Sunday, June 26, 2016


THE X-MEN EPIC COLLECTION VOL. 1: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM (Marvel, First Printing, 2014; Softcover)

Collects X-Men #1-23 (cover dates September, 1963- August, 1966)

Writers: Stan Lee and Roy Thomas

Artists: Penciling by Jack Kirby, Werner Roth, and Alex Toth, with Inking by Dick Ayers, Chic Stone, Paul Reinman, Vince Colletta, and Joe Sinnott

This is not only the third time that I have read these issues, but the third time that I have bought this material as well. Allow me to explain. I owned the first three hardcover Marvel Masterworks many moons ago but sold them when the hardcover Omnibus came out, as the Omnibus boasted vastly superior linework and color restoration. The Omnibus fell out of print, and when I saw how much it was going for I dumped it a year or so ago and picked this book up. As long as I have the material with the finest restoration I am fine. Plus, I honestly enjoy the paper stock in this Epic over the one found in the Omnibus.

One of the creepiest Stan Lee plotlines ever. Professor X's crush on the teenage Jean Grey (Marvel Girl). This was thankfully dropped and never referred to again as far as I know. I quit buying new X-Men comics a few years ago. 

OCD upgradeitis/ eBay flipping exploits aside, I enjoyed this material more the third time through. The X-Men were always the red-headed stepchild of Marvel's Silver Age. Neither Stan Lee nor Jack Kirby seemed to give this series much thought out of the gate. Compare these issues to anything else that these two were doing during the same cover month and you will see what I mean.

Kirby's successor was Werner Roth. I disliked Werner Roth's artwork until a couple of years ago, when I read his 1950's Atlas output. I still feel like his style is not as energetic as Kirby's, nor as nuanced as Ditko's, because he draws superheroes that look like regular people. If you read this as a book about normal teenagers who happen to be mutant superheroes his artwork makes more sense. He is a solid artist that was ill-suited to Silver Age superhero comics.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby lay down the entire foundation for the series here. Professor Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters. Cerebro, Professor X's mutant-detecting device. Magneto as well as the Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants. Future Avengers Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. The Blob. The Juggernaut. The Sentinels and the first wave of anti-mutant hysteria that Roy Thomas and later Chris Claremont would use to great dramatic effect. It's all here, even if it isn't spit-shined or ready for prime time yet. Like I said, neither Lee nor Kirby nor Thomas nor Roth made this series seem like it was their priority. It falls short of every other book that Marvel was publishing during this time. Reading this for the third time was the charm, though, as I finally got what made it special to a small group of fans back then. It was those fans who would become the creators who would go on to make this one of Marvel's most popular titles a decade or so later.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

If you enjoy Magneto in the movies, thank Jack Kirby. 

The OCD zone- When I returned to comic books in 2003 after a thirteen year hiatus I discovered the Essential line, which were 500 page black and white phone books. At the time I wished that they were in color. The Epic line is an answer to my prayers. Five hundred page chunks of classic comic books at a reasonable price.

Linework and Color restoration: The absolute best version of this material, using the same files found in the Omnibus and softcover Marvel Masterworks. Excellent linework and a color palette that is faithful to the original comics.

Paper stock: Matte coated stock of sufficient thickness and weight. This is the same stock found in the softcover Marvel Masterworks and Epic line books. This paper is my favorite paper used out of any collected editions from any company.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

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