X-Men (1st series) #44

Issue Date: 
May 1968
Story Title: 
<BR>Red Raven, Red Raven ... !<BR>The Iceman Cometh !

First Story: Gary Friedrich (writer), Don Heck (layouts), Werner Roth (artist), John Tartaglione (inker), Sam Rosen (letterer), Stan Lee (editor)

Second Story: Gary Friedrich (writer), George Tuska (artist), John Verpoorten (inker), Artie Siemek (letterer), Stan Lee (editor)

Brief Description: 

First Story:

Magneto prepares to kill his captives, the X-Men, but Quicksilver convinces him to merely imprison them and possibly recruit them into the ranks of the Brotherhood later on. The X-Men are locked up with special devices to counter their powers, but the Angel is able to grab a device capable of creating a disruptive beam, which allows him to deactivate the cage holding him. Suspecting a trap, Cyclops tells the Angel not to waste any time freeing the others, but to quickly escape and get help from the Avengers. Although the Angel is spotted by the Brotherhood, he manages to quickly fly out of their range and heads to New York. Along the way, he has to rest on a rock in the ocean because of a violent storm. Suddenly, the rock rises from the waves, revealing to be an entire island filled with strange technology. Taking a closer look, the Angel finds himself attacked by the Red Raven. After a brief fight, the Red Raven is convinced of Warren’s good intentions and tells him the tell of a lost race, the bird-people. They lived on a floating island in the sky, and one day a plane crashed there, the sole survivor being a young boy. The bird people raised the human child as one of their own, and he grew up to become the Red Raven. When the bird-people were about to start a war with humanity, the Red Raven tried to stop them and eventually used a narcotic gas to put everyone asleep. He then placed the bird-people in stasis tubes and sank the island to the ocean floor, to remain there for twenty years. Now with the cycle complete, the Red Raven fears that, upon waking up, the bird-men might continue their plans of war, which is why he wants to put them asleep for another twenty years. When the Angel protests, the Red Raven knocks him out. By the time Warren comes around, he is lying on a small raft in the Atlantic Ocean, the island already beneath the waves again. He then continues to fly to New York to alert the Avengers.

Second Story:

Bobby Drake, a teenager from Nassau County, is secretly a mutant with freezing powers. His parents always warned him not to use his abilities in public, but when he and his love interest, Judy Harmon, are attacked during a date, he feels like he has no other choice. Unfortunately, Bobby not only scares the attackers away with his ice powers, but also Judy Harmon, who says she never wants to see him again. Bobby rushes home to his parents, but soon an angry mob is after him. Any attempts to reason with them fail, and Bobby is overwhelmed by numerous attackers, who put him in jail. Reading about the incident in the newspaper, Charles Xavier knows that he has found his next student and sends Cyclops to bust Bobby Drake out of prison.

Full Summary: 

First Story:

Defeated by Magneto, the X-Men lie unconscious on the ground, with the Toad hopping around them and praising his master. Magneto prepares to destroy his enemies once and for all, when Quicksilver interrupts him, saying that it would be beneath the master of all mutants to commit cold-blooded murder. Magneto angrily turns around, asking if Quicksilver really wants to dispute his decisions, and the Toad once again uses the situation to present himself as Magneto’s most loyal follower. As the X-Men were his enemies, they need to be killed, the Toad reasons, and he only awaits Magneto’s signal to do away with them forever.

Suddenly, Magneto changes his mind, and agrees with Quicksilver – although for different reasons. So great a triumph may not pass by in a mere instant, Magneto says, and he prefers to savor his victory a bit more. Additionally, as the X-Men were defeated so crushingly, maybe they may change their minds and join the Brotherhood. After all, they would be a great help to their cause. However, Magneto argues that, as it was Quicksilver’s idea to let the X-Men live, he will be held responsible for them. Pietro replies that the five mutants need to be securely imprisoned, and Magneto orders the Toad to bring the special equipment he designed to confine the X-Men.

The Toad does as told and, strapping the five X-Men into the various devices, he explain their functions to Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, all the while praising the inventive mind of their master, Magneto. Metallic bands are wrapped around Cyclops’s chest and arms, a lead shield covers his eyes, arms, and the glove controls for his visor are disabled. Marvel Girl has to wear hypno-magnetic bands on her upper arms, keeping her from accessing her telekinesis. The Beast’s hands are tied to his feet with titanium handcuffs, whereas the Angel is placed in a highly electrified cage. Finally, Iceman is shackled to a thermo-nuclear heat tube, melting his iceform. Having completed his task, the Toad once more mentions how proud he is to serve Magneto.

Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are still in the room when the X-Men regain consciousness. Seeing them face to face, Hank and Jean comment on the reports of the siblings’ rejoining Magneto being true. Wanda protests that it’s not as they might think, and Pietro wants to make their position more clear. He states that he and his sister have suffered at the hands of humanity for far too long, and therefore they have decided that they will only concern themselves with the cause of the mutant race. Hearing this, Cyclops makes fun of Quicksilver, who gets rather angry with the X-Men. Before leaving together with his sister, he warns the X-Men that the day will come when they will regret having abandoned their own kind.

Meanwhile, the Toad rushes into Magneto’s lab, eager to fill in his master of Quicksilver’s banter with the prisoners. He fears that it will result in something bad, and for once Magneto agrees. He wonders if killing the X-Men wouldn’t have been the better option.

In the other room, the Angel thinks to himself that one of the X-Men has to break free, or else there is no hope for them. Looking for a way to escape, he notes a small gleaming object lying next to his cage, looking like some kind of fancy flashlight. Carefully reaching out of the cage without touching the electrified bars, he manages to grab the object. Not sure what it will actually do, he presses the control button on top of the “flashlight” and a disintegrative beam erupts, capable of cutting through the bars. Mere seconds later, Warren has cut himself out of the cage, and wants to use the device to free his teammates.

He first turns to Cyclops, however, the X-Men’s leader thinks that it was too easy and must be some sort of trap. However, he also knows that they can’t pass up the chance for at least one of them to break free and get help, which is why he orders Warren not to waste any time and head off to Avengers mansion to alert them of the X-Men’s situation. Even though he is not comfortable with that decision, the Angel respects his leader’s command and turns to the nearest window.

As it is too narrow for him and his wings to fit through, Warren starts searching for another way out. Unfortunately, the only escape route left is for the Angel to fly straight though a hall in which the Brotherhood have gathered. Flying as fast as he can, Warren knocks the Toad over and hopes to evade Magneto’s bolts until he is out of range.

Strangely, the master of magnetism does not even try his powers on the winged X-Man and instead orders Quicksilver to prove his allegiance by capturing him. Pietro confirms the order and says that there won’t be a problem, as he recently gained the power of flight. The Angel is quite surprised to find Quicksilver hot on his trail, as he takes to the air over Magneto’s fortress. Remembering one of Professor Xavier’s lessons, “act now, think later,” he starts a series of complicated loops and barrel-rolls to throw his pursuer off. Indeed, Pietro realizes that the Angel is more skilled in aerial maneuverability, and as he can stay airborne only for a few seconds, he decides to return to the ground while he still has enough momentum to permit a soft landing. As the Angel flies off, Quicksilver thinks to himself that he doesn’t regret his failure.

Flying over the ocean, Warren still finds it hard to believe, even after having seen it, that Quicksilver has joined Magneto and deserted the Avengers. Thus reminded of the hero team, Warren decides to turn to them for help, and heads towards New York. It’s a long way, though, and unfortunately a storm erupts. Try as he might, the Angel can’t get under the storm and he tires quickly having to face strong headwinds and he realizes that he won’t make it, unless he finds some place to rest and wait until the storm passes. Eventually, he spots a coral rock jutting out of the Atlantic, and he flies down to it. Incredibly tired and his wings feelings as if they will drop off, Warren sinks half into the swirling waters and holds on to the rock. He knows that everything depends on him; if he dies out there, the X-Men will perish at the hands of Magneto and the Professor’s legacy will be lost.

Suddenly, the storm subsides, the rock rises out of the ocean and an island is born. After the upward thrust stops, the puzzled Angel begins to inspect his surroundings. Walking around, he happens upon a huge metal door covering the entrance to a cave. Warren gets curious as the door slides open, but he reminds himself that his friends’ lives are at stake and time is of the essence. Then again, Warren argues that Magneto wants the X-Men to join him, so he won’t harm them - at least for a while – and he ventures into the cave to learn what it is all about. Inside, he finds a huge scientific complex with all sorts of machines and weapons. Warren believes he might have stumbled upon Hydra’s island complex that Nick Fury thought to have destroyed a few months ago, and mentions to himself that he will have to notify S.H.I.E.L.D. of this discovery.

