Gawk at the original art for X-Men #1, the birth of Marvel's mutants

Marvel editorial titan and historian Tom Breevort has been documenting the Marvel Age of comics on his eponymous Tumblr blog, and he's just gotten to X-Men #1, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby, which would introduce the world to that allegorical team of mutant superheroes.

When digging through his files, Marvel's executive editor discovered this rarely seen treasure trove, and he couldn't wait to share it with the Internet:

As it turns out, I seem to have scans of every single page of X-Men #1, scripted by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman. It's the first X-Men story I ever read, in the pages of Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, and a very good example of a Marvel comic of the period—the point past which Stan and Jack have defined the parameters of what they're doing and have a bit of a system in place.

X-Men was one of two titles originated at the behest of publisher Martin Goodman. (Daredevil was the other one.) An old-time pulp publisher, Martin would typically flood the marketplace with knock-offs of any successful magazine, and turn a quick profit. In the case of X-Men, he told Stan that what he wanted was another Fantastic Four. And at least on the surface, that's very much what Stan and Jack gave him. The identical costumes, the familiar personality types, even the villain was reminiscent of the FF's premiere bad guy. But there's a different idea buried at the heart of it, a concept that Kirby would return to again and again—the notion of the "hidden race living among us, with members both good and evil."

It's wordy, sure: Lee's great gift was not being concise, it was big, honking, relatable ideas. And Kirby's art still finds room to crackle.

(Via Tom Breevort's Tumblr)

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