X-Men (1st series) #25

Issue Date: 
October 1966
Story Title: 
The Power and the Pendant!

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

Brief Description: 

The X-Men drive Jean back to Metro College, but along the way they pass a burning orphanage. The team help rescue the kids, but then proceed to New York. Jean arrives right on time for her classes and is met by her fellow student, Ted Roberts, causing both Scott and Warren to feel jealous. In Central America, a gem hunter, called El Tigre, and his minions uncover a hidden pyramid and its treasures. Among them is a glowing stone fragment that grants El Tigre mental powers. An inscription reveals it to be part of the Pendant of Kukulcan, granting its wearer powers beyond limit, if he survives the curse. El Tigre sets out to find the other half and locates it in New York's City Museum. His arrival is registered by Cerebro and, as the readings go off the scale, Xavier sends his four X-Men after the possible menace. Although they run across the three men from South America several times, the mutants fail to notice something odd about them until they cause a riot in a night club and Xavier recalibrates Cerebro. The team tracks them down to the museum where they split up to find them. Yet all four X-Men are outsmarted and defeated by El Tigre himself and his two Indian servants, who wield such weapons as bolas and blowguns with poisoned darts. El Tigre finally finds the necklace with the other half of the enchanted stone. He combines the fragments and is transformed into the reincarnated Maya god Kukulcan.

Full Summary: 

Following their recent encounter with the Locust, the X-Men are driving Jean back to Metro College. Bobby says he's wish that her parents would give up on the idea of her attending a regular school and Jean agrees, though she doesn't want to tell her folks about her dual identity as Marvel Girl.

As the car passes the old Abercrombie Orphanage, the group sees that the building is on fire. The Professor orders Warren to stop the car; some of the children might still be trapped inside. Quickly, the five teenagers change into uniform and spring into action. Jean thinks to herself how wonderful it is to be in costume again, even though she never knows if it is the last time for her. Scott tells her to hurry up. Watching them leave, Xavier envies them as he has to stay behind, otherwise his presence might reveal their secret identities.

The Angel is the first to reach the building and he spots six of the children sitting on the roof, engulfed by smoke. While the children marvel at being rescued by a real life superhero, the Beast and Iceman too try to make their way up to the roof. The Beast ascends by climbing the brick walls and Bobby creates himself an ice-ladder. Jean and Scott advise the other children and orphanage staff to stay back and let them do their work. Through the smoke, Cyclops sees the Angel coming down with two girls in his arms. As he carefully sets them on the ground, one of them asks what about Timmy and the others still up there? Warren says he'll get them in a second, but he thinks to himself that he needs a little rest because he inhaled some of the smoke.

Iceman has got a boy and together they are climbing down the ladder, only they can't see much because of there being too much smoke. Additionally, the heat is melting the ladder faster than Bobby can replenish it. Not before too long, it breaks and both the child and the X-Man fall down.

Bobby yells for help and Jean catches them with a telekinetic cushion. Cyclops is concerned with her, the two bodies might be too heavy for her and indeed Jean almost passes out and holds her head.

However, the Beast and the three remaining children are still on the roof, with the flames getting closer. Hank knows that he could still bound to safety, but he can't abandon the kids. Cyclops saves the day, by using his optic blast on a tree. It falls against the building, with its peak reaching the roof. Hank and the three orphans can now safely climb down. In the distance, sirens are heard, so the X-Men decide to skip it and let the professionals handle it from there. Thirty seconds later, the orphanage staff tells the arriving firefighters that the X-Men were there to help them.

By then, the five youths are already changing back into their civies. Bobby can't get over how Hank's oversized feet can gain a foothold on almost anything, while Warren wonders if Jean is feeling better. She answers that she is fine and Scott tells them to hurry, as Jean's class starts in less than half an hour. Back in the car, Xavier mentions that there was already a new orphanage in development, so the children will have another place to live pretty soon. Jean answers these are good news and, again, her thoughts wonder off. During the crisis, Cyclops seemed so concerned, but now he is as cold and aloof as usual - she'll never solve the enigma of Scott Summers.

Not before long, the team drops off Jean at the campus of Metro College. Jean waves them goodbye and says that she has two tests coming up this week, so she'll be very busy studying. In her thoughts she adds "... and trying to forget how much I miss the life at Professor Xavier's school."

