Be X-Tra Safe With the X-Men #1 (1996)

Be X-Tra Safe With the X-Men #1 (1996)

“Safety Net”
Writer – Mariano Nicieza
Pencils – David Boller
Inks – Greg Adams
Letters – Chris Eliopoulos
Colors – Paul Becton
Edits – Glenn Herdling
Chief – Bob Harras
In Conjunction with Blockbuster Video Kidprint

Oh boy… we’ve got an interesting little piece of X-Ephemera today.  Now, I don’t wanna outright dismiss what we’re about to discuss as being a silly PSA (though, it very much is)… because it’s in the interests of a very important cause.

The story we’re about to read together was approved by the National Center of Missing & Exploited Children… a very important organization, and a wildly important cause.  That said… this is going to be a weird one.  I’ll try not and take the story beats too lightly… but, no promises.  This was released in conjunction with Blockbuster Video’s Kidprint identification program.  Here’s a piece written by Josh Schafer about it.

Now, I won’t waste anybody’s time waxing nostalgic for Blockbuster Video… mostly because it’s been done to death… and, also for the fact that I never… despite my best efforts… had a membership to the place!  Anytime I’d try, I’d be told that I needed to bring an electric bill or something with me.  By the time I moved out on my own, and had an electric bill with my name on it… renting videos was no longer something I cared to do.  Oh well.

Blockbuster seems to be a place kind of like Toys R Us… where people talk about how much they miss it… however, if it were to come back… they would continue not to shop there (just as they did before), and they’d be out of business again pretty quick.  Oh well.

Worth noting, this is written by Mariano Nicieza (credited only as Mariano in the book).  He is the brother of veteran X-Men scribe, Fabian Nicieza.

Let’s do this!

We open on the playground in a sunny suburb.  There, a young boy is approached by… well, a creepy pervert in a superhero costume.  He introduces himself as one of the X-Men… and, what’s more… he’s got him a very special mutant power that he’d really like to show the kid.

Lucky for the kiddo that… the actual X-Men just so happened to be hanging out in this very same suburban playground… in full costume!  I’d have loved to see the scene before this, with Wolverine going down a slide, and Beast hanging from the jungle gym.  Anyhoo, they swoop in and nab the pervert.  Worth noting, Cyclops’ optic-beams are literally dripping from his visor here… as though he was just about to let loose with all his might amid all of these tots!

After the pervert is dealt with (off-panel… we should probably assume that Wolverine killed him)… Jubilee starts chatting up the kid.  We learn that his name is Terrance, and he thought the fat, stubbly, stinky-looking creeper looked enough like an X-Man that he could be trusted.  I wonder if he put X-Men decals on his windowless brown van too?  Anyhoo, the X-Men tell him he needs to be careful around any new people he meets… themselves included.  It’s here that we get X-Tra Safe Rule #1: Trust Your Feelings!

Jubilee then goes on to tell Terrance about a time where she nearly found herself in a pickle with strangers.  It was around the time she joined up with the X-Men… and she was feeling sort of homesick, so she decided to sneak out and explore Salem Center.  It wasn’t long before she found herself lost… I mean, Salem Center might only have one street in it… but, it’s a long one.  Anyhoo, an elderly couple pulled up beside her to ask if she needed a ride.  She declined and said she was going to find a Police Officer instead.  Here’s where we get X-Tra Safe Rule #2: Always Bring a Buddy!

Well, all these old creeps needed to hear was that the gaudily-dressed teen was looking for a cop for them to put pedal to metal and get outta dodge.  I feel like we don’t know enough about these old folks to assume they were sex perverts… but, when in doubt… it’s your safest bet.  Anyhoo, Jubilee finds an Officer (who was conveniently right next to the perv-mobile), and is escorted back to the Institute.  Worth noting, we get the phone number to Xavier’s here!  It’s 914-555-1111.  914 is the area code for Westchester County… so, I have little doubt this is legit!  This is where Jubilee learned X-Tra Safe Rule #3: Check First!

