X-Men: Earth’s Mutant Heroes #1
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe series extends itself with a slightly unusual issue, and one has to be a real fan of the OHOTMU series to appreciate the subtle difference: instead of containing lengthy entries on major characters from the X-Men, it contains single page updates to A-list characters in addition to entries further down the B- and C- lists. Seeing as how the A-list characters just had entries in the amazing 2008-2010 hardcover series, along with other entries in the five-issue update to that series, it makes sense to present only an updated entry for those characters. As an exception to this rule, Mister Jeffries (who I consider an A-list character of course) has a 3pg entry, unusual in both its size and recency to his last entry in issue #6 of the hardcover series. Also, he has a fear of water.
For those of you who read these OHOTMU books with regularity, you know that an entry larger than two pages is somewhat rare, especially after a full entry from just a few years ago. In fact, Jeffries’ entry is one of only two entries with more than two pages in this book, so the Alpha Flight respect-o-meter is all the way to the right on this one, folks.
It gets even better: Jeffries appears on the cover! Kalman Andrasofszky included him top center, playing with some floating mechanical bits. Unfortunately, some of the title block obscures the full image but promo art released by Marvel clearly shows Jeffries without any interruption (see inset below). Note the “X” on Jeffries’ arm patch, and compare that with another canonical image of Jeffries (courtesy of the Alphanex database over at alphaflight.net) with an “A” on his arm patch.
And it gets even better than that: we get a new main illustration from series artist Gus Vazquez, replacing the volume 2-era exoskeleton image from issue #6 of the Hardcover. Other illustrations in this entry include an inset from his first appearance in Alpha Flight #1 with art by John Byrne, wearing his Gamma Flight costume (which is labeled Alpha Trainee, sort of an error, but not really, since Gamma Flight members were Alpha Flight trainees), a reprint of the main illustration from his entry in the OHOTMU Deluxe Edition #2, with art by Mike Mignola, which showed him in the blue armor, but in this issue, an unfortunately miscolored mid-section (it’s supposed to be yellow, not white – that error was also in his previous entry in HC#6), a reprint of the main illustration from the OHOTMU ’89 Update #1 by Jim Lee (a version of which is linked to above showing the “A” patch on his arm), an image taken from a splash page in Alpha Flight #125 with art by Jim Reddington, an image of him in his mustachioed era by Scott Clark from Alpha Flight volume 2 #1 and an obscure image of him as Gemini by Georges Jeanty from Weapon X #1.
Since his entry in the Hardcover volume 6, there are some notable changes, the first being an increase in page count from two to three, the illustration updates mentioned above, and a simplification of some of the captions identifying his armor. The Mignola image has been renamed from “Box Mark I armor” to “First Box Armor”, removing the complication of the fact that Roger Bochs and Jerome Jaxon were the first two to use the blue armor. The caption for the Lee image of the armor has been changed from “Box Mark II armor” to “With second Box armor”, again a simplification to remove the confusion about Walter Langkowski occupying the red Box armor for a while before Roger Bochs took it over again after Walter regained his/her human form. The Reddington image, which was uncaptioned in HC#6 is now captioned “Third Box armor”. In addition, the Gemini illustration has been updated. The HC#6 issue had a different Gemini image which only showed the upper body instead of a full body shot.
In the text, his identity has been updated from “Secret (known to certain government officials)” to “No dual identity”, reflecting his current status with the X-Men. Not surprisingly, as a member of the Science Team and sometimes written as a brilliant scientist (mostly by Mike Carey), the occupation of “Scientist” has been added, as well as the notation of his Education as “Basic US Army training”, reminding the reader of his background/origin story with his brother, Lionel.
The rest of the text is a slightly updated version of the text from the Hardcover issue, with a very strange reference to his fear of water (as mentioned in Alpha Flight #39) appearing in the very first paragraph. It’s strange because when one thinks of Madison Jeffries, “Fear of Water” doesn’t exactly come to mind, yet it seems to be featured so prominently, moved from its position buried mid-entry in the Hardcover issue right up to the first paragraph in this issue. The text also retains the errors misprinted in the Hardcover issue which took Puck’s joking reference to Department H as the “Clinic for Socially Maladjusted Super-Beings” to be an actual clinic, while muddling his history with Roger Bochs as well, an error in direct conflict with his first full appearance in Alpha Flight #16 when he met Roger Bochs for the first time. Additionally, an unfortunate typographical error misspells Manikin’s name as Whitne Knapp, particularly odd because it was properly printed as Whitman Knapp in the Hardcover.
In the Stats portion of the entry, the power grid is updated. His hair color has been changed from “Black” to “Black with gray”, noting his modern appearance with grayed temples. For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, his Intelligence has decreased from 3 to 2, Strength and Durability stays the same from at 2 but increased to 6 while wearing the Box armor, Speed increased to 5 with the Box armor, Energy Projection corrected form 4 to 1 with a ranking of 6 while wearing the Box armor and Fighting Skills reduced from 4 to 3, noting his main role as a support staff on the X-Men rather than a front-line combatant. Alpha Flight Collector has an issue with reducing his Intelligence from 3 to 2, as he certainly has smartened up from the guy we knew back in the day.
His previous bio ended just as he joined up with the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #505, and this update properly includes what’s happened to him since then, briefly touching on his mental state. It says he was “Somewhat mentally addled” in that issue, then goes on to describe the events of his membership in the X-Men since, ending just at the events of Uncanny X-Men Annual #3. Entries in the rest of the issue go as far as the return of the Breakworld aliens in Uncanny X-Men #535.
Some notable facts are revealed in this issue. The time leaper, a Jeffries creation mentioned in issue #509 is confirmed to have been used in the Messiah War arc. It also snarkily notes “Jeffries suggested the X-Club travel to the past to seek answers for reinstating the mutant gene, and traveled to the year 1906 to investigate the birth of the modern mutant race [in Uncanny X-Men #512]; a mission that ultimately provided nothing to reinstate mutant abilities.” The whole purpose of the X-Club as formed by Beast was to find the reason why there were no more mutant births, yet this was completely abandoned in subsequent issues by Matt Fraction, the same writer who originally came up with this idea! Additionally, some chronology of simultaneous overlapping appearances of Jeffries (in Nation X, Necrosha, Second Coming, Curse of the Mutants and miscellaneous other issues) is cleared up.
Some notable exceptions from the extended bio are the details of his recruitment into the X-Club in Uncanny X-Men #506, #507 and #508, the battle against Predator X’s in in Uncanny X-Men #517, helping out the New Mutants in New Mutants #4 and #5, getting knocked out in the Age of Atlas/X-Men crossover, his role in the Curse of Mutants storyline excluding the one-shot X-Men: Smoke and Blood #1 and the Age of X appearances. Finally, it should be mentioned that Jeffries has a fear of water.
Note: in the entry for Utopia, Northstar’s boyfriend Kyle is listed as Kyle Roy, the first time his last name has been mentioned.
Note: at least two known misprinted versions of this comic exist, one being a complete but misordered version with the Jeffries entry appearing out of order as the first printed entry, and another incomplete version with the third page of the Jeffries entry appearing as the first printed page and his entire entry reprinted later among other duplicated entries.