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The X-Men in the Early 1970s: Neal Adams' Dynamic Art

Updated on November 6, 2014

Marvel Essential Classic X-Men Volume 3: The End of the X-Men, plus Neal Adams, Hulk, Spider-Man and the New Beast!

Marvel Essential Classic X-Men volume 3 is a real hodge-podge of stories that shows just how far below the radar screen the original X-Men had fallen in the early 1970s. The X-Men series, which had debuted in 1963, was Marvel Comics' poorest-selling title in March 1969 and was on the verge of cancellation when the first stories in this volume were published. Great Neal Adams art failed to save the title, and new stories ended in March 1970. The team then cast about fairly aimlessly, appearing as guest stars in other comics and in a short-lived series starring the Beast until 1975, when the all-new X-Men were introduced. The X-Men would go on to being one of the most-popular franchises Marvel owns.

This volume contains X-Men No. 54-66, Amazing Adventures No. 11-17, Marvel Team-Up No. 4, Amazing Spider-Man No. 92 and Incredible Hulk No. 150 and 161. The Marvel Essential series of books are in black & white and printed on lesser-quality paper, which is why each volume can contain hundreds of pages of stories for a reasonable price.

Neal Adams Brings the X-Men to Life!

X-Men No. 56-63, 65

Neal Adams had already made a splash in the comic-book world over at DC Comics with The Spectre, Deadman in Strange Adventures and many, many covers before he began drawing the X-Men with issue No. 56. From the splash page on his artwork explodes off the page, with a realism and vitality that was unique in comics at the time. The contrast between this issue and the previous one (drawn by Don Heck and Werner Roth) is stunning. The Angel really soars through the air, the Beast's extra-long legs and arms really make him look, well, like a beast.

The stories would flow one into the next for the next eight issues, with the X-Men fighting the Living Monolith, the Sentinels, Sauron and Magneto. They are great stories, and Adams' style makes the tales jump off the page in a way that had never been seen before. Adams would return for No. 65, a one-issue tale about an alien invasion that is mainly remembered for bringing back Professor X.

Adams and Jim Steranko were highly-acclaimed as the best, most-innovative new artists to enter the comics world in the late 1960s, and this run certainly shows Adams at his best. The work would win him the industry's 1969 Alley Award for Best Pencil Artist, deservedly so. (Tom Palmer would win Best Inking Artist for his work on Adams' art, and Roy Thomas would win Best Writer for his X-Men scripts).

Buy Marvel Essential Classic X-Men Vol. 3! - X-Men, The Beast, the Hulk, Spider-Man and More!

Marvel Team-Up 4 Spider-Man X-Men
Marvel Team-Up 4 Spider-Man X-Men

Marvel Team-Up No. 4: The X-Men vs. Spider-Man!

Or, My First Encounter With The Mutants!

Marvel Team-Up No. 4, included in this collection, came out in 1972, and I distinctly remember that it was the first time I ever encountered the X-Men. I remember thinking how weird it was that they weren't in costumes, and there is a brief interaction with a team member who declined to join in this issue's action(That would be the Beast, as it turns out, who was at that time appearing in his own series).

Even today, I find it odd that the team appeared in plain clothes, and I don't really see any reason for it given in the story. The tale is kind of forgettable, though it is interesting to see how long-time artist Gil Kane drew the X-Men characters. Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) is barely recognizable!

Marvel Team-Up: Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America and Much More! - The Human Torch Stars Also!

The Marvel Team-Up tale starring Spider-Man and the X-Men from this Marvel Essential Classic X-Men collection also appears in the Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 1.

This series was a real blast when it first appeared as each month Spider-Man would meet a different superhero and they would join forces to save the day. The Marvel Team-Up volume contains 23 tales in addition to the team-up with the X-Men. Some of those other stories starred the Human Torch -- and not Spider-Man -- joining up with another hero.

The Beast Goes it Alone!

Amazing Adventures No. 11-16

In 1972, about two years after the X-Men series went into reprints, Marvel had the Beast ''graduate'' into his own series starting in Amazing Adventures No. 11. The character accidentally mutates into a furry, more animal-like beast, and over the next five issues he tries to deal with the physical and mental challenges that presents. The Beast series ended in issue No. 17 with only two pages of original material as the Beast introduces a reprint of his origin from the X-Men series.

When the comics were originally published I only bought one -- issue No. 16 in which the Beast fights the Juggernaut. Over the years I collected all the issues but never found any of them memorable. In fact, some of the art was just plain bad (and it looks worse in black and white).

The only thing that is memorable is that the series really introduced Patsy Walker into the Marvel superhero universe (after she had made a cameo appearance in Fantastic Four Annual No. 3 in 1965). The character had starred in two of Marvel's love/humor comics starting in 1944 and ending in 1967. Patsy Walker would later go on to be the superhero Hellcat.

Marvel Essential Classic X-Men reprints the six issues of the series, as well as the two original pages from No. 17.