“You will notify no one, Earthling... unless you would first defeat Red Raven!” a voice answers from above. It belongs to a man clad in a red and yellow suit, with red bat-like wings, who dives towards the Angel. For a brief moment, Warren thinks he is hallucinating because of the way he tired himself in the storm, and before he can properly react the Red Raven’s fist lands in his face. The Red Raven calls the Angel a fool for challenging one of the supreme race of birdmen, and states that, even with his ability to fly, they are no match. Warren tries to grab his opponent’s wings, but again the Red Raven sends him flying with a well-placed punch before saying that no man was meant to enter this sanctum. Now that one has, it’s his duty to make sure that he doesn’t live to tell of it.

The Red Raven almost sounds sorry, as he explains that his people are not of the nature to kill, but as he has to protect the secret of their existence, he reaches for some ray gun and fires at the Angel. Warren barely dodges the blast and, quickly circling around, he manages to turn the tides and punch the Red Raven’s jaw. He continues his attack, leaving his opponent no chance to gain his balance again, until he drops the ray gun. All of a sudden, the Red Raven ceases to fight back and asks the Angel to listen to him before they continue to fight. Warren says that it’s always the same against villains – the minute things go against them, they are suddenly ready to go to the conference table. Regardless, he is willing to give it a try.

The Red Raven says that while he meant the Angel no harm, he cannot afford for the secret of his people to be discovered. Warren replies that he has a funny way of showing his good intentions, and the Red Raven gives him right on that, but goes on that he is sworn to protect this secret with his very life. He couldn’t just let it be exposed by the first person to stumble across the hidden fortress, as he was responsible for extinction of his people. However, somehow sensing that the Angel is also different from normal humans, the Red Raven decides to tell him the tale of the lost race of bird-men.


When the Red Raven was just a little child, his parents were on an airplane, headed from their former home in Europe to the United States. The plane flew into a violent storm and vanished in a dense cloud formation, never to be seen again by human eyes, as it had crash-landed on an island in the skies, inhabited by the bird-people. The child was the only survivor of the crash, and the bird-people decided to raise him as one of their own. However, when the boy reached adulthood, he realized that he was different, an outsider among the bird-people as he had no wings, and he suspected correctly that he was the offspring of the “accursed Earthmen”, whom the bird-people planned to obliterate. Therefore he asked the bird-people to leave the Earthmen in peace.


The Red Raven points out his dilemma to the Angel; his adoptive family was about to attack his blood relatives and he couldn’t let this happen. Warren understand this, but points out that this doesn’t explain what the Red Raven is doing there, on this island in the Atlantic Ocean. The Red Raven goes on with his story.


After the citizens’ council had turned him down, the Red Raven went to the bird-people’s leader, hoping to convince him that attacking the Earthmen was a bad idea. However, he wouldn’t hear him out, instead accusing the Red Raven of his loyalty to blood being stronger than that to those who raised him. The Red Raven tried to reason, mentioning that Earth’s population outnumbered the bird-people by far, but the leader told him to leave his chamber.

Later, when the bird-people’s army prepared for the attack, the Red Raven realized that there was only one way left to stop them and, even though it grieved him, he felt like he had no other choice but to do it. Before the bird people’s forces could be launched, he released a “suspended animation gas” that had originally been developed to save the bird-people’s race, should they ever be defeated in war. Protected by a breathing mask, everyone else but the Red Raven was rendered unconscious in no time, and the Red Raven placed each and everyone in stasis chambers that would keep them alive, though totally inactive. Next, he pressed a button that separated the military complex from the rest of the sky-isle, and dumped it into Earth’s ocean, where nobody would find it. There the bird-men’s legions were laid to rest, until twenty years later, when they would be automatically reawakened.


“That moment is upon us!”, concludes the Red Raven his tale. For all those years, he waited for the bird-men’s awakening and now, for the benefit of mankind, the Red Raven wants to sink the island and start the cycle of suspended animation over again. The Angel disagrees, reasoning that the island and the technology on it is way too important, as humanity could learn so much from it. The Red Raven claims to have considered that aspect, but finds that it still doesn’t outweigh the danger the bird-people pose. Warren, however, points out that the armed forces of the United States alone far outnumber the bird-men, and the Red Raven pretends to agree, only to quickly turn around and blast the Angel with a nearby weapon.

