web stats

CSBG Archive

Friday in Westchester

As I’ve said in the past, I get a fair amount of mail. A lot of it is from former students who want to ask about one comics-related point or another.

Just for fun, and to give you an idea how our odd little pop-culture backwater looks from the outside…here is a series of letters between me and Rachel.

Rachel is a cartooning graduate, and now she is an occasional TA-slash-intern for me at the art studio. This ever-lengthening correspondence has been going on for the last week or so and finally I said to her, “You know, I might as well do this as a column,” and she graciously agreed. So here it is.

It started with Rachel sending a note that she was no longer obsessed with Spider-Man. That was over. It was time to put away childish things.

Now, she was all about The X-Men.

As it happened, I needed a model for my portrait class down at the studio that week. So I sent Rachel a note back suggesting that if she’d be willing to come by the studio and sit for my students for an hour or so, I would hook her up with some X-Men books, and I’d throw in the Birds of Prey DVDs I’d been promising for a while, as well. (Over the years, I’ve discovered that when I employ students for odd jobs, using the barter system is more fun for both of us, and a better deal for the kids than cash money.)

Rachel did a fine job modeling for the drawing class and certainly had earned some cool swag. I gave her some X-Men trades I’d had around the house that were superfluous for me, that I thought she would enjoy.

If Rachel was going to read X-books, I decided she should have GOOD X-books. Probably my pick for single best X-book ever.

(And also that I considered to be “the good stuff.” I reasoned that if Rachel was going to collect X-comics, I owed her a proper start. She has the rest of her life to read crap like Inferno or X-Cutioner’s Song.)

A little while later she sent this note, which I answered point-by-point.

*

Hi Greg,

I am totally in love with the X-Men comics you gave me!! I especially like the Neal Adams book.

I had a few questions though.

In the Neal Adams book, there is no Storm, Wolverine, or Rogue in the group. Why is that?

The Neal Adams book is taken from the stories that ran in the FIRST version of the X-Men. Those were published in the 1960′s.

you know who loves this story? Littler kids. It was always a hit with kids I would baby-sit.

Then, later, the title was revived with a new, more international roster.

This was actually my first issue of the All-New, All-Different X-Men.

It’s all explained here.

So Alex is Scott’s brother?

Yes.

Why isn’t Beast blue?

It was before he mutated further. The character’s history is explained here.

I would appreciate if you could help me understand. :D

Thanks,
Rachel

You should have one more book coming, The Dark Phoenix Saga, that falls between the two I gave you at the studio, in the overall X-chronology. Julie and I found it at a Goodwill and decided you needed it, so it’s in the mail.

The X-book every fan MUST have.

Really, though, if you want to get caught up, you should get the Essential X-Men books… they are great big phone-book-sized reprint volumes that give you twenty to twenty-five comics’ worth of stories in each book.

This is how I tend to prefer my comics these days. Thank God they changed this hideous trade dress for the series.

They’re in black-and-white, which puts off some people, but if you just want to read the stories that’s your best bet. They’re cheap.

–G.

*

A couple of days later Rachel called the house to say thank you, squealing with delight about The Dark Phoenix Saga and how much she loved it. Shortly thereafter we got a note that her e-mail address had changed from spideyzgirl@…. to j.thedarkphoenix@…. I couldn’t resist and sent her a reply saying I’d noted her new address, adding, “Book must have been good, huh?”

Which led to this e-mail, that I again answered point-by-point.

*

I’m gonna try and get those Essential books – they look really cool!

So, the girl with the green hair is Lorna, and her powers are magnetism, right? I wonder why Alex Summers wasn’t in the movies. Probably not enough time for him, I guess.

Alex Summers really hasn’t been in the COMICS that much when you look at the last forty-plus years of X-Men.

But Wolverine: Origins comes out in 2009!! I’m so excited!

I’m hoping you mean the movie, because the comic wasn’t worth getting that excited over.

....blegh.

For that matter, the Wolverine of the comics really was disliked by many people at the beginning. He started out as a Hulk villain.

hard to believe this guy would end up a superstar.

And later when he was drafted for the new X-Men he was primarily the guy that nobody cared for, the agent of discord on the team. Marvel used to get letters saying “And kill off that obnoxious Wolverine.” The star character in the revival was Nightcrawler because Dave Cockrum really liked drawing him. And in fact there was a point when the Wolverine character was getting so much hate mail that they were thinking of dropping him from the book.

When John Byrne took over the art from Cockrum, one of the things he wanted to do as co-plotter of the book was ‘rehabilitate’ Wolverine… that is, make the fans like him more. Part of it was that Byrne was Canadian himself and didn’t want the only Canadian superhero at Marvel to go away, and part of it was that Byrne thought it would be a fun challenge, taking a hero so despised and seeing if he couldn’t get the fans to come around. So Byrne began, very subtly, to slant stories toward Wolverine. (In those days, Marvel’s artists had a lot more control over a story, because the art was done from a brief outline rather than a script. Then the writer would come in and write captions and dialogue based on the penciled art.)

If you look at the Dark Phoenix book you will see that in play.

Still an asshole, but now he was the COOL asshole.

Wolverine gets most of the cool action shots, Wolverine gets a big dramatic cliffhanger, it’s really Wolverine Comics co-starring the X-Men.

And it worked. Wolverine became a star.

Except I almost got the Dark Phoenix saga taken away by my Spanish teacher, because I was “reading too much in class.” I told her I couldn’t help it, and she let me keep it with a warning.

Boy, THAT takes me back. I actually HAD books taken away. My parents were very annoyed with me about the whole book thing. (“Why don’t you go play outside? Why do you have to spend every penny on books?”) Mine were Star Trek books and James Bond books and Batman comics, though. The Batman stories that really blew me away at that age were, oddly enough, by a young Neal Adams, who partnered with Denny O’Neil on a run people still talk about today. Ra’s Al Ghul, from Batman Begins, is an O’Neil/Adams villain.

I know I’ve already thanked you – but I seriously realllly appreciate the books. The movies got me hooked, but the books are also really incredible!

Plus, Professor Xavier and Scott don’t die in The Dark Phoenix Saga, which is nice, because whenever I watch those scenes in X-Men 3 I start bawling. And I like it better that Jean realizes she has to kill herself to stop Phoenix, rather than having Wolverine kill her which is really sad.

Something that caught me off guard, however, is that in The Dark Phoenix Saga, Wolverine is short. And sort of “spooky,” as Kitty says. And obviously has no relationship with Jean. So I wonder how that whole Jean/Scott/Logan movie triangle came to be.

Well, first of all, bear in mind that model’s wages in an art studio run anywhere from $15-20 an hour and that’s about the same dollar value of those books in a used bookstore. So it wasn’t really a ‘gift.’ You earned them, that’s your pay for an hour’s work at the studio. (The BIRDS OF PREY shows, well, I’d been promising to burn a set of those for you for years, that was just guilt.)

As for the rest… Wolverine IS short. He’s named for a small snarling rodent and that was the key to his visual.

Again, who knew? Y'know, except for the whiskers, I like the original mask better.

Now, actor HUGH JACKMAN is tall, but as writer Len Wein (the guy that actually created Wolverine) likes to say, “I don’t mind, because Jackman plays him as being short and pissed off,” and it’s true. Jackman nails it so perfectly that none of us really mind that he’s way too tall.

The love triangle with Jean and Scott and Logan goes back to the earliest days of the revival– the Dave Cockrum years. Remember, Wolverine was the team malcontent, the guy that created discord and tension. The love triangle was just one more way for that to happen. In fact, a lot of the reason so many fans hated Wolverine in the early days was because of that triangle and the idea that Logan might somehow break up Scott and Jean. People forget sometimes that it’s FICTION and that writers put their characters under pressure for a reason. The more tension you have, the more suspense there is about how it will all work out, then the more interesting the book is and the more engaged you are by the drama.

Really the love story with Scott and Jean went through so many wild freaky twists and turns, and taken as a whole makes both of them look so badly-behaved, that it’s best not to think about it as a complete history. Fans tended to forgive them because we all so loved the two of them as a couple, and the Dark Phoenix story was such a powerful love story that it overshadowed everything. We just KNEW they were in love, and the fact that they sometimes acted crappy to one another (Scott, especially, behaved very badly over the years) …well, that didn’t really ‘count’ in our heads as we were reading, we always forgave everything if they would just get back together.

AT LAST!

The movie people wisely went back to the earliest days of the book for their story material, before there were thirty more years of convoluted comic-book soap opera history layered on top of it. The best way to read the X-Men is to just kind of cherry-pick your favorite era and concentrate on that. Because there have been A LOT of bad X-Men comics out there.

Also, Rogue is not there. Which makes me sad. Because she is my 3rd favorite character. (1st: Jean, 2nd: Wolverine, 3rd: Rogue, 4th: Scott).

I guess you really have created a monster, as you titled your email, because now I’m really obsessed – more than I was with Spider-Man, believe it or not.

Well, the good news is, there are lots of books out there for you. Julie and I were at Half-Price Books in Southcenter last night and saw the first three Essential X-Men volumes for about four dollars each, along with a bunch of other X-stuff.

The Essentials are the easiest way to play catch-up but there are lots of other books too. There are prose X-Men novels as well. Here’s a PARTIAL list. Some of those are comics and some are prose. Click on the book cover to find out more about a particular book.

I’m partial to the ones by Christopher Golden, in particular: CODENAME WOLVERINE, and the MUTANT EMPIRE trilogy.

Actually, ALL Golden's X-books are good. For that matter, his Daredevil and Buffy books are good too.

You can see more about those here.

As for Rogue, she came later, and her story is very different from the movie one. You have to understand the movies are very streamlined and condensed and tend to mash up stories together that took place years apart in the comics. The first movie was an original story that kind of tried to do everything, it had references to every era of the book and the team roster was a sort of “Greatest Hits” cast culled from the forty years of publishing. X2 was a kind of riff on GOD LOVES MAN KILLS but incorporated a lot of original stuff from the first movie and added Lady Deathstrike to replace Anne Reynolds. X-Men 3 grafted together Dark Phoenix and ASTONISHING X-MEN: GIFTED and threw in Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. And so on.

