Uncanny X-Men #1
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #1
Jean Grey serves as the initial point of view character here, joining Professor Xavier's secret school/army of mutants (later retcons will reveal that Jean was Xavier's first recruit, and she's only returning here to meet and join the team), and then they fight off Magneto who is trying to take over an army base.
Where is Iceman sliding from in that picture above?
Magneto of course is an extremely significant new villain. He'll be used to excess in these earlier issues.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men: The Early Years #1
Professor X is completely obsessed with time and tardiness. he keeps shouting times at them.
"You have exactly a second and a half! Go!"
"You have exactly three seconds! Go!"
"Report to my study immediately...You have fifteen seconds!"
it's interesting that at the end of this, the general thanks them and says "the name X-Men will be the most honored in my command". i'm used to mutants being reviled and people treating the X-Men like criminals. but considering the acceptance Thor, Iron Man, and the FF have received from the public, why shouldn't the X-Men be accepted, as well?
Posted by: min | December 21, 2011 1:37 PM
Min, considering the importance of the "mutants are feared and hated" theme to the entire X-Men story, your question is not just to the point, it reveals a gigantic plot hole. If Stan and Jack had it all to do over again, I think they'd have left the mutants, at least, OUT of their shared universe and put them in a universe of their own. They'd have the public fearing mutants enough to create sentinels by issue 15 or so. But it never did make sense. Why love Avengers and Spider-Men (everyone but JJJ loves Spidey) and Fantastic Foursomes but hate mutants? Did the Beast and the Scarlet Witch suddenly become beloved when they went from the X-Men/Brotherhood to the Avengers? They must've, by Marvel logic. So it's a huge plot hole.
Posted by: Paul | May 4, 2012 7:24 AM
Mags really is one of the first "super" supervillains, isn't he? Spider-Man has fought a few, but most other Marvel heroes up to now have gone against gods, monsters, mad scientists, aliens, gangsters, and terrorists. And carnies, of course. There have been costumed criminals, but most haven't had powers, they've used paste-guns (Paste-Pot Pete) or, uh, specially lubricated costumes (the Eel).
Mags isn't the first costumed baddie with permanent powers, but he must be one of Mavel's first dozen or so. He's a star aborning despite his generic megalomaniac personality.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 13, 2012 10:37 PM
No offense, Walter, but by that specific definition, Magneto is a terrorist rather than a true supervillain; but then by that definition I'm not sure there are any pure supervillains. They're all criminals, terrorists, gangsters, etc.
I consider Red Skull, Loki, and Dr. Doom to be true mega-villain types, and then Magneto joined them at that level of villainy.
Posted by: Paul | August 15, 2013 10:55 PM
No offense taken. It was the superpowers I wanted to call attention to: the Red Skull and Doom don't have them, and Loki isn't human. Mags is one of the first evil superhumans. Their villainy is as grand as his, but he's in a new "character class," you might say.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 15, 2013 11:04 PM
One reason the new character type of evil superhuman is significant, I'd argue, is that the Comics Code encouraged, and in some cases may have prescribed, that good and evil be attributes of particular categories of person. An authority figure--cop, priest, president, etc.--was intrinsically good: an evil cop or evil priest or evil president would have been against the spirit if not the letter of the code. (And I think for a while it was against the letter.)
Evil classes had to be evil: maybe you could have a reformed gangster, but not a really likable but evil gangster. No glamorizing evil.
My hypothesis is that the superhuman--not alien or god, but a human with permanent powers--was almost by definition an authority figure, glamor figure, and therefore exclusively good. This I don't think was a formal part of the code, but was probably something of a tacit understanding.
With characters like the Thing and especially the Hulk, Marvel scrapped the old assumptions about "monsters" being evil or unsympathetic. Mags is the other side of the coin: a "superman" with the glamor that comes with power, but he uses that power for I heroic purposes. That wasn't unprecedented, but it was notably rare before this point.
