X-Men (Vol. 1) 1963 Year In Review

Original art for X-Men #2

How Many Issues?

Two: X-Men #1-2, published bimonthly.

Creative Team:

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Paul Reinman

Was It Good?

It’s time to put my cards on the table: I’m a big X-Men fan. I’ve read some of their Silver Age appearances, thanks to cheap and heavily damaged back issues, but I’ve never read them sequentially, and most of what I’ve missed is in the first two years of the title. I’m not sure what I’m in for with these issues, but I expect to have VERY BIG FEELINGS about them.

That said, these two issues were hit-and-miss. I liked the first issue, but the second was not good. The comic is visually interesting —- Cyclops and Magneto, in particular, have cool designs —- but there isn’t much character work yet. Stan Lee doesn’t appear to have given much thought into what “mutants” are at this point, and there is more pseudoscience than I like in these stories. No character really stands out at this point, and the team feels pretty generic as a whole. One of the things that I identify most with the X-Men is the concept of being feared and hated by the world at large, but choosing to be heroes anyway.  That concept is not evident in these first two issues, so I wonder if it was even created by Lee/Kirby, or if it was introduced further down the line.

What About the Sub-Plots and Continuity?

It can be fun to track the minor story points throughout a year’s worth of comics to see what ideas were developed and which were quietly dropped.

  • The X-Men faced Magneto and the Vanisher in 1963.
  • Marvel Girl joins the team in X-Men #1. It’s unclear how long the other four have been part of the team.
  • Angel, Beast, and Cyclops have varying degrees of romantic interest in Marvel Girl. Only Iceman appears to be uninterested.
  • While this isn’t the first mention of “mutants” in the Silver Age —- that honor goes to Fantastic Four Annual #1, to describe Namor —- it is the first use of “homo superior.” We will also see the phrase “true mutant” used to indicate super-powered mutants.
  • Professor Xavier believes that he might be the first of mutant. However, both the Sub-Mariner (in Fantastic Four Annual #1) and Merlin (in Journey Into Mystery #96) are self-proclaimed mutants that would pre-date Xavier.
  • Xavier’s telepathic abilities function differently than they do in later issues. People need to put effort in to understand Charles when he communicates telepathically; mechanical devices are needed for long-distance communication. He can also project images in the physical world.
  • Jean is recognized by some criminals as the most dangerous X-Man. However, her telekinesis is currently limited to matching her physical strength.
  • The X-Men are working with the FBI, as of #2. They have a specific contact (Agent Duncan) and a device to help Professor X communicate with him better.
  • The X-Men are also beloved celebrities! We see Angel getting swarmed by female fans.
  • Number of people who definitely know where the X-Men live: Just the ice cream truck driver that gave Cyclops and Iceman a ride home. Agent Duncan might know, but it hasn’t been confirmed yet.

<<<X-Men #2

>>>X-Men #3

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