Monday, August 5, 2013

SUPERSIZE MEN! (Giant Size X-Men #1 / Classic X-Men #1) [Read After Issue #66]

May 1975
JUDGE THE COVER!

Giant Size X-Men?! Towering over the city, crushing those they wanted only to save! "Curse our giant sizes!" they wail as ... oh, I see, it's the issue that is giant size, not the X-Men. Look like the team was defeated by Dangling Modifier Man! (It was either this or a fat joke.)

So, I guess the cover idea, here, is that these new X-Men are bustin' up and out of the old team. Yet, look closely: Cyclops appears in both places. I particularly like how the top version of himself looks downright disgusted that the bottom version of himself is breaking through. "What?! They let ME into the new group?!"

OK, if the cover is to be believed, this is going to be extra long, so let's just get to it...


BUT FIRST AN ASIDE!

I know that the X-Men showed up here and there in other comic titles over the years between the end of the original series and this one ... but I just don't care enough to read it all.


ACTUAL SUMMARY STARTS!

Kurt Wagner, chased by villagers, is almost burned alive when he decides to show all the ignorant villagers that he's not a monster ... by attacking them.

And the new X-Men already has more social commentary than the entire last run.

Professor X shows up and does that time-stoppy thing that we've seen him do in the movies. I certainly didn't know that was canonical. I thought it was just something that Sir Patrick Stewart could do. The actor, I mean. That man is AMAZING.

But, wait, isn't ProX dead? Gosh, I read the silver age stuff so long ago, I've forgotten. (Yeah, behind the scenes type stuff: I finished reading the silver age stuff over a year ago; even worse? I read this comic almost a year ago, to the day!) OH, right, now I remember, they got some wake-up juice form The Hulk, right?

Anyway, Kurt joins up. Next on the recruitment list: Wolverine. But the evil Canadian military doesn't want to let him go... so our "hero" assaults an officer:

Logan's career as a tailor was brief and bloody.

The Prof seems to be fine with this, which is weird. Doesn't he see the potential irony of Wolverine rebelling against HIS authority, in the future? "It's not irony, bub, it's Adamaniumony!"

Also revealed during this Wolverine-gathering is that his code name is Weapon X. Personally, I had no idea that the "Weapon X" thing was part of his backstory all along; I thought it was something the writers came up with in the early 90s to sell me more "limited series" comic books. Gosh, imagine being a comic book nerd in the 70s and wondering about Weapon X's origins?! You'd have to wait 20 years for more information!

Next up: Banshee! Two panels. Only two panels dedicated to recruiting Banshee. And it goes down while he's at the Grand Ole Opry, to boot!

"SHHH! Would y'all hush up? I'm tryin' to hear me some pickin' and singin'!"

So, um, is Prof X like Ash, Pokemaster? Travelling the world, trying to "catch 'em all"? I choose YOU Wolverineachu! "*Snikt* does not work against stone Pokemon!"

Next up: An African princess named Ororo AKA "Storm". Typing Ororo is more difficult than you think it's going to be / want it to be. You never want to stop, once you start. Anyway, She's topless. (That's all I got from her recruitment segment.)

Strategically-placed hair: The bane of adolescent comic readers, everywhere.

Next up: Sunfire. Remember him? The guy who hates western culture, or something? Honestly, I don't really remember being wowed by his character. So much so, that I'm not even going to screen-cap him!

Next stop on our tour: Evil, evil SIBERIA! Where Pinkos live. Here the Professor picks up a farmer named Peter AKA Piotr AKA Colossus who can turn himself into living metal. He's a one-man IRON CURTAIN! (Two! Two metal puns in one recap!)

FINALLY, we end up in Arizona, where we meet an Apache man named John Proudstar. I fear this is going to get racially insensitive real soon. (More than a german devil, Canadian madman, Irish banshee, African princess, Japanese warrior, and Russian farmer have already been?! Impossible you say?! Let's find out!)


Off to a good start, we've already seen him wrestle a buffalo. They then have him say things like "white man" and "white eyes" ... I feel his hatred is justified. I'll allow it!

But WHY is the prof even recruiting this rag-tag bunch of upstarts?! Certainly all the X-Men we know and love are safe? "Not so fast", says Cyclops! "They're all missing." This is why we don't buy you nice X-Men, Professor! Until you learn to take care of the ones we get you ...

Cyke tells the tale:

FLASHBACK!
SO! Back when all the original X-Men were still around, Cerebro warned them of a powerful mutant that defies classification. Sigh! I thought we left that trope behind us in the 60s? This is 1975, dammit! Have we not evolved?! Evolved into smarter bell-bottom and flared-collar wearers?!

Like good little soldiers of X, our gang goes off to meet this threat, head on:

"Its travelling time" never really caught on as a catch phrase like
The Thing's "It's clobberin time!" did ... but an E for effort, Scott!

But y'know who is NOT on this mission? The Beast! Why? Because he graduated. Really?! I thought the "school" part of "Xavier's School For The Mutated" was a sham; just a cover story. I didn't think people could actually graduate out of Xavier's private army. Huh!

OK! The mission runs like this:
"We've landed!"
"What's that light?!"
Then cyke wakes up on the plane, alone, and it's on autopilot for home.

End of flashback.

Sunfire is like, "Yeah ... I'm out!" So the new X-Men leave for the mysterious Krakoa island without him. Literally three panels later, Sunfire is chasing the X-Men's jet, asking to come along. Not much story tension there. Then someone refers to Sunfire as "the jap" and I made a "yeeesh" noise out loud, in my living room.

Upon reaching the island, these new mutants split up into four teams of two. Each team battles something (trees, lobsters, birds, rocks - YES, ROCKS!) and they meet back up at a weird temple at the center of the island. Inside the weird temple are all the missing X-Men. If you learn nothing else from these stories, please learn that one should always START a mission at the creepy temple at the center of the island. Who says you don't learn nothin' from reading comic books?

Tone change! Not "Holy Hannah", but "Oh my dear god!"
Guess these new X-Men also have super blaspheming powers.

That was easy! Roll credits!
Nope, turns out it was a trap: The island is alive and wanted to lure more mutants to itself to feed on. The X-Men don't fancy themselves as snacks, therefore ... BIG FIGHT:

Snacks fight back.

This fight of super-human vs. an island reminds me of that Superman Returns movie. Remember? When the climactic battle was him fighting an island? It happened! It's now part of Superman's cinematic legacy! Canonical.

Anyway: Battle, battle, battle, etc. Lorna gets supercharged by Ororororo and then uses her magnetism to negate gravity and launch krakoa into SPACE!

In space, no one can hear you be awestruck.

Victorious, the team heads home. And now that there are 13 X-Men, there's a whole lot of opportunities for early 70s racism!


ANCILLARY MATERIALS!

The rest of the book is made up of reprints those dull "powers of the X-Men" featurettes. Don't remember those? You're not missing anything.


CONCLUSION!
Overall, this issue had a lot of setup, but fighting an island was cool .. in exactly the way it wasn't in Superman Returns.


SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED!

A couple years later, they would reprint this series of X-Men as "Classic X-Men". Essentially, they're all the exact same story, just reprinted, but with a couple pages added and a new short story tacked on at the end. The added-in pages were written by Chris Claremont, which is supposed to be a big deal. However, for time and sanity's sake, I'm not going to re-read each issue nor cover the additional pages on this blog. Aren't I already doing enough of a Herculean task for you, by reading them all ONCE?