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Subject: rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks FAQ: 2/8
This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:23:44 GMT
-= REC.ARTS.COMICS.MARVEL.XBOOKS =-
Frequently Asked Questions
Version 2003.02, last updated November 2003
Subject: Table of Contents
HISTORY OF THE X-TEAMS AND X-TITLES
* The 1960s and 1970s: Early history
* The 1980s: An explosion of new titles
* The 1990s: Claremont's exit, mega-crossovers
* 2000 and beyond: New (and newer) directions
Subject: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE X-TEAMS AND X-TITLES
Please note: Background information on the creators and the X-titles
editorial offices is based on over a decade's worth of interviews,
articles, and personal questions, and as such is not directly
attributed here. Now that some of Marvel's staff members are on Usenet,
they are welcomed to correct and amend any of the answers listed below.
Individuals who are looking for more recent summaries of plots and
events would do well to visit Paul O'Brien's X-Axis Reviews website at
Subject: The 1960s and 1970s
In 1963 (our time, not Marvel time), Professor Charles Xavier gathered
together a group of five young mutants to help them train their powers.
He also hoped that they could help protect innocents from "evil
mutants," as well as do good deeds for the rest of humanity. This group
was called the X-Men, after the eXtra-powers that each member possessed
(the resemblance to Xavier's last name was not entirely coincidental).
This original team consisted of Cyclops (Scott Summers), Marvel Girl
(Jean Grey), Iceman (Bobby Drake), Angel (Warren Worthington III), and
the Beast (Hank McCoy). The book was written by Stan Lee and pencilled
by Jack Kirby. Magneto was the villain of the first issue, and his
fiendish plot was to terrorize a missile base to prove how tough he was.
Havok (Scott's brother Alex) and Polaris (Lorna Dane) were semi-regular
members who later joined the team. Mimic (Calvin Rankin) was briefly a
member, and Changeling pretended to be Professor Xavier for a while.
The original X-Men title was "cancelled" after 66 issues, due to low
readership. It became a reprint title, reprinting original stories it
had shown only a few years earlier, while the X-Men went to supporting
roles in titles like Amazing Adventures and Ka-Zar Quarterly.
This all changed with the introduction of the "new" X-Men in Giant-Size
X-Men #1, which came out in 1975. Written by Len Wein and penciled by
Dave Cockrum, it had the original team captured by the Living Island of
Krakoa, who manipulated Xavier into bringing together a second team of
mutants to help feed its unholy hunger: Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner),
Wolverine (Logan), Banshee (Sean Cassidy), Storm (Ororo Munroe), Sunfire
(Shiro Yoshida), Colossus (Piotr Rasputin), and Thunderbird (John
Proudstar). This new team succeeded in rescuing the old heroes, and most
of the new recruits stayed on to form the team that would make the X-Men
comic book legends. The title restarted with X-Men #94, with Chris
Claremont taking over for a sixteen-year run as writer. Soon after,
Thunderbird died and Sunfire quit, while Angel, Jean, Iceman, Polaris,
and Havok left the team on good terms. Soon afterward, Jean Grey joined
the infamous shuttle mission and "died", and Phoenix entered the picture
in X-Men #101. X-Men became The Uncanny X-Men with issue #114.
Subject: The 1980s: An explosion of new titles
Kitty Pryde (of many names, notably Shadowcat) was introduced to the
team in UXM #129, just as the Hellfire Club intrigue and the Dark
Phoenix Saga were getting underway. The Phoenix Saga left Jean Grey
dead on the moon in UXM #137, which led to Cyclops' departure in #138
and Kitty (first called Sprite and Ariel) joining in #139. Cyclops
returned just in time to join the team in space for the Brood Saga,
Around UXM #160, Claremont and then-editor Louise Jones (who was yet to
marry Walt Simonson), concieved a new title that would focus on the
school aspect of the X-Men, instead of the superheroics. Apparently
someone in Marvel had decided that there should be a companion book to
the X-Men, and Claremont was anxious to avoid what he called a "West
Coast X-Men" book.
This spinoff book had no title for a long time, until the creators
decided to use the term which they had just been using in their design
meetings for it: the New Mutants. This was also a tribute to the
Kirby/Lee X-Men, since the original name for that comic was going to be
"The Mutants," until someone convinced Stan Lee that not enough of the
buying public knew what mutants were to make it a sensible title.
