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I’ve Been Here Before: The Crimson Pirates

I coined a term years ago that I like to call “nepotistic continuity,” which refers to the way that comic book writers sometimes bring back minor characters that they themselves created in the past as characters in their current work.

In every installment of this feature, I’ll spotlight an example of a character that did not appear in a comic for at least two years before then showing up in a comic written or drawn by the creator of the character.

Today we look at the Crimson Pirates!

The Crimson Pirates made their debut in 2000’s Uncanny X-Men #384 by Chris Claremont, Adam Kubert and Tim Townsend…




After an issue of two of Claremont’s X-Men, that was it for the Crimson Pirates until just last week, fourteen years later, when they reared their heads again in Nightcrawler #5 by Claremont and Todd Nauck…



The guy they are working for, Voge, also was last seen during that old Claremont run.

That’s it for this installment! If you can think of another good example of this, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

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I suppose you could argue that Claremont dusting off his Crimson Pirates from obscurity beats the heck out of the upteenth rehash of Mystique, the Sentinels, Sauron, the Hellfire Club, the Reavers, the Savage Land Mutates, Mister Sinister, the Brood, and so on, i.e. all the bad guys who most of the writers who followed Claremont have endlessly trotted out ad infinitum for the past quarter century.

I may have been the only one excited to see the return of these underused characters. I believe Chris Claremont’s original story was cut short by editorial. The endind was definitely a mess. Cool visuals though. I believe Tullamore Voge first appeared in Excalibur 16 or 17, drawn by Alan Davis.

Voge is himself an example of this trope, seeing as how he appeared as a gag villain in Excalibur years before appearing in Claremont’s 2000 run.
I’m surprised Claremont was allowed to bring the pirates back, considering how negative the reaction to them was.

Claremont is the king of bring back characters he created. Seems like every time he gets his hands on something X-Men related it’s always Shadowcat, Rogue, Gambit, & now Sage. He ruined Exiles for me.

Claremont is actually a special case, because all of his book are super interconnected.
Marvel might be a grand narrative, but Claremont is one step ahead.
Twisted Sisters for example appeared first in his Fantastic Four run, only to be re-introduced in his X-Men run.
Doom Leutenants (Lancer, Technarx, Divinity, Shakti) appeared first in Heroes Reborn one-shot specials only
to return in both Fantastic Four and later X-Men: The End.
N’Garai were featured in various incarnations in Dracula, X-Men, Iron Fist, Marada, Dr. Strange stories.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Crimson Pirates are back, just like it shouldn’t be a surprise that the only
apperance of Technet outside of Excalibur was during (again) CC’s run on FF.
Still CC introduced a new villain, Trimega. Whether you like him or not, he is the first new X-Men villain for
a very long time.

And I agree with Mr. Herman, I am sick of Mystique, Magneto, Sinister, and especially Sentinels being rehashed for 1000th time too.

Chakal raises a good point. In the 1970s and early 80s, when he was writing several different unrelated books, Claremont had quite a few interconnected subplots running through them:

“The Council” was a mysterious organization that he name-dropped in a few different stories, and down the line they were eventually revealed to be the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. Sabretooth fist appeared in Iron Fist. Deathbird and Mystique both made their debuts in Ms. Marvel, and if the series had not been canceled abruptly Rogue might also have shown up there. Instead, her first print appearance was in Avengers Annual #10. Each of them eventually went on to become major X-Men related characters. And I’m probably missing a few other examples.

The Crimson Pirates may have started out underwhelming, but I am willing to give Claremont an opportunity to utilize them again, and see what he does with them as villains.

Damn, it’s been so long since I liked Claremont, just reading his dialogue makes me flinch (even though there’s nothing particularly wrong with those panels).
Mantis is the most obvious example.
I think it was close to two years before Englehart took the Beast (whom he’d written in his solo run) over to the Avengers. Of course there’s a long tradition of “my solo character tanked, good thing I’m writing a team book!” membership changes.
Englehart also brought over the Gryphon from his Beast run into West Coast Avengers.
Does this apply to a single continuous run of the same series? Some of John Broome’s GL villains (Dr. Polaris, Sinestro) easily had a couple of years of quiet at various points in his tenure.

