Book – Essential Classic X-Men Volume 1
Authors – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and various others

Date – 2010
Genre – Comic
Pages – 528

My first foray here into comic books!  And before anyone even suggests that the term “graphic novel” is used instead, no, this particular book is very definitely a comic book.  In fact, it is several comic books.  Marvel have published a range called “Essential” which gathers black and white versions of the first comics in many of its iconic series – Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man, and of course, the X-Men.

This book covers the first twenty-four issues of the X-Men comic published back in the sixties, when the team consisted of Professor X, Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl (an early iteration of Jean Grey).  Some of the X-Men’s biggest foes are introduced – Magneto and Juggernaut to name but two – and the concept of this mutant team is truly set up.

It is really interesting to read these early comics.  I have always been a bit of a fan of superheroes.  Everything from the origin stories to the flashy costumes appeals to me, but the convoluted nature of the Marvel and DC universes makes it pretty difficult to get involved properly in reading the comics themselves.  This is why the concept of the Essential series appealed to me.  Start at the beginning and work your way through.

There are a couple of problems with this – the first being that the crossovers between franchises becomes so ridiculously convoluted that you would need to buy a truly ridiculous amount of these books to cover everything and remain spoiler free (something dear to my heart).  The second being that the early comics simply are not as exciting as the kind of thing that are produced nowadays.  The action and adventure seen in the current run of Marvel comics is such that you always feel a sense of peril.  The characters – largely through their journey onto the big screen – are so understood and developed that it is possible for writers to do a lot with them.  These comics feel like a grounding that doesn’t have this kind of depth, and so whilst an amusing and interesting read, they don’t hold the attention in the way that I had hoped.  Testament to this is the fact that I devoured this very quickly (an embarrassingly long time ago – I don’t know why I stopped reviewing!) but then abandoned the second volume midway through.  It became a little monotonous.

Still, it is not a terrible gateway, and I have since started to read some of the more modern books in the Marvel universe.  I am sure that I will come back and finish off the second volume, and then keep reading.  If for no other reason than a series of them will look great on my bookshelf.