The Beast in Full Color! - Amazing Adventures for Sale!

Although Marvel Essential Classic X-Men No. 3 includes the six initial tales of the Beast from his run in Amazing Adventures, you may want to read the originals in full color. Especially since the Beast was grey -- not blue -- when he first transformed!

In addition to Amazing Adventures No. 11-16, the Beast also appeared in No. 17 but that was mostly a reprint of his first origin, which was told in segments in X-Men No. 49-53.

The comics are regularly available on eBay. Please read the descriptions and shipping & handling charges carefully so there'll be no surprises. Good luck with our bidding!

x-men iceman spider-man
x-men iceman spider-man

The Amazing Spider-Man vs. the Iceman

A Fun Little 1970s Spider-Man Tale!

Amazing Spider-Man No. 92, reprinted in this volume, is one of those classic comic-book superhero team-ups, where the heroes cross paths and, because of a misunderstanding, fight each other then realize they are on the same side and beat the baddies.

In this case there's really no particular reason for Iceman and Spider-Man to get together: Iceman just happened to be walking down the street when Spider-Man swung above.

That's not so say that the tale isn't fun -- it is.

The X-Men in Full Color! - X-Men Comics for Sale!

Old X-Men comics regularly appear on eBay, so if you want to read the stories in full color that would be a great place to find what you are looking for. Please read the description and shipping & handling charges carefully so there'll be no surprises. Good luck if you decide to bid!

The Incredible Hulk Vs. Havoc and the Beast

The Incredible Hulk No. 150, 161

This Classic X-Men volume contains two stories from the Incredible Hulk comic series

The first, originally published in Incredible Hulk No. 150, guest-stars part-time X-Men Havok and Polaris. Polaris, who doesn't appear in costume, has green hair, and the Hulk mistakes her for his long-lost love, leading to confrontation with Havok. It's a nice little tale, with some actual character development re: Havok. Artist John Severin and Herb Trimpe draw the story, and Severin's art is always very nice.

The second story, originally published in Incredible Hulk No. 161, ties up a loose end from the Beast's series in Amazing Adventures. The Beast travels to Canada to help out the Mimic, a one-time foe from the X-Men comics who is losing control of his powers. One thing to notice is how different the story looks: It is drawn by Trimpe alone, and without Severin's assistance the art looks more blockish, more cartoonish.

Marvel Essentials on Amazon - Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America and Many More!

The Marvel Essential (sometimes referred to as Essential Marvel) series began in March 1997 with Marvel Essential Amazing Spider-Man No. 1 and Marvel Essential X-Men No. 1 (which featured the newer X-Men team). Since then there have been well over 100 volumes published, covering many of the superhero titles as well as some of the horror, western, fantasy and science-fiction series that Marvel has produced over the decades. Most of the volumes are available on Amazon.

Neal Adams' Controversial Cover!

Unused Art and Reprint Covers!

Marvel Essential Classic X-Men Vol. 3 also contains some extras at the back. The most interesting is the unused cover (reprinted here from the volume) that Neal Adams drew for X-Men No. 56, which would have been the first one he did for the X-Men if it had been used. I have read in several places over the years it was rejected because the heroes obscured the comic's title. That's a shame, because it is one cool-looking cover!

Marvel also included the covers from King-Size X-Men No. 1-2 and the X-Men No. 67-93 in this volume. All of these issues were reprints, but I suppose looking at the covers may appeal to some people. The volume also has eight pages of original art from X-Men No. 64. These original pages don't look any different from the ones earlier in the volume, so they don't really add much value.

Neal Adams Art for Sale! - Get A Great Piece of Artwork Today!

Original comic book art is much more available than it was decades ago thanks to eBay and more knowledgeable fans.

As always, when bidding for an item on eBay always read the description carefully and note all shipping and handling charges so there'll be no surprises. Good luck!

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali - Another Neal Adams Classic from the 1970s!

If you are a fan of Neal Adams' art, then you will love this book. It's Adams at his prime. Originally published in 1978 as an oversized comic book, the two-page spread showing an urban neighborhood street is a classic.

The cover is famous, with Ali and Superman squaring off in the ring with 1970s' personalities and DC Comics writers and artists cheering them on.

Adams is able to capture Ali perfectly, and the full-page scene of Superman after he fights Ali is simply gorgeous.

I highly recommend this book.

Should Professor X Have Been Revived? - X-Men No. 65

It may be hard to believe, but there was a period of about two years when Professor X was considered dead. Marvel had killed him off in issue No. 42 (March 1968) and sent the X-Men members out into the world to survive on their own.

With the title struggling for readers, Marvel decided to bring him back in issue No. 65. Readers were told he had gone into hiding to help prepare Earth to defend against an alien invasion and that a reformed villain named the Changeling had posed as the professor -- and died -- to throw off the aliens!

Unfortunately, the invasion story was just about a silly as the explanation of Professor X's return.