Claremont was the writer of the New Mutants, and Bob McLeod was the
first penciler. The New Mutants debuted with Sunspot (Roberto DaCosta),
Wolfsbane (Rahne Sinclair), Psyche (Dani Moonstar), Karma (Xi'an Coy
Manh), and Cannonball (Sam Guthrie). They fought Donald Pierce, a
renegade member of the Hellfire Club, in their first appearance. Over
the years, they were joined by Magma (Amara Aquilla), Magik (Illyana
Rasputin, Colossus' sister), Cypher (Doug Ramsey), and Warlock (an
alien being, not to be confused with the cosmic superhero of the same
name). The title was cancelled and rebooted after issue #100.
Kitty Pryde was demoted to the New Mutants for a short while, but soon
rejoined the X-Men team as Shadowcat. Rogue joined the team in UXM #171,
and Phoenix II (Rachel Summers, daughter of an alternate Jean Grey) was
introduced in the late 180s of the title. Meanwhile, former X-Men team
members Angel, Beast, and Iceman all resurfaced in "The Defenders",
retitled "The New Defenders", for a couple of years. Cyclops, on his own
leave of absence, met and married Madelyne Pryor, who looked like Jean.
Together, they had a son, Nathan Christopher Charles Summers, who was
born in UXM #200 while the New Mutants and X-Men were in Asgard.
Around the time of UXM #200, a third team/title was introduced. These
would be mutants disguising themselves as humans to help fight mutant
hatred. Bob Layton was the writer and Jackson Guice was the penciler,
and the title was called X-Factor, after the genetic trait that the X-
Factor members would be hunting down. Heavily promoted in the Marvel
trade press, the original X-Factor consisted of Cyclops, Iceman, the
Beast, Angel, and Jean Grey. Marvel attempted suspense by keeping the
mysterious "fifth member" unrevealed, but since the four men were known
going in, it was obvious that they were going to resurrect Jean Grey for
the title. X-Factor found themselves bringing in Rusty Collins, a
pyrokinetic, in their first appearance. They, too, trained young
mutants, bringing in Tabitha Smith (of many codenames including
Meltdown) and others.
Soon after that, Chris Claremont came up with an idea that would prove
to be the bane of straightforward storytelling in the X-Titles: a
crossover. While crossovers were used in comics at that time (especially
at Marvel--see Secret Wars II), a multi-title crossover on the scale of
the Mutant Massacre (a title used in partial irony) was pretty new. In
it, X-Men Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Shadowcat were badly hurt, while
X-Factor member Angel lost his wings. Psylocke (Betsy Braddock), Dazzler
(Alison Blaire), Longshot, and Havok joined the X-Men in the following
The Mutant Massacre crossover was so popular that the editor of the X-
Men, Ann Nocenti, decided to hold another one to help keep sales up
during the competitive summer months. Claremont agreed, and presented
the Fall of the Mutants--unique in that while it was a "crossover," none
of the characters of one book met the characters of the other two books.
However, the result was tons of bloodshed--Angel became Archangel, Doug
Ramsey was killed, and the team of X-Men, plus Madelyne Pryor, was
killed. Of course, Madelyne and the X-Men were resurrected, but were
invisible to scanners. They went to Australia and were joined by silent
With the interest in the X-titles remaining at a high level, Classic X-
Men was created to reprint the adventures of the "new" X-Men, beginning
with Giant-Size X-Men #1. Unlike most reprint books, Classic X-Men also
had up to four new pages inserted into the old story, sometimes not with
the most smooth of seams, written by Claremont and drawn by some current
artist, which would expand upon the old story. Each Classic X-Men also
had a brand new story that took place around the time of the reprint.
The first run of new stories in Classic X-Men were written by Claremont
and drawn by John Bolton. When the press of Claremont's writing didn't
give him time to write any more in Classic X-Men, a few other writers
were allowed to do some, but eventually Marvel removed the backup
stories (last backup: #44, the Rogue origin story) and the new "filler"
material, and retitled the book X-Men Classics, which reprinted
unaltered copies of Uncanny X-Men. This title was cancelled at #110
(which reprinted UXM #206).
For a long time, Chris Claremont opposed giving Wolverine a solo title.
Claremont feared that overexposure would ruin the mysterious nature of
his background which helped make him so popular (Marvel solved that
dilemma by making Wolverine's revealed past so confusing that nobody
could figure it out). A few Wolverine limited series came out, such as
"Wolverine" and "Kitty Pryde and Wolverine", but neither fulfilled the
thirst for more Wolverine stories. Wolverine finally got an ongoing
series, previewed in the new weekly comic, Marvel Comics Presents. In an
attempt to cut down the "fanboy" appeal, which Claremont feared was
driving requests for the title and would ruin its long-term prospects,
he deliberately set the popular mutant in an unpopular setting for young
fans--the exotic South Seas of Madripoor. Based more on old movies than
pop comics, Madripoor was both an attempt by Claremont to write the
character in a setting he found fun, as well as to confound the fanboys
who were just looking for "cool" action scenes. By putting Wolverine
into yet another personality, as "Patch," Claremont also could keep
mystery up around the mutant without revealing his ever-appealing "true
By this time, X-Factor's hidden agenda of pretending to be mutant
hunters while actually saving mutants had been exposed. They were living
as just another mutant superhero team in Ship off the coast of New York.
