X-Men (1st series) #55

Issue Date: 
April 1969
Story Title: 
<BR>(first story) The Living Pharaoh!<BR>(second story) Where Angels Dare to Tread!

(first story) Stan Lee (editor), Roy Thomas (writer), Don Heck (layout man), Werner Roth (penciller), Vince Colletta (inker), Jean Izzo (letterer)
(second story) Stan Lee (editor), Roy Thomas (writer), Werner Roth (artist), Sam Grainger (inker and letterer)

Brief Description: 

(first story)

Cyclops confronts a very much alive Living Pharaoh in the tunnels underneath the villain’s base. The Pharaoh had previously faked his death. A fight ensues, but Scott is incapacitated by him. Later, the Pharaoh, dressed in civilian clothes, alongside his men and several baggages, departs from the JFK airport with a crate chartered exclusively for him. Aboard the crate are also Cyclops, with a hood on his face obstructing him from using his blasts, and his brother, Alex, confined in a mummy case. Marvel Girl is able to telepathically pinpoint Cyclops’ location and she and the X-Men pursue the crate with their own plane. However, the Pharaoh is able to shoot them down. Later, in Egypt, the Pharaoh leaves Scott and Alex to die in a flooding room. However, the siblings escape and begin fighting the Pharaoh’s minions. Soon, the rest of the X-Men track them down in Egypt and join the fight. As the Pharaoh is about to assail them all, Alex, under extreme stress, instinctively reacts by lashing out at him with energy blasts pouring out of his hands. Alex’s actions confirm what Cyclops always suspected: Alex is a mutant!

(second story)

Warren decides to take advantage of his newfound gift of flight and make a name for himself as a costumed superhero. Taking up the alias “Avenging Angel”, he rents a penthouse to use as headquarters, where he also devises some paraphernalia for his battles. In one of his night patrols, Warren manages to neutralize a gang of thugs. One of them reports about a man with wings attacking them, but nobody takes his story seriously. The two X-Men, Cyclops and Iceman, also hear the report on the news. Professor X detects yet another mutant they could recruit – quite possibly the winged man who allegedly stopped those burglars. The following evening, Warren prevents the theft of an artifact from an institute. When he gets back to his penthouse, though, he is welcomed by Cyclops and Iceman. Cyclops offers him a membership in the X-Men, which Warren rather fervently declines, warning them not to push him.

Full Summary: 

(first story)

Cyclops is shocked to see the Living Pharaoh alive and well; he is supposed to be dead. They even say Cyclops killed him! The Pharaoh gloats this is exactly what he wishes the infidels to think. For he has decided Cyclops must serve him in his march to world conquest!

“Me – join forces with a madman who’s been trying to kill me?” Cyclops exasperates – it’ll never happen! Then all the worse for him, the Pharaoh ominously replies. This sacred ankh he carries, once the symbol of life to millions, shall now become the cause of Cyclops’ death! Energy is discharged from the ankh at the Pharaoh’s command, but Cyclops dodges the attack and the blast misses him. Scott scorns the Pharaoh; he’s too used to sitting ducks! Let them see he makes out against somebody who fights back! He succeeds in striking him with a ricochet power-blast which ought to cut him down to size!

As Cyclops dashes at him and tries to grip his waist, he realizes he can’t really risk hurting him, because he may know where his brother, Alex, is. Alex is lost somewhere in these catacombs – Scott knows it! The Pharaoh remarks that Cyclops should have destroyed him while he was off-balance! For now, he shall never have another chance!

Meanwhile, above in the city, two separate searches for Cyclops are underway. The police are on Scott’s pursuit. One of the officers complains that, after a million and one crank calls, there is not one real lead yet on that mutant murderer! And now, they even tell them the corpus delicti has disappeared!

The other party in search of Cyclops is the X-Men. The team flies with their jet over the center the city and tells Marvel Girl to do her thing now. If Scott is still in Manhattan, Jean will contact him mentally. They’ve got to find him before the police do. Reaching out for him, Jean manages to pick up his mental waves. Cyclops is a bit south of them. Faint or not, it’s what they’ve been waiting for. The team rushes southward.

In the tunnels, Cyclops’ altercation with the Pharaoh continues. Scott, through Jean’s telepathic contact with him, realizes she’s coming this way with the X-Men. But the shock of mental contact made him lose his footing! The Living Pharaoh does not know why his adversary grew so suddenly careless. Yet, he would be a fool indeed not to take advantage of Cyclops’ distraction!