But it does bring up the question on whether the character should have been revived at all.

Should Professor X Have Stayed Dead?

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Marvel Essential Classic X-Men Collections - Get The Full Series!

The first 53 issues of the X-Men series are collected in the Marvel Essential Classic X-Men volumes no. 1 and 2, which are available on Amazon. It's a great and inexpensive way to read all of the early tales from writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby's first issue introducing the X-Men to Barry Windsor-Smith's first U.S. comic-book art in issue No. 53, considered to be one of the worst-drawn stories of all time!

Marvel Essentials vs. Marvel Masterworks

Marvel has two collections of reprints: The Marvel Masterworks and the Marvel Essentials. The Masterworks volumes have fewer stories in each book (usually about 10), but they are published in wonderful full-color that presents the tales in all their original glory. The Marvel Essentials series contains black-and-white stories on lesser quality paper, with each collection containing more than twice as many tales.

Is the Marvel Masterworks series better than the Marvel Essential series? Why or Why Not? I say:

The All-New X-Men: Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler

Plus the Dark Phoenix Saga

After Marvel stopped printing new stories of the X-Men with issue No. 66, the series continued on a less-regular basis reprinting earlier X-Men tales for the next 27 issues. Then in summer 1975 Marvel introduced a new X-Men team mostly made up of new characters. After an extra-length tale in Giant-Size X-Men No. 1, the new team started to appear in original stories beginning with X-Men No. 94 and the title and characters have become some of the most popular in the Marvel Universe.

There have been a number of books collecting these newer X-Men tales, and I have written reviews of several. Please check them out!

X-Men Reborn in the 1970s: Storm and Nightcrawler Debut, plus Wolverine!
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Marvel Essential X-Men Comic Book Review: Wolverine, Storm and a Return to Greatness!
Marvel Essential X-Men collects Giant-Size X-Men 1 and X-Men 94-119. Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 introduced the new team of superheroes, reviving the X-Men comic....

Marvel Masterworks X-Men Comic Book Review: Enter the Phoenix! Plus Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler!
This volume reprints Uncanny X-Men No. 101-110 in full color, a collection of 10 comics during a run that really established the new X-Men as a major franchi...

X-Men's Dark Phoenix Saga: A Marvel Comic Book Review
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga collects issues No. 129-137 of the original X-Men comic-book series, a series of tales that ends with the final battle over Jean...

Captain America in the 1960s: A Marvel Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 1 reprints Captain America's stories from Tales of Suspense No. 59-99 as well as the first three issues of the newly-...

The Ghost Rider Debuts! A Marvel Comic Book Review
The Marvel Essential series contains four volumes devoted to the Ghost Rider superhero, who first appeared in 1972 in a comic book called Marvel Spotlight. H...

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga collects issues No. 129-137 of the original X-Men comic-book series, a series of tales that ends with the final battle over Jean...

The Avengers in the Late 1960s: A Marvel Comics Review!
Marvel Essential: Avengers Vol. 3 contains issues 47 to 68 of the comic's original series, as well as Avengers Annual No. 2. For the most part this collectio...

Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Comic Book Review: Dr. Doom and Daredevil Guest Star as the Legend Grows!
The Fantastic Four rocked the comic-book world when it debuted in 1961, with writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby introducing more characterization and real...

The Avengers Debut! A Comic Book Review of the Marvel Masterworks Collection!
The Avengers Volume 1 was one of the first four collections when Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987. Since then the company...

The Rampaging Hulk Marvel Essential Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential: The Rampaging Hulk 1 is a collection of Hulk stories from his short-lived late 1970s magazine. This volume includes the tales from issues 1...

Captain America
Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1 reprints the superhero's adventures in Tales of Suspense No. 59-81 in full color. This was Captain America's fir...

Darwyn Cooke
DC: The New Frontier was a series of six comic book issues in 2004 that focused on the 1950s, when many of the major superheroes that populate the modern DC ...

Spider-Man in the 1970s! A Marvel Comics Book Review
The Essential Spider-Man Vol. 8 contains issues No. 161-185 of the Amazing Spider-Man series, plus Nova issue No. 12 and the Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 11...

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller A Marvel Comic Book Review of The Complete Elektra Saga!
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2 collects issues 168-182 of the original Daredevil series. Issue 168 was the first comic of the series that Miller ...

Essential Iron Fist: A Marvel Comic Book Review!
Essential Iron Fist Volume 1 collects the first four years' worth of Marvel comics starring the character, who debuted in 1974 during a martial arts craze. T...

The Amazing Spider-Man Debuts! A Marvel Masterworks Comic Book Review
Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987 with The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1, among others. Since then the company has come out wi...

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you have enjoyed our review of Marvel Essential Classic X-Men Vol. 3 as much as I did revisiting the stories. Now it's your turn! What do you think of the book, the X-Men, this lens or anything else dealing with the comics?


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