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Comic Book Legends Revealed #208

Welcome to the two-hundred and eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and seven.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com.

In honor the upcoming release of X-Men Forever, Marvel’s new series answering the question “What would have happened if Chris Claremont had not left the X-Men in 1991?,” today’s legends are all devoted to stories about what would have happened had Chris Claremont not left the X-Men in 1991!

Let’s begin!

Since so many of them impact each other, I’ll just list all of them up front and I’ll write about them all at once, like I did with all the Cable legends a couple of months ago.

COMIC LEGEND: Wolverine was going to be killed off.

STATUS: True and False

COMIC LEGEND: Wolverine was going to become a bad guy.

STATUS: True and False

COMIC LEGEND: Professor X was going to be killed off.

STATUS: True

COMIC LEGEND: Mark Millar used Claremont’s Wolverine plot for Millar’s Enemy of the State.

STATUS: I’m Going With False

Around 1991, with the great success of the X-Men titles, and the recent debut of Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man (which sold, I believe, ten billion copies), Marvel decided that they were going to launch a second X-Men title.

Writer Chris Claremont, who had been on the main X-Men title, Uncanny X-Men, since 1975, was going to continue writing both titles. Jim Lee would be drawing one of the titles (probably the new one).

However, Jim Lee wanted some more say over the story than he currently was getting. Claremont respected Lee and what Lee brought to the table, and was fine with co-plotting the book with him, but Lee wanted a little more control over that. Eventually, due to deadline crunches, Lee would often drop off pages with just enough time for Claremont to script them to get them in on time – whether Lee actually drew what he and Claremont had discussed or not!

When X-Men Editor Bob Harras was contacted to settle this situation, Harras ended up siding with Lee, who he felt was the most important part of the book (as Harras just saw a book written and drawn by Todd McFarlane, who had no significant writing experience, sell ten trillion copies).

Fed up, Claremont just sent in his plots and scripts for the first three issues of X-Men and he resigned from the title. As a result of this, Fabian Nicieza was brought in to finish Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men storyline with the Shadow King.

Naturally, after being given the control of the X-Titles (along with his fellow star artist Whilce Portacio), Lee was persuaded to leave Marvel anyways to help form a new creator-owned comic book company called Image Comics, and Harras ended up needing new writers within a year of the debut of the new X-Men series.

So that’s what happened.

But what WOULD have happened had Claremont not left the title?

People who had been reading Claremont’s X-Men for some time knew that he was a fan of drawn out subplots, and his two major plots of the first two years of the new series (which is about as far as he planned out, although he had some rough ideas beyond that) were both plots that had been percolating for some time already.

One of the plots was hinted at following the Siege Perilous storyline with the X-Men, and it involved the Shadow King.

The Shadow King was slowly taking possession of people, which was a major part of this story involving Storm and Gambit.

Claremont’s plans were for the Shadow King to slowly begin to possess more and more people (he already had taken hold of major parts of the United State Government). Claremont hinted at a future takeover of the Hellfire Club in an old issue of Excalibur…

The story that ended up taking place at Muir Isle with the possessed Muir Isle mutants was only supposed to be a prelude, with Shadow King seemingly defeated, but really he was just going to retreat and take over more and more pieces, like the aforementioned Hellfire Club, plus the Reavers.

In that Muir Isle story, Magneto also would have shown up to help (this is referenced in Uncanny X-Men #275, where we see that Magneto and Shadow King have some unseen history). Professor Xavier would not have lost the use of his legs again.

Eventually, the Shadow King would have gone after Gateway, with the hope of controlling the entire “Dreamtime.”

The Shadow King tried something along these lines in an X-Treme X-Men Annual.

Part of Shadow King’s plan is to get the anti-mutant Robert Kelly (who hates the X-Men because of the death of his wife back in the #240s – see what I mean about percolating subplots?) elected President of the United States. However, Val Cooper, who was under the Shadow King’s control, will turn out to be Mystique in disguise (just like it happened in the actual comics – just in a much condensed format) and take out Shadow King’s main US agent, Jacob Reitz.

Meanwhile, Tessa of the Hellfire Club will turn out not to be possessed at all, but secretly was a spy working for Professor Xavier (Claremont used Tessa, now called Sage, in this capacity when he returned to the titles in 2000).

Xavier’s son Legion would be the main focal point of Shadow King’s plans, and ultimately, in a big battle at Muir Isle, Xavier and Magneto would take on Shadow King (this is likely Uncanny X-Men #300) and in the end, Xavier would defeat the Shadow King once and for all, but in the process would be killed along with the Shadow King.

The X-Men would then more or less lead themselves (as I believe Claremont’s take was that they outgrew NEEDING a Professor), but Magneto and Gateway would stick around as sort of mentor figures.

That was ONE major plot.

The OTHER major plot was set up when the Hand put Psylocke into an asian ninja’s body.

This is the beginning of A. A big Hand plot and B. Wolverine losing a step.

When the X-Men took Psylocke back, they were worried about perhaps her being a sleeper agent for the Hand. However, Wolverine vouched for her.

Claremont had been writing Wolverine as having issues with his healing power for some time.

And he was only getting worse (remember that was a bit plot point in the battle against the Warskrulls, that Gambit seemingly had a step on Wolverine).

This would lead to a battle in the early issues of the new X-Men series (#3, I believe) where Wolverine would be fighting Lady Deathstrike, and since he was so exhausted, she would actually kill him.

Wolverine would be dead, and that would be the case for the next year (I have no idea how Claremont intended on reconciling that with Wolverine’s ongoing series – so really, even if he had stayed, this storyline certainly would have been nixed by Harras).

Finally, in Uncanny X-Men #294 (the 200th issue of the All-New, All-Different X-Men), Wolverine would return, only he was now brainwashed by the Hand! As it turned out, it was Wolverine who was the sleeper, not Psylocke!

So for a little while, Wolverine would be kicking ass all over the Marvel Universe.

