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Everybody’s Somebody’s Baby – Day Four

Okay, these two both actually appeared on the top 100, but I forgot to post the essays (oops!), so here are two essays on two X-Men runs!

Enjoy!

(I’ll reprint the bits for each of the runs in question before posting their essays)

90. Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr’s X-Men – 106 points (1 first place vote)

Uncanny X-Men #175 (partial), #176-197, 199-200, 202-203, 206-211

As was the case for the X-Men juggernaut of the 80s, whoever an artist replaced was seen as impossible. Replace Byrne and Cockrum with Paul Smith? Impossible!

And yet when it came time for Smith to leave the book, it was “Replace Paul Smith? Impossible!”

And yet that was the task for John Romita, Jr., the young budding superstar that was coming off a popular run on another one of Marvel’s major titles, Amazing Spider-Man.

Matched with inker Dan Green, Romita produced artwork that was a bit grittier than previous X-artists, and it matched writer Chris Claremont’s slightly darker stories of the mid-80s.

This was the run where Kitty calls the guy the N-word, where Professor X is almost beaten to death, where Magneto ends up taking over the team, where Wolverine stabs Rachel in the chest to keep her from killing – it was not the funnest of times for the X-Men, and Romita left the book just as one of their darkest periods period came up, the Mutant Massacre.

By the time Romita left, it was once again “Replace John Romita Jr.? Impossible!”

Here is Teebore on why it was his top pick:

X-Men was my gateway comic, and remains a favorite to this day, so I knew one of Claremont’s runs would shows up on this list. And Romita Jr. is one of my all time favorite artists, so really, I knew exactly which run would be #1 on my list from the beginning: favorite characters drawn by favorite artist = first place.

I’m sure most people who put an X-Men run on their lists picked either Morrison’s or the Claremont/Byrne run. And don’t get me wrong, I love both those runs. But there’s just something about the Claremont/Romita Jr. era that really clicks for me. With New Mutants, the franchise was expanding, and big things seemed to be on the horizon, but it hadn’t yet swelled to the monstrous uncontrollable behemoth that devoured it would become. Claremont still had a pretty firm grasp on the two titles, and the New Mutants were almost like the supporting cast of Uncanny X-Men. This run is also struck the perfect balance between done-in-ones, story arcs, and overarching subplots, a balance that to this day I consider an example of “the way it should be done.” Romita Jr.’s art has always been the best kind of superhero art, a nice balance between realism and over-the-top cartooning.

Just look at all the cool stuff that happened in this run: The Kitty Pryde/Caliban “marriage” in 179, the Colossus/Juggernaut bar fight in 183, Storm losing her powers (and becoming a better character for it) in 185, the trial of Magneto in issue 200, all the way up to the Mutant Massacre (one of the first and best crossovers). Plus, there was the time Kulan Gath “Conan the Barbarian-ed” up all of Manhattan and its resident heroes. I read those two issues over and over when I was a kid.

So yeah, Claremont and Byrne did some phenomenal work together, making my #1 run possible, and Morrison blew the whole thing open with all kinds of crazy ideas, but Claremont and Romita Jr. still turned in some solid, fun, superhero comics that remain my favorites.

Thanks, Teebore!!

71 (tie). Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri’s Uncanny X-Men – 133 (3 first place votes)

Uncanny X-Men #218, 220-222, 224-227, 229-230, 232-234, 236, 238-244, 246-247, 249-251, 253-255, 259-261

By the time Marc Silvestri took over as regular artist on Uncanny X-Men, the X-Books were, well, “the X-Books,” which was not the case for when Byrne and Smith took over. This was not just a comic book, this was a FRANCHISE, and Silvestri, not yet 30 years old, was being given a chance to draw the main book of the franchise.

Its interesting, I always thought of this time period as the Silvestri/Leonardi run of Uncanny X-Men, as they had a deal where artist Rich Leonardi would draw the issues Silvestri didn’t, so as to give Silvestri a break, as you can tell from the above list of titles, Silvestri did not often draw a lot of books in a row. HOWEVER, while Silvestri did not draw a lot of issues in a row, he was quite clearly THE penciler during this time period, drawing the vast majority of the issues during his tenure on the book from #218-261.

Silvestri used a different style back then then the one he would develop working for Image in the early 90s. On Uncanny, his art was a great deal more experimental, it seemed almost reminiscent of the work Mazzucchelli was doing on Daredevil around the same time.

This was the time when the Fall of Mutants occurred, and the world thought that the X-Men were dead, but instead, they went and lived in Australia for awhile. Then Inferno happened, and then the X-Men broke up and there was a long storyline where the group slowly got back together. By this time, Silvestri had left the book to begin a popular run on Wolverine with Larry Hama.

