Uncanny X-Men #1 is the first appearance of the X-men, although they are far cry from what they would eventually evolve into. The characters in this issue are very rough and some readers might find them almost unrecognizable from their modern counterparts. The issue does have an effective opening, with the four members of the team, Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, and Angel, participating in a training class; effectively demonstrating their powers through action rather than dialog. Soon after the class, we see Jean Grey (aka Marvel Girl) arrive at the school, who soon has the boys drooling over her. Luckily, unlike his usual portrayal of female characters, Lee portrays Marvel Girl as more than capable, while at the same time showing the readers her powers. While some might think this opening introduction drags on too long, I found it to be a very effective introduction.
Unfortunately, as was common during the Silver Age, especially in these early issues, characters tend to lean towards the generic. In this issue, Angel, Beast and Iceman are portrayed as pretty typical teenagers, overconfident, eager and horny. In addition, the interplay between the Beast and Iceman is very, very reminiscent of the Human Torch and the Thing. Although, there are hints even in this early issue, of Cyclops’ overprotectiveness of the Professor. Also, Professor X almost comes off as a robot, he’s very distant, cold and mysterious, a far cry from what the character is later on.
Also in this issue we’re introduced to the antagonist, Magneto, who unfortunately in this early issue is rendered pretty much as just a typical evil villain, who decides to attack Cape Citadel to demonstrate the superiority of mutants. Although, Kirby’s depiction of Magneto basically just strolling into Cape Citadel and treating the soldiers as if they were nothing but gnats; it’s also a pretty darn effective demonstration of his powers. It is also with the appearance of Magneto that the issue’s pace starts picking up the pace.
It isn’t long before there is a confrontation between the X-Men and Magneto, which is captured admirably by Kirby’s art. While it’s a fun encounter it does have a couple of problems. The biggest one is by far the underwhelming conclusion of the encounter. The other issue is that the X-Men are depicted as an extremely well-oiled machine, despite this is their first actual mission and Jean Grey is a brand new member.
In the end, this inaugural issue of Uncanny X-Men is the first mission of the X-Men, but for those interested in learning the origins of the X-Men will be disappointed, as that really is not covered in this issue. Still, this issue is worth checking out just to see how much these characters have evolved over the years.
- Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky
- Writers: Stan Lee
- Pencilers: Jack Kirby
- Inkers: Paul Reinman
- Letterers: Sam Rosen
- Editors: Stan Lee