Jean Grey would go in undercover to get close to him.

Along the way, Wolverine would begin purging his adamantium as his healing powers push it all out of his body.

Colossus and Wolverine would have a big fight and in it, Colossus would tear Wolverine’s claws out of his body. The Hand would give him new artificial claws, but over time, it would turn out that Wolverine’s body makes its own claws, and the claws are replaced.

Eventually, Wolverine would fight off the brainwashing and return to the X-Men, now sans the adamantium and with natural claws (that would work in ways much similar to the adamantium claws).

He and Jean Grey will have gotten very close during this whole deal, to the point where Cyclops’ psychic rapport with Jean Grey would be getting quite unpleasant for Mr. Summers.

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s very similar to Mark Millar’s Enemy of the State storyline in Wolverine.

When asked about it, Millar denied having heard about Claremont’s story before the story was already under way and someone mentioned the similarity.

While obviously I can’t PROVE it either way, I tend to believe Millar.

Especially since the X-Men titles, before Enemy of the State, ALREADY did a storyline where Wolverine “died”…

and then came back as a bad guy…

So I just don’t buy the idea that Millar would lie about coming up with the idea on his own when it had already been DONE in the X-Men titles! So it wasn’t like Millar was getting points for originality here!

Since Claremont has been so open with his original plans and since he’s already used some of these ideas in other places (like X-Treme X-Men – for instance, the whole “searching for Destiny’s Diairies was originally going to take place during the early 90s, when it was actually not that far removed from the whole story with Destiny’s death in Uncanny X-Men #255, but Claremont ended up using it in X-Treme X-Men instead), I bet X-Men Forever will be more or less a lot different than what Claremont hinted he would do originally! Should be interesting to see what happens!

For the heck of it, here’s a Jim Lee drawing from around this time that looks like it might have something to do with Claremont’s unused stories!

Thanks to CBR member David R for the immense amount of research he’s done cataloging Claremont’s intended plots! I literally couldn’t have done this week’s piece without his research.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

As you likely know by now, this Tuesday, April 28th, my book finally came out!

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you next week!

98 Comments

Sorry about the long delay, folks.

Time Warner Internet/Cable went down in our area late last night. It just popped back up about an hour ago.

This was a kick-ass article! Well done!

great article. worth the wait.

So, if X-men Forever turns out to be different, then they sold us a lie?

So, if X-men Forever turns out to be different, then they sold us a lie?

Well, it’s already significantly different since Claremont now has the full run of the X-Universe, while in 1991, even if he was in charge of Uncanny and X-Men, he still wouldn’t have had access to, say, the X-Force or Excalibur characters. Now he does.

As a long time X-Men reader this entry was especially fun. I’d heard snippets of these plots through the years (particularly the “Wolverine as an agent of the Hand” one) but it’s nice to get it all laid out like this.

The plan for the whole Shadow King/Death of Xavier/Magneto story was completely new to me. Gateway’s involvement is intriguing, since he’s one of those mysterious characters Claremont introduced and then never had a chance to go back and wipe off the “mysterious” sheen. It’s interesting that he intended on eventually setting him as a long term mentor to the team.

Well, as interesting as anything involving Gateway, at least. It isn’t like I stay up late at night wondering what Claremont’s intentions for Gateway were. :)

I remember seeing that Jim Lee picture you posted somewhere along the way (an annual maybe?) and wondering what the heck that was all about.

Wow, this is an awesome piece and answers a whole bunch of stuff I always wondered about. Thanks!

Also, I’d really enjoy the characters seen in that unused Jim Lee art as an X-Men line-up. I miss Forge.

Perhaps I’m being cynical and mean, but I find it really hard to believe that the Image split was really about “creative control” and “respect for creators” when, just prior to the split, Marvel had handed McFarlane, Liefeld and Lee carte blanche with their two biggest franchises. Possibly it was about that for Larsen, Valentino, and Silvestri, but I can’t help but think the other three’s motivation was looking at those million-strong sales figures and thinking, “I want a piece of that action.”

Plus, it’s not like they showed any particular respect for creators in principle once they split off, particularly writers, or even the discipline of writing.

So Strong Guy would have joined the X-Men? (At least I think that’s Strong Guy.) That’s an interesting idea, and he’s certainly not the person I would have expected to come over from X-Factor. You’d think Havok or Polaris (or both) would do that.

I think Claremont originally intended to use Guido in X-men either as a member or supporting character, but after he left, editorial put the character in the revamped X-Factor instead.

That Jim Lee art was used as a freebie poster or some other promotional art, back in the day. I know I saw it then, and maybe even had the poster or whatever from a convention. Maybe it was a trading card. But I know it was used for something.

Marianne Farleybaconcheeseburgercombo

May 22, 2009 at 11:15 am

This is like a bad collection of stories. I grew up with these comics but even then I questioned why in the hell people would buy these X-Men stories. They simply didn’t make any sense. Then the web came along and I researched all of Claremont’s stupidity. Its almost bad as Brian Bendis and what he’s doing to Avengers right now. Makes no sense whatsoever. Both are still employed by Marvel and needless to suck egges like nobody’s business.

I heard Claremont speaking about this around 1992 or so, and he brought up that Wolverine would be decapitated when he died. His head grows back (presumably around the unbreakable skull?) but he has no memories of who he is, so is easily reprogrammed by the Hand.

Doug- This was the story that became the set up for the Polaris/Havok/Strongman X-factor, in fact. At the time X-Factor was still the original X-men.

Brian,

On the topic of delays, why do these still say Thursdays when they always come out on Fridays?

There is an old joke about a young actress moving to Hollywood and wanting to break into the industry. She visits the set of a new blockbuster movie being film. She wants fame so bad she sleeps with the writer. That’s it. That’s the Joke.

In the comic industry the artist is main foci.

Holy crap. I had no idea. Oh my God, I’ll never look at my old x-stacks the same way again.