At the same time, some of the X-Men who were separated during the Mutant
Massacre and Fall of the Mutants had moved to England and set themselves
up (with some established English heroes) as Excalibur. Chris Claremont
wrote and Alan Davis pencilled the book. The first members were Captain
Britain (Brian Braddock), Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, her dragon Lockheed,
Meggan, and Phoenix II, and they were challenged by Mojo's Warwolves in
their first appearance. The book was cancelled with #125.
Around this time, Claremont planned to do one last crossover that would
clear up a bunch of loose ends, finalize some old plot threads, get rid
of some old characters, and answer some old questions. It was called
Inferno, and was distinctive for how non-mutant titles worked themselves
into the story without being required reading (like Spider-Man's
appearances in Inferno). Basically, two demons teamed up with Madelyne
Pryor (who was revealed to be Sinister's clone of Jean Grey and called
herself the Goblyn Queen), and gathered babies for a sacrifice that
would allow them to take over the world. Scott and Maddie's son was one
of the babies. The X-Factor kids and the New Mutants teamed up to rescue
the babies, while X-Men and X-Factor met, saw the real true Jean Grey
was alive, and trounced Sinister.
Claremont hoped that Inferno would be so unwieldly that no one would
want another crossover. It didn't work. Inferno just made people want
more "X-overs". This meant more writers had to be called in, and it
increased the chance that artists and writers would mess up continuity
and otherwise have their quality of work suffer. Despite the fact that
crossovers end up producing lower quality work from all involved in the
stories, poorly-planned and ill-plotted crossovers continued for years.
After the events of Inferno, the team was "joined" by mall rat Jubilee
(Jubilation Lee). During various events, most of the team ended up going
through the Siege Perilous, which sent characters all over the world and
"resurrected" them in new situations (such as Havok as a military leader
in Genosha, Colossus as an artist in New York, Rogue split from the
Carol Danvers persona in the Savage Land, and Psylocke as an Asian
ninja). Poor Storm had been deaged by Nanny and thought dead, though she
ended up as a child thief with Gambit (Remy LeBeau) in New Orleans. A
short-term team of backup X-Men was formed on Muir Island with Legion,
Forge, Siryn, Banshee, and a few others. They went looking for the other
Shortly after this, Claremont was getting burned out on the X-titles. He
was writing most of the issues while working on novels, and he started
to fold under pressure from editorial influences as to what should be in
the X-titles (as well as his own recycling of old ideas). Wolverine and
New Mutants were the first books he resigned from. Wolverine was moved
to a variety of writers, eventually settling on Larry Hama for a long
stretch, while New Mutants was passed on to Louise Simonson.
Somewhere around here Rob Liefeld stepped in. He was brought over to New
Mutants because Marvel thought a young penciler might better relate to
young characters. Bob Harras, the editor of the X-titles (note that the
titles had grown large enough that a group editor was needed to keep
them all together) thought the title of "New Mutants" was oxymoronic on
a book approaching its one hundredth issue, and wanted a change in the
focus of the book to match the change of title. So, he put Rob Liefeld
on New Mutants as penciler, with Louise Simonson as writer. Cable was
introduced as their mysterious leader. Half of the team left. The
remainder was kidnapped by former X-Factor assistant Cameron Hodge and
taken to Genosha where they were put on trial.
This led to the X-Tinction Agenda, where all of the various characters
of X-Factor, X-Men, and New Mutants reconnected. Warlock was killed, the
kids were rescued, and everyone tried to figure out how they should
proceed. The New Mutants and X-Factor kids stayed with Cable (except
Wolfsbane), while the others contacted Xavier in space (where he'd been
since UXM #200). They soon fought the Shadow King, and again tried to
figure out what to do. So, around UXM #281 and X-Factor #71, there was a
massive reshuffling of teams.
Subject: The 1990s: Claremont's exit, mega-crossovers
Only a few months after the X-Tinction Agenda crossover, the New Mutants
title was replaced by X-Force, with Rob Liefeld as "plotter" and
penciler, and Fabian Nicieza as scripter. New characters Feral (Maria
Santos) and Shatterstar (Gaveedra 7/Ben Russell) and old character
Thunderbird (James Proudstar, brother of the original Thunderbird) had
shown up in the last issues of New Mutants, and helped to form the new
X-Force team. X-Force was perhaps best summarized by its main character,
the cyborg Cable. In the Marvel Universe, Cable stood for "taking the
fight" to the bad guys. In the real world, Cable stood for a change
towards action and fight-fests, as opposed to the usual slower-paced,
character-focused issues of Claremont. Young hordes of fans bought
X-Force with glee, making its first issue the highest shipping comic in
modern comic history up to that time. Both ideas proved to be spurious.
