The Transparent Fox:
Uncanny X-Men #3
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #3
Review/plot: The X-Men are training when Xavier detects the presence of another mutant... somewhere in the country. After searching all over and running into a number of bizarre false leads (a worker standing on a glass platform is thought to be levitating)...
...Scott finds the Blob working at a carnival.
The Blob is rude and not interested in joining the X-Men, but they sort of bully him into it, and he's happy to go along once he sees Jean.
Once they get him to the Mansion, the Blob repeats the fact that he is not interested, but now that the Blob has seen the inner workings of the team (which they basically forced him to do!!) the X-Men won't let him go, so he fights his way out.
What a bunch of jerks. Now that the Blob knows he's a mutant he takes over the carnival and leads the rest of the carnies back to the X-mansion.
Meanwhile, Xavier is plotting to wipe out the Blob's mind. The carnies arrive, and the carnival freaks put up as good a fight as any mutant or super-villain, leading one to wonder what is so special about mutants. Eventually the X-Men hold their attackers off long enough for Xavier to wipe everyone's minds.
At one point Xavier, who is Jean's teacher and probably 20+ years older than her, thinks about how he is in love with her, but can't tell her about it because he is stuck in a wheelchair. Sicko.
This is basically never mentioned again until Onslaught. To be fair, everyone (except perhaps Iceman) is in love with Jean in these early issues. She starts to show an interest in Scott, though, even though he dresses like a blind man.
The Beast is starting to talk in his 'educated' persona.
Angel is a conceited jerk.
Xavier admits that his treatment of the Blob was a big mistake.
Quality Rating: D+
Historical Significance Rating: 7 - formative X-Men story. First Blob.
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men: The Early Years #3
i feel like the Beast gets exponentiallly more "educated" as the book progresses. in the beginning, he's easy going, as opposed to the hot head (ala the Thing) he was portrayed as in earlier issues, not getting into a fight with Ice Man even though provoked. he doesn't start using words with 4+ syllables until the carny mob shows up at the mansion.
and cereally? the X-Men can't defeat a mob of carnies? in that case, i think they should quit the heroics and open up a delivery business. with Angel's, Beast's, and Ice Man's abilities, they'd make great delivery men. they could market themselves as the fastest service around with Prof X getting orders in mentally. Jean Grey could keep things moving with her telekinesis, and Cyclops can stand around in plaid suits.
Posted by: min | March 19, 2012 9:23 AM
A later memo/character sheet/whatever by Stan Lee stated that it was Jean who had crushes on Warren, Scott, AND Xavier.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 6, 2013 4:44 PM
Well, at least Stan is consistent in these first few issues of X-Men:
Scott shouldn't be allowed to dress himself (although, as I noted, he's probably color blind).
Xavier is a complete dick who is always shouting (let's drag Blob in, then not let him go!)
Jean is lusted after because, with the possible exception of Janet Van Dyne, she's the best looking female in the Marvel Universe.
Credit with The Blob, though. With a name like that and his grotesqueness, he easily could have been a one-off character, but he's stuck around for decades and is generally worth a laugh, if nothing else. He's rarely boring and he's provided some of my favorite all-time comical moments (his appearance at the Avengers ball game, his landing on Muir Island).
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 12, 2014 4:48 PM
Jean is the best looking female in the Marvel Universe? I think Mary Jane Watson might disagree with you.
[Not to mention Madelyne Pryor ;P ]
Posted by: ChrisW | December 15, 2014 6:40 PM
I may be in the minority but I have a hard time with Kirby-drawn females; they all tend to look the same, particularly in the face with their lips. At this point in the Silver Age, I rather have a good girl by Ditko (like Clea or Gwen Stacy) or Don Heck (Pepper).
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 15, 2014 7:59 PM
Sorry ChrisW, I should have been more clear.
I think Jean is the best looking to this point. So, MJ (and Maddy) don't count at this point.
So far we have Liz and Betty (I don't much care for how Ditko draws them), Sue (generic blonde), Pepper (sometimes drawn well, sometimes not), Jane Foster, Janet, Clea and Jean.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 16, 2014 8:36 AM
Yeah, at this point in things, I would agree that Jean and Jan are probably the two best looking ladies in the MU. I've always said that Don Heck drew the best looking women of the early Marvel artists and the Wasp (and a little later) the Scarlet Witch got to take advantage of that since Heck took over penciling of the Avengers around issue 9.
Posted by: Bill | December 16, 2014 1:03 PM
I could easily see someone preferring Pepper (whom I only just looked at for the first time because I'm not an Iron Man fan, but I was aware of Don Heck's reputation.) Jan, I don't really see it, but that's because she's almost never seen out of that stupid costume.
Of course there's also Wanda, who does look pretty good. Heck, I think Zelda (who will first appear in six issues) looks really cute. That said, I would still have to go with Betty once she changes her hairstyle. Wouldn't really rate Clea that high, even after she changes her hair.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 17, 2014 3:38 PM
Jan I wouldn't say is a looker until she finally gets rid of costumes that hide her hair. Probably about the point she and Hank first rejoin the Avengers after their comic ends.