If I'm right, Mags was complicating the black-hat/white-hat assumptions of comics even before his reinvention at Claremont's hands. He proved a more-or-less normal-looking guy blessed with great power could wield it irresponsibly, indeed evilly.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 15, 2013 11:27 PM
"Uses that power for unheroic purposes" that is -- the ipad mangled my meaning.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 15, 2013 11:29 PM
At which point, John W. Campbell decided to boycott comic books. he he
Interesting arguments. I'm not sure if it's accurate or not, but it's thought-provoking.
Posted by: Chris Kafka | August 15, 2013 11:45 PM
While Claremont did firmly switch Magneto from "villain" to "noble terrorist", the early days more or less was probably just about giving the idea that "well if heroes can be born with the powers like the X-Men, then whose to say villains can't be born with powers and use them as such either?" You could say that a lot of aspects of Magneto's mutant rights concepts were around from the get-go, but obviously he lost track of that and went pretty much nuts by the 70s...honestly thinking it over, he seems to just go through phases:
-The basic villain/terrorist phase with the Brotherhood (the early Stan Lee Magneto)
-The more moderate Magneto who has seemed to calm down a lot and seems to finally let the past catch up with him, the one more at ease in recalling that he has children in Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch or remembers his own tragedies. (Claremont's Magneto; essentially any depiction post-Alpha)
Yeah I'm mostly going off what I've read here but that's the indications I've seen of his evolution.
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 16, 2013 9:03 AM
I'm curious why you've listed the title as "Uncanny X-Men". Shouldn't it be "The X-Men" until #114 (or when it's officially changed in the indicia in #142) where it becomes "The Uncanny X-Men"?
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 19, 2013 2:11 AM
Before Marvel started rebooting their books every 6 months, it was a convention to call this book "Uncanny" to distinguish it from the 1991 series. When feasible, i like to keep my books listed under the same title so that it's consistent in search results - you can search for "Uncanny X-Men" and get a full run of the series.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 19, 2013 9:08 AM
Ah! Understood. I always thought of the two titles as "The X-Men" (Later: "The Uncanny X-Men") and "X-Men" (the "The" being the key difference).
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 19, 2013 2:22 PM
Only 3 out of 5 members are useful. Cyclops has powerful opric blaats that come out of his eyes. Marvel Girl is a powerful telekinises. Beast is has ape-like acrobatics and is a marvel genius. As for what I think of Iceman and Angel, see my comments in Giant-Size X-Men 3.
Posted by: doomsday | October 27, 2013 12:49 AM
Oops, it's really Classic X-Men #1 not giant-size x-men. Sorry.
Posted by: doomsday | October 27, 2013 12:51 AM
Regarding the team: I think it was a good idea to have a variety of different powers, even if many of them aren't necessarily "made" for being a super-hero. This was probably before the further definition was made that many mutants aren't just people who have superpowers who fight evil and whatnot.
As for the original five, I never thought there were anything wrong with them. Obviously Cyclops, Jean and Beast have things that are going to be useful even at this stage. The Angel gives them someone who can fly and shows that merely having the ability to fly is a gift, even if it's just bird wings. Warren isn't a god like Thor, doesn't have bug powers like the Pyms and isn't a "generic all around hero who has anything" like DC's menagerie; for him, him purely having wings is a gift in itself even if people don't consider it as much in being a superhero. (maybe if they kept the idea of him using a gun for combat combining his flying with sniping as one of the flashbacks stories suggested) And Bobby's ice powers probably more or less was to contrast to the F4 and the prominence of fire heroes even with the original Human Torch prior to Johnny Storm. To me, any hero really has potential...it's the writers you have to blame for not being used to their potential.
BTW: always thought Jean was cute in that outfit she arrived in, just to stay on topic.
