X-Men: The Hidden Years #22: Friends and Enemies

Professor Xavier comes to assist the Fantastic Four in a mental projection. He believes he has found Magneto’s weakness that would help Mr Fantastic create his weapon against Magneto.

Meanwhile, Mole Man has the X-Men bound and lowered into the molten magma beneath the earth. The bonds however are not strong enough to hold Beast and he breaks free, and frees his other team mates as well. They strike back, but Mole Man blasts the roof and causes it to collapse onto the X-Men. Working with the full power of his optic blast, Cyclops attempts to obliterate the collapsing roof, giving room for the others to escape.

Angel finally regains consciousness and finds the rest of his team mates in trouble. Marvel Girl refuses to leave “at the expense” of Cyclops’ life. Angel has a plan as he hoists Cyclops up into the air as Cyclops keeps blasting the rocks falling over them.

Mr Fantastic has completed a weapon to use against Magneto. They prepare for an attack. Just as Magneto is being informed by one of Namor’s guards about the attack, the Fantastic Four make their appearance. Crystal summons her elemental powers, distracting Namor’s guards and Magneto, giving Mr Fantastic the opportune moment to use his weapon on Magneto. Using Magneto’s power against him, Mr Fantastic traps Magneto in a conical vortex of magnetic force. Betrayed by Magneto, Namor willingly returns to Atlantis. Magneto would be taken care of by the military.

The X-Men slowly inch their way out of the cave-in. Marvel Girl is curious as to how Angel, who was sent by Xavier to find them, did manage to find them “in this great maze of tunnels”. Beast was also curious as to why Iceman, the angriest at Xavier over his faking his death, “stuck up for the prof when Messenger was bad-mouthing him”. Iceman admitted that Xavier couldn’t have known that the changeling impersonating Xavier so a “defence against the aline Z’Nox” could be created would die in the process. Xavier “never intended to trick [them]”.

The X-Men come to a dead end, with “only the merest sliver of sunlight penetrat[ing] these Stygian depths”. Cyclops blasts through the rocks, creating a way out for them. Examining their surroundings of their exit, Beast thinks that they have stumbled upon the very spot on which “the Fantastic Four first battled the Mole Man”.

With Magneto defeated, Xavier reaches out to tell Havok that he may return to Lorna. Havok’s run in with anti-mutant hysterics was an eye-opener for him.

Havok: “Any one of those normal, decent, upright American citizens would have cheerfully killed me...For no more reason that my genes got lined up differently than theirs!”
Xavier: “A lesson many learn, Alex Summers. And not all are mutants. Sometimes no more than a slight difference of faith is enough. Such is the yoke humanity must, it seems, ever wear.”

Havok returns to an awakening Lorna. Lucy had managed to revive Lorna, as well as free the rest of Messenger’s team. Alas, Messenger himself had passed away during hibernation. It was ironic how Messenger was important to his team, but “because of the years in suspended animation, none of [them] have known him more than a few weeks, [their] time”. Messenger’s team had abandoned their lives in pursuit of Messenger’s dream, and now it was time to regain their lives. None of them had taken up Xavier’s offer to join the X-Men, citing they needed time on their own.

Xavier’s mind returns to his own body. The war with Magneto is over, and he must return to his X-Men in New York. Mrs Martin is sad to see him go as she had developed feelings for him. Xavier admits he likes her too, but “there is no place in [his] life for romance”. He bids farewell, and states that he would return in a few years to remove the mental blocks he placed in Ashley’s mind so her power can “manifest naturally”.

A week later, Warren and Hank visit the Savage Land again to return Avia to her people. But it was also a plan to get Hank out of the mansion as the rest of the X-Men prepare Hank’s surprise birthday party.

Scott: “How does it feel on the other side, big guy?”
Hank: “Other side?”
Warren: “You’re twenty today, Hank! Scottie and I are nipping at your heels...but you’re the first of us to cross over from being a teenager!”
Hank: “You are quite right Master Worthington...and I must confess in this a small degree of sadness!”
Candy: “Why, Hank?”
Hank: “For all our time together the popular press had oft referred to us X-Men as ‘The Strangest Teens of All’, Candy. Now...that nomenclature can no long apply!”
Jean: “I wouldn’t worry too much about that, Hank! After all...we’re not exactly all X-Men either!!”

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