The X-Men #3, November 1963

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

“Didn’t expect the flying Zamboobas to tackle you this way, did you?”

Central conflict: The X-Men vs. The Blob and a cast of circus performers

At this point (Issue 3), the X-Men’s central purpose seems to be to detect and locate other mutants and absorb them into their team or battle them. When Xavier senses another mutant nearby, he deploys his squad to find and then… I don’t know, capture? this new one.

A brief and minor comedy act ensues. Dispersing through NYC, each X-Man tries to locate the new mutant. Cyclops discovers him as the centerpiece of a traveling circus freakshow. Who is it? The Blob. Standing squat, mean-faced and bloated, and possessed of an intense and pliable layer of fat, the Blob is an immovable object, impervious to bullets and put-downs. Angel is able to talk the Blob into returning with the team to Westchester where the X-Men reveal themselves, explain the nature of their team, and offer the Blob a spot on the roster, which he rejects. Here’s where it gets weird… “This is unheard of! No one has ever refused us before! You cannot be permitted to leave now that you know our identities—it is out of the question!”

Xavier now needs, apparently, to “drive this memory from his mind.” So, after having sought out, finding and bringing Blob to their mansion, Xavier needs his team to physically arrest him so that he can give him the Vanisher treatment (Why Xavier could perform this feat from a distance on Vanisher and not on Blob is unexplained). Blob escapes back to his circus where, now engorged with pride (“Heck, if the X-Men want me, I must be hot stuff!”) he assumes control of the circus and launches an attack on the X-Men. The next panels are a riot of circus freaks on mutant action. Beast fights a gorilla, Iceman swings a mop at a giraffe, etc. When the dust clears, Xavier saves the day again by wiping the Blob’s memory (this is precisely the same treatment the Vanisher received an issue ago). The episode ends with a promise that the Blob’s memory may return and with it his vengeance.

So. Not much has been added to the forward momentum of X-Men continuity except for two subtle items. First, the Beast’s character has quietly undergone a transformation. He’s now being written as a brawny bookworm. Compare dialogue from issue 1: “Brrr! I don’t mind ice cubes, but I like ‘em in a coke, not ticklin’ my arm!” to dialogue from issue 3: “Far be it from me to doubt your veracity big man, but I prefer to learn things for myself!”

And secondly, Xavier is in love with Jean Grey?!

In a private thought bubble, Xavier agonizes, “As though I could help worrying about the one I love! But I can never tell her! I have no right! Not while I’m the leader of the X-Men, and confined to this wheelchair!” This shocker is never explained and no mention of it is made again in this issue. While this idea is more than vaguely lecherous and offensive to the Xavier legacy now, to an audience in 1963, reading about a new character and a new team, this would be a masterstroke. This provides the X-Men some cutting internal tension and serves as a big leap toward deepening this book and this team.

Categorized as X-Men

By Lane Talbot

My work has been listed as notable fiction in Best American Mystery Stories and published in Berkeley Fiction Review, ThugLit, Able Muse and elsewhere. I have an MFA from Southern Illinois University.


  1. i can’t be in love with jean because i’m a leader and can’t take advantage of her….also i’m in a wheelchair.

  2. Not as crazy then as it is now. X-Men 1 says he got his powers because his parents worked on the first atomic bombs. That’s like 1942. so in 1963 X is only 21. KJean is like 16 or 17. Young for a professor but he likely graduated early due to that brain of his,

    Later they make him a Korean war vet upping his age to 27-34 here and making it more creepy.

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