Wednesday, November 11, 2009

X-Men Reprint Covers by Gil Kane, Sal Buscema, John Romita Sr

By the time I had discovered the X-Men, the series had already been cancelled!  The first full length X-Men tale I read was in the giant-sized reprint issue, X-Men 68, featuring the first titanic battle with the Sentinels.  I was immediately hooked and bought every X-Men issue after that--and remember, this was when mutants were uncool--in fact, even the Inhumans were more popular.  Some of these reprint issues had nifty original covers.

X-Men King-Size Special 2 cover by John Romita Sr

X-Men King-Size Annual #2 featured a dynamic cover by John Romita Sr, with a sweeping vista of Washington DC in the background as the mutants fought the Scarecrow, Eel, Unicorn, Plantman, and the biggest nutball of all time...the Porcupine!  Sheesh, what a bunch of losers, but Romita manages to sell this issue by giving the Angel and Iceman some terrific action poses.

X-Men 69 cover by Sal Buscema 1971

X-Men #69 featured this cover by Sal Buscema with the Mimic attacking the team.  The Mimic's power can imitate the X-Men's abilities if he's near them.  In the first story, he's a villain, attacking the X-Men and then losing his power at the end of the story. 

X-Men 75 cover by Gil Kane 1972

Apparently the Mimic was popular, as he returned a few issues later, attacking the team while under the control of the Puppet Master.  By the end of the story, the Mimic is on his way to becoming the bad-boy member of the team--the equivalent of Hawkeye in the Avengers.   I really liked Cal Rankin, because his personality was edgy and he stirred up trouble within the team.  The Mimic only lasted as a team member for a few issues, and I always wanted to see him return.  Cal did make an appearance in Incredible Hulk #161, where he died absorbing the Hulk's gamma radiation.  I know there's more to the story after that, which seems baffling as hell.  I loved it when Judd Winick made an alternate reality version of the Mimic a team member of the Exiles.

X-Men 76 cover by Gil Kane 1972

The X-Men #76 cover by Gil Kane introduced us to the Banshee.  I like this perspective of the Banshee hurling his sonic terror at New York City, with Cyclops cringing to his knees in the foreground.  No matter how hokey the Banshee seemed in the reprint story, Kane made him cool.  I was excited when the Banshee was a member of the all-new X-Men.

X-Men 79 cover by Gil Kane 1972

X-Men #79, another Kane cover, introduced the Cobalt Man, or as I thought of him, Iron Man Blue!  Can't say much about the story, but as a kid, I always thought Iceman's power to create these frozen slides and walkways was the coolest way a hero could possibly travel.  I don't care for the way Iceman is drawn now, with all those icicles and ice spikes.  I prefer a clean shaven Iceman!

X-Men 80 cover by Gil Kane

X-Men #80 (Kane, again) unveiled the threat that had been percolating for a few issues...the threat of the unstoppable Juggernaut.  If you had never seen Juggy before--and I had not--the cover was tantalizing because you only saw him from the back.

Hope you enjoyed this look back at The Strangest Teens of All!  Nuff said.

Update: Comments from my old MT blog...


Great, I've never seen those reprint covers before! The very first issues of X-men I got hold of was also after it had been canceled. In 1972-73 I found a Danish mail order dealer of original Marvels (unavailable in my native Norway) and they sent me, in my very first shipment, X-men #58 and #59 -- just because I asked them to "send some good ones". Without trying or knowing *anything,* I had thereby acquired two of my now-all-time-favorite Marvel comics -- namely the super-classic Thomas-Adams-Palmer X-Men books, surely some of the finest superhero comics ever created. Being an aspiring artist myself at that age (around 15), I was utterly star-struck by the amazing artwork I found in those X-Men issues I had stumbled upon! Even the coloring was magically superior to anything I had seen before or, for a long, long time, also afterwards -- it was the (uncredited) work of the then-very-youthful but already superbly skilled Tom Palmer. A bit later I bought some of the later #70-ish issues of the X-Men but was sorely disappointed -- it was the reprinted work of dull hacks like Don Heck and Werner Roth. Oh well. Nuff said!
Are you sure that's Romita's work on the Giant Size Annual #2?
I'd have guessed Marie Severin.
Hey just discovered your blog in google reader. cool stuff. I, too, got into marvel mostly on the strength of their reprint lines. keep up the good work, your topics are enjoyable for an old comic fan like me.
I am pretty sure it is Romita! Doesn't look like Severin to me.


  1. *Note: the cover of X-MEN King-Size Annual #2 was penciled by Marie Severin and inked by "jazzy" John Romita.

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