Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The X-Men and Me

I first started reading X-Men comics when I was fifteen years old, in the year 1984. I was just re-discovering comics at the time and was only dimly aware of the X-Men.
I first remember hearing about X-Men when my friend Todd Kaneko was describing to me his two favorite superheroes, Nova and Wolverine, while we played the time-honored game Who Can Hold the Burning Napkin Longest at Rose Hill Jr. High. To Young Dave, Wolverine sounded intriguing and “edgy,” while Nova sounded like a total pud. Kaneko always had uneven tastes.

Anyway, I was in a comic book store in Bellevue when I overheard these two kids talking about Uncanny X-Men #183. The cover (pictured) shows the steel-skinned Colossus from The X-Men brawling with the indestructible villain Juggernaut in a tavern while his teammates Wolverine and Nightcrawler kick back and watch.
The conversation sounded something like this:

Kid #1: Why are these two guys just watching them fight?
Kid #2: These guys are pissed at this guy because he’s being a dick. They’re letting them fight to like, teach him a lesson or something.
Kid #1: Look, he’s drinking a beer.
Kid #2: I know. Wolverine’s cool.
Kid #1: So they’re pissed at this guy?
Kid #2: Colossus.
Kid #1: Why?
Kid #2: I don’t know, I just skimmed through it. There’s a bunch of talking at the beginning. He’s a dick to this one girl I think, and it pisses them off.
Kid #1: So they’re going to let this bad guy beat him up?
Kid #2: Yeah.
Kid #1: That’s cool.

It did sound cool. So I bought The Uncanny X-Men #183, my first X-Men comic, that very day. It cost me eighty-one cents total.

And I was hooked. I started during the Claremont / J Romita Jr era, which to this day are still some of my favorite stories, then I got as many of the Claremont / Byrne issues as I could. As a geeky Dungeon Master I appreciated the vastness and complexity of the X-Men universe, which is a superhero sub- all of its own, and as a hormonal boy I appreciated the emphasis on operatic emotion, macho derring-do, and chicks.

I collected the “core” X-Men books and the spin-offs like New Mutants and Excalibur, as well as any specials or crossovers I could get my hands on. I drew pictures of Cyclops and Nightcrawler on my PeeChee folders. I had a dream line-up of X-Men, which I will share with you later.

Then, gradually, the bloom on my mutant love faded. There were too many X-books, and they were starting to suck real bad. I discovered girls.

Occasionally these days I will make a foray into the world of the X-Men if something catches my fancy, but I no longer count myself as a die-hard mutant fan. Plus, a guy could go broke buying all those goddamn books.

Still, every once in a while Marvel will entice me back to the heroes of my pubescent years. I’ll read an X-Men comic by somebody like Grant Morrisson or Joss Whedon and I will remember why I liked the whole idea of mutant misfits in the first place, and I will remember a time when the coolest thing in the world would have been having retractable three-foot long blades popping out of my knuckles.


Anonymous said...

and as a hormonal boy I appreciated the emphasis on operatic emotion, macho derring-do, and chicks.

Wait, you've got some spelling errors.

Let me fix it.

and as a hormonal boy I appreciated the emphasis on adolescent Claremontisms, fetish gear, and lesbian subtext.

That's better.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome- that is LITERALLY my favorite issue of X-Men ever, BAR NONE! What a fantastic issue- I love Juggernaut and it has such great character moments. Aside from the Paul Smith drawn issues and the classic Byrne issues, this one really stands out.

Anonymous said...

I've kept up with Marvel's merry band of mutants since I discovered them right around the same time Dave did. Sometimes the effort is stretched too thin by having too many books. However, Joss Whedon's turn on Astonishing X-Men has been quite exciting. The look on Kitty Pryde's face when she first encounters Colossus - who she thought was dead - was incredible.

Marc Burkhardt said...

Like you, my X-Men fandom has dwindled to the point where it takes a Joss Whedon or a Grant Morrison to get me to pick up an issue.

(or a Brubaker...but Deadly Genesis really sucked...)

I first started reading the title when it was reprinting stories from the 60s. When I picked up Giant Sized X-Men #1 at the 7-11, it was just about the coolest thing I ever read.

Natch, I lost that issue long before it became valuable.

Anonymous said...

I drifted away from the X-Men once I realized that they all talked exactly the same, except for the purely cosmetic "Y'alls" et al. Also, they came to suffer from G.I. Joe syndrome. The cast just got dozens of times too large until you began to wonder how they could still be this oppressed minority. But for a while there, there were some really unbelievable stories.

