but Calvin Rankin has been waiting for this, and reveals himself as Jean walks to Professor Xavier’s limousine. He fesses up that he remembers everything, and at this point Xavier confesses to the rest of the team that Scott is stepping down as team leader. Scott has lost a lot of confidence in himself after zapping Warren and failing to act on his own feelings for Jean. Sheesh. Unbeknownst to all, the Puppet Master watches the drama unfold on one of his magical televisions, and a new plan begins to form in his head.

Calvin Rankin is immediately installed as new team leader, to everyone’s surprise. It is declared that there will be a training session and test run as soon as the team can be ready. It is here that Jean reveals to the team that she had been working on new costumes for all of them! Rejoice! The new costumes aren’t that big of a change, but I can’t say they aren’t more visually pleasing than the former ones. It’s settled however that Jean Grey/Werner Roth brought red to the X-Men. That’s huge.

Old Uniforms

New Uniforms

At this point we’re directed to reread the first four pages before picking back up here again. This is the first time I’ve experienced this cool gimmick in Marvel, and I don’t know who thought it up – Werner Roth or Roy Thomas – but I can see how kids would get excited about a literary device like this and I appreciate that.

The Puppet Master takes control of Mimic right before the original fight that started this issue. Xavier is onto the ruse and after Rankin dips the scene, he sends the X-Men to the villain’s headquarters. The Mimic follows them.

When they get there, they trigger an alarm and the Puppet Master sicks his new toy on them – the Defender. This thing reminds me a lot of Puppet Master’s old pal Mad Thinker’s creation: Awesome Android. This thing is pretty tough; it absorbs and deflects any power directed at it. Unfortunately for the Defender, there was a cave under the floor and Cyclops blasted a hole under the android’s feet. How convenient for a cave to be under that floor.

At Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Angel hasn’t been idle. He decides to follow his teammates in his pimped out Mustang, heedless of Professor Xavier’s warning that it could cost him his wings. As Warren Worthington III peels off, Charles Xavier thinks to himself, “We’ve… …thought of Warren as frivolous… …overindulged… …now I see that he is… …the bravest X-Man of all!” I really liked that bit.

Warren arrives and sneaks up on Puppet Master just before Mimic is about to trounce his new team members. Grabbing the Mimic model out of Puppet Master’s grasp, Angel shatters it on the ground and Cal Rankin snaps out of his trance. At the end of the issue we get to see some depth in his character; he is quite depressed inside.

My Thoughts

I dig the new threads. Not a huge diff, but the red is really classic.

The Mimic as automatic team leader really weirded me out. Especially when we later see the Angel act so selflessly. This makes me feel like Professor X is really desperate here, and this approaching mutant threat had better be damn good to make up for this.

Puppet Master is so bad. I can’t deal with it. What happens if Mimic gets too far away from Angel and he loses his wings? Does PM lose control? He did when he had the Thing in his control and his victim transformed into Ben Grimm, so… And it looked like the Puppet Master didn’t gain control of Rankin until his transformed here too. And his TVs, its worse than in Atlantis! Where are the cameras?

Even with all those negative points, this issue was a step up for most X-Men comics so far. The underlying plot lines and development of Jean’s, Bobby’s, and Hank’s personal lives go a long way too.

2/5.

Next Up

My goal for next Saturday is a biggie: our first look at the Avengers comic books! We’ll be reading the Avengers issues 34-38. This’ll bring us up to 572 comics into the Reading Order.

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