The Pharaoh smacks him in the face, yet Cyclops manages to hold back his next attack. He assures the Pharaoh he can take quite a bit more than that. What’s more, he’s not shy about dishing it out, either! Fighting back against the Pharaoh with renewed determination, he demands he tell him what happened to Alex Summers, so they finish off this little scrimmage! Then, that is the reason of your folly! the Pharaoh groans with pain as Cyclops attacks him with his optic blasts. Scott realizes the Pharaoh is strong enough to withstand his blows for hours. The Pharaoh retaliates with a ray from his ankh, knocking Cyclops off balance.

Realizing that his ankh’s beams seem merely to stun his foe, the Pharaoh feels forced to resort to a more direct attack! He first kicks Cyclops in the face and then pounds the ankh again his head! He is convinced Cyclops will fight no more after that blow!

At that moment, Marvel Girl loses contact with Scott. She fears that this might mean… no! She mustn’t even think it! “Then don’t, lady!” Iceman urges her. Warren agrees with Bobby. It could only mean Scott has lost consciousness. Not a fantastically comforting thought, Beast admits, but…

Seeing Jean a bit shaken, they ask her what it is. Jean explains that, for a moment, she thought she had picked up a mental pattern somehow like Scott’s, yet somehow horribly… evil! She must have been mistaken…

In the Pharaoh’s lair, the villain has ordered his underlings to carry Cyclops, as well as a sarcophagus. He asks them to be careful. Whoso drops either of them will answer to him! One of his minions replies they will do as he commands. Another one wonders why they must thus transport the infidels. Can they not slay them here at once? Enraged, the Pharaoh demands they not question his wisdom! The graves of their ancient homeland are filled to overflowing with such rash ones! All shall be revealed unto them… in time!

Thus, only a short time later, two sleek, dark vehicles head for JFK airport. Their ultimate destination: the land of the Eternal Sphinx… Egypt! At the customs, the Living Pharaoh, along with his two minions, all dressed in civilian clothes and traditional Egyptian hats, have submitted their baggage, including the sarcophagus. The employee is surprised to see they are carrying a mummy. That’s strange; he wasn’t aware of any exhibition in the city just now. The Pharaoh explains it’s a… private specimen. He asks the employee if there’s an irregularity in his papers. The man reassures him everything’s in order. In fact, it’s good to see such things returning to their land of origin! Smiling, the Pharaoh agrees that’s how it is. They might say they are taking home… for burial.

Later, in mid-flight, the Pharaoh secretly opens a very large box he was carrying. Cyclops, half-conscious, drops out of it. The Pharaoh tells him to awaken and reveals they are in flight; his muffled cries can endanger them no longer! Scott sees only dark pitch black around him. He realizes there’s some sort of skin-tight hood covering his whole head. A sensible precaution against his apparent mutant powers, the Pharaoh explains. And he begs him not to insult his intelligence by trying to remove it! As Scott quickly sees, this is quite impossible. It adheres to his visor, so that he cannot open it.

Conceding defeat, Scott tells the Pharaoh they will play it his way for a while. But at least the Pharaoh should tell him where he’s taking him and why. The Pharaoh retorts that he shall never know… because he needs not know! He also asks him to spare them the sound of his cries for help: the Pharaoh has chartered an entire plane!

After Pharaoh and his men are gone, Cyclops hears a faint sound, coming from close nearby. He conjectures that it’s Alex! Feeling around, he finds out he’s locked inside a mummy case. Funny – Scott was always glad Alex developed no true mutant powers. But that didn’t stop him from falling victim to the scheme of a madman!

At that moment, as Scott’s mind writhes in mental agony, Marvel Girl, on board of the X-Men’s ship which is coincidentally nearby, senses that Scott is in that plane in the horizon! She suddenly started receiving again; that means he’s alive! Thank the Lord! Iceman asks Beast to step on the gas, then! He’s got a hunch that crate isn’t going to stop till it sees a pyramid! Hank admires Bobby’s Aristotelian flare, but unarmed as they are, he’s afraid…

Suddenly, the see the plane slowing down, as if it’s waiting for them. The door opens and one of the Pharaoh appears, cradling his ankh and assaulting them with energy blasts from it. Angel gasps it’s impossible. The man is bathing them in some kind of rays! Iceman suggests they worry about the hows of the things later; right now they’re dropping like a wounded Dodo! And they may soon be just as extinct, Beast notices. When he tried to reverse their fall… the joystick broke!

