Stan’s Soapbox – Marvel Age #104 (September 1991)

Hi, Heroes,

Because of all the X-travagent X-citement engendered by the X-traordinary X-posure of Chris Claremont’s and Jim Lee’s X-hilarating new X-MEN series, I might as well get into the spirit of things and X-amine with you the X-ceedingly X-cellent origin of the X-emplary X-Men myself!

However, since most of this ish of MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE will be devoted to the usual, incisive, informative, in-depth articles about Chris’s scripting, Jim’s illustrating, and the X-Men’s X-ing, I’ll try to take a different approach and discuss some aspects of Marvel’s Merry Mutant Mythology which may even be news to some of the more sagacious scholars amongst you!

For starters, how many of you know how the X-Men got their name? Since I don’t see a lot of hands raised, I’ll take this opportunity to shed some light on one of the more mysterious aspects of our titanic little team, namely the way they started!

Way back in the early sixties, after we had created a teenager who got his power by being bitten by a radioactive spider, and a scientist who was whammied by some gamma rays, and three dudes and a dudess who were clobbered by cosmic rays, not to mention a doctor who found a hammer that transformed him into a thunder god, we were beginning to run out of reasons for our happy-go-lucky heroes to gain their somewhat splendiferous super powers.

But then it hit me! Why not invent a gaggle of guys and gals who were simply mutants? That wouldn’t require any pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo by way of explanation, When you say someone’s a mutant, that says it all. The logic was unassailable. The die was cast. I planned to call my new horde of heroes “The Mutants.” I was in puppy heaven. But alas, Fate had other plans.

In those days we worked for a publisher who had to approve all our new ideas. I proudly told him about The Mutants, expecting a pat on the back and a big bonus. Instead, I got an unexpected frown and a big “Forget it!” He said nobody would buy the magazine because nobody knew what a mutant was! I couldn’t talk him out of it, but I didn’t want him to shipwreck our project, either! So, I sneakily came up with an alternate suggestion. “How about calling it “THE X-MEN?” asked I, telling him the name would stand for people with an X-tra power – and also for the name of their leader, Professor Xavier. “Great idea,” sayeth he, and so another meritorious Marvel masterwork was born!

Of course, I never did understand why he felt a lot of people wouldn’t know what a mutant was, but it didn’t bother him that no one on earth would possibly suspect what an X-Man was until after reading the mag! However, I was lots younger in those days and knew the universe held secrets which would only be revealed to me when I was older and wiser!

At any rate, that’s how “The Mutants” became “THE X-MEN,” a bit of information which was previously known to none but a handful of cloistered, sworn-to-secrecy monks in the most remote and inaccessible area of mysterious Tibet!

Now, while your senses are undoubtably still reeling from that sensational scoop, I’ve another bountiful bombshell to lay on you, courtesy of Slim-Jim Salicrup, He Who Doth Firmly Hold and Judiciously Wield the Mighty Editorial Reins of “MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE!” It happened like this…

While thumbing through some old, musty files, Jim came across an ancient issue of AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #14, a mag we published years ago while Marvel was just aborning. It consisted of short tales with supernatural twists, all brilliantly illustrated by one of Marvel’s most acclaimed artists, Steve Ditko, and blushingly scripted by yours truly.

No sooner did Jim finish reading that historical watershed issue, then he did excitedly phone me and cried, “Stan, I just found your very first mutant story! It was done way before THE X-MEN! In fact, it looks to me as if your planned to make it the start of a series, but you never remembered to continue it!”

Jim quickly made a copy of the story and sent it to me. After reading it, I realized he was right. I had forgotten all about that now-historical five-pager, entitled “The Man in the Sky!” I’m often accused of having the worst memory in all of comicdom, if not the whole human race, and this was just another example of the validity of that claim. But there it was, in living comic book color, the start of a great new series – a series which was never completed because I forgot all about it! However, by later unleashing the THE X-MEN upon a gloriously grateful reading public, we did make up for that grievous oversight, thereby ensuring that mankind would not go mutantless for too long!

There now! Having candidly delivered those two courageous confessionals, I feel as though a great weight has been lifted from me. From this moment on I can face the public, calm and unafraid, knowing that the proud pages of MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE have once again revealed the truth for all to see! And, as an extra bonus for all you believers, you’ll find the “The Man in the Sky!” reprinted somewhere in this very issue, as irrefutable evidence that ye Soapbox printeth not falsehood, not speaketh with tongue that is fiendishly forked!

Till next time, then, may your genes of happiness mutate a thousandfold and wherever you go, whatever you do, “gardez la foi!”