Here’s another blog post for this superhero-hungry world:
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #1 (September 1963)
Synopsis: In Upstate New York, at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, a covert institution for mutants, Professor X (Charles Xavier, PhD) gives his five students a classical education in addition to secretly training them on the use of their mutant powers.
Magneto, a powerful mutant villain, uses his massive magnetic powers to seize Cape Citadel military base in the U.S. He issues public threats to Homo Sapiens about the growing numbers of mutants, or Homo Superior, being born each year.
Assuming normal humans will hound them to extinction out of fear, he is pre-emptively declaring war on humanity in the name of mutant kind, with the seizure of Cape Citadel the opening action of that war.
NOTE: Despite later retcons to Magneto’s personality, in these early appearances his thoughts make it clear he is just using his claims of “protecting” mutants as the excuse to realize his ambition to take over the world.
Professor X, saddened that humanity’s First Contact with the mutants among them is a hostile encounter, sends his X-Men to drive Magneto out of Cape Citadel.
This first team of X-Men, consisting of Cyclops (Scott Summers), Iceman (Bobby Drake the class clown), Angel (Warren Worthington III the rich kid), the Beast (Hank McCoy the genius) and Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) enter the now-besieged military base and succeed in forcing Magneto to flee.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #2 (November 1963)
Title: No One Can Stop the Vanisher
Villain: The Vanisher (Telford Porter)
Synopsis: A villain called the Vanisher announces himself as another mutant, since he was born with his powers. He uses his teleportation abilities for hit and run bank robberies. Human criminal “serfs” gravitate to him and he soon sees himself as mutant “royalty” ruling over them.
The Vanisher publicly boasts that he and his “subjects” will steal defense plans from within the Pentagon itself. FBI Agent Fred Duncan, making his FIRST EVER appearance as Professor X’s secret FBI contact, informs the Professor that word is the Vanisher is about to make his move.
The X-Men fight the Vanisher at the Pentagon but fail to stop him from escaping with the defense plans. The next day the villain demands an enormous amount of money as ransom for the plans or else he’ll turn them over to the highest bidding foreign nation.
Soon the Vanisher and his small army of minions arrive in Washington D.C. to take possession of the ransom and turn over the plans. Professor X cavalierly uses his psychic powers to make the Vanisher forget how to use his teleportation abilities.
The villain is captured, the X-Men mop up his human underlings and recover the nation’s defense plans.
NOTE: In the future the Vanisher would join the team of villainous mutants called Factor Three.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #3 (January 1964)
Title: Beware of the Blob
Villain: The Blob (Fred J Dukes)
Synopsis: After their latest training session in the Danger Room, the X-Men are informed by Professor X that he has detected a new mutant working in a traveling circus and sends the team to recruit him for the team.
This new mutant, called the Blob, is like a sideshow act with that circus, taking cannonballs and other projectiles to the belly, like a super-powered carnival performer. At first he seems open to joining the X-Men but after a tour of their school and passing some preliminary tests he changes his mind.
Professor X wants to wipe his memory of the team’s secrets but, understandably, he doesn’t want anybody worming into his mind so he fights the team and escapes, showing the full range of his powers.
Returning to the circus where he works, the Blob rallies several circus members to help him attack Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. NOTE: They should have just gone ahead and made the circus the Blob worked for be the Circus of Crime, a supervillain team that virtually EVERY Marvel superhero has gotten to smack down over the years … even Howard the Duck. I’m not joking.
The X-Men defeat the Blob and his absurdly hostile coworkers, then Professor X wipes their memories of all knowledge of the X-Men’s location and identities.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #4 (March 1964)
Title: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
Villains: The Mutant Brotherhood, consisting of Magneto, Mastermind (Jason Wyngarde), the Toad (Mortimer Toynbee), the Scarlet Witch (Wanda) and Quicksilver (Pietro)
Comment: The Scarlet Witch’s costume is green on the cover due to a printing error.
Synopsis: After the X-Men finish their latest Danger Room session, Professor X treats them to cake celebrating the 1 year anniversary of classes being held at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Angel and Marvel Girl start their romance. (But as we all know she and Cyclops later hook up and ultimately get married.)
Elsewhere, Magneto uses his powers to steal a freighter on the high seas, then returns to his secret lair, where he has assembled his own team of mutants to fight at his side against the X-men. We readers learn how Magneto saved Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch from a superstitious, mutant-hating mob in Europe.
The next day, using the newly-stolen freighter, the Mutant Brotherhood conquers the fictional South American country of San Marco, which Magneto claims in the name of mutant kind and declares his intentions to make it the first nation with a mutant ruling class.
A summit between mental projections of Magneto and Professor X fails to result in any peaceful resolution to the conflict, since Magneto hopes to ignite a war between humans and mutants. The X-Men travel to San Marco where they defeat the evil mutants, freeing San Marco from their rule. The Mutant Brotherhood escapes.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #5 (May 1964)
Title: Trapped: One X-Man
Villains: The Mutant Brotherhood
Synopsis: When Jean Grey’s parents arrive at Xavier’s School for a visit the team and the professor go through assorted sitcom-level antics to keep the true nature of the school a secret from the Greys. Eventually Jean’s parents are satisfied with their daughter’s school and classmates and leave.
The X-Men and Mutant Brotherhood separately ponder their ongoing war with each other and their mutual failed attempts to locate each other’s secret HQ’s. NOTE: This was before 1980s retcons made it so that Xavier and Magneto had known each other since their younger days.
