Posted by  Pete Albano - December 4-11, 2011 | Updated March 19, 2013 | April 2, 2013 | August 22, 2015


Classic X-Men


the original X-Men

Classic X-Men stories are told in issues 1 to 66 of the first X-Men series. Issues 67 to 93 are reprints.

Well, here we are, right before issue 1 of X-Men, published 1963. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Its important to note before beginning this journey, that at this point in time, the concept of mutants gifted with amazing powers simply did not exist. The X-Men and all the trappings of their mythology so familiar to us today because of comics, television and movies were simply not yet created. If we bear this in mind while reading these early issues, we can read them with new eyes and enjoy the birth of one of the most enduring legends in comics.

Let's go.

According to Jim Shooter in his blog, one of the things Stan Lee considered important was the splash page at the beginning of a story. So let's check out the very first page of the first issue of X-Men.


the x-men are summoned by professor x

It begins with the Professor at the top of the page, immediately highlighting his telepathic power, then a big splash panel showing everybody except Jean Grey. Notice that none of the team is just standing around? They're all sporting action poses. Not only that but each one announces his codename and shows his powers and right at the very beginning. Works for me. This page also makes the point that these super-powered teens are being summoned to a class - to school. And if that's not enough, an arrow shaped narrative box points the reader to turn the page!

The Danger Room isn't referred to explicitly in this inaugural issue - we just have a room with training machines. It's almost standard for new X-Men (or New Mutants) to 'show-off' their powers in a controlled setting. So here goes. First up : Beast.


beast training in the danger room

The wall-bouncing thing is very impressive.

Next : Angel.


angel training in the danger room

I love the way Kirby draws Warren's wings.

Iceman and Cyclops follow in short order.

Here's the first panel shot of the facade of Xavier's mansion.


facade of xavier mansion

Jean Grey arrives next showing her telekinetic powers.


marvel girl demonstrates her telekinesis

In two panels the Professor explains the purpose of his school.


professor x states his school's mission

And now the first appearance of one of Marvel's foremost - er, is it villain or hero? - these days Magneto escapes easy description.


first appearance of magneto

Magneto's power is shown to be so potent he can affect objects in near earth orbit


magneto controls a missile in earth orbit

I think thats very impressinve but this is even more impressive - writing letters on air using 'magnetized dust particles'.


magneto writes a message using magnetized dust

I don't think he ever repeated this trick.

Personal force field? Check.


magneto uses his force field in an army base

Warren keeps his wings under his clothes.


the angel hides his wings under his clothes

This little Angel trick always makes me shake my head - don't you think it's a tad implausible? Wait a minute, I forgot I was reading comics.

Here's the first shot of Cyclop's maximum power. It pretty much staggers Magneto.


cyclops uses maximum force against magneto's force field

Check out Iceman's accuracy as he stops some missiles.


iceman throws ice on some missiles

Beast also shows up very well with this wonderfully illustrated catch.


beast catches a missile

We come upon the male members of the team as having had the benefit of training together, presumably for a significant amount of time, the teamwork is very evident. Here's one instance of it as the Angel is trapped by Magneto, Cyclops smoothly frees him, then Iceman protects the team with his powers.


x-men teamwork

All done without hesitation and smoothly put into action. It's all too much for Magneto, who beats a hasty retreat - the Master of Magnetism was ready for human resistance; this mutant vs. mutant situation has taken him by surprise.

I think this is a great first issue. Pacing was fast, we have a grounding on the concept of mutants and a mutant school, great power demonstrations from heroes and villain alike.

Issue 2 debuts one of my favorite X-Men villains : the Vanisher. For one thing, you can't beat this costume for sheer funkiness.


the vanisher

The splash page of issue 2 is even more beautiful than issue 1. Wow.


x-men

I particularly like Bobby sliding into the picture instead of running.

Heres' a beautiful Beast action sequence


beast jumping around

In issue 1, we saw Jean Grey lifting a book. Mmm-hmm. Time for something more hardcore.


jean grey lifts a crowd

It's a bit of a sexist panel but look at the combined weight Jean can lift.

Here Cyclops pulverizes a wall falling on some construction workers.


cyclops pulverizes a wall

Let it be noted that anti-mutant sentiment isn't rampant yet, as this panel from issue 2 will testify.


construction workers thank cyclops

Cyclops and Iceman hitch a ride to the mansion but it seems that riding on the back of the ice cream truck wasn't the only thing Bobby was doing. Good businessman, this ice cream guy.


bobby rides in the back of an ice cream truck

Obviously, Iceman still hasn't figured out that he can create ice bridges to travel. This is perfectly in line with how Bobby is portrayed during the very early stories - more Snowman than Iceman.

What I really like about the Vanisher is that his ability is both formidable and non-aggressive. Usually if we get non-aggressive abilities like Cypher or Leech, we also get very vulnerable types. Also usually, when we say something is formidable, like Legion or Magneto, we get massively destructive capabilities. This Vanisher capability is very unique.


vanisher vanishes

Alright, here it is, issue 2, the Danger Room. Described as 'a huge unfurnished chamber which houses countless hidden perils. Look how fast Angel flies.


angel demonstrates his speed

Here's the Vanisher's weakness


vanisher surrounded by the press

He's a publicity hound. This is a very big chink in his armor. If only this guy didn't crave publicity he could be the ultimate burglar.

In the meantime, back in the Danger Room, Bobby demonstrates his ability to sculpt his creations with an ice horse.


ice man creates an ice horse

Soon enough its the X-Men vs. the Vanisher


the x-men face off against the vanisher and his men

It ends as expected, with the Vanisher vanishing.

I love this next series of panels : the Professor is researching the Vanisher's power, trying to spot a weakpoint.


professor x studies the vanisher's power

In the end this story is about the incredible, yet subtle, power of Professor X. See what he does to the Vanisher.


professor x takes out the vanisher

Vanisher is done at this point, but he's brought some goons who spring into action against the Professor. This is a great panel of the X-Men rushing to protect their mentor


the x-men protect professor x

Here's a great double panel showing the Angel using his powers aggressively.


angel tackles a couple of crooks

Usually the Angel does rescue and distraction work.

