airdave817's Uncanny Origins #1 - An X-Man is Born review

First Son

As a proud, and enthusiastic, new adoptive "Popi", it's interesting to read and re-read comics like Uncanny Origins 1 Featuring Cyclops, and see how strong a theme adoption and orphans is in comics. Bruce Wayne was tragically orphaned as a child, but had a cushion of wealth to fall back on and not end up in an orphanage or with wicked or saintly step-parents. Up until the current, Modern Age, Clark Kent was orphaned as a teenager. Peter Parker was orphaned, but raised by his sainted Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

Scott Summers, and his younger brother Alex, weren't so lucky. Flying back from an Alaskan camping trip with their parents, Christopher and Kate, Scott and Alex witness the tragedy that takes their parents away from them: an alien ship that fires on their plane, forcing the parents to send the boys off with a single parachute before the plane goes down. Unfortunately, the 'chute catches fire, and the boys end up in the hospital in critical condition.

After recovering, they are taken in at an orphanage in Nebraska by Dr. Robin Hanover. While there, Scott's uncanny optic abilities develop. He also meets a strange, Sinister boy. The ophthalmologist gives him ruby quartz sunglasses to contain his new abilities; and then Scott has to say goodbye to his brother, who is adopted. Scott has an opportunity to be adopted himself, but that ends in a Sinister tragedy. When he learns that his potential "forever family" has died in a plane crash, Scott becomes a runaway.

While Scott is on the run he comes to the attention of Professor Charles Xavier. Scott has an unfortunate encounter with hobos and police, before ultimately encountering a fellow mutant, Jack Winters, also known as Jack O' Diamonds! Professor Xavier encounters the two at a nuclear facility, where Winters used to work, and where he now transforms himself into The Living Diamond!

Together, Scott and Xavier defeat Winters. Some small manipulating follows and Xavier is able to enroll Scott as the first student at his Institute for Gifted Students.

The Good

Uncanny Origins, along with Marvel Fanfare, were later additions to Marvel's short-lived mid-'90's .99 cent line. The line included The Adventures of Spider-Man, The Adventures of the X-Men following the Fox animated series for both titles; Kurt Busiek's brilliant Untold Tales of Spider-Man and Professor X and the X-Men. I think there was a Fantastic Four book in there, too.

This is a cool, all-ages story, and quite possibly could have been a very cool all-ages brand and jumping on point for many of Marvel's books, like DC's Secret Origins was around the same time. Ben Raab's script is brisk and tight; Dave Hoover's pencils, along with Bill Anderson's inks and Bob Sharen's colors are bright and fun. If you are familiar with Ty Templeton, Christopher Jones and Terry Beatty, along with most pencillers of all-ages books, adjusting to Dave Hoover isn't that jarring.

The Bad

This is probably one of the last books the late, great Mark Gruenwald edited before his death.

Poor Cyclops. Things continually go from bad to worse. Such is the melodrama of an X-Man.

The rescue crew leader and the doctor must have been written with Tommy Lee Jones from The Fugitive in mind. They are so far over the top, it's almost laughable.

Unfortunately, this book - and maybe this whole series - only exists as a primer and companion to the 1994 Age of Apocalypse storyline. This is perfect reading to see the connection and relationships between Scott and his brother Alex, Mr. Sinister and Professor Xavier.

The Ugly

If McDonald's can have a successful .99 cent menu, why can't Marvel? Marvel continues to launch, then constantly re-launch it's all-ages books; possibly under the assumption that kids won't pick up a book numbered in double or triple digits. Very few of Marvel's all-ages books survive to 100.

Aside from Archie titles, the only book over 100 issues - approaching 200 - is DC's Looney Tunes.

The Skinny

If you can find a copy of this - buy it!

Comics should be fun. This book boils all the angst and melodrama of the X-Men and Cyclops' seriousness into a good story. there's nothing wrong with stories that deliver a "soft" lesson or moral without preaching or hitting the reader over the head with it.

It is primarily a great secret origins story. But I found re-reading it that is much more to the core of the X-Men theme of acceptance and fitting in. And that should never have to cost $2.99 or $3.99.

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