Marvel Madness

That Time the X-Men Were Beaten Up by Frankenstein’s Monster

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Here in the middle of October, I like to mix things up a bit during Marvel Madness. The beginning of the month is dedicated to the strange adventures of Rutland, Vermont, and the end of the month is relegated to the insane exploits of Dracula. But, here in the middle of the month I tend to just look around and find fun stories about non-Dracula monsters. Because, Marvel Comic loves monsters. Sometimes they’re originals, like Man-Thing or any of the litany of strange atomic monsters that Jack Kirby cooked up over the years, and other times they’re more traditional monsters, the classic ghouls that make up Halloween merchandise. And, while looking around this year for a fun adventure featuring some monsters, I stumbled upon an absolute oddity. And, I’m kind of surprised that I had never heard of it. Although, the reason for that is more than likely the fact that I’ve never actually worked my way through the original run of Uncanny X-Men. I’ve been on the record that I’ve never been the biggest X-Men fan, and even then I’m really only familiar with the book after Giant Size X-Men came about and introduced the world to the mutants I really care about. Those early days, when the book was struggling and focused on the First Class of Charles Xavier’s School of Gifted Youngsters just generally doesn’t do much for me, so I’ve never really read through them. But, thankfully, I came across this incredibly goofy story from early on in the books run, and I knew right from looking at the cover that it was going to be the type of story I love to highlight here. I mean, just as it says, this is a story where the X-Men meet Frankenstein. And, that is indeed ’nuff said.

The story begins with the X-Men playing around in the X-Mansion, after having survived a particularly difficult mission. They’ve apparently just started wearing some new costumes, which are almost all terrible, and are goofing off in the Danger Room while getting used to them. Which, primarily takes the form of Beast doing some dangerous gymnastics on some elevated beam with lasers swirling around him, while Iceman gets bored and flash-freezes the pole, causing Beast to slip and eat shit in front of everyone. Because, at its heart, the X-Men are basically just a bunch of siblings who live in a frat house together. Beast then logically gets ready to beat the crap out of Iceman, when Cyclops comes racing in and does what he does best. Poops on their party. He tells them that the Professor needs them immediately, and the boys go racing into Xavier’s office, catching up with Jean who also got the telepathic meeting request. The X-Men wonder to themselves what could be so important, and they definitely couldn’t have guessed.

 

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So, yeah, this story is just getting straight to it, isn’t it. Professor Xavier has learned several startling things. First, the story of Frankenstein’s Monster is a true one that Mary Shelley just wrote about. Second, he apparently psychically listens to the radio, looking for evidence of the Monster. And Third, now that it’s been found froze in the Arctic, he wants to go steal it. Which, is a little alarming to the X-Men. Iceman does question why the Monster was found in the Arctic, but Xavier responds to that by shaming him about not doing his English Lit homework, since that’s exactly how the book ends. Which, is apparently journalism?

But, Jean Grey then asks a question that I’m sure you are also wondering. Why does Professor Xavier care about Frankenstein’s Monster? Other than, you know, what a shocking find it is? And, the answer is pretty insane. Jean wonders if maybe the President thinks that the Monster is actually a mutant. But, no, that would be ridiculous. Xavier thinks that the Monster is an elaborate android built by Victor Frankenstein. And it was Victor who was the mutant! Duh, Jean. And, with that established, they need to hurry the hell up, because the explorers who found the Monster currently have him in a local museum, and Xavier knows that they’re about to thaw the thing out. Which, is going to be bad if it actually is an angry robot.

 

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And, that’s not helped by the fact that the guy who found the Monster, Dr. Powell, really wants to get this sucker thawed. He’s standing around in his lab, smoking a cigarette, damning the government and trying to get the Monster out of its ice as fast as humanly possible. Which, is really putting the X-Men on a steep timer. So, the team races to the museum as fast as humanly possible, and end up talking to a friendly security guard who Xavier apparently knows. Which, he’s hoping will get them inside fast. Unfortunately, because of the Monster, the museum has ended up closing early so that Powell can get his work done and they can built up a functional display for the thing, meaning they have no intention of letting Xavier or his Gifted Youngsters into the museum.

So, of course, Jean takes it upon herself to use her telekinesis to slam the security guard into the wall so hard that he’s knocked unconscious, letting them sneak in. And, as soon as the guard is given brain damage, the X-Men hear a terrible crashing sound from inside the museum, followed by a roar. So, they quickly get into their terrible costumes, and race into the museum, while Iceman stays behind outside to guard Professor Xavier. And, sure enough, when they get inside they find the Monster strutting around the museum, breaking things, while Dr. Powell screams in joy having revived the Monster. So, the X-Men go racing forward, with Angel leading the way. Which, leads to him getting cold-cocked right in the head.