The great villains just keep on coming! Issue 3 introduces the Blob. Did I say villain? The Blob isn't a villain. When we first see him his working legit in a circus.


blob working in the circus

You know who the real villain of this issue is? It's Cyclops. He invites Blob into the X-Men. The Blob isn't the most amiable of fellows (maybe because of all the teasing on account of his weight). Cyclops should have shown patience but he does this instead


cyclops strikes the blob

So who started what right? Anyway, the Blob, doesn't take this personally and agrees to see the X-Men where he gets to try his powers against theirs


blob vs. the x-men

In the end the Blob isn't interested in joining the Professor's students and goes back to the circus but his paranoia gets the better of him


blob feels paranoid

Soon we have Blob and his circus buddies (see, he's not such a bad guy, he has circus buddies) attacking the X-Mansion. I particulary love this double panel of Cyclops defending himself against an elephant.


cyclops pushes back an elephant

In issue 4 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brings in a rival team as they introduce the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

One thing that you'll notice in these early issues is that the X-Men are practicing incessantly. Here Iceman finally discovers ice bridges.


iceman builds an ice slide

We also know the X-Men by now. We also know the leader of the Brotherhood, Magneto. But who are the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?

First we have the illusion casting Mastermind.


mastermind

The Scarlet Witch with her mutant hex power.


scarlet witch

Quicksilver is so fast we can hardly see him.


quicksilver

Then we have the agile Toad


toad

The issue takes a medieval flavor because the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (very self-deprecating name) takes over a castle and the X-Men lay siege to it. Very fun fights in this issue. This Cyclops optic blast panel is fantastic


cyclops attacks

Wounded from the fight with the evil mutants, the Professor is taken back home


the wounded professor x is taken home by the x-men

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are still stalking the X-Men. I love this tv communicator watch worn by Mastermind. Nearly 50 years later and we still don't have these yet.


mastermind's tv-watch communicator

Issue 5 is our first glimpse of another classic Marvel hq - Magneto's asteroid base.


asteroid M

Alas, many years later, this hideout will be destroyed, rather unceremoniously I might add, in the pages of the New Mutants.

It's the Toad who gets to tangle with the X-Men. He's out of costume here because he was disguised as an athlete.


toad posing as an athlete

The fight is soon joined by the other 'evil' mutants. The issue takes us from the streets of New York to Magneto's asteroid base with the X-Men on the attack. We also get a first glimpse of a rift between the Brotherhood.


infighting among the brotherhood of evil mutants

A rift that will result in Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch jumping sides and joining the Avengers.

Here's a great sample of Mastermind's power


mastermind creates a monster

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants must have been an absolute hit because issue 6 is still about them. This issue involves Magneto's attempt to recruit Marvel's first mutant - none other than Prince Namor, the Submariner.

Magneto's island headquarters makes its debut this issue


magneto's atlantean isle

The X-Men take to the sea in search of it. For some reason they chartered an old fashioned sailing vessel. Wonderful rendition of it here with the gulls all around.


x-men's antique ship over the ocean

Soon Namor meets the Brotherhood, the other members are unimpressed but Magneto schools them on what the Submariner can do.


the brotherhood of evil mutants are not impressed with the submariner

At this point the X-Men attack. During these early days Cyclops could never properly defend against Quicksilver's speed


cyclops can't hit the quicksilver

The fight devolves to a war between the two biggest egos - Submariner and Magneto!


submariner vs. magneto

Namor, ever the hothead takes on the X-Men next but Cyclops almost proves too strong for him


cyclops almost takes namor out

This is a wonderful panel showing the dynamics of what goes on next.


namor faces off against the x-men

Notice that the Brotherhood is gone except for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch? The journey to the Avengers has begun for these two.

In issue 3 we saw the X-Men try, and fail, to recruit the immovable Blob, now, in issue 7 its the Brotherhood's turn to try to add him to their roster.

Another debut in this issue - Cerebro.


first appearance of cerebro

This is also the fateful issue where Professor X recognizes the leadership potential of Scott Summers.


scott is given deputy leadership of the x-men

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants visit the circus where Blob has been working and Magneto very quickly makes a nuisance of himself. When the circus cry of 'Hey Rube!' is raised its the Brotherhood vs. the circus. Here's a great panel of the Toad in action.


toad against the circus

The Blob goes up against Magneto but he is no match for the Master of Magnetism.


magneto lifts the blob

Here's a very sixties panel showing Bobby and Hank in a jazz club of that time. Note the slang and the clothing.


inside the cafe agogo jazz club

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants succeed where the X-Men could not. They have recruited the Blob.

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants stage an elaborate ambush of the X-Men, but Xavier's well-trained students fight back. It's action pages galore. Here's a shot of Quicksilver taking out the Angel.


quicksilver takes out the angel

And now the accursed betrayal. Magneto launches missiles at the X-Men while the Blob is still in the line of fire. The hapless Blob ends up taking the brunt of the the blast.


blob withstands a missile hit

To the Blob, this isn't fatal. Not even close. The betrayal of his so-called team mates is what really gets to him. On top of his previous ill-fated encounter with the X-Men, now this. The Blob stalks off.


blob stalks off after being betrayed by the brotherhood of evil mutants

The X-Men are the popular kids, the 'beautiful people', the 'in' crowd. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are the bad boys, the 'cool' kids. The Blob stands for the nerds, the fat kids, the loners, who end up in the middle while the two groups bicker. That's my impression after seeing Blob's two X-Men outings to date.

Lee and Kirby are on a roll with great villain creations. Next is Unus the Untouchable, who has his own personal force field.