Cable ended up "taking the fight" to the villains about as often as the
Debuting within months of X-Force, the new X-Men title (not the same as
Uncanny X-Men, which had been referred to in abbreviation as X-Men) was
created to further saturate the X-Men market, and, more importantly,
saturate the then fan-favorite art of X-Men artist Jim Lee (teamed up
with by-then co-star Chris Claremont). Five different covers were offered
to fanboys and speculators, who bought multiple copies.
Seeing the figures, the powers-that-be at Marvel decided that current
fans must be attracted more to art than writing, so they promoted a new
generation of young artists and emphasized many more merchanizing tie-ins,
emblazoned with the new art styles, that one could buy to "fit in" with
the X-Men experience, including t-shirts, posters, pins, and so on.
Unfortunately, the fan-favorite artists were not happy that they got
little to no return on their work when their art from an Uncanny X-Men
issue was reprinted on a poster or t-shirt. For these reasons, as well as
various claims of "creative control," the leading artists of the X-titles
left Marvel and founded Image Comics where, with complete legal control
over their new characters, they would make as much money as they could
over the merchandizing of their own creations.
Meanwhile, the preferred treatment of the artists over the other creative
staff caused stress among the creators. Fed up, Chris Claremont finally
left the titles with X-Men #3 and UXM #281. Claremont and other writers
(including New Mutants writer Louise Simonson) stated in interviews that
their main reasons for leaving were annoyance over the amount of editorial
nit-picking in their stories, and sense of powerlessness given the amount
of editorial favor for the artists as compared to the writers.
X-Men continued to sell, and Jim Lee stated in interviews that he had
plans for the title all the way up to issue #50, but before a year was up
he was already working at Image. This left Bob Harras in a pickle. He had
no artistic staff, and many of the writers who had been working for him
had already left the X-titles. To fill the creative gap on the main titles,
Harras recruited a bunch of new artists of varying ability, as well as two
Marvel in-house writers, Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza (Fabian was also
an editor at Marvel, while Lobdell had a second career as a stand-up comic).
X-Men became a companion book of Uncanny X-Men. There were supposed to be
differences in members, purpose, and focus between the two books, but the
ongoing crossovers and Marvel's scrambling to cover the "X-odus" (as the
departure of the creative staff on the X-titles was called) made it
essentially a twice-monthly book coming out under two different titles.
X-Factor, meanwhile, had undergone yet another change of direction. It
lost the original members to the new X-Men title, and picked up a bunch
of mutants that had been lurking in the background of Marvel stories for
decades as their main characters: Havok, Polaris, Multiple Man (Jamie
Madrox), Wolfsbane, Strong Guy (Guido Carosella), and Forge. This "new"
X-Factor was well received due to the excellent work of the new creative
team of writer Peter David and penciler Larry Stroman. It was cancelled
and rebooted after issue #149.
When the X-Men animated series came out, Marvel, never slow to miss a
potential tie-in, put out the new title X-Men Adventures, which did
adaptations of the cartoon series. Since the cartoon series itself was
adapting three decades of X-stories, long-time X-readers tended to get
odd feelings of deja vu. It was later joined by the title Adventures of
the X-Men, which printed original stories based on cartoon continuity.
Both were later cancelled, as was the cartoon series, and X-Men: The
Manga" was created, publishing the same stories X-Men Adventures used
to publish. Plagued by lateness, it too was cancelled.
As part of Marvel's new marketing strategy, the Unlimited series of
books was brought out. The idea of the Unlimited books was to focus on
stories that would be more "character-based" than normal Marvel titles,
whatever that would mean, and would be told in just one oversized issue.
For a while, the title went to an anthology format, including three
short stories per issue.
Also around this time, Marvel came out with a group of titles that
shared a common theme: they were placed about 100 years ahead of
"normal" Marvel history. Called the 2099 series, they featured a bunch
of alternative future versions of Marvel standards, including Spider-Man
2099, Punisher 2099, and X-Men 2099. Aside from reverent mentions of
some of the older X-Men, however, X-Men 2099 rarely had anything to do
with the continuity of the "older" titles. After a few years, it too
If nothing else, Marvel has always shown a rather strong interest in
keeping its old stories available to the public (maybe because it's
cheaper just reprinting the old stuff). The next X-title to appear was
in this vein: X-Men: The Early Years, which reprinted the original X-Men
series, from back in the 60s, while X-Men Classics continued to reprint
the "new" X-Men stories. It was cancelled after 19 issues. The book was
replaced by Professor Xavier and the X-Men, which retold the early tales
from a more modern viewpoint. It also was cancelled after a few issues.