Truthfully, I lost interest in the X-Men comics in the 90′s– Marvel did so many spin-offs and tie-in series that it became impossible to keep up. Every so often something catches my eye still– I liked GENERATION X while it was around, and that even got a movie. (A bad made-for-TV one, but still kind of fun, you see it bootlegged at shows a lot.)

I enjoy the X-Men movies a great deal and do still sometimes pick up an X-comic. I quite liked Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, as well as Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men.

Once in a while I still check in. Like I said, you cherry-pick the good stuff.

But mostly I’m a Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne guy, Essential X-Men volumes one, two and three. My X-Men are the ones in the three books I gave you, of which God Loves, Man Kills was the newest. But every generation has their particular favorite run and their particular favorite team lineup. I imagine that as you keep reading and watching movies and so on, you’ll arrive at a Dream Team of your own.

–G.

*

By now it was starting to get away from me. Answering Rachel’s questions was reminding me how much I myself had loved the Marvel mutants once upon a time, and her enthusiasm was contagious… I’d start out to write a quick answer and it would turn into a little mini-essay. It must have been entertaining for Rachel, too, because in a day or two this note arrived, which I have again answered. It was about halfway through replying to this that I thought, “Hell, this all might as well be a column,” and got Rachel’s permission to put it up here.

*

I have more questions!

1. In the first book you gave me, it looked like Lorna and Bobby were going out, but in the very beginning of the Dark Phoenix saga, it seemed like Lorna was with Alex. What happened there?

Years passed. Different writers come on a book and each new one has a different idea about how things should go. That’s really what happened.

But I imagine you want the in-story reason. In this particular case, as I recall Bobby had a thing for Lorna but she really only had eyes for Alex. I think there have been times when she starts to relent and maybe give Bobby a second look, but nothing serious ever came of that.

Iceman does a hell of a lot better in the movies with girls than he ever did in the comic. In the X-comics, what I remember is that Bobby Drake was a little bit of a sad sack, someone who was always getting his heart stepped on. He was the classic case of the guy who always ends up being ‘just friends’ with a girl. I think in recent years they’ve been a little kinder to him, but he still seems to have a lot of girls leaving him or being revealed as villains or something. Nothing like the movie where there’s two different girls fighting over him, that’s for sure.

2. In the 2nd movie, when Professor X is being mind-warped by Stryker’s son (isn’t his name Jason?) to kill all mutants..That seemed very similar to Jean being mind-warped by Jason Wyngarde (who was really Mastermind, the illusionist guy) in the Dark Phoenix saga. Am I just being paranoid or is that the same person?

Well, here you get into a whole thing about adaptation and what that all means. Does Jason Stryker have the same power as Jason Wyngarde/Mastermind? More or less, I suppose, though nobody ever tried to extract anything from Mastermind’s glands and drip it on people’s necks for purposes of mind control. (I don’t think so, anyway. You have to remember I haven’t been keeping up with every X-Men comic since 1975. In spite of what my students think, I don’t actually know everything about comics.)

Is it the same guy? Maybe Bryan Singer and the movie people named him “Jason” as a little nod to Jason Wyngarde, maybe even the character started out to be “Mastermind,” but as characters, they’re nothing alike.

Was THIS who they meant Jason Stryker to be in X2?

In the comics, Mastermind was kind of a weaselly little coward who used his power to make himself suave and sophisticated, and his main concern always seemed to be insinuating himself next to some hot girl….the Scarlet Witch, Jean Grey, whoever.

For that matter, X2 took quite a few liberties with Stryker himself.

What if Jerry Falwell hunted mutants instead of yelling about gay people? Nobody will mistake this guy for Jerry Falwell.

God Loves, Man Kills was originally published in the 80′s, when television preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were really starting to build a following, and a lot of their message was about us vs. them: whichever “them” they happened to be picking on at the moment, the televangelists were always demonizing their opponents and scaring people. Nowadays these TV ministers are looked at mostly as jokes, but in the 1980′s they were extremely powerful public figures. So it’s a pretty easy leap from that to creating a televangelist villain who is scaring people about mutants.

Now, in the 2000′s, it’s been the government that gets a lot of mileage out of scaring people and using that fear to justify doing bad things in the name of ‘protecting’ citizens. Today the natural leap isn’t from televangelist to X-villain, it’s from obsessed government official to X-villain. So Stryker got a makeover for the movies.

The beauty of the X-Men concept is that it’s infinitely adaptable. There are always going to be groups of people that are afraid of other groups of people because they’re different. And that kind of fear always leads to prejudice and hatred. Those conflicts are very easy to build X-Men stories on, because the whole premise for the book in the first place is “feared and hated by the world they’ve sworn to protect.” Any time you have fear and hatred you have potential story material for the X-Men.

3. Did Jean, Scott, and Professor X really die in the comics? (Obviously, I know Jean dies in the Dark Phoenix Saga). I’ve heard that X-Men 3 pretty much veered away from the plot of the comics, and was wondering if the deaths happened as well.

Honestly? Nobody ever really dies in the comics.

Yeah RIGHT.

It’s kind of reached the point where everybody snorts and says “Yeah right,” whenever a character gets killed.

Pull the OTHER one.

Cyclops, the Professor, and Jean have all been ‘killed’ or presumed dead several times, and so have most of the other X-Men. Really at this point I think it’s easier to keep track of who hasn’t been presumed dead for at least a couple of issues.

Now, as of right now this minute as I write this? Jean is dead– she was resurrected and then killed off again, once or twice since the Dark Phoenix book you have. Scott is still around. Professor X is still around but I think he’s not playing a big active role at the moment, he’s retired or in hiding or sulking or something. But sooner or later he’ll be back, as will Jean. Jean’s really easy to revive, since the whole schtick of a phoenix is ‘resurrection.’

I kind of like Jean Grey being gone, myself; I think it diminishes the heroism of her sacrifice to keep bringing her back from the dead as though she’s just been down with the flu, like death’s just occasionally inconvenient. And I enjoy what writers have done with Scott and Emma Frost. Grant Morrison, especially, just took Emma’s character and ran with it.

This was so deliciously creepy...

The idea of the X-Men’s resident boy scout romancing such an unrepentant bitch, and how they are each adapting to one another as she tries to be good and he occasionally lets himself be a little bad, is really a lot more interesting to read about than the swooning True Love of Scott and Jean.

I admit this threw me when I first read it, but then I thought, of COURSE. That's PERFECT.

…but that’s just me.

Because it’s comics, no one stays dead, and there is always going to be that group of fans that wants Scott and Jean back together no matter what. So I imagine sooner or later she’ll be back.

4. About Rogue’s history being different – I heard she was raised by Mystique??

Yes, that’s correct.

Really the movie Rogue is nothing like the comics Rogue, except for her powers. Rogue in the movies is a lot more like the original Kitty Pryde, a teenage girl who joins the team and ends up forging a special friendship with Wolverine. Which in turn made it odd when they decided Kitty would actually have a real role in the third movie.

Rogue in the comics began as a villain, and her path to becoming one of the most popular members of the team was too convoluted to even try to recap here. I will cheat and link you to this page instead.

Marvel Comics, as a whole, tends to get a lot of mileage out of reforming villains. (Remember, even Wolverine started as a Hulk villain.) Just in the X-Men books alone I think Magneto, Emma Frost, Rogue, Mystique, and Juggernaut have all been ‘reformed’ at least for a little while. So far, with Rogue and Emma, rehabilitation seems to have stuck.

5. Speaking of Mystique. She, Nightcrawler, and Beast are all blue. Are they related at all?

Ha! This just goes to show that everything occurs to everybody, sooner or later.

Blue mother... Blue son... Just good blue friends.

Yes, Mystique and Nightcrawler are related. She is his mother, though he didn’t know it for years and years, she abandoned him and he was raised by gypsies in a traveling circus. This was all eventually told in one of those big shock-revelation stories done after both characters had been around for a while. And I believe the reason this storyline was done is because someone thought “hey, they’re both blue.”

Now, the Beast, Hank McCoy, is a slightly different story. He originally started out looking human, just sort of bulky and Neanderthal, and he was one of the five original members of the team.

In the 1970′s, when I was about your age as a matter of fact, he got his own series in Amazing Adventures.

These will get reprinted in an Essential sometime next year, I believe.

This was after the main X-Men book had been canceled… well, not canceled, but it had ‘gone reprint,’ they were still putting it out each month but it only re-ran older X-Men stories. So if you wanted new X-Men stories Amazing Adventures was all there was.

The gimmick was that in trying to ‘cure’ his mutation, Hank had accidentally turned himself fanged and furry. He wore a rubber mask when he went out among people and tried to live a normal life, and then sneaked into his lab at night and worked on a cure for his cure. Poor Hank was constantly being forced into situations where he had to strip down to his fur and go fight evil.

I really enjoyed this new Beast book– although it took me a while to figure out that this was the same Beast from the X-Men at first– but it didn’t last very long. The series only ran seven issues before it was canceled in favor of a character called Killraven, a science-fiction series spinning out of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.

It took me YEARS to come around on Killraven, I was so annoyed about the Beast thing.

Hard to believe, but there was once a time in comics when a book about a hippie shooting Martians out-sold a book about one of the X-Men.

Anyway, the point of all this is that when the Beast had his solo strip and Amazing still wasn’t selling very well, it was decided to change his color to a deeper blue-gray, rather than just gray, to make him more visually striking. There was no in-story reason, they just did it. I think the idea was to change his fur from gray to BLACK, actually; in comics, back when the printing process with color was much more limited, black was printed using blue to highlight it. (Look at old Superman comics and you’ll see this is the case: Superman has blue hair and so does Lois.) Comics colorists still do this, but the blue’s not as garish as it used to be.

Steve Englehart was the fellow who wrote the Beast’s solo adventures. He liked the character enough to bring him back in The Avengers a little while later, when he took over that book.