By the eighth issue, Iceman is looking less 'snowy'.


iceman's new icy look

I did mention that the X-Men where starting to become the 'popular' kids. Well, maybe Lee didn't think that would fly very well with fans - popular kids probably didn't read comics in the sixties, they're too busy brushing their hair or something. Anyway, its the start of the end of the X-Men as the 'popular kid' group as Lee introduces anti-mutant sentiment. Here Beast rescues a child, an in return, he gets a lynch mob.


beast gets attacked by an ungrateful mob

Hank quits and decides to become a wrestler. Not the sport, something like WWE. Its theatrical, its showy, and if its good enough for Spider-Man its good enough for the Beast.


beast as a professional wrestler

Here is where the Beast meets the untouchable Unus.


beast meets unus in the ring

As an application to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (them again!), Unus stages a bank robbery. This is a great Kirby panel of bullets bouncing off Unus' personal force field


bullets bounce off unus as he attempts a robbery

Back in the day, the X-Men operated more like a a super-hero group, actively crimefighting (a role they would try to come back to in the early issues of Astonishing X-Men). So they very quickly happen on Unus and, just as quickly, discover his power.


unus shows his power to the x-men

Once again the mystery question is: How do they defeat an untouchable foe? The answer lies not in any mutant power of the X-Men, but on the extreme smarts of one Hank McCoy - one of the geniuses of the Marvel Universe.


hank invents a device to counter unus

Unus gets defeated by a tactic based on wisdom : A little of a good thing is good, a lot can be ruinous. Very satisfying issue.

Now for issue 9. What a treat! The first Avengers meet the first X-Meh. Look at this great splash page


x-men and avengers splash page

In a scene that might have been inspired by the Titanic, Cyclops shows that no ship is in danger from icebergs if he's on board.


cyclops destroys an iceberg

And after that display of power we see one of the quirks of the young Cyclops.


cyclops exhausted after using his power

Using the optic blasts tires him out.

Wonderful panel of someone in what looks like a Triumph roadster encountering the Avengers.


the avengers ask directions from a startled motorist

Giant-Man nearly straddling he car, Kirby drew it right.

And here's the panel leading up to the very first Avengers vs. X-Men.


first meeting between the avengers and the x-men

Surprise! surprise! Cyclops manages to disarm Thor - the most powerful marvel hero ever.


cyclops disarms thor

Beautiful 'dodge and catch' moves by Angel and Beast


angel dodges, and beast, catches cap's shield

Let the battle begin!


the first avengers x-men battle

There's also a Professor X vs. Lucifer subplot in this issue but the centerpiece is the Mighty Avengers.

Now we are at issue 10. Look at Marvel Girl assembling a rifle with her mind.


jean grey assembles a rifle with her mind

This issue, Lee and Kirby take us to the Savage land to meet Ka-Zar. Although frankly, I'd rather meet Sheena - also a denizen of the Savage or Hidden Land. I particularly love Kirby's rendition of this icy tunnel leading to to steamy jungles hidden beneath the ice.


the x-men follow an icy tunnel to the savage land

Kirby's Angel rendition makes me want to fly.


angel in the skies of the savage land

The jungle of the Savage Land by Kirby


the jungles of the savage land

Jean Grey gets kidnapped by some native warriors. and we get our first glimpse of Ka-Zar and Zabu.


ka-zar and zabu

Let's give Ka-Zar credit, he's proving a handful for the X-Men.


ka-zar proves a handful for the x-men

Eeeeahhhhhh!!!!!!!AAARooaarrrhaahhhahh!Rooooaarragaagaagaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!


ka-zar bellows

Yaaaaaarrhhhhhhhagggggghhhh!!!!!!!!!!Rooooooaaaaaaarggggaaaaaah!!!!!!!!

Oh yes. I mean, what else do you do in the jungle right?

The Mavel Girl rescue mission shows off the agility of the Beast.


beast does an acrobatic jump

And let's not forget Cyclops' 'magic eyes'.


cyclops destroys a pallisade gate

Great first trip to the Savage Land, and it won't be their last.

Reading these classic X-Men issues, I can't help but think about the more modern X-Men tales that weave great stories by mining the X-Men's rich history. When these stories were written there was no rich history to be mined. So the pleasure I get is of seeing the X-Men universe being built as each issue comes out. These are the tropes that future writers will call forth again and again, but here they are fresh and new, specially when I know how enduring they will become. Onwards . . .

So far, the X-Men have encountered fellow mutants, other superheroes, and mighty humans (ok, mighty human, as in Ka-zar). Now, with issue 11, it's time to introduce cosmic Marvel into the X-Men story. And that comes by way of the Stranger.


the stranger

The Stranger is uber-powerful. Not Magneto powerful - more. Cosmic Level. Galactus level. So based on power levels alone this guy pretty much has the run of the comic. The Stranger is the embodiment of the combined abilities of billions of people, an entire planetary population. So let's see what this guy wants.

Didn't I say the Stranger was more powerful than Magneto? Well, that doesn't stop the Master of Magnetism from trying to fight above his weight class.

The results were never in doubt.


magneto tries to overcome the stranger

Quicksilver's speed has pretty much made him invincible from the beginning. But that state of affairs ends now. And who takes him down? The amazing Iceman, that's who.


iceman takes out quicksilver

It just occurred to me that Iceman, the Human Torch and Spider-Man are around the same age. Marvel should have given these three a team comic. Anyway . . .

The Stranger does his size-changing thing and kidnaps both Magneto and Toad, taking them out of Earth into who-knows-where. The incident seems to have such finality that Professor X considers the threat of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to be permanently resolved.

Magneto! Unus! the Vanisher! the Blob! We've had some great villains so far but the best takes up issues 12 and 13. It's the unforgettable Juggernaut!

The start is simple enough and very entertaining. An alarm sounds in the X-mansion and the Professor, in near panic, orders the X-Men to erect the strongest defense infrastructure around the mansion that they can. Here they are hard at work.


the x-men sets up defences around the mansion

Nothing says more about the Juggernauts power than this: He got buried under a mountain and has spent years digging himself out. Who survives getting buried underneath a mountain? And who survives years of digging out of it? What a powerhouse.

Issue 12 is spent telling the backstory between Xavier and Cain Marko, the Juggernaut. All the while Lee creates a steady buildup of tension as the Juggernaut approaches the heavily defended mansion. The last panel we see the Juggernaut at last then on to issue 13 . . .

