I’m ready for a comprehensive review of another series, having covered my favorites already (Avengers, Captain America, Gotham Central, Power Man and Iron Fist — including the current run, and Spider-Man, e.g.) and also having covered quirky runs (like Garth Ennis’ Demon and Flash by Mark Waid) and not-as-favorite series as well (Hulk and Marvel Fanfare, e.g.).
I’ve also run out of characters to review “all their appearances” (I did M.O.D.O.K., Punisher, Deadpool, among others). I know I’m in the middle of Justice League right now, but I’m heading to the end in my reading of it–I just need to write a bunch and decide at what pointI’ll stop reading it. (I’m thinking when the Geffen/DeMatteis run goes sour.)
But why The X-Men? Or, more precisely, what took me so long to get to The X-Men?
Well, I’m not a huge fan of X-books postdating 1990 for one thing. For another, Chris Claremont is an extraordinary plotter but his writing is a little on the dense side to my liking. But I keep meaning to give the old Stan-and-Jack issues a try, having only read bits of them, and to see how long I can sustain a full read of the series. I’m betting I’ll drop off somewhere around issue #200, but we’ll see.
So today we get started with issue #1, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!
Right from the start we get a classic Stan introductory story. In addition to hyperbole and a terrific introductory splash page, we get good “one panel” summaries of each of the characters. Iceman has a silly and whimsical nature. Beast is freakishly agile and likes to tell jokes. Professor X is stern. Cyclops is a strategist, taking out Beast in the danger room.
And Angel wants to appear normal, so he binds his wings…This will be thematic for the character, who has Hollywood male-blonde looks, other than the bone-and-feathers on his back.
And, also true to traditional Stan Lee, the female character is mostly about appearance.
True, we do see her use her powers, but her being a female is the most important thing about her character. On the one hand, that makes sense, being that she’s the only girl in a school of teenage boys, but it’s still pretty shallow.
We also meet Magneto:
Even from the beginning he’s a pompous ass who is high on power.
So, issue #1 is full of promise: Interesting characters, a great villain, and a premise that teen readers of the day could certainly relate to: Being in school. No indication yet of how the book would morph into an allegory about civil rights, but we’ve got time.
First appearances: X-Men, Magneto