The Original X-Men issue 12 is a real meeting of superheroes. No, I don’t just mean it features Prince Namor developing a boyhood crush on Scarlet Witch. The superheroes here are Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Stan Lee has always been an idol of mine, not only because he played such a prominent role in the rise and continuing popularity of Marvel, but because he’s done so without developing a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t distance himself from comic fans, in fact, his career revolved around finding ways to bridge that distance. In his interviews, he’s hardly a pretentious artist. If anything, he’s too candid, too open, often poking fun at his own techniques.
Jack Kirby’s one of the most important and influential pencilers out there. He’s known for reinventing action in superhero books. In golden age books, fights often lasted 2 or 3 panels, whereas Kirby–especially when working with Stan Lee–drew fights lasting almost entire issues. I’ve read that he was in WWII, and those memories are what gave the comics the immediacy they had.
This issue is from 1980, and it reprints comics from the 60s. Along with the X-Men feature, there’s a backup story included about Nick Fury, with art by another comic legend, Jim Steranko, whose art was a reflection on the swingin’ 60s, complete with psychadelic visuals and characters who look like they’re right out of The Prisoner or Avengers (the 60s British spy show).
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