Friday, April 4, 2008

1970's Flashback: Giant-Size X-Men # 1

As a result of a sudden leap in evolution, mutants are born with latent superhuman abilities, which generally manifest themselves at puberty. Ordinary humans fear and/or distrust of mutants (often referred to as Homo superior), who are regarded by a number of scientists as the next step in human evolution and are thus widely viewed as a threat to human civilizations; mutants who use their powers for criminal ends often exacerbate these tensions.

Welcome to the world of the X-Men, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they originally debuted in September 1963. Formed by the benevolent Professor Charles Xavier, (a.k.a. Professor X), a telepathic mutant who founded an academy to train young mutants to protect themselves and the world from Magneto and other mutant threats. The original X-Men consisted of Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl.

However, a phenomenon was launched in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975), when writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum introduced an "all-new, all-different” team of X-Men who were led by Cyclops (from the original team). This group consisted of adults who hailed from a variety of nations and cultures, including Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Thunderbird, Banshee, Sunfire, and Wolverine (who became the most popular new X-men character). Former member Jean Grey soon rejoined the X-Men as the Phoenix; and previous members Angel, Beast, Havok and Polaris also made significant guest appearances in the newly revamped series, simply called X-Men starting with issue # 94.

The revived series was illustrated by Dave Cockrum, and later John Byrne, but writer Chris Claremont became the series' longest-running contributor. The rejuvenated book earned great critical acclaim with stories like the "Proteus Saga", the "Dark Phoenix Saga", and later the grim "Days of Future Past"; these are arguably some of the greatest story arcs in Marvel Comics history.
Whether the fictional X-Men are fighting mutant criminals or galactic threats, the series draws its strength from portraying conflicts between mutants and normal humans and for many of the books readers these reflect those “real-life” experiences of many minority groups in America.

1 comment:

Mr. Karswell said...

An all-time classic! This could very well be the most important comic book of the 70's. And the words "Deadly Genesis" actually take on another meaning entirely when you look at the state of X-Men now 30+ years later.