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 27, 2013 7:37 AM
Doomsday, one aspect of Iceman's powers that was always very useful were barriers, walls and protective domes. He has a good combination of offensive and defensive abilities and his ice slides give him elevation too. The problem was not with his abilities but the fact that writers were lazy.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | October 27, 2013 10:10 PM
Actually Scott "Slim" Summers is the only guy not commenting on Jean. Look closely, none of the guys are wearing peepers and one of them is wearing Ice Man's clothes.
Posted by: randomgirl | January 22, 2014 6:43 PM
I added the panel i was referring to, RandomGirl, but you're right about that other panel. I guess i thought that the character talking in the panel you're referring to was Warren since his hair is more blond.
Nowadays Marvel has more gay characters, but there was a time when people were suggesting that Iceman should be revealed to be gay. I think he was picked because he never had any lasting relationship with women (we never even learned Zelda's last name!).
Posted by: fnord12 | January 22, 2014 7:39 PM
There actually still is a fairly vocal group of fans who argue that Bobby should be outed as gay or bisexual.
They actually have built up quite a list of--entirely circumstantial--'hints' and on-panel evidence to support the notion, if Marvel were ever to choose to go in that direction.
This speculation has even occasionally been acknowledged by some Marvel writers--in an interview during his X-Men run Mike Carey said he could see Bobby being bi, but it wasn't something he was going to explore in his run since he was developing a relationship between Iceman and Mystique. Peter David gave a nod to it once as well in his X-FACTOR series, with a moment where Shatterstar was about to go up and kiss Iceman (he was kissing everyone he met in those days), and Rictor stopped him. Heck, even the Family Guy cartoon has acknowledged it in one of their sketches.
Posted by: Dermie | January 23, 2014 1:50 AM
I think it's quite a likely possability. My theory in his behavior here is that he's one of those few boys who went through the phase where he denies liking girls openly but secretly does. My brother, 15, is doing the same but I found a love letter.
Posted by: RandomGirl | January 23, 2014 7:53 AM
Oh, so many things about this book.
1 - I too have always wondered where the hell Bobby is sliding down from.
2 - Great that, like with the Doombots, the Danger Room is here right from the start.
3 - On the other hand, if this is the first time Angel has flown through the spanner without a slip, how he has not just been splattered against a wall?
4 - To be fair to Scott, in theory he should be color-blind. Everything should just look red to him, since the optic beams are always firing. So he SHOULD have terrible taste in clothes.
5 - Although randomgirl points out a flaw in the artwork, the dialogue makes it clear that it's Bobby who's not interested in Jean, at least at first.
6 - When Phoenix powers up the stargate in #109 (or so), Scott thinks to himself "She used to be the weakest X-Man." How in the hell can telekenesis be considered a weaker power than having wings? I've never understood that.
7 - You don't show the panel, but Scott opens his visor all the way and it seems like his whole head is shooting optic beams. I don't know if Kirby did that kind of drawing much in later issues, but it was always an interesting one.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 9, 2014 2:27 PM
I've always wondered at what Cyclops sees through his visor. If it blocks the red portion of the light spectrum, shouldn't what he sees through it be actually bleached of red? Because the beams coming from his eyes are red? And they're being cancelled out?
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | December 18, 2014 2:24 AM
As of today, the "Ice Man is gay" theory appears to no longer be a theory
Posted by: TCP | April 21, 2015 1:25 PM
Iceman's skills could be used for offense (snowballs, iceballs, freezing people, making things slippery) or defense (ice walls) or for more utilitarian uses (making other things out of ice) or for travel (ice slides, whenever those first appeared.) Far more versatile than the Human Torch who (stupid Silver Age exceptions duly noted) couldn't do anything without setting stuff on fire.
And the Angel... Now that there have been dozens of superheroes around for decades, people forget how important it was to be able to fly. Need to track someone without them noticing? Need to get halfway across town without getting stuck in traffic? Need to go after a plane or rocket or helicopter? Need to drop things on bad guys? Need to carry another character into position to do any of that? Who you gonna call?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 1, 2015 12:59 PM
fnord, you have Jack Kirby listed as the inker, instead of Paul Reinman.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 6, 2015 9:45 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | August 7, 2015 8:44 AM
Erik, as for Jean being the weakest member, she really was portrayed that way at the beginning. She could not lift a lot of weight, and she had to see where she was moving objects.
