I’ll freely admit that I love origin stories. I see people on social media decry films and comics that recount them, but I just can’t help myself. One of my favorite origin stories, is that of Professor Xavier (and the X-Men). Of course, Spider-Man is the one that gets retold a lot, but I can’t recall this one being retold many times. Honestly though, does anyone not get pumped when they see names like Chris Claremont (writer), John Byrne (pencils), and Terry Austin (inks)?
This reprint book gives us a tale from the youth of Professor Charles Xavier. But first, he’s talking with Lilandra in his office. You see, the X-Men are missing and presumed dead (after an altercation in the Savage Land). He then begins to think that maybe he should never have recruited them for his cause. His mind drifts back to a trip he made to Cairo years ago. As he was walking through the city, a girl (a young Ororo Monroe, A.K.A. Storm!) stole his wallet. He chased the girl down, and retrieved his wallet, but was struck down by a mental attack. He then makes his way inside a cafe to meet the person responsible. He then comes face to face with Amahl Farouk. He is a mutant, and a very powerful telepath, just like Xavier. The difference is that he’s evil, and uses his powers for personal gain. After a quick introduction, they meet on the Astral Plane for combat. The battle is fierce, but eventually, Xavier proves to be the superior combatant!
This story isn’t one filled with action, but it does show you not only the origin of Xavier but his first encounter with another mutant. Seeing Xavier in this different light (pre-X-Men) is quite a thrill and I can only imagine how much bigger of one it was for readers back in 1979. There’s also a back up story by Claremont and John Bolton. A neat little story involving Nightcrawler! And to top it all off, we get a cover (and pinup) by Art Adams! The original cover is by Dave Cockrum (X-Men 117, the last image).
Back in the Silver Age, the X-Men weren’t a big deal. The book just never seemed to be able to find an audience. The early issues were a bit tough to get through reading, but the Kirby artwork obviously helped. That said, after issue 66, it went into reprints. That’s the part that baffles me, since leading up to that last issue of new material (the title was cancelled and went into reprints for over four years, until 1975), the book was producing the strongest material to date by a long shot!
This fantastic reprint book shows us issues 57-59, with that incredible story with the return of the Sentinels! Of course that means Trask as well, but we also see the dangerous Mesmero too (and Magneto…sort of)! The interpersonal relationships between the team members is on full display in these issues for sure.
Roy Thomas (writer) was certainly a gifted writer and that was clear on any kind of book, but his keen sense on writing team books was certainly felt by the readers of the X-Men. He knew how to weave the personal nature of the X-Men and the real world applications together seamlessly. The team of Neal Adams (pencils) and Tom Palmer (inks) put on quite a show in these issues as they did in pretty much everything else they touched as creators during their storied careers. The colors were courtesy of Daina Graziunas. Throw in a great wraparound cover by Mike Zeck (and Palmer on inks again), and throw in some extra art by Adams as well, and you get to see a visual feast!
As the Silver Age drew to a close, the X-Men went the way of the Do-Do bird. A few scatter-shot appearances (like a good one in Marvel Team-Up #4), and, reprints! The numbering continued from the original series with nothing but reprints for quite a few years before the Wein-Cockrum-Claremont team took over. One of those books was basically an Annual, or King Size Special, in this case. The Annual reprints two issues (#22 & #23), that are a two=parter featuring Count Nefaria! And Nefaria has recruited five villains to help him in his quest to destroy the X-Men!
Following the Lee/Kirby beginning, Roy Thomas (writer) took the reigns, and with a few different artists (until his collaboration with Neal Adams) kept the train rolling for a while. Artist Werner Roth (under the pseudonym Jay Gavin), started out penciling over Kirby layouts, then moved on to taking on the job himself. The incomparable Dick Ayers was the inker, and Sam Rosen on letters! A solid cover by Marie Severin (pencils) and John Romita (inks), put the finishing touches on the book! Some great action in this issue, and even a cool scene in the Danger Room!
In this, the last installment of my John Byrne tribute, we’ll see some of his spectacular work on Captain America (with collaborator Roger Stern), his brilliant X-Men (with partner Chris Claremont) work, and a couple of nuggets from the mid-1970’s, in Marvel Team-Up! Whether it was Josef Rubinstein or Terry Austin on inks, you cannot deny the power of Byrne’s pencils. He really knew how to grab the readers eyes, and have them glued to the panels! So, get ready and strap on your seat-belt, because we’re getting cosmic and crazy with this post! Enjoy!
After seeing some of John Byrne’s awesome work on the Fantastic Four in my earlier post, I thought it was time for some of his other work, you know, stuff off of the beaten path. His early Avengers work, the West Coast run, Silver Surfer, and a Hulk story from Marvel Fanfare that will knock your socks off will be featured in today’s post. So, get ready to be dazzled! Enjoy!
There are lots of names that pop into my head when I think of this title, but the first arc (4 issues), definitely stands out in my head. Why? Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, that’s why! Just look at this awesome cover, and the interior art is just as incredible. The story by Claremont is also one for the ages, but don’t take my word for it, get out there and either buy the single issues or the trade paperback! The X-Men, Spider-Man, Ka-Zar, and Sauron, all fighting it out in the Savage Land! Enjoy!