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.
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. First appearances of Cyclops, Beast…
…Jean….And, true to traditional Stan Lee, the female character is mostly about appearance….
and Angel, who 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 the villain Magneto.
Even from the beginning he’s a pompous ass who is high on power.
And look: Professor X got them together so they could be his footservants.
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.
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