I think Robert Kirkman would disagree about Image not being about creative control and respect for creators.

I interviewed Claremont many years ago and if I remember correctly Wolverine was to die and be resurrected as Master Assassin of the Hand. Jean went undercover to protect him. As his healing factor kicked in, Logan slowly gained control of himself again, eventually expunging everything foreign from his body including the Adamantium.

And Mystique is Nightcrawler’s father.

What strikes me about that Lee art from the unused magneto plot, was how much Jubilee resembles the Carrie Kelley Robin from Miller’s Dark Knight Returns!

Is there any hint that the character was actually based on Carrie, kind of Marvel’s answer to a popular Miller teen-girl creation from the late 1980s?

I was never a big fan of Claremont or the X-Men, but it’s sad that his tenure on the X-Men ended under those circumstances. No question, he was the reason the X-Men became the dominant franchise in comics. I also loose a lot of respect for Jim Lee, as the guy that basically pushed Claremont out. He deserved better from Marvel.

Chris, when Lee came on board, he redesigned Jubilee’s costume to resemble Carrie’s as homage. The Psylocke as ninja issues are filled with panel designs based on Dark Knight.
It was an Artist to Artist thing, as Carrie has never been popular.

“What strikes me about that Lee art from the unused magneto plot, was how much Jubilee resembles the Carrie Kelley Robin from Miller’s Dark Knight Returns!

Is there any hint that the character was actually based on Carrie, kind of Marvel’s answer to a popular Miller teen-girl creation from the late 1980s?”

I think it’s come up before the Jubilee is kind of a nod to Robin and that was part of the inspiration behind the characters dating in the Marvel vs. DC series.

Brian: from about 17 years ago:
The Claremont Files
A USENet posting I did retelling what had been reported to me about Claremont’s plans.
The friend mentioned is Richard Howe who’s been known to wander around in CSBG too.

http://tinyurl.com/qhqdzk

I agree with you Michael. Image was never about creative control or any of that stuff. It was all about the money. Look at the initial “creations”. they were x-men clones, every one of them. It was all about cashing in.

Whoa…some of that sounds pretty interesting!

Ask anyone who did “work for hire” for Image early on about how much they cared about respect for artists. The new Kirkman Image is a completely different company, about 180 degrees different in philosophy.

The fight to create creator-friendly companies had already been fought and won, making the 80s the golden age of creator-controlled independent comics, with the success of First, Eclipse, Comico and (later) Dark Horse. Ironically, three of those four were wiped by the massive crap-dump and blatant market manipulation that Image engaged in.

Don’t know if you were intentionally exaggerating but McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1 sold about 2.5 million copies.

Andrew Collins

May 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I started reading X-Men circa 1988 and as much as I enjoyed it, I also found myself frustrated by Claremont’s long drawn out subplots. AND YET. In retrospect, I would have loved to see him stay on the X-titles as these story ideas sound infinitely more interesting than what they’ve actually done with the characters the last 17 years. The 90′s were an especially bad period for the X-titles.

And how silly does Harras look in retrospect also? He sided with the artist who ended up leaving the book only 3-4 issues later anyway…

I think it’s a joke, Corey. Also, sales on that issue have been picking up lately, so they’ve probably sold them all. How many is that? All of them. Chuck Norris can just barely count them all.

Yeah, I went there.

I loved Jim Lee’s art… but his ego ruined the X-Men. I will never forgive him for that. I was a long time collector of comic books who got into it by reading Chris Claremont’s X-Men. That was my comic… but my heart was broken when X-Men 3 came out. I didn’t know the details, but I continued on buying the series for another year or two. But it wasn’t the same. Though Wolverine, Storm, etc… looked the same, they weren’t. My X-Men died when Chris left the comic. He was the X-Men. Over the last 15 or so years, I have tried to read some issues here and there. I haven’t found one yet which felt right. My brag to my children about how great the X-Men was. When they get older, I plan on showing them the proof…

Excelsior

The artist is the focus? I find that hard to believe. Aren’t every months top sellers books by Bendis, Millar, and Loeb? I am not even sure if it is Mcniven or Hitch or Yu on any of those books. Art in comics is pretty, but it is also pretty secondary as long as it is good. A great artist with no writing is useless in comics. Which is why the original X-Force, Spider-Man, Youngblood, and Spawn where so ridiculously bad.

Aaron Poehler

I don’t think Robert Kirkman would have been able to say a damned thing about the formation of Image. He did not become a partner until 2008.

By X-Men 3, I meant issue 3…. Claremont’s final issue of the new X-men series. Not the movie. Sorry.

Jim Lee didn’t draw that last picture. His name is on it, but he didn’t draw it, look at how jacked the bodies are.
My guess is Karl Altstaetter, even after all these years, he still draws peoples bodies all funky.

I have to admit, as much as I love Claremont’s old stuff, that proposed plan sounds horrible and convoluted as hell. Not that what ended up being printed was much better.

Rick in Toronto

May 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I have given up on comics entirely. I read the latest news and stories, but I haven’t bought a comic in a year. The stories just don’t make sense anymore. Grant Morrison pretty much killed my appetite for comics. I had high hopes for Final Crisis, and the execution and nonsense in that series was poor.

I lament the fact that Chris Claremont was unable to continue and finish what he started. But at least I had his stories when I was younger. Those stories saved my life, from a life of hell.

Great article.

It’s amazing–but I remember that final unused Jim Lee piece of artwork–because I had a t-shirt with the image on it. There was a matching image done by Whilce Portacio featuring the rest of X-Factor with Colossus and Gambit if I’m not mistaken–with Charles Xavier’s head in the background like Magneto’s.

I’d like to hope that X-Men Forever will explore some of Claremont’s ideas that weren’t used back in the day. I’ll be staying tuned.

Thanks again for a great read.

Steve Ekstrom
Newsarama.com

Wolverine as sleeper agent for Hand sounds a lot better than that Kwannon mess.

