Marvel Masterworks Presents The X-Men: Volume 1

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciler: Jack Kirby

Inkers: Paul Reiman and Chic Stone

Letterers: Sam Rosen and Art Simek

Distributed By: Marvel Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed comic books.  I read every one that I could get my hands on, enjoying stories from both DC and Marvel.  I didnít quite get into The X-Men until I was in my teens - by that time, the series had been out for quite a while and no longer was comprised of the original members.  It featured new superheroes like Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, Jubilee and Gambit.  I knew who the first X-Men were, but hadnít read the original comics until now.

            Marvel Masterworks Presents The X-Men: Volume 1 collects issues one through ten of the original series which began in 1963.  The book begins with a two-page introduction by Stan Lee in which he discusses how the name X-Men came to be, how it is hard to keep track of all of the superheroes today and more.  Then, itís on to the comics. 

            Ah, these issues bring back memories!  One of the things I had forgotten over the years was how corny some of the older comic books could be and the language used in comic books of the 60s.  Words like chickadee, rube, doll, rumble seat, homo-superior, etc. give you an idea just how old these comics actually are.  The artwork is not incredibly detailed and softer than what one would have grown accustomed to in todayís comic books and the characters often show a comedic sideÖexcept for Professor Xavier, that is.

            Professor X is a great deal harsher than I remember him from the comic books I read as a teen.  This is probably due to the fact that he is just getting to know his students and hasnít developed a more personal relationship with them.  In these older comics, the professor is a bit on the aloof side and only shows an iota of feeling towards Jean Grey

            And speaking of Jean Grey, itís funny to watch the original team members - Beast, Iceman, Cyclops and Angel - falling all over themselves trying to impress her.  We start to see a relationship brewing between Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey towards the last couple of issues of this compilation, something that surprised me.  For some reason, I was sure that the love affair between these two characters started much later.  I also found it a bit strange to see Hank McCoy in human form.  By the time I had started reading The X-Men, Beast was exactly that, a blue-furred muscle-bound intellectual creature, but in these beginning comics, he was a man with a huge intellect and amazing acrobatic abilities.

            It was nice to see the original team members as teenagers, just starting to learn what they can do with their mutant powers.  Of course, the villains were a little less interesting and a little less ruthless than they would be today (Magneto could be ruthless, but for the most part he was a raving lunatic back then). 

            I would definitely recommend this compilation of X-Men comic books to X-Men fans out there if only to see how the main characters got their start and how much the comic book has changed over the years.  Marvel Masterworks Presents The X-Men: Volume 1 was a fun read.  Canít wait to check out what Volume 2 will have to offer.


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