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Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975, May)

December 4, 2012

Ah, here we go. Now we’re reaching some good stuff. Giant-Size #1 was the dawn of a new age, written by Len Wein, drawn by Dave Cockrum. The story is titled “Deadly Genesis!”

Deadly Genesis!

Probably one of the most-homaged covers of all time.

It starts in Winzeldorf, Germany, a small village where the population is chasing after a monster. The villagers grab him, but then stop, as Xavier wheels forward to tell Nightcrawler he’s a mutant. Then, in Quebec, Xavier recruits Wolverine, who shows a definite violent side in resigning from the military. Xavier finds Banshee in Nashville. In Kenya, a goddess brings rain, before Xavier reveals she’s no goddess, but a mutant. Then off to Osaka, where Sunfire agrees to help. In Lake Baikal, Siberia, Peter Rasputin turns to solid steel to save his sister from a runaway tractor, and Xavier convinces him to leave Siberia to help the world. Finally, Camp Verde, Arizona, John Proudstar is ashamed of his Apache people. Xavier tries to recruit him, but John wants nothing to do with him, until Xavier accuses him of cowardice.

In Westchester, the new X-Men are all in costumes, having been given a telepathic crash course in English. Cyclops explains why they’re there. The X-Men are gone. Cerebro had picked up an incredibly powerful mutant on an island in the South Pacific. The X-Men flew out to find him. Cyclops never even saw what hit them, but when he woke up, he was on the jet, his powers gone, and the autopilot in control. His powers returned when he got back to the Mansion. Sunfire initially refuses to help find the X-Men, but then changes his mind for no apparent reason. Seriously, it’s never explained. (My guess is Xavier used his mind-control to force him into it.)

They reach Krakoa, and split into four teams. Cyclops and Thunderbird start in from the west side of the island, quickly losing their jet, and getting attacked by vines. But they deal with the vines pretty easily. On the north side, Storm and Colossus are attacked by an avalanche that follows them. Colossus bats some rocks away, while Storm just tosses them away with a strong wind. Banshee and Wolverine, on the east, kill a couple giant crabs without much trouble. On the south side, Nightcrawler and Sunfire deal with some birds.

All four teams meet up at a strange temple in the middle of the island. Inside, they find the original X-Men, held by vines, with something feeding on them. They free the X-Men, and the temple collapses. Angel asks why Cyclops came back, and says the island wanted them to return with others. The mutant is the island itself.

The X-Men get a flash of memories. An atomic test on the island linked everything living there in a colony intelligence that grew hungry. After capturing the X-Men, it was still hungry, so it released Cyclops to bring more mutants. We get a pretty cool panel of all the X-Men in battle against Krakoa. Cyclops is contacted by Xavier, who has a plan. Xavier battles Krakoa telepathically. Storm summons lightning, which she channels into Lorna to restore her magnetic powers. Lorna then fires the energy down to the Earth’s core. The X-Men begin to escape the crumbling island, getting on a quickly-made iceraft, which is propelled away by Cyclops and Havok right before the island suddenly flies off into space. The X-Men survive, and gather into the jet that resurfaces.

The story is kinda silly. But this is definitely a milestone issue. For one thing, it generated enough new interest in the X-Men for the comic to be brought back out of its reprints. Wein set up the most basic personalities for the new characters, but it was enough for Claremont to build on. Cockrum’s designs are iconic, and his art has a strength to it.

Perhaps the most interesting thing, however, is the diversity of the team. An African, a Russian, A German, a Canadian, and Irishman, a Native American, and a Japanese man. Only one white American on the whole team. One has to wonder how well a book with that sort of line-up would do today. Sadly, Sunfire and Thunderbird are gone almost immediately when Claremont comes on. Still, that such an international team was so successful is interesting to me.

Speaking of Claremont, he comes on next issue, and makes comics that will be truly enjoyable to read and review.

  1. I actually have a reprint of this issue that includes a short story about Kitty Pryde’s birthday. It’s certainly not the greatest classic X-Men comic, but you can’t deny that it’s both creative, and important to the franchise. It also did a much better job at introducing the new X-Men team than today’s Thunderbolts 1 did with its Thunderbolts team.

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