In front of the dorm, Jean runs into fellow student Ted Roberts. He jokingly congratulates her on just having enough time to unpack her bags and be late for their psych class. Jean asks how he could have known that she'd be late and Ted, taking here suitcase, comments all women are. Jean thinks that he is a dear and probably she might adjust to life among normal humans.

From the car, Scott sees Jean and Ted. He knows he should be happy for her to make new friends so soon, but he isn't. Scott reminds himself that he needs to get Jean out of his head, even if it means he has to quit the team. Warren too recognized Ted Roberts and thinks to himself that if Jean can date someone else, so can he. She is not the only fish in Warren Worthington's sea.

Meanwhile, in the jungles of Central America, a strange trio has finally found what they have been looking for. Juan Meroz, also known as El Tigre to other gem hunters, and his two Indian servants have uncovered the hidden pyramid of the Mayan god Kukulcan. El Tigre proudly announces that he will be the richest man of San Rico and orders Ramon and Toloc to set up camp. The two obey, though, from the tone in their voices, El Tigre knows that they despise him and are only in it for the money he pays them. Despite the servants being tired, El Tigre orders them to start digging now, he will even help them.

(several hours later)
The three men uncover some sort of tomb and, moving aside the massive slab with Mayan carvings, they find a treasure beneath. El Tigre has finally found the Sacred Gold of Kukulcan, though Toloc reminds him of the curse the legends warn of. El Tigre doesn't care and starts examining his findings. One rather unspectacular looking vase contains a glowing object. It's a strangely shaped ornament, but only one half of it and El Tigre is unable to say what substance it is made of. Although he has explored two continents, El Tigre has never seen a treasure like this. Putting the glowing stone in his pocket, he decides to examine the other object the next day, as it is already getting dark.

Late at night, Ramon and Toloc see their master has fallen asleep. They decide that the profit should be theirs, but they will need El Tigre to unearth the treasure before they will kill him. They sneak up on him, intending to tie him up and, with Toloc carrying his machete, the advantage is on their side. As the two aproach, El Tigre suddenly wakes up, alerted by some sixth sense. Enraged by the skulking attack he curses at his servants that they should be entangled by their own ropes. Inexplicably, just that happens, as the lasso develops a life of its own, tying up the two Indians like El Tigre ordered. El Tigre threatens to kill them with their own weapon unless they swear total obedience from this day forward. Both servants are only too eager to make that vow and, after El Tigre cuts them loose, they return to digging.

Left alone, El Tigre ponders the awesome occurrence, as suddenly the gem stone falls from his pocket, or did it? It seemed almost to move of its own accord. As El Tigre retrieves the fallen fragment, it begins to pulsate in his hand and, suddenly, he is able to read the Mayan Inscriptions on the base of the pyramid. Thus he learns the story of the Sacred Pendant of Kukulcan. According to the tale, the fragment is part of an enchanted amulet, carved from a magic stone. This half already gave El Tigre mental powers and it is further written that he who combines both halves shall enjoy power without limit, if he survives the deadly curse. Dismissing the warning, El Tigre decides that he will get the second fragment, and nothing will stop him.

(a few days later)
The four male X-Men are studying and reading books. Bobby suggests to Hank to go skating, though he turns him down; no skates would fit his feet. Warren jokes that he could wear them on his hands. All the while, Scott is lost in his thoughts about Jean.

All of a sudden, an alarm goes of, they immediately recognize it as the Pofessor's Cerebro machine. As they rush to his office, Xavier, right now in the mansions upper floor, hears the noise too and activates his mechanical legs to go downstairs. The X-Men actually wanted to alert the Pofessor and see him coming down the stairs, when suddenly the mechanical legs give in. The teens try to catch Xavier, but some mechanical tentacles, emerging from the wall, are faster. Xavier explains he had the device installed just for such an emergency and they respond to his thought waves. Still, it seems the mechanical legs' power source is still malfunctioning, but they can't worry about that now.

