X-Men (Vol. 1) #1

Credits:

Cover Date: September 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

Plotters : Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Paul Reinman

What’s Going On?

When the evil mutant, Magneto, attacks the missile base at Camp Citadel, the military has no luck stopping his advance.

It’s up to the young X-Men, on their first mission, to save the day.

Is It Good?

I was surprised by how much I liked this issue. It was unusual at the time for Marvel to debut superheroes in a feature-length adventure, much less their own title; this change of pace paid off, though, as the character introductions and the story in general don’t feel rushed. The artwork looks fine, but the character designs really stand out — Magneto and Cyclops look particularly good here.

Sub-Plots:

  • The X-Men are teenage superheroes (and mutants, one and all) with superpowers. Professor Xavier trains them to master their powers to protect humanity from evil mutants.

  • Marvel Girl meets and joins the X-Men, following a message from Professor Xavier to visit his school.

  • Warren and Hank are open about their attraction to Jean. Hank is the most aggressive to earn Jean’s favor, but that does not work to his advantage.

  • Magneto conquered the base easily. The X-Men, though, were able to get past Magneto’s defenses and frustrate his plans enough that he opted to escape, rather than continue to fight.
  • The US military is thankful for the X-Men’s intervention.

Continuity:

  • I had a decision to make when titling this review. Do I call this “X-Men” or “Uncanny X-Men”? The adjective won’t be added to the title until the late 70’s, but this is definitely part of the same series; Marvel Unlimited even refers to this as “Uncanny X-Men.” Ultimately, I opted to follow the naming convention of the Marvel Wikia and Grand Comics Database; I like their filing structure, and if they call this issue just “X-Men,” that’s what I’ll go with.
  • This is the first appearance of the X-Men: Angel (Warren Worthington III), Beast (Hank McCoy), Cyclops (Scott “Slim” Summers), Iceman (Bobby Drake), and Marvel Girl (Jean Grey). Angel has wings for flight, Beast appears to be large and agile, Cyclops blasts an “energy ray” from his eyes, Iceman can create ice and snow, and Marvel Girl is a telekinetic.

  • This is also the first appearance of Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Charles is a telepath and Magneto can control magnetism.
  • This is the first mention of “homo superior,” the scientific term for mutants.
  • This is not the first mention of mutants in Marvel’s Silver Age. I *think* that honor goes to Fantastic Four Annual #1, where Namor’s origin is told.

  • Professor Xavier believes that he might be the first mutant. So…the famous Sub-Mariner’s origin is either not well-known (it was recounted to the United Nations, though), or he isn’t considered “homo superior” because Namor is a mutated version of “homo mermanus.” Or maybe Stan forgot about that.
  • Professor Xavier states that a childhood accident cost him the use of his legs.  That will certainly be retconned before too long.
  • Apparently, receiving telepathic communications takes training?

  • Cyclops’ visor must be adjusted manually for Cyclops to release his eye-blasts. The material used in the visor is not specified here.

  • Angel uses a special harness to hide his wings when he wears civilian clothes.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I like casual species-ism coming from a supposed hero.

  • That looks a lot more like “attempted murder” than an “obstacle.”

  • Let’s enjoy some early (and no doubt unintentional) gay subtext with Iceman:

  • How magnetic is dust, really? Also, I like the personal touch here, where Magneto signed his name in cursive.

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