So Sayeth the Odinson: History of the X-Men: Part 2 of 6 – The Bronze Age in 10 Images

Greetings from the Odinson,

The Children of the Atom have had a glorious history and some of the most eye-catching, and magnificent covers in Comics History.  The Odinson has decided to tell that history using only covers. 

History of the X-Men: Part 2 of 6 – The Bronze Age in 10 Images

Incredible Hulk #181 (1974)Art by Herb Trimpe.

Bursting his bonds and bursting onto the scene like the uncontainable dynamo that he is, Wolverine charged right into battle against the Marvel Universe’s mightiest character with reckless abandon and unparalleled fearlessness, attributes that will be associated with him for years to come.  Even an adversary as dangerous as the monstrous Wendigo is made to take a backseat to the ole Canucklehead’s debut.

The man called Logan would go on to become the breakout star of the soon to be breakout hit, Marvel’s All-New, All-Different X-Men.  Wolverine is, without a doubt, the most popular X-Man in the history of the franchise, and over the years, he has risen through the ranks of Marvel heroes and now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with comic book’s biggest A-listers and become an icon himself. 

And, this is the image that started it all.    

Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975)Art by Gil Kane.

This is one of the most iconic images in Comics History and it marks the triumphant debut of the All-New, All-Different X-Men! 

This diverse cast of heroes gathered from the four corners of the world would go on to become one of the most popular team of heroes in the History of Comic Books.  The franchise had been lingering in limbo for five long years with its characters only making guest appearances in other titles while their own series was churning out only reprints.  GSX #1 marked the return of the X-Men to prominence.    

This issue was the launching pad for a bold new direction for the Children of the Atom and it set up the status quo for what would go on to become one of the greatest 20-year comic runs in history, anchored by the great Chris Claremont.   

Uncanny X-Men #101 (1976)Art by Dave Cockrum.

This powerful image rendered by the incomparable Dave Cockrum marks the startling and exciting birth of the Phoenix.  Anyone who has witnessed any X-Men lore for any amount of time knows how significant the Phoenix Force is to the franchise.  The emergence of this immensely powerful universal force will go on to not only change the course of X-Men History but that of the Marvel Universe as well.

Uncanny X-Men #112 (1978)Art by George Perez and Bob Layton.

Magneto, the X-Men’s greatest adversary, returns with a vengeance and the new team quickly realizes they may be the least equipped group of heroes to deal with him, especially when two of your most prominent members are comprised of metal – Colossus’ organic steel body and Wolverine’s Adamantium laced skeleton.

Fun Side Note: In hindsight, this image may be a bit of, albeit unintentional, foreshadowing for the extreme impact Magneto would have on these two important X-Men in the 1993 storyline Fatal Attractions.    

Uncanny X-Men #135 (1980)Art by John Byrne and Terry Austin.

With its significance to X-Lore, a truly iconic image, and its fantastic use of the Pieta Cover motif, I could have easily chosen Uncanny X-Men #136 for this slot.  Instead, I chose UXM #135. 

First off, the image is extremely powerful.  It’s not often that the title logo is affected by the action on the cover, so when it happens, it should be for a reason.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the power of the Dark Phoenix is so absolute that it cannot be contained by the natural barriers of a comic book cover. 

Jean Grey has been a part of the X-Men mythos since the very beginning.  It could even be argued that she is the heart and soul of the franchise.  Here, she has been corrupted by a powerful force from beyond the stars.  Her turning to the dark side will have lasting ramifications on the X-Men forever after.  Thus, the Dark Phoenix grasping hold of the X-Men logo as it begins to crack and crumble at the edges signals that things will never be the same again, and for once, this was true.     

Uncanny X-Men #141 (1981) Art by John Byrne and Terry Austin.

From day one, the X-Men have always been a band of outcast heroes that protects a world that fears and hates them.  Whether it’s a sanctioned culling like in Operation: Zero Tolerance or an extinction level event like No More Mutants, an uncertain future has always been a shadow the Children of the Atom live under. 

Nothing illustrates that uncertain future like this powerful image for UXM #141.  Days of Future Past gives us a glimpse into a not too distant future where mutants are indiscriminately hunted, captured, and ultimately exterminated.  It is a bleak world that the present day X-Men fight so very hard to avoid.

Uncanny X-Men #159 (1982)Art by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Not only is this an eerily amazing horror cover by the great Bill Sienkiewicz, but it also resents the fact that Marvel’s Merry Mutants are so much more than just poster children for misfits and racial intolerance.  They don’t only just defend the world against evil mutants and themselves against a population that fears and hates them. 

They are champions and super heroes that defend the planet from all kinds of threats.  Including, but not limited to, vampires, aliens, super villains, demons, kaiju, gods, and anything else a chaotic multiverse can throw their way.    

Uncanny X-Men #161 (1982) – Art by Dave Cockrum and Bob Wiacek.

Professor X and Magneto are the pillars of the mutant community.  They are leaders.  However, one believes mutants can coexist and live alongside humans while the other believes mutants are the natural progression in evolution and deserve to rule over mankind.  Within the confines of right and wrong, this forever sets these two on opposing sides.  But, while they may oppose each other, these men are friends. 

That friendship has always been a very important aspect in the X-Men mythos.  This issue gives us a look into their past when the divide between them was smaller, and the issue’s cover beautifully illustrates these men were once staunch allies and could one day be again (which they have been off and on over the years).

Wolverine #1 (1982)Art by Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein.

Alluring. A devil’s grin.  Dangerous.  Super cool. 

There is probably no image in Marvel History that defines Wolverine more so than this classic piece by Frank Miller.  Logan was already one of the most popular characters in one of the most popular comics on the rack.  This was his very first solo series, and 1982 marked the year Wolverine became a bona fide star. 

Uncanny X-Men #171 (1983)Art by Walt Simonson.

Welcome to the X-Men.  Hope you survive the experience.

A comforting gesture tinged with a sprinkle of a foreboding omen.  It’s all at once inviting and threatening.  And, it is the mantra uttered to any and all who decide to enter the hallowed halls of Charles Xavier’s School for the Gifted.    

Here, we have Rogue, a former member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants seeking sanctuary among those she once tried to destroy.  She wasn’t the first enemy the X-Men have taken in and she certainly wasn’t the last. 

Everyone from Kitty Pryde to Havok to even Miss America and Miles Morales have been greeted with that ironically ominous greeting – Welcome to the X-Men.  Hope you survive the experience.    

Tune in next week for History of the X-Men: Part 3 of 6 – The Modern Age (1985-1991) in 10 Images

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

NOTE: Be sure to check out my new book – Autumn Dawn: A Glen Haven Tale.  Available in Paperback and on Kindle.

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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