Scott lifts Xavier into his wheelchair and they all head towards the Cerebro chamber. The machine's screen displays some nebulous image and Warren wonders if it is another mutant. Xavier states that they can't be sure, as sometimes the device responds to conditions that are similar to mutation. To Scott's question why the image is only blurry, Xavier answers that he suspects the powers of the being are as yet incomplete. If that is the case, the world is in grave danger. Why so, asks one of the students. The professor points out that the partial power level is already high enough to be clearly registered from several miles away. They have to locate this being before it is too late.

Soon the Angel is circling around the Chrysler Building in New York, as Xavier instructed the team to zero in on this part of the city. However, besides some harmless helicopter, apparently arriving from Kennedy airport, Warren sees nothing worthy of his attention. Maybe he should have looked closer, as the 'copter lands near the PanAm Building and El Tigre and his servant step out. Ramon wonders why they are in New York, but El Tigre tells him to shut up and obey. The fragment of Kukulcan's Pendant has guided El Tigre to the city, but he has yet to learn where exactly it is. Until then, he has to bide his time. As the trio tries to call a cab, they are passed by Hank and Bobby, looking for any suspicious activities. Although they note the three men dressed in Latin-American clothing, they move on, still intent to find the potential menace that Cerebro alerted them to.

Unnerved by none of the taxis stopping for them, El Tigre mentally affects one passenger currently riding a cab. The poor soul suddenly feels hot and tells the driver to stop; he needs to get a drink of water, even if it comes from the Hudson River itself. The driver thinks his passenger an odd fellow. At first, he said it was a beautiful day and then this sudden change. Besides, the car is air-conditioned. After El Tigre and his minions ask to be taken to a good hotel, the driver says sure, it's a relief to haul around a normal Joe for a change. Little does he know ...

A little bit later, at a hotel not too far away, Scott notices the three South Americans getting out of the cab and checking in. At first he thinks that they emanate an "atmosphere of impeding danger", but then dismisses it as his own imagination. He meets with his teammates in the room the team rented incognito and learns that none of them have come up with any clues.

(later that day)
Over the next hours, they watch the news on TV and await further instructions from Xavier, but nothing of importance happens. Scott then decides to get the evening tabloid, hoping for some odd news item to give them a clue. However, once he browsed through the newspaper, still outside in the streets, he again finds nothing. Lost in his thoughts, Scott bumps into a passer-by and his glasses fall off. His optic blasts ricochet wildly as he tries to cover his eyes. Blaming himself for nearly killing innocent people, Scott tries to calm the situation by explaining that it is part of some magical act, but the crowd doesn't buy it. Some are eager to get the "mutie", while others panic and run away. Scott does the same and, after he eludes his pursuers, returns to the rest of the X-Men.

Just as he is about to tell them what happens, there is a special news bulletin on TV. It is about a riot at a nightclub in 39th street. The TV shows the club's owner telling the police how, suddenly, the customers were filled with an inexplicable frenzy and began to brawl with each other. The interior of the club is totally devastated. There were only three customers who did not take part in the fight and a photo taken minutes before the riot is shown. Bobby recognizes them as the three guys who tried to get a cab and Scott too remembers the South Americans checking into the nearby hotel. However, that still doesn't prove anything.

From afar, Xavier telepathically joins the conversation and agrees with Scott, however their suspicions are correct. One of the three men is indeed their quarry. The professor isolated himself in the past hours, making delicate adjustments to Cerebro, enabling it to ascertain the identity and whereabouts of the possibly dangerous individual. While the X-Men switch into costumes, Xavier fills them in on what he has learned by telepathically following the three men.

Right after they left the club, they took a cab back to their hotel, but El Tigre again received a sensation of danger and told the cabbie to drive them elsewhere. Indeed, the police were already waiting at the hotel to question them. They had tracked them by a matchbox sporting the hotel's logo that had been left behind in the nightclub. Instead, El Tigre and his men drove to the city museum, as by now they had pinpointed the desired objects to be there. El Tigre mentally "convinced" the cabbie to forget he had ever seen them, but then he felt Xavier?s mental probing and shut off his mind from the telepath. From now on, it's up to the X-Men to take him down.

The team storms out of their hotel and, in the lobby, the clerk wonders if they have been staying inside. He intends to find out, but Hank thinks to himself that he is no danger, as they signed in under phony names. On the street outside, the team stops a cab and tells the amazed driver to take them to the museum. Within minutes, the X-Men arrive and investigate the building's exterior. The Beast finds signs of a break-in and the team too gets inside the museum. To save time, the four mutants split up, each searching through a different wing, unaware that their arrival has already been noted by El Tigre's men.