Being an Avenger gives you the BLUES. Haha, I crack myself up.

Eventually Hank became a full Avenger and decided being furry wasn’t something that needed curing. However, somehow in the transition from Amazing Adventures to The Avengers, it became understood that the color of the Beast’s fur was supposed to be dark blue now, and it just became the norm.

So it’s got nothing to do with Mystique or Nightcrawler, those two were always blue on purpose. Hank just got stuck with that color by accident at the printer’s.

He was actually a fine addition to The Avengers and he was in that book for a long time. When the X-Men got revived in 1975 with the international team, the Beast would drop by for a visit now and then, but he was always a little superfluous. (Artist John Byrne used to joke about drawing a cartoon with Beast looking sadly at Nightcrawler, who had Beast’s blue fur, and Wolverine, who had Beast’s animal savagery and his pointy hairdo.)

Since that time, Hank’s wandered in and out of several other Marvel series before finally rejoining the X-Men. He mutated a couple more times as well, and his current look probably was created to differentiate him visually from the other characters.

At least no none will mistake him for Kurt or Logan now.

Today he looks more like a lion than an ape. But he’s still the same old bookish Hank.

*

At this point, trying to look up something else, I stumbled across Marvel’s digital short based on Astonishing X-Men #1. So I sent that along to Rachel and she replied with this:

*

Whoa that’s really cool!! Thanks for the link!

Guessing the girl with the blond hair is Emma Frost, the White Queen. I thought she was evil in the Dark Phoenix saga..? And she’s with Scott?!

Yeah, that was Grant Morrison’s idea. When he took over the X-Men title a few years back, his mission statement was to try to get the book back to the kind of smart, cool soap-opera adventure it had been when Claremont and Byrne were doing stuff like Dark Phoenix, and we were all on the edge of our seats waiting to see what would happen next.

One of the things he did was put Emma on the team; she had reformed a few years before, but Morrison had this great take on her where she was trying to be a good guy but she was still a snide bitch.

It's HARD to be good, especially if you have to do it sober.

In fairness, others had the same idea– we saw this version of Emma when she was in Generation X, too– but Morrison made it funnier.

So she served the same function on the team that Wolverine did in the old days — the malcontent and complainer, the one who wants to just kill the bad guys and be done with it. (And oddly enough, Wolverine often ended up being the voice of reason. It was a cool little reversal.)

Haha, I didn’t know you could program the Danger Room to look like Hawaii. Yeah, I can see how X-Men 3 used that idea.

I forget when the Danger Room got the upgrade. I think it probably was around the time when Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered and they were doing “holodeck” stories. The X-books, and Claremont, especially, were never shy about stealing stuff. The Hellfire Club were actually villains from a TV show called The Avengers– no relation to Marvel’s, ask your dad if he remembers Steed and Mrs. Peel– that got grafted on to the X-books. Jubilee started as a riff on DC’s Carrie Kelley version of Robin.

Carrie Kelley, girl Robin. Gee, she looks a lot like Carrie Kelley...

And so on. Now, immediately all these little acts of theft grew into their own unique things in the X-universe. But they weren’t completely original, not at the beginning.

Whoa, that really surprised me about Wolverine – I always sort of thought of him as the icon of the X-Men; I never realized he was so disliked!! And yes, I was referring to the movie of Wolverine coming out. :) About Wolverine’s movie height: James Marsden wore platform shoes to appear taller than Hugh Jackman, I found out, which really cracked me up. I also heard Wolverine was the one X-Men character Stan Lee didn’t create.

Oh, good heavens, no. That’s not true. Stan created the 1960′s version–Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Jean, Iceman, Angel, and the Beast, and he did that in tandem with artist Jack Kirby. But the book was never that big a priority for Stan and he handed it off to other folks early on. Roy Thomas, the writer of your Neal Adams book, really did more with the team in the 1960′s than Stan, including creating everyone’s background history. Len Wein and John Romita created Wolverine, Dave Cockrum was largely responsible for Nightcrawler, Roy Thomas and Werner Roth created Banshee, Claremont and Byrne created Kitty Pryde… I could go on and on.

But when it comes to the X-Men it’s not always about who created who. It’s about who did the best job.

It’s widely known that Chris Claremont, in his sixteen-year run on the X-Men books, is the guy most responsible for making it into the superstar Marvel franchise it is today. He deserves the lion’s share of the credit. It’s been a while since his glory days on the book, and there are several recurring fan complaints about him– Claremont did stories that dragged on and on, he was only really good when he was paired with a talented artist, he did lots of little idea-steals like the ones I mentioned above… but still, even the fans that don’t care for his writing have to admit that when it comes to the world of the X-Men, the primary architect of that world is Chris Claremont.

I’m not sure if he’s even still involved with any of the titles any more, but he was the guy that did the most. Everyone who came afterward owes him big-time for laying the groundwork.

Teachers at my school are too focused on taking students’ cellphones and iPods away to care very much about one comic book the girl in the back is reading.

Well, speaking as a teacher, cell phones and iPods really are damned annoying. Especially the new ones with little TVs built into them. I had to forbid them in my class finally because too many kids are watching bootleg episodes of South Park when they should be working.

Take your time getting back to my questions – I’m really grateful you’re answering them at all!! I still can’t get over the fact that Wolverine was not a popular character though. Oh, and another question (when you get the chance), who is your favorite X-Men character?

I like most of them, for different reasons, and it depends on which era of the book you’re talking about, too. In the old Claremont-Cockrum-Byrne days, Cyclops was always my favorite, and I was annoyed he got screwed out of so much screen time in the movies. In recent years, reading Grant Morrison’s New X-Men and Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, I get a big kick out of Emma Frost.

But there’s a saying in comics that “The Golden Age is twelve,” and what that means is that the comics you hold most dear tend to be the ones you discover first, the ones that get you turned on to the whole thing in the first place.

For me that’s gray-furred Hank McCoy, in the old Amazing Adventures.

You never forget your first, and this one was mine.

Those were just way awesome and really blew me out of my chair when I was little. I was sad to see the series get discontinued, and I was delighted to see Hank back in the Avengers… in fact, that’s what got me buying that book. So that was my favorite thing about the third movie, finally getting to see MY guy up there. And Kelsey Grammer in X-Men 3 was just perfect, he really nailed it for me.

Jean is my favorite X-Men character because the whole inner struggle with Phoenix really fascinates me, and her powers are really cool.

No argument, those are great character things that produce tension and drama; but I have the advantage of years. Or the curse, rather. After thirty-some years you start to wish Jean would either solve her problem or not, but geez, lady, find something new to think about. It’s the reason I didn’t mind too much when she got killed off again.

Wolverine is my second favorite because he’s a great fighter, someone I’d like on my side if I was ever in a battle. Plus he’s sort of the comic relief of the team.

Hugh Jackman rehabilitated Wolverine for me. Period. He never did much for me in the comics but in the movies he’s a great character. In fact, the closer the X-books get to the simplified, condensed versions of the characters you see in the movies, the better I like them.

Rogue would be third because she’s a teenager, therefore I can relate more to her, and also because it’s interesting to see how she develops as a person because of her powers.

Ah, but you see, in the comics that’s not really Rogue. That’s more Kitty Pryde. The movies kind of mashed up Rogue and Kitty and as a result I think we got something that was better than either one of the originals. Pity there’s no way to really do that version in the books.

Especially since, in the comics, Rogue was always paired with Gambit for the most part and Gambit is extremely annoying.

Most annoying couple in comics.

Chris Claremont had a bad habit of defining his characters with their accents and Gambit’s Cajun accent is just grating to read. It’s petty, but there it is.

And then Scott because he’s the leader, smart, responsible, and strong: perfect boyfriend material. lol.

The ladies love Scott. Especially in the comics. Only in the movies is Wolverine the X-Men’s resident heartthrob.

I’ll try and get some of those books you were mentioning: they seem really interesting!!

Thanks for answering all my questions! :)

When I put this up I daresay you’ll have a lot of other folks chiming in. Comics fans love giving advice, especially opinions about what’s good to read and what you should skip.

Speaking of, I’m sure the rest of you out there have thoughts about what Rachel should look into. Feel free to jump in, but let’s try to remember that Rachel is a high school freshman and on a budget. And I’m certain there are those among you who are dying to set Rachel straight about things I got wrong.

And with that, I’ll shut up and let the rest of you have at it. See you next week.

95 Comments

Neat wrap-up for those of us who haven’t really read an X-Men comic (except for X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, which doesn’t really count) since about the time Byrne took over for Cockrum … Thanks!

Not sure when the Danger Room’s holograms came in, but it was definitely before ST: TNG. I remember its use in Uncanny 201, which came out in 1986. (TNG started in 87)

The first appearance of the holographic Danger Room that I recall was in UXM 175, when Scott used it to successfully take on the entire rest of the team. As late as the Byrne era it was the old hammers’n'robots DR, so if that wasn’t the first appearance it must have been somewhere between the two.

Yeah, I can’t think of an early appearance of the holographic Danger Room before UXM 175.

If memory serves, the mansion was destroyed in the mid-150s, when Corsair crashed into it on the run from Sidri Hunters. Then the X-Men went hung out in Magneto’s old Bermuda triangle base before going into space for the big Brood storyline, which was when Xavier thought they were dead and formed the New Mutants. By the time the X-Men made it back from space, the mansion was rebuilt, presumably with the new holographic Danger Room. Which makes sense since “advanced Shi’Ar technology” was always the excuse for how the X-Men had such a sophisticated and unworldly holographic room and Xavier was back in his alien empress girlfriend’s good graces by then.

Oh, and Greg, I also share yours and Rachel’s disdain for the way the X-Men movies made a chump out of Cyclops. Ten minutes after watching X3 I was able to come up with a way to keep him in the movie, pay respect to his and Jean’s storyline, and still give Wolverine the big, romantic, heroic moment at the end, all without changing much of what was already on film.

Personally, I blame Halle Berry :)

Loved the column, Greg, but feel compelled to point out that wolverines are not “small rodents” but the world’s largest mustelid (i.e., weasel).