 

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The Monster then begins yelling at the X-Men, making it clear that he has no interest in these puny humans in their bright and dumb costumes, and he specifically seems worried that they’re going to abduct him and take him back to the frozen North. The X-Men aren’t quite sure what to make of these bizarre statements, but they also don’t have time to think about them, because the Monster is really pissed off at them, and begins attacking them all. Angel is obviously down for the count, so Beast gives it a shot, leaping at the Monster. Which, earns him a punch to the head. So, Cyclops opens up his visor and hits the Monster with everything he has, and it turns out to essentially be nothing. The Monster marches right up to Cyclops, and prepares to smash him to pieces.

Luckily, Cyclops is saved by Jean at the last moment, who uses her telekinesis to grab him and yank him backwards. Which is when the Monster decides to show off a new trick that Mary Shelley never mentioned. Optic blasts! He generates his own ocular lasers, an blasts them at Cyclops and Jean, sending the two careening away. Which, certainly seems to lead credence to the whole robot thing. So, the Monster strides right over the unconscious forms of the X-Men, before fleeing into the night. Xavier and Iceman come to rescue the rest of the team, and they head out to follow the Monster. Which, is really easy, because he’s not exactly being subtle.

 

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So, after commandeering a helicopter, the X-Men follow Angel as he tracks down the Monster, eventually leading them to a steam freighter which is leaving New York. How the Monster boarded a steam freighter in the time it took the X-Men to get a helicopter, I’m not exactly sure. But, it definitely turns out that these aren’t the most legit sailors, because as soon as the X-Men land on the ship they’re met with a bunch of automatic guns. But, the X-Men make pretty quick work of the sailors, with Cyclops blasting some, Beast tossing some in the air, Iceman freezing some, and Jean just lifting one of the men up in the air and wiggling him around menacingly. At which point Xavier says that he will use his powers to mentally hold every human being on the ship still, so that the X-Men can find the Monster.

They begin marching through the ship, searching the entire ship. And, while Beast is wandering around the cargo hold, we see that the Monster is mischievously hiding in an alcove above him. So, he leaps down and prepares to beat the hell out of Beast, causing the big-footed mutant to scream for his life, drawing his teammates to him. And, Angel responds first to this cry for help, and ends up coming up with a weird plan. He finds a rope, makes a lasso, snares the Monster, and plans to lift him off the ground. And, that seems to be the final step of the plan. Unfortunately, it turns out that the Monster has magnetic feet! Perfect plan foiled.

 

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The Monster quickly frees himself from Angel’s lasso, and then proceeds to lean into his inner Donkey Kong, grabbing a bunch of barrels and hucking them at the mutants. Iceman thinks fast and is able to freeze the barrels in mid-air, while Jean just snags the out of their air with her telekinesis. Unfortunately, the robo Monster has several more tricks up his raggedy sleeves. He stomps really hard on the ground, somehow making Jean pass out. The punches Iceman, causing the frozen drums to fall on him, and also somehow make him pass out. Angel is apparently still passed out from his previous failure. And Beast ends up getting throws around after the Monster grabs the pole he’s standing on, and hucks it away.

Which means that Professor Xavier is going to have to get involved. He starts barraging the Monster with all of his mental powers, knowing full well that if the Monster is actually a robot this isn’t going to work. But, it does seems to slow him down, causing Cyclops to start blasting the Monster as heavily as possible, which eventually leads to Cyclops running out of laser eyes, and falling down. And, as the Monster continues lumbering toward Xavier, laughing about how feeble this new foe is, when Iceman pops back up and unleashes the Monsters one weakness. Cold! He starts pouring more and more ice onto the Monster until it literally explodes in a shower of gears, once and for all confirming that the Monster was indeed a robot. Which, certainly leaves some unanswered questions, right? Well, it turns out that right at the end Xavier was somehow able to scan the Monster’s mind, learning all of the secrets. Victor Frankenstein wasn’t a mutant, he was just some dude who found a robot that was made by fabulously dressed aliens in an attempt to invade the planet. Which, is why he hates superheroes and their ugly costumes. So, yeah. That’s reality. Not sure how Mary Shelley learned about an evil alien robot who froze in the arctic.

 

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Folks, are old X-Men comics all this insane? Because if so I may have to start reading them, and I definitely don’t need to know anything more about Warren Worthington the Third than I already know. And yet, this comic is kind of delightful. While also remaining completely insane. I mean, the idea that the X-Men would be tracking down Frankenstein’s Monster because Professor Xavier thinks that Victor Frankenstein was a powerful mutant would be hilarious enough. And yet, they managed to make the story infinitely more insane by having the Monster be a robot, and then push that even further with the whole last minute alien reveal. It’s just so wonderfully weird. And, what’s even weirder, is the fact that Marvel definitely has other stories where the Monster is a) real, and b) a more traditional version of the Monster. I mean, I’ve even talked about an issue where the Invaders fought a bunch of Frankenstein Monsters that were made by Nazis. But hey, I guess it can be hard to keep all of this weird bullshit straight. I mean, who would have imagined that some dork would be spending hours of his life fifty years after this comic was published to write about it on his dumb website?

 

Uncanny X-Men #40 “The Mark of the Monster!” was written by Roy Thomas, penciled by Don Heck, inked by George Tuska, lettered by Artie Simek, and edited by Stan Lee, 1968.

 

 

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