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The Wednesday Club’s Comic Picks: X-Men Year One
The Wednesday ClubThe Wednesday Club

The Wednesday Club’s Comic Picks: X-Men Year One

The Wednesday Club is Geek & Sundry’s weekly talk show chatting about all things comics. On this episode, hosts Matt KeyTaliesin Jaffe, and Amy Dallen chatted about the early stories of the X-Men.

The X-Men, whom have long stood as a symbol for those of us in real life who feel like outcasts or others, debuted in their bi-monthly solo title in 1963. While not everything in the issue has stood the test of time–most of the guys are a little bit skeezy at first when it comes to Jean Grey–the mutants we’ve known and loved for many years have been a close-knit team since the beginning.

For this episode, the hosts focused on the X-Men stories told before Chris Claremont’s landmark run that redefined the team in more ways than one.

The X-Men #1 (1963)

Professor Charles Xavier leads a team of mutants: Scott “Slim” Summers, Hank McCoy, Bobby Drake, Warren Worthington III, and Jean Grey. “The strangest super-heroes of all!” proclaims the cover of the first issue.

“I actually love the pretty strange opening for the X-Men,” said Amy. “I was always very interested in that first issue of X-Men because it opens in an unusual style. There’s not a giant splash page of action. It’s going to take many pages until we meet our bad guy. But it begins with some ominous narration.” (You can hear The Wednesday Club‘s dramatic reading of the first pages of the issue above.)

“There’s an intrigue being built,” Taliesin said.

“It is just the best comic book fun!” said Matt.

(Marvel Comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

xmen-1963


The X-Men #2 (1963)

The X-Men take on the villainous Vanisher in their second outing. Unlike recent comics, the hosts note, the general public doesn’t fear the X-Men and are generally enamored with them. (Especially The Angel.)

(Marvel Comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

xmen1963-2


The X-Men (1963) #4

“The dynamic that starts popping up is that Magneto… has his own group of mutants,” says Taliesin. “The dynamic then becomes a conversation between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and there’s not really anyone else involved in that conversation.”

The Brotherhood included Toad, Mastermind, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch. “It’s a dynamite introduction to several new characters who would become permanent parts of the Marvel universe,” said Amy.

This issue also contains a panel we should all ignore together forever, agreed the hosts, in which Professor Xavier silently declares his love for Jean Grey.

(Marvel Comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

xmen1963-4


The X-Men (1963) #6

This issue brings another character into the mix, The Sub-Mariner, and posits that he is the first mutant of the Marvel universe.

“Namor’s an interesting character,” said Matt, “because [he] was in Marvel Comics #1 from 1940… This is where we first start seeing Stan Lee very willingly borrowing from the first generation of Marvel Comics and trying to pull them back, and then retconning them into this new continuity that he’s started to create. We see the same thing with Captain America.”

“The man with the best eyebrows,” Taliesin said.

The hosts also noted that Jean Grey’s more recognizable mask and costume appear in this issue.

(Marvel Comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

xmen1963-6


X-Men: Grand Design

“[The first issues] are a fascinating, historical read,” said Taliesin, “but if you actually want to know what the hell the X-Men are about and what’s going to on, the best thing to do at this point is [read] a book called X-Men: Grand Design… [It’s] a chronological history of mutants in the Marvel universe.”

(Marvel Comics, Ed Piskor)

xmen-grand-design

The hosts chatted about the revamping of the team years later in Giant-Size X-Men #1, which introduced Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus, along with the return of the original team in 2012 in All-New X-Men.

Taliesin also gave a quick shout-out to the prose book Avengers Assemble: An Oral History of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes by Brian Michael Bendis.

THE DAILY WEDNESDAY

Did you know The Wednesday Club has their own letters column with questions and comments from viewers? Send in your thoughts, comic recommendations, questions, and more to Matt, Amy, and Taliesin at [email protected] and you might just see yourself on the next episode.

wedclub-hosts

MORE COMIC AWESOMENESS!

Hang out on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and on Alpha every Wednesday night to catch the next spectacular episode of The Wednesday Club.

Featured Image: Matt Key’s Favorite Panel (X-Men #1, Jack Kirby)

All Images: Marvel Comics

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