When famous science fiction heroes make the jump to children's coloring books, usually the characters' dignity is jettisoned in the process. But such was not the case with the 1983 Uncanny X-Men Super Activity Book. Indeed, this unheralded tome — in which Magneto builds a frightening "Alphabet Beast" — may very well be the most narratively challenging X-Men story ever written.
This coloring book debuted at a time in the X-Men's history when they were by no means the marketing juggernaut they are today.
But 1983 was a febrile time for the mutants — Chris Claremont was in the writer's chair, still riding high off of the now-classic Dark Phoenix Saga. Why wouldn't the X-Men's merchandising reach similar creative zeniths, like those of the unjustly forgotten Garfield R&B album?
The Uncanny X-Men Super Activity Book — which was published by a printing press stuck on caps lock — begins by introducing Marvel Comics' coterie of mutated angst-balls. Wolverine is introduced like never before.
But Magneto is immune to Wolverine's smoldering Albertan charms. (He also hates word puzzles.)
Magneto's own megalomania dances dirty with his villainous illiteracy to give birth to his next nefarious scheme.
This page is far too much for any human, let alone a crayon-wielding child.
Magneto is pleased.
Wolverine is the first to fall.
Nightcrawler demands answers.
He receives NO QUARTER.
Cyclops and Storm deliver the Alphabet Beast ultimatums. Their threats are toothless and fruitless.
Kitty Pryde is merely useless.
In the end, Professor X must save his incompetent students. This is clearly a commentary on his own lackadaisical tutelage.
But Storm is rewarded with a giant crayon for her heroism.