Monday, May 28, 2012

Comic School Review: X-Men #1 (1963!) : X-Perverts!

For today's Comic School Review why don't we skip those over-saturated Avengers and dip our toe into the (gene) pool of the strangest super-heroes of all! Yes, I am talking about the mutant-powered X-Men #1 from 1963 written by the omnipresent Stan the Man(iac) Lee and the ridiculously prolific Jack the King Kirby!

As always, I grabbed this from Comixology for $1.99. Do the same and you can read along with me!

So, if you want to find out how it all began, meet the original team, and laugh at them being perverts, then do yourself a favour and join me after the jump!

Long before the murderous Wolverine, the sexy and deadly Psylocke, or the useless and fashion-backward Jubilee, the X-Men were merely four pent up young men and their super weird mentor. 

Our story begins in a private school where students Cyclops, Angel, Iceman and Beast respond to every ludicrous request of their psychic mentor:

So many things to ponder here! Not the least of which is the fact that sixteen-year-old Iceman appears to be pole-dancing to gain the attention of the surly Professor X! The only reason he wears boots is so you can shove a couple of dollars into them.

Also notice that in the first caption box Professor X is described as a "teacher" thereby suggesting that he's probably not a qualified or recognised teacher, just posing as one. Notice that the guys are referred to as "students" which basically means they have submitted to the authority of their "faux" teacher but are really just dangerous and volatile perverts which he is training to hurt people.

Why are they all in such a massive hurry to please the Professor? He speaks to them only with his mind and warns them that "tardiness will be punished." The original Professor X is brutal, demanding and unforgiving. Kind of like God in the Old Testament but without a beard.

What's weirdest of all though is that he's not introduced in his wheelchair. He's just chilling in a recliner so rather than crippled, he comes across as incredibly lazy...

He lives in a mansion and gets young boys to service him? He's kind of like a bald Michael Jackson. 

And to further highlight just how lazy and impersonal he is...

The old, bald bastard is even too lazy to talk out loud! I'm surprised that we don't have a scene where Angel chews up his food and spits it into his mouth!

Anyway, the Professor puts Beast and Angel through their paces, which means he essentially gets Cyclops to try to kill them with deadly contraptions for his expressionless amusements. It's dicey but both manage to survive, much to the Prof's chagrin. Iceman feels a little left out because he's the youngest and he thinks Prof X is taking it easy on him, so he devises a cunning plan to get everybody pissed off at him...

Naturally, that snowman shit doesn't fly and Beast ditches a bowling ball at him. Everyone has a huge laugh. Well... almost everyone.

Remember how, in the first X-Men movie, Wolverine calls Cyclops a dick? Well, since then I've heard a lot of hardcore comic fans whine that Cyclops is not a dick at all, and if he's ever dickish in modern comics it's because of the dickish writers that were influenced by the movie. So am I to believe then that he wasn't a dick originally? Here... I'll let you be the judge...

Look at Old Man Cyclops waving his stupid arms about and complaining about the horseplay! I hope Beast gives him an atomic wedgie, or Iceman shoves an icicle down his pants! Seriously! What a jerkbag!

So Prof - like Caesar at the circus - urges Cyclops to attack both Iceman and Beast with his eye beams and, after a big scuffle, a fun time is had by all. Remember how, on the front cover, it said, "In the sensational Fantastic Four style!"? That basically meant that everybody hated each other and fought all the time. It was the heroic age of super assholes.

But the Professor has an intriguing psychic announcement. A brand new student is pulling up outside - this time a beautiful young redhead called Jean Grey. This is the first time we see the guys get their X-Perverts on!

Thanks, Iceman. I guess that would explain the pole-dancing routine for Professor X. I like how Angel is checking out the "rest of her". He barely stops from saying, "Sweet tits, Jean! I wonder if the carpet matches the drapes?"

Jean is naturally a bit dubious about the school and doesn't really know why she's there. Prof explains it's a mutant school and that she'll fit right in, so she accepts and begins to cocktease the boys with her telekinesis. It should also be noted that this is the first time that we see Professor X in a wheelchair, which he explains is because of a childhood accident. (An accident that made him incredibly lazy?) I can now refer to him as my favourite nickname: Wheelchair Charlie.

Jean settles in and the guys essentially try to lay her. Seriously, date-rapist Beast tries to steal a kiss but Jean knocks him on his arse with her mind. Wheelchair Charlie approves, commenting that this is exactly the kind of training that his students need. Somebody official should investigate this guy.


We meet our villain.. Magneto! Our first evil mutant!

Magneto is actually a very straight-forward villain who kind of lacks the wacky plots of someone like Loki. Magneto just wants to show off his strength and starts using his magnetism to fire off missiles and upturn tanks. He's really just trying to get attention.

Unfortunately, at the military base, he's attracting the wrong sort of attention...

I guess if you saw an old guy in a red onesie and purple underpants you'd be a little brusque too. 

One other things I will say about Magento though - the guy is verbose! He monologues like a mofo! So much so that sometimes this happens...

Editors in the sixties did not give a crap! Seriously, slapping a giant speech balloon over one of Kirby's incredible faces is like taking the Mona Lisa off the wall so that your cat can shit on it. For shame! 

But! the X-Men hear about Magneto's wordy shenanigans and they suit up to stop him in his tracks. But not before some world-class perving. (Except for Iceman).

Oh well, I guess it answered the carpet/drapes mystery. 

The X-Guys take a few panels to suit up themselves and rush to the scene where Cyclops offers his help to the military. The hardened soldiers have no idea what to make of this kid...

I love that attack pose. Cyclops is waving his arms wildly above his head like an orang-utan! The soldier watching him looks downright disgusted. Oh, and did I mention that Angel's battle cry is, "YAYBO!" Yeah, think about that one.

Anyway, the fight against Magneto is as obvious as you'd expect. There's no wacky twists here, no hidden trap doors or precocious ants. The characters simply get a chance to unleash their various powers while Magneto slings metal at them like a monologuing maniac. He eventually thinks he's blown them up with some rocket fuel but no, Iceman protected them with a shield of... uhhhh... snow?

When Magneto realises he repels them with solve-all magnetic waves and then gets the hell out of there, mainly because Stan and Jack are rapidly running out of panels. I wonder if we'll ever see this Magneto guy again? Nah, it's all probably too silly.

And you know how I said that Wheelchair Charlie is like a vengeful God? Look at this chilling final image...

"I will spare you this time, my pets, but fail me and I will liquefy your brains from the inside!"

And... uh... Stan? I think you misspelled "anals". 

Wow! It's kind of amazing when you realise that such a hugely popular and successful thing had such a humble 12 cent beginning! In fact, it's kind of inspiring. It inspires me to spy on my neighbour changing and scream out, "YAYBO!" when her top comes off. Tell me how it inspired you in the comments section.


  1. do you think beast's boots didn't fit so he just GAVE them to Iceman? Maybe Prof X saves money that way...

  2. These early X-Men comics are great. I love how they carry around Professor X like he's a baby... A man-baby who keeps yelling at them and throwing them into his death trap machine.

    Oh there's even a line where Professor X wants a more than teacher student relationship with Jean. This only happened once but they brought back that line many years later and used it in the whole Onslaught (Evil Charles) mess. Which I thought was pretty clever

    One thing that really makes these early issues hard to read is the Scott and Jean not getting together because they are idiots. They just dragged out the "If only I could say what I feel ....but I mustn't" in nearly every issue. One of the first issues back from the mass revamp (After giant sized 1) has Jean and Scott making out in public and it has comic version of grumpy Stan and Jack complaining about that it wouldn't happen like that back in their day