Next, Beast decides to share a story of his own… and, woof… it is pretty creepy.  Check it out, there’s this kid named Jimmy who is home alone, right?  While he’s watching TV, the phone rings…

Half awake, he goes to answer it, and on the other end is… well, probably a sex pervert.  He asks if Jimmy’s parents are home… and upon learning that they’re not, asks where li’l Jimmy lives.  Now… as luck would have it, this was exactly when Beast was testing a “holographic projector”, which somehow placed him INSIDE of li’l Jimmy’s television set.  Hank then pops OUT of the TV set to warn Jimmy not to tell strangers that he’s home alone.  Uhhh… what?  So really… who’s the sex pervert here… this dude on the phone, or Beast watching people through their TVs?

So, it’s here that we wrap up with our fourth and final X-Tra Safe Rule: Trust Your Feelings!  What that has to do with a creepy blue mutant crawling out of your television set is beyond me… but, what do I know?  All that matters is that the day is saved… and, Beast is drawn here as being about three-and-a-half feet tall.

Well, I don’t know about y’all… but I feel safer already!  X-Tra safer, even!

This was weird… right?  I mean, very very bizarre stuff… it’s almost hard to believe it’s a thing that exists.  It’s unusual when I come across something “with an X on it” in the wild that causes me to do a double-take.  Mostly because, after 30 years of digging in the bins, most of the things I see “with an X on it”, I already own.  But… this?  This was new to me… and I love it for that fact.

Here we saw three dangerous situations.  First, with the piggish slob in a leotard trying to abduct poor Terrance.  Well, all we know for sure is that he wanted to show li’l Terry his “mutant power”.  I’m sure he did want that.  But, I can’t help but to laugh at the sheer bat-spit craziness of a big fat dude trawling a playground in a get-up like that.  What’s more, the kid… while tentative… really thought this goof was an X-Man?!

Speaking of which… I’m guessing Terrance didn’t get the memo that the X-Men are to be feared and hated by the world they’re sworn to protect.  He was wearing an X-Men logo hat too… I wonder who gets those royalties?  Maybe it’s outta one of Professor Xavier’s “shell companies” that’ll wind up paying off in Dawn of X?  Nah, nothing outta this comic will ever be referenced again (foreshadowing…).

Also, Wolverine totally killed this guy, right?  Fair enough.

Let’s talk about that scene with weirdo phone pervert calling li’l Jimmy.  I hate to say that this is where this issue went “off the rails”, because… it was insane to begin with… buuuuuut, what in the hell happened here?!

Beast was working on a holographic projector… that just so happened to be in this kid’s (who’s home alone) house?!  What the hell kinda creepy racket is ol’ Hank McCoy working here?  I struggle to think of a single way this scene makes any sense at all… while not suggesting that McCoy is a voyeuristic pervert… but, I can’t!  We’ll just move on…

Finally, let’s talk about that sweet elderly couple who offered to help Jubilee find her way home.  I mean, why we gonna just assume these old folks are sex perverts?  It’s not like we’ll ever see them again… why besmirch their reputations in such a way?  It’s not like… they’ll be revealed as being child abductors a quarter-century later in something called Scream: Curse of Carnage #6 (August, 2020) or anything, right?  C’mon…

Scream: Curse of Carnage #6 (August, 2020)
Clay Chapman (W) / Chris Mooneyham (A)

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh… wow.  My mind’s kinda blown here, folks.  First, by the fact that… before yesterday I had zero knowledge of this Blockbuster Video “Special Edition” comic… and, now finding out that it’s in continuity?!  Dang… I love it!  Worth noting that “The Creeps” as they’re lovingly identified as on the Marvel Wiki, meet their end in their second (and only other) appearance.

Overall… while this is a very sobering topic, I can’t say I didn’t have a good time with this issue.  It was endearingly silly… and done in earnest.  If you happen across this oddity in the wild, I’d recommend grabbing it just so you can have it in your library.  Heck, maybe slab it for when “The Creeps” make their inevitable big-screen debut in Marvel Wave 24 or whatever.

Letters (to Jubilee) Page:


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