I almost forgot Natasha mostly cause of where she starts but considering she also starts off an Iron Man villain, she luckily has Don Heck to do his magic on her in her early appearances...even if nearly everyone forgets she's a redhead for a long period until she gets her Emma Peel catsuit.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 17, 2014 4:51 PM
Jan should be hot just because she's such a great character. Natasha should be hot because that is her character. I can agree that Jean looks the best, your mileage may vary, but you have to admit, she's surrounded by teenage boys who will lust after her no matter what (and, er, the Professor.) Maybe that's why I prefer Betty, a working girl.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 18, 2014 12:33 AM
No Sue Storm fans? Or Jane Foster? ;)
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | December 18, 2014 2:08 AM
Don't forget Tom Sutton's Patsy Walker in neglige;)
But how can we forget Ross Andru's Thelma of the Apes. Rowr;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | December 18, 2014 4:13 AM
In Jan's defense: at least she isn't working with a bunch of lusty teens and a professor with psychic powers that could make him be presumed as a dirty old man even if Jean is the only fresh meat before the entire academy at this point. As many issues she has with Hank, its not like Thor or Tony are hitting on her...well maybe the Hulk but that would be a typical green fist to knock her out.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 18, 2014 11:20 AM
The Professor and, Jee-anne! Here on Magneto's Isle!!!
Posted by: ChrisW | December 18, 2014 11:46 PM
I like how simple and effective a design the Blob here in his first appearance: he's just a big guy who happens to be immoveable. And considering how Xavier's troop acted like jerks, its no wonder he fell into villainy. (and later growing a cylinder head and zillions of teeth thanks to Liefeld...and later still his infamous incident in the Ultimate line courtesy of Bendis) Its sad where you can be treated like a hero despite looking like a monster, but not when you just look like some overweight guy in this period.
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 22, 2016 1:02 PM
Ataru, are you referring to his canibalism? I thought that was Loeb's idea.
Posted by: Michael | February 22, 2016 11:19 PM
Cannibal Blob was written Loeb; I just double checked it---from Ultimatum.
Posted by: Cecil | February 22, 2016 11:51 PM
Yeah, it was Loeb but somehow whenever I think of the Ultimate Universe I tend to only think of Bendis these days. Sorry.
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 23, 2016 8:24 AM
This is basically never mentioned again until Onslaught. To be fair, everyone (except perhaps Iceman) is in love with Jean in these early issues.
A point that Bendis inexplicably agreed with since he regurgitated that romantic plot tumor when these X-terns time-traveled to the future.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 8, 2016 1:37 AM
Was Prof X really an old guy? Or was he just prematurely bald?
I don't remember exactly where I got the idea, but I always thought X was an adult of standard comic book age (i.e., approx. 29 years old) who happened to be prematurely bald because of his mutant cranium. This is not to assert that 29 might not be too old to be horndogging on a teenage girl, but ?. At least when Kirby drew him, I always had the impression of a young face with a prematurely bald head.
Likewise my impression of Magneto was that he was about the same age (29) but with prematurely gray (or white) hair because of his mutation, even though the movie casting choices might go against that interpretation.
Posted by: James Holt | October 8, 2016 10:33 AM
In X-Men 1, Xavier says that his mother became pregnant while his father was working on the Manhattan Project. That would mean that he was maybe 21 at most. Later, Lee and Kirby forgot this and depicted Xavier as being a young conscript during the Korean War. So the original idea at the time of Uncanny 3 was that Xavier was a 21 year old attracted to a girl that was maybe 16. This does happen. Later on, with the Korean War retcon, Xavier would have been around 30 at the time of X-Men 1. So yeah, Xavier was meant to be a young man prematurely bald. It's just that later writers kept the Korean War origin for Xavier for decades but kept Jean young so Xavier became old enough to be her father.
Posted by: Michael | October 8, 2016 12:21 PM
Thanks Michael. I had once known but since forgotten quite a few of those details. Magneto really became a different character once we started seeing him without his helmet and signature shadows, and the writers started writing him more sympathetically. A better character in many ways, but also in many ways inconsistent with his earlier characterizations. Of course that's true of a lot of characters, and understandably difficult to avoid, after publishing so many stories over a history that spans decades.
I'm less happy about some of the changes that have taken place with Xavier. Making Magneto into a hero or anti-hero is easier for me to eventually accept than making Xavier into a villain. Reading these older stories after having read the retcons, rather than before, often gives one a much different interpretation of each character, and one which can be and often is at conflict with the original intentions of the creators. But that's just the nature of episodic status quo formula fiction. The stories are still enjoyable and now they're enjoyable on new and different levels.
Gotta add, that although I don't like all the movie casting choices, I do like the 4 choices they've made for Xavier and Magneto, I just have to interpret them like they were similar but different characters in similar but different alternate universes, which indeed they are of course.:)
Posted by: James Holt | October 8, 2016 2:31 PM
Of course, no matter the age gap, Xavier being Jean's teacher still makes this skeevy as all get out. And Stan and Jack dropped the idea like a hot potato as they ironed out the wrinkles in everyone's characterization. The X-Men was very much the last item on their to-do lists, so there's a lot of wonkiness for the first few issues.