Great panel near the start of the issue


juggernaut confronts professor x with the x-men looking on

He's already unstoppable physically, on top of that, he's proof against telepathic attack. This guy is becoming my favorite villain, you know, if Doctor Doom didn't exist.


the juggernauts helmet makes him immune to telepathy

Cyclops is in big trouble.


the juggernaut resists cyclops's optic blast

The awesome Beast does what he can.


the beast distracts the juggernaut

Including activating the Danger Room.


the juggernaut is attacked by the danger room

Here comes the cavalry! Also known as the Human Torch! Surprise!


the human torch attacks the juggernaut

So who's the hero of the day? Is it the Torch? the Beast? Cyclops? No, its the Angel!


angel takes out the juggernaut

Removing Juggernauts helm makes him vulnerable to telepathic attack. He's easily the toughest opponent the X-Men have come against so far.

From issue 14 to 16 it is the first encounter betweenthe X-Men and the Sentinels!

Issue 14 starts with the X-Men in various states of recovery from their harrowing encounter with the Juggernaut.

Meanwhile, the anti-mutant sentiment seen on the streets the previous issues have taken on a more organized cask. Witness, Dr. Bolivar Trask, inventor of the Sentinels


bolivar trask, inventor of the sentinels

Here we see the first Sentinels.


mark I sentinels

These Mark I Sentinels are much smaller than later versions. In a surprising move, Dr. Trask is struck down by his own creations.

A Sentinel is taken down - Iceman style.


iceman takes down a sentinel

So Cyclops is riding a taxi and he drops his glasses and the optic blast blows a hole through the taxis roof. So this happens.


a taxi driver shouts at scott to pay for damages

The dialogue's all wrong wouldn't you say? More likely the driver would shout : "Hey stop! Who's going to pay for my roof?!"

I've been aching to see what those optic blasts could do to a Sentinel. Unfortunately, Cyclops' first attempt is a miss.


cyclops tries his optic blasts against a sentinel and misses

Here's Angel being attacked by multiple flying Sentinels.


angel attacked by sentinels in the sky

By issue 15, we meet the controller of the Sentinels - the Master Mold.


the master mold

In the midst of this Sentinel story we get to read about how the Professor found the Beast. Its nice to know that Hank McCoy had supportive parents.


hank is accepted by his parents

Ah, at last! I've been waiting for this.


cyclops hits a sentinel

By issue 16 the X-Men are prisoners of the Sentinels.


the x-men are imprisoned by the sentinels

Our heroes escape, of course, resulting in a pitched battle. Just look at this great panel (I've noticed, that with Kirby drawing the X-Men the page-length panel on the right page of the comic, top portion, is almost always exceptional).


angel escapes from the sentinels' prison

In the end, Bolivar Trask proves himself a hero and sacrifices his life to end the mad rampage of these Mark I Sentinels.

We all knew Magneto would be back of course. And this is the issue where he returns - too bad we don't get any details of what he went through when he was kidnapped by the Stranger nor about what happened to the Toad.

Before they battled the Sentinels three issues ago, the X-Men were already physically in a bad way due to their encounter with the Juggernaut. They fought the Sentinels during their recovery period. That was a rough fight and now all of them, except Angel, are confined to the hospital. By this time, Jack Kirby is only doing the layouts of the pages, Jay Gavin stepped in to finish the art. One thing about Jay Gavin is there is no Jay Gavin. Jay Gavin is a pseudonym used by artist Werner Roth to conceal from DC that he was working for Marvel.

So we get this full page Angel art from the team of Kirby and Roth.


the angel

The story is very simple. Everybody except Iceman, goes back to the mansion and one by one they are ambushed by a mysterious assailant later to be revealed as Magneto.

This is a really great shot of Marvel Girl and Beast leaving the hospital.


beast and marvel girl leave the hospital in style

Evidently, the hospital's front door is for humans.

By issue 18, ladies and gentlemen, the King has left the building. Thank you Mr. Kirby, that was fantastic art. Henceforth we get to enjoy the art of Werner Roth.

Magneto has trapped the X-Men in a high altitude balloon. A trip from which - he believes - they will never return.


the x-men trapped in a high-altitude balloon

In an incredible display of power the Master of Magnetism lifts the whole Xavier mansion.


magneto lifts xavier's mansion

Here's another Magneto demonstration of his ability to rebuild rather than destroy.


magneto uses his power to rebuild a machine

With Bobby the only X-Man left, its Iceman vs. Magneto. As expected, Bobby isn't doing very well. Fortunately, the others escape their high-altitude prison and arrive in time


the x-men arrive just in time to save iceman

It couldn't last forever, with issue 19, the parade of great X-Men villains ends, with the arrival of the Mimic. Boo! Hisss!

Lee on script as usual, Wroth on art, but the really noticeable thing is the heavy ink by Dick Ayers.

The Mimic, or Calvin Rankin, is a jerk from the first panel we see him. As for his powers, well, here he is mimicking the powers of the Beast


mimic copies the beast

Here's the Mimic with the powers of both the Beast and Iceman.


the mimic copies both beast and iceman

Here's a flawed panel from the issue


the mimic copies cyclops

The Mimic has copied Cyclops' power; the only thing is, unless those glasses are ruby quartz the optic blasts would be all over the place. And those glasses can't be ruby quartz - those specialized Cyclops visors can't just be picked up anywhere. Plus how does Calvin know to wear protective glasses in the first place?

Now here's the Mimic facing the X-Men with all their powers. He looks ridiculous.


the mimic has all the powers of the x-men

The 'M' on the chest means 'Moron'.

Mimic beats the X-Men. I protest! The X-Men are battle hardened while this guy just walked off the street five minutes ago.

Mimic kidnaps Marvel Girl. I protest again! Stan Lee already did this gimmick in issue 10.

Oh well.

The Mimic then proceeds to tell his origin like we're interested. Then the X-Men arrive and in the ensuing battle the Mimic loses his powers and the Professor mindwipes him. Unfortunately, we are not so lucky, this freak will be back in a future issue (groan).

With issue number 20 Stan Lee is getting ready to leave the X-Men, leaving the team in the equally legendary hands of Roy Thomas. Werner Roth still on pencils.

Here we see the criminal alliance of the Blob and Unus.


blob and unus form a criminal alliance

Mind you, this is one of the great friendships of the Marvel Universe. Many, many years from hence the Blob will mourn the death of his friend Unus in the pages of Spectacular Spider-Man.

Issue 20 also marks the return of the alien Lucifer. Lee gave this guy a big buildup but he will quickly be forgotten, one of the failed villains of the early X-Men years.

