The splash page from X-Men #1 by Stan and Jack, which introduced an unlikely team of misfits to the world.

IMG_0671I’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 pointIMG_0672I’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!

IMG_0673Right 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.

Creators: Lee/Kirby

First appearances: X-Men, Magneto

Grade: A-

For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.
And see my Ratings of Runs on comics here.

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