X-Men (1st series) #24

Issue Date: 
September 1966
Story Title: 
The Plague of ... the Locust!

Roy Thomas (writer), Werner Roth (penciler), Dick Ayers (inker), Sam Rosen (letterer), Stan Lee (editor)

Brief Description: 

The X-Men are confronted by a mad scientist called Dr.August Hopper. As his alter ego “the Locust'“he wants to unleash a plague of giant insects upon the world, with an ionic device that he invented. Once the plague is unleashed he will create a cure under his true identity of Dr.Hopper so he came become world famous as the man who stopped the insect plague. Unfortunately for him Jean Grey attents Metro College where he used to be a professor and after becoming suspicious she informs the X-Men. After some investigation by Professor Xavier they confront the Locust and his swarms of giants insects and manage to defeat him becausing Marvel Girl scrambles the villain’s control mechanism and Professor Xavier in disguise is able to make Dr. Hopper see the error of his ways.

Full Summary: 

After defeating Count Nefaria , Jean Grey received a letter from her parents. Now that she formally graduated, her parents want her to attend Metro College, which results in Jean leaving the X-Men. The news of her departure comes as a shock to the team, especially for Cyclops, who is still afraid to admit he loves her.

After Jean packed her bags Scott and Warren drive her to Metro College in their regal Sedan. On arrival at the College, Warren tries to cheer Jean up by saying that Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) also attends this college. At the door of the admissions building they are greeted by a man named Ted Roberts, who quickly charms Jean and shows her around.

Meanwhile, in a wheat field a man named “The Locust“ is running through the field spreading insect eggs, which hatch instantly as they touch the soil of the field. Once hatched, the young locusts grow with each bite they take from the moist grain.

Back in Westchester the X-Men are having their first training without Jean, when Professor Xavier interrupts the training after hearing a news report on the radio about giant locusts devastating several farms. The team quickly moves to the scene of the crime in their high-speed helicopter where they are observed by the Locust who decides not to reveal himself yet. The professor wants one of the giant locusts for examination so the team attacks the insects and manages to take out three of the insects. But then they are hit by some bad luck, a helicopter appears which is spraying pesticide on the field. The professor mentally contacts the Angel who then uses his wings as a fan, clearing the pesticide. The team leaves back to the school when the army arrives to finish off the remainder of the insects.

( a few days later)
At Metro College, Ted Roberts takes Jean Grey to the College coffee shop where a group of students makes fun of a man called Dr. August Hopper. Jean is suspicious about the man and asks Ted some questions. Hee used to be a professor at the College but he got fired because of some strange theories about insects.

At a lab at Ryan Chemicals, Dr. Hopper's new employer, the doctor reveals himself as the Locus. He is angry that everyone took credit for his work and somehow wants revenge. He wants to unleash an insect plague on the world so he can cure his own plagueand take credit for it.

(the next day)
Professor Xavier discusses the results of his examination on the locust they captured with the team, when Jean suddenly walks into the room. She is on a weekend break and decided to visit the team. She is briefed on the current situation about the giant insects and tells the team what she heard about Dr. Hopper. The professor is curious about this doctor so he decides it's time to visit him at Ryan Chemicals.

A short while later Xavier arrives at Ryan Chemicals where he is greeted by Mr.Hamilton, the plant supervisor. Dr. August Hopper is on leave of absence so Mr.Hamilton shows the professor around in Hopper's lab. By using his mental probing on the equipment in the lab, Xavier learns more about Dr.Hopper and finds evidence that the doctor is somehow involved with the giant insects.

The professor sends the team on a mission to a corn field where the suspects a new attack from the insects. On arrival the team meets with the Locust for the first time. The Locust punches Cyclops and then tries to get away. Warren almost catches him, but the Locust has a Ionic Stun Device that knocks the Angel unconsious.

Cyclops shoots an optic blast towards the Locusts, but he is wearing an exo-shell, modelled after an insects exterior skeleton, which is able to block Cyclop's attack. Iceman manages to create some ice under the Locust's feet which makes him slip. But then the antennas on the Locust's head start glowing and a giant beetle appears behind the X-Men giving the Locust enough time to escape and hatch a swarm of wasps.

The team manages to kill the beetle with a large pole made of ice, but they have to shield themselves with an ice iglo against the swarm of wasps. Suddenly the wasps fly away towards the locusts and feed on the locusts instead and when the army arrives with their flamethrowers the X-Men can savely leave the scene for now which the army cleans up the mess.

The team moves to the next scene, which was marked by an 'X' on a map in Hopper's lab. When they arrive they see a large trailer, which is the Locust' mobile lab, in an unusual place and decide to land nearby in the woods. Inside the trailer the Locust is preparing some more eggs but once he steps outside the trailer a hermit appears  trying to convince the Locust to stop his evil acts and use his knowledge for good instead, but the hermit fails to convince the Locust so its up to the X-Men to stop him now.

The team manage to surprise the Locust and attack him. He tries to get away which almost fails when the Angel went after him, but once again he succeeds to stop the Angel, this time with sticky cocoon silk, similar to Spiderman's webbing. The Locust quickly hatches two gigantic insects but he didn't notice Marvel Girl putting a knot in his antennas so he is unable to control his insects and is forced to flee into his trailer. The two insects push the trailer off a cliff, but the Angel manages to rescue him before the trailer sinks in a river.

The hermit appears again and makes the Locust see his errors, he walks off and promises to turn himself in for his crimes. The hermit takes off a false beard, a wig and his cloak and is revealed to be Xavier underneath. He thought that he could get to the Locust in disguise and hopefully he won’t ever go back to his villain days, as the X-Men never would survive against a full army of giant insects.

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Professor Charles Xavier (all X-Men)
Ted Roberts, a psychology student at Metro College
Mr.Hamilton, Plant Supervisor at Ryan Chemicals
The Locust / Dr. August Hopper
Mutated Insects

Story Notes: 

First appearence of the Locust. His costume / armor contains :
- Exo-Shell, modelled after the exterior skeleton of insects
- Cocoon Silk, sticky mass that shoots fromt he gloves in a form of web. Similar to Spiderman's webbing. This cocoon is modelled after the cocoons of caterpillars.
- Micro-Magnetic Antennas, these enable him to control his insects.
- Metallic Wings that enable him to fly, although they are no match for wings like those of the Angel.
- Ionic Stun Device, created to keep rebellous insects under control but also effective against humanoids.

The X-Men formally graduated in X-Men (1st series) #7.

Officially Marvel Girl is no longer part of the team, although she visits the team on the weekends and actually appears in every issue.

A cameo appearence of Johnny Storm and Wyatt Wingfoot look-a-likes (sneaky joke by Stan Lee) since the real Johnny and Wyatt are in the himalayas at the time of this issue, as can be seen in Fantastic Four (1st series) #54-58.

In case you are wondering why Professor Xavier was walking : He created mechanical legs in the previous issue (#23) that enable him to walk a brief moment.

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