Good choices for the books you gave Rachel.

One of the things I really like about God Loves, Man Kills is that, unlike 99.987349% of all the other X-Men stories out there, it really does function well as a stand-alone story. Everything a first-time reader needs to know is brought up in the story, and anything that isn’t important to the main story is convienently off-panel. For years before the movies came out, if someone asked me about the X-Men and what it was all about, I would loan them my spare copy of GLMK. They could read and enjoy it on its own, without having to figure out references to earlier stories; even the Thomas/Adams run and the Drak Phoenix Saga can’t claim that.

‘Drak’ instead of ‘Dark’? Blargh. I are an idiot…

A wolverine is a large member of the weasel family, not a rodent. They are also one of the most aggressive animals on earth when threatened. Len did his research. Much of Wolverine’s personality is well established in Giant Sized X-men #1. As Chris has said, Len gave him a lot to build on.

I’ve listened to George R.R. Martin go on at length about Nightcrawler to Len in our living room about Kurt being GRRM’s favorite of the New X-men. Len is almost as crazy about Alan Cummings performance as Nightcrawler as he is about Hugh’s as Wolverine. We both would have preferred Iman as Storm.

Nightcrawler/Mystique. Allegedly, Claremont’s intention had been for her to be Kurt’s father, not mother, but he never got around to the story, so it got turned into something else (likewise, Sabertooth was always Wolverine’s father, but he never said it in a comic, only in an interview in ..X-Men Interviews 1 (that might not be the right name).

FTR: Rogue was indeed a teen girl who formed an attachment to Wolverine. She was an older teen than Kitty, but she’s there in the pantheon of Logan’s girl companions between Kitty and Jubillee.

(Btw, it was Jim Lee who made Jubilee Robinesque when he came on board. She’d been around for a while with no Robin tendencies.)

Xavier is starring in Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy. It’s pretty good, and should appeal to a continuity buff like yourself.

Man, that takes me back. I’m positive I asked about half those questions when I started with the X-Books (my first comics for that matter too). It was X-Men: TAS that got me hooked. Since that was before the internet I was fortunate that my comic shop guys were nice to provide me with answers.

Oddly enough my first issue ever was a reprint of the Thomas and Adam’s Savage Land adventure. Also it’s nice to see that Nightcrawler was as beloved by others as he was by me. Too bad he’s fairly superfluous now (and Beast had some excellent moments in both TAS and 90′s X-Men and it’s a shame what’s happened since).

Based upon Rachel’s preferences, the other block of stories that I’d suggest would be:
Wolverine V1 1-4 – Claremont and Miller
Uncanny Xmen – 172-174 Claremont and Paul Smith (?)

These feature one of the quintessential Wolverine stories. (And the one that I think –outside of Byrne’s take on the character — is most responsible for his place as a comic book icon today). Some much of the essential take on Wolvie comes into play big here…and it’s a great action comic as well.

And of course, it ties into a sequel story in Uncanny which also serves as Rogue’s introduction to the team. This take on Rogue is a bit closer to the movie version…She’s still much more powerful than the movie version. But she’s an outsider from the team, unsure of herself, and a bit vulnerable. Visually, she hadn’t morphed into the Southern Belle sexbomb that she eventually became in the 1990s.

The interaction between Wolvie and Rogue at the end of the arc are just great.

The Paul Smith era in general is another high point of the book for me. The Brood Saga (UXM 160ish) is a fun sci-fi piece that rips off the Alien movies wonderful and is one of my favorite X-Men in space stories. UXM 175 is a fave as well considering how well it shows Cyclops’ abilities.

Claremont’s still involved, he’s writing for New Excalibur, Exiles, and GenNext (or whatever it is).

Which issue is this picture from?

Wow thanks so much for putting this up in a column, Greg!!! And thanks so much for answering all my questions in detail!! :D

That was a fun read, thanks!
But where were all the Rachels when I was a freshman in high school…

Which issue is this picture from?

The page with Emma teasing Scott by dressing like Phoenix? That’s from New X-Men #131, with, appropriately enough, a very cosmopolitan Ms. Frost on the cover, drink in hand.

Arrrgh, reading this has got me all nostalgic for the times I used to collect X-men comics. I discovered American comics JUST in time to miss the Dark Phoenix Saga, dang my luck. (I did read it years later in a reprint.) Still, I followed the series slavishly for years, even during the awful storylines like “Inferno”. But by the late 90′s, there were just too many spinoffs and too many changes I didn’t like (plus comics were getting too expensive) so I found myself dropping it, shortly before the Morrison run. I have never really returned, though I still occasionally check it out. And I still have a hard time swallowing Emma Frost as a replacement for Jean, though to be fair I missed the stories leading to that, and the pages you showed us, Greg, implies her being better written than I expected. She’s still too bitchy for my liking, though, and we all know Jean WILL return someday. So I guess Emma/Scott will simply not last.

Somebody let me know when X-Men gets back to a manageable level of titles and angst. (And prices.)

Noooo! Spider-man is sooo much better than the X-men.

Tell her Spider-man is better than the X-men! That’s important.

Hey, Greg, a wolverine is not a rodent, but a weasel.

Yeah, I remember watching the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” pilot where they introduced the holodeck and thinking “oh, it’s just like the danger room in X-Men”.

An early version of the holodeck appeared in the Star Trek animated series in the ’70s, so Star Trek still beat them to the post on this one. (Though as Wikipedia points out, the concept goes at least as far back as Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man,” from 1951.)

Wow, I learnt a lot from this column. Not about the X-Men, but about weasels. Mind you, for anyone who was still confused as I was (I had to look it up) weasels are in the Order Carnivora, not Rodentia and to be more specific they are caniforms. I knew that wolverines were weasels, but always assumed weasels were rodents. Those still interested in rodents might like to know that rabbits and the like aren’t rodents either but members of the Order Lagomorpha.

I’d sure like someone to buy me comics. Not because I can’t afford them, I’m just cheap.

Hey!
That book about the hippie shooting the Martians got pretty darned good after a slow first couple of issues.

You should find a few Killraven back issues for Rachel.

Hey!

That book about the hippie shooting the Martians got pretty darned good after a slow first couple of issues.

You should find a few Killraven back issues for Rachel.

It took me a while to get over Hank getting canceled, but I did eventually come around. I have the Essential Killraven here somewhere.

It just cracks me up that Killraven did so much better in Amazing Adventures than the Inhumans, the Black Widow, and the Beast COMBINED…. and a Killraven scripted by Don McGregor, no less. Imagine trying to get a similarly non-commercial strip off the ground today against that kind of competition and you get a sense of what a different time it was.

Hey, Greg, a wolverine is not a rodent, but a weasel.

I forget sometimes how many of us are science nerds. Even my wife busted me on this. Julie’s high school football team was the Wolverines, and apparently she’s touchy about such references. After correcting me, she added, “And go Paws!”

Who knew this would be the point everyone seized on? Look, I’m an arts guy. I doodled my way through biology class.

What the hell’s wrong with X-Cutioner’s Song?!?! i loved that saga when i was a kid!

(And I swear, Sinister cloned Jean and captured Scott in X-3. They’re both out there, waiting for the Cyclops and Phoenix Movie)

I love how you just bash Gambit. If anything Gambit is still one of the most popular characters in Marvel and has one of the most loyal fanbases. It’s just that HE has been paired with ROGUE. He lost what made him Gambit. So next time I suggest you not bash a character so that others will form their opinion. Just wait and see how popular he will get again with the Wolverine movie.

Wolverine wasn’t really a villain. He was an agent of the Canadian government sent to stop the Hulk from rampaging across the great white north. And I believe that was his only appearance before joining the X-Men.

Here’s an X-Men story to recommend to Rachel: Days of Future Past. It blew my mind when I was her age.

Ahem… Rogue was not *nearly* always paired with Gambit. That started in 1993-ish (12 years after her debut, I might add) when they switched writers and the comic started to go downhill. Then, when new writers came, they couldn’t be bothered to unload it.

She was always my favorite character, but when Rogue’s stories became more about Gambit than about Rogue, I stopped reading.

Is Gambit still one of the most popular characters in Marvel?
I thought everyone got bored of him ages ago.
I’m looking forward to seeing him in the Wolverine movie, but when re-reading his older appearances… Ugh.

“People forget sometimes that it’s FICTION and that writers put their characters under pressure for a reason. ”

You just described a very high percentage of the X-Men fanbase with this sentence. Or at least the ones I run into.

Folks, you certainly can vent at me if you want, but I think it would be more fun if you chimed in with WHY I’m wrong and suggest some story for X-newbies to read that would prove it. For example, I can completely believe that things went downhill for Rogue in the 90′s as Amelia says– God knows most comics went downhill then — but if there are some good Rogue stories before then that you want to recommend, let’s hear about them.

I’m the first to admit that my grasp on X-history gets a bit tenuous after the early 80′s or so. One of the reasons I wanted to go ahead and put all this up as a column was the notion that other folks besides me might have suggestions for Rachel. Rob brought up Days of Future Past, which I thought was such a great one I went ahead and put in the link to it in his comment. That kind of thing.

Just to give her an example of a recent X-Men series, I thought “Messiah Complex” was very well done, especially in comparison to X-crossovers of the past. Just whatever you do, tell her to stay away from Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men run, lol.

Good Rogue stories … man, there are few. The issues where she’s in the Savage Land right before the big revamp and split of the teams in 1991 are the only ones that come to mind. She was separated from Carol and fought Zaladane, with Ka-Zar and Nick Fury and Magneto guest-starring. It was overshadowed by the “X-Men in Space” storyline in which Xavier was replaced by a Skrull (wow, what a concept!), but it was a pretty good arc. I have no idea if it’s part of a trade collection or not. It’s around issues #270-275 or so.

I have no idea if it’s part of a trade collection or not. It’s around issues #270-275 or so.