Eagle-eyed FAQ-readers are no doubt seeing a familiar pattern here.
Various other crossovers and battles took place over the next few years.
Just after the reshuffling, Bishop appeared from the future, and joined
the X-Men team. X-Cutioner's Song featured the introduction of Stryfe
and the Legacy virus, and revealed Cable as Scott and Madelyne's son
returned from the future and the return of Apocalypse. (It was around
this time that Scott Summers and Jean Grey finally married.) Fatal
Attractions featured the death of a de-aged Magik, the return of
Magneto, and Colossus' choice to defect to Magneto's acolytes. It also
featured Magneto ripping the adamantium off of Wolverine's bones through
his skin. Xavier eventually mindwiped Magneto to stop him. It didn't
stop the Acolytes, though, as yet another crossover (this time between
Avengers and X-Men) called Blood Ties featured the kidnapping of
Quicksilver's daughter by Magneto Acolyte and impersonator Fabian
Cortez. The art was "kewl" and the events were extreme, but something
was still lacking.
The decision was made to make yet another title to expand on the X-Men
theme and return to the basic ideas of the old X-Men and the New
Mutants: teaching young mutants to both fit in the world as well as to
use their powers. The Phalanx Agenda crossover introduced the new cast
of young mutants, which eventually became Generation X. Scott Lobdell
wrote and Chris Bachalo pencilled this new title, which featured Banshee
and the White Queen (Emma Frost) teaching the younger generation of
mutants in Frost's Massachussetts Academy, now the "School for Gifted
Youngsters". Xavier finally changed the original X-mansion school to an
"Institute for Higher Learning." Generation X featured Jubilee
(Jubilation Lee), Husk (Paige Guthrie), M (Monet St. Croix), Skin
(Angelo Espinoza), Synch (Everett Thomas), and Chamber (Jonothon
Starsmore) as the first students, and they found themselves facing
Emplate in their first issue.
In summer 1994, as Generation X was just hitting the stands, the
greatest crossover of all was planned: the end of the universe! Age of
Apocalypse (AOA), and its lead-in, Legion Quest, tied it all together.
Due to a time-travel glitch, an alternate reality was created. In this
"World Without Xavier," Apocalypse was in charge, and Magneto led the
heroic opposition. All of the writers' (and some fans') fantasies came
true: Cyclops was a villain, Jean Grey and Wolverine were a couple,
Magneto and Rogue were married with a child, Doug Ramsey wasn't dead,
and Kitty and Colossus were married, to name a few. All of the comics
were retitled and renumbered (starting at #1). The casts were scrambled
as well, with X-Force becoming Gambit and the X-ternals as the most
extreme example. Through the machinations of all the books, the timeline
was restored to normal, with four AOA characters remaining in the "real"
timeline: X-Man (Nate Grey), Sugar Man, the AOA version of Beast, and
Holocaust. Nate Grey got his own title, X-Man, the only AOA title to
continue past the crossover itself. When AOA ended, numbering of the
other titles continued where it had left off.
The next mega-crossover was Onslaught. In that crossover, a psychic
construction with all of the worst parts of Xavier and Magneto decided
to try taking over the world. This crossover was different in that in
had a greater impact on the rest of the Marvel Universe than it did on
the X-Men themselves. Onslaught set up the reboots of Iron Man, the
Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and Captain America, and caused the
characters' (temporary) removal from the Marvel Universe. Rob Liefeld
had once again been courted to raise sales on those four titles, even
though Mark Waid's previous six months of work on Captain America had
turned the title into a solid seller. After Liefeld, Jim Lee, and others
finished their runs on the titles (Liefeld's being shorter than the
planned 12-issue run), the books were restarted with number 1 issues.
Meanwhile, Waid wrote some issues of the X-Men, adding Cannonball to the
team, but left soon after. A Magneto stand-in, Joseph, was briefly a
member, as was Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff, Magneto's son).
Following Onslaught, the X-Men were on their own during the Operation:
Zero Tolerance crossover. As "Operation: Zero Tolerance" continued, Bob
Harras realized that things were not going well in the X-titles. On the
main front, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men writer Scott Lobdell was trying to
tank the story because he wanted the X-Men to lose and editor Mark
Powers refused to let them. At the same time, X-Factor was becoming a
mess of new characters, and Excalibur was going through writer cramps as
Warren Ellis left the book. So Harras acted to change things.
The first books to get the big treatment were the X-Men and Uncanny.