Magneto forms a plan to flush out the X-Men for a fight to the finish in which his Brotherhood will be on offense instead of defense.
The evil mutant plants a disguised Toad on a track team and at a high-profile event has him show his massive leaps, making the crowd assume he is a mutant. Many people in the crowd attack him out of fear of mutants and the X-Men, attracted by reports of the incident, show up to save the probable mutant athlete.
Once they arrive they realize the mutant is the Toad, and then Magneto and the rest of the Brotherhood attack. After a destructive running battle through New York City, Magneto captures Angel, while the X-Men capture the Toad.
Magneto and company retreat to their HQ with the Angel as a prisoner. The X-Men stay on the run with the Toad as their captive, since they don’t want to risk leading the Brotherhood to their secret school.
Meanwhile, Magneto tries torturing the location of X-Men HQ out of the Angel, but all efforts to break him fail. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are disgusted by the torture. Next, the villain settles for letting the X-Men follow the Toad back to his own secret HQ in order to destroy them on his home turf.
That HQ is the massive edifice on Asteroid M, making its FIRST EVER appearance. The X-Men retrieve Angel, defeat the Mutant Brotherhood again and flee Asteroid M, much of which is destroyed from the battle.
NOTE: We readers will learn in a few issues that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were already considering defecting from Magneto’s team. They secretly helped the X-Men in the battle, unknown to our heroes. For now.
FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #28 (July 1964)
Title: We Have to Fight the X-Men
Villains: The Mad Thinker and the Puppet Master
Synopsis: At the Baxter Building headquarters of the Fantastic Four, the team contemplates the mutant phenomenon and the heroics of the X-Men. The Human Torch mentions his own adventure from his own series in which he met Iceman when they defeated the supervillain called Barracuda.
Two foes of the Fantastic Four – the Mad Thinker and the Puppet Master – team up to use the new sensations called the X-Men in a plot to kill the Fantastic Four.
The Mad Thinker, who always uses abstract mental calculations like he’s a Mentat from Dune, has deduced a rough approximation of what the X-Men’s never-seen leader Professor X looks like. He has the Puppet Master use his special radioactive clay to form a puppet of that likeness, thus enthralling Professor X.
The Mad Thinker has the Puppet Master force Professor X to lie to his X-Men, telling them the Fantastic Four have secret villainous plans. Since it’s a comic book the X-Men believe it. Under the guise of a friendly visit to the Baxter Building the mutant heroes attack the FF.
After the two teams battle at the Baxter Building the enthralled Professor X has his team lure the Fantastic Four to a remote southwestern mesa loaded with high-tech traps set up by the Mad Thinker.
On that mesa the X-Men and Fantastic Four clash again, with the high-tech traps tipping the fight in favor of the X-Men. With the FF defeated and entrapped, the two villains emerge from within the mesa HQ to gloat, accompanied by the Mad Thinker’s gigantic super-powered android.
The Mad Thinker has the Puppet Master force Professor X to use his mental powers to force the X-Men to fall asleep. The narration tells us that, spread out over the five X-Men’s minds, Xavier’s powers are slower at forcing the Beast unconscious because of Hank McCoy’s own massive genius.
The fading Beast succeeds in wresting the Professor X puppet from the Puppet Master’s hands and destroys it, freeing the professor. The X-Men all wake up now and free the Fantastic Four.
Together the two teams battle the Thinker’s Awesome Android. After awhile that battle comes to a close when Professor X remotely manages to apply pressure to the android to cause it to shut down.
The Mad Thinker and Puppet Master escape but the X-Men and Fantastic Four part as friends.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #6 (July 1964)
Title: The Sub-Mariner Joins The Evil Mutants
Villains: The Mutant Brotherhood and Sub-Mariner (Prince Namor of Atlantis)
Synopsis: Professor X contemplates the Sub-Mariner, Prince Namor of Atlantis, who was a superhero fighting the Axis Powers during World War Two but has become a villainous foe of the Fantastic Four and Avengers in recent months. Charles is drawn to the Sub-Mariner because of his nature as a mutant, being the son of a human and an Atlantean.
Magneto, too, noting the Sub-Mariner’s mutant nature, has begun conspiring with an Atlantean official, promising him control of Atlantis if he helps Magneto persuade the Sub-Mariner, its rightful monarch, to join his Mutant Brotherhood.
Xavier roams the depths via mental images of himself and becomes aware of Magneto’s plans. He traces the villain to his new secret island lair where Magneto plans a summit with the Sub-Mariner. Returning to his body, Professor X sends the X-Men to the island to try stopping Namor from allying himself with Magneto.
The X-Men arrive while Magneto is giving the Sub-Mariner a tour of his futuristic island powered entirely by magnetic forces. Namor is impressed and agrees to discuss a possible alliance.
The X-Men arrive and are attacked by Magneto, Sub-Mariner and the rest of the Mutant Brotherhood. Eventually, Magneto’s cruelty and ruthlessness make Namor realize his true nature so he turns on the evil mutant.
Sub-Mariner fights Magneto and the X-Men fight the rest of the Brotherhood. Magneto and his teammates escape, Namor returns to Atlantis and the X-Men return home.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #7 (September 1964)
Title: The Return of the Blob
Villains: The Blob
Synopsis: At Xavier’s School, Professor X names Cyclops as the team’s official new leader while he (Xavier) goes off on a sabbatical. Xavier’s mutant-detecting device Cerebro makes its FIRST EVER appearance, since Charles reveals it and tells Cyclops how to use it.
