Sunday, March 30, 2014

Professor X To The Rescue!

In the early days of the X-Men, and really for as long as he held the reins of his original team, Charles Xavier maintained a no-nonsense relationship with his students--giving his young charges their space when necessary, but cracking the virtual whip when it came time to practice the use of their powers. Yet, Xavier was more of a teacher than an authoritarian, and there seems little doubt that his students respected him not only in that role but also as a father figure, one who seemed with them at all times. Even on missions in the field, where normally being confined to a wheelchair would limit his involvement, Xavier's mental powers allowed him to not only continue to supervise his students but, in many cases, to direct their actions. It was an approach which seemed to work. The X-Men, while learning to act independently, still needed and depended on their teacher's experience, knowledge, and resources to help them navigate and deal with the forces they encountered.

Not long after the "new X-Men" replaced the original members, circumstances arose which effectively separated Xavier from any involvement in the X-Men's activities, as well as their evolution as a team. Eventually, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus were reunited with Xavier--but the man who was once mentor and teacher soon found that stepping back into his former role was no longer feasible, his old methods of harnessing and instructing teenagers in the early stages of developing their powers inapplicable with grown people who were already well-versed in the use of their abilities and had, in effect, gone on to become a team without his guidance. It was a realization that, at first, he rejected outright.

Eventually, Xavier adapted to the new X-Men, and they to him. But as his role with them continued to diminish, it became clear that in order for him to thrive once more in the role of teacher, as well as the figurehead of a school for mutants, he needed new students--and so, with the "New Mutants," Xavier was able to start over, becoming father figure, mentor, and instructor to children who needed his guidance and discipline. It wasn't quite the same, of course, since these kids weren't content to be on as tight a leash as Xavier kept the original X-Men; but that would be a learning experience for Xavier, as well, and he would again adapt.

Circumstances would once more arise which separated Xavier from the school (and you can't get much more distance than being with the Starjammers); meanwhile, the New Mutants would become lost in time, attempting to flee Warlock's evil father, Magus. (Try to ignore the similarity of these names with other Marvel characters.) When Illyana Rasputin--"Magik"--manages to reach Xavier with word on their predicament, events in the 50th issue of New Mutants are set in motion which would give us a vivid idea of how deeply Xavier regards his commitment to his students, and how effective these kids can be with the right person in charge of the lessons.

The kids are lost in time on two fronts. Danielle, Doug, Warlock, and Sam are in a future where Roberto and Amara have grown up to turn the tables on humanity--elevating mutantkind to better living conditions, while condemning humans to live literally beneath them.

When Xavier arrives with Magik, Lilandra, and Binary, his rescue of the three is short and sweet--but he leaves no doubt that Roberto and Amara have failed to live up to his expectations.

The second future environment finds Sunspot, Karma, Wolfsbane, and Magma in dire straits, closed on by Sentinels. But Xavier, with the help of Binary, Warlock, and Cannonball, helps to turn the tide--and teacher and students are once again reunited.

Together again, the group as well as the Starjammers must now deal with Magus, who has come for Warlock and will not hesitate to destroy the entire alien planet the Starjammers are on in order to get him. But just watch how Xavier takes charge and pulls these kids together into an effective fighting force.

Xavier must be performing a kind of balancing act here--directing his students while making sure to engage them in using their abilities instead of simply using them as chess pieces. Given how much he has to juggle, he does a fair job in giving equal time to each of them.

Due to the life-or-death circumstances, though, encouraging them must also include Xavier stepping in with his own abilities--as we've already seen with Magma, but which now includes Mirage and Karma.

I don't recall Xavier employing any level of augmentation with his former students; and here, it seems to take some of the limelight from people who, after all, comprise this book's title. Karma and Mirage, for instance, who have never really stood out on this team, don't need to be pushed into the background further than they already are. But, as far as this particular battle is concerned, Xavier's actions have at least given them their moments.

Finally, to end the conflict with Magus, Cypher enacts his own plan to infiltrate the villain's "software" with a virus. And, even here, Xavier is present in his role as teacher:

The plan works, and Magus is regressed to an earlier state which eliminates his threat. All in all, one heck of a field trip for the kids--and a demonstration of how well Xavier can complement a group of students when they thrive in that niche.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Which is why I still can't understand why Prof X had to go underground with Cap Falc Cyke and Jean during that whole Secret Empire storyline.

The Prowler (don't call him Slim, lady, his name is Scott).