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Marvel Masterworks, Volume 035: The X-Men…

Marvel Masterworks, Volume 035: The X-Men Volume 4 [#32-42]

by Roy Thomas, Don Heck (Illustrator), Werner Roth (Illustrator)

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Collecting the original tales of Marvel's merry mutants, we have milestone after milestone prepared just for you, and it all starts off-of course-with the Juggernaut! That's not the only earth-shaking tale in store, though. There's the X-Men vs. Spider-Man; an underworld battle against the Mole Man and Tyrannus; and the culmination of the Factor Three epic featuring the Changeling and the unbelievable Mutant Master. Also featured are the "Origins of the X-Men" backup features that reveal the beginnings of Professor X and his teen mutant team supreme! And we're not afraid to go out with a bang. That's right, on top of the X-Men's cool new costumes, in our heartwrenching conclusion the brutal beast Grotesk kills Professor X before the eyes of Cyclops and the X-Men!… (more)



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Despite the hype not everything Marvel touched back in the 60s turned to gold. The Hulk's initial title lasted only 6 issues before Stan Lee pulled the plug to allow a rethink of the character.

The X-Men lasted longer - 66 issues from September 1963 until March 1970 - but somehow it never seemed able to reach the heights of Marvel's other superhero teams The Fantastic Four and The Avengers.

This Masterworks volume indicates how bad things got. In the space of the 11 issues reprinted herein (#32 to #42) no fewer than 4 pencillers take their shot - Werner Roth, Don Heck, Dan Adkins and Ross Andru. Heck is the only real great of these 4 and his work here is well below his stellar efforts on Iron Man and The Avengers. Ultimately not even the last ditch introduction of Neal Adams to the creative team would save the title.

Roy Thomas's writing is hardly great either, again not up to what he was doing on The Avengers which indicates that the raw material wasn't there for the creators to work with. If The X-Men were meant to be Marvel's answer to DC's Teen Titans it's surprising they didn't do a better job of it since they'd created the definitive teen superhero in Spider-Man.

These issues show how Marvel attempted to rescue the title from the doldrums. Issue 39 introduces individual costumes for the team members in place of the original blue and gold uniforms and issue 42 featuring 'The "Death" of Professor X" is the first of a number of issues where a single member would be billed ahead of the team itself. Issue 43 would see even Magneto get top billing so it appeared that Marvel thought the name "The X-Men" itself was commercial death.

The volume is not the best example of The Marvel Age of Comics unfortunately. Until it was republished in 2009 it was a rare volume though. Maybe it should have stayed that way. ( )
  schteve | Feb 10, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roy Thomasprimary authorall editionscalculated
Heck, DonIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Roth, WernerIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed

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