They were given to Joe Kelly and Steven T. Seagle, respectively, who
shook things up by adding three characters: Marrow (a terrorist),
Maggott (a South African), and Cecelia Reyes (a doctor). The book went
in some interesting directions, but their tenure lasted only eight months
since management decided that a new, different direction was in order.
Listening to complaints about the size of the X-Men team, a decree was
made that the book should have a team of 7 or 8: Wolverine, Storm, Marrow
and Rogue would stay on; Excalibur, which was rapidly losing sales, would
be closed down, and its main three characters--Shadowcat, Nightcrawler
and Colossus--would return. And then there was Gambit.
After decent sales on Gambit's mini series and letters asking for his
return after being unceremoniously dumped in the snow in Uncanny X-Men
#350 (after revealing his part in the Mutant Massacre), a solo book was
set to spring out of events in one of the down-time issues. Fabian Nicieza
returned from his editorial stint at Acclaim Comics to begin the writing
job on the title. (It was eventually cancelled with #26.)
With such upheaval--dissolution of a team book, retrenching on the two
core titles, Larry Hama leaving Generation X after dismal reception and
new writer Jay Faerber coming in with new ideas, and John Francis Moore
setting up X-Force in a new way--Harras turned to the remaining book:
X-Factor. Writer Howard Mackie and editor Frank Pittarese were asked to
come up with something radical. The result? X-Factor would halted at
#149 (after constantly promising a big payoff in issue #150) and Havok
would go to another universe where the rules were changed. This would
last for a year, and then Havok would return to take the team in a
different direction. Harras was ecstatic and he okayed the move. X-
Factor became Mutant X, a twelve issue maxi-series that was received so
positively, the book was continued. (Unfortunately, the positive start
soon turned negative, and the book was cancelled with #32.)
Back to the core titles. The drastic reduction of the X-Men's numbers,
combined with the addition of Marrow and the members from the defunct
Excalibur team, left everyone in a bit of a muddle. The Psi-War soon
stripped Jean Grey, Psylocke, and Cable of their telepathic powers. (Of
course, in typical Marvel fashion, the power losses lasted for only a
short time.) Seagle and Kelly came up with some very interesting plots,
but the two authors were soon replaced by Alan Davis, who was supposed
to come on for six issues only but stayed until a "full-time
replacement" could be found.
Davis was forced to do the "Rage Against the Machine" event immediately
after his second story arc. The story, leading to the annuals, launched
the M-Tech line: Warlock, Deathlok and X-51: Machine Man. Sales on the
three books were dismal. (Although Warlock was the most X-related, and
the best-written, Marvel held the cancellation on X-51 another month
thinking it possible to remarket that title as an X-book. Didn't work.)
Xavier was missing around this time, and the X-men went on a search for
him. Cerebro, who had been taken by Bastion earlier, was rampaging and
Xavier was hiding from the machine, not able to contact the X-Men.
During the "Search for Xavier," they found him. Joseph turned out to be
a copy of Magneto. After the battle with Magneto, Joseph died and Magneto
was given Genosha by the UN. Then came "The Shattering." Xavier felt
something was wrong, and dissolved the team. During "The Shattering," the
members of the teams went off on their own, to recover from the events of
O:ZT and the like.
It was during this ebb that Bishop returned home to the mansion and chose
to go his own separate way as well. Bishop: The Last X-Man #1 began in
"The Shattering," when he and Storm were alone in the mansion. Before he
could change his mind, he was whisked away. Bishop:TLXM chronicled the
tale of Bishop versus the Chronomancer (aka Fitzroy) in an alternate
future. While Bishop was somehow sucked back into continuity during the
Twelve storyline, he was whisked back to his own title soon afterward.
(Bishop returned home again in his title's final issue, #16.)
Subject: 2000 and beyond
Information on "The Twelve" had been around for eons. An entire question
in this FAQ centered around who the possible candidates were, based upon
a handful of Master Mold appearances. The only thing certain was that it
had to do with a future conflict with Apocolypse. People weren't even
sure whether the Twelve were all heroes, or included the major good guys
*and* bad guys of the fight with Apocalypse. Apocalypse, of course, was
trying to take over the world. He wanted to obtain the powers of the
twelve most powerful mutants. He was going to take over Nate Grey's body
as his new host, but Cyclops sacrificed himself and the two merged.
Soon after that, the X-Men lost their powers due to a plot by the High
Evolutionary and Sinister, and went their merry ways trying to live new
lives powerless. During this time, Professor Xavier went into space to
teach mutant Skrulls how to use their powers.
