Out of the Vault – Ex-Mutants #1

Once the new X-Men began their skyrocket to popularity in the late 70’s, it was inevitable that they would become the objects of parody. And one of the most popular parodies (one that will never appear in Out of the Vault because I literally never bought even a single issue) was Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The funny thing is, the parody became so popular that it inspired its own parody imitators, like Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters and Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos. And this week’s featured comic, titled simply Ex-Mutants  (after they decided not to give it the more derivative title Young Ex-Mutant Samurai Humans).

The story, written by David Lawrence and Anthony Pereira with art by Ron Lim and Mike Witherby, begins with a monstrous teenage mutant girl looking at herself in the mirror and imagining herself as a beautiful blonde bombshell, “just like her mother.”

Unfortunately, she lives on a post-apocalyptic Earth where everyone is a mutant, scarred by radioactivity. All she can do is look in the mirror and dream, until she is found by Dr. Emmanuel Cugat, who asks her to join his band of young people destined to be humanity’s next step.

Cugat puts his band of young guinea pigs into giant test tubes and subjects them to unknown processes, until…

There follows a quick training montage (which includes a tickle fight or something for some reason) after which the Ex-Mutants are sent out into the world to inspire humanity with the hope of restoration. But the mutants hate the humans in their midst and attack them. Luckily, the five Ex-Mutants have received extensive martial arts training, so they escape with their lives.

And later…

The funny thing about this is, although we might look at this scene and say, “Of course there has to be gratuitous sex in the book,” it wasn’t really until the 90’s that that was true. This was actually not the norm at the time, and they apparently got some critical letters about it. In fact, at around the same time, The New Teen Titans also got into some controversy for showing Dick Grayson and Starfire in bed together (not having sex, just being awakened).

After this first issue, the series moved to Amazing Comics for several issues, then to Pied Piper Comics. But then, after a lawsuit, it moved back to Eternity Comics until it ran out of steam.

Like most independent series from novice creators, the book had a rocky start. The art by Lim and Witherby was a little stiff. Lim would go on to pencil Badger a couple of years later, while Witherby, coming from doing Champions art for Hero Games, would go on to ink for several companies, including Marvel.

But it’s the story that fascinates me all these years later. Because there are a lot of layers to the parody here. X-Men was about a group of mutants (mutated by radiation) living in a world of humans who hate them. Ex-Mutants was about a group of humans living in a world of mutants who hate them. The original X-Men consisted of four guys and a gal; the Ex-Mutants are four women and a dude (named Belushi, for some reason). Instead of a bald mentor named Xavier, we have a mentor with a full head of hair (big TV preacher hair) named Cugat (a play on bandleader and former Mr. Charo, Xavier Cugat).

And then there’s Lorelei. One of the distinguishing features of Marvel heroes in general and the X-Men in particular was that their powers often caused them problems. Cyclops considered his eyebeams a curse rather than a blessing. In the Ex-Mutants, we had Lorelei, who had always imagined herself as a blonde and came out of the tank black. While the basic idea of someone being dissatisfied that they didn’t get what they wanted–even if what they got was amazing–was a valid subject for storytelling, this was a really uncomfortable choice by the authors.

I don’t know how it all ended up playing out, because I quit after three issues. The problem was simply that the five main characters were so generic. You could tell them apart by looks, mostly, but their personalities weren’t distinctive enough that you could get to know or like any of them. And although there were several layers to the parody, they were neither funny nor genuinely exciting. So I gave up on Ex-Mutants, and gave up on X-Men not long after.

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10 Responses to Out of the Vault – Ex-Mutants #1

  1. Sargon says:

    Oh man, the Ex-Mutants. I hadn’t even thought about them in ages, even though I have a few issues around here somewhere. I had a friend who was really into them, even though I could never really tell what the heck the story was supposed to be about. It was all just random fights and soap opera stuff.

    One parody I recall fondly was the Uncool Ass-Men, you ever see that?

  2. Tony Frazier says:

    No, I missed those.

