Angela, “The Beginner”, Reviews X-Men From the Beginning
In 3rd grade on the playground, a few kids would pretend to be the X-Men. Even though I had only seen a couple of episodes, once asked to play the part of Storm, I was 100% on board. Once I realized I need to participate in bringing down the evil forces that plagued my elementary friends, I maybe panicked in my ignorance and decided that the best way to play it off was to pretend that I lost my powers due to some unknown force. It was ultimately fairly embarrassing and I avoided being asked back.
Now, nerd shame, I did not go on to read a single issue of X-Men or a related comic book. I am one of those people that are reluctant to read comics centered on superheroes which is very much to the dismay of my comic reading comrades who believe if i were only to read _____, I could enjoy it. And trust me I have a pile of borrowed comics waiting for me to just take the plunge already.
As a reader of many indie/small press comic titles and one who thoroughly enjoys the medium, I have been wanting to explore the Marvel Universe to see if I connect to it. So… I’m on board. Let’s do this.
In the saga of X-Men trying to leave the X-Men, emo Cyclops runs away with his packed suit case to find a doctor to rid him of his danger eyes. Down the road however, we have the Blob and Unus impersonating the X-Men while robbin’ banks, all part of the plan hatched by Lucifer. But this story is really about how Professor X lost his ability to walk when a giant slab fell on him while fighting Lucifer in the Himalayas. Single tear. Enter Dominus.
Since it always seems to go over without a hitch, the X-Men decide to take a little vacation. The title should have been “The X-Men try to get laid again, but something happens and they all remain virgins”. That something this time is the Mimic. A guy that can take on any mutants power for a short time as long as they are near him. Luckily his other ability is being able to materialize necessary equipment such as a spandex suit and visor.
The shadow guy was Magneto. Nice to finally be able to talk about it. The last issue left off with the Professor and X-Men, minus the frail Iceman, in a hot air balloon complete with steel sphere gondola they are now trapped in, with Warren’s parents driving up to the school. You should know that Iceman didn’t die. Almost 50 years of worry was surely getting to you. But poor guy. The title of this issue was “If Iceman should fail”. No pressure, buddy. I know you’re still feeling awful and weak, but everyone is about to die and it will be your fault if they do. He’s able to trap Magneto into an igloo he has prepared, but wait, Magneto seals up his escape hole magnetically. Magnetically? Sure. Also, those other X-Men? About to fall conveniently from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere right back onto school property. Magneto has been baking mutants in the school this whole time, trying to make an army, but before the first one is finished, the Stranger comes to pick up his missing toy. Perfect, now Jeanie can make them all dinner.
This won’t be easy to talk about because the first rule of reading this issue is pretty much not talking about it (Stan Lee is supposedly watching…). I’ll just tell you a little bit, I think the statutes of limitations is up. Everyone is in the hospital. Iceman has it worst and there is concern over his possible death. Everyone else is alright, hanging out reading or being teenage X-Men and practicing their abilities. But what I think we should focus on here, is this crazy contraption they have called the Automatic Phone Answering Device that takes messages for you while your out. The money they’ve got over there. Well thats about all I’m allowed to say.
In which a life is lost. In which the Professor army crawls out of the woods and two guys he psychically compels have to carry him around in a chair back to the fallen sentinel. In which the X- Men battle against gravity. And now, a side note from Stan. Want to make your own Heavy Gravity Globe? SUPER EASY! The opening is formed by repelling the atomic particles within the globules structure. Now back to how Professor saves the day by convincing the police he’s not crazy and they SHOULD take that huge crystal off the building downtown, take it into the woods over this one specific spot that doesn’t look like much because the secret lair of the sentinels is retracted into the ground, and they can then knock out the signal from the Master Mold that drives the sentinels. Well, of course, Professor! You’re the only guy coming up with plans. Back to the promise of life lost, the Anthropologist that started the whole mess essentially goes down with the ship, and now we move on back to the school where some creeper is casting shadows on the walls of the school. DUN DUN DUN.
So, this anthropologist had a crazy secret underground hideout for some reason, full of laser beams? Best line of the issue goes to Professor X, who in trying make Angel feel better for not throwing himself into flames to keep his teammates from getting kidnapped, says, “You did your best, Angel! Unfortunately, you’re not made of asbestos!” Agreed, serious bummer. Another cliffhanger for the Sentinel story, but there are some promises for thrills!
