X-Men (1st series) #54

Issue Date: 
March 1969
Story Title: 
(first story) Wanted: Dead or Alive -- Cyclops! - (second story) The Million Dollar Angel

(first story) Stan Lee (editor), Arnold Drake (writer), Don Heck (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), Jean Izzo (letterer)
(second story) Stan Lee (editor), Arnold Drake (writer), Werner Roth (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), Artie Simek (letterer)

Brief Description: 

(first story)
Cyclops has a younger brother, Alex, who has just finished college. Alex is a mutant, although he is unaware of the fact yet, as he hasn’t manifested his powers. Scott takes the X-Men with him to Alex’s graduation ceremony, where he introduces them to him and invites Alex for drinks with them to celebrate the occasion. However, when Alex enters his dorm room to change clothes, he is abducted by some men dressed in outfits reminiscent of ancient Egypt. The X-Men soon discover the kidnapping and trail the location where Alex is kept. There, they confront his captor, the man known as Living Pharaoh, who claims he is a mutant, as were all the Pharaohs of Egypt’s past. He has decided to slay Alex in order to preserve his own special mutant status. Upon seeing the X-Men, however, he realizes there are more mutants in the world than he originally thought. In the ensuing battle, Pharaoh and his minions flee and Cyclops frees Alex. The X-Men leave the brothers to talk in private, at which point Scott comes out as a mutant and leader of the X-Men to Alex. Their discussion is cut short by the reappearance of the Pharaoh, who anesthetizes Cyclops with a hypnotic gem. When Cyclops wakes up, he is charged with the murder of the Pharaoh, who lies seemingly dead next to him. About to be arrested by two policemen, Cyclops flees custody and escapes through some tunnels underneath the Pharaoh’s headquarters. He hopes he will find Alex hiding somewhere in these tunnels. Instead of Alex, though, he runs into a very much alive Living Pharaoh!

(second story)
The young Warren Worthington is raised by a privileged, wealthy family. Fed up with Warren’s restlessness and penchant for trouble, his parents place him in a private school. There, Warren excels both academically and in sports. A few years later, Warren wakes up one day, only to discover that two feathered wings have sprouted from his shoulder blades. He goes into great pains to conceal them and, after making himself unpopular in school, he succeeds in being transferred to a separate room. One day, a fire breaks in the dorm and, while escaping, Warren discovers his wings enable him to fly. Despite his fear of being outed, he decides to masquerade as an angel and flies to where some of his teammates are trapped, freeing them before they are killed by the blazes. His teammates are thus tricked into believing they were rescued by a godsend angelic being.

Full Summary: 

(first story)
Cyclops is lying on the floor of what appears to be a room filled with Egyptian antiquities. As he comes to, he sees a police officer point his gun at him. “On your feet, Cyclops!” the officer barks at him. He never thought he’d live to see the day when he’d have to arrest an X-Man… for murder! “Murder?!” a dumbfounded Cyclops exclaims. How in the name of sanity did he get into a jam like this? But quickly, it’s coming back to him. It started on a lovely spring day, on the campus of Old Landon College. All the X-Men had turned out to celebrate Scott’s well-kept secret…

The X-Men are watching a graduation ceremony. Marvel Girl is surprised with Scott having a kid brother… and never once letting on about it. Cyclops doesn’t mind admitting to himself that he’s pleased as punch the way his brother, young Alex, turned out. Alex made his name as a campus athlete, of course. But Scott is proudest about Alex graduating third highest in his class. His athletic prowess Alex was born with – because, like Scott, he’s a mutant. Only he’s not quite aware of that – yet.

After the ceremony is over, Alex Summers meets his older brother’s friends in the patio outside the building. “Pleased to meet you, Dr. McCoy!” he tells Hank as he’s introduced to him. Beast warns him that if he persists addressing them all in this formal fashion, he risks endangering a warm rapport! Scott tells Alex to get out of his cap and gown and they’ll buy him a brew down at Jack’s shack; Alex is old enough now! Cheerful to hear this, Alex thanks him. He promises to be with them in two shakes of a mortar-board tassel!

Alex soon enters his dorm room. He has the strangest premonition as he walks through that door – like some kind of warning. “Hail to thee, Alexander Summers!” a man dressed in a red and white outfit resembling a Pharaoh’s garment greets him. The intruder informs him that he brings him greetings from the Pharaoh! Another similarly clad man sneaks up on Alex and grabs him from behind. He tells his associate, Baresh, that he’s got him and alerts him to get the ring of silence! Baresh assures the other man, Malek, that it’s here. He extends a ring he wears towards Alex’s face and instantly a puff of gas emitted. Malek is certain that with one breath, the boy will sleep as though entombed.

