X-Men #1 (1963) Review

by Ryan.L on April 24, 2020

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It's time to take a step back in time and look at the book that started it all. What a different time it was at that. 'X-Men' later to be called 'Uncanny X-Men' was released all the way back in 1963. A couple years earlier Marvel Comics had a lot of success with 'The Fantastic Four' and so many more books were launched and 'X-Men' was one of those titles. While there was a fan-base the comic did not sell nearly as well as the other Marvel books.

After going back and reading this first issue I can see why. There is a lot of what we love about the mutants in this book but there are several inconsistencies as well. The fact that the mutants have always been outsiders starts in this very first issue with Xavier telling Jean Grey the new student to the school and team that the human race is not ready to accept people with extra powers. Xavier also hints at the atom bomb being the originator of the mutants and himself possibly being the first ever mutant.

Many of the things in this issue would later see somewhat of a retcon. This issue Cyclops optic beam is referred to as an energy beam. Later writers would expand on his powers explaining how it is a beam of concussive force than an energy beam. Jean Grey also sees her powers referred to a teleportation at the start of this issue and then near the end as what it actually is, telekinesis. Later in the comics we find out that an alien Lucifer is the reason Xavier has lost the use of his legs. Though early on in this first issue he explains the reason he is in the chair is because of a childhood injury.

While many things did end up getting changed or completely removed, the main elements of what makes the mutants the X-Men all started right here. The book is very bright, peppy and there is a lot of exciting action. The first part of the book extensively shows their training, and then the latter the teams battle with Magneto.

Those of us that are used to modern day comics might find the style of writing in this issue very different. Back then writers, especially Stan Lee would write very obvious descriptive writing. This made panels very wordy and long sometimes. Where today a lot of what would be included into the dialogue is now expressed more in the artwork. It is kind of fun to go back and see how different the writing was. Anyone who has seen interviews done with Stan Lee and seen how he talks, you will notice that it is reflected in his writing. He writes just as expressively as he talks. It's pretty cheesy and over the top, just like Stan.

One of the best parts about experiencing the silver age of comics has to be Jack Kirby's artwork. This man is a legend for a reason and you can see that in his art on every page. While it has a lot more simplistic panels, the expressions hes able to capture and the fight scenes are incredible. He manages to capture the excitement as well as all the comedy Stan Lee squeezes in remarkably well. 

Overall 'X-Men' is an incredibly important moment in comics and such a fun book to read. It is over the top fun with a lot of heart. The book would later evolve into one of the first diverse team book consisting of members of all races, and later all sexuality as well. But it all started right here and I highly recommend you checking it out.

Stay tuned for our review of issue #2 coming soon!

Our Score:


A Look Inside