All of this was a setup for the return of the master X-Men writer, Chris
Claremont. Claremont had been an editor for Marvel for years, and rumors
were always circulating as to whether he would return and "rescue" the
titles from their poorly-written existence. So a new event was concocted
to bring him back and increase sales--X-Men Revolution! The two main books
would be given over to Claremont, while three of the other titles (X-Man,
Generation X, and X-Force) would be given to "plotmaster" Warren Ellis.
The books would all include a "six-month gap" during which all kinds of
"neat" changes would happen, allowing the new writers to take the teams in
plot-leaping directions. All of this was to take place shortly after the
release of the "X-Men" movie in July 2000.
The X-Men movie was a hit. It topped the box office and left some older
fans wanting to return to the titles. The excellent cast, including
Patrick Stewart as Xavier and Ian McKellan as Magneto, was paired with
nifty special effects to create a very enjoyable, albeit alternative,
version of the X-Men. Fans, and Marvel staff, hoped that the movie would
lead new readers into the newly-revamped books.
Chris Claremont took over the two main titles, with artistic help from
Leinil Francis Yu and Mark Morales on X-Men and Adam Kubert, Salvador
Larrocca, and Tim Townsend on Uncanny. His new plots, however, left a
lot to be desired. Some nifty points occurred, including the switch of
powers between Phoenix and Psylocke and the appearance of former foe
Tessa on the team, but most were not explained. New member Thunderbird
III (Neal Sharra) was introduced, and Cable joined the main ranks. The
big problem was that there were no logical, recognizable villains faced.
You see, Claremont and company felt that old villains like Magneto had
been beaten before, so a new group, the Neo, were introduced.
The Neo stories had many problems. The characters were supposed to be
very powerful, like mutant versions of mutants. A new step in evolution,
if you will. But their powers were tired, their motivations unexplained,
and their characters undefined. "I am ____!" became the standard of high
characterization for the Neo, the Goth, the Twisted Sisters, and the
like, all of whom were supposedly different groups. Shadowcat, who was
also given a major personality change, went missing. Nobody really
bothered to look for her. The same was true of other characters. And,
while the two titles were again supposed to be two books with two teams
and storylines, the state of perma-crossover left them effectively merged.
Meanwhile, Counter-X debuted in Generation X, X-Force, and X-Man. Warren
Ellis started out with some interesting ideas, but the stories generally
left fans divided. X-Man was revamped by Steven Grant and Ariel
Olivetti, and was generally the only success story. The change to Nate
Grey as a sort of shaman was a huge departure from the previous
conceptualization of the character. Loads of parallel-Earth stories
ensued, but the book had an increased fan base. Unfortunately, it was
cancelled with issue #75, at the end of its first year of Counter-X.
Brian Wood and Steve Pugh took over Generation X from Jay Faerber and
the Dodsons, and led off with a House of Correction storyline that had
huge gaping plot holes all through it. Luckily, later stories that
explained the death of Synch during the six month gap, and focused on
character development, were much better. However, at the end of the
first year of Counter-X stories, the title was cancelled with issue #75.
Ian Edginton and Whilce Portacio took over X-Force, the least successful
of the Counter-X revamps. The book, which had been interesting under the
run of John Francis Moore, had faltered. But the revamp, which stripped
the team to four characters and started out with a ludicrous story of
aliens taking over people in San Francisco, left characters with ugly
costumes, ugly faces, few lines, new powers, and murky colors. The book
was also late, late, late. Of all of the revamps, X-Force was the flop.
To tie in with the release of the movie, two new items debuted. X-Men:
Evolution was a cartoon featuring an alternate version of the X-Men. A
new Ultimate title, Ultimate X-Men, was also introduced, led by Mark
Millar and Adam Kubert. Like the movie, it featured black-leather-clad
X-Men in a team setting, though it was more like an alternate version
of X-Men #1. Neither seemed earth-shattering, though Ultimate was set
to be continuity-free (at least, compared with the main titles).
The shakeup that had begun with the new teams and titles and creators
was continued with the ascencion of Joe Quesada as the new Editor-in-
Chief after Bob Harras was fired. Many cancellations were announced,
including Generation X, X-Man, and Mutant X. Fabian Nicieza's well-done
Gambit was merged with Joe Harris' interesting Bishop (brought back to
our timeline for a joint miniseries), and both titles were cancelled.
John Byrne's nifty but slow X-Men: The Hidden Years, which was filling
in the gaps between (Uncanny) X-Men #66 and Giant-Size X-Men #1, was
announced as cancelled, but a write-in campaign and pressure from Byrne
meant that he had an extra issue or two to tie up loose threads.
