X-Men 1

55 years ago this month, X-Men first hit the shelves.
Sitting here watching Deadpool 2 with X-Men issue one, all I can say is they’ve certainly come a long way.

Up until now, the movies have been my only experience, but I’ll try not to compare them too much.
The first thing that struck me, was that this school was very much an X-Men training facility, rather than the regular school that happened to have a “How to control your powers” syllabus, and the X-Men on the side.
The second thing was how different the characters were from their movie portrayals. Xavier is more stern. Scott is called Slim. Beast is neither blue, nor all that hairy. Iceman is a lot older, and a walking snowman, instead of a walking iceman (a bit of a misnomer in my opinion). Jean is much more powerful, and completely in control of those powers. And Angel straps his wings down so they can’t be noticed. I’m sorry, but wings have bones. Weird Al Yankovic may be able to squish all that hair under a cap so he can wear a wig for a music video, but there is no way you could do that to wings. Oh and no jet out of the tennis court. They have to take a Rolls Royce to the airport to get it, and still get to their destination in plenty of time.

Actually suspension of disbelief is something I struggled with through the whole issue. The Miraculous Magneto (because alliteration) was confusing for me. He was able to control things a really long way away. His magnetic fields seemed to act more like gravity than magnetism. I think it was because they droned on so much detailing exactly what they were doing, that the fact that I don’t think anyone ever mentioned the metal on people, that it seemed like that wasn’t what was being affected.
Cyclops beam kept getting more unrealistic in what it could do, and I laughed out loud when he called it a ‘natural’ counterforce.

The story was rather basic, but not bad for an introduction story. I was actually surprised Magneto was the villain. A lot of the big bads in series seem to be someone who came along randomly and struck a cord, so it’s interesting that Magneto was the original big bad.
It was certainly an interesting look into the 60s. The ‘good guys’ sneak into the girl’s bedroom to spy on her whilst she’s changing and there’s no repercussions. But I did like that she was included on and contributed to the mission without any training whatsoever, when the boys had been training for ages. You go girl.
I think my biggest issue with the writing though, wasn’t the story, it was the dialog. There was just so much of it, and very little of it was normal conversation stuff, it was almost all explanation. Because of course we all walk around explaining exactly what we’re doing and why. I get they need to let the audience know what was happening, but it seriously felt like race car driver explaining how he uses the accelerator. Surely there’s a better way. I mean seriously. On page 15, there’s a panel where Magneto is intimidating down the General, and you literally can’t see him. He’s droning on so much that the word bubble fills up the gap between the top of the panel and the main art, and still manages to cover Magneto down to his waste. That is just way too much wordiness. I’m sorry Stan Lee, it was a long time ago, and that’s just how I feel.

The lettering seemed like normal lettering to me, I’m not versed enough to be able to tell one letterers G from another, but there is one thing that bugs me in comic lettering in general, and that’s the superfluous bolding. Random letters get bolded, which I think is an emphasis, and then realise, oh, no, completely not the emphasis word at all.

The artwork was definitely old school. I’m more of a cartoonist, the more realistic proportioned drawing styles aren’t really my thing, but I had no complaints on the artwork really. In fact, I quite liked Magneto’s eyes. I felt that some of the poses were off, there was one frame where Marvel Girl looks more like she’s tripping over than running, but really my biggest problem with the artwork was the lack of shadows. Everyone just floated around in white voids.

All in all, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, which only makes me more interested to see how the X-Men went from there, to what they are today.

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