A little later, the X-Men enter Alex’s room, Scott wondering what’s taking him so long. However, a moment later, he sees the results of a struggle inside and exclaims “Good grief!” Beast deduces there must have been a severe altercation on the premises. Seeing Jean closing her eyes and holding her head, Warren asks Scott what she’s doing. Scott shushes him and whispers she’s trying to pick up mind patterns of the last people in this room.

Elsewhere, the unconscious Alex is chained on a large table, in the interior of a room filled with artifacts that seem to date from ancient Egypt. Alex is now dressed only with an ancient Egyptian-style skirt. A man dressed more extravagantly than his minions, with a green Pharaoh costume, complete with an ankh symbol embedded on his chest and a cobra designed on his headdress, towers over him.

The man, who goes by the name “Living Pharaoh,” congratulates his servants; they have done well. For here lies the only living man who could challenge his power! The young fool does not realize that within him runs the blood of royal Egypt. Few men know that all of the Pharaohs were men of special natural powers – mutants. And this one, like the Living Pharaoh himself, is such a mutant. He felt his blood call to his. Thus, he ordered his capture. And now, he ordains his death! Saying this, the Living Pharaoh holds a sword in the air, about to impale him.

Suddenly, a beam blasts his hand, causing him to drop the sword. The Living Pharaoh screeches with pain; it feels like a power of ten thousand bolts of lightning strikes! Upon seeing the X-Men, in their costumes, coming against him, he realizes there are more who possess the power of Pharaohs that he had dreamed. Then all must perish!

The Living Pharaoh’s cronies hurl spears against the X-Men. Heads up, the Beast warns his teammates as he evades one. He believes this Egyptian throwback and his lackeys mean them no good. To be more precise – they are veritable scoundrels! Flying over the Pharaoh, Angel orders him to tell his boys to be more careful with those pigstickers! The Pharaoh retorts that his men’s spears are the least danger they face here – they should behold his magic! At his command, an energy blast escapes his hand, aiming at Beast. Hank dodges it, while remarking “Magic, my foot!” He deduces their villain is a mutant much as they; this could be complicated.

Grabbing the flying Angel’s hands, the Living Pharaoh vows to bring this winged one to the Earth like mighty Icarus, whose wings melted at the sun’s kiss! Iceman intervenes and attacks him with an ice-blast, curious to see if this can cool him off! Beast succeeds Bobby in the attack and kicks the Pharaoh in the chest. He implores him to kindly stay out of their altercation; it’s a family dispute!

“Speak your last words to Ra, or whatever deity your worship…” the Living Pharaoh snaps and retaliates with another blast. Seeing Marvel Girl concentrating behind the Pharaoh, Iceman tells him to hold it; he’s about to be drowned by a brain wave! The Pharaoh realizes their powers are not to be demeaned. Therefore, he decides to drop a magic amulet. Again with that magic talk, Iceman complains. Seeing him disappear amidst smoke, Bobby realizes what he meant is he’s dropped a mini-smoke bomb! And it sure pulls the shades down good!

Concealed by the smoke, the Pharaoh moves to a specific direction. While his adversaries stumble through the clouds of darkness, he presses a concealed button, found on an Egyptian-style statue of a sacred cat, which will release his loyal warriors. Indeed, several men, also dressed in ancient Egypt outfits, are released from sarcophagi and join the fight. One of them leers above Iceman. Indignant that he was going to harm the sacred Living Pharaoh, he announces to the “hideous infidel” that he is about to die! Before the Pharaoh’s goon is about to impale him with a spear, Bobby quips that his opponent is looking for an ice cube kimono… and then uses his powers to freeze him.

Another Egyptian warrior darts at Angel with a sword. Warren easily evades him, flying in the air. He chastises him that it’s not nice to point in a public… particularly with a knife! Warren grabs the man’s wrist and exerts pressure on it, making him drop his weapon. However, at that exact moment, a spear hurled by one of the Pharaoh’s men finds Angel’s left wing and gets him pinned on the wall. Realizing what happened, Warren alerts his teammates. He’s been pinned… and he doesn’t mean with a fraternity pin! He asks them to give a hand!

