History of Comic Books: The Silver Age Chapter XVII: School is in Session

Once again, we have another chapter I’ve been waiting to post. The X-Men was a comic book I subscribed to religiously throughout the 80’s and 90’s, so I’m excited (pardon the pun). In creating the X-Men, Stan Lee wondered what if genetic mutations caused super powers to manifest in humans. Using the civil rights movement of the 60’s as inspiration, he created a comic that would parallel both sides of the movement. The original roster consisted of:

Professor X (Professor Charles Xavier): The team’s paraplegic mentor. He possesses telepathy and telekinesis. He has a psychically controlled computer named Cerebro, which detects mutants whose powers have manifested.

Cyclops (Scott Summers): The X-Men’s field leader. He is able to fire concussive energy blasts from his eyes. He wears a protective visor to prevent himself from harming others when not fighting.

Iceman (Bobby Blake): Basically a cold version of the Human Torch, and the team’s youngest member.

Angel (Warren Worthington III): A boy from a wealthy family who has feathery wings growing out of his back.

Beast (Hank McCoy): Unlike his modern counterpart, Hank just has oversized, gorilla-like hands and feet that give him superhuman agility and strength (the blue fur would come later).

Marvel Girl (Jean Grey): A girl whose psychic powers rivaled Professor X.

In the first issue, the team fought Magneto. He was introduced as a former friend of Xavier’s, however he realized humanity would never acceot mutants, so he decided he was superior to them. Issue #3 introduced Xavier’s bullying stepbrother, the Juggernaut. Issue #4 introduced Magneto’s evil counterpart to the X-Men, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, consisting of The Blob, Toad, Mastermind (who would later join the Hellfire Club), and two future Avengers, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were Magneto’s children, and only sided with him because they felt they owed him for saving their lives.

Issue #14 introduced the Sentinels, an army of giant robots invented by evil anthropologist Bolivar Trask. He even invented a bigger Sentinel named Master-Mold, who created more Sentinels as needed. He later died, and his son Larry vowed revenge.

The Silver Age also introduced the following future teammates: Banshee (#28), Polaris (#60), Sunfire (#64), and Havok. (#65).

The early X-Men have often been compared to the Doom Patrol. Both teams were called the “Strangest Superheroes” ( X-men would add “of all”). Both teams have a paraplegic mentor. Both teams even fought a Brotherhood of Evil, and only one female member. In fact, Doom Patrol co-creator Arnold Drake even wrote for both teams, even though he initially thought the X-Men ripped him off.

Unfortunately, by the 1970 ‘s, X-Men never managed to gain a good enough audience. It spent a few years as a reprint comic, and then in the Bronze Age, writers Len Wein, Chris Claremont, and artist Dave Cockrum were brought on to reboot the comic. But that’s for another time.

Next: Answering the Call

Author: rocklobsterjwt

I am a Christian and an anime fan. My blog will cover anime reviews and maybe an occasional story

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