Hello and welcome back to another X-citing adventure. here in Ye Olde School Café! A while back, I wrote a piece about one of the greatest adventures (arguably THE best) in the history of the X-Men. But, it occurred to me, that people may not know what led up to that story. Today, that will be rectified! Back in 1976, the X-Men had just recently come out of an almost five year hiatus of new material, and just pumping out reprints. What Chris Claremont, Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, John Byrne, and the rest of that crew did from there was astounding.
To give a short summary, Professor Xavier and his team had just suffered the loss of a new member of the team (Thunderbird), and near annihilation at the hands of Krakoa and Count Nefaria. It also appeared as though someone was in the beginning stages of manipulating the team, with some devious master plan in mind. Now, the team is on the precipice of another challenge, and it will be a test of their souls and friendship, no doubt about it. From 1976, X-Men #97, by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum (interior pencils & cover), Sam Grainger, Annette Kaye, Don Warfield, Marv Wolfman, and Rich Buckler (cover)!
The very first page shows us Professor Xavier having a very strange nightmare. Not only is he reliving some of the team’s latest problems, but his mind is also being invaded by some alien force. This unforeseen attack is showing him images of things never dreamed of in his lifetime. He wakes up and talks to Moira about it, and she attempts to settle him down. Meanwhile, out west, Havok and Polaris are beginning their day, as regular civilians rather than costumed superheroes. Havok then heads out for the day, and Polaris hears a knock at the door. As she opens the door, she gets zapped by a shadowed figure, and Havok hears her screams. He bolts back to the house, but then is assaulted by Polaris herself! She seems enthralled by some mental force that is commanding her to attack her beloved.
A few days later, the X-Men are at the airport to see off Professor Xavier. As the team gets ready to head out, they are attacked by Polaris and Havok! The mentally unstable duo then turn their attention to the airplane that Professor Xavier is on. Just as they are about to attack, Kurt and Colossus stop them. While they question their friends, they are accosted by Eric The Red (they know the costume, but it was worn by Cyclops years earlier). A battle ensues, and Cyclops tries strenuously to shake his brother out of it, but to no avail. That is until he almost kills him. That act brings him to his senses, but Polaris is still totally out of her mind.
Storm is battling Polaris, and Nightcrawler and Colossus are fighting Eric the Red. The fight is back and forth, with both sides getting an advantage, then losing it for a moment. Finally, Storm lays a beating on Polaris, and this enrages Havok, who blasts Cyclops once more. At this point, Eric the Red sees that Xavier has mentally summoned the other X-Men, so Eric the Red realizes his attempts to fight on are futile. He grabs both of the former X-Men and swoops away to fight again in the future. As they fly away, Cyclops has a chance to blast them with his optic powers. He hesitates, obviously because he doesn’t want to harm his brother. This infuriates Wolverine, and he calls Cyclops a coward. Cyclops is emotionally rocked from the whole event, so he back hands Wolverine. As Wolverine is about to engage him physically, Storm steps in and warns him that he will deal with her if he tries anything. Again, someone is watching from a monitor screen, and is apparently seeing something he likes!
Well, there is part one of this saga! Stay tuned for the next installment of this epic adventure, as we’ll see more from Eric the Red, the mighty Sentinels, and we will also find out who is tormenting the team from afar! See you next time!