Sunday, 26 February 2012

X-Men #1: "X-Men, for Ex-tra power"

X-Men #1 proclaims itself on its cover to be a "fabulous first issue", in the "sensational Fantastic Four style". It is rather. It is half an origin story, by which I mean it tells half an origin story, as there's already a school with X-Men in training. It is tight - within the first few pages it has introduced the original four and shown them in practice combat. It then brings on the new telekinetic student, Jean Grey, has Xavier explain the concept of mutants (he attributes his own mutation to his parents working on "the first A-Bomb project", providing a hint at his ambiguous Britishness). They fight the first evil mutant, Magneto, who has taken over a missile base, and defeat him.

So, that's the X-Men, then! But it is easy to read too much into this. Although the trappings have arrived fully-formed, the personalities are not yet distinct - Beast's first sentence is "Leggo my arm, you blasted walking icicle! You want me to freeze to death?" More importantly, and it took me a while to notice this (simply because I was bringing too much in with me), although the X-Men's essential irony can be certainly read into this comic, the reality of anti-mutant prejudice is absent from the text. Xavier's motivation in forming the X-Men could be simple altruism, and by the end the Cape Citadel commander is grateful and unsuspicious. X-Men becomes a metaphor for civil rights due to an affinity for that sort of story. It does not start as one.

Continuity notes

First appearance of Professor Xavier ("Professor X"), Slim "Cyclops" Summers, Bobby "Iceman" Drake [age given as 16], Warren ("The Angel") Worthington III, Hank "The Beast" McCoy, Jean "Marvel Girl" Grey, and Magneto.

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