Here is Sandy on why it was his top pick:

When I think of great comic book stories, even great stories in general, the great X-Men mega-arc from 1987-1991 instantly jumps to mind. It began shortly after the Mutant Massacre, with the team reforming after splitting off in that event’s aftermath. Wolverine and Storm were the only ANAD X-Men left, with Rogue and Psylocke as recent additions who stuck around. Dazzler, and Longshot, who had both appeared before, but had never officially joined the team. Havok also returned from years of obscurity.

Along with these newcomers was a new artist, Marc Silvestri.

While his art was fantastic, the art is always secondary to the story for me. This run started with the new team, saw them “die” in Dallas, move to Australia, discover the dark secret of Genosha, battle through demons during Inferno, and become separated when attacked by the Reavers. It was during Jim Lee’s run that the team came back together and then folded X-Factor into the X-Men, capping off an epic of Homeric proportions, but it was Silvestri’s run that contained most of it’s best parts.

The crown jewel of the run was the Wolverine/Jubilee/Psylocke journey. This was back when Wolverine, while resilient, was still clearly killable. Wolverine was brought closer to death than he’s ever been and then back up to the top. This is often brought up as one of Wolverine’s greatest stories, as he survives by shear force of will and a little help from Jubilee. This run is full of such great character stories and blockbuster action scenes, making it my favorite run of all time.

Thanks, Sandy!

Back to runs that didn’t make the Top 100 tomorrow!!

18 Comments

Love those Art Adams covers, and the whole Silvestri-era holds up well; the essay sums it up fairly well. I need to pick up a good chunk of that JRJR era stuff though. And I wish I was invisible to technology, that seems useful.

Outback X-Men! Whoo!

Some of my favorite comics come from that run, and the eight X-Men that “died” in Dallas make up my favorite X-men line up. Good to seem ‘em get some love.

Aw, thanks for posting that Brian…

I remember hunting all over as a kid for a “cheap” copy of the issue where the X-Men “died” in Dallas and never finding one (because this was the early “speculator” 90s, and the X-men DIED in that issue), eventually settling for the best I could find: $8.

Which is nothing today, of course, but to a kid back then, at that point that was probably the most I’d ever paid for a back issue.

That 2 issue Kulan Gath storyline is one of the all time best. It was almost as much a Spiderman and Avengers story as it was an X-Men story.

Just to clarify, the “yikes” is not meant to be against JRJR (though I’m no fan of Claremont’s writing during this woefully latter-day period) but Fall of the Mutants, X-men in Australia, and Silvestri.
All stuff that had me putting X-Men back on the racks after every skim (it had lost all “buy unskimmed” privileges some years previously).

Wow.

The best argument for the Claremont/JRjr run appears to be that Claremont hadn’t quite lost his fastball and JRjr is a solid professional. Neither statement is really debatable, but it is hard to imagine really loving these issues. They are like “Friends” circa season 7, the glory days are clearly in the rear-view mirror and a cliff lies ahead…

“The best argument for the Claremont/JRjr run appears to be that Claremont hadn’t quite lost his fastball and JRjr is a solid professional. Neither statement is really debatable, but it is hard to imagine really loving these issues. They are like “Friends” circa season 7, the glory days are clearly in the rear-view mirror and a cliff lies ahead…”

All the core concepts of the X-Men franchise was solidified in this era, IMHO. The whole mutants as persecuted minority/tribe/subculture was just a vague background for Magneto fights until the mutant registration plot began during JRjr’s run. And that’s what has driven the franchise ever since.

It’s without a shred of a doubt my favourite era.

Love the JRJr era, one of my favorite runs EVER, not just one of my favorite X-men runs. Some characters, like Storm and Magneto, had their best character arcs during this run, and while JRJr didn’t draw the ‘Lifedeath” issues, those are 2 of the best Storm issue ever. And Magneto finishing his journey to redemption in #200, which was a good issue overall, even if Fenris never went anywhere after that. We also had some good stuff with Nightcrawler questioning his faith when the Beyonder showed up, and a great issue for Magneto where he argues against Rachael for sparing the lives of some humans, even after they tried to kill Professor X and Kitty. And while the Kulan Gath epic was great, I loved the 3 issues that wrote out Rachael. So many great moments as well in that story; Rachael telling Wolverine the only way to stop her from killing Selene was for him to kill Rachael, then the next panel is all black with the ‘Snikt!’ sound effect; Storm remaining defiant and standing her ground against the Hellfire Club, even though by that point only she and Kitty were left; Nimrod showing up to complicate things even more…those were some good issues.

The Silvestri run I have mixed feelings about. I liked it overall, but I didn’t like the outback setting, and felt the post-FOTM set-up, like the team itself, never reached it’s true potential. But at least the X-men and X-factor finally met up and the learned for sure Jean alive. Plus, it did give us Jubilee, and I’ve always had a soft spot for that brat (and I use the term brat with affection).

I would love to see the Kulan Gath two parter expanded into a What If style graphic novel.

Theno

[...] on the two titles, and the New Mutants were almost like the supporting cast of uncanny X-Men. …http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/05/22/everybodys-somebodys-baby-day-four-2/COMIC BOOK RELEASE LIST: Make mine Marvel, New Comics this week Hey there True Believers, here??s [...]