She was not like more recent telekinetics, who get their powers and they are suddenly able to levitate huge things and create barriers and all that.
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | September 28, 2015 6:59 PM
Jean seems pretty tough to me, even early on. She casually lifts and spins Hank around within pages of her first appearance, which would be a hell of a feat for normal human muscles. Just within the original Lee/Kirby run, she topples Sentinels and a Tyrannosaur and yanks Angel right out of the sky, which should decisively establish her as more powerful than him.
Posted by: Mortificator | May 16, 2016 6:00 PM
You know, looking back through all these issues made me think of a question I don't remember being answered: When did Xavier loose his hair and why?
Posted by: D09 | June 15, 2016 5:48 PM
You know, looking back through all these issues made me think of a question I don't remember being answered: When did Xavier loose his hair and why?
This is directly explained in his Silver Age origin from Uncanny X-Men #12; essentially, it's somehow linked to the emergence and growth of his mutant powers. He was bald by the time he was college-aged.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | June 15, 2016 5:58 PM
Actually Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch did not become beloved by being in the Avengers, the anti-mutant prejudice was mentioned there as well. The reason the mutants were more feared than the others is that they were born different rather than mutated at a later date. (And yes I realize that the public didn't know how the others got their powers). As far as Stan inventing the idea of mutants, he didn't. The concept of mutants as used in Marvel including the term Homo Superior were taken directly from the sci-fi novel Odd John by Olaf Stapledon. DC had also used it before Marvel did in 1951 they came out with Captain Comet who was specifically identified as a mutant in his first appearance.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 24, 2016 10:07 PM
I would argue that there is perhaps some merit to the idea that the 'Mutants' could originally have been intended to inhabit a separate universe, or rather that Lee, Kirby and co. would have enacted such a separation with hindsight. However, I'm not convinced that the public hatred of mutant kind - and the massive role said persecution has played in X-Men comics right through the years - as it compares to the general acceptance, or even love, for figures such as Spidey and the F4 is in reality a plothole - at least not a large one.
Mutants are regularly referred to as a biologically different species, the fear then being that Homo Sapiens are going to be replaced entirely by the inevitability of implacable - and thus terrifying - forces of evolution. Homo Sapiens with powers are not the same in the all-too-important specifics of the matter. Though I am aware that it is difficult to explain why the general populace would know that Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four are simply powered humans as opposed to mutants, unaware as they are of the incidences behind the acquiring of their powers. I still think it serves to notice the difference, however.
Posted by: MK101 | April 15, 2017 7:03 PM
Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human (1953) has been cited as an influence, with its assemblage of mutants. Really enjoyed the novel.
Posted by: Cecil | April 16, 2017 12:33 AM
Hmm, my comics knowledge is somewhat sketchier than most on this site, but I've always been under the impression that there are times at least when Spider-Man is loved by everyone in New York (at least) not named Jameson. Again I'd think you'd need to separate people like Sue Storm and Reed Richards from Ben Grimm and Bruce Banner and the like, who's powers separate them from 'being human' from the off. Biologically they are Homo Sapien and not this new 'Homo Superior' but for the average work-a-day citizen that won't mean much when he see's a walking orange boulder coming his way.
I do agree though that general approval is just not a thing for heroes, for the most part, which is of course what leads to stories like Civil War (for better or worse!)
