Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be looking at four writer/artist duos, as voted on by you, the readers! This week features Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams! Today’s page is from X-Men #65, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated February 1970. This scan is from X-Men Visionaries volume 2: The Neal Adams Collection, which was released in 1996. Enjoy!
The penultimate issue of X-Men was the famous one with Professor Xavier returning from the “dead” and helping repulse an invasion by the alien Z’Nox, and it was also Adams’ final issue on the book. Roy Thomas had been writing this, but for some reason O’Neil stepped in to script this sucker.
In the Mighty Marvel Manner, O’Neil makes sure we know who the two people on the doorstep are – readers would probably know the five X-Men, but Hank helpfully identifies Alex and Lorna. Also in the MMM, Alex and Lorna immediately start yelling at the X-Men, who get all snippy. Scott brings us up to date on what the X-Men have been doing, while the other three young men get offended that Alex and Lorna are taking over their operation. O’Neil has a lot to get to in this issue, and he tries to make Alex and Lorna’s pleas more urgent. It sets the tone pretty well for the issue, which is so packed with stuff that today it would be an eight-issue event with several spin-off mini-series.
It’s a splash page, so Adams doesn’t have to do a lot about moving our eyes around the page, but he does structure the page fairly well. The characters form a nice triangle – Alex/Lorna, Scott/Jean, Hank/Bobby/Warren – that balance the page. The fact that Alex and Lorna are in uniform while the others aren’t is a nice detail, too – not only have they just come home, but they’re also unprepared for whatever Alex and Lorna are bugging them about. We can’t really see their faces too well, because Lorna and Alex are too far away and the others are looking away from the readers, but Adams does a good job with their body language: Lorna and Alex are standing somewhat haughtily and sternly, while Jean looks to reconciliation. Hank looks defensive, while Bobby and Warren are a bit strident as they move toward the front door. It’s not an exciting splash page, but it does foreshadow the conflicts of the next few pages, as the X-Men resist the others’ exhortations for a few panels before everyone calms down. As usual, it’s difficult to write about the original coloring, because this has been recolored, so I won’t. I don’t love the new coloring, but I can’t compare it to the original, because I’ve never seen that.
O’Neil and Adams would get more chances to be interesting when they moved back to DC, where we’ll spend the rest of the week. So tomorrow, we’re back at Detective, where in the early 1970s there was apparently a World War I biplane craze! Always remember: the archives are there for your enjoyment!