Let’s start here. The X-Men minus Jean are all working on some physical therapy, and are clearly pretty desperate to use their full abilities. Hank states that, “Depriving a mutant of his powers is like forbidding a politician to kiss babies!” Well. Desperation is a crazy thing. This issue actually hits on something that was starting to bother me. There have been many previous issues that included a few panels of mutants freaking out the regular humans by showing off their super powers and a few times people decide that this INFURIATES them and they chase them a few blocks but ultimately the mutants get away. And that’s it really. But now, an anthropologist mentions that mutants pose a serious threat to the human race and the newspapers are all, “WHAT? How long has this been going on?”. So anyway, as the X-Men prepare for vacation, Scott and Warren make some last minute attempts to spend some alone time with Jean, though Warren is much more creepy about it. In one panel, Jean has jaundice and blond hair – Where were you, Colletta? Professor joins a televised panel discussion on the whole mutant matter and gets accused of being a mutant himself and the professor and his magnificent eyebrows get taken away by these new
Cybermen Sentinels made by the anthropologist that will imprison all the mutants… and then they do the expected and go rogue, deciding that the only way to protect mankind is to conquer it. In the assembling of the X-Men, we’re introduced to the new power of Marvel Girl, self levitation. Nice. If only she were strong enough to do it for more than a few feet. Weak women.
Since the war, Juggernaut has been trying to get out from under the pile of stone he was buried in caused by his transformation into the human Juggernaut. So, nothing can stop him as he can break through anything, but it might take him about a decade to do it. But your gauntlet of traps in the school yard? About a flashbacks worth of time. There are a couple special guests like Daredevil, who is tied up in court and can be of no help, and Johnny Storm, who also cannot help in case its a trap set to ruin the wedding (make sure to pick up the F.F Annual #4!). Back at the school, Juggernaut runs through some impromptu training in the danger room thanks to the Beast while nearby Johnny Storm decides, what the hey, let’s go check things out. He “flames on” and heads over and blinds the juggernaut so that the Angel can rip off his SUPER convenient mental power blocking helmet that was SUPER conveniently included with his powers gift. Those deities really plan ahead. Oh. A pun? Anyway, once the professor mentally takes care of his brother, he erases the Human Torch’s memory of the whole thing. But why? Why must there be so many secrets?? And, the story ends with Jean, the one who apparently stayed our of danger completely, unlike the MEN, does her womanly duty of putting on a nurse’s uniform and bandaging them up. Then, a really great dad joke from professor about giving everyone a broom as a reward so that they can clean up this damn mess.
O shit, guys, it’s Juggernaut! I’m just kidding, I’m new, I don’t know what’s going on. Except for the fact that this is so seriously horrible that Professor X abandons all secret keeping about Cerebro and enters into anxiety mode, having the X-Men fortify the school! O shit – Juggernaut is his brother. The drama! This is a story of getting a new shitty dad and a bratty step brother who keeps reminding your about your dumb face. Its explained that his non mutant brother was given superpowers through a ruby he found in long lost temple of a black magic deity during the Korean War. His powers allow him to break through anything, and he is heading straight for us.
This is the triumph of Magneto and the “TITLE MEANS WHAT IT SAYS…!”. So, as Hank put it, “Let us sally forth and slay some dragons!” My favorite line comes pretty early this “ish” after Beast wonders who could have possibly coated the furniture in ice, Iceman responds with, “Just that little old frostpot — ME!” These kids. Our villain for today will be the Stranger. A fuzzy little man with unfortunate facial hair who can hand over cash like nobodies business if it just means you never talk to him again. He has the ability to walk on this air, which to the cops in this town, “that’s OK”, but he can also walk through walls, and that’s too much. He also can create large blasts with his body, turn people to stone and form a “cone of energy around his body. This guys got all the cool stuff. After a skirmish between the X-Men and Magneto’s band, Magneto, Toad, and the Stranger, all ride in the cone of energy out to the woods while back at the battle scene, Scarlet Witch and Pietro decide that this officially marks the end of their debt to Magneto and they’re going to go home now. Not before, however, making some foreshadowing remarks about returning to battle when the fate of mankind is at stake. I think, rather, that Scarlet Witch will be back for the battle against Jean for the affections of Scott. And it will be super catty. Back to the Stranger… If you thought, as I did, that we had seen the extent of this guys powers, we were both wrong. Out in those woods it was revealed that he can also become a giant, coat people in magnetic membrane, and… he’s an alien who can package up mutants and take ’em home for experiments. But, just when “Cyke” (they’re really trying to make that a thing) and the Professor think that Magneto, their most pesky threat, is gone, Cerebro is all, “Wait, guys, wait. It gets worse. There is something heading over here and it’s really scary.” THE END.
In the danger room, Jean is disassembling and reassembling rifles which I would consider a small step up from the previous issue’s geometric shape juggling. I can tell Jean is going to really turn into an interesting character at some point… right?
The X-Men have to go to Antarctica to check out some bizarre disappearances and holy shit they found dinosaurs. Not only dinosaurs, but they found a whole tropical land BENEATH Antarctica… complete with sun, sky, and vegetation… Of course along with prehistoric creatures comes
bolas volcanic-gas-filled-missile hurling primitive warriors and KA-ZAR! Lord of the jungle and general hater of the warriors! I actually really liked that none of the foes were mutants – plus I will not be mad about dinosaurs.
