Global News

Comics: Revisiting the Game Changing Events from the X-Men Books that will Shape the Relaunch of a New Era

By JV Tanjuatco

Starting in July, the X-Men books will be getting a brand new relaunch care of A-list writer Jonathan Hickman. He’ll be writing two mini-series called House of X and Powers of X (pronounced as 10 as in the Roman numeral). This will lead to all the current X-titles being cancelled and replaced by new X-books spearheaded by Hickman and a group of creators who are yet to be disclosed. Marvel is hyping this up as a grand makeover along the lines of major past X-Men shake-ups that had a major impact on the X-Men’s creative direction. Let’s take a look at each of these pivotal X-events.



Giant Size X-Men

There was a time there were no new X-Men stories for a long time. The title was re-launched by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum in Giant-Size X-Men #1. The original X-Men, who were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, had been all American Caucasian teenagers who all wore matching costumes and were only figuring out their powers. Aside from lone original member Cyclops, the rest of the team was now composed of characters from different countries. They all had real control over their powers.

Wein left after Giant-Size X-Men and Chris Claremont took the reins. Arguably, it was Claremont’s characterization and his stories that was part of the new X-Men’s appeal. The other part was Cockrum’s character design work. There is something about the costumes that stood the test of time. No matter how many costume changes these characters go through, many artists revert back to the original design.


X-Men #1

In 1990, Claremont was still the writer of the Uncanny X-Men title, now a perennial bestseller on the monthly comic book sales charts. Lee’s style was perfect for the high-octane blockbuster stories that Claremont was telling at the time. Stories that were set in World War 2, alien worlds, futuristic cities, and hidden lands filled with dinosaurs! Readers were eating it all up! Feedback must have been so good that Marvel decided to hand Claremont and Lee the keys to handle an all-new X-Men book with Lee now receiving a writing credit.

This new X-Men book brought back the original X-Men and combined them with the existing team. The team was now divided into two strike forces, blue and gold composed of both old and new X-Men. To celebrate this new era, Lee revitalized classic characters by designing new looks for them. Over 8.1 million copies of X-Men #1 sold, making it into the Guinness Book of World Records!  This was the most well known version of the X-Men at the time thanks also to the hugely popular cartoon that used Lee’s character designs. The mutants were now fast becoming pop culture icons on the same level as Superman and Batman!


Age of Apocalypse

After Claremont and Lee left the X-Men. Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza became the primary creators to steer the ship for the majority of the 90s. With stellar artwork from Andy Kubert and newcomer Joe Madureira, the X-Men books maintained their status as a top seller. But in 1995 there were rumors in comic book news magazines that Marvel was planning to cancel all the X-books (along with the two X-Men titles, there were four other X-books). Everyone was stunned. It was then announced that same creative teams from the cancelled titles would be working on these new books.

The X-Men were not going anywhere. They had just been drastically altered thanks to the Prof. X’s son Legion who had gone back in time and accidentally killed his own father. This radically changed the X-Men timeline and lead to arch-nemesis Apocalypse taking over the world, slaughtering mankind, and leaving mutants as the dominant race. This event was called the Age of Apocalypse. The X-Men not only got new looks, their new backstories altered their personalities. Fans embraced this event wholeheartedly with all the books dominating the top ten in the charts. And while the books reverted back to their status quo after four months, to this day, this impact of AoA can still be felt in the books.


New X-Men #114

With the onset of the new millennium, X-Men sales were trending downward and newly appointed editor-in-chief Joe Quesada felt that serious changes needed to be made. He entrusted the X-Men to Marvel newcomer Grant Morrison. Morrison had just come off a widely praised run on DC’s flagship team book JLA. Together with frequent collaborator, Frank Quitely, they came up with an iteration of the team that was truly uncanny. Quitely’s characters looked very alien even though they were supposed to be human.

Morrison introduced weird concepts into the books – secondary mutations, mutants with black holes for heads, mutant twins who kill each other in the womb, and so on. To keep in sync with their cinematic versions (the X-Men movie had just been released the year before), the costumes were scrapped and replaced with similar black uniforms. Fans looking for something new and refreshing felt that Morrison gave the series the creative jolt it needed.


About the author:

JV Tanjuatco, comic book writer/editor/publisher, founded Comic Book Lab that publishes the comic book titles Mythopolis and War of Whispers (co-created and co-written by him). Comic Book Lab’s most recent project was the graphic novel anthology Stay: 21 Comic Stories authored by Palanca Award winner Angelo R. Lacuesta and illustrated by a stellar line-up of artists including Trese’s Kajo Baldisimo. He has also written articles/reviews for and Ain’t It Cool.

Partner with adobo Magazine

Related Articles

Back to top button