The X-Men #2, October 1963

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

“Silence! No talking!! Not until I conclude this presentation!”

Central conflict: The X-Men vs. The Vanisher

Fictional Film listed on theater marquee in a background: “A Teen-Ager’s Tears.”

Fresh from their initial victory, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman and Angel aren’t short on pride or teenage superheated enthusiasm for everything. Whether they’re bickering, rescuing construction workers from a falling brick wall, or chasing one another around the Danger Room, they do it with cocksure aplomb and a spray of exclamation marks (“Fun time’s over, chickadees! This isn’t Sadie Hawkins Day!!”) Like your little brother’s friends, clearly, this is a squad of kids that needs to get the shit kicked out of them. On deck to administer that humiliation is a peacock of a weirdo called The Vanisher (Was Stan Lee fighting a crushing deadline here? Did he not have an extra one minute to think of a better name than the Vanisher?). Looking like a clowning Hunter S. Thomson and wearing a never-explained snake emblem on his chest, the Vanisher announces his plans to seize “Continental Defense” plans and sell them to the Communists unless the American Government pays him not to.

After another round of training in the Danger Room (“My arms are killin’ me! But I’ve got to stay with it! Can’t flunk this test! Can’t!”) the X-Men are off to DC via an XV-1 Convertiplane to face off against the Vanisher, where they are soundly routed by his ability to…wait for it… vanish!

Xavier calls an audible for his embarrassed and defeated X-men, and stepping in himself, telepathically causes the Vanisher to forget that he can vanish… or something. It’s a little unclear and a little underwhelming, but what’s important is that Xavier has come out of the shadows and displayed his ability to contribute as an active, wheels-on-the-ground team member.

Does the Vanisher ever return to X-Men continuity or does he do like his name does? The internet will tell me, but now, before I learn for myself, I’ll guess no, he’s gone for good. He’s a thin villain who doesn’t deserve a repeat performance. Besides, a remote lobotomy from Professor X is probably a career ending injury for supervillains.

*Note. What do you know? Apparently, it’s not.

Categorized as X-Men

By Lane Talbot

My work has been listed as notable fiction in Best American Mystery Stories and published in Berkeley Fiction Review, ThugLit, Able Muse and elsewhere. I have an MFA from Southern Illinois University.

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