Thursday 18 July 2013

X-Men #1.

X-Men #1, Magneto, art by Jack Kirby
You have to hand it to Professor X. He might not be too mobile but he doesn't let that distract him from the task of being a complete and total nutjob. Not only does he set up a school for mutants but he sends the children in his care off to fight deadly threats to mankind. He doesn't even bother waiting till they've graduated from his You-Too-Can-Be-A-Superhero course before dispatching them. He just sends them the moment he feels like it. Why, he even sends a teenage girl into battle on her very first day at school.

But what did you expect? Wisdom? He is, after all, only seventeen years of age.

Yes it's true. In X-Men #1, it's revealed he was the child of a pair of scientists who worked on the first atom bomb. As the first atom bomb was exploded in 1945, X-Men #1 came out in 1963 and the human gestation period is nine months, that'd make him seventeen years old. Like Aunt May, who - as I demonstrated a while back - must only be in her mid-thirties, he must have led a tough life to look like he does.

The one good thing about this fact is it means his early infatuation with the teenaged Jean Grey suddenly doesn't seem so disturbing after all.

In X-Men #1, the menace our teen scientist orders his charges to face is Magneto who's decided to do what we all would if we had the power of a hundred fridge magnets, and take over a US missile base.

Needless to say, when confronted by a bunch of half-trained kids, Magneto soon folds and the world has cause to love the X-Men.

Apart from Professor X's criminal negligence, the main thing that strikes you when you read the tale is its obvious adherence to the Fantastic Four formula. We have the rough one, the sensible one, the walking thermostat one, the flying one and the fit bird. Thankfully though, Marvel Girl's power isn't completely useless like the Invisible Girl's was.

Magneto is of course straight out of the Dr Doom envelope, being a haughty megalomaniac with no idea how to talk to people, and even having a metal-covered face.

It's no secret that the only Marvel strips I never liked as a kid were Nick Fury and his Howling Agents of SHIELD and the original X-Men. But I must admit I've always liked the X-Men #1 because it introduces us to the mag's heroes and villain with a pleasingly linear clarity. Devoid of Magneto's hopeless team of sidekicks and schemings, there's nothing to distract us from a simple tale of good v evil.

It's just a shame it took another decade before the strip started to realise its potential.


Kid said...

Nah, I prefer the original X-Men over the '70s mag any day. You've obviously been roaming around the streets of Sheffield without the protection of a knotted hankie on your bonce and have caught a fever.

Straight to bed, young man. (Ooer, that's not something I ever thought I'd hear myself say!)

Boston Bill said...

I like the old X-Men, but more for their untapped potential than for execution.

Anonymous said...

The daftest thing about the X Men was / still is that they are " feared and hated " by mankind. Come off it ! If the X Men were real they'd be celebrity superstars. And I could never see the difference between them and all the other superheroes - so the X Men were born with their powers rather than getting them later , big deal !