…When the Tigers Come At Night!
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), John Romita, Jr. (penciler), Dan Green & Jon Holdredge (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist)
As Scott and Jean prepare to marry, Xavier reflects on his past, casting Magneto in the role of his subconscious. He recalls meeting Amelia Voght in a hospital in India after having his legs crushed. They begin a relationship and discover that they are both mutants. Voght accompanies Xavier to America where he begins laying the foundation for the X-Men. After a teenage Cyclops spends his first night in the mansion, Voght voices her objections to Xavier’s goals. She thinks that mutants should stay hidden and not draw attention to themselves. As she leaves, Xavier tries to mentally force her to see his point of view. He realizes his error, and Voght slaps him and leaves. Xavier realizes that drawing a line in how to use his powers is what separates him from Magneto.
This issue establishes how Xavier and Amelia Voght met, placing her “behind-the-scenes” shortly before the first issue of the series. In her earlier appearance, she implied that she was an early student of Xavier’s, but this issue places them as contemporaries.
Xavier recalls that it was Magneto who saved him in X-Men Unlimited #1. He also implies that Magneto’s arctic base is some sort of living alien. This reference showed up twice within a few months in the X-titles, but I don’t know if Marvel ever went anywhere with the idea.
The panel where Xavier mentally tries to force Voght to stay has been re-lettered. The dialogue emphasizes that this was only a brief desire of Xavier’s, so maybe this panel was redone to make him more sympathetic.
According to the Statement of Ownership, sales averaged at 714,675 this year, with the most recent issue at 551,400.
This is one of Lobdell’s strongest issues. After hinting at Xavier’s dark side for months, Lobdell crafts an entire story within his unconscious that ultimately vindicates him and his motives. Having Magneto voice Xavier’s subconscious is an odd choice, given his inconsistent characterization at this time, but Lobdell makes it work for the most part. After Xavier crossed a line he set for himself and erased Magneto’s mind, it makes sense that he would be represented in an issue where Xavier questions the decisions he’s made with his life. Revealing dark secrets from Xavier’s past has been done to death over the years, but this might have been the first time the idea was used. Rather than giving Xavier a horrible shame to live with, he’s shown making a very human mistake that he instantly regrets. Lobdell takes the idea just far enough to keep Xavier sympathetic and relatable. If you had the power to change someone’s mind, to keep a loved one with you, wouldn’t you be tempted to use it? The depiction of Voght’s departure, with Xavier intentionally misremembering it twice before he faces the truth, is smartly done and very memorable.
The impetus of Xavier's self-examination is the wedding of Scott and Jean. On some level, Xavier resents them for finding happiness while he’s sacrificed his own in service of his dream. Again, this is a very human, and real, emotion. It exposes a side of Xavier that isn’t very nice, but it doesn’t cross the line into making him totally heartless. By the end of the issue, he redeems himself by giving his blessings to Jean, after he realizes that he created the X-Men so that mutants could have a chance to find happiness. It’s a good example of showing a character’s flaws, but also staying true to his established characterization.