Yeah … pretty much all the post-Dark Phoenix runs on X-Men up until the Jim Lee hijacking in the early-90s were awesome, though the Claremont/JRJR/Silvestri years were awesome. And Ed Brubaker, take note: Claremont set the standard for how to write an X-Men title WITHOUT X-Men. Your cute little “Divided We Stand” arc is OK, but it just doesn’t feel as authentic or earnest as when Claremont absolutely demolished the X-Men and wrote amazing stories about the individuals for, what, a year and a half before “officially” reassembling a team.

“This was the run where Kitty calls the guy the N-word”

Which time?

Issue 196, a vague Secret Wars II tie-in, during which Professor X overhears one of his students (he’s teaching at Columbia University) thinking about killing someone. His powers diminished due to injuries sustained when being mugged, the X-Men comb the campus trying to figure out who the killers and victim will be and to prevent the attack.

Along the way, Kitty (who is taking some classes at CU) stumbles across some of her classmates who are ranting about mutants. She tosses the n-word at one of them and basically says “hurts, doesn’t it? Thats no different than using ‘Mutie.’”

IIRC correctly that same group of students is behind the murder plot, and they set some kind of thought bomb to kill Xavier because they discovered he’s a mutant. Rachel Summers stops the attack and is about to kill them when Magneto (who was on the verge of his full Claremontian reformation and was working with the team) talks her down.

It’s actually one of my favorite issues from that era, and a great standalone issue that still connects up with some of the ongoing subplots and themes (and the Secret Wars II tie-in only amounts to the Beyonder hanging out vaguely in the background of a few pages and Rachel sort-of sensing him).

(It’s also the issue where Kitty takes a puff of Wolverine’s cigar and gets sick, calling it horrendous, and Wolverine explains that his healing factor allows him the luxury of smoking and drinking. As a kid I also liked that-it allowed for Wolverine’s bad habits while still sending the message “kids-do as Wolverine says, not as he does.”)

Teebore, if only JQ had understood that scene the way the rest of us did ;)

I started reading X-men around this time, so to me THIS IS the X-men (speccially the Silvestry arch). ack then they still worked as a family, and wether we like it or not, the X-men “family” was clearly Clarmont baby, and he knew what to do with it and where to take them.

the X-men started to die slowly to me when Jim Lee took over (and I know, I’m aparently the only one in the world with this opinion) and by the time Marrow showed up on the team there was nothing there for me to read.

I’ve picked up recently with X-men (with astonishing) so I missed morrisson and of course the Clarmont arch that everyone bashes (I havent read it but from what people say it must be really bad). I’ve always had a soft spot for clarmont on this subject. he came back nearly after 20 years to write on what had been his life work for 10/15 years to find out pretty much of what he had created had been changed or destroyed…it was a different X-men than the one he knew, and of course different times and audiences…

from this arches, it’s the litle stories that I like, from the atack of the brood, to that silly story about the girls shopping(introduction of Jubelle) and the guys getting drunk during an alien invasion (also Teleporter was cool). they really had a nice mix of fun, sad and action going on. and MAdeleyne Prior, didn’t she turned out to be one hell of a villain?

Finally, you can’t really talk about those arches with out mentioning a few things the most important: Wolverine Solo adventures on Madripoor, this was where Logan gained his independence as a charecter, and at the same time it worked perfectly with the X-men (and I also believe it was here that the all “wolverine is in every place in the world at the same time” thing started). also there where a few nice cross overs during these days: the high evolutionary war, some story that involved most of the super heroes Vs Mephisto, and a very fine story that put the X-men against the Fantastic Four. (not to mention Excalibur…)

great times and arcs these where!

i dropped the Xmen when Jim Lee came on, so VanTammen, you are not the only one. At that time, the books were confusing and badly written and overseen. So, i said good-bye.
i didn’t really like the Sylverteri years much either.
Started reading the book with 193, a great anniversary issue by JRJR
DFTBA

Probably VanTemmen will not read this more than five years after his post…
But my personal X-Men-History has been quite like yours: I started reading X-Men in #212 (the first issue after JRJRs run although I didn’t know it at that time).
Well, a bit later I bought some of the preceding back issues (starting with #197) and started to catch up with the X-Men history by reading “X-Men classic”. And doing so, I really got to like the JRJR era as well. Nonetheless I felt the post mutant massacre team was THE X-Men team. And with the Simonson couple doing X-Factor, Bret Blevins penciling the New Mutants and Alan Davis’ run on Excalibur (the latter both starting a bit later), for me it was the golden age of X-Books.

And yes, while I really liked Jim Lee’s artwork, I also felt that his run on the title started the demise of the X-Books. Thus, I never read any of the Morrison issues. And I doubt that I’d love it. Even if the stories might be great, the style of the artwork had changed that much by the time Morrison took over that I hardly could enjoy reading the books.

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