  3. John hall says:

    What if robin sparkles played Erin ? Raychul hunter played vikki ? Mia korf played Angela ? Halle berry played lorelie ? Ike eisenmann played cugat ? And Matt Dallas played Douglas ? With Jim Carey as big Fred ? And lance kerwin as belushi ?
    These are my exmutants ! It could have gawn 400 issues if Rosenberg hadn’t cut nine pages out of the first issue to replace them with adds ! And did anyone see David Lawrence,s next book called midnight squadron ? In badger , he suddenly had a Japanese wife hoo looked like Angela 4 a year starting in issue # 40 .

  4. John hall says:

    David campiti is running red giant comics from sum where in Florida !

    But all us true believers ! Want him to bring back original exmutants and new humans ,and maybe wild knights wood not have bin a mess if Ron lim had bin duing the art ?

  5. Tony Frazier says:

    Is Ike Eisenmann still acting? I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything since Wrath of Khan. And BTW, Badger’s wife, Mavis Davis M.D., was Vietnamese. Just saying to prove I know stuff.

  6. John hall says:

    What ever happened to Saturday morning cartoons? Thay should start up again with exmutants / and Ron lim duing the best looking girls in comics ! And Steve Conley duing his avant gard . And Erik Larson duing freak force. And strange attractors by mike Cohen and mark Sherman ! Plus last but not least , comics greatest world !

    Couldn’t u see shay astar as rikkoeshay , and zack Morris as mighty man ? Mario Lopez as super patriot , Elizabeth Berkeley as dart , Pamela Aldon as horrindus , and Lisa turtle as rapture? But back to comics greatest world , zack Morris should vortex,

  7. John hall says:

    Let,s talk Scott Rockwell,s lunatic fringe . Thair an illegal Alein hooz green card we can,t fynd ! And a black dude hoo flys and enjoys much girls & wine ! A fat cowboy with a small flying machine , he gives his frends a ride .and a red headed girl hoo levatates to the other side ! And a Kung fu master and a master of disskyze ! These are the lunatic fringe ! The book lasted only two issues ! But the third story in all American comics intro duced captain koesher and the aymayzing Jew crew ! Why didn’t David Lawrence du sumthing with that ? Why didn’t Stan lee ask him to bring that to marvel? I think Ron lim,s best stuff was in exmutants , psi-force and badger comics ! Silver surfer too !

  8. John hall says:

    Ron lim art was so great ! He should have dun exmuetants monthly , and new humans bi monthly and wild Knights needed Ron lim too . Win Ron lim started at badger , thair were notsey nuns ! Thair was an Angela looking wife ! And u could see the mom frum small wonder playing Norbert,s lady Doctor ! And he was great at psi force that I preferred to star brand ! I liked moest of what Jim shooter did at new universe , but that painted art stuff made my eyes burn ! Espers was great stuff ! But interface with the painted art was awful ! Did Jim shooter have anything to do with sensor girl ? Anyway Espers should be the next new Saturday morning cartoon show !

  9. John hall says:

    If chuck woolery issint dead , he could du voices 4 clutch cargo and space angel and maybe captain phantom , and Jonny syfer and rocket robin hood ! About the fantastic voyage cartoon . Which voices did Ted knight du ? Duz anybody remember that big line frum the episode with god freed sinica . Don,t worry professor your frends won,t miss u
    In fact thay won,t even know your gawn ?

  10. John hall says:

    If u never checked out : Espers : Linda Williams dates a Brit . He,s a dude with super speed ! She tried 2 save her dad frum terrorist , but she did not suckseed , she knows a Jamaican cook hoo is immune flames , an evil Russian sykick is the dude hoo is 2 blame. A Japanese kid has lightning on his side ! An American Indian levataytor can give his frends a ride . A South American reporter has a force feild and can tellyport !
    Allan black makes magic cards and can escape frum any fort ! Sky Channing just touches things 2 know just wair thay bin . But are these enough super powers 2 let theses sykicks win ?

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