I love that Claremont X-men stuff, it was great. They totally rode on Claremont’s stuff for years after he left.

I liked the ‘Enemy of the State’ story, eventhough it had been done before it took it to a higher level. Man, Northstar whined a lot before Wolverine killed him. One of y our characters turning out to be a Skrull after all that time, great idea, and who would copy that?:)
I remember that Wozniak artist on Excalibur drew all his characters with no teeth, it was crazy. He didn’t last long. I always assumed Psylocke looked asian because Jim Lee wanted to draw here that way, I didn’t think about it in terms of ‘why does she look like that’ or ‘did the Siege Perilous do something to her?’.

You know what. This article is bringing on a flood of great memories.

I’m so very confused right now … I think I have a random issue from this period and it’s literally one of the worst comics I own. Still, an interesting look at Marvel Office Politics at a crucial time in Comic’s History. More knives than pencils in that office, it would seem.

Generally, the Nineties were not friendly to the Big Two.

Awesome article, congrats Brian, your work is truly amazing, have you considered the idea of writing a book? Oh wait, . . .

Nice legend. Peace.

Great article! I’ve enjoyed reading your work here for a few years now. Did you lose the “urban” in your title a while ago?

I got the book yesterday and it’s a great, fun read.

Anyone who likes this column should definitely pick it up.

Chris Claramont and Marc Silvestri’s run on X-Men brought me into comics. At age 13 when X-Men #3 came out I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even know Chris Claramont’s name, but Jim Lee was my favorite artist. The next year of vastly inferior stories taught me how misplaced my loyalties were (I also figured out who Chris Claramont was). Now to find out Jim Lee was responsible for dropping the stone that first stone that started a ten year avalanche of bad X-Men stories. Man… I’m not sure the fanboy in me can forgive that.

How come long, drawn out, convoluted plots are okay for shows like Lost, but try it in a comic book and suddenly you are a hack who single handedly killed the medium?

Soon after Image was founded, Claremont worked with Jim Lee on WildCats and his own Huntsman project, so I don’t know if there was no bad blood between them, they patched it up, Claremont sucked it up for a paycheck or what. My understanding that it’s far more Harras as active villain pushing out Claremont then Jim Lee as secret backstabber.

technopriest_1

May 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm

God, that actually souds like two awesome storylines, especially compared with what we got. I am truly convinced that Bob Harras was the worst thing that could have happen to the X-Titles. I mean, how hard would it have been to give both Claremont and Lee their own titles? Let Claremont continue what he was doing on Uncunny and let Lee do whatever the hell he wanted in the new Title.

It definitely was more Harras than Lee.

Brian From Canada

May 22, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Harras made the right move. Granted, Claremont WAS the reason the X-Men survived and began multiplying, but MacFarlane had just proven to Marvel how to rekindle interest at the start of noticeable rebranding (X, Spider, etc.) without wiping out the core of the brand — you had Spider-Man, but you still had Amazing. With Claremont, that was probably not going to be the case: even in the crossovers, Uncanny rarely connected with the “lower tier” books the way that Marvel was going to be aiming them to be and ended up doing.

Plus, a killer Wolverine would have never made it through editorial when the ownership was making him a mainstay of their new Saturday morning cartoon.

It’s extremely plausible that Lee’s ideas were probably more in step with the way Marvel was going at the time and that’s why Harras chose to side with a rising star to boost the line rather than someone who had been around for years. Had Image failed to congeal, I imagine that we would have had a very different X-Men with Lee as well. (It would be interesting to hear his ideas on the subject.)

Unfortunately for Harras — and the person we should really be blaming — John Byrne came into Uncanny and proceeded to start wiping out some of Claremont’s characters, creating a lot of bad blood which only got compounded by Lobdell’s obedience to Marvel’s whims and desires. Claremont would not come back to Marvel until Lobdell was gone, and sort of got even by pushing Lobdell out of Fantastic Four (a book that Lobdell had just relaunched).

And when he did, he proved to be a pale shadow of himself. No offense intended to his fans, but let’s face it: his Uncanny and X-Men stories were barely readable, X-Treme couldn’t keep it’s identity straight, and his New Exiles (where he COULD do anything he wanted) was the same old over and over again.

Brian From Canada

May 22, 2009 at 3:40 pm

By the way, if you’re going to blame someone for the unreadability of the X-books in the 90s, don’t blame just Harras: blame Mark Powers, who edited the line.

As sad as it is that Lee got Claremont kicked out of the book whose success was mostly due to him (and Byrne), I think by the time Lee replaced Silvestri, Claremont’s X-Men had already lost a lot of its old magic. In retrospect the Fall of the Mutants storyline, where X-Men fougt the Adversary, was probably the culmination point of classic X-Men. That storyline had been building up for over three years, and to me at least it really felt like the biggest and most epic struggle the X-Men had ever faced, even bigger than the Dark Phoenix saga. Claremont’s writing was top-notch throughout the whole story (like the scene where Havok lashes out in front of the TV cameras, or the allegory to Spartans figthing against impossible odds in Thermopylae), and it ended with the X-Men, the outcasts hated by the world, sacrificing their lives to save that very same world. And this time the world actually witnessed it, so it would’ve been kinda hard to call the X-Men dangerous criminals after that. It didn’t really feel like Claremont was able to write anything quite as good after this storyline, and things were made worse by him fucking up the status quo (first by moving the X-Men to Australia, and then by making them go through the Siege Perilous) and not really finding a new one that worked.

So even though things got even worse once Lee stepped in, I’m not sure if a more collaborative artist would’ve ultimately helped to stop Claremont’s downward slide. Of course the expansion of the whole X-Men industry probably had something to do it as well, it must’ve been much harder for Claremont to hold on to his vision as it was when there was only one monthly title (or two monthly titles, after New Mutants started) he was solely responsible for.