I have often wondered if Roger Stern had a soft spot for Tigra. He had her join the Avengers for a few issues, talk Molecule Man out of destroying the world, and then quit. She saved the day, but felt way out of her league. He then brought her back in West Coast Avengers mini-series where she used her brain going undercover as Madame Masque and less of her sex appeal. Then in the late 90s there was an issue where the Avengers Infinit group had been caught by the evil villains and tied up. In the mini, all Tigra did was fly the ship. In this one-off issue, with all the Avengers captured, she simply changed to her smaller human form, untied herself and then untied everyone else. It was just a minor thing, but for some reason I thought it was cool.

Claremont does this all the time, especially with Excalibur characters. Technet and the War Wolves popped up during his Fantastic Four run. He used Roma a lot during his mid-00s Uncanny X-men run. Towards the end of Exiles, he basically turned it into an Excalibur spin-off.

‘He had her join the Avengers for a few issues, talk Molecule Man out of destroying the world, and then quit. She saved the day, but felt way out of her league.’

Wasn’t that Shooter?

Wow, I’ve never even heard of these guys, but it’s certainly true that Claremont is especially prone to this sort of thing.

I encountered this sort of thing recently in a Star Trek novel. I noticed that writer Diane Duane had introduced some key new crew members on Kirk’s Enterprise, and poking around online I found that they had shown up several more times–but only in Trek novels and comics by Duane herself.

The Crimson Pirates are related to the Neo, right?

I hope this means we’re a step closer to the resurrection of my favorite characters from Claremont’s 2000 run, Guy-With-A-Crossbow and Woman-Who-Kind-Of-Has-Callisto’s-Powers-I-Think.

- Yeah, Claremont is the king of this stuff. Steve Englehart too.

– I don’t know. Theoretically, new characters in a franchise should be applauded. However, a lot of new vilains disappoint. Maybe because the classical supervillains often have ideological, thematic, or personal connections with the heroes. New villains often lack this.

– I love everything Claremont did until 1991, but the stuff he did afterwards leaves me cold. I don’t think he lost his talent. But times changed, the medium changed, and I’ve changed, but Claremont is still the same.

Claremont brought pet characters back a lot, but he was really building his own corner of the Marvel that centered around the X-mansion. It seems to have worked out pretty well for all concerned.

The writer that has done it the most between unconnected titles has to be Greg Rucka.

Claremont had a habit of bringing pet characters back even when it made no sense. In Wolverine, Logan was believed to be dead and was undercover in Madripoor using an eyepatch. This made sense, since nobody in Madripoor had met Logan in person. Until Claremont brought in Jessica Drew, Lindsay McCabe and Karma. After numerous complaints that Jessica, Lindsay and Karma aren’t bimbos that can’t recognize someone just because they’re wearing an eyepatch, PAD retconned that they knew and they couldn’t bring themselves to tell Logan how stupid he was for thinking an eyepatch could fool them.

I know that Claremont’s circa 2000 run on X-Men is not well regarded. But it does sound like there was a lot of behind the scenes editorial meddling and last minute changes foisted upon him at the time, which probably explains at least some of the problems with those stories. I can understand Claremont’s desire to revisit some of the characters he introduced back then, this time hopefully with more of a free hand. Let’s see how it turns out.


After numerous complaints that Jessica, Lindsay and Karma aren’t bimbos that can’t recognize someone just because they’re wearing an eyepatch, PAD retconned that they knew and they couldn’t bring themselves to tell Logan how stupid he was for thinking an eyepatch could fool them.

There’s actually at least one hint at Jessica being onto the “ruse” in an earlier Claremont-penned issue (#5). She sees a tintype picture of Wolverine with a Landau, Luckman and Lake agent, and he’s not wearing the patch, and she refers to the person in the picture as “Patch” (with quotes), suggesting she knows that alias is BS.

So I’ve always taken it that PAD was just confirming/making explicit something Claremont hinted at (and, let’s be clear, something which needed to be done, because it was ridiculous to think for even a moment that anyone who knew Wolverine would be fooled by the patch).

This is a really good idea for a column. I want to vote that it should be more regular.

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