Thursday, June 21, 2012

VIRGIN TERRITORY: The First Time I Read: The X-Men - Uncanny X-Men #242

In the 80's I was a kid of two worlds. When it came to movies, I craved folks like Freddy Krueger and Arnie, yet when it came to comics I focused on the brighter likes of Iron Man and Firestorm. Only fitting then, that my first issue of Uncanny X-Men (the title I stayed away from because it seemed too dark) was #242. The issue where the heroic originals, X-Factor, spent half the issue fighting against their semi-demonically possessed, edgy contemporaries, The X-Men.

At that point, I knew jack about X-Factor. Beast and Iceman were Defenders, and while I'd seen some X-Men in Secret Wars, many were unknown. I love new characters, but I quickly realised was this sure as hell wasn't The Avengers.

Tony Stark never kissed a girl like Wolverine did Jean on the initial splash page. The rest of the cast thought so to, as it was followed by a double pager of both X-teams watching said smooch, speechless as New York went up in flames.

Writer Chris Claremont shoved every word ever into each and every speech bubble, as savage fights crossed with sacrificial children, and characters embraced their sexiness in a Millar/Daredevil/Elektra kind of way.

Dark, but not that this kid minded. To me it was more of Marvel not talking down to their readers. As the fight over Madelyne Pryor saw Jean's parents turned into demons and sent to kill her, with Cyclops forced to chose which of the two redheads to save, three characters became instant lifelong addictions right here.

Firstly, Cyclops's forever superior little brother Havok.

Unlike the older indecisive Scott, Havok was an emotional man of his word. It was one step up on the Hawkeye/Cap dynamic I loved in The Avengers, and yeah, even though he picked the wrong dame (a Goblin Queen to be precise) Havok was a hit with me from the start.

After Cyclops picks Jean, Alex elopes on the demon express with Madelyne. The couple arrive at computerised demon N'astirh's mutated Empire State Building HQ, dressed like this...

That's not 'Avengers wardrobe', but it sure sent a few vision's into my mind!

The other two characters remain what I consider 'the heart of the X-Men'. As N'astirh is sent to slay all who oppose his Queen, Storm flies high above the team vs team conflict. Using her winds to pull Jean into the air, both heroines deduce each is the real deal. As the two forces of nature embrace over a friendship rekindled, the teams reunite just as N'astirh arrives.

Colossus (already a favourite from Secret Wars) had also kept his distance from the team melee, and has rarely been drawn as well as artist Marc Silvestri renders him here. Stealing back the spotlight, Storm takes the team's assault on N'astirh one step further;

Modern Storm could do with a bit more of that 'take charge' attitude! Sadly, despite both Havok and Storm crossing Cyclops, all the cool characters, soft porn and demons, this issue didn't convey to me the X-Men's persecution base concept, so I didn't stick around. Despite Madelyne showing up on the last page to take the X-Men on firsthand!

Still, what a hell of an introduction, even if I'm still not 100% sure of how to say 'N'astirh'!

 What was your first X-Men comic? 

10 comments:

  1. Yeah I remember when I first say that kiss as well, and even though I didn't enough too much about the X-Men myself, thinking "Why's Wolverine kissing Cyclops' girlfriend?"

    I'm trying to remember what my first X-Men comic was, but all I can think of is buying Classic X-Men/X-Men Classic when it came out, and wondering why the art inside didn't match up to the awesome covers. This happened a lot for me, especially with Marvel Tales, which featured reprints of old Marvel Team-Up issues. Yeah, I was a stupid kid back then:)

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  2. I loved these issues in the 80's!! I think I was "peaking" X men around this time... and then those early Jim Lee issues ...DAMN too much fun!!

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  3. My first x-comic was on the arch where Kitty Pride made her debut and the Hellfireclub made Jean Grey their black queen.
    I was 9 or ten and was hooked.
    Interesting to notice the diference between mine and Dan's experience, because I stayed away from Iron man and the avengers, for the most part, because when I read them, I thought them... (sacrilege)dull.
    It was with west coast avengers, that I started liking them, and it took-me some years to really read the first team.
    Things change :)

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  4. I hear ya' Marcelo! I was/kinda still am a big Jim Lee fan, especially during his X-Men run. Him, John Byrne, and Joe Mad are my favorite X-Men artists of all time. Oh, and Marc Silveresti's New X-Men run in '03-'04.


    Aliera, see I liked both Avengers and WCA/AWC, but I too seemed to favor the WCA/AWC more I think because of the art and because Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hawkeye, and Wonder Man were on the team.

    I think that at to me at the time, Marvel had some really good stories and art back then, as opposed to DC.

    What about you Dan?

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  5. Cheers guys! Glad to see my first time with the X-Men brought back some pretty great memories for you all. I'm looking at sharing my first time with a villan or hero every month so I hope you dig the other trips down memory lane ahead too!

    @Marcelo - the 80's is my favourite comic decade ever, and Inferno is definitely a part of that on the X-Men's side. I peaked on the X-books with Age of Apocalypse (I went from collecting all to none when it ended), and while that's 90's, part of why I stayed on prior to that, was the fun I had reading back issues from the 80's! As for Jim Lee - I still remember when he drew Cap in the X-Men. I couldn't believe it - one of the company's best drawing Steve Rogers! That never happened in his own book!

    @Aliera You know I'm the World's BIGGEST Avengers West Coast fan. Especially from John Bryne forward. Spider-Woman, Mockingbird, all the ones Dale mentions, and Hank Pym - especially Hank. It was the first time he actually stood out to me, as the more James Bond type hero John wrote him as.

    I loved the Avengers because they were a football team facing massive odds. And while the roster was never as mixed as Giant Sized X-Men #1, I used to love how it pulled from all the fantastic elements of Marvel in the process of beating the odds. But that's for another post. You're right though - it's interesting to compare isn't it.

    Now I get why Kitty Pryde is so important beyond just being an awesome character, she was the person many new readers related to. For me that was Dick Grayson.

    Dale - yeah I hated those reprinted issues for that reson too. Though I did once buy a reprint just to hang the cover on my wall. It was of The Beast. As for Marvel vs DC in the 80's it was hard, I used to spend hours sitting in bookstores deciding which one comic to walk out with - it just seemed so unfair. DC had Swamp Thing, New Teen Titans, Flash, Satellite era Justice League and Perez's Wonder Woman, while Marvel had Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Daredevil. I still to this day can't call back then who I liked best. I just know I would've brought that store so I didn't have to chose every month if I coulda.

    Thanks for all the great comments!!

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  6. Yes, I remember when Uncanny X-Men#268 came too, because that was 1st major exposure to the X-Men and Jim Lee. And I definitely agree with you that Jim Lee drew the best Captain America/Steve Rogers outside of Jack Kirby and maybe Ron Garney.

    I wish Claremont was able to devote a whole series, even a mini to Logan's early adventures w/ Cap during WW2. I think Daniel Way or Jason Arron wrote some WW2-era adventures of Cap, Bucky and Logan, during his run on Wolverine:Origins. But I don't think they were as good as UXM#268.

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  7. You, know I was never able to decide between Marvel and DC, and see no reason to.
    Actualy it was the same Brazilian editor firm that printed both when I was young so It took me some time to get it that it was two universes. And also there were many Marvel/DC crossovers than to acount on my inatention.
    I like them both.
    About relating to an X-men character, it wasn't Kitty, but Jean, to me :)
    I even have my hair dyed read right now! LOL
    I loved a female STRONG red haired character from the first moment I met her.
    Also think she should have kept kissing Wolverine insead of being with that horrible cheater Cyclops. I hate the character since he chose the White Queen.

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  8. Federal republished the American stuff here for a bit to Aliera, so I know what you mean.

    Funny you mention Jean, she became my favourite in the 90's and pretty much my all round favourite right up to Onslaught. I seriously thought Marvel would give her leadership of the X-Men after Xavier left, but for some reason they didn't. Then I thought Grant was heading that way too, but we all know how that went.

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  9. Yes, I really don't understand this. They make a character great and then comes another head with another idea and puff. No more growing up for the character or he/she is just plain dead.

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  10. To right Aliera. While she would've made a natural leader over Cyke, at least it seems obvious she is what will reunite the two schools again. Or are we been fooled again?

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