The last issue of the collection, issue 21, is a Lucifer issue. Werner Roth drew a great splash page for this issue don't you think?


the x-men in a plane

Here's the Beast and Iceman taking on Lucifer's robot henchmen.


beast and iceman tackle some robots

You know who these robot's remind me of? Cameron Hodges' underlings from the New Mutants.

The big panel here is this:


cyclops makes a daring decision and hits angel

Cyclops, as team leader, uses his optic blast on a disobedient Angel. I really don't know what to make of this. Was Cyclops being a good team leader or not? That is why this is such a key panel. It bears a lot of thinking about Cyke's decision in the field. Fortunately, the long-term friendship between him and Warren won't be harmed.

Here's the ending :


lucifer is sent offworld

Stan Lee and Roy Thomas sends Lucifer back to space and out of the X-Men milieu forever.

With issue 22, Marvel took a whole bunch of villains from the other Marvel books and pitted the X-Men against them. First, we have Count Nefaria.


count nefaria

When I first saw Count Nefaria, it was in the pages of the Avengers. It would be many years later from these early X-Men years. Nefaria was in costume and he had given himself so much power that he could fight with Thor toe-to-toe.

Then we have Plantman.


plantman

Just like Count Nefaria, I first came across Plantman many years later. This time in the pages of the Defenders. This guy gave Luke Cage a hard time.

Next is the Scarecrow with his trained crows


scarecrow

I'm not very familiar with this villain.

Here's the Porcupine.


porcupine

Porcupine is not around these days, he died in battle fighting together with Captain America. That's right, after a life of crime Porcupine would die a hero. His Porcupine armor once stood in Avengers Mansion bearing the words "Battle Armor of the Porcupine, honored foe of the Avengers". Very nice.

Next, is the Eel.


eel

I've read the Eel before but I don't remember where. He's a slippery villain able to project electricity.

The Unicorn and his lethal horn. This villain is a foe of Iron Man.


unicorn

The whole story flows into the next issue, issue 23. This is the first issue where artist Werner Roth uses his own name instead of the Jay Gavin pseudonym - evidently, no more conflict with DC.

As the issue opens Count Nefaria has put a dome over Washington D.C., holding the city hostage. I was about to complain about this ploy being too campy until I remembered that I'm reading a comic book.


count nefaria's dome over washington d.c.

I'm looking for some exceptional action panels here but none are to be found. Mainly because there's an awful lot of talk in this issue, too much I think. If you've got a roster of villains like these on one side and the X-Men on the other all out action is the way to go. Oh well.

The Locust, the villain of issue 24, won't be numbered a a major X-Men villain, I agree with that, but this issue isn't half bad - better than I expected with such a lame sounding villain name.

So the Locust is a mad scientists who dresses up as an insect and creates giant insects.


the locust and his giant insects in a field

Yup.

If you're the kind that's grossed out by insects you'll definitely have a reaction to this bug-centric issue, I mean, just check out this giant locust the Professor is studying.


charles xavier autopsies a giant locust

Or this giant beetle going after the X-Men


a giant beetle attacks the x-men

The Locusts uses some kind of ray to enlarge the insects.


How the Locust enlarges insects

The Locust does remarkably well against the X-Men but becomes the victim of his own mad science, ultimately proving himself not a villain at all by surrendering to the authorities.

Next we have the X-Men going on a South American adventure. Here's a sample of the local landscape.


south american landscape

Werner Roth does a great panel here.


the x-men by werner roth

Marvel Girl has temporarily left the team to attend a regular college.

Against the X-Men, we have the godlike power of Kukulkan. During a pitched battle, Cyclops accidentally 'wings' the Angel. Get it 'wings'.


cyclops accidentally hits the angel again

Issue 26 is a wonderful battle issue for you action junkies.

Oh crap, issue 27 is entitled 'Re-Enter the Mimic". Not him again. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping he gets his ass kicked.

Well, the issue starts in a low note. When Stan Lee was writing the Mimic he showed the villain pretty much wiping the floor with the X-Men. Now that Roy Thomas has the scripting reigns he does exactly the same. Let's have faith that this issue will get better.

Here's a wonderful couple of panels if you like a bit of trivia. Professor X invited both Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to become X-Men, but the pair, already Avengers, declined.


quicksilver and the scarlet witch are invited to join the x-men

It must be recruitment week! Even the non-mutant Spider-Man gets invited to the team.


spider-man is invited to join the x-men

Give it up McCoy, it will be several years before Peter Parker turns his back on his loner ways.

Alright! This is more like it. Issue 28 is the debut issue of a future X-Man : Banshee.


debut of the banshee

Looks slightly caricaturish on his first outing don't you think?

I know Banshee is the superstar here but I really like his partner in crime (yes, ol' Banshee was a criminal), the Ogre.


the ogre

Mimic attacks the Ogre and the Ogre does this.


ogre takes out Mimic

Did I say I like the Ogre? I meant I love the Ogre! Boom!

Damn! Look at this Banshee attack. Amazing!


banshee unleashes a full blast against the x-men

The Banshee was not a villain after all as he explains here.


the banshee explains that he was mind controlled

A few issues ago, the Avengers visited these pages, now its one of the Avengers' villains - the Super Adaptoid.


super adaptoic

Just as the Mimic copies the powers of the X-Men, the Super Adaptoid copies the powers of the Avengers. Let's see, Captain America, Hawkeye, Giant-Man and the Wasp. The Adaptoid missed out on Thor, too bad.

This is an action issue from beginning to end. First up, its the X-Men vs. the Super-Adaptoid.


x-men vs. the super-adaptoid

Next its Mimic vs. the Super-Adaptoid.


mimic vs. the super-adaptoid

I enjoyed the Mimic-Super Adaptoid fight better than the X-Men fight.

With issue 30, we have new artists : Jack Sparling and Jack Tartaglione. I've never heard of them before, maybe they're just guest artists. Anyway its a refreshing change in the art.