Not that I could find. I’ve been going in and putting in links to the books myself when I can (easier than asking commenters to do it and make them deal with our spam filter) but the Essential X-Men reprints haven’t quite gotten up that high yet and there doesn’t seem to be an individual collection. Still, it’s good to know.

Honestly, for someone whose first exposure to the X-characters was the movies, I think the first few trades of the Ultimate X-Men series (The Millar/Kubert stuff) would be worth picking up.

Nice column, Greg. I already knew all of this stuff, but it’s nice to see it laid out well.

To utilize your comment about a reader’s Golden Age of Comics, Inferno was the first big X-Men crossover I read as a youth and I enjoyed the heck out of it. Similarly, I know there are fans out there of the post-Claremont era when I quit reading the X-books. Taste is relative :)

Some of my favorite X-Men stories occurred in the spin-off books. The first 25 issues or so of Excalibur were good fun, and Peter David’s X-Factor utilized a disparate group of b-list X-Men to good effect. I came to both series with little previous knowledge of the characters and didn’t feel like I was missing much in the way of backstory. They are currently available in TPB as multiple volumes of Excalibur Classic and X-Factor Visionaries: Peter David, respectively.

There was an X-Men Visionaries: Jim Lee volume published in 2002 that reprints the Rogue in the Savage Land story, I think. It is out of print, but you might see it at Half-Price Books or other equivalent retailer. And speaking of Half-Price Books, you should check out the Capitol Hill store in Seattle. Out of all the ones I’ve visited in the Seattle area, the Capitol Hill store has the largest selection with new stuff coming in every day.

Another suggestion is the Asgardian Wars TPB. It is also out of print, but if you stumble across a copy, it is a good read. I always enjoy X-Men stories that see them being thrown into different types of stories whether it be sci-fi (all the Shi’ar stories), horror (Inferno, more or less) and in this case, high fantasy. It was my introduction to the New Mutants, as well as having a chunk of beautiful artwork by Art Adams. I was primed and ready for this story though, as the first X-Men book I ever read was Uncanny X-Men Annual #12, which has story threads that spin out from the issues collected in this TPB. When I was first getting into the X-Men, I just loved tracing the story threads backwards as I picked up more back issues and TPBs.

Someone said that at some point Rogue was a teen sidekick of Wolverine’s, between Kitty and Jubilee, or something along those lines. I think that’s wrong, I specifically remember Wolverine and Rogue drinking beer together early on in her X-Men career. I think it was Uncanny 201 during the baseball game, only 30 issues after she joined the team. Soon after reforming and trying to prove herself Rogue accompanied Logan on a mission, in Japan I believe, he may have mentored her a little but that’s the extent of it. There was never a time that I thought Rogue was a teen and I certainly wouldn’t categorize her with Kitty and Jubilee. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not trying to bash anyone’s posts, this is just the way I see it.

Anyway I started reading X-Men during The Mutant Massacre and was instantly hooked. I do miss the days when Wolverine would get severely hurt and you actually thought he might not make it. I still love him, he’s still my boy, but he’s just too over powered these days. My dream team has to be the Australian Outback line up. Sure some people don’t like Inferno and I get that, but I’m one of the few who hate when they go to space, that’s just me and I know I’m in the minority on that.

Towards the end of the Australian years, when they got their asses kicked by Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers, was just awesome. Storm was dead, Rogue got sucked into the Siege Perilous and Wolverine was off on his own (soon to be crucified). The remaining team, on the run had no choice but to retreat through the Siege Perilous or die.

The following stories with Banshee and Forge returning to track down and reform the presumed-dead X-Men were fantastic. The new characters and new direction the book went was great, but what made that whole time period special was the re-discovery of the various team members we had lost. Everyone that went through the Siege Perilous came out on the other side in a completely unexpected way. It was fantastic, I never thought I’d see the Mandarin of all people in the pages of X-Men, and it all culminated in the launch of what would be the second monthly X-Men book, I was lovin life.

Anyway, I could go on forever. The X-Men are my bread and butter as far as comics are concerned. When life rears its ugly head and I have to stop collecting, X-Men are the last to go, and when things turn around they’re the first books I pick up.

I love my X-Men.

From one Greg to another, let me say, “Great article” and one that is necessary for anyone diving in to the on-going story of The X-Men.

I had heard about how great The X-Men were from a friend in Jr. High School and I found a copy of UXM #200 at a flea market and was hooked and I had to know every detail that lead up to it. I then started reading the recent monthly stories (post X-Tinction Agenda) and quickly starting buying up old issues w/allowance money or borrowing from friends. Then to have most of Claremont’s threads finally come to a conclusion in a year or two; it was big stuff.

I’d recommend the Bill Sienkiewicz-era of “New Mutants” as well. While only a few issues have been collected in a TPB, one can usually find the individual issues for reasonable prices. To go from Bob McLeod to Bill Sienkiewicz in one issue…major transformation. Great era of the X-books too. Claremont writing both w/John Romita Jr on “Uncanny” and Sienkiewicz on “New Mutants”.

Some guy:
“Gambit is still one of the most popular characters in Marvel and has one of the most loyal fanbases.”

Maybe, but it’s also well known that he also has one of the most rabid group of detractors, which is at least as large as his fan base (I’d venture to say larger, but it’s not like I have any statistics). You can hardly have been on the internet and reading things people say about the X-Men without noticing this. Personally, I can’t stand him, and get a kick out of Gambit-bashing, but I’m not trying to deny your right to an opinion, just expressing surprise that you find it odd or even out of line that someone outlining a general X-history would take advantage of the opportunity to get a little dig in.

Anyway…
Say, has anyone corrected Greg about wolverines not being rodents but weasels yet?
(Sound of crickets…)

Anyone looking for good Rogue issues should read the first year of Mike Carey’s run, X-Men 188-200 or so. As well as those previously mentioned.

Gambit’s great when he’s done well, although that’s even rarer than it is for Rogue; I’d say that’s ONLY in his first year, under Claremont (266-280), a few scattered appearances during the Seagle/Kelly run, and then lately under Carey’s tenure. All the other appearances are… well, they’re why he’s got so many rabid detractors.

I never actually knew about Wolverine’s initial unpopularity. That’s fascinating!

Some websites that were really helpful to me included uncannyxmen.net (good for their character bios) and mutanthigh.com, especially since I was poor/student when I got into the X-men comics and couldn’t afford them.

I too first became interested in X-Men:TAS, in addition to a few hand-me down copies of Uncanny when Joe Mad was artist and Rogue and that were in Shiar space. My first ‘official’ comic was Xtreme X-Men, since I loved (and still love) Rogue and Gambit. I now collect all X-Men comics and while it can be hit and miss in the writing (Austin!!) and the art, I love the X-Men. By extension Cable and Deadpool are a must read.

Wasn’t that impressed with the movies, especially since seeing how awesome Ironman (a character I despise) was. I really didn’t like the direction they took with Rogue but hey, that’s just me!

About Gambit.

I’ve heard/read much hate thrown towards Gambit’s direction over the past few years. When he was introduced, Gambit was everything a fan of the X-Men was looking for. Uncanny was in a place it had never been. Not only was there no set team but the X-Men us as readers had gottm to know over the previous years were scattered.

Gambit couldn’t have been introduced at a better time. He was a bad-ass, mysterious and had a great look, plus I’m sure I’m not the only one that was convinced he and Storm were going to be an item when she inevitably regained her proper age.

I’ll keep it short for you guys, but when Storm became an adult again and basically ran straight to Forge, I felt kind of ripped off. To this day I think that a love triangle between the three of them should have been at the very least a recurring theme for a while. What we’re left with is a blown opportunity to develop characters that never quite lived up to their potential.

Of course I’m referring to Storm and Forge. Storm has never been as compelling as she was when she was de-powered and sporting the Mohawk and black leather. When Forge was doing all of his mystic stuff in Dallas during the Fall of the Mutants you knew that he genuinely cared for the X-Men. When he had to watch them die to save the world you could almost feel his heart breaking. IMHO, neither one of these two have since come close to matching the greatness of twenty years ago.

That brings us back to Gambit. It’s very simple why so many can’t stand him now. You see Marvel has a few “whores” that they can rely on to sell books. If you slap Wolverine or Spider-Man on the cover of a book they don’t belong in, people will buy it. In the nineties it was out of control and Marvel had a stable of new “Hot” characters to milk, namely Punisher, Ghost Rider and Gambit.

Spider-Man And Wolverine are one thing, but these other guys are niche at best. Parker and Logan had already stood the test of time, you could and still can “whore” them out without the fear of hurting an established fan base.

Quit simply, Gambit never had a chance. He was Marvel’s new bad-boy and everyone loved him. The hinted at tension between him and Logan established for the first time (in my eyes) that Wolverine was truly an X-Man, something that fans (I) wanted for years. In some ways you could make the argument that Gambit had became the new Wolverine.

I think that’s part of the problem, Gambit stole a little bit of Wolverine’s thunder. No longer was Logan the X-Men’s uncontrollable bad-boy. Intentionally or not, the torch had been passed.

For the first few years, it was still “really good” though. The blossoming relationship between Remy and Rogue was, at the time, perfect, it felt right somehow. Add in the tension with Bishop, the other new “bad-ass” and you had two books I lost sleep over anticipating.

Where did it all go wrong? The first Gambit mini series. Mediocre at best, but at the time, damn was I excited for it.

Whoever was running the show back int he day failed to realize that Wolverine and Spider-Man had decades of stories and more importantly decades of fans in their corners. Gambit was doomed seconds after his first fan letter was opened.

Over the years I’ve gotten used to Wolverine being all over the place. I like the Avengers as much as the next guy but I’m sorry, Wolverine should not be an Avenger.

Gambit = Wasted Potential. Sorry bro, you never had a chance.