As the ship nose-dives, Iceman tells Hank to release the canopy; he’ll try to slow them with some ice-wings! As he does that, Warren notes that’ll do for openers, but now it’s up to his own wings! Fluttering up, he tries to exert some resistance on the crate’s fall and soothe its impact on the water. Bobby tells him to keep those wings flapping; they’re going to hit… now!

The crate hits the water and the team makes it, unharmed. Dejected, they watch as the plane overhead flies away with Scott and maybe Alex aboard. Marvel Girl vows they’ll find them again; she knows they will. They’ve got to!

Later, in Egypt, the Living Pharaoh has brought everyone inside a pyramid. No one shall ever find them here! He has brought them here, inside a tomb which was old when the rest of the world was savage jungle, that Cyclops and Alex may die deaths that befit a mutant born! They should make no mistake: die they shall!

Cyclops defiantly retorts that the X-Men have been threatened by experts; has he ever heard of a guy named Magneto? Ignoring him, the Pharaoh admits that his infantile mouthings begin to tire him. But he must be patient… for they are almost at an end. At his command, water begins pouring out from the mouth of an Egyptian cat statue. Now, if they will excuse him, he must go to prepare himself in most regal manner, for a miracle which they could not begin to comprehend!

Cyclops realizes the Pharaoh is gone again; that guy is a big one for dramatic exits! Judging by his wet feet – the room fast fills with water – he realizes that’s the least of his worries now. He’s in big trouble, and so is Alex, unless…

Suddenly, it dawns to him that he heard the Pharaoh’s stooges put down the mummy case right about here. Examining the case with his hands, he discovers it’s just like he thought: the top is loose, old, ready to splinter. It had to be, or Alex would have smothered long ago. He begins bombarding the case with his optic blasts. Fortunately, the hood he’s wearing is taking the brunt of his blows. Otherwise…

His plan finally works and Alex breaks free from the sarcophagus. He promises to have Scott out of his hood in a sec! Good, Scott replies – and then, if he can just dig up an Excedrin…!

About one minute later, outside the pyramid, beneath the full desert moon, Scott and Alex attack the Pharaoh’s guards. Punching one of them, Cyclops announces they’ve met before, but they were never formally introduced! Alex encourages his brother to pour it on them! Seeing that the infidels have escaped, one of the lackeys realizes that the Pharaoh must be informed without delay.

Inside his tent nearby, the Pharaoh is absorbed in his thoughts. It can be but moments away… the reward of years of searching… of scheming… The guard storms inside the tent and interrupts his meditations, revealing that the prisoners are free! The Pharaoh snarls that nothing must go astray now! He gave the unbelievers their chance to die a royal death. He orders him to strike them down now without mercy.

The minions of the Pharaoh are already attempting to do that little thing at that moment, without much apparent success. Tackling four guards at once, Cyclops instructs his brother to keep moving and make them get in each other’s ways. With only his excellent athletic prowess at is disposal, Alex does accordingly. Still, he realizes there are too many of them; they can’t last forever. One of the guards shouts to the others to close in on them; overwhelm them by sheer force of numbers!

The Living Pharaoh is frustrated with his men’s performance: can they not put to sword two lone men? Clutching his ankh, he asks his men to stand back so that he may send the two mutants to their ancestors! Embattled as they are, they well never…

Suddenly, something stops his progress and holds him back. Then, he is lifted into the very sky – such a thing is impossible, he cries. Angel appears and grabs his foot. He tells him he hit the nail on the head! So naturally, he’s not really hoisting him by his own petard. And he’s not really turning him into a makeshift go-round, he quips and spins the Pharaoh around very quickly. And he’s not letting him make a no-point landing on the pyramid, Warren banters and allows him to drop on the pyramid. Warren realizes he came on pretty rocky, but if the Pharaoh ever got a bead on him… blastville! He hopes the other troops have landed.

