Giant Size X-Men 1

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Someone who is not totally obsessed with comic books might wonder about what is so important about an extra-thick comic book called “Giant Size X-Men 1”. The cover boasts that it has “68 big pages” and was released in May 1975. Something about it must be amazing, since the price of owning an original copy could fetch triple figures, or more if you want a professionally graded copy. The truth is that there are several factors combined that helped this title become not just monumental, but legendary to any fan of Marvel Comics.

To understand the importance of this comic book, you need to know a little about The X-Men’s history. The usual members of the team that we know and love today were not always members. Originally, the team consisted of Professor X, Jean Grey, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and Angel. Many of them are memorable even to this day, but some of the most famous characters were yet to appear. In this comic, we see Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Thunderbird for the first time. Collectively, they help form the “new” X-Men. Most important of all, however, is the addition of Wolverine, who would go on to be among the most famous members. Considering that the popularity and love of this character had lasted the test of time, it’s evident that their appeal lies not solely in his superhuman abilities, but also his deeply human struggles and triumphs as well.

When looking at the new team, you may have noticed something interesting. Each one is from a different area of the world. Wolverine is famously known for being Canadian, Colossus is clearly Russian, and Nightcrawler is German. Storm has African heritage, which helped create this diverse team of superheroes. This is not a coincidence, since Professor Xavier searched around the globe to assemble “The New X-Men”.

The reason for the diversity, as explained by Marvel editor Len Wein in the documentary Chris Claremont’s X-Men, (affiliate link) was because Marvel Comics sold very well in other foreign countries, and if they could introduce new characters from those areas, it could increase sales. This was important, since the X-Men comics had been unsuccessful up to this point, and a new approach was needed for a revival. A five-year sabbatical had gone by in the franchise before Giant-Size X-Men was released with brand-new characters.

Dave Cockrum had many sketchbooks with costume ideas, and is considered the artist behind the outfit designs of the new mutant team. When published, the comic was planned to be released quarterly, since no one was sure how well the franchise reboot was going to do. When plans changed to publish it bi-monthly, it was handed to writer Chris Claremont. Since many of the characters were brand new, this presented him a clean slate to work with, along with much creative control. Later, John Byrne took over as artist. This team became iconic and essential for the continuation of the series.

Giant Size X-Men 1 also set a significant landmark in comic book history. Some consider it a marker for the beginning of the “Bronze Age” of comic books. This was a time period during the 1970s when many of the current writers and artists were replaced by a new generation of staff that set a different tone.

Plot Summary

Cyclops and Wolverine

Charles Xavier goes around the world to recruit a new team of mutants. He finds them using Cerebro, a specially designed mutant-detector. The first to be found is Kurt Wagner, or Nightcrawler, who was being attacked by an angry mob for looking like a monster. The next goes by Weapon X, or Wolverine, found in a special governmental agency in Quebec. Ororo (Storm) is masquerading as an African storm goddess, Sunfire is in Japan, Peter Rasputin (Colossus) in Siberia, and John Proudstar (Thunderbird) in Arizona.

As the story continues, the team is then given a telepathic crash course in the English language to close any communication gap. New costumes are given, thanks to the help of Fantastic Four member Reed Richards. Scott Summers, or Cyclops, explains to the team that they are needed because the X-Men have disappeared while in pursuit of a mysterious mutant. Everyone flies over on a jet to investigate the island where they vanished. It turns out that the entire island itself is the mutant, a giant enemy in humanoid form that captured The X-Men. After the old team is rescued, everyone escapes by using a crude ice craft as a make-shift vessel before eventually recovering the jet they arrived in. The story ends with the question, “What are we going to do with thirteen X-Men?”

The New Characters

Although Sunfire, Banshee and Wolverine already existed from past comic books, Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler make their first appearance in this comic. (So did Thunderbird, but nobody cares about that guy.) As I pointed out earlier, the most popular of the bunch has always been Wolverine, so we will include him in this discussion of new mutants. These four mutant individuals have built a fan base that admires their unique powers, complicated pasts, and enigmatic personalities.

Storm, or Ororo Munroe, is one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men universe. She can control the weather, manipulating nature to create storms. However, her powers are not the only thing she has to offer. Storm is a natural-born leader and a fierce fighter with strong values and unwavering loyalty towards her peers, who are also mutants. Although she may appear strong on the outside, she is caring, friendly, and understanding on the inside, which makes her a character with depth and resonance.

Among the X-Men series, Nightcrawler, or Kurt Wagner, is yet another character adored by fans. His abilities are certainly not something you will find in your everyday average hero. Although he has blue skin, yellow eyes, and a tail that can be moved at will, Nightcrawler is endowed with the power of teleportation. This gives him the ability to move from one place to another instantly and to take other people with him if necessary. What makes him truly outstanding is his gentle soul and deep trust in people’s goodness. No matter how many problems he faces due to others’ ignorance and hate, Nightcrawler always stands strong as a symbol of hope and compassion.

Among the mutants, Colossus, also known as Piotr Rasputin, is a towering figure yet a man of gentle heart. He has the extraordinary power to transform his entire body into an organic steel casing, which makes him almost indestructible in combat. Although he possesses such great physical power, Colossus remains a quiet and modest individual, always ready to offer help to others while neglecting his own needs. Furthermore, he is also an accomplished artist who understands beauty and thus creates complexity within his character.

And finally, there’s Wolverine, also known as Logan. This legendary personality is well-known for his spiky claws, supernatural healing power, and rude behavior. But what sets Wolverine apart from other heroes is his gloomy and deeply moving life history. There has been a lot of misery and anguish that he has experienced in his life, which turned him into a character with a brooding personality and difficult-to-understand characteristics. In contrast to his hard shell, Wolverine is an individual that possesses an earnest loyalty and a steadfast moral code – making him the favorite and endearing hero.