Jean gets taken by warriors. Sounds right. The X-Men try to fight these primitive dudes, but ultimately it’s Ka-Zar who saves the day cause he speaks mastodon.
Throwing ice cubes at a sea sick friend! Lucifer! Lucifer’s largely wheelchair friendly lair! The Avengers! X-Men fighting the Avengers! What sorcery is this, a telepathic message that isn’t from Asgard? The Avengers take off! The X-Men beat Lucifer! Another enemy sulks away into the shadows! Can they write with less exclamations?!
WE GET IT – Jean and Scott are secretly in love with each other. Wait, Scott’s a brunette now? That’s cool I suppose.
This “ish” is a freaking goldmine. The Beast decides to leave the X-Men because in the act of saving a young boy, he walks up the side of a building which causes a mob to try to hurt him for “probably saving that kid to throw [them] off guard” from his real plan to take over the world!! So what will he do now? Oh, well, obviously become a pro-wrestler, DUH. This really makes Cyclops doubt his ability to lead, so he calls up the professor who is spelunking over in the Balkans. In a giant motorized vehicle. Good for those super conveniently accommodating caves.
So, Beast, where did you learn to rassle. He can’t manage to defeat his first foe, Unus the Untouchable, due to his force field and everyone makes sure he realizes that he’s the worst ever. Fearful that the Beast has joined Magneto’s side, they don’t understand why the Beast has taken it upon himself to magnify Unus powers. But, hilarity ensues when Unus tries to grab a cigarette, and then a steak, and then cakes, and slowly realizes that he can never be close to anything without it being forced away from him.
Beast ends up helping him out, removing only the extra powers he gave him, allowing him to finally eat, which by the end seems to be the only thing he cares about. And, so another mutant goes back to his usual life, not wanting to be bothered any longer.
It’s Cerebro (Magneto?)! More development Hank’s new vocabulary and Scott’s self doubt. Despite which, he has been chosen by the professor as leader while he is away. Everyone is super cool with that because that means he has to sit at a desk the whole time in case bad guys come around, and the alternative is going to see some jazz and poetry. Meanwhile, Magneto takes some time to blend in with the carnies to get a chance to lure the Blob over to the dark side.
So, in one panel, Cyclops calls Cerebro “Cyberno”. Am I missing something here? Were they working with a few name ideas and failed to correct it in this panel?
Last we saw the Blob, the professor had blocked his memory of everything. That was working fine for him, not having any mind to consider that maybe the fact that he can take a cannonball to the gut would make him more than human. Magneto takes care of that, however, knocking to the ground dislodging his mental block. Oh yea, I’m a mutant and i hate the X-Men! I’ll join Magneto with almost no thought at all! Now, despite of him being able to access all those memories, he never seems to think, “Hey, I know where they hangout!”.
Meanwhile, across town with the beatniks, Angel is laying on the creepy and Beast is being pretty much worshiped for his giant feet. Drugs and hippies. When they finally get over to what I assume is the year round carnival, Magneto’s tossing around his weapon of choice, bombs. Fighting ensues, the bad guys escape and the blob JUST WANTS TO BE LEFT ALONE BY EVERYONE. If you keep poking at him, he’s going to get mad, guys.
At this point, someone needs to explain to Iceman that while he can eat all the Iceman-made ice he can manage, it isn’t ice cream. I’m not sure he’s ever had ice cream but he must be spared thousands of calories not knowing the difference between pie a la mode and ice topped pie. Also important to consider, is a slice of pie covered with “ice cream” that remains in a perfectly intact brick while in transport to ones face via hand all that appetizing that you would want to shove it all in your face? Classic, food questions.
In addition to introducing the Sub-Mariner, this issue marks Stan’s realization that these characters should REALLY be developed, even if that means hoping everyone forgets that before now, Hank was a little dimwitted who is now reading math textbooks during dinner. He’s really becoming somethin’. Angel is full of himself, Cyclops is showing signs of depression and self-loathing and Jean, well she’s weak. Also, she can cook. Character development!
Just kidding. Professor X lost his powers from the bomb blast. Beast covers him with a blanket as he dangles by his toes from the chandelier. Only way it could be done.
Not so nearby, Magneto, Scarlet Witch, Mastermind, Quicksilver and the Toad are hanging out over at Magneto’s asteroid space hideout. The man has resources. He reminds all of the baddies that humans are jerks and that the X Men have to be stopped! In a rouse to find the secret hideout of the X Men, Toad gets himself in trouble at track meet where humans have realized he has super abilities so the X Men save him and plan on taking him back to the school. Upon finding out his real identity the plan is now foiled and in steps Magneto and the rest of his crew. They manage to take Angel (For the second issue in a row. Get it together.) to get information on the location of Professor X, but he’s just trained too well.
