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The Page One Panel One Project

Every comic script starts with four simple words. Page One Panel One. These four words have started some of the greatest adventures ever read yet they remain behind the scenes, usually reserved for those creating the stories or people interested in how comic books are put together. They are four extremely important words that are both at the same time terrifying and exciting to write down because what follows in the panel description needs to draw the reader in immediately and make them need to turn to Page 2.

Welcome the the Page One Panel One Project, a new blog series to go alongside Panels & Pizza. A few times a month I plan on going over some of the most famous opening panels in comics. Or my favorites. Or your favorites as I plan on recruiting some friends along the way. Heck, there’s going to be some podcasting involved with this as well because I need to podcast and not do anything else with my time like, oh, raise my daughter, attend to my wife, or pay the bills. Oh wow, the lights just flickered. That can’t be good. If you have any suggestions for posts you would like to see, please send them to me at pizza@fancypantsgangsters.com

Page One Panel One kicks off with one of my absolute favorite opening pages of all-time, from Uncanny X-Men 168 (written by Chris Claremont, illustrated by Paul Smith, inked by Bob Wiacek, lettered by Tom Orzechowski, colored by Glynis Wein, edited by Louise Jones, and helmed by Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter. Published my Marvel Comics in April 1983). You know this one, folks, say with me, loud and proud:

PROFESSOR XAVIER IS A JERK!

Professor X is a Jerk!

Oh that Kitty Pryde. She’s all of 14 and feisty. She’s been demoted to the New Mutants (gasp) after having just been to outer space with the X-men fighting the Brood and palling around with the Starjammers. How would you like to go from the A Squad to the B Squad? And Bill Sienkiewicz hasn’t started illustrating the book you were getting shipped off to yet. I’d call Chuck a jerk too. At least it’s not Excalibur, Kitty. That’s still a few years off…

I’m also extremely partial to Kitty because she was a major first crush for me. Mostly because I was 12 when I started reading the X-Men and she was 16 at that point and an “older woman” was enticing to a kid who hadn’t kissed a girl yet. And she was in Excalibur by this point so I guess Excalibur ain’t that bad, even if the Cross-Time Caper was originally only going to be a 6-parter and wound up seeming to never end, much like this sentence. And, Alan Davis drew her with the amazing hair and, well, I can pinpoint the moment in my life where I started noticing hair on the opposite sex. Nice hair was one of the things that drew me to my wife. And my wife is much like Kitty in she’s intelligent, kind, and doesn’t take much gruff off of people. She can’t phase through walls though but I’ll let that one slide.

The opening page of this book is pretty much what this issue is remembered most for. There’s mostly a ton of set up for future story lines. The X-Men are just coming down from being in space for an extended period of time. Wolverine is off to Canada. Prof. X is attempting to learn how to walk again in his new clone body. Hey, you try getting a Brood Queen egg out of someone and see how well you do. Nightcrawler is getting all Burt Reynolds (or is it a 70s era Stan Lee joke) with Amanda Sefton.

BAMF!

And, Scott Summers is off catching up with my personal favorite romantic partner of his, Lee Forrester. Who raided Ms. Duke’s shorts drawer from the looks of it. Also Paul Smith draws Cyclops eerily similar to how John Romita Jr. would portray Matt Murdock when he was working on Daredevil. Just a neat aside that I had never noticed before.

Who wears short shorts?

The cover to Uncanny 168 shows Kitty in peril, and it’s a very cool callback to both the covers of Uncanny X-Men 141 and Uncanny X-Men 143.

Much like Uncanny 143, Kitty faces off against an unknown, dangerous foe in the tunnels underneath Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Unlike in issue 143, Kitty isn’t alone. Lockheed, her pet dragon (Lord, this doesn’t make sense to anybody that doesn’t read comics), is there to help her fight some alien critters that last showed up in Uncanny 154 (thank you editor asterisk caption!) and had left behind some eggs. Kitty fights them off, with a little help from Colossus, and Lockheed eats the remaining unhatched eggs. He was hungry, the narrator kept telling us how hungry he was. What a nice coincidence that there were thousands of unhatched alien babies waiting to be space dragon chow.

Kitty proves herself to Professor X and he grants her a probationary period back on the X-Men. Which seems very silly seeing she’s been an X-Man for like two years already. But hey, the books begins with a temper tantrum and ends with Kitty kinda getting what she wanted.

This issue is the calm before the next storm that would see one-time villain Rogue join the team, Kitty becoming Shadowcat and learning how to be a ninja (it was the 80s, ninjas were a thing, ask Michael Dudikoff), and the X-Men traveling off to Japan for Wolverine’s wedding to Mariko Yashida.

Oh, and maybe I lied about the Page One Panel One being the most remembered bit of this book. The last page introduces one Madeline Pryor into Scott Summer’s life and well, if you read the Inferno crossover five years later you know how well that turned out.

What could go wrong?

Thanks for reading. See you on Page 2!
Adam