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Uncovering the secret origin of mutants at Marvel

Panel from Lee & Ditko's 1963 "The Man In The Sky"

With the X-Men: First Class movie in theaters making people thing about the early days of homo superior, their origins go deeper than you think. Although it’s widely thought that Stan Lee & Jacky Kirby first introduced the ideas of mutants in the pages of 1963’s X-Men #1, the real story is buried deep in Marvel and Timely lore.

The first mutant story ever published by Marvel was 1952’s “The Weird Woman” in Amazing Detective Cases #11, in which a self-described “mutant” woman is searching, unsuccessfully, to find someone like her for companionship. That doesn’t even begin to consider Namor, which debuted in 1939 as one of comics first super-heroes. It took more than 20 years for Marvel to reclassify him as a mutant (in 1964’s X-Men #6),  but he’s finally come full circle as a card-carrying X-Man in Matt Fraction’s Uncanny X-Men run. Marvel’s claim of Namor being “Marvel’s First Mutant” are true from a publication debut standpoint, but the oldest mutant remains Apocalypse, who was born in Egypt during the 30th century BC.

There were numerous mutant sightings before the X-Men burst onto the scene in 1963; there was an illusion-creating mutant in 1953’s Man Comics #28 (why doesn’t Marvel bring back THAT title?), as well as in 1959’s Journey Into Mystery #52. Of all the stories, probably the one that veers closest to what become the X-Man/mutant struggle came one year prior to the X-Men, in the pages of Adult Fantasy #14 from 1964. In it, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko tell a story of a man with immense telepathic powers who tries to sequester himself away from society to avoid the noise of other people’s minds. Overstreet Price Guide goes so far as to call this a “Professor X prototype story,” even though Ditko never drew an X-Men page in his life.


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