“Help is one the way, my feathery friend,” the Beast reassures him and cuts in the fight, repelling one of the warriors. Releasing Warren, the Beast urges his teammates to get in concert now. Let this be their great finale! With his punches, he knocks out two of the Pharaoh’s men at once. Nearby, Angel similarly takes out two of their adversaries. Here’s his contribution; neat but not gaudy! He wonders what “Kid Cool,” Bobby, is up to. Iceman assures him he will close the whole show in his own lovable fashion, by ringing down… an ice curtain! True to his word, he ensnares the last two minions of the Pharaoh in ice.

Watching this, the Living Pharaoh realizes it comes to this – that he and this “man-of-flaming-eyes” have the final contest… his mutant power against the Pharaoh’s! Both he and Cyclops release their blasts against each other, in a struggle of energy tug. Cyclops tells him he likes it better this way. And let him who weakens first fall by the wayside! However, he has no intention of being the fallen!

Cyclops quickly realizes the Pharaoh’s tougher than he thought. His optic beam is starting to weaken… Sensing this, Marvel Girl realizes she must help Cyclops. Perhaps her mental waves can stop the Pharaoh. As she mentally attacks him, the Pharaoh screams. Suddenly, though, Jean realizes that her mental vibrations are bouncing back at her! “A wall of sound,” the Pharaoh explains to her – merely another power of the indomitable Pharaoh! He warns her that if she resists any longer, she will die from the echo of her own brain waves!

Close nearby, Iceman warns Beast not to get too close to that wall of sound vibrations… or it will shake the teeth from his head! Hank stutters that this is an irrefutable fact! Bobby notices the barrier appears to be diminishing, but it’s still too rough to handle. He also spots the Pharaoh and his guards running away in the commotion.

As the wall of sound vanishes completely, Cyclops promises Iceman they’ll get them. But first, he’s going to burn those chains off his brother’s wrists. Alex is shocked at the sound of this, not immediately registering that the costumed superhero is his brother, Scott. “B-b-brother?” Did he say “brother”? He means like…

Cyclops releases his from his shackles. Beast gains the pristine impression that Scott and Alex should be left alone to discuss a few things. He tells Scott they’ll see him back at headquarters. Cyclops admits Beast’s right and promises he won’t be long.

After the others leave, Scott begins his discussion with Alex. It’s funny; here he’s been waiting all these years to be able to level with him, and now he doesn’t know where to begin. I’ve got a dandy notion, Alex ironically suggests – why doesn’t Scott try beginning at the beginning? Cyclops hesitantly concurs – but it’s the craziest darn thing. Suddenly he’s shy about this and…

Alex wonders what the matter is. Scott is afraid that Alex is going to be ashamed of being the kid brother of the leader of the X-Men? Cyclops or Scott… he’s still the greatest to Alex! Before they can proceed in their conversation, Alex hears something and asks Scott if he heard it, too. Cyclops confirms it’s a rustling sound, like a robe. But where from? He’s got to find out who…

“You are too late, man of the burning eyes!” the Living Pharaoh hisses, as he reappears. He has returned unnoticed and now he brings down upon them the curse of the Pharaoh’s Eyes! Nothing can escape the darkness they bring! He holds an artifact in the air, which begins exerting its influence on them. Cyclops realizes those are strange luminescent jewels gleaming at them… burning right through to the brain! The Eyes are hypnotic gems! Cyclops realizes, in agony, that he’s blacking out!

As Cyclops’ head clears, he finds himself confronted with a policeman, who’s pointing at him with a gun and a flashlight. The officer commands him to get on his feet; both hands behind his back! They’ve never trusted these crazy, costumed mutants. Still, he never thought he’d live to see the day when he had to arrest an X-Man… and for murder!

“Murder?!” Cyclops gasps, aghast. “You heard us!” the officer snarls. He motions at a man lying still and lifeless on the floor – the Living Pharaoh. The officer argues that this man is as dead as they come… and Cyclops is lying there pretending to be knocked out! Cyclops quickly deduces that the officer doesn’t realize that Alex was here with him. And if Cyclops didn’t kill the Pharaoh, Alex did – and ran. That means Alex needs his help!

Without further ado, Cyclops blasts the officer’s gun into smithereens, and then easily overpowers them and escapes. They’re going to have to forgive him. When he’s found his brother – and gotten him straightened out – he’ll make it up to them!

As the two police officers come around, one of them immediately realizes that Cyclops got away. He exasperates: how is it going to look on the report, his overpowering the two of them? The other policeman tells his colleague, Fred, to forget it. Cyclops has overpowered whole armies. That’s not what got him; if the X-Men are turning bad, what can anybody do to stop them?