By the way, there’s one question about Lee’s influence that’s always bugged me… Was Psylocke’s metamorphosis from a rather modest and conservatively dressed Caucasian women to a D-cup Japanese ninja in tight revealing leather clothes done so that Lee could draw a hot Asian babe? Did Lee suggest this odd change, or did Marvel executives think that a ninja babe is the way to sell the title for horny teenage boys? Because from a narrative point of view the change was totally pointless and confusing, and I can’t imagine that Claremont (who’d always been against sexism in superhero comics) was the one behind the idea…

If Wolverine’s healing factor was going to remove the adamantium from his body, why wouldn’t it have done it while he was lost in the canada woods or during his time with alpha flight? That just seems like bad writing to me and am glad Claremont is only aloud special little projects that no one reads and not the bigger marvel universe.

Great great read. Thanks! How do you lsoe somoeone with Claremont’s legacy especiallly when siding with an relatively new artist? Lee et al. defectiung to form Image must have just been the ultimate knife in the gut for Harras. I wonder what Claremont thought when he first heard.

LOL @ McFarlane’s Spider-Man selling “ten billion” copies.

McFarlane’s first arc of “Spider-Man” made Howard Mackie look like Alan Moore.

I wonder what Claremont’s plans for Wolverine would have done to Larry Hama’s run on “Wolverine”? At the time both books “UXM” and “Wolvie” were in top form.

Yeah, Tuomas. I finally gave up on X-Men during the Australia thing, so I missed out on all this drama. Sounds like it’s just as well.

Sorry buy the Hand and Shadow King were no Magneto or Apocalypse. Three more years of stories about them would have been way too much. I’ve never enjoyed a Shadow King story much, and ninjas were already played out by the time Claremont discovered them, even Miller was over them.

Didn’t Claremont intend for Xavier to be depowered (when, in the final version, he was re-crippled) on Muir Isle?

Speaking of unused Claremont plots, Brian, I wonder if you know anything about who Claremont really intended Marvel Girl in his Fantastic Four run to be. I believe he was definitely unhappy with the way Pacheco and Loeb finished it up in v3 #49.

Absolutely great read.

Looking back at the time, Claremont’s X-Men 1-3 were the best and then it all came apart afterwards, regardless even if it was Jim Lee who was doing the art.

Harras was a fool for letting Claremont go and siding with Lee. And also just wondering, what was Mark Power’s role in this whole fiasco? Was he playing the role of obedient puppet as well?

I remember at some point after Image was founded, Marvel said that at their company what really mattered were the characters, not the creators. Stated (of course) after every “hot” artist had already switched over to McFarlane’s place. The fact that Harras sided with Lee over Claremont still seems ironic after reading all this, but it also makes a sad sort of sense.

Like Buttler, Tuomas and T, I was bored silly by Claremont’s last few years on the X books — although I began to lose interest during Fall of the Mutants. Claremont’s interest in incorporating different cultural references was always greater than his ability to actually incorporate them, and the Adversary felt more desperate than fully realized. Other than the slight uptick during Inferno, the late 1980s/early 1990s X books were some of the dullest on the market. Claremont is definitely the primary reason the X-Men became so popular but he had run out of things to say with them long before he left the book. The storylines described in this week’s CBLR certainly demonstrate that.

Bob Harras and Scott Lobdell along with the ‘clone saga’ actually put me off reading comics for the best part of a decade.

What strikes me is that Claremont had intended to introduce the bone claws around the same time that Nicieza did so. I almost wonder if Nicieza’s role as Marvel’s bright light of the early ’90s may have been due to some mentoring by Claremont.

1) Claremont intended for Wolverine to have long-fingernail claws, not direct replacements for the adamantium claws
2) Magneto taking Wolverine’s adamantium was actually Peter David’s idea. He was mortified that they actually ran with it.
3) Larry Hama was the one who actually wrote the issue which introduced the bone claws, in Wolverine #75. In that issue, Wolverine was written out of the X-Men books for over a year and only appeared in his (Hama-written) solo series.

So, uh, no.

alistairw> Speaking of unused Claremont plots, Brian, I wonder if you know anything about who Claremont really intended Marvel Girl in his Fantastic Four run to be. I believe he was definitely unhappy with the way Pacheco and Loeb finished it up in v3 #49.

He intended her to be the daughter of Reed-in-Doom’s-armour and Sue, from a future where Reed never got out of the armour.

Don’t usually comment, but this was a very interesting article.

On first read it really does seem like Lee pushed Claremont off the title, but given some thought you can see why Harras would give more attention to Lee’s point of view. Claremont’s run was getting a little stale at the time and after McFarlane’s success on Spidey it’s pretty hard to blame him for wanting to get a new perspective on things. But man, Lee’s departure was a slap in the face. Talk about lose-lose situations.

I’d be very interested to see what Jim Lee might have had planned for the X-men had he continued on the book. Mind you, we must have seen some of it in his Image work.

Isn’t it odd though, that many of Claremont’s ideas were used in X-continuity after his departure in anyways.

“Unfortunately for Harras — and the person we should really be blaming — John Byrne came into Uncanny and proceeded to start wiping out some of Claremont’s characters, creating a lot of bad blood which only got compounded by Lobdell’s obedience to Marvel’s whims and desires.”

I know that John Byrne is the comics industry whipping boy right now, but that’s false. He followed Claremont for just about four issues or so where he was EXCLUSIVELY a scripter, over Jim Lee/Whilce Portacio plots.

He has said so himself more than once!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

“While obviously I can’t PROVE it either way, I tend to believe Millar.”

I wouldn’t, Brian. I can show you a story from 2000 AD where Millar swipes from both the Shining and Die Hard movies.

I would believe George W. Bush before believing Millar…

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Stephane Savoie

May 23, 2009 at 5:12 am

“Wolverine losing a step”

I’m not familiar with this expression. What does it mean?