Posted by: MK101 | April 16, 2017 5:46 AM
This very story helps explain why there's some mutant fear among the general public: Magneto does stuff like take over military bases and does so explicitly in the name of "mutantkind." Unlike other villains and heroes in this era, many of the mutant characters define themselves as mutants first and foremost in their public exploits. Think about the Vanisher running around telling everyone he's homo superior in issue #2, or the Blob learning he's a mutant an immediately taking over his carnival. Along with people like Bolivar Trask writing scare articles about how mutants will take over the world, this would explain the slowly growing phobia of mutants that we see across the first fourteen or so issues of "Uncanny" X-Men.
Stan and Jack came up with the angle a bit late -- it first shows up in #5, and doesn't become public hysteria until #8 or so -- and so the early X-Men issues show people (mutant and nonmutant alike) learning this crazy new "homo superior" term and taking in all the implications. It's strongly hinted that mutants are an Atomic Age phenomenon in some way: many of the early mutant origins involve parents working with nuclear power, for example.
So the X-Men and Magneto are, in these early stories, shaping public perceptions of mutants through their actions and public statements.Here and in the "origins" backups later in the 60s, It seems as if the government has only just started investigating this wave of mutant emergence, too.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 16, 2017 6:51 AM
The problems set in when retcons show anti-mutant hysteria prior to these early X-Men stories, and when all super-powers are linked to a common cause via the giant retcons that merge the Eternals and Celestials with the Marvel Universe, itself something Kirby doesn't seem to have intended. Mutants go from being an emergent phenomenon of the Atomic Age to being, essentially, people who express a particular recessive gene -- the "x-gene;" they'e less a new species than a particular subspecies within homo sapiens (to the point that a few stories revise the nomenclature from "homo superior" to "Homo sapiens superior").
The late 1980s complicate things by having mutants who emerged as far back as prehistory (Selene) and ancient Egypt (Apocalypse). And then the 1990s reveal that the governments of the world have been experimenting on mutants for decades and that there are decades-spanning conspiracies and a long history of awareness of and fear of mutants. It's at this point that the differing public reaction to mutants, as opposed to other superpeople, becomes increasingly difficult to explain.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 16, 2017 6:56 AM
Thanks for the insightful comments Omar, always good to read. I do agree that the problem so far as there is one has only been made more apparent as the number of retcons playing on mutant hysteria and extending mutant history increased over the years. I'm still not sure I would consider it a huge pothole, but as I said originally I can certainly see the logic behind the idea of separate universes.
Posted by: MK101 | April 16, 2017 11:14 AM
Thinking from the perspective of 1963, and not from later retcons and universe building (both from the X-side and in general), the idea of mutants emerging now and the idea of a "homo superior" starting to appear really is something that could be considered a frightening concept to humanity. The other heroes appearing at this time were more or less fluke accidents based on their situations: experiments gone horribly wrong as is typically seen in mad science stories, with some of whom fighting even from the get-go to prove themselves, some succeeding (the Fantastic 4), others...not so much (Jamison's anti-Spider-Man articles), and still others still not sure where they belong. (basically the Hulk, who was in this weird period of being a founding Avenger but still not having the trust of, say, the Thing and will eventually be seen as more of a monster with events beyond this)
On the other hand, we have mutants, a brand new subset that has "evolved" from humanity. As of the publishing of X-Men #1 (and, as said, without crap like Apocalypse or Wolverine to taint it), it had been exactly 18 years since Hiroshima, matching the idea of how young Xavier's first class is while allowing for others who perhaps emerged prior to then to possibly appear such as, well, Xavier or Magneto. Xavier wants to make it like they are just another phase of humanity and gain acceptance, but several such as Magneto or the Vanisher emerge that prove otherwise; (char limit, see below)
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 17, 2017 4:46 PM
(con) leading to the fears that people have on these "new evolved humans" and allowing for other fear-mongers like Trask to emerge with his own crazy ideas and lead eventually to the Sentinels. The tension that the mutant community has at this point isn't as big as it will eventually become, but you can sort of see where Lee and Kirby were probably going with the initial intent, before things got off the rails both in other writer intent or in creating similar concepts such as, say, the Inhumans.
