Before leaving the title, however, Lee managed to complete his final script about the return of Magneto. Although the master of magnetism had been kidnapped by a cosmic entity simply called the Stranger, he finds a way to escape. “...And None Shall Survive!” (originally published in The X-Men # 17, February 1966) begins with an ominous feeling that Charles Xavier can’t describe. One by one, Professor X and all his X-Men (except Iceman) are defeated. Lee really knows how to maintain the suspense throughout this chapter, and the truth is revealed only in the final page. Jack Kirby did the covers for this and the next issue, but the interior art was provided by penciler Werner Roth (under the pseudonym of Jay Gavin) and inker Dick Ayers.
The final battle between the master of magnetism and the last remaining X-Man takes place in “If Iceman Should Fail--!” (The X-Men # 18, March 1966). In this chapter, Magneto is portrayed as a “megalomaniacal mutant”, a villain without any redeeming qualities. Perhaps, after the defeat suffered at the hands of the Stranger and the disbandment of his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the villain has hit rock bottom and has momentarily lost his sanity. Iceman manages to resist Magneto’s attack long enough for the rest of the X-Men to break free.
Stan Lee’s final issue as a writer was “Lo! Now Shall Appear--The Mimic!” (The X-Men # 19, April 1966). In Lee’s hands, the mutants really act like “the most unusual teen-agers of all time”. Dealing with their amazing powers is hard enough, but they must also learn how to control their feelings and in some cases, identify what is the meaning of such feelings. As we’ve seen before, for Bobby Drake (Iceman) his attraction towards other boys is an uncomfortable truth, one that must be kept hidden at all costs. But even in the case of heterosexual relationships, things aren’t easy either. For instance, Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) has a crush on Scott Summers (Cyclops), but she lacks the courage to take the first step; and Cyclops, the brooding teen who takes everything so seriously and who doesn’t believe in himself as much as the others do, is convinced that the girl of his dream is out of his league. This romance, carefully developed by the expert hand of Stan Lee, is a secret for the rest of the team.
Xavier decides that it’s time for his pupils to enjoy a much deserved day off. So for one day the kids finally get the chance to do whatever they want: Hank McCoy (Beast) and Bobby Drake go to the public library, and there Hank finds a girl that has read almost as many books as he has. Meanwhile, Jean Grey goes on a shopping spree unlike anything we’ve seen in previous issues. All of them, at different moments, run into Calvin Rankin, a young man who has the ability to temporarily copy the powers of those who are close to him. Calvin attacks the X-Men, introducing himself as the Mimic. This time, Werner Roth illustrates the cover (along with Marie Severin) and does all the interior art, and the result is actually quite good.
Stan Lee was replaced by Roy Thomas (Thomas run on Conan the Barbarian is absolutely brilliant and his passion for the ‘swords and sorcery’ genre was evident, but perhaps he was ill-prepared for a title like The X-Men). The first issue of the new writer was “I, Lucifer...” (The X-Men # 20, May 1966). Once again, Professor X and his X-Men fight against the evil Lucifer. It’s in this issue in which we learn how, when Xavier was younger, fought against Lucifer and lost the use of his legs. The confrontation with Lucifer ends in “From Whence Comes...Dominus?” (The X-Men # 21, June 1966).
|After the battle with the Sentinels / después de la batalla con los centinelas|
Puede sonar como una paradoja, pero cuando Stan “The Man” Lee se convirtió en el escritor más exitoso de los 60s, descubrió que ya no tenía tiempo suficiente para seguir escribiendo: “En el momento en que habíamos llegado al ejemplar # 20, la cantidad de publicaciones que Marvel estaba produciendo había crecido tan enormemente que me fue necesario ceder, a regañadientes, la tarea de los guiones y dejarlos en manos de otro escritor”, admite Stan Lee.
|Mimic versus X-Men|
|Lucifer, Unus & Blob|
|The secret origin of Professor X / el origen secreto del Profesor X|
Los guiones de Thomas son sólidos, pero no son tan atrayentes o entretenidos como los relatos de Lee. Werner Roth y Dick Ayers siguen haciendo un buen trabajo, y sus portadas son muy satisfactorias, ya que claramente hacen lo posible para imitar el estilo de Kirby. Sin embargo, parte de la energía original, algo del encanto inicial, parece haberse perdido.