Amazing Adult Fantasy #14 (July, 1962)
“The Man in the Sky!”
Writer/Edits – Stan Lee
Art – Steve Ditko
Colors – Stan Goldberg/Matt Webb
Letters – Artie Simek
Cover Price: $0.12
Waitasec… I thought we were talking about Captain Britain ova hea’!
Well, yeah – we are… and we will be again very soon, but I just couldn’t resist sharing this one. As I say on the air, X-Lapsed Origins is all about discussing seminal moments in X-History that are still relevant today… and well, you can’t get much more “seminal” than this story… I mean, it’s even referred to (in the slim X-Men Rarities (July, 1995) trade paperback) as: “Marvel’s seminal mutant adventure…”
Now, what is it we’re going to be discussing then?
Well… Marvel’s first mutant!
I… I know what you’re thinking — “that strange man in the super-professional-looking X-Lapsed Origins bubble atop this page doesn’t look like Namor”, and no, dear reader… he does not. That’s because, at the time this story was produced… Namor hadn’t yet been referred to as a Mutant!
Namor may have been on the board since the late 1930’s… but, it wasn’t until Fantastic Four Annual #1 (July, 1963) that it was suggested that he might just be a Mutant (this Annual, it’s worth noting, shipped two months before X-Men #1). Here, check it out:
|Fantastic Four Annual #1 (1963)
Stan Lee (w) / Jack Kirby (a)
So, who in all hells are we going to be talking about today? How bout I stop vamping so we can dig into the most important (and certainly the most valuable) issue of Amazing Fantasy ever!
We open with a young man flying… this is
Peter Parker Tad Carter. Let’s learn a little bit about him before we move on, yes? Ya see, Tad’s dad is Brad… and Tad’s Dad Brad was irRADiated by his job as an Atomic Scientist. While he researched, his body would absorb bits of radiation — not enough to kill, or even harm him… but, it would allow him to pass some unexpected abilities to his Son. Remember, this is why they call ’em Children of the Atom, eh?
So, young Tad becomes pubescent Tad… at which time, his strange and uncanny powers begin to appear. He can move things with his mind… he can read other peoples’ minds. His first thought is to try and use these amazing powers to help humanity… in fact, he even tries to think of ways in which he can teach others to do the same!
After class, he decides to try out his powers on his friends… who, at first – find them to be incredible. Then… they find this whole thing to be a bit creepy. After all, who wants some weirdo kid pokin’ around inside your mind, right? Before this kid can take a swing at Tad, our hero levitates him… which, ya know – if the other kids weren’t freaked out already… they sure as hell are now!
They declare him to be a Mutant… and decide to, ya know… fear and hate him. Also, beat him up real good.
Before they can, however… they are flung about by an unseen force. That same unseen force then grabs our hero and yanks him into the sky.
Tad’s mind is then filled with the voice of another… a man who promises him that he’s not alone. There are many mutants out there… and, in fact – Tad’s on his way to meet them right now! This voice informs our hero that they are the next step in human evolution… and yet, they stay hidden because the world… ya know, fears and hates them. Tad cannot understand why humanity would hate them so much… with all the help they can provide, it doesn’t make any sense to him.
We wrap up with The Voice (it’s not Professor X… or Magneto, in case you might be wondering… though, I doubt you were) telling our lad that humans are too primitive and savage. Well, he’s not entirely wrong, is he? Mutants will band together and wait… until mankind comes of age. Or, ya know – the Summer of 1963… whichever comes first!
Well, okay… maybe Tad Carter isn’t actually the first Marvel Mutant… I mean, there was that guy who popped into his head… and he said there were already many, many mutants. I guess Tad’s just the first Marvel Mutant we were ever meant to actually meet!
I tell ya what… this was something of an eye-opener for your humble host here. I think many of us have heard the story that Stan Lee originally wanted to launch the X-Men as simply “The Mutants”… but Martin Goodman, or whoever was cashing the checks at the time wasn’t keen on it… didn’t think anyone would know what a “mutant” was. He was probably right.
It’s clear from this story, however, that Lee was very excited about this “mutant” idea and concept. It’s also clear just how much of the X-Men mythos comes right outta this little five-page ditty. The “Children of the Atom” being born out of the Atomic age… the uncanny powers… the world that “fears and hates them” — it’s all right here! Absolutely amazing.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t aware of this character until picking up the X-Men Rarities trade out of a dollar box earlier today. I might just have to turn in my Fake-Ass Comics Historian badge. What’s more, I didn’t even pick this up for the “seminal adventure” either! I snagged it because Generation X is on the cover… and, I thought maybe I might be able to add to my pal Jesse DeJong’s Generation X continuity list with something totally new (it’s not, by the way… the GenX story included within is just a reprint of the 1994 San Diego Comicon promotional story “Open Volley”).
So, we met our hero… now, we ask: where in all hells is Tad Carter, the first Marvel Mutant we were Meant to Meet today? Is he on Krakoa? Is he stuck in the Resurrection Queue? Is he chillin’ in Moira’s No-Place? Is he in a jar of formaldehyde at XENO’s chop shop?
Well… I don’t think we can answer that… all’s we can do is talk about what we do know, and friends – it’s not much.
Who can we turn to for any of these answers? Well… I’ll answer that question with a question — can you think of any prominent X-Men creators who loves and appreciates Marvel lore and continuity enough to dig this guy up?
Maybe… John Byrne?
Well, of course John Byrne.
It’s been literally a lifetime since I read any of these stories, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that when I did, I had zero idea of the significance of this character. John Byrne decided to flesh out Tad’s story in the pages of… X-Men: The Hidden Years!
Why, he even gave the “mysterious benefactor” in Tad’s head a name and story — he’s Tobias Messenger, the founder of a group of Mutants called “The Promise”. This was an idea so groundbreaking that… it’s never been referred to outside of Hidden Years.
As for Tad Carter himself… well, he was saved by Tobias and the Promise… and was swiftly thrown into suspended animation! He wakes up once every decade to try and search for new members of the Mutant Movement… ever waiting for Humanity to “come of age” so they can reveal themselves.
I wonder if he survived M-Day?
These are the things that keep me up nights…
Anyhoo, I hope you enjoyed this installment — I hope you, like me, learned something new about our favorite heroes!