As much as many (myself included) bemoan how much of a problem the Marvelverse is due to having mutants alongside so many other superbeings, a lot of it is from looking at it from now instead of from then. The ideas are here, it just needs development...but with how huge and almost segregated mutant ideas eventually became, its almost like it evolved in that fashion when the beginning does show that the X-Men belong as much as the other heroes in the early Marvel dynamic.
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 17, 2017 4:51 PM
One problem is the question of how so many mutants knew that they were actually mutants. The Vanisher, for instance, wouldn't have been as grounded in sci-fi/pulp fiction as Stan and Jack were, so there'd be no reason for him to decide he was homo superior. He'd realize he was an utter freak because he has these weird powers that don't come from a science experiment or alien kidnapping, but by the same token, he wouldn't be thinking in terms of biology or evolution.
At least in the early issues, almost none of the mutants knew they were mutants until Xavier or Magneto told them so. That was the point of some stories, 'is the Blob/Namor/the Stranger a mutant?'
I love the 'what if?' idea that the X-Men could have been kept separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe. I doubt Lee and Kirby were even thinking in such terms yet, they were still cranking out funnybooks. And anyway, The FF had already met the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner had returned and Spider-Man was close to meeting Dr. Doom. If they thought about it at all, they were already on the side of 'merged universe.' Probably why Kirby did keep the New Gods and Eternals separate as much as possible.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 19, 2017 9:33 PM
kind of like the idea that guys like the Vanisher didn't know they were mutants, and then they read a news story about this "Magneto" character announcing he's "Homo superior" and taking over a missile base. And suddenly a guy like the Vanisher -- who's perhaps a small-time thief and crook -- realizes who and what he is, and he basically imitates Magneto.
He gets a flamboyant costume of his own and figures he can also launch some grand scheme against the U.S. government. But being a crook, not a revolutionary or would-be conqueror, his scheme is still about making money and advancing int he underworld. Bt the the X-Men and Xavier show up, and he's no longer just "a crook." Now announcing your mutancy means you're part of a whole hidden war, and the government and the world treat you differently. So you end up in Factor Three, but that collapses, and the Sentinels come for you, and eventually you decide to go back to being a thief, albeit a more supervillain-ish one.
The Silver Age actually has several instances of characters only finding out they're mutants when they run into an X-Man or a Brotherhood type. It seems to happen with the Mad Marlin/Warlock/Maha Yogi/Merlin Demonspawn guy, and it happens explicitly with Whirlwind in Avengers #46, where Quicksilver's ranting about being a mutant actually makes Dave Cannon realize he's a mutant, too.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 20, 2017 6:19 AM
By the late Silver Age, you've had the Sentinel programs, both of which are announced on national TV and get lots of media coverage, and Magneto's made several high-profile public attacks (newspaper headlines show up in Strange Tales #128) and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have not only joined the Avengers but also very publicly stated their mutant status on many occasions. So by then the "mutant issue" is a major public debate, and the idea of mutantcy should be common knowledge. (Marvels #2 gives a good account of an ordinary person first becoming aware of mutants and getting swept up in the panic about them, and ties this to the first appearance of the Sentinels.)
It's notable that Marvel; introduces relatively few mutants across the Silver Age; the burst of dozens on dozens of mutants doesn't start until the All-New All-Different X-Men era. Compare the end of the Thomas/Adams Sentinel story, where we see pretty much *every* mutant in the Marvel Universe other than Whirlwind and the Mad Merlin, to even Giant-Size X-Men #!.
But it's the Claremont era that also begins the retcons that there were always lots and lots of mutants, and even some ancient mutants.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 20, 2017 6:25 AM
The Mad Merlin in Journey Into Mystery #96 is an especially interesting case, since we literally see him switch to self-defining as a mutant. At the top of page 6, he thinks about how "a spell" he created preserved him until modern times, and starts flipping through a newspaper. And by the bottom of the page he's calling his powers "telepathy [and] unique powers of levitation." And at the top of page 7, suddenly he refers to himself as "one of the firs mutants on Earth" as he tosses the newspaper away, asserting that he "will need no sorcerer's hocus-pocus in 1963 to work [his] 'magic." Instead, he'll use his "real power to levitate him]self...practice telepathy and teleportation..." Interestingly, he does't actually have those last two powers in this story.