And Stan will recycle the " I can't date her because I'm disabled" gimmick for the early love triangle plot in Daredevil about a year later. It doesn't work much better there.
Oddly enough, the Blob is treated like an utter creep for hitting on Jean in this very story, so there's even more of a disconnect. This just isn't a well-plotted story.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 8, 2016 4:58 PM
Early X-Men stories generally fall apart because Xavier solves everything, and usually brainwashes the bad guys into forgetting everything. Reed Richards can invent or discover a new device that fixes everything. Orion or another New God can magically come up with a new ability that fixes everything. The X-Men stories were about as low as Stan and Jack could get. Notice Jack's final issues were about the Juggernaut, a classic Kirby character, who is easy to defeat once his helmet is removed.
As far as I know, the Xavier-Jean connection was limited to that one thought bubble, and everything else is just retcons decades later. It sounds bad no matter how you want to look at it, but - actively trying to find the worst analogies possible - at some point as a male/teenage boy, you might notice your sister, mother or daughter and think 'that's kinda cute.' You're a teenage boy, where else is your mind going to go?
Suddenly Xavier's attraction to Jean sounds a lot more wholesome. Again, as far as I know, until the retcons it was confined to one thought balloon that Stan Lee wrote when he was busy cranking out the books. There's no good way to read that thought balloon in context, but it was just one thought balloon among dozens. Given what website we're on, can't it be dismissed as the creators thinking "oops, big mistake, moving on!" just as Xavier and Jean did?
"X-Men" were the dregs of the Marvel Universe at this point. Stan and Jack had bigger fish to fry.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 9, 2016 3:01 AM
Early X-Men stories generally fall apart because Xavier solves everything, and usually brainwashes the bad guys into forgetting everything.
It kinda-sorta works if you take the explanation gives in issue #5 that the early issues are just "training missions." The idea may be that Xavier is deliberately letting things get to a crisis point before he intervenes in order to push his students; the "graduation"
This isn't...great plotting, but there is (at least retroactively) a sort of through-line, and Stan uses it to justify Xavier leaving the team on their own in issues #7-9.
Really, none of the "all-knowing professor" characters of the 1960s look that good in retrospect: Reed and Xavier get the worst of it these days. It's not a character archetype that has aged well.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 9, 2016 9:40 AM
Also, in Xavier's case, the implications of telepaths altering people's minds without their consent really weren't examined seriously in the Silver Age. It's not really until the late 70s when we have characters saying that altering the memories of people that have done nothing wrong, for example, is creepy.
Posted by: Michael | October 9, 2016 10:21 AM
I always thought that #3 was an excellent issue. As far as all the boys being crazy about Jean, that is not so odd. The Professor on the other hand! I don't get the Iceman being gay bit. I remember him having cruses on Polaris, Dark Star and a few other girls and the girlfriend he was out with when he was outed as a mutant.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 25, 2016 10:34 PM
Hmmm, perving over teenage girls, indiscriminate mindwiping, sadistic training sessions, overtly controlling and manipulative behaviour in general, and surprise telekinetic powers in an issue or two. Where EXACTLY was Shadow King hiding at this time?
Losing to circus people is not that bad this early in their career, it is basically a big team of gimmick street-levelers. They train hard, and training is enough for people like Hawkeye to hang with quite powerful level people. And Blob seems to be quite efficient tactical leader.
Also about Blob; it could be read that Xavier was enthusiastic/desperate to recruit blob because he has abilities yet lacking from the group, namely super strength and invulnerability. Also his "sticking power" is handy counterpoint to the mobility of Angel and Beast. Oh, the possibilities of the team recruiting a rude, crude, cigar-chewing soloist-forced-to-be-teamplayer that has antipathies toward Scott and fancies Jean....
Warren is massively pimping Jean to Blob in the panel where they try to recruit him in Blob's tent. "Let go of the lady's arm" indeed...
Posted by: Catherine | April 29, 2017 8:18 AM
From the letters page proto-Bullpen Bulletins promos in Amazing Spider-Man #9:
"Ish #3 of X-MEN, now on sale, is the first issue which really plays up their various personalities! It'll show you that The Beast ISN'T really like The Thing, as many readers have implied. Lotsof fans have asked to see SPIDER-MAN together with the X-MEN -- what do YOU think?"
Reading not-even-between the lines it seems that Stan was getting letters about the rote characterization of the early issues, and he and Jack decided to make some changes, especially to the Beast.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | May 19, 2017 8:45 AM
Interesting to note the ethical dilemnas Prof X encounters so early in the team's history (Mind-wiping, love/lust for a woman young enough to be his daughter). As far as hot female characters, while she may be an example of the "woman in the wild" caricature, I still put my vote in for Shanna O'Hara, a.k.a. Shanna the She-Devil, a.k.a Lady Plunder (just don't tell her hubby or pet, okay?).
Posted by: Brian Coffey | January 13, 2018 9:01 PM
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