The First X-Men (2013)
Writer – Christos Gage
Artist – Neal Adams
When clearing out and deleting emails from my Gmail account, I always look for old ones from online comic book shops to see what comics were released a while ago. I made a list of the ones that interested me and The First X-Men was one of them. After legendary artist and writer Neal Adams passed away, I quickly requested this graphic novel from the library to read and eventually cross off my list.
Before Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters…before Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants…there was a group of mutants led by Logan and Victor Creed.
When Logan’s old army buddy requests him to visit his son who exhibits strange abilities, the meetup goes awry when the teenage boy suddenly explodes, consuming Logan in the process. Logan survives his brush with death but is caught off guard when he sees men in black suits taking the young boy’s body away. Logan tells Victor about this strange incident and the two men follow the federal agents’ trail to an undisclosed government facility. When they try to retrieve the young man’s body, they uncover a conspiracy to study people with special abilities. The duo fights off men in armored suits and steal top secret intelligence. Their quest leads them to a woman who can project illusions and a man as big and strong as a Yeti. Logan and Victor must work together to try to unite these “mutants” and find them before the government can capture them for their own nefarious purposes.
Prequels can be hit or miss. Sometimes they do a great job filling in the backstory of a comic or movie we have come to love and other times they raise more questions than answers and don’t connect to the stories whatsoever. Cristos Gage does a wonderful job giving the proto-X-Men their due. Some of the code names are hokey (like Holo, Bomb, and Yeti) but they come together very quickly and are able to do maximum damage to those that fear and hate mutants. This world is brought to life thanks to Adams’ art and inks. Holo has the ability to create illusions and she can either bring your dreams or nightmares to life. Some of the creatures Adams drew are downright scary. The cream of the crop is the villainous Virus, a creature that reminds me of Belial from the Basket Case movies. His backstory is tragic but his abilities are stomach churning. There are a few cameos from Marvel characters that highlight this story as the battle between humans and mutants begins.
As I was reading this story, I thought to myself this could have been brought to the big screen in some fashion but some of the plot points where already used in previous movie releases like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men First Class. If Marvel ever wanted to try to complete with the DC Animated Universe again, The First X-Men would be great adapted as an animated feature.
I loved the action sequences in this hardcover but some of the quiet moments where Victor and Logan discuss their plans with their cohorts or the interactions between the team when they have a break between missions seemed a bit wordy and boring in some parts. These parts are important and were mainstays in other X-Men books like during John Byrne’s legendary run but for some reason, it just didn’t help with the pacing of the story. If the miniseries turned into a full length run, I think the reader would eventually become emotionally invested in these characters but with only five issues, it’s hard to get an understanding of who they are and why we should care about them. The final issue does a great job revealing the reason for Logan and Victor going their separate ways, the impetus for Victor’s longstanding grudge with Logan, and why Logan volunteered for the Weapon X project. The end of the miniseries is full of hope and does a fantastic job pointing us to the future of Marvel’s Merry Mutants.
Most people are surprised when they learn that Neal Adams worked for Marvel especially since he had such a prolific career at DC Comics. If you are looking for a way to honor the legend, the best way you could do that is by reading the comics he put his time and hard work into. Not only did I request The First X-Men, but I also picked up Superman vs Ali as well.
What are some of your favorite comics by Neal Adams? Feel free to drop a list in the comment section. I’m sure there are a few we haven’t heard of before but would like to add them to our reading list.