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X-Men #11 (last issue | next issue)

"The Triumph of Magneto!"

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Inker: Chic Stone
Letterer: Art Simek
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cover date: May 1965
Cover price: 12 cents

The cover to this book is one of the most effective that I've ever seen. Marvel comics at the time often had entire paragraphs of bombastic hype written on them, but this cover is sparse. Only three words (besides the book's logo) appear, on a small billboard in a corner of the street scene: "Introducing the Stranger". The Stranger is a giant white haired man, towering over the crowd while striding menacingly towards the X-Men. At first glance he appears to be standing on the other side of the street, but a closer look shows he is actually walking on air. The terrified X-Men are not fighting him, but are actually running away towards a shocked Professor X.

The book opens with the Professor using his new "radar-image beam" which is supposed to produce pictures of new mutants it detects. The image, however, explodes (??), which indicates that this new being is really really powerful. Meanwhile, a white-haired chap in a striped suit rents a furnished room from an old lady. She demands cash up front, but the man is unfamiliar with her slang. He figures out that she wants money and withdraws a bushel-sized wad of cash from his suit and hands it to the startled woman. Then he goes for a stroll outside, but is impatient with the bustle of city life. So he takes to the air, finding it more efficient and less time consuming then walking among the crowds. But to his surprise, he attracts everyone's attention with his air walking. So he ducks inside a building, finding himself inexplicably drawn to it. Inside are Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!

The X-Men are in the area, searching the city for a sign of the unknown being. Cyclops, in street clothes, overhears a couple of beat cops talking about a guy walking on air and through walls. Cyke questions the cops about this puzzling sight, but his query makes them suspicious. A stranger asking weird questions while wearing dark glasses on a cloudy day? Someone call the Department of Homeland Security! The cops, with little concern for human rights or personal space, take Cyke's glasses off, with predictable results. His optic blasts go wild, but the X-Men retrieve Cyke before anyone gets hurt.

The Stranger is puzzled by Magneto's invitation to join the Brotherhood. Magneto and Mastermind demonstrate their powers, hoping to impress the Stranger. He is unimpressed, shrugging off the bands of metal Magneto wrapped around him. A ray from the Stranger turns Mastermind solid, into what looks like stone. The hapless mutant crashes through the floor, down past the store below into the basement of the building. Someone in the store calls for the police, but it's the X-Men who come running.

The Brotherhood and the X-Men fight, but the Stranger is uninterested and forms a cone of energy, his method of departure. Magneto joins him, and of course is followed by the ever-loyal Toad. All that is left of the Brotherhood are Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. They are fed up with Magneto and finally choose to abandon him, considering their debt to him for saving their lives repaid in full, many times over. They decline Cyclops' invitation to join the X-Men and decide to return to their home in Central Europe. Considering that the last time they were there a mob of villagers tried to kill the Scarlet Witch, it seems a poor choice of destination. They would soon show up again as members of the Avengers.

The Stranger materializes in a forest and wraps Magneto and the Toad in cocoons of some powerful material. Back at the X-Men mansion, the Professor is examining the body of Mastermind. Somehow he concluded that the mutant is still alive, but it sure isn't with that stethescope. They all pile into the X helicopter and pursue the Stranger. The Professor tracks him to that forest, where they find the cocooned Magneto and Toad. The Stranger appears and reveals what you probably know: he is a stranger from another planet. He has decided to take Magneto and the Toad for study because "my people are greatly interested in mutations". He departs with his specimens before the X-Men can react or conclude that it's probably a bad idea for them to let an alien kidnap random earthlings, even if they are evil mutants. And thus, the irony of the title "The Triumph of Magneto" is revealed. Magneto succeeded in finding the Stranger before the X-Men, and it proved to be his undoing. The X-Men pile back into the helicopter and head for home before the cops can ask pesky questions or take off Cyke's glasses again. Back home, before they can even relax, Cerebro detects a dangerous new menace. This would be the Juggernaut, who appears for the first time next issue.

The Stranger, a handy outer space deus ex machina, later revealed that he was a composite being combining billions of beings from the planet Gigantus in the Andromeda Galaxy. The planet was destroyed, and they created the Stranger to battle the Overmind, a composite being created by their enemies the Eternians. He would decide to destroy the Earth a couple of times, but his plans were of course thwarted, and later became a defender of our planet. His motives are often described as "enigmatic", which seems to me to be a code word for "random". Magneto was too good a villain to become a laboratory specimen permanently. He would escape from the Stranger and turn up again in X-Men #17.

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