X-Men: First Era

Posted by berserkfury2006 (8 posts) - - Show Bio

It's taken me a while but I've finally gathered the time and energy to put one of these blogs together. The only activity that I do that feels relevant enough to write down is comic book reading, so I'm writing about that. I only read comics related to the X-Men for the most part (I've also read Runaways up to vol. 3 and Kick-Ass). This blog and the potential others that follow are meant to be reflections of what I felt while reading and are merely my opinion of the events that occur within the comic. I also hope to keep my writing sharp for educational purposes as well through blogs such as these. Let the fun writing commence!!! Before I forget this contains spoilers for anyone who had any intention of reading X-Men #1-66.

Alright so this is how my favorite super-hero team of all time begins. Set in the 1960's, I was concerned that I would be unable to endure the tacky jokes and references, but luckily the story kept me entertained enough to read through it all. As the series goes on, however, it slowly starts to go off the deep end with ridiculous antics created by the creative team. Before I get to all that, I would like to note the good things about this series. The introduction of important characters is the main positive of this series including the original five X-Men -- Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Beast, and Angel -- their mentor Professor Xavier, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants -- Toad, Mastermind, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and leader Magneto -- Vanisher, Blob, Namor, Juggernaut, Dr. Bolivar Trask, Mimic, Lucifer, Count Nefaria and the Maggia, Banshee, Lorna Dane, Havok, Sauron, Ka-Zar and Zabu, Sunfire, and Eric the Red.

These characters are all either relevant to the story of the X-Men or have made appearances in other comics. My favorite X-Man during this era is definitely Cyclops because he has so much responsibility keeping the team together, coordinating strategies in battle, and constantly standing up for Xavier's dream of peace between mutants and humans. There is no structure to the team without him at all. I also felt bad for him because he has no control over his powers and feared that he would someday hurt someone accidentally. On the opposite end of that spectrum, my least favorite X-Man is the Angel. Why? Because he never listens to Cyclops and is repeatedly putting himself in danger due to his own stupidity and inability to follow directions. I also liked Iceman and Beast together making silly jokes and having a good time. Marvel Girl was alright to me. Although she was the only girl on the team, she didn't really stand out to me. I knew she was there, but she never did anything that made me go "wow, Marvel Girl's pretty cool." I guess Jean doesn't get interesting until she goes Phoenix, but that's a tale for another blog. There are two things about Professor Xavier that really stood out to me. First, his head was drawn so large in these early issues that I just laughed every time there was a close-up of him. Maybe the intent was to emphasize how smart and telepathic he was, but it was just such a big head. Second, Xavier has got to be the most active man to ever be in a wheelchair because he was all over the place during the X-Men's missions. He didn't even have his pimped out '90s wheelchair yet but he was still dodging enemies and rolling like he was in a super scooter or something. I also found it interesting that Xavier had no problem altering people's memories in these early issues even though his main belief is that he won't use his powers on people without their consent. I guess if the X-Men are in danger those rules go right out the window which is completely logical to me because it makes fights so much easier.

The baddie that stood out the most for me was Magneto because he was just so crazy in these issues. His plans were really extreme and he saw himself as the most powerful being on the planet. He also really disliked his minions in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, so I'm not surprised that he ditches them when he resurfaces in the next era. Toad is another fun character because he was all over Magneto for the duration of these early issues trying to make him happy but constantly being yelled at and physically abused. He reminded me of an Igor-type character the entire time and it was entertaining. Mastermind came off as a pervert to me entirely due to his attempts to try and get Scarlet Witch to like him. He seemed so devious and if Magneto wasn't in charge of the Brotherhood, he probably would have found a way to take the leadership position. Juggernaut was such a destructive character and is significant to me because he was the X-Men's first real challenge and defeat. Every issue he was in, he just ran through walls and punched everything. I was curious about how he actually got to the mansion in his first appearance in issue #12. When Xavier was giving the back-story between the Juggernaut and himself, he mentioned that the Juggernaut was created when his step-brother Cain Marko came into contact with the Cyttorak Gem during the Korean War. Xavier left him buried in a collapsed cave afterward which left me wondering if the Juggernaut had dug himself out of the rubble and ran all the way to the mansion to kill Xavier. Did he spend some time getting used to his powers before deciding to come after Xavier or did he immediately pop out in Korea and decide that he wanted revenge on Xavier? Did he take a plane back to America or did he run across the ocean? Maybe he stowed away on a boat? I don't know and I never get my answers so I'm left to only speculate. I was surprised to discover that Banshee, Lorna Dane, Havok, and Sunfire were characters created in these issues and not during the X-Men's revival in the '70s.

With the character analysis out of the way, I would now like to get to the noteworthy parts of this series from its high points to extreme lows. I will start with the Master of Magnetism himself because he did some ridiculous stuff. The first incident that comes to mind is his attempt to kill Namor when he refuses to join the Brotherhood. It all seemed really excessive at the time but then I later realized that this would be regular behavior for Magneto because he continues to threaten people to either join him or die. He also came up with a plan that made no sense to me at all. Angel's parents come to the mansion for a visit and Magneto captures them and intends to create an army of mutants from their body cells. Since both of Angel's parents are human, I really doubted the effectiveness of this plan. I know that they were able to produce a mutant with Angel, but Magneto's plan would have probably worked better if he had captured mutants instead to make his mutant army. Either way the plan is botched in the end so it becomes irrelevant but come on, Magneto. The biggest insult to Magneto's intelligence will be discussed next, but it's so terrible that I must explain it in a new paragraph.