As Warren lies unconscious on the ground, the Red Raven apologizes to him, even though he might never understand his actions. He then blasts at the Angel a second time, as it is actually an anti-gravity gun – the first blast rendering unconscious, and the second allowing for a person to remain aloft when the island sink back to the ocean’s depths. Next, the Red Raven starts to work on the controls that will send his people into another twenty-year sleep, hoping that, by then, Earth will be strong enough to be assured of repelling an attack by the bird-men. As the island starts to descend, the Red Raven enters a stasis chamber himself, joining his brethren in their eternal sleep.

The island sinks deeper and deeper, until the waves wash over it, this time not even the island’s peak jutting out of the ocean. The only thing remains is a small raft with the Angel lying on it, who slowly wakes up. Coming to his senses, Warren realizes what the Red Raven has done. However, he can’t shake the feeling that some day they will meet again, and that he will be able to thank the Red Raven for sparing his life. Now, however, he has no time to think about this any further as he has a mission to complete. He gets airborne and heads to New York, to find the Avengers and guide them back to Magneto’s lair so that they can save the X-Men and the entire world from Magneto.

Second Story:

It’s a lovely evening in a small town in Nassau County, where Bobby Drake is walking his friend, Judy Harmon, home from the cinema. They have seen “West Side Story” for the third time, as they both like it. However, Bobby says that seeing the movie together with Judy made it even better. Although they have dated only a few times, Bobby says he feels like he knows her better than anyone else, in fact she is the only person in the world who really matters to him. Flattered by this compliment, Judy asks if he is trying to say that he loves her.

Before Bobby has a chance to answer, he is jumped on by two men from behind. A third man tells his two pals to go easy on Bobby and leave something to fight for him, as the idea is to show the girl who the real man is. Getting up from the ground, Bobby recognizes the third guy as Rocky Beasly, Judy’s former boyfriend. Knowing that he has no chance against the three bigger and stronger teenagers, Bobby tries to talk himself out of the fight with only little success. Rocky no longer deems Bobby worth a fight and tells his two friends that they can take care of him, while he grabs Judy and drags her away.

Hearing his love interest scream for help, Bobby is caught in a dilemma. He knows he can only get past the bullies and help Judy if he uses his powers, but that would mean exposing himself as a mutant. Actually though, he has already made his choice, and pointing his hand, he covers Judy’s former boyfriend with snow. Rocky’s friends are shocked, and not wanting to receive the same treatment they flee.

Judy’s reaction is no different. Terrified by what just happened, she doesn’t listen to Bobby’s attempts to explain that he only did it to save her. She runs away, yelling at Bobby that he is dangerous and that she never wants to see him again. Bobby is left alone, thinking to himself that his parents were right; he never should have revealed his powers, regardless of the reason.

The word of the existence of a mutant in their midst spreads through the small town like a raging fire. It’s passed on from one neighbor to the next, and people are angry and upset. They consider young Bobby Drake a menace that needs to be locked away or destroyed.

As he rushes home, Bobby remembers always warned him that normal people wouldn’t understand, but until now he couldn’t believe it. He bursts into his parents’ house and tells his mother and his father that he needs their help, as he panicked and used his freezing powers. Concerned, William Drake asks whether anybody saw him, and Bobby confirms his father’s fear. Whereas Madeleine Drake tries to take in the disturbing news, to Bobby’s father it only means one thing - they have to get out of town. Bobby disagrees, hoping that people will understand; after all he was only trying to help Judy.

His father knows better, though, and he tells his son that he’ll soon learn how much they will understand - as he hears people outside of the house. Indeed an angry mob has gathered in front of the Drake house and, when William steps outside, they tell him to get out of their way, as they only want “that freak.” Bobby’s father, however, announces that anybody trying to get at his son will have to make it past him first. Inside, Bobby realizes that the townsfolk are like wild animals, crazed with fear and beyond reason. His mother is scared as well.