The good guys held on to Toad who has been sent a drone to pick him up and the X Men all somehow all squeeze into it with him and head to the asteroid hideout. A fight ensues and the X Men minus Cyclops get stuck in a sealed airlock which Magneto plans on ejecting. BUT. WAIT. Scarlet Witch breaks the control panel and Magneto is all, “Oh no you didn’t”. But, she did and so now she has to die. Except her brother, Quicksilver is all, “Oh no you won’t”. Just then, Cyclops beams into the room, breaks up the murdering, and tries to get Quicksilver to join the good guys. He doesn’t.
After fighting in space, everything works out and everyone returns to earth safely and with their respective gang. Then, you find out professor X is a lying jerk and only pretended to lose his powers as part of their final exam, which they passed. Stan and Jack have also now promised me a million surprises. Bring it on, guys.
It’s the one year anniversary of the teenage mutants starting school and they’re celebrating with a cake. Meanwhile, on a lonely, uncharted island in the Atlantic, during dinner no less, costumed bad guys are bickering. Introducing: Scarlet Witch, Mastermind, Quicksilver and the Toad.
Magneto steals a freighter and goes to hangout with the jerks on the island. A few days later, we learn that a freighter attacked San Marco. Red freakin’ alert, kids. The bad dudes march on San Marco using an army illusion and manage to take over the government and military. Luckily the X Men drive right on into town to fight the evil mutants, but Angel gets captured.
Cyclops saves him, narrowly avoiding electrocution, but now he’s unconscious. So, Iceman revives him by what appears to be a method of shoving ice in his face. Ok, if that’s what works.
The professor then saves them all from a fake river of burning oil and then jumps in front of a bomb to save Beast. He totally fine minus the unconsciousness.
Magento sets a nuclear bomb to explode, so those bad kids are all running away, but wait. The whole issue Scarlet Witch is hinting at not being evil but it is her brother Quicksilver who decides to cut the fuse to deactivate the bomb. He had however mentioned hating humans. Curious. Very curious.
It isn’t my intent to point all the ways that Marvel Girl is portrayed as weak or as a pretty lady that needs babysat by the men but in that damn Danger Room back in 60’s… come on. As the guys are dodging physically dangerous objects being hurled at them, Jean is over here playing shape sorter psychokinetically.
But, I think Stan and Jack realized that it was obvious, adding that it was to test her speed. So, there’s that. Cue guys fighting over Jean.
Cue Professor X thinking about how he loves her? WHAT. (I’m sure fans have known about this, but, yea, I am new.) WHAT.
This issue features the Blob, a circus sideshow act, who realizes he’s different but hasn’t really thought to define those differences. Professor wants to recruit him before he starts trouble but the only thing he’s interested is ladies. O Jean, you plot point.
The Blob is really unimpressed with the offer to join the X Men. He determines that he is stronger and superior to them, plus, he knows he’s a mutant and not just an “extra strong freak”.
But shit, he knows their identities which means he’s now their enemy. I kind of felt bad for him. HE DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS. Luckily he can strong arm a carnival like nobody’s business and sends in the clowns.
And a bully giraffe who eats Iceman’s ice cream. After a myriad of tightrope walkers, charging elephants, human pyramids, angry gorillas, etc., the X Men get tied up. Then, Marvel Girl saves the day by speedily and telekinetically getting the X Men loose! I get it now! So, the X Men go to save the professor from the mob of carnies and the prof zaps everyone’s memories. Bam.
This might be the same storyline as Issue #1 with a new foe. Everyone is fighting over who gets to flirt with Jean Grey, the X Men say something cocky about how awesome they are, Professor X warns them to wait until they meet their adversary, someone says uncanny.
There are many cheesy things I appreciate about this issue. Such as, Beast is racing to meet Professor X at the beginning of the story to find out their next mission, and he is honest enough to buy a train ticket. This is urgent, but lets not be dicks about it. Take note Superman.
Oh look, there’s Jean, spoiling W.W.’s fun by fending off the rapey ladies. And now shes fainting. She’s fairly weak this entire issue. It’s all a bit much.
The Vanisher. What the f***. Are you wearing? What works best for the vanisher is that, despite him warning the US Government that he will be stealing the continental defense plans, no one thinks to move them to a location he is unaware of. It’s something to at least try. What doesn’t work well for him, however, is that he is easily confused. Professor X, who I have to believe knew he would have to step in on this one but sits back while the X Men pounce on a disappearing object repeatedly like cats on a laser pointer, manages to block his ability to use his vanishing power causing him to forget who and what he is. Professor X broke him. Let’s move along.
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.