Issue #44. This was the issue that made me doubt what I was reading for the first time. I could get past the corny lines and bad costumes, but what happens in this issue was just too much for me. It made me want to sacrifice the creative team to a sun god or something it was so bad. So, in this issue the X-Men are going after Magneto (typical stuff right?) and are easily caught because Magneto has finally got their powers figured out and develops contraptions designed to counteract all of their abilities (good job, Magneto). He wants to kill them (he should have) but Quicksilver convinces him to spare them and just keep them locked up. Now at this point I'm reading and thinking "oh snap, how are the X-Men going to get out of this? What will Cyclops come up with this time?" Apparently no planning was necessary and I gave Magneto too much credit way too soon. Why? Because Angel is trapped in an electrified cage with a table in front of him. What's on the table? A device that allows him to cut his way out of the cage. Really? Who leaves something like that sitting around for prisoners to get their hands on? And to free Angel of all people? He can't do anything and he's stupid. Luckily he actually listens to Cyclops and goes to get help. As he's flying he acts like typical Angel and decides to rest on a rock while his friends are in danger. I'm sure Magneto didn't appreciate his perfect prison being easily escapable and was probably torturing the other X-Men in retaliation. But this is no ordinary rock as it rises out of the sea to reveal none other than an island. In a nutshell, there's this guy Red Raven who uses the island as a place to hold his bird people in stasis otherwise they would want to conquer Earth or something like that. I really didn't care why he was there because at this point I was at my limit with this issue. This was all irrelevant filler to what I believed was going to be a cool issue about the X-Men's difficult escape from Magneto. I finished this issue out of an obligation to my X-Men, but the pain of reading this will never leave me. Magneto making that kind of a mistake? Angel being the hero? Yeah, okay I'll let this slide and pretend this issue didn't happen.

Back to happier times I go. I liked the X-Men's trip to the Savage Land and meeting the Tarzan-like Ka-Zar and his pet sabertooth Zabu. It was a nice break from all the city action that was going on to go back to the dinosaur age with natives throwing spears at the X-Men. Xavier's battles with Lucifer were interesting as well because they covered his origins about how he became crippled. I initially thought that Xavier maybe traveled to Hell and somehow got into battle with that Lucifer who ended up crippling him with some crazy hellfire or something. Instead I get this alien with a condom hat who plans just as badly as Magneto does. It would have been cooler if the Shadow King had crippled Xavier after some psychic battle, but I suppose that's too intense for these good ol' issues. The Sentinels and Dr. Trask were also a high point because I got to see some real anti-mutant action from a human who really despised mutants and wanted to protect mankind from their powers. I found it funny that in the '60s humans couldn't control the sentinels, and later on in the '70s and '80s people are still trying to make sentinels and haven't learned their lesson from before. Sentinels will always find a way to think independently and protect humans as they see fit. They can't be controlled. Ever!!! I really appreciated Cyclops so much more when he shot Angel in the back with an optic blast. I know it was an accident and all, but I was praying that Angel would go into a coma or something. After that incident Angel was paranoid that Cyclops wanted to get rid of him to have Marvel Girl all for himself. I was thinking to myself, "No, he wants to get rid of you because you're an idiotic liability." One of the highlights of these issues for me was when the X-Men needed to go to Europe to save Xavier from this evil group called Factor Three. The only problem was that they couldn't get access to any money for a plane ride because all of the mansion's assets are under Xavier's name and Angel's parents were away on a vacation. So the team has two wealthy people yet because of some legal problems they can't use the funds? What a moment to decide to be realistic X-Men. I'm actually surprised that Xavier didn't have a safe in the mansion with some emergency money stashed in case something like this happened.

Now I promise this is the final part of my blog but it's crucial. This is the event that helps me understand why this series was canceled for a good six or seven years. This time it revolves around Xavier. I find it humorous that the two lowest points of this series happen with the main protagonist and antagonist. What happens is that Xavier's willingness to leap into a fight with his X-Men finally catches up with him and he is killed in action. So the X-Men go a good 20+ issues without Xavier but along comes issue #65 and who should roll up but Xavier himself. Apparently, the Xavier that was killed was a shape-shifter while the real one had actually been in the sub-basement of the mansion the whole time preparing for an alien invasion. Okay so when I read this I already knew it was going to happen, but actually reading it makes it sound really ridiculous because it is. I guess the X-Men don't run security scans on the mansion to make sure that no hidden guests are inside. What if Magneto had been in there chillin' and waiting to attack? This is all made so much more disappointing because of the extremely lackluster Z'nox aliens that arrive on Earth. Xavier makes it sound as if these aliens are the baddest fools in the galaxy, but they get beat so easily. I would like to take a moment now to describe the method used by Xavier to beat the Z'nox. He makes a sort of telepathic spirit bomb by gathering the thoughts of compassion from everyone on Earth to be channeled through the X-Men towards the Z'nox who are defeated as a result. I personally didn't know that telepathy could be directed like this, but if this issue says its okay then it must make sense right? Well regardless of whether it was a realistic move (in terms of X-Men) or not does not matter because this comic was put down like a lame horse after the following issue. I love me some X-Men but after reading these issues, I realized that it was necessary to put this series on hiatus until a new creative team could be put together that would be able to come up with some extraordinary stories. I'm thankful for these issues because they got the X-Men ball rolling, but the Second Genesis makes it look like I wrote these early issues.

Well that was much longer than I thought it would be, but I managed to do a general overview of the important aspects of the first 66 issues of X-Men. I hope to put together more blogs of my readings because I have read so many comics. Maybe I'll do some limited series or more Uncanny X-Men. I haven't decided yet. Anyways, that's the end for now.

P.S. Special LOL shout out to Sauron the Were-Pterodactyl because it's so silly.

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