Uncanny X-Men: Super Activity Book (1983)
“The Alphabet Pet Battles the X-Men”
By Owen McCarron
Cover Price: 3 f’r a dolla
Well, well, well… what in all the hells do we have here? Wouldja believe the most important X-Men story ever told? Not only because it introduces the dread Alphabet Pet, but because this is an X-Men adventure that requires OUR alphabetical expertise in order to get our heroes thru!
So, let’s do da t’ang!
We open with our… uh, what we’d usually call the “Silver-Age Spoilery Splash Page”… wherein we see our heroes being attacked by a torrent of literal X’s! Cyclops is confused, Kitty’s looking like that one dude in the corner of Action Comics #1’s cover, and Nightcrawler is just looking to save his own hide. Before we get much further… how about we take a look at our Quadruple-Page Spread of ROLL CALL and… cred… ibility-killing content! What’s wrong with me? Why am I making this a blog post?! Anyway, let’s meet the team… including a macrocephalic Professor Xavier!
Meanwhile, while likely seated on a toilet somewhere on Island M, Magneto pledges to invent a new way to rid the world of his Uncanny foes… but first, he must jot down all the three and four-letter words that can be found within his own name!
Bah! Ain’t nobody got time for that… and so, with his karate chop action feature, the Master of Magnetism swats his very name to pieces! He also manages to crush his pencil via his Kung-Fu grip.
It’s here where Magneto finally figures out how to kill the X-Men… it’s all in the Letters, ya see? And so, he toils for the next several days in order to create — the dread Alphabet Pet! This creepy critter appears to have been tattooed with 25 out of the 26 letters of the Alphabet. Any guesses which one ol’ Mags might’ve forgotten to include? Whatta veXing question!
Magneto decides to test his beastie by feeding the names of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Candidates into it… which, the Alphabet Pet rightly vomits all over the place, leaving we poor readers with quite the conundrum… and, a puzzle to solve!
It also leaves Magneto doubting the threat of the Alphabet Pet! And so, he decides to imbue the thing with some of his own personal magnetism — which is, apparently, something Magneto can do! The Alphabet Pet sucks down a giant letter M… while giving us a quiz!
The Pet continues to suck… and so, Magneto hooks it up to his Compute-A-Letter Energizer. You can keep yer Cerebro Helmets and vats of liquid Adamantium — the Compute-A-Letter Energizer is where it’s at!
Mags has A.P. read a very challenging four-letter word-scramble… with which, he hopes to confuse the X-Men. The little beastie proceeds to belch out a bunch of nonsense.
The wild-eyed Magneto shouts at is s’more, until it finally unscrambles the word the way he wanted it to all along — to make the word “fist”. Uh, hey, Mags… what you do in your free-time is your business. No need to be all cagey about it. This is a judgment-free zone. Anyway, with this, the Alphabet Pet vomits a fist – which socks Magneto in the mush. Here’s a stupid question… why the puzzle? I mean, “Activity Book” wise, it makes sense… but, c’mon people – you can’t tell me that you’re not caught up in the story of this one!
Magneto is rapidly becoming convinced of the efficacy of the Alphabet Pet. Well, almost. He is going to need him to perform one last test… which, doesn’t have a whole helluva lot to do with the Alphabet. Instead, he has the beastie manifest eleven animal silhouettes… which will supposedly prepare the critter for a sneak attack. Well, far be it from me to argue with that kinda logic. Izzit “far be it from me” or “far be it for me”?
Anyway, with our training montage behind us… Magneto is now 100% positive that the Alphabet Pet is ready to take out his Uncanny Enemies. And with that, the A.P. belches out the word “X-Men”. Hey, I thought it didn’t have any X’s! C’mon, does continuity truly mean nothing? Who edited this thing?
From here, we follow Magneto and the Pet to… a random street, where Wolverine just so happened to be out for a jolly stroll… in full-costume… with a great big smile on his face! Mags orders the A.P. to “sting” ol’ Logan!
And so, next thing we know – Wolverine is being attacked by a swarm of B’s! Get it? B’s… that’s a joke, son. Anyway – it doesn’t take long for the Alphabet Pet to best the Best There Is. Before we know it, poor Logan is tangled up in a B-Trap!
Just then, Nightcrawler saunters on up to try and chat up the Pet about what it did to “Wolfie”. The Pet ain’t got time to answer… but, it does have time for riddles! The Alphabet Pet asks Kurt which letter of the alphabet you can swim in. Well, here’s the thing – Nightcrawler hasn’t the foggiest because, his secret shame is that — he can’t swim!
Next thing we know – Kurt’s being drowned in the C. C… get it? Kurt, in fact, DOES get it. Si, Si – he gets it! He also probably dies. Magneto chuckles at the Alphabet Pet’s Carson-level sense of humor.
Then Chris Claremont takes over the scripting for a page, because it’s here where Cyclops arrives and introduces himself. Only problem is… he didn’t bring his visor, so he’s just got a bunch of numbered dots on his face.
The Alphabet Pet keeps hittin’ us with the letter puns… making reference to Cyclops’s “one big eye” by firing off… uh, one big “I”. Which, Slim leaps onto and pretends he’s the Silver Surfer. Ya know… have the X-Men ever had a team-up with the Silver Surfer? I’m sure they’ve bumped into each other during one of the several dozen “Infinity” stories we’ve gotten… but, have they ever like… really teamed-up?
Anyway, Cyclops’ surfing safari is short-lived… as the “I” grows into the super-slippery word “ICE”. Scott thinks for a second about whether or not he should mention that one of the founding members of the X-Men was ice-themed, before deciding not to. So, Scott’s slippin’… but the Alphabet Pet ain’t done yet. ICE was just the beginning… of the word ICECUBES. Suddenly, Cyclops is covered by hundreds of pounds of Bobby Drake’s finest.
Then – Storm shows up to threaten the Pet. Only problem is, that somehow the baddie expected her to arrive… and blows a torrential wind in her direction.
Storm finds herself tangled up in a… well, storm. I didn’t know that was possible… but, I suppose we’ll allow it. It’s left to us to deduce exactly what kind of storm poor ‘Ro is caught up in… but, sadly – even if we do solve this one… it’s all for naught – because this is where our story ends — forever!
Welp… that was an abrupt ending!
Part of me thought that maybe I had some pages missing… but, I don’t think I do! I guess we’ll just be left wondering how or even if the X-Men managed to best Magneto and his Alphabet Pet!
Ya know, this is going to sound so stupid to say… but, as I was “reading” through this, I actually became somewhat invested in how this was going to play out. I was fully expecting some sorta Saturday Morning cartoon nonsense to happen, causing the Alphabet Pet to realize that Magneto’s a bad dude, and siding with the X-Men against him. Ehh, maybe that’ll happen in Uncanny X-Men: Super Activity Book #2 (or, in current-year parlance, Uncanny X-Men: Super Activity Book (vol.2) #1)!
I fully expected the Pet to come around… and probably even wind up living at the Mansion forevermore… only, never to be heard from again — like Jessie’s wicked-step-brother or the homeless family Zack took in on Saved By the Bell. That show was great about adding new characters and never featuring them ever again!
Anyway… what’d we think about this one? I dunno about you, but I had a lot of fun. I came across this book in a “garbage pile” — a/k/a, what I call that weird pile of stuff in a comic shop that nobody in their right mind would bother to rifle through… hence, why I’m always so drawn to them! I love finding odd bits of ephemera like this… and being able to share them here is pretty great.
I hope you enjoyed this little x-cursion into the weird… and, hey – if you can figure out the ending for this one… please lemme know!