Suddenly, some of the men burst into the house. They yell at Bobby not to try any “funny stuff,” as they get ready to attack him. As they close in on him, Bobby throws snowballs against the crowd, all the while begging them to stay away, as he doesn’t want to hurt them. The mob doesn’t listen to him, as he reasons that all he wants is a fair trial. Freezing one of the men, Bobby once again asks for the townsfolk to leave, and promises to surrender peacefully if they send the sheriff. However, he is hopelessly outnumbered, and can’t freeze all his attackers. Soon, he is overwhelmed by the angry men, who drag the teenager to a waiting car, only to rush him to the nearby county jail.

(the next day)

In Westchester County, Professor Xavier reads about the incident in Nassau County in the newspaper, and tells Cyclops that they may have found a new student. Scott has already read the newspaper and agrees with his mentor, asking if Xavier wants him to go after the teenager.

Meanwhile, in a prison cell in Nassau County, Bobby Drake is lost in his thoughts. He is entitled to a trial, and he knows he is not guilty, but still he is worried about how everything might turn out. While he was only trying to help Judy, he fears that the angry townsfolk could do anything to him, just because he is different from them.

Several hours later, a red energy beam cuts through the bars of the Bobby’s cell window.

Characters Involved: 

First Story:

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

Red Raven android

Magneto, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad (all Brotherhood of Evil Mutants)

in flashbacks:

Red Raven


Second Story:

Bobby Drake

William and Madeleine Drake, his parents

Judy Harmon

Rocky Beasly and two other bullies

angry townsfolk

Cyclops, Professor Charles Xavier (both X-Men)

Story Notes: 

First Story:

Not too long ago, Quicksilver discovered that by vibrating his feet at top speed he could fly for short distances. [Avengers (1st series) #43]

It seems that either the writer (and editor) screwed up, or else Warren has a real bad short-term memory. Even though Cyclops clearly told him to fly to Avengers Mansion, Warren wonders what he should do as he flies over the ocean. Then, while recalling Quicksilver’s recent history, Warren himself gets the idea to contact the Avengers for help.

Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., destroyed Hydra’s island complex in Strange Tales (1st series) #158.

The Red Raven is an old character from Marvel’s predecessor, Timely Comics. He first appeared in August 1940 in Red Raven Comics #1, in which he and the bird-people were introduced. It was the only issue of his series, though, and later on the Red Raven became a member of the Liberty Legion, a spin-off of the Invaders. His red wings are artificial.

However, the character appearing in this issue was retconned into not being the actual Red Raven, but an android made in his image. [Defenders (2nd series) #6] The android’s purpose was to place the entire bird-people, including the real Red Raven, in suspended animation. Watching over the sleeping bird-men for twenty years in isolation, the artificial man not only came to believe that he was the real Red Raven, but also developed some sort of paranoia if not insanity. When he next appeared, the Red Raven android even attacked “his” former ally, Prince Namor. [Sub-Mariner #26]

The retcon at least helps to explain some sort of error, namely the Red Raven “somehow sensing” that the Angel is different from normal humans. Having visited Earth before, and having fought side by side with the Liberty Legion and the Invaders, the Red Raven would have to outright know that a man with wings can’t be a “normal human.” This being an android, though, who has never met a human being before, he doesn’t have that knowledge.

As revealed in Thor Annual #12, the bird-people are actually an off-shoot of the Inhumans. Apparently several thousands of years ago, there was a group of feather-winged Inhumans who thought themselves superior to any other Inhuman, capable of flight or not. They slew every flying Inhuman without feather-wings, and had a city built for themselves on a high pylon right on top of the Inhumans’ city, Attilan. As the winged ones kept dumping their trash on Attilan, the other Inhumans eventually destroyed the pylon, leaving the aerial city to drift helplessly. In the months that followed, the bird-people mastered the anti-gravimetric technology, and they carved out a large portion of dry land and surrounded their city with it, creating a true Sky-Isle. Over the next years, the winged Inhumans had their scientists alter their genetic make-up so that their offspring would no longer develop all different forms of appearances and powers, but instead have white, feathered wings like their parents.

Second Story:

A narration box places this story in the year 1963. However, due to Marvel’s sliding timescale, this number has to be ignored as otherwise Bobby Drake would have to be over 50 years old. The movie “West Side Story” was first released in 1961, two years before the intended date of the story.

Issue Information: 
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