Magneto and his Brotherhood are meeting at a secret mansion HQ in New York City, where Mastermind tries but fails to talk the Scarlet Witch into running away with him as his mate.
The next day Magneto visits the Blob at the circus where he works. He frees him from the mental blocks that Professor X put in his mind and, full of resentment for what Xavier did, the Blob agrees to join Magneto’s Mutant Brotherhood.
Magneto covertly issues a challenge to the X-Men to fight it out in a deserted warehouse in New York City. Cyclops agrees and the two teams battle once again. At length Magneto unleashes his secret missile weapons on the X-Men AND on the Blob, who just happened to get in the way.
Magneto and his teammates flee, and in the aftermath of the explosion we see that the Blob’s invulnerable form absorbed all the deadly force, leaving him and the X-Men behind him alive. The Blob is furious with Magneto for obviously not caring if he lived or died so he quits the Mutant Brotherhood.
However, his previous sour experience with the X-Men prompts him to refuse to join their team, too. Since he technically never participated in a crime with the Brotherhood the X-Men let him go back to his life in the circus.
NOTE: In the future the Blob, like the Vanisher, would join the team of villainous mutants called Factor Three.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #8 (November 1964)
Title: Unus The Untouchable
Villain: Unus the Untouchable (Gunther Bain)
Synopsis: During the X-Men’s latest training session in the Danger Room, Cyclops helps Iceman craft his smoother, icier form, finally leaving behind his dopey “snowman” look.
Scott gives the team the rest of the day off. Jean, obviously beginning to be attracted to HIM instead of to Angel, tries to talk Cyclops into coming with them all but he stays behind to do more work.
Iceman and Beast are on a double-date with their girlfriends when they spot a child stranded on a rooftop. Hank becomes the Beast and saves the child but the crowd below throws things at him since they distrust mutants. In disgust, Hank tells Scott he’s quitting the X-Men.
In the circuslike atmosphere of the pro wrestling circuit the Beast discovers that one of the wrestlers is really a mutant calling himself Unus the Untouchable. He uses his force field powers to cheat and win his matches. (Dishonest wrestling matches? Naaah.)
NOTE: I don’t know why they didn’t just have Cyclops say that Cerebro has detected a new mutant and have the X-Men meet Unus that way.
Anyway, it turns out that Mastermind has already been trying to recruit Unus for the Mutant Brotherhood. Unus wants to join but after the failures with Sub-Mariner and the Blob, he is told that to “make his bones” and be permitted to join he must first find and kill at least one of the X-Men.
To lure an X-Man his way, Unus publicly robs gangsters who have just robbed a bank. The X-Men, minus the Beast, arrive to attack him but the battle ends in a draw.
Back at Xavier’s School the X-Men find that the Beast has returned to the team. He uses his genius to rig up a device to deal with Unus. The next battle between Unus and the X-Men sees the Beast use his device on Unus, increasing his powers beyond control to prevent the villain from even being able to eat or drink unless he surrenders.
Unus does so, and Hank uses his device in reverse now, making Unus’ powers manageable again. The X-Men make Unus vow to not join the Mutant Brotherhood or they will use the Beast’s power device on him again.
NOTE: In the future Unus the Untouchable, like the Vanisher, Blob and Mastermind, would join the team of villainous mutants called Factor Three.
COMMENT: I’d have made it so Unus really did rob a bank himself earlier in the story while trying to lure the X-Men. Then he would be taken to jail at the end of the story instead of so many stories where the bad guys just walk away at the end.
This could also have been milked for more anti-mutant fears since a popular pro wrestler would have been exposed as ANOTHER mutant. “Who else among us is hiding the fact that they’re a mutant?” would be that line of thinking.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #9 (January 1965)
Title: Enter, the Avengers
Synopsis: Enroute to Europe, where the still-absent Professor X has summoned them, the X-Men save a ship from colliding with an iceberg. Arriving in Europe the team learns from the professor that he had taken this mysterious sabbatical to try to track down Lucifer, a deadly alien menace he had fought solo 10 years earlier. Back then he stopped the alien from conquering the Earth.
He has found Lucifer, of the alien Quist race, AND his cavern hideout. Lucifer fights the X-Men with his ionic energy powers but soon threatens the X-Men and Xavier by pointing out that he has spent the last 10 years devising a bomb powerful enough to destroy the entire Earth.
Lucifer has also tied that bomb into his own heartbeat, so if he is killed or if the world refuses to surrender to him he will wipe out the planet. The alien’s expenditure of his ionic energies has attracted the attention of the Avengers, who arrive to destroy the would-be world conqueror.
In one of those contrived battles between superhero teams the Avengers don’t understand why the X-Men are telling them not to attack Lucifer so the two teams fight instead. Professor X meanwhile gradually renders the evil alien unconscious without altering his heartbeat at all.
With Lucifer defeated the X-Men finally (what took so long) explain things to the Avengers and the two teams part as friends. Charles returns to the U.S. with his X-Men.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #10 (March 1965)
Title: The Coming of … Ka-Zar
Villains: Swamp Men and dinosaurs
Synopsis: After their latest Danger Room training session, the X-Men become engrossed in live satellite coverage of an Antarctic expedition. One of the scientists has gone missing and – astonishingly – is being returned to the rest of his team by a blonde man in a loincloth and accompanied by an actual saber-tooth tiger.