ParanoidObsessive

May 23, 2009 at 5:32 am

I definitely find the proposed scenarios to be vastly superior to anything we actually got in the years following his departure. Hell, I was like 14 at the time, and I was still old enough to be disgusted at what I saw as crass commercialism and a massive drop-off in story quality. Art is more important than story? Sure, that’s why I stopped dropping $30 a month on Marvel titles and rarely picked up anything at all by Image beyond the first issues. And why I more or less started reading Valiant titles almost exclusively.

And then, of course, they went and screwed that up, too. Which played a major role in why I stopped reading comics entirely for nearly a decade, and even once I started again, limited my intake to the occasional trade paperback or online download.

>>> I have to admit, as much as I love Claremont’s old stuff, that proposed plan sounds horrible and convoluted as hell.

To be fair, if anyone ever tried to sum up his heyday on the title, it would have sounded just as convoluted. It’s hard to sum up 40+ issues worth of story in a few paragraphs. It also doesn’t take presentation into account – a complex plot spread out across dozens of issues and interspersed with B-plots and character interaction tends to leave a better impression than just trying to sum up the A-plot off-hand.

>>> How come long, drawn out, convoluted plots are okay for shows like Lost, but try it in a comic book and suddenly you are a hack who single handedly killed the medium?

I always find it funny because, at the time, not only was he generally highly praised by critics and readers alike, but his work absolutely played a large role in Marvel’s ascension to the more popular company (and X-Men’s status as the dominant title). But now there’s a definitely “too hip the for the room” mentality that goes back and bashes everything he’s ever done simply because they don’t like his current work. Heaven forbid someone actually admits to LIKING his old work.

Personally, I admit I think a lot of his current stuff is weaker. But I think that’s at least somewhat influenced by the fact that he’s left dealing with what other writers have left him, as well as dilution of talent/story across the board because there’s just too many titles out there in all the big franchises. Plus, he’s older now – and like it or not, creativity does tend to trail off with age.

All that being said, even if I wouldn’t leap to my feet to buy a title today simply because Claremont wrote it, that doesn’t change the fact that I still think his output in the 70′s and 80′s was some of the best mainstream work being produced at the time.

>>> I think Robert Kirkman would disagree about Image not being about creative control and respect for creators.

Considering he didn’t even enter comics until nearly a decade after Image was founded, he hardly has a valid perspective on what the original motivation was. Even if Image today is more focused on creator control and respect, it absolutely wasn’t back when it was founded.

Just looking at it from the outside in at the time, it came across like a bunch of selfishly immature children desperately grabbing for a bigger piece of the pie while crapping all over the business as a whole, the companies that helped make them famous, the iconic characters that helped establish them, and every other creator they didn’t like. They barely seemed to have respect for each other, let alone anyone or anything else. Certainly not the fans, considering how late the issues tended to be or how poor the quality of writing was. But hey, who cares, Todd got to buy half a hockey team!

“[…] here to read […]”

THERE’S That guy again! Seriously, who keeps posting that? It’s annoying!

As for this week’s legends: nice way of doing multiple rumors in one sitting, Brian! Though I prefer the columns that have more variety.

I could argue that the X-Men have NEVER outgrown the need for Professor X- not as leader, but as a mentor. The moment he’s not in the picture, they start doing questionable things, like killing people. Recent attempts to bring down the Professor’s wise image -with Vulcan’s and Cerebra’s origin, for example- seem calculated to justify the student’s cynicism, so they can write the X-Men their way and forget Xavier’s idealism.

I also never really understood why the X-Men tolerate Wolverine. He *definitely* believes in killing, when needed (or when going berserk, which is often…) I understand that Xavier hoped to cure him and Claremont hoped to show him overcoming his impulses, but his popularity as an antihero has prevented this. The fact he has been brainwashed at least TWICE (as seen above) makes him seem even more risky to have around. And if he’s too bad for the X-Men, having him in The Avengers, where they know him even less well, makes even less sense.

Yeah, I know, I know, they are using him to boost sales. It just bugs my sense of logic.

If you read the interviews with Claremont after the fact he lays the blame squarely at Bob Harras and doesn’t say a bad word about Jim Lee. In fact he later went on to work for Jim Lee on Gen13.

Now we’ll never know what really happened as you’ll get always get 3 different stories when there’s a dispute like this but for those blaming Lee for Claremont’s ousting from the X-Men he doesn’t seem to see it that way.

Hmmm, I stopped reading X-men somewhere in the 180s (Uncanny – yes, I’m old…), and after having read a number of rundowns of the various storylines that followed at this an numerous other blogs and forums (like this very informative post), I can’t say I regret that decision. Personally, I think if they’re going to do an X-men series which is bascially a “re-do”, the start-off point should be the end of the Scott & Maddy wedding issue – before so many bad ideas metastasized.

Sijo, that’s an interesting argument, but I have to side with the separation of Xavier from the X-Men. He’s more than a mentor to the X-Men, he’s their father figure. And in any father-child situation, eventually when the child becomes the adult (the father), he or she has outgrown the need for the father figure and must separate. I mean, come on, imagine if you lived with your parents until you were in your 30′s or 40′s and depended on them to be your mentors. How much would that suck?

Case settled. Xavier’s gotta go, and the students then become the teachers, something that Morrison and others have shown quite well.

And, Silo, as for Wolverine, didn’t you read the Jason Aaron story in Wolverine #73 entitled “A Day in the LIfe”? It was awesome. Sure, Wolverine’s in these different books because he sells books, but this story shows how excellently integrated he has made his roles on teams into his daily schedule. It goes through about a month of his life, with a panel or even a couple in some situations showing a snapshot of what a day in his life is like: one day in NYC fighting with the New Avengers, one day in San Fran with the X-Men, one day taking care of his own business (for his own title), one day maybe taking out some hardcore X-Force business, and mixing up the other two days to overlap into any of those adventures when he’s in that part of the country/world. And, of course, every Saturday he picks one of his old-school haunts to get hammered. It was great. Read it.