In their base, the X-Men are hearing the news on the radio about Cyclops and his criminal activities. Marvel Girl cries out that she won’t believe it, she just won’t! Angel retorts that what they believe doesn’t matter and urges them to listen. The radio reports that the fugitive Cyclops is being hunted for two crimes: the brutal murder of the man called the Pharaoh and assaulting two policemen. Warren determines they’ve got to find Scott before the police do. Jean wonders: even if they do, then what? Angel decides they’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now, he urges them to go.

A helicopter flies above the city, searching for the fugitive Cyclops. The pilot reports that there is no sign of Cyclops in the fourth sector. Any further orders? The pilot is ordered by the base to move to sector five now. His only standing order is to find that man!

Meanwhile, Cyclops has escaped through some natural tunnels under the Pharaoh’s headquarters. He deduces Alex must have discovered them and disappeared down here. The poor kid panicked, he hypothesizes. But if he can just find him…

Suddenly, he spots a light ahead. He sees the figure of a man. He initially thinks it must be Alex, until he realizes it’s… the Pharaoh! Cyclops exclaims it can’t be! The Pharaoh is dead! He saw his body! And they even claim he killed him! The Pharaoh assures him he is very much alive. For he is a direct descendant of the immortal ones! Pharaohs have 10,000 lives! But Cyclops has only one… and it is about to end!

(second story)
Warren Worthington III, as a young, restless boy, climbs on a tall tree. His mother, Kathryn, lies on a couch at the patio and reads her book, until she spots him on the tree and panics. She demands he come down from there that second! That tree is over twenty feet high! Also on the patio playing golf, Warren’s father, Warren Worthington Jr., also spots his son on the tree. Warren Jr. begs his son to come down… but not too fast!

Oblivious to his parents’ panic, little Warren tries to placate his mom. He assures her there’s no problem; height never frightened him, even when he was a baby. He also reveals he found those practice golf balls his dad lost! A bird carried them up here and placed them in its nest. It must have thought they were eggs! Some joke, huh?

Suddenly, the bird returns to its nest and squawks, trying to scare Warren away from there. Kathryn screams at him to look out. Losing his balance, Warren falls off the tree. He tells his mom not to worry, though, as he grabs the next branch during his fall. However, this branch also gives way and Warren starts falling again. “Come to think of it… I was pretty high… u-u-u-up!” the boy screams as he drops. Luckily, the new $20,000 swimming pool of the Worthingtons’ is right below. Warren has time to remark that this new pool was worth every penny, before he lands right through it.

Later, Warren is on his bed, wrapped up in blankets and with a hot beverage in hand. The butler informs Warren that it may take some time to dry his togs. However, he’ll have little need for them for the present. Warren grumps that his folks have restricted him to barracks again. He spends more time behind locked doors than Bonnie and Clyde ever did!

Meanwhile, Kathryn is talking with her husband. She can’t stand it! Last week Warren was using the roof for a sliding pond. Yesterday, he chinned himself on the TV antenna. And now this. Isn’t there anything they can do? Besides nailing him into a steel-ribbed trunk? Warren Jr. quips. He lays a proposition on the table: how about a good private school… with a high fence?

It isn’t just a good school – it is the best. And Warren quickly proves a top athlete. A few years later, one of his teammates marvels at Warren’s prowess during a soccer game. The teenager argues that Warren is sure to win his letter for soccer. A player from the opposing team remarks that this will make Warren a five-letter man. He’s the best on campus, and he knows it better than anybody else… unfortunately.

After the game is through, Warren’s fellow players still gossip him. One of them notes that Warren even pulls down top marks in everything; no wonder he thinks he’s better than anybody! Another boy remarks he doesn’t know how much better Warren is… but he sure is different.

Later, in the locker room, Warren is changing clothes. One of his teammates tries to make fun of him. He points at Warren and suggests there’s something else he’s number one at: he’s got the biggest shoulder blades on the world! He urges his teammates to get a load of them! Hearing this, Warren coldly retorts that he’s as funny as a hurricane in a feather factory!

One or two night later than that, Warren discovers a large feather in his bed. He is surprised: where did it come from? It’s too big to be from his pillow – and his mattress is foam rubber. Matter of fact, this thing looks big enough to be off of an eagle, or vulture, or…

Inspecting himself in the mirror, Warren comes to an awful realization: the feather came from him. He’s got wings – feathered wings sprouting from his shoulders! Filled with panic, Warren thinks he’s got to get out of here, before the administration finds out about them! They’d turn him over to bio lab as a guinea pig! Thank heaven his wings are so small and so useless!

