Good day! It is time again for another rendition of Exploring the Origins, and today I’ve chosen to look closer at one of my favourite comics; a comic that has always dealt with social issues since the première issue back in 1963. As you’ve already seen in the title, it’s time to Explore the Origins of the X-men!
I’ve always found the X-men quite fascinating. Not quite superheroes, they doesn’t appear to fit in anywhere in society. However, that lovable and interesting bunch of mutants we all know haven’t always been there. Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Jubilee and Gambit weren’t introduced until much later. And unlike what X-men: First Class tries to tell you, the original X-men consisted of five mutants (excluding Professor X); Scott Summers, Hank McCoy, Bobby Drake, Warren Worthington III and Jean Grey, also known as Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel and Marvel Girl.
Some of them are very different from their current renditions, while some have changed less over years – Beast is perhaps the best example. There is no fur, only large feet and an amazing dexterity. Iceman, Angel, Cyclops and Professor X haven’t changed much, apart from the costumes, and the main difference in Marvel Girl is the strength of her powers. In the first issues, she has to focus very hard to be able to lift anything heavy, while her telepathic abilities are far from developed.
Back in the sixties, the X-men were (as it is now) a combined study circle and strike team, dressed in brilliant matching costumes. It was a poorly disguised operation though, and I can’t quite see how the parents of the X-men didn’t know their children weren’t taught anything substantial aside from how to fight giant robots and evil-doers. Speaking of evil-doers, take a guess who the first villain the X-men ever encountered was!
That’s right, who else but Magneto? Even in the first issue, he was trying to end the reign of Homo Sapiens in favour of Homo Superior, in the very same costume he’s used ever since. This he tried to do by making the people fear him by taking control of a military base, which of course was stopped by the X-men. In the following issue, we got to know The Vanisher, a mutant with the ability to vanish and reappear at will several years before Nightcrawler. With his interesting choice of clothing, he had the intentions to steal national defence plans from the Pentagon and blackmail the country. The Vanisher seemed unstoppable even for the X-men as they were unable to get to him. That is, until Professor X came along and removed his power, meanwhile mentally nuking all of his memories so he could no longer remember who he was. That’s some hardcore villain-control.
After that, the time came for The Blob to make his first appearance. Found by the X-men at a carnival, where he was the main attraction at a freak show with his unbreakable skin and incredible strength, he was taken to the X-mansion for consideration. When he refused to join the group because he found them too weak, Professor X stated that he could (and I quote directly) “not be permitted to leave”. Granted, he was “only” planning to erase The Blob’s mind, but I would not have been surprised if he would have kept him in the mansion. The Blob managed to escape, and went straight back to the carnival to get an army of carnies, which he used to attack the X-men’s headquarters. After a few battles, the X-men managed to beat the Blob by trapping him in a hole, and taking him back to the carnival where he stayed for a few months.
Magneto returned in the next two issues, with the appearance of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants consisting of Toad, Mastermind, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The two latter are not known to be Magnetos children, and will not be for quite some time. In this two issue special, Magneto and the Brotherhood are trying to invade a small island nation to prove their might. They succeed thanks to Mastermind’s ability to create illusions, only to be stopped once again by the X-men. But in the struggle, Professor X loses his powers in an explosion while Magneto escapes. In the second issue, Magneto manages to kidnap Angel and take him to Asteroid M, a location which will be familiar to anyone who has read a few X-men comics. Naturally, he is saved by the rest of the team in the nick of time after a battle on the asteroid. All mutants, good and evil alike, flee the asteroid which is breaking up due to the struggles. Magneto and his gang manages to escape, and our heroes return home.
Of course, Professor X didn’t really lose his powers. It’s revealed that he merely pretended, to give the X-men a “final exam”. Finally, the X-men are allowed to graduate! But that, dear readers, is a story for another day. Be on the lookout for the next instalment of Exploring the Origins, right here at XX0011!