Marvel Masterworks – The X-men Vol 1

Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men, Vol. 1 - Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Marvel Masterworks – The X-men Vol 1

(collects The X-Men #1-10)

 

This collection comprises of the first ever ten issues of The X-Men.

Written by Stan Lee. Drawn by Jack Kirby.

 

I’ve only recently become interested in The X-Men (even the films never really appealed to me) as I’m currently reading The All New X-Men line. So I thought now was a good time to catch up on their origins.

 

The team: Cyclops, Iceman, The Beast, The Angel (thankfully they dropped The eventually) are students at a special school for mutants and are taught by Prof X. They are joined in the first issue by Jean Gray, who becomes Marvel Girl.

 

The Evil Mutants (and The X-Men’s for in most of the issues in this collection): lead by Magneto. Toad, Mastermind (who I’ve just read about in a Titan’s comic but had never heard of prior to that), Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. The last two are reluctant members of the team. Scarlet Witch was saved by Magneto when her mutant powers (which are kind of vague in these stories) had her branded as a witch in her village. And Quicksilver only joined to keep an eye on his sister. This makes both Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver the weak links in the team. Spoiler Alert! In fact, in one issue Quicksilver diffuses a bomb that would have killed the X-Men and wiped out the city above there liar.

 

Pros

Interesting to see the origins of such a famous team.

Artwork. Distinctive 60s style with bold colours.

Historically a great indication of the period. Visually, clothes/cars etc. Everybody wore hats and even the teenage X-Men wore suits when not in costume. The language. Other things that may seem out of place today: the obsession with the nuclear threat (we’re far more blasé about this now, even with maniacs with their fingers far too close to the trigger), carnies and the use of people (or mutants in this case) as side show exhibits. The fact that everyone hangs about in coffee houses, oh…wait, scrap that. Although the bohemian coffee shop the 16-year-old Bobby (Iceman) drags Hank (Beast) to is hilarious. And no place for a teenager.

 

Cons

Stan Lee explains everything. I've read somewhere that he wanted to be a novelist. It shows. I was rolling my eyes... ‘Dude, it’s a comic. Jack Kirby is literally drawing what you’re talking about.’ Consequently the panels are overly wordy and busy.

The speech is really dated (as to be expected).

The storylines are very formulaic. I think in part this is due to the same foe being used issue after issue.

Everybody (and I do mean everybody) lusts after Jean Gray. Even Prof X. She’s a teenager FFS and you’re her teacher. That is just wrong. Once Scarlet Witch turns up a lot of the males lust after her too, especially Mastermind (who looks like a skeevy flasher).

Not written to be read as a collection. Issues were published two months apart and are unconnected stories.

 

Points to Note

The X-Men were added to the Marvel roster as a team to rival The Avengers. Where the Avengers were powerful individuals that were celebrated by the public, the X-Men were teens, not fully in control of their powers, and who the public were often afraid off even when they were obviously doing a good deed (e.g. when Beast and Iceman save a child suck on a roof, and they get chased and mauled by a mob of angry people). Also they work better as a team than as individuals.

The relationship between Jean Gray and Cyclops is set up very early on as a possible romance.

In the very first issue Bobby (Iceman) expresses a definite disinterest in girls. Foreshadowing of his current storyline or the benefit of hindsight?

Prof X is ruthless. He thinks nothing of messing around in people’s brains and is not bothered by the state he leaves them in.

The conflict between the Avengers and the X-Men is already set up here in the first 10 issues. Even if on this occasion it is a misunderstanding, they do still fight each other.

Favourite issues:

The one with Sub-mariner.

The one with The Avengers scuffle (which also includes a nuclear bomb rigged up to the evil Lucifer’s heart. If his heart stops beating... Ka-boom).

The ‘land that time forgot’ issue (aka the one with the sabre-toothed tiger and a Tarzan wannabe).

 

Verdict

Did I enjoy it? Some issues more than others.  Way too wordy in comparison to the comics I read now. I’ll confess I was finding it a bit of a chore to read by the time I was halfway through.

Would I re-read? No. Definitely not.

Would I continue reading? Issue#11 onwards? Probably not. I’ll stick with my All New X-Men, thanks.

Any final words?  Homo Superior. I found that hysterical. Every. Time. They. Used. It.

 

 

 Someone’s been reading his fan-fiction again...