The Beast checks out the area where medieval armors and weapons are exhibited. Suddenly, he hears a "kreek" and one of the armors springs to life. Hank barely evades a blow by a mace and leaps around the room, intending not to give a clear target. While he is still wondering who and where his assailant is, his feet are ensnared by an Argentine bola. Hank topples over the railing, but manages to grab a chandelier. However, from his momentum, the bola balls swing around and one of them hitting him on the head. The Beast sinks to the floor, unconscious and Ramon reveals himself. After El Tigre animated the knight armor, he finished the task.

Elsewhere, Iceman can't shake the feeling that he is being watched and creates an ice-club as possible defense. Not to soon, as he right then needs it to deflect the machete hurled at him. Bobby runs into the chamber from where the weapon was thrown at him and concludes that his attacker must have run down the stairway, as he is nowhere in the room. He heads for the stairs, but then falls over a rope strung across his path. In midfall, Bobby blames himself for his stupidity - he should have predicted such a move. He creates an ice-slide to stop his fall, but has too much momentum and hits the stone wall at the bottom on the stairs. As he is knocked out cold, Toloc comments that this leaves only two more X-Men to deal with.

Meanwhile, Warren is searching through the prehistoric exhibit, when he hears Bobby scream. While he is wondering from which direction the scream came, a spear is thrown at him. Warren barely avoids being hit and then flies towards the shadowy figure that is standing in the corner. However, as he reaches it, Warren realizes that it is a wax dummy, representing a Neanderthal - his opponent must have stood in front of the figure. While the Angel makes this conclusion, Toloc has already positioned himself for a blowgun attack with a poisoned arrow. It hits the X-Man in the neck and Toloc is proud of himself. Surely, his master will be pleased.

At the same instant Cyclops is in the pre-Columbian wing, as he got a hunch this is where El Tigre would be headed. Scott is right and, as he sees the gem hunter entering the dark room, he hides behind a corner. He overhears El Tigre talking to himself, saying that his hirelings will deal with the X-Men while he can quire the prize he crossed a continent to obtain. Before he goes on, a noise is heard that is from neither he nor Cyclops. El Tigre too chooses a hiding place and a flashlight is turned on, shining right in Scott's face; it's one of the museum guards. El Tigre quickly takes mental control of the guard and commands him to point his gun at the X-Man. Should he either move or cry for help, he is to be shot down. Scott is helpless and he doesn't dare to use his power, for the guard is an innocent pawn in El Tigre's scheme.

While Scott unsuccessfully pleads with the guard to let him go, El Tigre searches the exhibit and finally comes upon a necklace, with the other half of the amulet. He breaks the showcase and, already holding it in his hands, he feels his power grow. However, the Mayan hieroglyphs said the halves of the stone should be joined, so he pulls the one already in his possession from his pocket and places it within the necklace. The two glowing fragments perfectly fit together and, as El Tigre places the necklace about his head, a strange transformation happens in front of Cyclops' eyes. His skin now golden and his clothes now being of Mayan design, it is no longer El Tigre, but the reincarnated form of the god Kukulcan. He tells humanity to beware, for now he strides the Earth again; he, the omnipotent master of all he surveys!

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Professor Charles Xavier (all X-Men)

Ted Roberts, a psychology student at Metro College
Timmy and several other children
orphanage staff
police officers
museum guard
taxi drivers
hotel clerk

El Tigre / Juan Meroz / Kukulcan
Ramon and Toloc, El Tigre's Indian servants

Story Notes: 

Tigre (pronounced tee-gray) is the Spanish word for tiger.

Apparently the bugs in the mechanical legs' power source are beyond repair, as Xavier never uses this invention again.

Cerebro reacted to non-mutants before: The Stranger and the Juggernaut [X-Men (1st series) #11, 12]

The Chrysler Building is located at the corner of Lexington Avenue / 42nd street in Manhattan. The PanAm Building (by now renamed to MetLife Building) is only a few blocks away at Park Avenue South / 44th street.

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