X-MEN – THE EARLY YEARS was a monthly reprint series that ran 17 issues in 1994/1995, reprinting the first 18 issues of X-MEN (the last issue being double-sized). It had new covers of variable quality, but most issues reprinted the original Kirby covers inside as well. A nice inexpensive way to get the early X-MEN issues before the ESSENTIAL UNCANNY X-MEN book came out in 1999, although some of the colours printed a bit dark here (I think its the same colouring as the glossy paper Masterworks version), obscuring some of the linework.
“Unus the Untouchable” is from X-MEN #8 (1964), inked by Chic Stone. X-MEN is my favourite of the Kirby/Stone collaborations of the period. Very bold, solid work. Anyway, as we open, the X-Men are practicing under acting leader Cyclops’ command, giving the usual opportunity to show off their powers (and change Iceman from the snowman look he had up to this point to his more refined icy look) and for Scott and Jean to mentally whine about how much they love each other but dare not talk about it. Later, Bobby and Hank go out in the world and face the anti-mutant hysteria that abounded in those days after the Beast rescues a boy. That leads Hank to quit the team and become a wrestler, where he encounters another mutant, Unus the Untouchable, who is being scouted by Mastermind for the Brotherhood.
After various plot complications, Hank creates a device which increases Unus’ untouchability, leading everyone to think he’s betrayed the team.
Of course he hasn’t as Unus soon finds out when his powers are now so powerful that he can’t even touch food to eat. He’s restored with a promise to stay in line. Like that’s going to work.
A slight story with a clever twist (okay, it seems a bit hokey now, but only because similar things have been done so much since). The art is a lot of fun, with the practice sequence at the beginning and the wrestling match in the middle standing out, as well as goofy things like Unus with food floating all around him.
This reprints the full 20-page story from the original, as well as the cover, also inked by Stone. It doesn’t have the pin-up of the Beast which appeared in the original.