Monday, July 25, 2005

Before the X-Men: There was Tad Carter

I actually never thought I'd be doing a post about the Marvel Mutants or the X-men. Why? Because I'm kind of burnt out on their snikting over-exposure and the years of lackluster stories (Yes, House of M, I'm looking at you, too).

But then a few days ago I happened upon this Lee-Ditko gem (It's an all DITKO issue from when he was in his story-telling prime!) from 1962 and thought I'd share a little Marvel history. Enjoy!

Several months before the X-Men made their debut in September of 1963, and before the Doom Patrol showed up in June of the same year, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduced the term 'Mutant' to the infant Marvel Universe and comic-dom.

Published in July of 1962 this short tale tells the story of Tad Carter, a young man who discovers he has the powers of telepathy and telekinesis.

The story has the usual nuclear bogeyman as the cause of Tad's abilities, but also has a social message that reflects the growing civil rights movement of the day. Many elements that will feature prominently in the X-Men and Avengers, and later all of the Marvel universe for decades seem to have at least a partial origin here.

One day Tad is discovered by fellow students using his abilities. Tad is forced to defend himself only to be surprised as he leaves the ground and soars into the sky, seemingly against his will.

Flying over the city towards some unknown destination, Tad is contacted via telepathy by a mysterious stranger, whose elderly image he sees in his mind.

The stranger speaks to Tad ominously...warning him that people are 'savage' and 'primitive' and that he must hide with others like him for safety. The stranger also hints at a 'golden age' of mankind, when he and others like him are to be revealed.

Neat! In one short story you have foreshadowing of the classic Marvel sub-plot of Humans vs. Mutants.

Considering that less than a year later the mutant team known as the X-Men debuted in their own book it makes you wonder how long Stan Lee and others were working on the idea that eventually became one of the founding concepts of the Marvel mythos.

Now...if House of M man behind the curtain Brian Bendis would have had Tad Carter step out of Cloaks' shadow cape, that might have come close to doing some damage to the internet. It would really blow some minds if old Tad was revealed to be the prime mover behind all the problems & struggles that mutantkind had suffered through the years.

Who needs Hawkeye? In super-hero terms, he's the equivalent of bringing a pointy stick to a nuclear bomb fight. Anyone could be Hawkeye... not everyone could be Super-Tad.



  1. I emailed you Tad.

    I found out a few months later that Tad appeared in John Byrne's X-title, "X-Men the Hidden Years around issue #15. I had no idea such an obscure character made another appearence since I was not a fan of 1990's comics.

  2. Strange. I'd read a Stan Lee interview where he claimed he made the X-Men mutants because he was tired of coming up with origins.

    Usually, Stan misremembers in his own favor - I wonder if that's the case here.


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