This was a fascinating article, however I think the the writer should give his friend 2 more reprint volumes

if she wants to know what the story behind the blue beast is Marvel reprinted it last month in MARVEL MASTER WORKS VOL 105 The X-men it also has a story explaining how the Havok Lorna and Iceman triangle seemed to be resolved at the end

if she want to know about Rogue his friend should get a copy of the trade paperback XMEN FROM THE ASHES

then INFERNO because lets face it FROM THE ASHES led to a lot more questions that are answered in INFERNO

Boy corrections? Uh … little mention of X-Factor … might be a good thought. Don’t want her to just trip into the info that Scott went stupid and just left his wife for Jean…

However, my big correction? The Southcenter Half-Price books … never has that big of a selection when I’m there … the ones closer to downtown Seattle, those have selection! (Yes I love Half-Price books! Fabulous place … so much good stuff.)

Speaking of Half-Price books perhaps some X-Men novels might be enjoyable reads, just so she can have her Rogue fix…

And Gambit is annoying in the same sense Wolverine is annoying … IMHO.

Vedit

Gambit was the new X-Men when I started reading. He’d been around for about ten issues, and I went and got those back issues (and many, many earlier ones) right away. I agree with Will that his introduction to the book was fucking exciting, at the time, especially when he was just a debonair, thief-turned hero, before they tried to play up the whole dark-and-mysterious thing.

Forge and Storm were (along with Colossus) the other characters I dug most at the time. “Lifedeath” is still probably my favorite pre-Morrison X-Men story. All of Forge’s appearances in the 80′s were cool, from the romance with Storm, to the shamanistic finale to Fall of the Mutants, to his cobbling together of the outback team with Banshee. I personally never saw Gambit and Storm getting together; Forge was the love of her life, and Remy was much more like a big brother to her were much more brother and sister, which was a brilliant touch because once Storm had returned to normalcy she would’ve become the wiser older sister to him of course… but after Claremont left it all went to pot.

The original X-Men of the 60s, and the second generation of X-Men with Kitty included all seemed to continue to be strong characters even when they were poorly written by lesser writers early on… but those who only had a few years under Claremont before the ’90s got a hold of the X-Men were all but ruined. Gambit was hit the hardest, partly because he was so new and partly, as will says, because he was so goddamn popular. I’d say his road to perdition was sealed a bit earlier than his first limited series; in the moment he guest-starred outside an X-book for the first time, in NOMAD of all places. But as soon as Claremont left it went down hill, in my opinion. The writers put Rogue and Remy together on the strength of four fan letters, because they were both from the south. I don’t think it ever worked. And because they wanted to cash in on the whole dark-and-mysterious ’90s trend, they took away most of Gambit’s flair and joie-de-vivre and replaced it first with edginess and then grimness, brooding, sulking, etc., at the same time they took all the badass out of Rogue and turned her into an emotional wreck.

I say “all but ruined” because I think any character can be rehabilitated. Mike Carey’s done a wonderful job with Rogue, and he’s getting there with Gambit. We STILL haven’t seen anything truly useful done with Forge since 1990, and as he’s one of my absolute favorite Marvel characters I’m rather saddened by that. He wound up the leader of the worst X-run ever, Howard Mackie’s X-Factor (ok, it’s between that and Hama’s Gen X), ham-fisted into a role that only accomodated half of his character in the mystique series, and his generally been otherwise sidelined for nigh 20 years. I did actually like his story in “Divided We Stand” (though I’m not usually a fan of Swiercyzinski, sp?) and I think in the right hands the idea of Forge locking himself away in his lab, pondering the secrets of time, could prove tremendously fruitful.

I’m optimistic, because right now I think all three core X-Men books are in the hands of talented visionary writers (I can hardly believe I’m saying that after all these years), and if any one of them really started to develop Forge’s character, he’d be set. The franchise, as it were, is far and away in the best shape it’s been since Morrison. Perhaps all our dusty, broken toys are going to be fixed off and polished for a new generation of X-readers. One can hope.

“In the nineties it was out of control and Marvel had a stable of new ‘Hot’ characters to milk, namely Punisher, Ghost Rider and Gambit.”

And Venom too.

Your favorite X-Men really does depend on when you started reading. I was 7 years old and X-Men #1 just came out. I barely knew what was going on in that book but it was fun trying to figure it all out. A year later X-Men The Animated Series came out. Those 9 X-Men defined the X-Men for me. Right age, right time, I was hooked. It got me interested in finding out the comic version of the stories (and it had the coolest opening credits and theme song in animated superhero history).

So don’t be mad if I think:
- Gambit IS NOT annoying and should be with Rogue
- Jubilee is COOL (Kitty who? . . . the cartoon never had Shadowcat, or Rachel, either)…she’s got potential…
- Prof. X shouldn’t be so conniving and corrupt
- Movie Rogue is the ABSOLUTE WORST . . . My Rogue is a BAD ASS!
- Gambit, Rogue, Storm, Jean, Wolverine, Cyclops and Prof. X just ARE the X-Men to me

When one of them is not on a current team it feels incomplete (so that’s most of the time, I guess…it’s hard getting that mix together). From reading the comics I like Nightcrawler, so he’s on my favorite list, too, but I find that many older readers disagree with my views of what makes a good X-Men. . . a Pixie sure doesn’t…

Alright I have to agree. I mean my first major issue of X-Men was 266. I bought Uncanny 240 trying to figure out what this Inferno was affecting my Spidey titles. Back then though I had a “friend” who got into the hobby because he wanted to one up me. We went to the local gas station to get comics and they had one copy of New Warriors 1, which I wanted because I thought it looked cool. He snatched it and told me to get that “stupid X-Men comic” which was Uncanny 266. And now … I own almost every X-Men appearance … and that New Warriors 1 too… ^_- So Gambit doesn’t bother me and I do like him. The animated series helped with that… but he like Wolverine is more varied in talents and personality then say … Cyclops through much of the 90′s X-Men. Until recently had little personality beyond “me leader” “must be leader” … though Gambit has had his fair share of “no personality moments” though his current handling in X-Men Legacy has been nice.

Hey you want to give Rachel a continuity question fest? Let her read X-Men Legacy!

And I will stand by Wolverine Origin by the way. Just me. Please no “I hate that title!” We already have enough haters.

Vedit

“The remaining team, on the run had no choice but to retreat through the Siege Perilous or die.”

Just to show that taste is relative, I have to confess that I utterly LOATHE that story.

‘Oh noes, we’re outnumbered four-to-four… WE MUST FLEE!!!’

I don’t know what Claremont was smoking that day, but it wasn’t the good stuff.

Just a couple of nitpicks:

Regarding the Beast. As I’ve always understood it, and as Wikipedia claims, “Hank isolates a “hormonal extract” allowing anyone to become a mutant for a short period of time, and uses the mutagenic serum on himself to disguise his appearance while foiling an attempt to steal his research.[10] However, he waits too long to reverse the process, leaving him permanently transformed. ”

As for the Nightcrawler/Mystique thing, hints at their relationship were brought up the first time they met, when Mystique taunted Kurt without explaining anything. It appears as though at one point, Claremont wanted Mystique to be the -father-, courtesy of her shapeshifting, but Marvel balked and ultimately, her role as mother was revealed. I think Comic Book (Urban) Legends Revealed has the full scoop on that.

Marianne Raleigh Cox Wallower

November 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Something tells me I shouldn’t read this, lest suffer brain damage.

I like Gambit he has alway been a character who if he had the writer like Mike carey Howard Mackie and some times Fabian Niecasa could shine every bit as bright as Wolverine.

sadly with the wrong writer like Chuck Austen and the writer of the last ongoing could suck just as bad.

I believe Marvel has mishandeld the character in other ways then just bad writers. I have often thought Gambit and Rogue were the Luke and Laura (General hospital )of the Marvel universe if Marvel had been smart they would have done what DC just did with Green Arrow and the Black Canery. Not marriying them off but they could have written as an ongoing team up book. I know some female readers liked that pairing as did Brian Woods. ( NYX is one of my favorite books but I do wonder what would have happend if the Woods had been able do his first pitch )

good day

Oops, looks like my last comment sounded angrier than I actually meant it… I just get so much crap from my friends for liking Rogue because of her association with Gambit, and I’m always quick to defend.

I second the suggestion on her Savage Land story (UXM 269, 274-275). I also like the lead-up in Australia with the Siege Perilous (around UXM 247). Despite some really unfortunate art/clothing/hair-choices, the story when she first joined the team is kind of fun (UXM 171 and the few issues after that with Wolverine – I think they were in Japan for an attempted wedding…). That’s the story where she won Wolverine’s trust, and if she likes the dynamic between Rogue and Wolverine in the movie, she might really like this story.

Dunno if any of that is in a trade though.

I loved the X-Men as a kid, but I picked a crappy time to be a young X-Men fan (I started buying a little before the Fox cartoon- I have a hard time reading those books anymore…).

I agree with you that the stream lining of the movies is a good thing. I can’t really read anything outside of my favorite two runs (claremont/byrne and morrison) as things quickly seem to get too complicated. Whedon’s was ok. My first intro to the X-Men was a video of Pryde of the X-Men, so I’ve always had a soft spot for Kitty- which Whedon’s run scratched, but it had its share of problems. Anyway, I’d recommend Claremont/Byrne and Morrison’s runs for just about anyone. I really wish that I could have liked Ultimate X-Men because if any comic needed a new continuity-lite iteration, it was the X-Men (Unfortunately, I thoroughly hated what Millar did on that title).

Some guy:
“Please no ‘I hate that title!’ We already have enough haters.”

The use of this argument never fails to annoy me.

I must have started buying at the same time as you, Greg, because my list would have been identical. Great summary. My first issue was Byrne’s first on Uncanny, from a rotating rack in a 7-11 up the hill from my brother’s soccer games, so I just got a nostalgia rush.

Don’t know if it was mentioned above but (I think) Rogue was introduced in an Avengers Annual by Claremont which had incredible art by Michael Golden. X-Men, Avengers, Brotherhood, Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel. Lots of beautifully rendered exploding concrete walls.

Ah, The X-Men..I have to agree that the Byrne/Claremont run was the best. Those guys were like the Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of comics. Byrne would have to be Jordan–his talent as both a writer and artist taxes a thesaurus for adjectives. Claremont would be Pippen–a major talent to be sure, but his star doesn’t shine as brightly as the former.

