Posted by Pete Albano - December 4-11, 2011 | Updated March 19, 2013 | April 2, 2013 | August 22, 2015
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.
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.
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.
The wall-bouncing thing is very impressive.
Next : Angel.
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.
Jean Grey arrives next showing her telekinetic powers.
In two panels the Professor explains the purpose of his school.
And now the first appearance of one of Marvel's foremost - er, is it villain or hero? - these days Magneto escapes easy description.
Magneto's power is shown to be so potent he can affect objects in near earth orbit
I think thats very impressinve but this is even more impressive - writing letters on air using 'magnetized dust particles'.
I don't think he ever repeated this trick.
Personal force field? Check.
Warren keeps 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.
Check out Iceman's accuracy as he stops some missiles.
Beast also shows up very well with this wonderfully illustrated catch.
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.
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 splash page of issue 2 is even more beautiful than issue 1. Wow.
I particularly like Bobby sliding into the picture instead of running.
Heres' a beautiful Beast action sequence
In issue 1, we saw Jean Grey lifting a book. Mmm-hmm. Time for something more hardcore.
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.
Let it be noted that anti-mutant sentiment isn't rampant yet, as this panel from issue 2 will testify.
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.
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.
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.
Here's the Vanisher's weakness
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.
Soon enough its the X-Men vs. the Vanisher
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.
In the end this story is about the incredible, yet subtle, power of Professor X. See what he does to 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
Here's a great double panel showing the Angel using his powers aggressively.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
The Scarlet Witch with her mutant hex power.
Quicksilver is so fast we can hardly see him.
Then we have the agile 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
Wounded from the fight with the evil mutants, the Professor is taken back home
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.
Issue 5 is our first glimpse of another classic Marvel hq - Magneto's asteroid base.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Soon Namor meets the Brotherhood, the other members are unimpressed but Magneto schools them on what the Submariner can do.
At this point the X-Men attack. During these early days Cyclops could never properly defend against Quicksilver's speed
The fight devolves to a war between the two biggest egos - Submariner and Magneto!
Namor, ever the hothead takes on the X-Men next but Cyclops almost proves too strong for him
This is a wonderful panel showing the dynamics of what goes on next.
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.
This is also the fateful issue where Professor X recognizes the leadership potential of Scott Summers.
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.
The Blob goes up against Magneto but he is no match for the Master of Magnetism.
Here's a very sixties panel showing Bobby and Hank in a jazz club of that time. Note the slang and the clothing.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
Here is where the Beast meets the untouchable Unus.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
And after that display of power we see one of the quirks of the young Cyclops.
Using the optic blasts tires him out.
Wonderful panel of someone in what looks like a Triumph roadster encountering the Avengers.
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.
Surprise! surprise! Cyclops manages to disarm Thor - the most powerful marvel hero ever.
Beautiful 'dodge and catch' moves by Angel and Beast
Let the battle begin!
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.
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.
Kirby's Angel rendition makes me want to fly.
The jungle of the Savage Land by Kirby
Jean Grey gets kidnapped by some native warriors. and we get our first glimpse of Ka-Zar and Zabu.
Let's give Ka-Zar credit, he's proving a handful for the X-Men.
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.
And let's not forget Cyclops' 'magic eyes'.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Cyclops is in big trouble.
The awesome Beast does what he can.
Including activating the Danger Room.
Here comes the cavalry! Also known as the Human Torch! Surprise!
So who's the hero of the day? Is it the Torch? the Beast? Cyclops? No, its the Angel!
Here we see the first 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.
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.
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.
Here's Angel being attacked by multiple flying Sentinels.
By issue 15, we meet the controller of the Sentinels - 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.
Ah, at last! I've been waiting for this.
By issue 16 the X-Men are prisoners of 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).
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 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.
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.
In an incredible display of power the Master of Magnetism lifts the whole Xavier mansion.
Here's another Magneto demonstration of his ability to rebuild rather than destroy.
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
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
Here's the Mimic with the powers of both the Beast and Iceman.
Here's a flawed panel from the issue
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 '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.
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.
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?
Here's the Beast and Iceman taking on Lucifer's robot henchmen.
You know who these robot's remind me of? Cameron Hodges' underlings from the New Mutants.
The big panel here is this:
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 :
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.
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.
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
I'm not very familiar with this villain.
Here's the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Or this giant beetle going after the X-Men
The Locusts uses some kind of ray to enlarge the 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.
Werner Roth does a great panel here.