In this issue we meet the Warlock (not Warlock from New Mutants or Adam Warlock, the Warlock). If you read Marvel long enough you'll meet this guy again under a different name, Maha Yogi. Here he is with a very sexily drawn Marvel Girl.


warlock and marvel girl

As you can see in this panel, this issue's tale has a medieval fantasy flavor.


flying horses

As you can see in this shot, the tale also has a sci-fi flavor.


flying cars

It's a bit too much to mix these two elements though, they keep messing each other up.

In issue 31 Warren says something to Scott that signals a subtle change in the way the X-Men conduct themselves.


angel insinuates a change in the x-men's mission

Based on Warren's words, the X-Men exist for the purpose of fighting evil mutants. If you recall the earlier issues the X-Men showed up for fires, rescue missions, bank robberies, the kind of events other superheroes showed up for, but this signals a divergence - a more mutant-centric mission.

Given the weekend off Hand and Bobby are getting ready to go to the legendary Coffee A Go-Go.


cafe agogo

Warren meets up with Candy Sothern.


candy sothern

She'll be a fixture in his life well into his Defender years.

Soon we encounter the Cobalt Man armor, meant to rival the Iron Man armor.


cobalt man

And this little adventure wraps itself up.

Issue 32 features the welcome return of the Juggernaut.

The issue starts peacefully enough, the scene is a surprise party at the Coffee A Go-Go. I really like this series of panels where one of the cafe's beatnik poets pretty much helps himself to some cake. Looks delicious too.


cake at cafe agogo

It's surprising to see Professor X keeping Juggornaut, his brother Cain Marko, drugged and in chains in the mansion's basement.


the juggernaut is being held in the x-mansion basemment

It's a quaint touch that Werner Roth depicts the mansion's basement looking like a medieval Castle while keeping the mansion proper modern.

Juggernaut escapes his bonds and now its time for a rematch with the X-Men


juggernaut vs. the x-men

When the X-Men first met the Juggernaut they couldn't stop him from entering the mansion, now they can't stop him from getting out.

This splash page to issue 33 is the best rendering of Juggernaut I've seen so far. Kudos to Werner Roth.


juggernaut splash page

In a flashback involving he Crimson Bands of Cyttorak that gives Juggernaut his power, we meet a young version of the Ancient One from the Dr. Strange stories in Strange Tales.


the ancient one when he was not so ancient

If you remember, Dr. Strange uses the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak as a spell to bind his foes. I wonder what effect it would have if the Doctor used it on Juggernaut?

Soon enough, Dr. Strange himself pops in on the X-Men.


dr. strange visits the x-men in astral form

The team splits up: Cyclops and Marvel girl head off to a mystic adventure inside the jewel of Cyttorak. While Angel, Beast and Iceman run interference on Juggernaut to prevent him from causing further damage (talk about a lost cause).

Aided by Doctor Strange, the X-Men are finally able to defeat the Juggernaut. Defeat being the Juggernaut vanishing as he touched the jewel of Cyttorak.

Dan Adkins takes over the artistic chores for issue 34, but only for this issue, Werner Roth will be back. I like Adkins' rendition of the X-Men.


the x-men by adkins

The X-Men get to journey to the center of the Earth on this.


the x-men prepare to board an earth borer

Now here they meet the Mole Man.


the mole man attacks the x-men

Great panel of Ralph Roberts building a supposedly indestructible robot for Tyrranus.


roberts creates a robot for tyrannus

Beast and Cylops follow the other X-Men.


cyclops and the beast follow the other x-men deep within the earth

Good, they're going to need those optic blasts. This descent to Earth would have been a great opportunity to showcase the agility of the boundless Beast, but we don't get those wonderful panels.

Alright! Giant robot fight!


two giant robots fighting

Who say's the Angel can't do anything? Here he takes out a giant robot all by himself.


angel takes out a giant robot

The Mole Man has taken control of Angel, Marvel Girl and Iceman, so when Beast and Cyclops arrives its X-Men vs. X-Men - but just for a panel or two.


cyclops and angel almost come to blows

Issue 35 is a Spider-Man issue.

We find that the Banshee, from issue 28, though not a full-fledged X-Man, is now working for Professor X.


the banshee sends a message to professor x

The X-Men receive a mysterious 'Beware the Spider' message from Banshee.


the x-men recieve a mysterious message

Now we know how Spider-Man is going to be included in this issue.

Spider-Man takes out a spider robot


spider-man defeats a spider robot

Soon enough, its Spider-Man vs X-Men!


spider-man vs. the x-men

Something I've always wanted to see - Beast vs. Spider-Man.


beast vs. spider-man

Jean Grey is just sitting around but this is a wonderful panel nontheless.


jean sitting in the mansion

Spider-Man and the X-Men, another great panel.


spider-man and the x-men

Issue 36 opens with the most common villains of all - a couple of burglars. The Beast entertainingly dispatches both after they find out that Hank McCoy's hard cranium can't be breached even by a two handed hit with a solid wood chair.


beast battles two burglars

Next entertaining scene is the X-Men trying to borrow money while cruising around in Professor X's Rolls-Royce.


x-men riding around in a rolls royce

Did I say money? Yup. This issue is about the X-Men's money problems. Unable to borrow and unwilling to beg or steal they do what the rest of us would, they get a job. This one in an construction site.


cyclops and angel working a construction site

Well, at least some of them do. The Beast and Iceman prefer being street entertainers.


beast and iceman as street entertainers

The villain of the piece is Mekano, a cut-rate Iron Man, well, not really, but he's got enough power to do this to the Beast.


mekano punches the beast

Mekano turns out to be a spoiled brat in the end turning repentant whose father sees it best to 'gift' the X-Men with much needed cash. It's a very light story but it was fun seeing Mekano throwing around the X-Men.

Next we meet the Mutant Master, who, following in the doomed tradition of the unlamented Lucifer, will never live up to his hype - not least because of his stupid costume.


the mutant master needs a new costume

Equally ridiculous looking, but less tragic, is his assistant, the morphing mutant Changeling.


changeling

Many, many, issues from now, Changeling will actually turn to good and help Professor Xavier and the X-Men before perishing due to some fatal disease.