The panicked expedition attacks the blonde man and his tiger, who retreat into the frozen landscape after dropping off the missing scientist. Professor X and his students agree that this misunderstood blonde man who could survive the Antarctic in just a loin cloth may be a fellow mutant so he sends them to Antarctica to investigate.
The X-Men pick up the trail of the blonde man and his saber-tooth tiger and follow it to a concealed cave which leads underground. The team enters the cave and follows it for miles, coming across fresh remains of dead dinosaurs along the way.
Eventually the X-Men emerge in a pulp-fiction style Hidden Valley called the Savage Land. Miles down from the Antarctic ice the Savage Land – later renamed Pangaea – survived the ice ages and is still home to dinosaurs, primitive tribes plus lots and lots of vibranium. (The same valuable substance found in such large quantities in the Black Panther’s realm Wakanda.)
This is the FIRST EVER appearance of the Savage Land, which would become as much a staple of the Marvel Comics universe as Wakanda, Atlantis, Latveria, Genosha, etc.
Some pterodactyls attack the X-Men but are driven off. When Angel is sent to fly around and scout out the land, the others explore on foot. The team is attacked by a tribe of Swamp Men, prehistoric people who ride large dino-birds and wield primitive weapons. They also wield swamp gas which knocks out the X-Men.
The Swamp Men fly off with Marvel Girl and Angel as captives but before they can load up the rest of the X-Men, Ka-Zar (the blonde Tarzan-style figure) and his saber-tooth tiger Zabu attack and drive off the rest of the Swamp Men.
NOTE: Ka-Zar represents an interesting example of the history and evolution of pulp fiction Intellectual Properties. Martin Goodman, Stan Lee’s often-discussed colleague, originally published Ka-Zar’s adventures beginning in October of 1936. (King of Fang and Claw was the title of the very first Ka-Zar pulp story.)
Under Goodman’s Manvis Publishing Company, which would later morph into Timely Comics in the 40s and Marvel Comics decades later, Ka-Zar started out as a Pulp Hero like Doc Savage, the Shadow, Moon Man, G-8 and others. Ka-Zar was, even then, a thinly-veiled Tarzan imitation and his adventures took place in Africa, not the Savage Land. He had a lion companion named Zar.
After two more Pulp Magazine novellas in January and June of 1937, Ka-Zar went disused until Marvel Mystery Comics debuted in 1939. Martin Goodman brought Ka-Zar back as a comic book character this time around, but still in Africa. After a few years Ka-Zar was gone from comic books, too.
Now, in 1965, the character was rebooted as a jungle lord from a lost land filled with dinosaurs and such. He had a saber-tooth tiger instead of a lion for a companion. Making him more Tarzanesque than ever, his new backstory was that he was the long-lost British Lord Kevin Plunder. His evil brother, the supervillain called the Plunderer, would plague him repeatedly in the years ahead.
Back to the story, Ka-Zar and Zabu help Cyclops, Iceman and Beast rescue Angel and Marvel Girl. The Swamp Men are defeated and driven off, and the X-Men learn that Ka-Zar is not a mutant after all.
The team returns through the tunnel and Ka-Zar has mastodons block the entranceway, hoping to discourage further exploration. (HA! The Savage Land becomes a very frequented place and is ultimately put under U.N. supervision.)
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #11 (May 1965)
Title: The Triumph of Magneto
Villains: The Stranger and the Mutant Brotherhood
Synopsis: At Xavier’s School, Professor X’s sensors have detected an incredibly powerful entity. Magneto has likewise become aware of it at the mansion hideout of his Mutant Brotherhood.
The entity has been traced to New York City, so Xavier sends the X-Men in civilian clothes to search for the figure. Meanwhile Magneto and company are on the same hunt. The mysterious figure calls himself the Stranger and he is exploring the city. Tired of traffic and crowds, he levitates above the crowds and walks along on the air.
This attracts a lot of attention, including hostility from paranoia that he may be a new mutant. Magneto intercedes and guides the Stranger to his mansion lair. The evil mutant tries to persuade the Stranger to join his Brotherhood but, in his usual high-handed manner, alienates the figure instead.
A battle breaks out between the Stranger and the Mutant Brotherhood. The destructive clash partly bursts out of the mansion, drawing the X-Men to the location. They don their costumes and charge in to join the fray.
In the subsequent three-way struggle the X-Men fight the Stranger and the Mutant Brotherhood. The Stranger defeats Mastermind by making his body solid and rock-like, paralyzing him. When the Stranger tires of the battle he conjures up a vortex to teleport away with Magneto and the Toad following along, still hoping to form an alliance.
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch reveal how they helped the X-Men against Magneto in the past. Our heroes offer them membership in the X-Men but they instead go on to defect to humanity and later join the Avengers, vouched for by the X-Men.
The X-Men take the petrified form of Mastermind back to their school where Professor X is unable to cure him and pronounces the Stranger to be more powerful than Magneto himself. The team tracks down the Stranger for a showdown, in which he reveals himself to be an alien, not a mutant.
