X-Men #1

"X-Men

CMRO#72
X-Men #1
September 1963

Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Jack Kirby
Inks by Paul Reinman

So by now it’s been, what, six months since Marvel’s newest full-time superhero made his debut in Tales of Suspense 39? So yeah, it’s about time we got somebody new to read about now that The Incredible Hulk has been sent packing—and that we do. In fact, we get six new heroes somewhat out of the blue here with the introduction of the X-Men. 

As far as origin stories go, this one is one of the better ones so far (behind Spider-Man and Iron Man), though you can tell that Stan and company view the property as a kind of extension on the Fantastic Four formula that’s been funding their wage-cheques over the past year. Obvious similarities aside however, the new gang of heroes still come across as fresh and somewhat distinctive, even if much of the story’s narrative sticks to the same beats we’ve been reading for a while now.

What works is the issues opening half which sees the mutants at Professor X’s academy going through tests of their abilities before newbie Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) crashes the party and turns all the guys into embarrassing chauvinist caricatures and herself into another Sue Storm, albeit with a better powerset. What doesn’t quite work as well is the latter half which sees the new superteam battle it off with long-term nemesis Magneto who follows the Villains Handbook of Villainy to a T. It’s predictable and a little drab, despite having all these new abilities to toy with—nothing exciting really happens.

With that said however, X-Men comes across as a welcome and off-beat take on the Fantastic Four formula that is definitely still to find its own legs (specifically in the art style which right now is lifeless and lacking punch) but which will hopefully offer a decent alternative to what else is out there. Watch this space, I guess.

MY SCORE: 4.0 (out of 10)

29.08.11

X-Men #2

"No One Can Stop the Vanisher!

CMRO#88
X-Men #2
November 1963

Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Jack Kirby
Inks by Paul Reinman

A solid improvement over their mediocre debut 2 months prior, this issue sees the green cadets of Professor X tackle a much less renowned foe by the name of The Vanisher. And three guesses as to what power this guy possess? Yeah, that’s right; he can vanish, but not like The Invisible Girl—more like teleportation, instantaneously from one place to another. Simple concept, sure, but Lee does well to keep it as such and not use it to place the action inside laborious back-and-forths that tend to dominate the middle pages of The Fantastic Four. Once again we see some internal strife and bickering, but it’s all done in jest (for the most part, at least) and the dynamics of the team’s powers work far more effectively and without obvious seams this time around. Furthermore Lee wisely chooses to establish Professor X and the baddest of the bad-ass by having him finish the job instead of his young budding students. All in all, a fun read that further develops the X-Men in hopes that they won’t be seen as Just Another FF.

MY SCORE: 6.0 (out of 10)

15.09.11

X-Men #3

"Beware the Blob!

CMRO#107
X-Men #3
January 1964

Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Jack Kirby
Inks by Paul Reinman

Still in their youth, the X-Men go through quite a few conundrums and changes to personality here—some which will be neglected, and others which will be further developed and refined down the line. What’s most interesting about this issue however is that the story’s antagonist is only created or viewed as such simply because Professor X (who, by the way, now seemingly has a crush on Marvel Girl just like almost every other bumbling fool who gets within her radius) did a nosey and tried to get an unsuspecting mutant (The Blob, who can absorb things like bullets and is essentially an immovable object) to join his academy. Realising his power however, The Blob almost unsurprisingly declines, to which the X-Men react badly and go on to attack in an attempt to force ever meeting them out of his mind with the help of Professor X’s memory-erasing skills. Talk about a cock-up.

Thankfully, Stan opts to acknowledge that the actions of his X-Men are a tad bullheaded, but is relegated to a mere couple of panels before paranoia and action unfold in place of serious topical discussion. Of course, this is a teenage-orientated action comic book, so what the hell—I don’t need a discourse, and in fact the sole reason to enjoying this book is precisely because such a large flaw in the X-Men way of thinking is presented in all its glory here. Join us, or fight against us. There is no in between. Scary stuff, for sure. And while much of this is glossed over here, it’s stuff like this that will better developed and expanded on in years to come. Just not here. Instead we get a semi-decent action fest with a carnival and a big fat guy. Oh, and The Beast has now assumed his intellectual persona, which is a far cry from his earlier Ben Grimm-esque makeup. Now we just need Jean Grey to stop turning everyone into walking boners and we’re good to go.


MY SCORE: 4.5 (out of 10)

26.09.11

X-Men #4

"The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!"

CMRO#113
X-Men #4
March 1964

Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Jack Kirby
Inks by Paul Reinman

An exhilaratingly action-packed issue for the X-Men this month as they come face to face with their arch nemesis, Magneto and his newly formed Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Slowly but surely chipping away the broad corners, Lee and Kirby continue to develop the X-Men mythos away from your standardised superhero group tact and more towards what they would become known for. The heroes are still kind of undefined at this stage, but it’s still early days, and progress is definitely being shown.

What’s even more exciting however is the ever-escalating tension between these Evil Mutants and The X-Men that reads just as well as the oddly well paced action sequences. In addition to Magneto making his second appearance we also get the introductions of Scarlet Witch, Toad, Quicksilver and Mastermind. Some of them are better than others; Scarlett Witch being given something of an origin, and Quicksilver rather graciously being thrown a conscience too. Toad and Mastermind however come off as routinely villainous. All of this and we get an awesome cliffhanger of an ending where Professor X faces the prospect of losing his mutant powers.

So all things considered, this is a more than decent outing for the X-Men that equals the quality seen in issue #2. Exciting and interesting stuff, for sure. I look forward to seeing where this takes the series in the immediate future.


MY SCORE: 6.0 (out of 10)

08.10.11