We have the X-Men in transit, riding a commercial airliner. Finally we see an awesome shot (though not awesomely drawn) from Cyclops.


cyclops hits a flying saucer

The Mutant Master story arc lasts up to issue 39 where the X-Men also get new costumes.


the x-men in their new costumes

There's something compelling about the premise of issue 40 : That the classic story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is actually history not fiction. Very nice. Soon, the X-Men comes face to face with the monster itself who proves himself to be a powerhouse adversary


frankenstein shows how strong he is

The issue ends revealing the secret of Frankentein's monster.


the truth behind frankenstein's monster

It's one monster after another as we meet Grotesk, the sub-human denizen of an underground civilization that has been decimated by mankind's atomic bomb experiments.


grotesk the sub-human

How's this for strong?


grotesk stops a subway train at full bore

I just love this Beast vs. Grotesk sequence


grotesk vs. the beast

Hank almost had him.

Now its time to bring in the big gun.


grotesk vs. cyclops

That's how to do it.

Issue 42 ends with the death of Professor X.


the death of professor x

At the start of this collection George Tuska does the art for issue 43. It's not mindblowing art but it is very very good. Easy on the eyes and beautiful layouts. Just look at this Cyclops/Quicksilver panel.


cyclops at the foreground with quicksilver streaking past

Again, Quicksilver and Toad, wonderfully rendered.


quicksilver and toad by tuska

Does this look like brother and sister to you? Hmmm. There are rumours about these two.


sibling love quicksilver and scarlet witch style

Issue 44 links Silver Age Marvel with the Golden Age with the introduction of Red Raven. Here the X-Men's own flier meets Red Raven who is definitely better armed than the Angel


red raven attacks angel

Red Raven's tremendously campy background history is strangely entertaining. Bird men in the sky? This story was probably inspired by Flash Gordon.


the origin of red raven

Red Raven is presented as a hero, but he isn't, and its not because he fights Angel, it's because of what he has done to his adopted people whom he keeps in an endless cycle of suspended animation. His reasons don't matter, his deed is a nefarious act, a form of slavery, a great theft - and through it all we don't here a peep about it from Warren, or from Roy Thomas for that matter. The next issue should be the X-Men coming to the rescue of the Bird people. It should be, but its not.

Ever since Cyclops met Quicksilver he could not defeat the speedster in battle. Scott simply could not hit Pietro. In issue 45, we get yet another rematch between irresistible optic blasts and blinding speed. But before that, this issue is a bit of a mini-showcase of the power and versatility of Cyclops. Here's Scott starting the issue right by bursting his own bonds.


cyclops blasts his bonds

Keeping a steel door open.


cyclops keeps a steel door open with his optic blasts

The battle is on, and, once again, Cyclops is having a tough time.


cylcops can't hit quicksilver

In the end, I wish I could say Cyclop's victory was decisive, but it wasn't, 'accidental' is the proper word for it.


cyclops hits quicksilver with a lucky shot

At the beginning of issue 46 the X-Men - who used to go around trying to earn money - find out they are rich, having inherited everything that belonged to Xavier. Not long afterwards, we get a treat, the Juggernaut returns.


juggernaut lashes out

He's unstoppable as ever but Iceman gives a good accounting of himself.


iceman puts the juggernaut on ice

So does Marvel Girl


marvel girl lifts juggernaut

It would have ended very badly for our mutants if it were not for a failsafe device that spirits Juggernaut away. Juggernaut really needs to meet the Hulk.

Remember the Wizard from issue 30? He's back, this time under the name Maha Yogi. Hypnotism and illusions are his weapons of choice as he goes up against Iceman and Beast. With all but two X-Men out of the way I'm on the lookout for some great Beast panels. Imagine my consternation when I saw the strongest X-Man getting beaten up by a guy with normal human strength.


maha yogi beats up the beast

Maha Yogi has one weapon I forgot about - the killer gem. Here in action against Iceman.


maha yogi hits iceman with the killer gem

Not one good hit from the Beast. How frustrating.

The next issue focuses on Marvel Girl and Cyclops. The issue starts off with Jean Grey in a bikini shoot.


jean greys bikini shot

Ho-hum. Don Heck and Werner Roth on the art chores. Very good artists these but those bikini panels in the hands of John Buscema or Gene Colan would have been absolutely fetching.

Art is ok but Arnold Drake's script is really off. Look at this characterization of Scott. All wrong!


scott acts all tough and aggressive

The pair comes up against a bunch of robots. It's great to sea Jean's power showing some potency - too often she's been portrayed just lifting stuff.


marvel girl destroys some robots

Ever since Marvel experimented with breaking up the X-Men the stories have been going downhill. They're back together for the next issue where they encounter Mesmero.


mesmero

Mesmero and his henchmen didn't just come out of the woodwork like the robots from the Marvel Girl/Cyclops issue, there's some depth to these guys. Evidently, Magneto, who has been around from the beginning, has managed to build quite a reputation. Enough of a reputation for guys like Mesmero to create a kind of cult to the Master of Magnetism.

This issue also introduces Lorna Dane, the future magnetic mutant who will be known as Polaris.


polaris first appearance

The Mesmero storyline continues until issue 50 but the big thing is the new artist. No less than the legendary Jim Steranko. You know its him by looking at this two-page spread.


two page splash by steranko

Even the horribly designed Mesmero looks a bit better.


mesmero by steranko

Just a little.

Check out this X-Men panel.


x-men laying siege

And this one.


x-men

Signature Steranko panel right here.


steranko stylistic panel

The action continues to the 51st issue with another signature Steranko splash page


steranko splash

Oh yeah, Magneto is back. Here's Cyclops giving him a big welcome.


cyclops punches magneto

I've yet to see the Beast being unleashed but I can't help but admire the way Steranko draws him in this panel, even though Hank is on the run.


beast encounters some sharp resistance

Wonderful, Magneto attacks using small metal debris.


magneto uses debris to attack marvel girl and cyclops

Ah, the X-Men are trapped but the Beast frees them by using himself like a battering ram.


beast rams a door

I like him and all but as the X-Men's resident strongman the Beast is a definite lightweight. The FF has got the Thing the Avengers Giant Man , and the Defenders would have the Hulk. Oh well, I still love the Beast and the new X-Men will have Colossus eventually.

