One final Retro-Review to close out the week, and it's actually a pretty interesting one. In my biased opinion at least. Tonight's lone Retro-Review brings us the very first meeting between the Avengers and the X-Men... Ever! With the whole X-Men vs the Avengers event on the horizon, it makes a lot of sense to give this comic a reread. Now, let's see how Marvel's two most popular teams(sorry FF, you guys are a distant third now) first got together.
(Uncanny)X-Men #9 (January 1965):
What Happened: The X-Men(that would be the original five) are taking a cruise to Europe due to Professor Xavier and a vague mission Xavier went off on. Prof X contacts the team telepathically and tells them that he had tracked down Lucifer(the guy who first cost Prof. X the use of his legs) and wants to handle the villain on his own. BUT, if Prof. X were to lose/get captured/die at the hands of Lucifer, he wanted the X-Men to go after Lucifer to end his vile threat. Cyclops tries to convince Prof. X not to take on the mysterious Lucifer on his own, but Xavier won't hear of it and stops communicating with the X-Men. Xavier sneaks into Lucifer's hidden mountain base and is promptly captured... Good going there, Chuck... Lucifer has Xavier placed in a strange glass structure so he could taunt Xavier, but Xavier shuts Lucifer up by pulling a handgun and shooting at Lucifer(!!!!!)! Lucifer narrowly avoids the bullet and warns Xavier not to do that again since Lucifer had rigged a massive thermal bomb to his heart. The thermal bomb was set to destroy Antarctica if Lucifer's heart was to stop, which would in turn obliterate the world's coastal cities. So that's what's going on with Xavier. Back on the surface, Thor and the Avengers have tracked down “strange impulses” that they felt were emanating from some great hidden evil. A passing tourist spots the colorful Avengers and freaks out, speeding away and nearly running over the just arrived X-Men. Upon hearing the tourist's wild story, the X-Men wonder if the colorful figures the tourist described could be allies of Lucifer and go to check the situation out... Can you see where this is going yet? Thor's hammer informs him that the evil in the area as so great that there was no other choice but to destroy it completely, and Xavier, upon hearing this while eavesdropping on the Avengers mentally, warns the X-Men that they mustn't allow the Avengers to locate and harm Lucifer. The X-Men confront the Avengers and tell them that this was an X-Men mission and that the Avengers needed to get lost. The Avengers refuse and we get our first official Avengers/X-Men fight! Back in Lucifer's mountain base, Prof. X strikes Lucifer with a mind blast strong enough to knock the villain out, but not so strong as to cause his heart to beat abnormally. With Lucifer out of the way, Prof. X contacts Thor telepathically and tells him why the X-Men had stood in the way of the Avengers. Satisfied that Xavier was on the up and up, Thor tells the rest of the Avengers to stop fighting, and Thor decides that since Lucifer was a foe of the X-Men, the Avengers would cease interfering and would leave... Um, why not join forces to defeat Lucifer together? Anyway, Prof. X leads the X-Men to his location with his telepathy and with some help from Cyclops, manages to destroy the fuse of the thermal bomb, ending it's threat. By this time Lucifer wakes up and is angry that the X-Men had destroyed his thermal bomb, since it had taken him 10 years(!?!) to build. Lucifer storms off, and Xavier tells his X-Men to let Lucifer leave since Lucifer now knew that he couldn't defeat the X-Men and that the X-Men had pledged to never cause injury to human life, no matter what.
The Good: This comic was written by Stan Lee and penciled by Jack Kirby. You can't get any better than that duo. The battle between the X-Men and Avengers was a blast to read, and was drawn magnificently. The banter between the two teams was top-notch. Professor Xavier tried to murder Lucifer with a handgun!!
The Bad: While I had a HUGE laugh at Xavier trying to blow Lucifer away(seriously, where did THAT come from?!), that act caused the ending to make little sense... How does Xavier go from attempted murder to letting Lucifer simply walk away over the course of a few pages? The fact that Lucifer was allowed to leave also bugged me a bit. The same with the Avengers simply leaving. Thor senses an evil so great that he feels it has to be destroyed completely, but since the X-Men called dibs the Avengers just leave?! If the threat was so grave shouldn't the Avengers have stuck around to pitch in?
The Verdict: This wasn't one of the better Lee/Kirby comic books I've ever read, but even a mediocre Lee/Kirby tale is better than like 85% of the comic books that I am currently reading. There were just too many little things that happened here for me to truly enjoy this one. Yeah, the scenes between the X-Men and Avengers were all great, but the rest of the story was kind of meh. And Xavier's weird mood swings really bugged me. But, as I said, it's Lee and Kirby, and it's the first ever meeting between the Avengers and X-Men. For that reason alone this is a must read.
Score: 7 out of 10.Stan Lee's dialogue + Jack Kirby's artwork = Comic book perfection.