Look, it's really Stan and R. Berns flubbing the script, but thankfully the art gives us a way to excuse the inconsistency: clearly he read an early press account of mutation by, say, Professor X or a Bolivar Trask discussing what mutants "might" be able to do, and labeled himself. And then, some weeks later, the X-Men and Magneto make their public debuts, further popularizing the idea of mutants. (Or this blows my fan theory out of the water and I'm spinning like mad, but whatever.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 20, 2017 6:37 AM
In publishing terms, if not Marvel Chronology terms, it's worth noting that JiM #96 and "Uncanny" X-Men #1 both share a publication date of September 1963. So what was really happening was some subtle cross-promotion to familiarize fans with the idea of superhuman mutants.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 20, 2017 6:40 AM
I like the theory you gave about "Mad Merlin" here and how, even without intending it, it probably did demonstrate the idea that there were mutants prior to the X-Men and Magneto going public. What was mutant power could be believed to be something else pre-X-Men and thus the obvious confusions. (on a similar note, one of the first heroes who isn't a mutant that ends up facing mutants ended up being Thor: he fought Merlin at the same time as Magneto's initial attack, then became the first non-mutant to face Magneto; this could perhaps show that Asgardians did at least have some knowledge of beings who were "greater than human" even if they didn't innately know it themselves)
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 20, 2017 8:24 AM
Omar, I don't have any conclusions to offer, but your thoughts have definitely interested me. In your telling, the Vanisher drafted himself into the mutant wars and didn't even realize he was doing so. This actually helped him for a while, leading him to be part of Factor Three, but he was always a small-time crook who wasn't capable of performing at any higher level. Literally, the last Vanisher appearance I read was in "X-Factor," where he ran a group of teen girl thieves, and Boom-Boom was one of them, and she ran away.
Top of my head metaphor, Lee and Kirby's "X-Men" were like keeping peace in the Balkans, and other regional powers kept getting involved. The area becomes more and more important in the overall scheme of things and then one day someone gets shot and it's all-out war. Countless factions and differences are involved. The Muslims, the Orthodox Greeks, the nationalists, the tribalists, the foreign powers, the naval powers who want a peaceful Mediterranean, the communists, the royalists, the anarchists... and no one is even thinking about the Americans an ocean away.
We haven't even gotten to the Bosnian genocide yet, or the ultimate Russian, Iranian or Chinese influence, and this is just a top-of-my-head metaphor for the Vanisher and the mutant wars he helped make possible.
I'm going to find something else to do with myself now. ;)
Posted by: ChrisW | April 20, 2017 9:32 PM
@ChrisW On the subject of Vanisher, he popped back up several years back during the Yost/Kyle run on X-Force, which he actually joined (or rather was forcefully drafted into). He didn't want to be there and was coerced by a brain tumor created by Elixir, but they still did a few interesting things with the idea of forcing someone like him to take part in something he wanted nothing to do with.
And then he died. Well, we assume. We see him shot, but never see him buried. So I guess he.....vanishes (sorry not sorry).
Posted by: J-Rod | April 25, 2017 2:31 PM
He came back pretty sharpish and we just ignored everything done in X-Force.
Posted by: AF | April 25, 2017 7:57 PM
Oh, have they brought him back? I stopped reading new comics in late 2014. Axis #7 pissed me off by revealing that Wanda and Pietro were not Magneto's kids (so clearly corporate-driven, and nobody will ever convince me otherwise, and it damaged decades of stories). I actually have not set foot in a comic shop since, though I keep SOME track of what's going on in current comics. I mostly read older stuff in my collection that I've never gotten to, and fill in holes buying online. So I hadn't heard Vanisher was back again.
