Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men, Vol.1

As I said about the Marvel Masterworks: Avengers Vol.1 , it's nice to read the first several consecutive issues of these Silver Age titles in one collection, most of which I can buy used for much less than collecting the original issues. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were on a roll in 1963, and while these first stories, this first team of X-Men looks very different from the X-Men we know today, it all began here. The five special teenagers brought together by telepath Charles Xavier in these early adventures were learning to channel their unique mutant powers as individuals and as a team, facing powerful foes,  uncertain odds, and a public's increasing hatred of their kind . There's adventure, comedy, tragedy, and unrequited love in these pages, just as there is in those years coming of age. And while I wouldn't want to be a teenager again, I felt some of those old feelings again reading this fun book.

While it's not for everyone, I think there's a lot to be said for the Silver & Bronze Age Marvel material. The dialogue may seem stilted to those unfamiliar with the parlance common to comics of yesteryear, but I find these first stories refreshing- they are free of the exhausting continuity issues to come later, and the artwork is fun and splashy. I won't talk about every detail of all the ten stories here, but here are some moments throughout to give you a sense of what a great book this is:

*X-Men Vs. Magneto, Issue #1
Right out of the gate our young heroes are up against the Master of Magnetism, legendary arch enemy Magneto- what a way to start!

While these X-Men may be up against the likes of Magneto in their first issue, we are still given both comic relief and a sense of their naivety, the teenager's rambunctious energy disrupting a training session with Professor X:

*X-Men Vs. Blob
Guided by Professor X, the young team seeks out another mutant their leader senses, in hopes of reaching him before the malign influence of Magneto leads him astray. Finding the Blob working as a circus sideshow act, the teenagers are put off by Fred Dukes obnoxious nature instantly. When Professor X asks him to join the X-Men, Blob refuses, claiming superiority over the team, their tests of power ineffective against the behemoth, immovable mutant. After inviting the circus to attack our young heroes in issue #3, the Blob returns in issue #7 to join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants against the X-Men!

*Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Issues #4 & 5
As if their first encounter with Magneto wasn't challenging enough, the gifted youngsters must face his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as well! Mastermind and Toad make their first appearance in issue #4, as do the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver- the siblings who we later learn are actually Magneto's children, and soon move on to join the Avengers after their debt to Magneto is repaid.

*Sub-Mariner joins the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
The powerful Prince of Atlantis further complicates things, confounding the X-Men by joining Magneto & Co. Namor, Quicksilver, & Scarlet Witch are made to realize by Professor X that all have been made pawns to Magneto's malevolent intentions, turning Namor against him!

*X-Men Vs. the Avengers, Issue #9
Unbeknownst to the Avengers, Professor X has also been seeking the menacing & mysterious Lucifer who's built a thermonuclear bomb that's circuits are attuned to his heartbeat. If harmed by the Avengers the bomb could go off, so the Professor commands his X-Men to distract the heroes while he works on a plan!

*X-Men Meet Ka-Zar, Issue #10
Drawn by the appearance of the savage & his saber-tooth tiger Zabu, the teen heroes get in hot water with the subterranean Savage Land natives, and Ka-Zar has to come to their rescue among the prehistoric wildlife that inhabit the land time forgot! Riveting!

I also like the splashy pinup pages in these books, giving you a detailed, close look at the characters- these two of Beast & Marvel Girl take the cake!

I read the Marvel Masterworks: Avengers Vol.2  last month, and am currently reading Vol.2 of X-Men. Getting into these has made rediscovering comics all the more enjoyable for me! I enjoy all the decades of comics, but I feel this time period was a renaissance for comics, an incredible cast of characters & modern comic mythos developed within it. Don't be afraid to peek  :D
More Later- Make It FUN!
*Check out the Marvel Masterworks Resource Page!


  1. I have a special reprint of the first issue!~

  2. What year was this TPB released SDTB?And..did the X-Men best the Avengers in that little skirmish?VCS(very cool stuff)!

  3. this one was printed in 2009, but the Marvel Masterworks Resource Page says '03 was the first compilation

  4. I didnt know they were re-doing the Marvel Masterwork books. o_0
    I still have the older ones that were printed in the 90s, they used to be worth a pretty penny since they were rare back then. Wonder if they still are...lol
    Thanks for the look. ^_^