X-MEN #8 (1964): 1st Unus; Iceman changes

In issue #8, Iceman begins to hone the look he would keep for decades after.


One of the best parts about reading all of the issues of a particular comic, and one that has been around for half a century, is going back to the roots of the series.  Sure, earlier issues are a little clunky and often wordy (especially Stan Lee’s!), but you get to see new ideas forming in every issue.  Where today’s comics are driven largely by “big stories” that eventually return to status quo, the original comics were about bringing new ideas to the table, every issue, and refining them over time.  In 1964, there had never been a Cyclops, or an Iceman, or a Marvel Girl.  It was all new.

But even more importantly than Iceman no longer looking like a snowman, we get the first “fear of mutants” idea…


In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Lee and Steve Ditko were exploring the “everyman’s” fear of folks with superpowers, as J. Jonah Jameson would spend each issue railing about the thread of Spidey.  In this issue, he takes it one step further and we begin to see mutants as a placeholder for African Americans—and fear of mutants not as fear of people with power, but as fear of people who are simply different.

At the start of this tale, Beast and Iceman are in plain clothes, walking through New York, when they see a kid stuck on a water tower.

He saves the kid.

But after experiencing the hatred of the crowd, he quits the X-Men and decides to become a pro wrestler–just to make money.  Strange how both Beast and Spider-Man thought wrestling was the best way to earn money when you have phenomenal athletic powers. 

Anyway, this leads to a meeting with Unus the Untouchable, a mutant with his own personal forcefield who also figured that wrestling was the fastest route to cash money. 

Unus has been told he can join The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants if he beats an X-Man.  Weirdly, Immortus was told the same thing about joining the Masters of Evil in Avengers #10.


The fight is fun.

Beast goes back to the X-Men and builds a device that makes Unus’ forcefield backfire, so the dude can’t even put food in his own mouth.

So let me get this straight: Beast can create a machine to amplify mutant powers, but he thinks he’ll be a millionaire if he just goes into wrestling?


But it’s the kind of wacky, Silver Age weirdness I love! 

And so food wins the day!

Unus is a d-list villain, but I love him.  Add to that Beast becoming a scientific genius and Iceman getting his new look, and you’ve got a pretty significant issue–graded at a B.

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