Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Unpalatable X-Men

Yup... I put Jeremy's copy of "The X-Men" #3 (January, 1963) on a flatbed scanner. It was a lot easier to work with once I folded the spine backwards. ...What?! Oh, p'shaw. It says right on the cover it only costs twelve cents.

In this issue, the X-Men (no "Uncanny" in the title... yet!) meet the monstrous Blob... who nowadays looks more svelte than your average Wal-Mart customer. But do you know what I found truly horrifying in this comic? The clothes.


The Angel's pants are cut quite generously in the ass region, aren't they? What's his cover story when some curvacious debutante asks him why his butt looks so big? Bee sting? Unfinished liposuction? Adult diaper? But of course he never gets in that kind of jam. Through the Magic Of Comics, as soon as those voluminous trousers are belted, a good third of that lumpen mass vanishes and he looks like he has no wings at all! As for the Beast, I know what I'm buying him for Christmas 1963: an iron. Also a 9x12 "glamour shot" of myself but that's a whole 'nother story. (There's a panel in this issue showing him wearing only pajama pants, and he's shirtless and furry-chested and he's holding a calculus textbook... with his feet. Heaven. Pure heaven.)


Quick! Choose the most disturbing aspect of this panel:
  1. Middle-aged Professor X confessing to the reader via thought-balloon that he's deeply infatuated with the teenage Marvel Girl, a.k.a. his pupil.
  2. Professor X's belief that the only things standing between himself and Marvel Girl's hymen are his job (night manager at Taco Bell) and his handicap. (Apparently it's not just the legs that are paralyzed.)
  3. Cyclop's suit.

The correct answer is #3, of course. Purple plaid, with pants to match, and a narrow little tie to go with his narrow little pursed-up mouth. You wouldn't think purple plaid could look dowdy but Cyclops manages to pull that off. Kudos, tightass! (I would have rocked that purple plaid suit back when I dyed my hair red, but then I'm just cool that way.)


Gah! I never thought I'd say this about the Blob, but he needs to strip back down to his underwear, pronto! Maybe the problem here is his color combination. He looks like an ambulatory Virginia ham... that does magic tricks. And the scoop neckline of the shirt paired with the high collar on the cape... it elongates his neck in such a weird way, like we're not even seeing his real head. Like it's one of those fakey Mardi Gras papier mache heads, and his own head is even more itty-bitty and hidden inside... like you could peer up one of his nostrils and see a teensy eyeball glaring back at you. The whole thing just gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Hey, bonus scarrage!


In the 30th century we call this position "the asteroid swarm." It's illegal on three planets! I've never seen it done fully-clothed before. (Kinky!) It's tricky for beginners, but I've found it helps if you place a trampoline on both sides.


Anonymous said...

"He looks like an ambulatory Virginia ham"

Oh BB you slay me.

Why is it harder to post a comment than to steal someones PIN number?

Anonymous said...

Yow. You're right about Blob's outfit--that scoop-neck alone is somehow squickier than his default wrestler's unitard. Go figure.

Brandon Bragg said...

Mr. Dukes does seem to be doing his best to look majestic in that oufit. Imperious even.

Like he knows it's horrible, but he doesn't care. He just wants you to say something about it. So he can sit on you.

Your Obedient Serpent said...

Have some pity for poor "Slim" Summers.

Rose-colored glasses may make the world look wonderful, but all ruby-quartz lenzes do is screw up your color sense.

Bully said...

I don't think Silver Age superhero comics did much at all...not just Jack preserve a decent fashion sense out of uniform. One exception I'd make is the much-maligned Don Heck, whose panel of Tony Stark meeting Pietro and Wanda at the airport in an early Avengers still sticks with me as solid, detailed, realistic civilian clothing that impressed the heck out of me.

But yes, the X-Men and their patterned suits weren't exactly the way teens, even the world's strangest ones, were dressing to go hand out at a beatnik coffee house in the 1960s. Even Jean really didn't look like she was dressing like a real woman until the days of Cockrum and Byrne, in which her outfits seemed much more inspired by actual women's wear of the sort you'd see in Vogue and Elle.

Now, of course, all the comic book women tend to dress like you'd see in Maxim. Did a full shirt really cost that much more, Miss Montoya?

Anonymous said...

Professor X's thoughts towards Jean Grey are indeed very disturbing. Apparently in the 1960s it was OK for 50-something men to blatantly lust after teenage girls. That's one plot point that got swept under the rug, thankfully.

Phillip said...

These outfits are all recolored in the Marvel Masterworks reprints. Hank's shirt is baby blue, with blue and black stripes, Scott's suit is sort of a rust plaid, The Blob is recolored into a white tank with blue pants an a red cape w/ purple collar & lining. The acrobats are given red stripey shorts with white sleeveless tees, plus their little boots change to black oxfords with black socks. Not really much of an improvement overall.

Bully said...

That's one plot point that got swept under the rug, thankfully.

Oh, you'd think so, wouldn't you?

Even though Stan himself later admitted he had no freakin' idea what was going on when he wrote that, it was thankfully never mentioned again...until the interminable "Onslaught" crossover. I quote Wikipedia ("The Encyclopedia You Can Scribble In!"):

[Onslaught] kidnapped Jean Grey, took her to the astral plane, and attempted to convince her to follow him and to become his consort. Without revealing to her that he was a part of Xavier's mind, he tried to show her the extent of Xavier's own repressed anger and frustration, both towards the seeming futility of his dream and towards his own students - expressed in the form of a flashback to X-Men #3 (Volume 1), in which Xavier mused on his undeclared and unexpressable love for Jean Grey.

It's one thing to have a weird misguided throwaway line in a 1963 comic. It's another thing entirely to bring it back as a pertinent and canon plot point in the modern age. Ick.