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'.
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.
It must be recruitment week! Even the non-mutant Spider-Man gets invited to the team.
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.
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.
Mimic attacks the Ogre and the Ogre does this.
Did I say I like the Ogre? I meant I love the Ogre! Boom!
Damn! Look at this Banshee attack. Amazing!
The Banshee was not a villain after all as he explains here.
A few issues ago, the Avengers visited these pages, now its one of the Avengers' villains - the Super Adaptoid.
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.
Next its Mimic vs. the Super-Adaptoid.
As you can see in this panel, this issue's tale has a medieval fantasy flavor.
As you can see in this shot, the tale also has a sci-fi flavor.
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.
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.
Warren meets up with 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.
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.
It's surprising to see Professor X keeping Juggornaut, his brother Cain Marko, drugged and in chains in the mansion's basement.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 get to journey to the center of the Earth on this.
Now here they meet the Mole Man.
Great panel of Ralph Roberts building a supposedly indestructible robot for Tyrranus.
Beast and Cylops follow the other X-Men.
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!
Who say's the Angel can't do anything? Here he takes out a giant robot all by himself.
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.
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 X-Men receive a mysterious 'Beware the Spider' message from Banshee.
Now we know how Spider-Man is going to be included in this issue.
Spider-Man takes out a spider robot
Soon enough, its Spider-Man vs X-Men!
Something I've always wanted to see - Beast vs. Spider-Man.
Jean Grey is just sitting around but this is a wonderful panel nontheless.
Spider-Man and the X-Men, another great panel.
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.
Next entertaining scene is the X-Men trying to borrow money while cruising around in Professor X's 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.
Well, at least some of them do. The Beast and Iceman prefer being 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 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.
Equally ridiculous looking, but less tragic, is his assistant, the morphing mutant 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.
The Mutant Master story arc lasts up to issue 39 where the X-Men also get 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
The issue ends revealing the secret of Frankentein'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.
How's this for strong?
I just love this Beast vs. Grotesk sequence
Hank almost had him.
Now its time to bring in the big gun.
That's how to do it.
Issue 42 ends with 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.
Again, Quicksilver and Toad, wonderfully rendered.
Does this look like brother and sister to you? Hmmm. There are rumours about these two.
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's tremendously campy background history is strangely entertaining. Bird men in the sky? This story was probably inspired by Flash Gordon.
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.
Keeping a steel door open.
The battle is on, and, once again, Cyclops is having a tough time.
In the end, I wish I could say Cyclop's victory was decisive, but it wasn't, 'accidental' is the proper word for it.
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.
He's unstoppable as ever but Iceman gives a good accounting of himself.
So does Marvel Girl
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 has one weapon I forgot about - the killer gem. Here in action against Iceman.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
Even the horribly designed Mesmero looks a bit better.
Just a little.
Check out this X-Men panel.
And this one.
Signature Steranko panel right here.
The action continues to the 51st issue with another signature Steranko splash page
Oh yeah, Magneto is back. Here's Cyclops giving him a big welcome.
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.
Wonderful, Magneto attacks using small metal debris.
Ah, the X-Men are trapped but the Beast frees them by using himself like a battering ram.
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.
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.
Look at the layout of this panel.
Whoa! The Beast gets not one but two blasts.
Technically, Hank should be dead after receiving that kind of hit, but he isn't.
Is this Iceman or 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.
Here's Angel with Egypt as a backdrop.
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! 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.
Hank McCoy's brilliant move does topple the gigantic villain.
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.
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.
The master of the Sentinels is Larry Trask, son of Mark I Sentinel creator, the late Bolivar Trask.
Iceman saves the Beast. Gorgeous panel layout.
Right from the start of issue 58 we get a fantastic image of a Sentinel attempting to capture the Beast.
Sentinel going after the 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.
Alex also gets a codename : Havok. Very nice. Even nicer is seeing Havok in action.
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.
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.
Ah, I love this. The Beast takes out a Sentinel with his classic double bludgeon maneuver.
More awesomeness as the biggest gun in the X-Men arsenal cuts loose.
Here we have the final fate of the Mark II Sentinels.
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
Here's a treat: Danger room panels from Neal Adams.
It's Angel vs. Sauron over the skies of New York.
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.
And the Beast shows his strength.
Here we have a melodramtic encounter between Lykos, his girl 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.
What a great panel from Adams.
Also in the Savage Land is X-Men arch-foe, Magneto.
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
The Professor's finest hour to date.
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?