Posted by: J-Rod | April 26, 2017 4:43 PM
He actually came back with a new costume in 2012 as a member of the Marauders in Astonishing X-Men #48. Then he was back to his X-Force costume when Yost/Kyle wrote him again. It was never explained how he lived (because, let's be honest, he clearly died in Second Coming), even when Yost/Kyle used him back and they were definitely aware of his demise.
Posted by: AF | April 27, 2017 8:17 AM
Ahhhhhh I stopped reading Astonishing after Whedon left the title. I read the first Ellis issue and found it really boring, and this was around the time I was starting to pare down my pull list.
Yeah, Vanisher looked pretty dead in Second Coming, or at least well on his way there. Maybe he wasn't quite dead yet and managed to teleport to medical help just in time. Eh. Comics.
Posted by: J-Rod | April 27, 2017 11:22 AM
Reading this now first time in it's entirety... Xavier's origin got me surfing the net about history of nuclear research. Found this bit from wikipedia:
"Early in the 1900s, biologists used radium to induce mutations and study genetics. As early as 1904, Daniel MacDougal used radium in an attempt to determine whether it could provoke sudden large mutations and cause major evolutionary shifts. Thomas Hunt Morgan used radium to induce changes resulting in white-eyed fruit flies. Nobel-winning biologist Hermann Muller briefly studied the effects of radium on fruit fly mutations before turning to more affordable x-ray experiments."
That's Mr Sinister / High Evolutionary stuff right there. Enough to fanwank whole 20th century as full of mutants as we please. I myself do like the idea of superpower mutations being part of natural evolution, just accelerated by outside influence like radiation. With or without Celestials et al messing, haven't decided yet whether I like that idea.
Sexual harassment much, Beast? An how old is Jean? If her gravestone later says 1956, she's SEVEN now. Even assuming chisel slipping (born 1950), she'd be 13. Doesn't Kitty join the school aged 13 too?
Posted by: Catherine | April 29, 2017 5:04 AM
Iceman's behavior towards Jean seems to be of the classic 'little boys think girls are gross and have cooties' variety common in popular entertainment at the time, emphasizing his status as the junior of the team. Back then creators liked to pretend very young people couldn't hold crushes, that's all.
Posted by: OverMaster | June 19, 2017 9:51 AM
Of course, but it's fun to make outlandish theories about characters based on incredibly subtle character points in works made before the elements the theory revolves around would have even been a consideration.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | June 19, 2017 9:40 PM
Just a thought: I love that fourth panel...
"What kind of school is this, sir? I have a right to know!"
"No you don't! Now go to your room, put on your uniform and await further orders!"
Some of these old comics are just begging to be parodied...
Posted by: Piotr W | December 29, 2017 2:54 PM
Well Iceman is officially gay now, so that's that settled.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | December 29, 2017 5:37 PM
Is it just me, or does Kirby's Magneto look silly? Kirby is King, especially in 66-67, but this is one design that he never renders well.
Posted by: Sarth Close | January 8, 2018 10:03 PM
It’s an interesting observation you make, Sarth. Superheroes have been deadly serious for 40 years, but it’s not clear the creators viewed them that way at the beginning. Kirby’s designs for the Vanisher, Blob, Unus, not to mention Toad and Mastermind, arguably tilt more towards comedy than drama. Maybe that was the early intention with Magneto, too? It did take more than a decade for his depth as a villain to emerge (as fnord has documented here).
Even so, I feel Kirby knew what he was doing with Magneto. The Corinthian helmet is a no-lose proposition, design-wise: it just radiates power. The King seems to get more serious with Magneto after he escapes the Stranger’s clutches. The splash page revealing his return to earth (around X-Men 18?) is truly menacing, and finely wrought as an illustration.
Posted by: Chris Z | January 8, 2018 10:50 PM
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