September 1963 The X-Men #1 appeared on newstands and changed superhero comics forever. 50 years later, September 2013, we review it for you. I think I forgot to mention this is the first post but it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the X-Men. That’s one of the many reason we’re doing this… Fifty years we’ve watched the ups and downs of Marvel’s merry mutants. If you care about such things, it’s also the 50th for the Avengers and 2012 was 50 years of Spider-Man and The Hulk but right now we only care about mutants. Happy golden anniversary to our homo superior friends! Without further ado, our review.
“A strange silent man sits motionless, brooding…alone with his indescribable thoughts!”
Overall, the first issue felt like what it would be like to read Saturday morning cartoons, and I mean the old ones, like 1980’s Smurfs. One of my favorite parts was when Magneto showed up and spells out his plan declaring, “the first phase of my plan shall be to show my power…to make Homo Sapiens bow to HOMO SUPERIOR!! And in a nice touch he signs his name in script beneath the message he posts in the sky demanding, “SURRENDER THE BASE OR I’LL TAKE IT BY FORCE!” Well, he doesn’t take the base since the X-Men are there to save the day, duh. But the Wiley villain escapes promising more evil deeds for issue #2. And while it was difficult at times to take the writing seriously, I still find myself looking forward to the next installment of THE UNCANNY X-MEN!!!
In beginning the X-Men series back at the Silver Age, I was ready for corny dialogue and monologues as well as the over explanations of action sequences. In this first issue, the story opens with classes being called to order by Professor X. You meet Angel (entering by flight), The Beast entering by window), Iceman (entering by stripper pole from thin air) and Cyclops (entering through the freaking door). Angel and Cyclops immediately start tending to Professor X by reclining his chair and tucking him in, which is how most teachers get ready for lessons.
After their daily lessons, Professor X lets them know they’ll soon be joined by a new female student who is at that moment arriving in front of the school. The immediate response of Cyclops is, “Wow! She’s a real living doll!” And that is how you meet Jean Grey, Marvel Girl.
The story goes on to introduce you to the evil Magneto who is busy teaching the Homo Sapiens lessons by bombing the sea after the military base he wishes to take over refuses to honor his dust particle sky written message about surrendering. In fact upon coming face to face with Magento, an MP tells him to simply “Beat it”, which is clearly the correct way to handle someone who has been playing with your bombs. Once the X-Men show up, more missiles are launched and most end up, of course, being sent into the sea. Magneto escapes and the X-Men are praised as being “Uncanny”.
Super cheese. Plus, yaybo? Was that a common exclamation? Obviously, one issue in, I haven’t formed any real opinion of the series or characters and I know it will take a bit of reading to find a connection to the story. I’m still excited – I am the type of person that prefers to know as much as possible about a story line so this seems pretty reasonable a task no matter how corny.
Here we meet the X-men for the first time. Introduced to each mutant and their power set as Professor Xavier puts them to task on various machines designed to test their abilities. I don’t know if it was common for adults to talk to adolescents like this in the 60’s but Professor X is kind of a jerk, he speaks, mostly telepathically, to the X-men as if he is a drill sergeant. There are very few statements he makes that aren’t commands. We also get to know their personalities a bit. Iceman is the youngest and kind of a goofball, Cyclops is the ultimate brown noser, Beast is kind of a jerk, and Angel has wings. I’m really curious to see Beast develop in to the nice guy, super genius he is today. My understanding of the X-men lead me to believe he was always that way and not the brutish creep he is in this issue.
Eventually, the Professor tells the boys that a new student will be joining them in their studies and not just any student but “A most attractive young lady”. Upon sight Cyclops refers to her as a “Real living doll” and I wonder if at some point in their relationship he says “I want to keep you this way forever” Perhaps during their wedding? Considering what I know of Cyclops and Jean’s history (Madelyne Pryor, Telepathic role-play sexy times with Emma) that statement is actually rather sad. So, Jean shows up and all the boys creep on her until she shows them that she is an empowered young woman and displays her telekinetic abilities. Also, did you know that the “X” in X-men doesn’t stand for Xavier but “EX-tra power” as in what mutants have? Some of us learned something today!
Then Magneto decides to take over a military base and is somehow super powerful and super goofy at the same time. He sends some missiles off course and sky writes a hostile takeover note. He’s more of a nuisance than a terrorist. It’s curious that the only people he actually tries to kill are the X-men. He never actually directly aims a weapon at any normal humans. Anyways, they fight, Mags gets away and the military is all “Thanks X-men but seriously Wtf is up with all these costumed weirdos” which I appreciate because I hate it when people in comic books act like this shit is normal.
On the technical side, Jack Kirby’s art is awesome. There’s not much else to say about it. He pretty much makes the story and then Stan Lee does his thing and puts words over the pictures sometimes simply explaining what’s happening, sometimes covering the action all together because who needs scripts? And that’s writing the Marvel way! My favorite example of this is panel 4 on page 15 as you can see, Magneto gets engulfed by his own bombastic statement.
That’s it you guys, that’s issue #1! If you’re not hooked already, there may be no hope for you. I hope you learned something today. Go tell a stranger that it’s the X-men’s 50th anniversary, tell your mom that in the first issue we didn’t know Cyclops’ first name was actually Scott. Impress your feminist friends by commenting on the interaction between Jean Grey and the rest of the original X-Men. All I’m trying to say is that the X-men are relevant. Here’s to another 50 years!