Then came the restructurings and firings. Though Claremont's more recent
stories, dealing with the search for Destiny's diaries, seemed to give
more old-style characterization, he was released from the main books and
was given a third X-Men title to write. It was announced that the main
titles would be given over to Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely (X-Men) and
Joe Casey/Ian Churchill (Uncanny). Frank Tieri and Sean Chen took over
Wolverine with a back-to-basics approach (which translated into more
action). Popular Cable writer Robert Weinberg, working with Michael Ryan
and Andrew Pepoy, had given structure and intrigue back to that title,
but he was booted in favor of another writer. And in a bizarre twist, it
was announced that X-Force would be entirely revamped by Peter Milligan
and Mike Allred, and would feature a large team of all-new characters.
X-Men was renamed New X-Men as of issue #114, and Morrison and Quitely
introduced the scaled-down team of Cyclops, Phoenix, the White Queen,
Wolverine, and a newly-mutated Beast. They, along with Professor X,
reopened Xavier's school to a new group of students. Unfortunately,
Xavier had a twin sister, killed in the womb, that wanted to take over
his mind and ruin everything he'd worked for. A Chinese mutant, Xorn,
was introduced, as was a young winged mutant named Angel. The tone of
Morrison's New X-Men was distinct and unusual, and the book achieved
critical success, though some fans objected to new characterizations.
Uncanny X-Men was put in the hands of Casey and Churchill, who gathered
the team of (Arch)angel, Iceman, and Nightcrawler, added Chamber, and
included Wolverine for a few issues just for fun. The first few issues
focused on celebrity and family, as the team convinced Chamber that he
should join the team. After a visit to a mutant brothel, a mutant who
called herself Stacey X was added to the team. The Church of Humanity
was introduced as a threat. Sean Cassidy later showed up as the leader
of the European X-Corps, featuring former members of Generation X,
X-Factor, and Freedom Force (villains).
Meanwhile, Chris Claremont was shunted over to X-Treme X-Men, paired
with Salvador Larocca on art. He built a team using Storm, Bishop,
Rogue, Thunderbird, Sage, Beast, and Psylocke. Psylocke was killed
off by a villain named Vargas, and Beast's injuries and subsequent
"treatment" by Sage transferred him to the New X-Men team in a more
bestial state. Gambit rejoined the team, and two new characters were
introduced: Heather Cameron (Lifeguard), who could turn into whatever
form she needed, and her brother Davis (Slipstream), whose surfing-
teleportation powers were activated by Sage. Though the team was
supposedly formed to locate Destiny's diaries, a quest introduced in
X-Men #109, more of their efforts went towards battling organized crime
in Australia and Madripoor, and fighting off an alien invasion.
X-Force's makeover in the hands of Milligan and Allred was more of a
critical success. Almost all of the team featured in the first issue
was killed, and new team members quickly bit the dust after that,
until a more complex set of relationships developed between Orphan
and U-Go Girl and the newer team members. Conspiacies and corporate
links formed a backdrop to a unique set of characters, all trying to
figure out who they were while tentatively forming relationships
within a team that seemed unstable at best.
Cable was turned over to Tischman and Kordey, who took the character
in a more political real-world direction. Wolverine continued under
the hand of Frank Tieri, who seemed to believe that large, long
fight sequences were the epitome of characterization. Multiple Icons
miniseries were published, many of which seemed rather lame. One bright
spot was Judd Winnick's new Exiles title--a Quantum-Leap-inspired book
with a lot of light humor to it.
A mere year after the upheaval, the Marvel offices were at it again.
Quitely's slow pace meant that Ethan Van Sciver would become a regular
penciler on alternate arcs from Quitely on New X-Men. Low sales and odd
plots brought Chuck Austen in to replace Joe Casey on Uncanny, though
Casey's X-Corps idea became the X-Corporation in New X-Men and Uncanny.
Critical success X-Force was winning new fans, but older fans complained
about the bait-and-switch nature of the title, so it was relaunched with
the name X-Statix. To battle low sales, other titles were also renamed
and rebooted with #1 issues. Darko Macan became the new writer on Cable,
renamed Soldier X. Deadpool, a semi-X-related title, was renamed Agent X
and was written by Deadpool writer Gail Simone, with art by UDON Studios.
One new book, Weapon X, brought together a team of former X-Men allies
and foes (working for the government as a black ops team), and was
written by Frank Tieri with art by Georges Jeanty.
It is not clear if the relaunches and reboots will be successful, but it
is likely that Marvel will keep trying. At the very least, the new style
of the books means that there are finally three separate and distinct
core titles, and a number of supporting titles, that each have their own
team, purpose, style, and audience. Fans no longer felt compelled to buy
every issue of every title in order to keep track of what was going on.
*** Continued in Part 3 ***
Compilation Copyright 2000-2003 by Katharine E. Hahn
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