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Thursday, January 19, 2023

60 Years of X - 1964

Year 2: 1964

1964 X-Men Comics: X-Men #4-9, Fantastic Four #28, Journey into Mystery #109, Strange Tales #120, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1

007 - Year 2 Cover: X-Men #4

Of '64's mostly routine Silver Age covers, this stands out due to Kirby's knack for characterization: Pietro's indifference, Toad's simpering & Wanda's odd intensity. We know something about them before we even open the book.

008 - Year 2 Creator: Jack Kirby

The X-Men seem to have never quite captured Kirby's full attention, but this, his only full year on the series, is where he shines the brightest, rendering some of the X-Men's most foundational moments & characters.

009 - Year 2 Character: Magneto

This is the year which sets Magneto as the definitive X-villain & not just a done-in-one. Appearing in 4 of 6 issues, he gets his own anti-X-Men, his relationship w/Xavier is teased AND he gets his iconic asteroid base.

010 - Year 2 Comic: X-Men #4

A masterclass in Silver Age storytelling, this single issue could be a movie: the Brotherhood is introduced & conquers a nation, the X-Men fight back & win the day, but at the seeming cost of Xavier's power. All in 23 pages.

011 - Y2 Fun Fact: Reluctant Villains

Stan Lee created Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch to be less- zealous villains, saying, "we already had a reluctant hero with Spider-Man so I thought it would be fun to create a pair of reluctant villains.”

012 - Year 2 Memorable Moment: Professor Xavier Paralyzed!

Memorable as much for what it isn't as for what it is, Lee's decision to establish generic alien Lucifer as the villain who crippled Xavier despite a complete lack of thematic or narrative connection remains maddening.

1 comment:

  1. I've always liked that randomness of Lucifer being the one who paralyzed Xavier. It has a certain "real world" flair to it that most stories avoid. Of course, who knew where Stan Lee would have gone with this had he continued writing the book.

    X-Men #4 is definitely the high point of the second year and, dare I say, Stan and Jack's brief tenure on the book.

    I only recently got around to reading these stories for the first time about six months ago and was surprised to find how "by the numbers" these early stories tended to be. It's pretty evident early on that neither Stan or Jack really knew what to do with the book. While the foundations are here I would argue that it doesn't really become "X-MEN" until Roy Thomas starts writing it.

    Still, these are fun issues, even if they lack the grandeur of the other Marvel titles at the time.


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