Ed Bosnar:

It’s funny you mention that era where you lost interest, because issue 180 was the first time I remember thinking: “wow, I’m not liking this as much”. I remember specifically being annoyed we were getting sidetracked into a New Mutants crossover when I wanted to read about the X-men (not realizing we were at the tip of the crossover iceberg). I still stuck with it all the way through 250, but apart from a few interesting stories, by and large it never had the same magic. Today when I think of my favorite series growing up, the X-men, I think of the “last” issue as the Scott/Maddie wedding.

All of which is to say, no, I don’t think you should regret a thing.

Mike Loughlin

May 23, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I saw that last picture on a trading card from a series released in 1991. The cards reprinted individual covers & panels from then-recent X-books, with plot summaries on the back. It was released before the series of X-Men cards that featured original Jim Lee art.

“I agree with you Michael. Image was never about creative control or any of that stuff. It was all about the money. Look at the initial “creations”. they were x-men clones, every one of them. It was all about cashing in.”

Now, now. Be fair. Image also had clones of Hulk, Avengers, Captain America, and Batman when they started. They weren’t all X-men clones.

Theno

ParanoidObsessive

May 23, 2009 at 9:51 pm

>>> Personally, I think if they’re going to do an X-men series which is bascially a “re-do”, the start-off point should be the end of the Scott & Maddy wedding issue – before so many bad ideas metastasized.

That’s actually an interesting jumping off point, when you consider the fact that the whole “bring Jean back, have Cyclops run off to join X-Factor, abandoning Maddie in the process” was something Chris has absolutely no influence over, and it completely ran counter to his plans for the characters. The whole “Maddie-as-Jean-clone” seemed to grow out of that just to give her something to do, and make Cyclops seem like slightly less of a dick for walking out on her (and his kid).

As far as I know, that’s about the first point I can think of where executive meddling really derailed his plans (other than the Jean-must-die element of the Dark Phoenix Saga, but Chris has definitely embraced that idea after the fact). If he’s going to write a book where he retroactively does everything the way he would have done it if he had full power over the characters, it might be interesting to go back to that point and have Cyclops and Maddie (as a normal woman) off in Alaska and never have Jean come back.

>>> I mean, come on, imagine if you lived with your parents until you were in your 30’s or 40’s and depended on them to be your mentors. How much would that suck?

Realistically, though, except in fairly dysfunctional families, it’s not like the parents fall off the face of the Earth or otherwise die as soon as the adult hits their 30′s. If anything, there’s absolutely a stage where the parents stick around to give advice when necessary and to spoil the grandkids. Sure, they step back from an active role, but they also remain mentor-figures, even if only part-time. So yes, it would suck if the 40-year old is still living at home and relying on mom and dad for everything, but at the same time, the perfect solution isn’t for them to move thousands of miles away and never speak to their parents again in a desperate bid for independence.

If we’re going to use the average life experience as a metaphor for X-Men history, a better scenario might be one where Xavier ceases to be “the Professor” and becomes more of “the Administrator”. Handling sort of the more boring details, devoting more of his time to personal research, political action, maybe even developing something resembling a personal life. Basically, still being part of the school, yet mostly removing himself from day-to-day activities (and the activities of the X-Men), and letting his old students basically mature into their roles as his replacements (as teachers, leaders, and activists). He’d be the Dean of Students that the new class never really sees all that much, and the mentor to his now-adult students who are more than capable of standing on their own, but might occasionally want to ask the old guy for advice. Not leaning on him or absolutely relying on him, but interacting with him on a much more equal basis.

Interestingly, when Marvel decided to launch that second X-Men book, initially it wasn’t going to go to Claremont, but instead was offered to John Byrne. However, he declined the project, as per an interview he gave at the time (in, I think, Amazing Heroes magazine), which also served to leak word of the planned second book before it was officially announced by Marvel.

Did you guys know Elvis is dead?

Nicely put together, Brian, but I have to admit: I only skimmed it this week. I gave up the X-titles right around the time that Claremont started to really “hit his stride” (fill the page with words, crowding out the artwork) and I’ve never had the slightest urge to ever see what I missed. But clearly that was a popular period with a lot of people and so a good choice for a special format edition of the column.

By the way, Brian, I’m continuing to read your book, but limiting myself to a few pages at a time because I don’t want to get through it too quickly. About my only complaint is that you didn’t set each new section up with an “urban legend” that you could then refute or confirm. I really think the book would read better if you had (keep that in mind for the sequel!)

Pretty much agree with you ParanoidObsessive at your first post.

I remember the following stories after Claremont left with the whole Wolvie-Sabretooth-Maverick as spies thing and the X-Men playing basketball and those were the most commercial, most shallow stories I had ever seen. These seemed more like pin-ups of stupid artists trying to draw “cool things” done like tv commercials. Jim Lee should have been ashamed of himself. No wonder Wildcats was so one dimensional and underwhelming.

The X-Men died when Claremont left.

Fascinating reading. Thanks! I sorta ended reading X-Men around then so I missed what actually happened too, though I’ve caught up since. I have to say Claremont was on top form then with his Machiavellian plot twists. Not so sure I’ll be picking up the new ‘alternate timeline’ series though, as his recent New Exiles work was rather lacking.

Interesting how many times Professor X has “died”.
First time was #42 of the 1960s run.
He was meant to STAY dead, because the writer (Roy Thomas, who, after Stan Lee, was the primary Marvel writer of the period) felt the X-Men had outgrown the need for a father-figure / mentor! (sound familiar?)
Whether it was fan outcry or just an attempt to boost sales on the title (which was near cancellation) Professor X “returned” from the dead in #65, and the dead Prof was revealed to be The Changeling!