On the ground, the rest of the X-Men tackle the guards. “Lafayette, I’m here!” Iceman exclaims – he thinks he read that someplace! With his powers, he begins freezing the guards, trapping them in blocks of ice. Jean wishes Scott is still alive…

Cyclops finally spots Jean and the others nearby – thank the Lord. His optic blasts were getting weaker by the second. And he was afraid for Alex… with no mutant powers to help him… Nearby, Iceman snares two more guards in ice; these guys aren’t used to cold shower! He tells Beast he’d better share a tootsie, while there are still a few of them left!

Slamming two guards’ heads together, Beast tells him not to develop an ulcer on his account; there remains a sufficient quantity to constitute a quorum! One of the men wonders in despair where the Living Pharaoh is; only he can save them now… In response, Hank kicks him and the man groans. Hank notes that syllable and syntax may come and go, but a groan is a groan… even translated from the hieratic! Yet, his patience grows as fleeting as the time and so…

As the guard makes to rise again, Hank grabs his head with his feet and slams it on the ground. “Don’t rise on my account, my fallen friend!” he scoffs. He then marvels at how Cyclops’ sibling is handling himself. His right hook is practically a super-power in itself!

Hearing Hank’s remark, Scott is thankful that’s all that Alex possesses. He wants him to lead a normal life… not like him… Just then, Alex notifies them all: the Pharaoh is up to something!

Standing atop the pyramid, the Pharaoh comprehends that the unbelievers are brothers… and both mutants. Then, each of them may be the threat that he must vanquish! His deadly ankh should be the weapon that destroys them both! Raising his ankh to the air, he commands to strike for him.

But then, unexpectedly, his ankh is shattered! Waves of shocking, stinging force are buffeting him! The energy emanates, uncontrolled, from Alex’s hands. A positively terrified Alex gasps that this can’t be happening! He saw the Pharaoh menacing him and Scott. He just gestured, as if by some kind of reflex action and... he just blasted the Pharaoh off the pyramid!

“Great Ra – save me!” the Pharaoh howls as he falls over the pyramid. Angel grabs him and quips that the Great Ra must be out for lunch! So, it looks like double duty for Angel! Warren suddenly recalls that the first time they fought, this creep’s hands had powers, as well. But now he’s helpless, weak as the proverbial kitten.

The Pharaoh, despaired, commands his servitors to flee – till once more he summons them. The minions obey his command. Away, one of them urges his “brothers” – to the place of the sleeping sun! Cyclops surmises the men are overjoyed to comply. Bobby wonders about Alex, though. “Me? What about me, X-Men?” Alex wonders. Why is everybody looking at him like that? Why?! “Don’t you see, Alex?” Scott confronts him. Doesn’t he realize what just happened? In a moment of stress, he reacted… revealed an awesome power he never knew he had… and that can only mean Alex Summers is a mutant!

(second story)

Winter 1963: A waiting world still basks in ignorance of names it will shortly idolize… names like the Beatles, Barbra Streisand, the Amazing Spider-Man and perhaps, the Avenging Angel!

Warren Worthington soars above New York City. He is dressed in a red-black costume, with a halo emblem on his chest and carries a pistol. He spots the kind of scene he was looking for, right below him. Here’s where little ol’ New York will get its first tantalizing taste of… the Angel! He is happy that the costume he patched together keeps out the cold. Otherwise, long before he could catch those warehouse burglars below, he’d have caught a first-class case of pneumonia! To borrow a phrase from the funnies… here goes nothin’!

Warren lunges at the men stealing from a warehouse below and shoots gas pellets on the ground. As the pellets burst, the gas is released and the men are anesthetized. Warren is pleased his pellets worked; the burglars dropped like flies! This crime-busting bit’s as easy as flying off a log for him! He decides to now shortwave it to the boys in blue – let them know there’s a new superhero in town… the Avenging Angel!

Suddenly, he realizes he crowed too soon, as he spots one of the gang who’s still on his feet… and using them! Warren decides this is where he wings in for the kill and starts the legend of the Avenging Angel rolling! As he escapes, the burglar sees Warren chasing him. Warren quickly gets him cornered. The thug, Big Albert, retorts that whoever he is, those fake wings don’t fool him! Warren assures him the wings are real… and the name is Avenging Angel! “Glass jaw, huh?” he sneers as he punches his jaw.

Soon, reinforcements arrive, after the Angel has left his phosphorescent calling card: a luminous circle on a wall, standing for a halo. One of the policemen reaching the scene of crime realizes these unconscious criminals are the Grady Gang. But who nailed them – and what’s that circle? One of his colleagues hypothesizes it’s some kind of gang symbol. Probably no connection to this crazy caper!