The Stranger, later revealed to be one of the Elders of the Universe like the Collector, the Grandmaster and the Gardener, manifests in his real, gigantic form and transports himself and the now-captive Magneto and the Toad back to his homeworld. He states that, for reasons of his own, he plans to study human mutation through them.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #12 (July 1965)
Title: The Origin of Professor X
Villain: The Juggernaut (Cain Marko)
Synopsis: The alarm systems at Xavier’s School are sounding off and indicating an immensely powerful figure is approaching. A worried and haunted Professor X has the team erect additional defenses around the mansion grounds. Those additional defenses are an ice wall, an electrified trench and fence-posts booby-trapped with explosives.
When all that is done the professor informs the reassembled team that the attacker is his own step-brother, Cain Marko. While the approaching villain gradually penetrates the ice wall, trench and explosives, Professor X discusses his younger years.
His wealthy scientist father died in a nuclear accident and his mother ultimately remarried to another scientist, Kurt Marko. Eventually, when Kurt’s son Cain was expelled from yet ANOTHER school he came to live with the young Charles Xavier and his mother.
Cain and Charles became bitter enemies over the years, since Cain had predatory, criminal instincts and was a cruel, brutal man. One day Cain caused a fire which Kurt Marko gave his life saving Charles and Cain from.
In adulthood, Charles and Cain clashed repeatedly, with Charles’ mental abilities now allowing him to defeat Cain Marko in their encounters. Years later Charles was trying to stop Marko from retrieving a mystic relic – the Ruby of Cyttorak – from a cave in Korea.
Xavier was too late and saw Marko grab hold of the ruby. The gem transformed him into a huge, hulking figure but also caused a cave-in, burying Cain for years and leaving him assumed dead. Apparently he survived and has been digging himself out in his altered form for years.
With that tale completed, Cain finally bursts in on the X-Men and Professor X in their bunker. Beholding his step-brother clad in his armor, Charles labels him the Juggernaut.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #13 (September 1965)
Title: Where Walks The Juggernaut
Villain: The Juggernaut
Synopsis: Picking right up from last issue, the Juggernaut attacks the X-Men and his hated step-brother Professor X. Charles tries to use his psychic powers on the villain but the Juggernaut boasts that his helmet makes him immune to psychic attacks.
This is an all-out action story and as the battle goes on and on, much of the mansion is trashed as the team tangles with the Hulk-level Juggernaut. While the fight goes on Professor X tries but fails to contact the Avengers for help.
He next tries the Fantastic Four but succeeds only in contacting the lone Human Torch, still in the period when he also had his own series and lived in Glenville, NY. The Torch (Johnny Storm) is out test-driving his new Corvette Stingray when the professor telepathically connects with him. Johnny flames on and flies to Xavier’s School.
With the Human Torch, Angel and the Beast working in unison while Iceman, Marvel Girl and Cyclops focus on attacking the Juggernaut, the former three finally undo all the rivets on the Juggernaut’s helmet. Angel removes it and Professor X is at last able to blast the villain into unconsciousness.
The X-Men thank the Human Torch for his help and he flies off. Over the days ahead the X-Men recover from their many injuries suffered during this apocalyptic battle.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #14 (November 1965)
Title: Among Us Stalk … The Sentinels
Villains: The Sentinels
Synopsis: Scientist Bolivar Trask becomes a media darling with his dark denunciations of the dangers represented by the emerging mutant race. People cannot even know if their own children are mutants until their powers manifest.
Plus the depradations of the X-Men’s various foes have proven how dangerous and hostile mutants can be, to say nothing of the attitude some of them have that their powers make them the new aristocracy.
A nationwide debate is stirred up over the mutant issue. Meanwhile, Professor X sends the team on a vacation. Warren (Angel) and Jean go off together on a trip, leaving Scott wondering if he would ever stand a chance with Jean against his rich and handsome teammate Warren.
Xavier’s attempts to calm the anti-mutant hysteria result in him debating Bolivar Trask in a live broadcast on television one night. In the middle of the debate, Trask surprises Xavier and the viewers by unveiling his creation: a giant robotic Sentinel designed to detect human genetic mutation and protect humanity from mutants.
Trask states he has an entire army of such Sentinels but is shocked when the Sentinel stops obeying his orders and announces that the best way for the robots to protect humans from mutants is to take over the world, since human laws may get in their way otherwise. (There’s never a Butlerian Jihad around when ya need one.)
The vacationing X-Men converge on the television station from their separate locations to save the professor. Fighting their way through panicked anti-mutant crowds at times they destroy a few Sentinels in battle, but one flies off with Bolivar Trask as a captive.
The last Sentinel standing at the site of the television station battleground states “Master Mold…” before shutting down and collapsing. Since the artificial intelligence of the Sentinels is so similar to human beings’ minds Professor X is able to telepathically probe the fallen Sentinel.
Charles leads the X-Men to Upstate New York where his probe revealed the Sentinels’ base is located. When the team arrives at the designated location it appears to be a mere orchard. Suddenly the ground rises, revealing an entire subterranean base underneath. The base is equipped with high-tech defensive rays which open fire on the X-Men.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #15 (December 1965)
Title: Prisoners of the Master Mold
Villains: The Sentinels
NOTE: The X-Men is finally monthly.
Synopsis: The high-tech defenses of the Sentinels’ base prove so powerful that the X-Men are eventually forced to retreat, so they draw back to regroup. A sneak attack by Iceman and Beast is attempted but they wind up captured by the Sentinels’ defenses. Angel tries to save them but is lucky to avoid capture himself.
