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60 Years of X!

Celebrating sixty years of X-Men, one day at a time!

2023 is the 60th anniversary of the X-Men, so every day on social media throughout the year I am revealing my favorite cover, creator, character, issue, fun fact, or memorable moment, one day each, from each of the X-Men's sixty years! 

I am grouping each year by on-sale date (vs. cover date) as listed on Mike's Amazing World. And I am limiting candidates for the categories in each year to books with "X-Men" in the title, or direct guest appearances of X-Men, meaning I will NOT be considering every issue of every possible spin-off book each year. 

This page is meant to serve as an archive of the project and a way for people not on social media to follow along, and will updating weekly (roughly every time another year is completed). 

Year 1: 1963

1963 Comics: X-Men #1-3, Tales of Suspense #49

001 - Year 1 Cover: X-Men #1

The pickings are slimmer in Year 1, of course, but it's hard not to go w/the iconic cover to the series' first issue, especially since I've had an Alex Ross recreation of it in poster form hanging on my wall for decades.

002 - Year 1 Creator: Steve Ditko

Stan & Jack will get their due, but when else will we be able to celebrate Steve Ditko drawing the first ever X-Men guest appearance in Tales of Suspense #49, in which radiation somehow turns Angel briefly evil?

003 - Year 1 Character: Professor X

Xavier is the dominant personality in the X-Men's short first year, using his mental powers to save the day/violate minds in 2 out of 3 regular issues, creepily crushing on Jean, and barking orders left & right.

004 - Year 1 Issue: X-Men #3

While #1 has all the notable firsts, #3 is the first truly bonkers & fun issue of the series, as Blob & his fellow carnies attack the X-Men after they're all jerks to Blob. The giraffe alone put it over the top.

005 - Year 1 Fun Fact: Danger Room Credit

Stan Lee (rarely one to not take credit for something himself) credits Jack Kirby with the creation of the Danger Room, saying it was all Jack's idea.

006 - Year 1 Moment of the Year: Meet the X-Men!

While that giraffe stealing Iceman's ice cream in issue #3 is tough to beat, I gotta go with the debut of, you know, the X-Men, the moment without which none of the other X-Men moments would exist!

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.

Year 3: 1965

1965 X-Men Comics: X-Men #10-17, Fantastic Four Annual #3

013 - Year 3 Cover: X-Men #13

On his way out in '65 (shifting to only doing layouts & covers), Kirby turns in some of the strongest covers of his run, w/several icon entries. I like this one just a smidge more than #12, the other Juggernaut cover.

014 - Year 3 Creator: Stan Lee

On HIS way out (though he lasts a tad longer than Kirby), Stan turns in his best X-work yet, thanks to the 1-2 punch of the Juggernaut & the Sentinels intros, which give the series some much needed thematic resonance.

015 - Year 3 Character: The Sentinels

1965 is when the concept of anti-mutant prejudice truly crystalizes in the series for the first time, in the form of mutant-hunting robots that give the X-Men a way to punch an ephemeral concept like "prejudice".

016 - Year 3 Comic: X-Men #12

Lee, Kirby, and Toth superbly build tension, cutting between the unseen Juggernaut's unrelenting march through the X-Men's defenses & Xavier's backstory, showing just how powerful Juggernaut is while telling us how he came to be.

017 - Year 3 Fun Fact: Brother Magneto

Stan Lee wanted to reveal that Professor X & Magneto were brothers! 

"I always wanted Magneto to turn out to be Professor X's brother...If I had stayed with the book, that's what I would have done."

018 - Year 3 Memorable Moment: Magneto Revealed!

The final panel of the year reveals the return of Magneto; not the most surprising in the context of the story but it sets the stage for a number of future homages; Jim Lee reportedly owns the original art to several of them.

Year 4: 1966

1966 X-Men Comics & Appearances: X-Men #18-29, Strange Tales #156. 

019 - Year 4 Cover: X-Men #28

Not a lot of great covers to choose from in '66. Werner Roth's cover to Banshee's first appearance stands out due to the red background & eerie spectral quality to Banshee & the energy created by the figure's movement.

020 - Year 4 Creator: Werner Roth

I wouldn't call Roth (working under the pen name Jay Gavin, his sons' names) a favorite X-Men artist, but he certainly defines the look of the 1966 X-Men, his past in romance comics playing into the increasing interpersonal dramas.

021 - Year 4 Character: Mimic

If Mimic, the first non-O5 member of the X-Men had a year, it's 1966, in which he debuts, joins the X-Men, becomes their leader because Cyclops is paralyzed by angst, seemingly loses his powers, and quits.   

022 - Year 4 Comic: X-Men #29

Mimic vs. Super Adaptoid is a great hook (it's the O5 vs. Cap's Kooky Quartet!) & this is packed w/fun Silver Age moments, like Cyclops literally collapsing in angst or  Iceman being mocked into disbelieving his own eyes.

023 - Year 4 Fun Fact: Spider-Man!

Per Roy Thomas, a 4 panel Spider-Man cameo in X-Men #27 led to a full guest appearance in X-Men #35, making Thomas the first creator other than Stan Lee to write Spider-Man!

024 - Year 4 Memorable Moment: Banshee debuts!