My major gripe with The X-Men has always been the Sentinel program. I hate them like I hate The Dallas Cowboys and as a Pitsburgh Steelers fan, I really, really hate the Cowboys. The whole “giant robots hunting mutants” thing is just silly. The government uses giant robots to hunt mutants, but uses regular flesh and blood humans to deal with the Hulk? That makes about as much sense as an investigative reporter being fooled by a pair of glasses as a disguise.

Just a few comments:

-Get Rachel to read the Proteus story by Claremont/Byrne, it’s one of my favorites.

-I prefer the Rogue of the movies myself, not so much for the character, but because she only has her absorbing mutant powers and not the stupid Danvers flight/strenght/invulnerability. I get that she would be fairly useless as an active member of the team without that, but I find it lame that she absorbed them permanently.

-The “Mystique is Nightcrawler’s father” story wasnt completely wasted: South Park used it for Cartman.

-To those that say Gambit and Storm should have started a romantic relationship after she was re-aged: maybe he just lost interest once she became an adult. (cue big collective “EWWWWWW”)

Yeah, those wolverines are nasty little weasels. As I recall, even grizzly bears won’t mess with an angry wolverine, so that tells you something.

Ooo, I hate Emma, insomuch as I actually hate any fictional character.

Alright, strongly dislike.

I have a bias though. Most of my early X-Men exposure was the Fox cartoon made by Saban. Yes, I liked it, and they did a lot of fairly straight comic story adaptions, it seems. In the “No accounting for taste” category, I also liked Gambit. :p But then, I wasn’t reading him.

Personally, I found the myriad assortment of X-Men comic books way too fracking confusing. Perry got me hooked on New Mutants though, and Dani Moonstar has become one of my most favorite characters EVER. She had a one second cameo in the first film: the native american student with the choker. This is also my main source for completely distrusting Emma. I keep waiting for her to turn on the X-Men. In fairness, I haven’t kept up with most of the new books. But even when she’s not evil she is so fracking BITCHY. And she kicked Dani out of the school after she lost her powers in the pile of BS that was House of M.

The old New Mutants books are awesome, until you get near the end of the run. The new ones are pretty good too. :) They started collecting the old New Mutants in trades called X-Men: New Mutants Classic, but they seem to have stopped. I suggest picking them up or checking the library if you get the chance though. :)

I am a few years behind at this point, but I REALLY liked Ultimate X-Men. It let me dodge the five thousand characters I didn’t know who would pop up without reference and get some story. :) A few of the character rewrites had me going eennnnhh at first, but they grew on me.

Speaking of things confiscated in school.. just make sure you don’t kill your homework because you’re reading fun stuff! :) I had a novel confiscated for hiding it my science book and reading it in 8th grade, so I can commiserate.

Probably the single largest group of comics I own in my collection is the collective X-titles, and of those, Uncanny X-Men rules that roost. As a kid with a $5/week allowance and the nearest comic shop about 25 miles away, I had a severe handicap in my comics collecting abilities. Most of the time I was only able to pick up an issue here and there, very rarely was I able to follow through very many consecutive issues on a title, so my main purchasing method back then was to try to find done-in-one issues or concluding chapters in stories (Marvel always did such a good job of doing story and character summaries in-story that it didn’t bother me much to not have the previous chapters as long as I had the conclusion).

My collecting heyday as a kid was from about ’87-’93/’94 or so, and by the end of that I was much more into the independent companies than the Big 2. Over the intervening years, though, I would still pick up trades and collections that would grab my attention, and as of last Spring, I am officially back in the comics game. I’ve picked up every volume of Essential Uncanny X-Men (currently 8), and have done much back-issue diving to pick up large chunks of the mid- to late- 200′s run of Uncanny.

As much as I love the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne era–and I do love it–my heart really lies with the Claremont/Silvestri/Lee era, which is where Uncanny was when I got into X-Men, but my very first X-Men comic was an issue of Classic X-Men reprinting the “Wolverine vs. Hellfire Club” chapter of the Dark Phoenix saga, so I consider myself equally grounded in the Byrne and Silvestri/Lee eras.

As for a suggestion of what to read, I’ve got a soft spot for the X-tinction Agenda and X-cutioner’s Song stories, they just seemed to epic to my middle and jr. high school mind.

My suggestion would be for her to read the original Brood Saga – Uncanny X-men 161-166.
Anything Chris Claremont did prior to Fall of the Mutants was golden. Anything after you really have to cherry pick.

I would strongly recommend the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine miniseries from the 80s–good, solid character-based adventure that pretty much defines the Kitty/Logan dynamic. Plus, ninjas.

I agree that Rogue fans should check out Mike Carey’s run on X-men. He had a good handle on her character (as well as Iceman and Cannonball, IMO). Actually, now that i think about it, Carey was pretty dead on with all his characterizations. He’s gone a long way in salvaging the mess that were the X-men comics, and I hope he sticks around.

I also enjoyed the cartoon X-Men Evolution’s interpretation of Rogue. It seemed to fit that someone with her powers would be more conflicted and reclusive, than the happy-go-lucky belle that was featured in the comics for so long.

I’ll second the recommendation of the ‘Kitty Pryde & Wolverine’ mini. It’s well worth reading.

Whoa! A high school girl who reads comics? I’m one of only 4 or 5 guys that read comics at my H.S. and I don’t even know of any girls. Very cool. And I’d suggest Messiah CompleX. Awesome story.

The Messiah Complex is the X-Cutioners Song of its day and has some awesome parallels. Both center around Cable and the big bads of the time. In X-Cutioners Song it was Stryfe, Apocalypse, Cable and the Mutant Liberation Front, and Apocs.. Riders of the Dark or some foolishness… It was the type of crossover that was zany and melodramatic and played exactly into the X-men’s convoluted histories. You gotta love it.

For current X-men reading suggestions, I’d second the suggestion for reading the Messiah CompleX crossover. It’s one of the best X-crossover’s I’ve ever read, and is a great introduction to what’s going on in all the X-men series now. Also, Peter David’s current run X-Factor series has been excellent (except for the recent Secret Invasion crossover), and is only three or four trades in, so it would be easy to get caught up.

Also, I always have a difficult time finding much of a comics selection at the Half Price bookstores around Seattle. If you ever make it down to Portland, I recommend checking out Dark Horse’s retail store, “Things from Another World” for cheap trades. They have a huge scratch-n-dent section that’s always half off, including a bunch of X-titles, and there’s no sales tax, since it’s in Oregon. They have a website, too (www.tfaw.com), from which you can also buy the half-off stuff, but then you’d have to pay for shipping.

Rachel, X-men lore is rich and very convoluted. Can anyone say Psylocke and Kwannon? Jean Grey/Phoenix Madylene Pryor?
Oh yeah …Claremont had this thing where he would introduce a plotline … ie there would be Nimrod talking to his adopted family.. scanning for trouble … and we wouldn’t see Nimrod again for like four issues… doing the same thing. A few issues later the X-Men would fight him for the first time. There was none of this microwaveable storytelling. Claremont would introduce so many plot lines a book … heck remember all the Val Cooper sublots with a Russian diplomat that resembled Nick Fury. Does anyone remember him or know what I’m talking about…?

A great article, and a great way to give an insight into one what can be the most confusing of comic families.

I feel a bit cheap (but then I think what would Stan do?) but for those wanting more info may I recommend a little site that tries by the name of http://www.uncannyxmen.net

Apart from the full in-depth histories on major characters and the well over 4000 issue summaries, there is also an X-Men Primer article that may help.

In the Wolverine panel where he’s asking the guy if the guy can shoot Wolvie before he closes the five meter difference… that guy is wearing a mask right? How does he make the mask convey emotions like that??

I read this article hoping it would fill me in on some of the new (to me) people in Messiah Complex (like Mercury and Dust) but it didn’t really do that.

I just barely remember that stuff. What really fascinates me about the entire Claremont run is that once it really got going, there were only a couple of real “breaks” or clearly defined divisions between storylines. My early- to mid-’80s hold on the X-Men is a little spotty, but at least with the eras I’m familiar with, the story arcs were massive. Mutant Massacre pretty much goes through Fall of the Mutants (not sure about those issue #’s, so that may not have been a huge stretch), then post-Fall goes pretty much through the Siege Perilous issue, which after that pretty much stretches all the way to the Muir Island Saga.

After Muir Island began the adjective-less X-Men, X-Force, and gov’t-sponsored X-Factor era that saw the end of Claremont’s incredible run with the first 3 issues of X-Men. The beginning of that era started out really strong, though, with lots of great artists on all the X-titles, and some impressive writers, too (I just recently realized that John Byrne scripted Uncanny 281-283). X-Men had Jim Lee/Scott Williams for the first 11 issues, then Art Thibert for 2, then Andy Kubert through X-Cutioner’s Song and after, and Uncanny had Whilce Portacio for several issues, starting with 281, which was a perfect followup to Jim Lee.

^^^ referring to Omar Ford^^^^

Jersen, I think you have pretty much summarized most of the major X-stories by Claremont. Claremont could keep a subplot going and could produce a great comic – and give you strong character development. That’s rare these days.

If she loves Wolverine, you can’t do much better (after the first mini-series) than recommend the Essential Wolverine vol. 1. Claremont, Buscema, Peter David, Archie Goodwin, and John Byrne do a hell of a job on those first 20-something issues. And while a lot of Millar’s stuff isn’t my cup of tea, his run with John Romita Jr. on Enemy of the State and Agent of SHIELD was all kinds of fantastic.

FWIW the Russian Nick Fury look-a-like that Val Cooper was subplotting it up with back in the day was Colonel Vazhin, essentially Nick Fury’s Russian counterpart. He was involved in various international-themed Claremontian plots through the years.

Off the top of my head, I think he last appeared right after the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover, when he lead a group of government agents to kidnap Colossus’s sister, killing their parents in the process.