Well, that's it for Jim Steranko. It was a refreshing art change. Now let's go back to the clean, solid art of Werner Roth and Don Heck. In this issue the X-Men take a different tack as Cyclops infiltrates Mesmero's camp disguised as the enigmatic Eric the Red.


eric the red

Alright, now we have the biggest villain to grace the pages of the X-Men in recent issue, not including Magneto - Blastaar!

If I was less than pleased with Arnold Drake's script for the past several issues he redeems himself in this one. This is a beautifully crafted one issue tale. Guess artist Barry Smith (Barry Windsor-Smith?) only improves the tale. Right from the first page, its Blastaar time.


blastaar splash panel

Look at the layout of this panel.


blastaar lands

Whoa! The Beast gets not one but two blasts.


beast takes a double hit from blastaar

Technically, Hank should be dead after receiving that kind of hit, but he isn't.

Is this Iceman or the Silver Surfer?


iceman looks like the silver surfer

And the Beast scores!



Very nice issue.

Well we've been doing consecutive issues of the X-Men, but that stops here. We will now focus on the X-Men issues of Neal Adams. What's so special about Neal Adams you say? I'll let the art speak for itself. Let's go . . .

Neal Adams comes in during an ongoing storyline that has a villain called the Living Pharaoh kidnapping Scott Summers' younger brother, Alex. During the attempted kidnapping Alex reveals a hidden power that allows the X-Men to capture the Pharaoh. Right from the start we have this gorgeous visual from Adams.


the living pharaoh is a prisoner of the x-men

Here's Angel with Egypt as a backdrop.


angel makes a protective move

It turns out that the Living Pharaoh and Alex Summers are both mutants that share the same power source - cosmic energy. But only one of them can use this power source at any one time, Alex being the priority. So when the Living Pharaoh traps Alex in a container that blocks the cosmic energy the Pharaoh becomes bathed in power and transforms into .. .


the living monolith

. . . the Living Monolith! This is the coolest villain to hit X-Men since Juggernaut. I was hoping we could count on Cyke's optic blast to take him out but this non-maximum hit only has a limited effect.


cyclops blasts the living monolith

Hank McCoy's brilliant move does topple the gigantic villain.


beast topples the living monolith

In the end, it is Alex Summers escape from his prison that proves the Monolith's undoing. It was only a brief appearance for the Monolith but I'd like to see more of this villain. I think he also pops up in an issue or two of Marvel Team-Up.

Issue 57 marks the return of the Sentinels.


mark 2 sentinels attack iceman and beast

These are Mark II Sentinels, bigger and, more dangerously, able to adapt themselves to the power of any mutant they are facing.

Adams gives us another great Angel panel.


angel runs interference

The master of the Sentinels is Larry Trask, son of Mark I Sentinel creator, the late Bolivar Trask.


larry trask wearing his control helmet

Iceman saves the Beast. Gorgeous panel layout.


iceman saves the beast

Right from the start of issue 58 we get a fantastic image of a Sentinel attempting to capture the Beast.


a sentinel goes after beast

Sentinel going after the Iceman.


sentinel goes after iceman

Larry Trask gives Alex a suit to measure his power levels. This is much better than any costume of any of the X-Men.


havok in his excellent new costume

Alex also gets a codename : Havok. Very nice. Even nicer is seeing Havok in action.


havok unleashes his power

I like the Angel, but it has to be said that half his time he's getting hit, getting exhausted, or, as is the case here, getting captured.


angel gets captured

In the end Larry Trask is revealed as a mutant precog. This mutant hater is actually the very thing he despises. I only wish this kind of absolute justice can be had in our world.

Meanwhile the Sentinels keep busy capturing other mutants.


the sentinels capturing mutants

Ah, I love this. The Beast takes out a Sentinel with his classic double bludgeon maneuver.


beast takes out a sentinel with a double hit

More awesomeness as the biggest gun in the X-Men arsenal cuts loose.


cyclops uses his optic blasts against a sentinel

Here we have the final fate of the Mark II Sentinels.


the mark II sentinels dive into the sun

The next story arc features Sauron - the half pteranodon(or is it pterodactyl?), half man, all vampire. I hesitate to call Sauron or Karl Lykos a villain, in a way he's a victimized boy. This is a very complex character


karl lykos alias sauron

Here's a treat: Danger room panels from Neal Adams.


beast in the danger room


iceman in the danger room


cyclops in the danger room

It's Angel vs. Sauron over the skies of New York.


sauron and angel in the sky

I'm amazed our hero survives this experience considering his track record. Of course, it's partly due to the cavalry arriving in time. Here Cyclops scores a hit.


sauron hit by an optic blast

And the Beast shows his strength.


beast hits sauron

Here we have a melodramtic encounter between Lykos, his girl Tanya, and Tanya's father.


encounter between lykos, tanya and tanya's father

Tanya's father is of the mind that it is foolish for a young woman to marry a poor man. I agree totally.

Back in issue 10, the X-Men made their first journey to the Savage Land. Now, in issue 62, it is time for our young heroes to return. Of course they will once again meet Ka-Zar (pronounced Kay-zar). The issue starts with the Angel getting beaten up by a bunch of Pteranodons; I'm starting to believe that getting defeated in battle is Angel's mutant power. Look how tough Ka-Zar is.


ka-zar withstands the x-men

What a great panel from Adams.


ka-zar and the x-men

Also in the Savage Land is X-Men arch-foe, Magneto.


magneto in the savage land

Neal Adams leaves for an issue and returns in issue 65 - his last issue and the penultimate issue of the classic X-Men. For this last Adams issue, the art isn't as detailed and polished as the previous issue. Maybe the deadline was tight, or Adams was tired or Inker Tom Palmer was tired. Could be anything.

Anyway in this issue we have the return of Professor X who has been hiding in the basement all this time preparing for an alien invasion. Is that corny or what? At this point I'm bracing myself for a bad story but writer Dennis O'Neil proves me wrong - this issue is surprisingly wells scripted in spite of the dime-a-dozen alien attack plot.

Check out Neal Adams' S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier


shield helicarrier by neal adams

The Professor's finest hour to date.


charles xavier harnesses the minds of many

Charles Xavier harnesses the psychic power of millions of people to defeat the alien threat. That's a pretty amazing ending. Was Neal Adams great or what?