While the X-Men, conferring with Professor X, ponder their next move, Beast and Iceman are gassed and strapped to scientific devices. Master Mold, the chief of the Sentinels begins to study the captured X-Men to refine what the Sentinels know about mutant physiology and thought processes.
The captive Bolivar Trask tells his rebellious creations that the X-Men will find a way to beat them. Master Mold reminds him that, thanks to him, their base has enough firepower to destroy half the United States if it comes to it.
Outside, Professor X strains his mental powers to the fullest to force the Sentinels manning their bases’ high-tech defenses to become inert, allowing Cyclops, Marvel Girl and Angel to sneak past those defenses and into the lower levels of the base.
Master Mold has a subordinate Sentinel bring the unconscious Beast to a table before Trask, whom it forces to use a psychic probe on the X-Man. The Beast’s tragic youth filled with rejection based on his intellect and later based on his emerging mutant powers is laid bare for Bolivar Trask and Master Mold.
Cyclops, Angel and Marvel Girl fight past a few Sentinels and free Iceman, who joins them in charging the area where the Beast is being held. Professor X meanwhile, engages in a long-distance psychic duel with the artificial mind of the Master Mold.
At length the Master Mold uses micro-electric blasts to defeat Xavier, whose physical form slumps forward in exhaustion. The other four X-Men raid the chamber where Beast, Trask, Master Mold and other Sentinels are located.
They are holding their own at first when suddenly gravity defenses are activated by Master Mold, pinning the X-Men to the floor.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #16 (January 1966)
Title: The Supreme Sacrifice
Villains: The Sentinels
Synopsis: With the X-Men defeated, and the Beast still strapped to the psychic probe, the exhausted Professor X, still hiding within sight of the Sentinels’ base, is horrified to see the base retract entirely into the ground, with its artificial orchard again serving as its roof. He psychically forces a passerby to drive him back to the television station to further probe the captured, intact Sentinel.
Inside the base, Master Mold has the four fallen X-Men imprisoned in a cell using the same artificially heavy gravity to pin them down. It finishes its probe of the Beast, then tells Bolivar Trask that unless he agrees to program the Sentinels to reproduce/ construct more of themselves they will unleash their arsenal, wiping out half the U.S.
When the Master Mold tells Trask it plans to kill the X-Men after its research on all of them is done, he recants all his prior anti-mutant sentiments, but his rebellious creations are unmoved by this.
When the powerful gravity in the X-Men’s cell is switched off for a second so that the Sentinels can toss the Beast in with them, Cyclops leads the team in a quick escape attempt. They fight their way partway through the base before inevitably being overcome by the power blasts of the Sentinels, who drastically outnumber them.
Back at the tv station, Xavier further probes the fallen Sentinel and finally realizes that what caused it to shut down were crystals like those used in rough broadcasts. They interfered with the communications system of the downed Sentinel.
Using his government connections as a respected Professor (including, probably, Agent Duncan of the FBI), the professor calls in favors for some help.
Back at the base, Bolivar Trask is reluctantly finalizing the process through which the Sentinels will be able to reproduce themselves indefinitely. Suddenly, all around the base, Sentinels begin shutting down and collapsing.
The reason for that is that the Professor has arrived with armed forces in helicopters, all wielding crystals and technology to jam the Sentinels. Xavier telepathically clues in the X-Men to what is going on and they begin to fight their way out.
Bolivar Trask sacrifices his own life to start a chain reaction of explosions that will destroy the entire base AND the secret of self-reproduction for the Sentinels. In the upper levels, Iceman is nearly killed amid the battle with the base’s automated defenses.
Beast and Angel get Iceman out as the group just barely escapes the total destruction of the base. The Sentinels are gone, but anti-mutant hostility lingers.
NOTE: Years down the road, Bolivar Trask’s son Larry, not realizing his father gave his life to stop his own creations, will construct a more powerful army of Sentinels to attack the X-Men and the rest of mutantkind.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #17 (February 1966)
Title: … And None Shall Survive
Synopsis: While the X-Men recover at a military hospital from the injuries they received in combat with the Sentinels, Iceman remains the most badly off and has still not regained consciousness. On the plus side, General Fredericks tells the public that, in the aftermath of the Sentinel debacle, “All those who called the X-Men a menace to society will have a lot of apologizing to do.”
Meanwhile, Angel’s incredibly wealthy parents tell him that they want a tour of Xavier’s School like the kind Jean Grey’s parents got. Angel tells Professor X, who tries to stall the Worthingtons by telling them he and his students are on a research trip, but the Worthingtons say they’ll drop by in a day or two.
Professor X dispatches Angel to fly south back to their school to start making sure things look in order. Cyclops, Marvel Girl and Beast hover at Iceman’s bedside, worried because he is still comatose.
Back at the school, Angel falls victim to an ambush by Magneto, somehow returned from the Stranger’s World. Losing telepathic contact with Angel, the professor and Cyclops leave the military hospital to drive south to the school, leaving Beast and Marvel Girl watching over Iceman.
Once arrived at their HQ, Cyclops and Professor X find no sign of Angel, but are suddenly distracted by Cerebro sounding off, intentionally triggered by Magneto, who ambushes the pair after thus diverting their attention.
Beast and Marvel Girl, alarmed that they cannot contact the professor or their teammates, head back to their school, too, leaving Iceman there to recover. Back at X-Men headquarters, these two also fall in battle with Magneto.
