Uncanny X-Men (Vol 1) #24: The Plague of...the Locust!

Jean’s parents have decided to “withdraw her from Professor Xavier’s private school” and have enrolled her in Metro College in the city. Xavier lets Jean keep some of his books on “telekinetic research” to help her further her training. She promises to visit whenever she can.

Jean excuses herself upstairs to change so she would not start crying in front of her team mates. When she come back down, Xavier presents her with a “corsage” from “all of [them]”. Scott and Warren drive Jean to Metro College in the pouring rain.

Jean is in love with Scott but takes his indifference towards her departure to mean that he is not interested in returning her affections. However, Scott is afraid of harming Jean with his powers and hence keeps his distance despite his love for her.

Jean: (Thoughts.) All the X-Men seemed so sorry I was going...except Scott! He hasn’t spoken ten words all morning! Can’t he see that I’ll miss him...more than anyone?
Scott: (Thoughts.) If only I dared hold her in my arms...and tell her how much I need her! But I can’t...not until I’m cured of the curse of my deadly eyes!

With Jean leaving the X-Men, Scott wonders if he should quit as well to live a more “normal life”. Warren tries to cheer Jean up by mentioning that Johnny Storm will also be attending Metro College so she would not be the lone “superhero”. Jean confesses that she wishes to blend in and be normal.

An over-enthusiastic student representative, Ted Roberts, interrupts the trio to whisk Jean away to be enrolled. He unabashedly asks her out, to which she agrees, just to “keep [her] from looking back...at Scott”.

Meanwhile, the Locust hatches his plan: to grow a colony of giant locusts. By the morning, the farmer’s wheat crop the locusts were feasting on was depleted and the locusts vanished.

Xaviver interrupts the X-Men’s training session to send them to investigate the giant locusts. The Locust escapes while the X-Men battle the giant locusts. Taking matters into his own hands, the farmer sprays pesticide on the locusts with his helicopter, choking the X-Men in the field. Xavier instructs Angel to “use [his] wings as a fan”. When the military arrive, the X-Men take it as their cue to leave.

At Metro College, Ted is still hanging around Jean to make sure she is acclimating. She overhears students making fun of an old man, Dr Hopper, who used to be “a top name in entemology” until “some of his crackpot theories got him fired”. Jean recognises his voice but cannot remember where she had seen him before.

Dr Hopper now works for Ryan Chemicals. In his lab, he experiments on insects, using his “Magnoray”. He intends to create super-insects to cause chaos, and then “‘discover’ the way to destroy them” and become a hero. He plans to relaunch his attack with giant locusts that the X-Men had previously foiled.

At the Institute, Xavier and the X-Men examine the corpse of one of the giant locusts. Jean has returned to visit for the weekend. She tells Xavier about the malevolent Dr Hopper. Xavier suspects Dr Hopper may be connected to these giant locusts. Xavier heads to Ryan Chemicals to investigate. Dr Hopper is on leave, but plant supervisor Mr Hamilton obliges Xavier by showing him Dr Hopper’s lab. Xavier has gathered enough intel on Dr Hopper’s next attack. He summons the X-Men to prepare for their mission.

The X-Men, including Marvel Girl, arrive in Ohio. They face off against the Locust, who has brought with him a new army of giant locusts. The Locust overpowers the X-Men. He hatches some giant wasps to attack the X-Men. Iceman creates an ice shield to protect his team. Unable to penetrate the ice, the wasps fly off. The “noise of the feeding locusts” have become more attractive. Soon, the military arrive to take care of the insects with flamethrowers. The X-Men fly off in search of the Locust, with Dr Hopper having left markers on a map in his lab, clueing them in as to his possible whereabouts.

They find Dr Hopper’s mobile lab. Xavier approaches the Locust disguised as a “hermit” and tries to convince him to stop his evil ways. The Locust ignores the hermit and flies away. The X-Men approach him but the Locust overpowers them yet again. He grows two giant beetles and commands them to attack the X-Men. Marvel Girl figures out that his antennae controls his giant insects, and twists the antennae into a knot. Unable to control the beetles, the Locust is attacked because he is dressed like the prey of these beetles.

The Locust hides in his mobile lab while the beetles attack. The beetles toss the mobile lab over the cliff and plunge into the sea. The X-Men manage to rescue the Locust from imminent death. Seeing the error of his ways, the Locust gives up his evil ways and intends to turn himself in to atone for his crimes.

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