Later, Warren hears the news on the radio. The captured criminals weren’t able to shed much light on their capture. One partially deaf member of the gang claims he was attacked by a man with wings. However, he is known as a pathological liar!

Warren is frustrated to hear; just his lousy luck! Thousands of two-bit hoods in this town and he had to pick out a known liar, who didn’t even catch his fancy new name! Oh well, tomorrow is another day! At least some things are breaking his way. He stumbled onto this top-floor apartment…


Just the set-up I need, Warren tells the landlady as he visits the apartment for the first time. He claims he likes lots of fresh air! The landlady explains that the rent is $80 in advance. She doesn’t want any fly-by-nights in here! Then, there are Warren’s experiments… Science was never Warren’s strongest suit… but these gas-filled ping-pong balls he’s arming his pistol with ought to work out! And of course, there are his nocturnal forays. Flying around every night, Warren realizes he needs practice and more practice. Only two more months… and it’s back to the academy!


Unknown to Warren, others are beginning even now to take an interest in his fledgling career. In Xavier’s mansion in Westchester, Iceman watches in the news the report about the burglars’ arrest, including the rumor about the guy with the wings. He asks Cyclops if he could be another mutant. Scott admits it’s hard to say. The whole thing sounds so far-fetched.

Just then, they are getting a mental summons from Professor X. The two teenagers join him. Xavier explains he overheard their conversation mentally. He’s located another mutant… near were those thugs were captured. A good mutant… or an evil one? Bobby asks. Charles replies it’s impossible to say. They do not live in a world of lucid blacks and whites, but in a cosmos of endlessly shifting greys. Right now, whether that mutant they’ve located uses his powers for good or evil, may well depend on them!

The very next evening, Warren is on his night patrol again. From atop a building, he sees moving shadows below: thieves robbing the Atomic Institute! He decides this is the night he builds his rep! Flying down, he shoots them with his gas pellets.

However, one of the hoods fires wild on his panic and knocks the gas-gun out of Warren’s hand. If it breaks, it’ll take him hours to make a new one! He manages to fly to it and grab it. Though, he suddenly feels funny; must be the gases he concocted! Maybe he mixed them wrong. He decides it can’t do any harm. Main thing is, he liberated the vial the crooks were after. Whatever it is, he’ll return it to the Institute tomorrow. That’ll make front-page news of the Avenging Angel! He can wait a few more hours!

However, a somewhat fateful surprise awaits Warren at his uptown aviary: Cyclops and Iceman are waiting for him, in their X-Men costumes! Bobby tells Cyke he was right: it is the winged crook! Cyclops asks him to let him do the explaining. He tells Warren they’re mutants – just like him – and they’re here to ask him to join the X-Men! “Mutants? Join?” Warren snaps. They’ve got to be kidding! He is sorry, but the Avenging Angel is strictly a loner! And anyone who pushes him gets leaned on… hard!

Characters Involved: 

(first story)

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

Alex Summers (Cyclops’s brother)

Living Pharaoh

Living Pharaoh’s minions

Police officers

Employee at the JFK airport

(second story)

Warren Worthington/ Avenging Angel

Cyclops, Iceman, Professor X (all X-Men)

Big Albert and other criminals

Warren’s landlady

Story Notes: 

(first story)

The dialogue in the finale of last issue and the beginning of this one are inconsistent. Whereas in the last issue, the Pharaoh reacted to Cyclops’ surprise at his being alive by claiming to have millions of lives and vowed he would kill Cyclops, here he responds quite differently.

“Pharaoh” is misspelled as “Pharoah” on two occasions.

Excedrin (misspelled here as “Exedrin”) is a painkiller that treats headaches.

Iceman’s quip of “Lafayette, I’m here” is most likely a reference to a quote attributed to US General John Pershing. The United States having entered the first World War on the side of the French in 1917, Pershing visited the grave of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who had greatly assisted the American revolution. At the gravesite, Pershing is attributed to have said “Lafayette, we are here,” demonstrating that the US’ assistance on the French side was a repayment of that old debt.

(second story)

The specific placement of the story in the winter of 1963 entails it take place shortly before the first historical appearance of the X-Men in X-Men (1st series) #1, which was actually cover-dated “September 1963.”

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