Joss Whedon’s work on Astonishing X-Men is the best I’ve read in a long time. There’s not a lot of continuity to worry about, each character is well-written (I like Cyclops and Frost, especially), and the whole thing is more or less from Pryde’s perspective. If you’re looking for something to recommend to a new reader, Astonishing X-Men’s it.

Here’s questions : has Rachel gotten annoyed with any of Claremont’s verbal tics? Does she like being reminded that Wolverine is the best there is at what he does … and what he does isn’t very nice? (Bonus question! WHAY WASN’T THAT LINE IN ANY OF THE MOVIES???) Or that the X-Men take care of their own? (Barring all the times they were lost in the Savage Land or space or Australia or … )

I’m very glad you told her “The Golden Age of Comics is Twelve.” That explains a lot about the industry, the internet, everything.

Last Question : What is it about giving girls comics that’s so much fun? Every girl I’ve dated has at some point read something and liked it. (One bought the entire Lone Wolf and Cub!) And I know (or at least assume) you’re not dating this girl but … aw, you know what I mean.

Smashing good article, btw.

Better by far, the proverbial lurch, cripes… flamin
The best, freshest truest sense of the word… does any of this sound familiar?

Rachel all you need to do is read this blog and read how special the X-men are in our hearts.
*Now for some of the best Magneto stories … Uncanny X-Men 150… and Uncanny X-men 200. In my mind 150 is the first issue, where we don’t see super villianous Magneto, but a Magneto with a cause. And issue 200 has a change in the status quo with Magneto that must be read to be believed.
* Now was it just me, or during the Messiah Complex, when five X-Men took on the entire Marauder lineup – wasn’t that a bit unrealistic. I mean come on, these are the same guys that crippled half the team during the Mutant Massacre storyline.

Okay so I have been out of the X-Men loop for a coon’s age….I do like the concept of the Ultimate X-Men but from what I have read on the various blogs..this series is going to be cancelled? I dont want to start a series that’s doomed before I get attached…if anyone has some insight as to what’s happening with it I would appreciate it

Yes. It’s going to be cancelled. The whole Ultimate Universe is being destoryed in a massive crossover and the books are going to be completely different. Apparently Magento is taking revenge on the world for the death of his children and he’s manipulating the weather patterns. In the first part of this story, called Ultimatum, several X-men are killed … Dazzler, Nightcrawler and the Beast.

Any word on whether they are rebooting the X-Men from that point or its so long Charlie?

I’d hate to tell you a wrong answer, but it seems so. There has been word on the replacement books but I haven’t really been interested in the Ultimate Universe in a long time. The first few Ultimate X-men issues with Mark Millar and Adam? Kubert (correct me if it was Andy please) were awesome. I’d recommend buying the trades and reading those reimaginings.

I bought the first Ultimate X-Men trade in hardcover for my younger cousin years ago, but have never read it myself. I think I need to pick up at least the first couple of volumes. I like the eras of X-Men that I’m familiar with (basically, the entire Claremont era), and after I got really back into comics this past year, I considered really following the X-Men again, but decided that I really just like MY X-Men era and don’t particularly feel the need to try to rejoin the team. I have been following the new X-Force though. It kicks serious ass.

“Towards the end of the Australian years, when they got their asses kicked by Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers, was just awesome. Storm was dead, Rogue got sucked into the Siege Perilous and Wolverine was off on his own (soon to be crucified). The remaining team, on the run had no choice but to retreat through the Siege Perilous or die.”

Yeah, but that had nothing to do with the Reavers per se. The team was dis-integrating by that point, and technically, never fought the Reavers. They fled to the Siege Perilous because Psylocke had a premonition that they would die, and even had to manipulate Havok into going in…

The Reavers did end up kicking the crap out of the Muir Island team and Freedom Force a while back, but that was just a horribly-written story that didn’t make the Reavers look cool or intimidating, it just made the X-men and FF look really lame.

“but if there are some good Rogue stories before then that you want to recommend, let’s hear about them.”

She also had a good story arcs during the Claremont/JRJ era (incidentally, my favorite X-men run, even more than the Claremont/Byrne run). Issue 182 of Uncanny is a good ‘spotlight’ style issue, 185 is a good story also (which is really the pay-off for stuff that was established in # 182), while issues 178, 192, and 203 also have some great moments for the character.

“Anything Chris Claremont did prior to Fall of the Mutants was golden. Anything after you really have to cherry pick.”

Amen to that. From the first Cockrum run to the end for FOTM is one of my favorite runs of any comic title ever. After that, it’s hit and miss till Claremont leaves the title, though there are more hits than misses.

It’s hard to really recommend any single specific thing with regards to the ’70s/’80s X-Men. Almost everything was really good. Between big events like The Fall of the Mutants, The Dark Pheonix Saga, The Mutant Massacre, and Inferno, everything built and added to the foundation of the characters, subplots ran for years, and different titles always affected the other books, sometimes with consequences: New Mutants, Wolverine, X-Factor, even Thor a few times, affects were seen and felt. Hell, the Wolverine titles were a huge cause for the failure of the Outback team and factored into actual streamlined continuity! It’s almost unheard of now (especially in regards to Wolverine… is he still regularly appearing in about four or five titles every month?).

The supporting cast was just amazing, too. Moira MacTaggert, Thomas and his wife, Kitty’s ballet teacher, Cameron Hodge, Mariko Yashida, Yukio, the Morlocks… heck, it feels like half the X-Men started as supporting characters first before moving up (Jubilee, Psylocke, Havok, and Dazzler are the only ones who come to mind right now) or were mainly supporting characters with big roles at times (Forge, Banshee). Characters grew and changed. Writers and creators always experimented and tried new, untested things and took their characters down routes you’d never thought they’d go down (Storm in particular). The status quo was ever-changing, but unlike today, remained constant in character and story progression (today it just seems to change for the sake of change). It was wonderful.

This is coming from a guy whose most fervent collection period was in the late nineties after Operation Zero Tolerance and the rejoining of Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Colossus (as well as Mutant X). I dearly miss Cece Reyes and Marrow being used.

I also third the Wolverine/Kitty Pryde mini-series.

I’m pretty much 1974-1994 (X-Men pre-Uncanny through Uncanny #300) for myself. While I have occasionally attempted to check back in on the now not so mery mutants, I’ve pretty much run away screaming every time.

My most recent attempt was the Grant Morrison stuff, which I borrowed the equivalent of New X-Men #114-145 via trades through my local library, since Greg made note of liking that run here.

It wasn’t as bad as Lobdell and Nicieza’s stuff (which was roughly the time I quit), but by no means did I find it to be particularly enjoyable, either. Oh, I *wanted* to like it. I could see what Morrison was trying to do, and I appreciate the effort, even though it fell way, way short of what I was looking for. There was so much untapped POTENTIAL in what he offered, that I was quite sad to see it go for naught (at least through the run I read).

And no, I haven’t tried the Whedon X-Men. Maybe I will borrow them out of the library some day, but honestly I’d as soon kick Whedon out of comics entirely and send him back to what he does best- screenwriting and directing.

I think there were two villians during the entire Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza run. Just kidding. I barely read Uncanny X-Men now. I’m also just wondering if anyone out there has any favorite Magneto stories/ sagas. Personally I loved Uncanny X-men 200. One of the best Magneto stories. While he didn’t rip out anyone’s adamantium skeleton, there was organic character development that forever changed his status quo with the X-men. It would be nice to see that played up on now, between he and Cyclops.

Omar:

I don’t remember who was doing what when I quit. All I remember is when Claremont was ousted, I said to myself, “Self, these books will now be crap.” (Seeing as how bad New Mutants and X-Factor had been without Claremont, I saw no reason to believe anything was going to improve with Claremont being out of the loop entirely.) And then they got John Byrne for .02 seconds, and even his stuff wasn’t up to snuff, and so I had like, a year before UNCANNY #300 and I just bought them, cringing through the issues, and then jumped up and down like a maniac when UXM #300 came out in the store. “YES! YES! IT’S FINALLY HERE! I NEVER HAVE TO LOOK AT ANOTHER DAMNED X-BOOK AGAIN!” And that was pretty much my attitude, though I did get occasional things like the Gene Ha drawn ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS & PHOENIX and ASKANI’SON miniseries (bad stories, but I was buying those for Gene’s art I’ll freely own up to that).

And every time I’ve picked up the monthlies since, I’ve pretty much wanted to burn the entire stock in the store. Even when Chris Claremont returned, it just didn’t work. Too much had gone on in the interim, and the characters just didn’t suit him anymore, IMO.

Morrison’s run (that which I read, anyway) didn’t quite make me reviled with things, I’ll admit, but I was still shaking my head with sorrow and dissatisfaction.

And yeah, the Magneto Vs. the World Court story in UXM #200 and the X-MEN Vs. AVENGERS miniseries wasn’t bad.

I’m thinking my favorite Magneto X-Men story was probably the Claremont / Byrne story where he had captured the X-Men and entrapped them in chairs that nullified their powers and nervous system, and had a robot nanny to feed them. IIRC, after they escape that, the entire base in engulfed in lava. I’m thinking that’s around Uncanny #111-114.

My favorite “non X-Men” Magneto story was probably when he and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants faced off against the Defenders in DEFENDERS #15-17 roughly, where he created a mutant named Alpha, who evolved beyond his control and turned him and the rest of the Brotherhood into infants. I remember getting the original issues for a quarter each when I first started collecting in the mid 1980s as reader copies (i.,e. they were in shabby condition), and I just recently borrowed the first three volumes of the DEFENDERS Essentials to re-read those and many other DEFENDERS I used to own that I apparently sold at some point for college bills. (Though for the life of me I cannot remember when! Gah!)

I’d say Magneto’s arc from Uncanny #150 to #200 was some of the best work on the character. #161 is a good read, giving lots of backstory between him and Professor X, and I’d say # 196 is the true turning point for the character.

“Gambit is extremely annoying.”

Good to see the *most* important lesson is being passed on to young X-men fans.

My main memory of the Neal Adams trade was some horrendous new colouring. Thankfully the issues (and the Beast ones) are due in an essential any day now !

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives