First X-Men #1: Continuity Wreckage

Christos Gage and the veteran Neal Adams wreak havoc on X-Men history for no discernible reason.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

First X-Men #1

Originally, The First X-Men was advertised as Christos Gage writing and Neal Adams on pencils. I felt that was a wise choice, since Batman: Odyssey, which Neal Adams wrote and penciled, was one of the worst written things I’ve read in a long time. Now that the book is out, we see that apparently Gage and Adams both wrote this mediocre tale that injects little life into a look back at the X-Men before they were the X-Men. It’s not really even a look back. Instead its Gage and Adams just shitcanning continuity in order to write their tale.  

Wolverine has been called in to help a buddy find his missing son. Turns out the kid is a mutant with some kind of energy power. Wolverine finds the kid (sitting on a park bench, glad the pros were called in), and the kid promptly explodes in front him. When Wolverine comes to, the body is being shoved into a van. Looking to make good on his promise to help, our hero enlists his then-buddy Sabretooth to break into an FBI facility where the body is being held. How did Wolverine know they were feds? He smelled it. Insert eye-roll here.

The two attack the FBI stronghold and witness dissections, experiments and all kinds of awful things being done to mutants. Angered, Wolverine and Sabretooth head to New York to find another mutant who can project holograms. Using her powers to defeat task force sent by the FBI, the three mutants head to Oxford University to try and enlist the help of a young grad student named Charles Xavier. Xavier refuses to help until a long-winded speech from Wolverine causes him to take a second look at his life. The issue ends with Wolverine and his crew looking to seek out Magneto, who is currently using his power to seek vengeance on Nazi war criminals.

I’m really not sure who to blame for the writing here, Gage or Adams. Which of them decided to pen Professor Xavier as a sniveling coward bent on hiding his mutant identity forever? That’s only the complete antithesis of who Charles Xavier really was. Some will argue that this is a story before the future leader of the X-Men found his true calling, but he’s written with such vanity and cowardice that even the “turn” seems ridiculous. If this guy was really this much of a weakling, no speech would suddenly make him see the light.

Wolverine is also way too involved here. He was a Canadian secret weapon that Xavier found out about only after Wolverine fought the Hulk. There was never any great meeting between the two, it’s just Adams or Gage deciding things should run a certain way because it helps their story. I compare it to All Star Batman, where Frank Miller had Batman slapping Robin and screaming “I’m the goddamn Batman” because he thought it was cool. Apparently, later on in the book, Wolverine puts together a pre-X-Men mutant army alongside Magneto.

Yep. You heard me. Face-Palm.

Perhaps the saddest part of the entire book is that Neal Adams art doesn’t hold up very well. I don’t know if he’s lost a step or two or if I just see his older work through nostalgic eyes, but his art in The First X-Men is way below average. Why does Wolverine have vampire teeth? Why does his upper jaw look like its packed with candy? Why does Sabretooth look like Freddy from Scooby Doo after a werewolf bite? Why does Charles Xavier look like Billy Zane and Pinhead from Hellraiser had a child? Why does Magneto look like a televangelist with a hair-metal style hair cut?

The art from The First X-Men looks more like a collection of county fair caricatures than the work of one of the most important artists in comic book history. As unnecessary as I find the retread of pre-X-Men history to be, it can be done with flair and style. It can be entertaining. Neal Adams and Christos Gage’s attempt fails across the board.

5

(2.5 Story, 2.5 Art)