I'd love to give this one to the debut of Ted Roberts, but it's hard to compete w/the 1st appearance of a future X-Man & headmaster of Generation X (even if his depiction at the time is...problematic).

 Year 6: 1968

1968 X-Men Comics & Appearances: X-Men #42-53, Avengers #53 & #60!

Xavier dies, Magneto returns, the X-Men disband! The Avengers crossover, Polaris debuts! Roy Thomas leaves, Gary Friedrich comes & goes, Arnold Drake arrives! All that plus Jim Steranko in 1968!

031 - Year 6 Cover: X-Men #50

Newbie Polaris gets showcased via a vibrantly verdant image and Jim Steranko unveils a new logo for the book that will stand for *decades*. 

032 - Year 6 Creator: Jim Steranko

With Werner Roth on the backups amid a particularly fallow period for the series in the wake of Roy Thomas' departure, Steranko, in only 2 issues, briefly reinvigorates the book w/a modern look & dynamic layouts.

033 - Year 6 Character: Polaris

The most notable new character debut since Banshee, Polaris brings the X-Men back together after their FBI-mandated breakup & serves as the focus of one of the weirder Magneto stories.

034 - Year 6 Comic: X-Men #50

Part 2 of an odd 4 part story that doesn't make a ton of sense (even before you get to the later Magneto retcon), but it's hard to escape just how much of an oasis in a desert of lukearm Silver Age art Steranko is.

035 - Year 6 Fun Fact: X-Men No More!

Per Roy Thomas, disbanding the team, a move driven by low sales, appealed to Stan Lee cuz he thought it'd mean Marvel'd be "the first company to have a different title above every issue, heralding a different character"

036 - Year 6 Memorable Moment: Xavier No More!

The first (but not the last) time Professor X is written out of the series in some way. He'd eventually come back, of course, but by all accounts, that wasn't planned at the time.

 Year 7: 1969

1969 X-Men Comics & Appearances: X-Men #54-65, Sub-Mariner #14

Neal Adams saves the X-Men! Roy Thomas returns! So do the Sentinels & Professor X! Magneto gets a face! Havok, Sauron, Sunfire, the Savage Land mutates (& the Living Monolith...) debut!

037 - Year 7 Cover: X-Men #56

Somewhat famously, this is the second version of this cover, as the first was rejected by publisher Martin Goodman. Neal Adams' revision to it is still a banger though, and oft homaged. 

038 - Year 7 Creator: Neal Adams

Who else? Not only did Adams reinvigorate the series & help the X-Men survive past 1970, his innovations in coloring, layouts, panel/page composition & more gave new words to the visual language of comics. 

039 - Year 7 Character: Havok

In a year w/several character debuts (including two future X-Men & one major recurring villain), Havok, who will go on anchor a few future lineups, gets the nod for a strong first half of the year in which he dons one of the simplest but most iconic looks

040 - Year 7 Comic: X-Men #59

With the series doing more serialized stories, this is the year where it gets hard to pick just one issue. I'll go w/the end of the Sentinels arc, featuring Brotherhood cosplay, all the mutants & Claremont's victory-by-logic capper. 

041 - Year 7 Fun Fact: All in Color!

As Brian lays out in this article, by pushing Marvel to give him access to the full range of gradients for interior art starting w/X-Men #56, Neal Adams set a new standard for comic book coloring.

042 - Year 7 Memorable Moment: Repelling the Z'Nox!

Xavier returns to lead the X-Men in uniting human consciousness and shooting it at aliens, an early (& largely nonsensical) example of a mutant circuit & an event which'll help kickoff the Phoenix Saga!

 Year 8: 1970
1970 X-Men Comics & Appearances: X-Men #66-68, X-Men Annual #1, Amazing Spider-Man #92

The X-Men have their series cancelled, then revived a few months later as a reprint title! An amazing friendship starts! And that's about it!

043 - Year 8 Cover: X-Men #66

Pickings are pretty slim this year, obviously. This gets the nod simply for being seared into my brain as "the last issue of the original #XMen run". And for suggesting Beast & Angel have a snowball's chance against Hulk. 

044 - Year 8 Creator: Gil Kane

Smack in the middle of his Amazing Spider-Man run, Kane gives the Spider-Man/Iceman confrontation his signature style, featuring off-kilter figures and unique panel angels. 

045 - Year 8 Character: Iceman

As the first member of the X-Men to appear anywhere after the series' cancellation, Iceman's appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #92 makes him the standout character simply for showing up.

046 - Year 8 Comic: Amazing Spider-Man #92

I highly doubt anyone had this comic in mind when the show was being conceived, but I do like that the first post-cancellation appearance of any of the X-Men is a meeting between two future Amazing Friends.
047 - Year 8 Fun Fact: Reprint Reprieve

While the Thomas/Adams sales boost didn't occur quickly enough to stop cancellation, Roy Thomas believes the bump may've convinced Martin Goodman to revive the series, which at least kept the characters around.

 048 - Year 8 Memorable Moment: The End!

With neither a bang nor a whimper, really, the X-Men slink off into comic limbo upon the conclusion of X-Men #66, a rare miss from the red hot Silver Age Marvel bullpen. 

So would it seem, at least...

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