Uncanny X-Men #49-56 (origins)
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #49, Uncanny X-Men #50, Uncanny X-Men #51, Uncanny X-Men #52, Uncanny X-Men #53, Uncanny X-Men #54, Uncanny X-Men #55, Uncanny X-Men #56 (origin back-ups only)
The earlier origin back-ups were written by Roy Thomas. Arnold Drake begins writing these, but Thomas returns with issue #55 (Thomas was also writing the main stories throughout). For whatever reason, the Beast's origin was published before Angel's, even though Angel was recruited into the X-Men first. So i'll be covering these out of sequence, starting with Angel's origin in issues #54-56, and then jumping back to the Beast's in issues #49-53.
As a young child Warren developed a reputation for climbing to high places, and in prep school for having abnormally large shoulder blades...
...but when he began developing his wings...
...he managed to keep his secret identity by getting himself transferred to a private room at the school. He learned he could fly and got his first taste of being a super-hero when he rescued his schoolmates from a fire while disguised as an actual angel.
It was said to be 1963 at that point.
From there the Angel develops his first awful costume (note another confirmation that it's 1963, as well as a reference to Spider-Man, although in a pop-culture context).
He's calling himself the Avenging Angel (a footnote assures us this was before the Avengers existed, so Angel's not in danger of copyright infringement). Much more awesomely, he's using a gas gun that shoots ping-pong balls full of knockout gas. I don't know why he ever gave that up; it actually made him effective.
He even tried using a little self-promoting logo placement to develop his rep as a super-hero...
...but by the time the X-Men catch wind of him and show up to "claim" him, it wasn't really catching on.
Unlike the other X-Men, Angel wasn't really dealing with persecution or super-villains and had a semi-decent super-hero career going on his own, so he doesn't really need the X-Men. However, it turns out he's picked up a radioactive whoosiwhatsis on his last outing, and Professor X has to mentally direct him to fly up into the upper atmosphere where it can be defused without killing everyone.
When he comes back down, he decides he'll join the X-Men after all. And Xavier tells him to get rid of his gun because it was hyping up his ego. Don't listen to him, Angel!
The Beast's origin actually starts off fairly differently from the others. After all, besides him having large feet, the Beast's abilities wouldn't necessarily alarm regular people, and Hank becomes a star high school football player.
But then things take a turn for the campy, with a super-villain called El Conquistador...
...who kidnaps the Beast's parents and forces him to steal an experimental device. Meanwhile, Xavier's now-completed Cerebro detects Hank, and Xavier readies the current X-Men (which includes Angel even though we haven't seen his origin yet).
The first part of the Beast's origin actually mainly focuses on Hank's father, who was exposed to radiation at a nuclear power plant.
It's been pointed out to me that this wouldn't be possible without a sliding timescale; there were no nuclear power plants around when Hank McCoy was growing up if he was a teenager in 1963 (although who's to say that in the Marvel Universe technological development wasn't accelerated a bit, maybe thanks to access to Uranian tech from Marvel Boy).
In the final part, Drake doesn't take the opportunity to "explain" why the Beast spoke in a brute-like manner in his earliest appearances.
We also learn that Xavier used to have telekinetic powers!
And, of course, it ends with a mind-wipe.
This will actually have some repercussions much later in a Marvel Comics Presents story.
The origin stories have been pretty bad. Unnecessary at best. Iceman's was about what you would expect, and probably the best of the bunch: powers manifest, mob ensues, Xavier rescues. Cyclops' was similar but introduced a silly villain. Angel's was somewhat interesting for having him established as a super-hero before meeting the rest of the X-Men. And Beast's again had a silly villain. In general, Thomas and Drake didn't use the opportunity of the origins to flesh things out and instead largely gave us random adventure stories. Werner Roth's art is serviceable and, broadly speaking (and perhaps unintentionally) mimics the style of when the stories were meant to take place, but considering Neal Adams was drawing the main stories at this time, the back-up art is a disappointing interruption.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Note that the Angel's story explicitly takes place in "1963". These of course take place before Uncanny X-Men #1. I'm grouping all of the X-Men origin back-ups together, although they don't necessarily follow each other directly.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
Is this section new? I remember these previously being discussed in the main story of these issues.
Posted by: Chris | August 1, 2016 3:35 AM
Yes, i split them out about a month ago, and did the same for the Alpha Flight origin back-ups. It was announced in the forum.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 1, 2016 9:04 AM
The X-Men comics books would have been better served in the good hands of Jim Steranko in a time period where readership was dwindling. The Polaris cover alone is a masterpiece. Steranko was a wildcard but at this point in X-Men history I would of let him write the books in a very esoteric format with artistic swagger from home or his van down by the river, rather than rolling out re-runs. Oddly enough as much as Neal Adams has reigned supreme, he really did not jump start this title.
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | August 10, 2016 11:47 PM
As far as nuclear power plants, there were some built in the 50's so that part is possible. I also grouped the Angel: Revelations mini-series with his origin as it retells it with more details including that one of his classmates was molested by one of the priests at the school.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 23, 2016 3:31 PM
Yeah, but the problem is Hank was obviously older than 15 when he first appeared in 1963.
Posted by: Michael | October 29, 2016 4:41 PM
Bobby is said on panel to be sixteen in #1, and "couple of years younger than the others". This would roughly indicate Scott, Warren and Hank being born 1945. Hank's dad obviously was making bombs or other military grade top secret at-least-city-destroying-power-level stuff. They always are. Ignorant of the fact maybe, no need to tell the help all the details. Or mindwipe them afterwards, like other "good" guys in this day and age.
Warren should have gone back to solo on (or above) the streets after quitting X-men. He's perfect for that kind of job, his powers being street level but underrepresented (can't now remember any flying street hero), and his experience and training putting him several cuts above the regular criminals and most gimmick villains AND making him an excellent temporary team-upper, both in-story and meta level. Patrolling the sky, noticing Spider-man or DD having a difficult fight, swooping in when necessary. Wouldn't even need his own title. Plenty of opportunities for misunderstanding fights...
Sorry, fanwankery is a bit of a hobby for me.
Posted by: Catherine | April 29, 2017 6:19 AM
It's a unique idea to have a hero whose power is just "to fly" (especially when a superhero tends to fly, people think they have a zillion other powers ala Superman), but I think people just didn't have the typical imagination of what to do with "a guy whose whole purpose and only purpose is flying", in particular when his only real mutant trait is his wings. Angel is a unique character in that it really is a whole element of "it can happen to you", in that someone from a world of wealth and privileged can be a mutant just as much as anyone else out there. (and really while people tend to blast how WASP-y heroes were back in the 60s, having a character like Warren Worthington who is WASPy, rich and a mutant really should hit at home at the idea that "yeah, anyone can be this way") I think one of the times where it really worked to a story's advantage was in the 90s X-men cartoon, where they basically use the idea of Angel trying to find a cure for his condition...to basically lead to Apocalypse to turn him into Archangel. Sure it pushes him closer to modern times, but at least it works with the idea of using his resources and ending up getting screwed in the process. (sort of like what the comics did later with the whole Cameron Hodge mess)
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 29, 2017 7:26 AM
@ Ataru320 -
I don't know that I would call it unique. That's basically what Hawkman had been doing since 1940.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 29, 2017 8:41 AM
It would be unique in the Marvel universe at least. A mutant as opposed to...well, considering how convoluted Hawkman is, let's be happy Angel is at least just "a mutant".
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 29, 2017 10:26 PM
Comments are now closed.
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