Uncanny X-Men (1963) - #23
"To Save a City"
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Richard 'Dick' Ayers
Art 'Artie' Simek
Stan 'The Man' Lee - 'Stanley Martin Lieber'
Richard 'Dick' Ayers
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Cover Date: August 1966
Cover Price: US $ 0.12
Issue Tagline: None.
Format: Color; Standard Comic Issue
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The X-Men have been captured by Count Nefaria and the five super-villains that have joined his re-organized Maggia. Nefaria gives the team one hour to decide to join them, although whether they agree or not, it's they who will be blamed for Nefaria's big plan. Indeed, Nefaria has a machine that can create solid illusionary images from afar, as well as trap the entire city of Washington under an impenetrable crystalline dome.
The fake X-Men are sent to the Capitol, where they demand a ransom of 100 million dollars, which one of them will pick up in three hours. The military calls in Professor Xavier as civilian adviser for mutant conditions and he secretly establishes contact with his students, right as they managed to break out of their prison cell in Nefaria's fortress. Xavier tells them to go along with the Count's plans, while he mentally studies his machines.
Nefaria is surprised that the X-Men take up his offer and sends them to get the briefcase with the ransom. Not fully trusting them, he sends the quintet of Plantman, Porcupine, Scarecrow, Eel and Unicorn after them. However, it's they whom he should be suspicious of, as the five villains decided to betray him and take the money for themselves. The X-Men pick up the briefcase, but a crowd of angry civilians gets into a fight with them. The X-Men have bricks thrown at them but don't dare fight back, fearing to hurt the innocent people. The villains come to help, but the Unicorn betrays his allies and attempts to get away with the money by himself. The military enters the fighting and shoots the Unicorn out of the sky. Xavier sees that there is nothing more he can do, so he retreats to a hotel.
Among the confusion of a three-way battle between X-Men, villains and army, Cyclops hands the briefcase to Jean and tells her to get it to Nefaria on her own. She does as told and, not much later, the fight ends with the villains escaping and the X-Men heading back to Nefaria's fortress after Jean. The Count followed all these events on a big tele-screen and eagerly anticipates Marvel Girl's arrival. Before handing him the bag, she demands that he releases Washington from the dome, right as a mysterious stranger enters Nefaria's command center. He easily works on the Count's machine and, not only makes the Force Dome disappear, but also renders the machine useless. As the other X-Men arrive, Nefaria flees with the money and boards a ship, where he is confronted by the Unicorn. They decide to share, but the briefcase vanishes - it was an illusion created by Nefaria's machine. The stranger, who turns out to be a Professor Xavier, thanks to new lightweight flexible metal braces, used the Count's invention against him. The team is happy to have won, but Jean receives a letter with disturbing news – she has to leave the team.
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