And so, Warren begins a campaign to make himself the most hated kid in school – which isn’t too hard to do. In no time at all, Warren gets what he wanted: orders to move into a separate and lonely room! One day, Warren again inspects his wings in the mirror. Dig these crazy wings! They’re growing bigger every day! This sure makes him something special! His mood abruptly shifting, he also ponders it makes him specially lonely and miserable. He should stop kidding himself: he’s a freak.

Suddenly, he catches the smell of smoke: fire. He decides to get out of here; grab his clothes and scram! In the hall outside his room, he sees the flames from the fire have cut off the staircase. He’s got no choice now; has to do it the hard way. Heading for the window, he throws his clothes to the ground – but clothes don’t have any bones in them and he does! Okay bones… hang loose! ‘Cause here we go! he thinks and jumps from the window. Surprised, he realizes his wings are slowing his fall! And when he moves them… he can fly! Reaching the ground, he finds the clothes he dropped. Now all he has to do is…

He suddenly hears a cry for help and realizes there are guys still trapped upstairs. He can fly a rope up to them – and he knows just where to get one! Only trouble is, they’ll see these wings on him. Heck, this is no time to worry about his pride, he decides and flies in the air. He soon gets into the school theater storeroom: he knew there was a rope in here. As he grabs the rope, he spots some theatrical props. This gives him an idea. It’s nutty but… so what? Putting on a long blond wig and a nightshirt, he masquerades himself as an angel. He is confident these guys will never guess his real identity now.

Warren flies outside the windows where stranded students are begging for help and throws them the rope. The students are flabbergasted. “Man, do you what see what I see?” one of them gasps. A fellow student admits he sees it, but he’s not about to believe it! A third boy suggests they look at this way: if the rope breaks, they’ve got their own angel to carry them straight to heaven! Another boy doesn’t care if the angel’s for real… as long as the rope is!

The rope is working and the trapped students use it to descend to safety. One of the boys wonders where that angel is; he’s got to thank him! One of them spots him flying off. He’s sure glad they all saw him together… or he’d turn himself to the nearest nut factory!

A little late, as the fire still rages, the headmaster announces that every student is checked except Warren. Did anybody see him? As Warren approaches, acting all innocent, one of the students alerts the headmaster Warren’s over here; only he missed all the fun! Another students remarks he sure did! They got themselves saved by a real angel! How nice, Warren pretends to scoff – and did Peter Pan and Chicken Licken come to their party, too? “Okay, Mr. Wiseacre of 1963… don’t believe us!” a third boy puffs. But there is a fabulous character with wings flying around here! And they’re going to find out who he is!

Characters Involved: 

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

Living Pharaoh

Fred and another unnamed policeman

In flashback:
Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Men)
Alex Summers (Cyclops’s younger brother)

Living Pharaoh
Baresh, Malek and other minions of Living Pharaoh

Various people at graduation ceremony

(second story)
Warren Worthington III
Warren Jr. and Kathryn Worthington (Warren III’s parents)

Warren’s teammates
Headmaster in Warren’s school

Story Notes: 

(first story)
First appearance of Alex Summers, later also known by the codename “Havok.” In these early appearances, he is colored as having brown hair, but in later appearances he is permanently drawn as a blond.

At the time, the “sliding timescale” policy of Marvel – roughly four years in comics equal one in real life – hadn’t been implemented yet. One year in comics was considered to correspond to roughly one year in real life. This explains why Alex is finishing college and is legally permitted to drink in this issue, being over 21 years old, with Scott considered older than that. Since Scott debuted in 1963 as a 16-year-old, this means he was indeed estimated to be 22 by 1969. Of course, as years went by, Marvel dropped this approach to time, significantly slowing down the aging process for its characters with the “sliding timescale” explanation.

First appearance of the Living Pharaoh/Living Monolith.

Keeping with the Egyptian theme of the story, the staff is credited as follows:
Stan Lee (chief Pharaoh), Arnold Drake (scroll writer), Don Heck (mummy designer), Vince Colletta (hieroglyphics perpetrator), Jean Izzo (graffiti letterer).

In Greek mythology, Icarus was a man who strapped feathered wings on his body to fly. However, when he flew too close to the sun, the wax that held the feathers together melted and he fells to his death.

In Egyptian mythology, Ra is the god of sun.

The ankh is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character which appeared frequently in Egyptian art and means “eternal life.”

(second story)
The incident in which Warren rescued his teammates from a fire is slightly revised and furthered in Angel: Revelations #4.

Since the “sliding timescale” policy of Marvel isn’t implemented yet (see note above), the “1963” reference is meant to place the second part of this story shortly before Warren’s first historical appearance in X-Men (1st series) #1, published in 1963.

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