Back at the military hospital, Iceman’s condition is worsening, prompting the doctors to try a new experimental drug on him, then wait to see the results. In Xavier’s School, Magneto encases the fallen X-Men in a death-trap. By this time, Warren’s parents have arrived and the sinister Magneto greets them at the door, terrifying them.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #18 (March 1966)
Title: If Iceman Should Fail
Synopsis: Magneto uses pirated technology from the Stranger’s world to render Angel’s parents the Worthingtons unconscious like in UFO abduction fiction. Using that same technology he “probes” them and extracts genetic material from each of them and starts creating an army of fast-aging mutants to serve as an unstoppable army with which he will take over the Earth.
(Since the two Worthingtons gave birth to Angel that’s how Magneto knows he can mass-produce mutants from their extracted genetic material.)
While waiting for his mutant army to roll off the assembly line, Magneto destroys Cerebro and gleefully contemplates using Xavier’s School as his mutant army’s headquarters while he conquers the world.
Rapidly running out of air in Magneto’s death trap, the struggling X-Men free Professor X from the psychic inhibitor he was bound in. Unable to free the team from the death-trap he instead telepathically wakes Iceman from his coma. Luckily the experimental medicine has cured him and he races for the X-Men’s HQ to stop Magneto.
Eventually, the first battalion of mass-produced mutants from Angel’s parents are fully-grown and Magneto prepares to grant them consciousness as his minions when Iceman arrives and freezes the alien machinery.
While Iceman wages a desperate one-man stand against Magneto, Professor X learns how the villain returned to Earth. Magneto and the Toad’s imprisonment on the Stranger’s World was a humane one, with the run of the futuristic planet in between periodic medical studies of them conducted by the alien. Magneto abused this hospitality by stealing a spaceship and other technology, then callously abandoned the Toad and flew off for Earth.
The X-Men have by now freed themselves from Magneto’s death-trap and join Iceman in fighting their archenemy. The battle goes on and on, until at length the professor orders the X-Men to stand back from Magneto.
That is because he has mentally summoned the Stranger to come and recapture his escaped specimen Magneto. The powerful cosmic being does so, taking the villain back to his faraway world with him. The X-Men destroy the mutant-making equipment and the already-produced mutants crumble into dust.
Our heroes clean up and dress in their civilian clothing. When the Worthingtons wake up they have only vague dreamlike memories and “lost time” like the aforementioned fictional UFO abductees. They enjoy their visit at the school and leave happy with the whole layout.
THE X-MEN Vol 1 #19 (April 1966)
Title: Now Shall Appear … The Mimic
Villain: The Mimic (Calvin Rankin)
NOTE: This is the last issue of The X-Men written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby.
Synopsis: When Iceman clowns around once again during the team’s Danger Room workout, Cyclops stops the session and chews out Bobby. Professor X is more conciliatory and praises the team for defeating the Sentinels and once again saving the world from Magneto.
The team travels into the nearest town for some r&r and the double-dating Iceman and Beast and their girlfriends encounter the jerkish Calvin Rankin. Rankin has been trying to get the Beast’s girl Vera to go out with him and gets very hostile seeing her with Hank.
The under cover Beast gets physical with Calvin only to be amazed that Rankin can match him in strength no matter how much of his mutant might he uses. Bobby steps in to try to calm the pair down only to have Calvin attack him with his own Iceman powers.
Passersby mistakenly think Hank and Bobby are normal humans being attacked by a mutant and try to mob Calvin. He escapes, using Beast’s agility and Iceman’s freezing powers. Once reasonably far away from the pair of disguised X-Men, their powers fade from Rankin, who reflects on how this always happens when he gets a certain distance from the people whose abilities he has mimicked.
NOTE: Marvel Comics went back and forth on retcons with the Mimic, sometimes saying he was a mutant and other times a non-mutant. I prefer to think of him as a mutant.
Recovering from the ugly incident, Calvin realizes he just displayed two of the X-Men’s powers, meaning the two teens he just tussled with must be Iceman and Beast. He plans to follow them back to their headquarters to mimic ALL of the X-Men’s powers so he tries but fails to spot Hank and Bobby in the crowds.
Rankin DOES bump into Jean Grey, who is shopping. Calvin tries to put the moves on her but notices while they are dining together that he has acquired telekinetic powers, so he concludes Jean is really Marvel Girl. He plans to secretly follow her home to find the X-Men’s lair.
Calvin succeeds and learns that Xavier’s School is really X-Men headquarters. Eventually he returns there in a costume complete with his own version of Cyclops’ ruby quartz visor. Wings spring from his back as his mutant (or non-mutant) superpowers kick in and his body mimics Angel’s wings, but brown instead of white.
He enters the mansion, calling himself the Mimic and pretends to apologize for his fight with Beast and Iceman the last time they met. He claims he wants to enlist in the school. The Mimic can even replicate Professor X’s mental powers and blocks him from telepathically reading his mind.
Charles is therefore unable to detect Calvin’s true, hostile motives but distrusts him because of his overly cocky and rude conduct. At length the Mimic announces he doesn’t want to join the X-Men, he wants to steal their powers PERMANENTLY.
NOTE: The Mimic was the X-Men’s version of the Super-Skrull, who possessed all the powers of the Fantastic Four, and the Super-Adaptoid, who possessed all the powers of the Avengers.