Brian From Canada

May 25, 2009 at 11:02 am

Proof that Xavier’s outmoded was X-Factor: they go out on their own and are far more accepted in the public eye than the X-Men. They even help mutants with their powers, which is something Xavier seems relatively incapable of doing for many of the X-Men. When X-Factor folds into the X-Men, they are immediately hated and feared again.

Plus, the issues 201-275, while certainly weaker, along with stories like the Brood Saga, were far more character driven because the X-Men had to decide the course themselves. In the Lobdell era (even for those disgusted by it), the X-Men seemed more adult without Xavier thanks to the Onslaught debacle, and again after he leaves the school in the trusted hands of Scott, Emma and Jean.

Scott Summers is the one who made the dream work. He should be in command. Xavier is his mentor, but his ideas seem proven outclassed.

the reason I’ve stopped reading American comics for awhile is because of Claremont’s X-men stuff during the 1980s. Warskrulls??? (I guess Skrulls aren’t as tough as “WARSKRULLS!!!!”) Humanity-Plus??? and does anyone remember how Claremont had Psylocke always rambling on and on about her psy-punch dagger before using it??? Thank God I found manga, such as Sanctuary, Battle Angel, and Ranma 1/2, to help heal me from Claremont’s convoluted plotlines and dialogue (and Rob Liefeid’s crap w/ gold foiled covers, but that’s another story for another time).

This was a really interesting column and I’m far from the X-Men fan I once was. Not to slight Johnny Romita Jr, but his style didn’t seem to mesh that well with the characters. The Paul Smith run is where I traded off the rest of my X-Men run which I had up to the conclusion of the whole Goblin Queen storyline. That was THE storyline where they jumped the shark IMO. I didn’t pick the title up again until 281 when the pre-Image hot creators came on and I think Byrne was in there too. I tried it for about 3 issues and thought

A. it was unreadable and B. this was not the title it used to be and these characters have no feeling to me.

I didn’t pick the title up again until Morrison came aboard. Except for the Morrison run, the franchise and characters completely ceased to get me to shell out my money. I dumped the entire mutant universe and most of Marvel at that point. Slowly under Quesada I’ve come back to Marvel but not the mutants. Too much backstory and history that doesn’t make sense to me. It saved me tons of money that I redirected to other places, mostly DC, Vertigo and Valiant at the time.

I can go to Ultimate for a dose of mutant action. At least that’s self contained like the old days were.

Fraser Sherman

May 26, 2009 at 10:42 am

What is it with Claremont and mind-control? He was always (and still does) having people taken over, warped by the Shadow King (or Empath or whoever) and turned evil. The usual side-effect of which was to dress like they were auditioning for work at a leather bar.

Not that mind control is a bad story, but Claremont overused it.

I’d like Mystique to be Nightcrawler’s dad instead of some stupid story about demons.

[...] scheduled Wolverine news… -CBR Comic Book Legends Revealed: All Wolverine, All the Time (details) -Marvel: Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu on ‘Dark Wolverine’ #75 [...]

I was looking at the covers and it made me go over my X-Men collection and I realized how good Jim Lee’s art was before he did the 2nd X-Men series (when his art got looser and he used cross-hatching to cover-up for lack of detail) and WildCATS. It’s funny but the way he rendered back then, with more texture and moodier tones looks a lot better than his Hush work and somewhat resembles the better moments from his All-Star Batman work. I don’t know about everyone else but his older stuff looks even more “current” than his older stuff — sort of in the same way that Neal Adams’ older Batman work looks better than his art these days. With Adams, it’s understandable — he’s older and his hands are probably shakier. With Lee, I’m not sure what’s happened. Maybe he isn’t challenged anymore.

It’s funny but the way he rendered back then, with more texture and moodier tones looks a lot better than his Hush work and somewhat resembles the better moments from his All-Star Batman work. I don’t know about everyone else but his older stuff looks even more “current” than his older stuff

Thats interesting. But No Jim Lee himself said that in the 90′s as we all know was more about bright colors. Just compare Jim Lee X-MEN #1 to Morrisons New X-Men (Where everyone wore Black Leather Uniforms).

Jim Lee also confirmed it by saying that he now draws a much more darker tone in the 2000′s then in the 90′s; like in Hush etc. He is also more detailed in his drawing now. I too love his older 90′s stuff where everything was more cartoony and yes the 90′s stuff still stands up until today. But Lee and other artists currently have more hyper realism and darker more detailed looks that is all around better art than the cartoony bright colored big muscled gun carrying 90′S!!!

@Steve Ekstrom

It’s amazing–but I remember that final unused Jim Lee piece of artwork–because I had a t-shirt with the image on it. There was a matching image done by Whilce Portacio featuring the rest of X-Factor with Colossus and Gambit if I’m not mistaken–with Charles Xavier’s head in the background like Magneto’s.

Can we have a scan? Or a link?

I skimmed the titles for the next couple to see if was answered right after or not (if it’s done in #258 or something, point it out), but I have to admit, this interests me too-

“Was Psylocke’s metamorphosis from a rather modest and conservatively dressed Caucasian women to a D-cup Japanese ninja in tight revealing leather clothes done so that Lee could draw a hot Asian babe? Did Lee suggest this odd change, or did Marvel executives think that a ninja babe is the way to sell the title for horny teenage boys? ”

A lot went through the SP, but no one was so radically changed to go from a prim and proper lavender haired English Woman to non-descript Asian Ninja Babe who flirted with Scott before we even knew there was a Kwannon. (I mean, was she Japanese, since she was a ninja…? Or Chinese, because she worked for the Mandarin? Other?). I actually like the revamped version better, but the why and how of that change is really a good question. And I can easily see them doing it for no other reason than Lee wanting to draw it, which would fit with this story perfectly.

“Warskrulls??? (I guess Skrulls aren’t as tough as “WARSKRULLS!!!!”) ”

You must have LOVED Secret Invasion….

Interested in a resolution to Claremont’s intent re: Gateway’s origin, etc.

Then check this out: http://fanfix.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/gateways-origin/

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