At any rate, the Mimic battles the X-Men while using all of their powers PLUS Xavier’s. Eventually, as part of his plan, he subdues Marvel Girl and flees in his car with her as a hostage. The other X-Men pursue him in the team’s helicopter.
Once far enough away from the other X-Men, the Mimic has just the powers of Marvel Girl, unconscious beside him in the car. At length he pulls up in front of an abandoned mine, where he wanted the X-Men to follow him.
Marvel Girl comes to and soon the Mimic’s wings once again spring from his back, so he knows the other X-Men are close enough for him to mimic their powers, too. Blasting through to a hidden lab in the mine shaft, the Mimic tells Marvel Girl his origin.
His father was a scientist, and one day while misbehaving in his lab the young Calvin knocked over a beaker, exposing him to chemicals which: A) IF HE’S A MUTANT, CAUSED HIS MUTANT ABILITIES TO MANIFEST THEMSELVES or B) IF HE’S A NON-MUTANT, GAVE HIM HIS MIMIC POWERS COMPLETELY.
The rest of his origin is so similar to what mutants go through in Marvel Comics it’s part of why I prefer the retcons where the Mimic was always a mutant – Calvin’s power to mimic the talents, athletic abilities and intelligence of others in close proximity made him shunned as a freak.
Calvin’s father made this secret laboratory hideaway long ago, but a mutant-hating mob tracked Rankin and his father to the abandoned mine and caused a cave-in which killed his father before he could use a device which he said would let Calvin possess people’s stolen abilities permanently.
Calvin survived the cave-in but hated the world afterward and vowed to get revenge someday. Back to the present, a running battle breaks out in the mine between the Mimic and the X-Men as he tries to hold them off while using the genius he is mimicking from Hank McCoy to repair his father’s damaged machine.
He uses the machine on himself, but is devastated to then learn he has LOST his ability to mimic the powers of others. His father, apparently distrusting his son’s already nasty nature, lied about trying to make his mimic powers permanent and really wanted the machine to make his son powerless and normal.
The damaged machine starts to explode, as machines do in comic books and movies, so the X-Men get themselves and the now-powerless Mimic to safety. Professor X cavalierly wipes Calvin’s memories of all things related to his former superpowers (including the team’s locale and true identities), the X-Men strip off his costume and send Calvin on his way, thinking he is just a normal person.
NOTE: The Mimic, of course, would eventually get his memory and powers back and sometimes fight the X-Men while at other times serving as a member of the team.
WELL, THAT’S TWENTY STORIES, SINCE ONE TOOK PLACE IN THE PAGES OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR. WE’LL DO THIS AGAIN SOMETIME.
FOR THE HARVEY SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR THE FOX FEATURES SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR THE PRIZE COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
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FOR THE HARRY CHESLER PUBLISHING SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR THE DELL SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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60 responses to “THE FIRST TWENTY X-MEN STORIES FROM THE 1960s”
Nice series of blogs! I have followed you please check my website and follow me.
Thanks! Will do!
Interesting post! I enjoyed reading it!
Great article! I really liked the history of Ka-Zar from the 30s on forward.
Thank you very much!
This blog post is one of the reasons I really enjoy Balladeer’s Blog. I like superhero stories because of what they reveal about the culture of the time.
The Mimic is awesome!
In the 90’s I found an old bookstore that sold out of print comics from the 60’s and earlier in mint or near mint condition. They were selling them dirt cheap, the woman and her daughter who ran the store didn’t know the value of them and most people here are not into comics. I purchased a few but I was just a child and didn’t know the value of them either and I was more interested in the latest comics. Had I known the value of them I would have purchased all of them and kept them in a safe place.
Oh, that is something! It is frustrating to think of the value of those old issues!
The Sentinels go back that far?
Yes they do.
The X-Men suck.
The Mimic deserved a lot more use as a villain!
I agree. They did use him a few more times but nowhere near as much as they could have.
I didn’t think the Sentinels came until the 80s.
The Stranger is annoying.
That’s important to point out about Magneto’s original personality. He was straight up bad originally and didn’t get shades of gray til much later.
Were the Mad Thinker and the Puppet Master mutants?
Marvel retconned it both ways back and forth over the years.
I’m sick of superhero stuff.
Thank you for the feedback.
Jean Grey was the pass around even back then it looks like.
Ha! Interesting way to put it.
Unus got a raw deal later on.
Well, he did go on to rob banks with the Blob, so he did commit some crimes.
He didn’t join the team until 1975.
Why wasn’t the Mimic in any of the X-Men movies?
I’m afraid I don’t know.
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Any plans to do the next 20 X-Men stories?
Not yet, but if more readers ask for it I will.
So all the X-Men were born with their powers?
Why did the movies jump to so many later stories?
I’m afraid I don’t know.
Even back then Jean Grey was annoying.
Ha! I guess so.
They should have had Magneto be the one who crushed Xavier’s legs not Lucifer.
Lucifer and the Mimic were never used right.
I can see how an argument could be made for that.
The X-Men are my alltime favorite!
That first Unus the Untouchable story was weak.
Sub-Mariner was always a dud to me.
BALLADEER’S BLOG AT GLITTERNIGHT.COM IS THE GREATEST BLOG ON THE WEB!
I like the elements you inject from real life about the background. Especially the history of the Ka-Zar IP. I never knew that.
Thank you very much!
The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I really thought you would have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.