I was also amazed at the Morrison and Whedon runs. The first arc of Astonishing was pure nostalgia and I don't want to give it too much credit for that, I don't know how it will age, but the part where Kitty holds her hand over her heart made me choke up a little. Morrison is the first person who ever made me like Cyclops, BTW. I had written him off after powerless Storm still kicked his ass. No doubt she learned how to do that in her chilhood as a pickpocket in Cairo.

Cole Moore Odell said...

My first X-Men was #107, with the Starjammers and the Legion of Super-Heroes clones by Cockrum. I was six and I had no idea what the fuck was going on. X-Men was a marginal title then, and distribution was spotty, so I got maybe four more issues over the next few years (good ones--vs. Magneto in the volcano, the fight with Alpha Flight,) before becoming a regular reader with #136, right at the tail-end of the Dark Phoenix story. #138, the funeral issue which recapped the entire series from issue #1 forward was incredibly valuable to me, and probably the single thing that kept me reading for the next few years. I gave up right around X-Men #200 because I was already sick of nothing ever getting resolved, and I never read another X-book until Morrison took over (that and Milligan/Allred on X-Force.) I would have bought the issue mentioned here, but I can't remember it to save my life. The Romita Jr. art was pretty, but the stories were starting to run together for me in this period.

Anonymous said...

First X-MEN comic?

Uncanny X-Men # 116.

My Mom and younger brother went to the local mall (Roosevelt Field on Long Island) at the time and a comic shoppe had opened there or nearby and was giving out freebees.

They came home and my brother gave me the issue (I'm pretty sure it was the current new issue at the time) and I DROOLED at how great it was!

Colossus getting BBQ'd on that cover by Garokk; the Petrified Man!

How amazing a cover is that?!

I had NO idea what was going on, but I LOVED it!
The Savage Land was GREAT!
And Garrok's fortress was so detailed, I HAD NO idea how someone could draw such a thing!

BYRNE was at his highest powers!

I was in LOVE!

But, I wasn't a comic fan at that time.

I read, re-read and read again that issue yet again, and would later discover those "bundle bags" that were around at the time.
(3 to 6 comics back-issues in what we would now call a poly-pag, with a peg hole and everything, hanging there at the local Alexander's. I was in Heaven! Hardly EVER got 2 issues that were consecutive, no matter HOW MANY damned bags you bought, but that was my first foray into comic collecting, and X-MEN # 116 led the charge.)

I would, thru this method, aquire a love for these things, and the X-MEN were near the top of my fave list.

(Until I discovered Man-Thing and Doctor Strange, of course)

I didn't start COLLECTING X-MEN comics until the HELLFIRE CLUB / Kitty Pryde saga a year and a half later.
That shit kicked so much ass that I bought the book religiously, up until the 1990's when Keiron Dwyer, Silvestri and Whilce Portacio started butchering it all.
Then I got out.

But those BYRNE issues were the end-all/be-all of comics greatness to me.

Gosh Darn you Dave!
No...God BLESS you Dave!
I forgot how great those freakin' mutants were!


Anonymous said...

First exposure to the X-Men was in 1980 when my friend Robert "don't bend the covers" O'Carroll let me read all of his bagged and boarded issues. I remember a lengthy discussion on how the U.S. Government could send the X-Men to destroy the Soviet Union. Eventually we decided that we could just send Iron Man and he could hit them with "a 20-mile wide repulsor blast" and the evil empire would fall to its knees.

Other than that, "Days of Future Past" remains the only X-arc to have stayed with me over the years.

Anonymous said...

My first x-men (and one of my first few comics period) was 2 issues later, #185 - ROUGE PUBLIC ENEMY #1 - I remember picking up 182-184 shortly there after at the local pet-store that sold assorted back issues for half price (I remember there being lots of issues of US-1). I adored these comics. Stuck with x-men until the Mutant Massacre which was just ridiculously stupid in my opinion. Looking forward to the week Dave, thanks!

Dweeze said...

Nice of you to resurrect "Where is my jam?", Cyclops' long-forgotten battle cry.

Edward Liu said...

Is "your first X-Men experience" and the resulting comment thread kind of like that scene in "Jaws" when the 3 guys on the Orca are comparing scars?

In any event: my first ever X-Men comic was an annual (#5) where they teamed up with the Fantastic Four to pound the Badoon. The one that got me hooked was Uncanny X-Men #175, which ended with the marriage of Cyclops to Madelyne Pryor.

I quit at #212, for mostly the same reasons as Cole Odell, but I haven't been back since. Couldn't get into Morrison and waited for the Oversize HC for the Whedon books, though I did read the trade for the first arc and thought it was damn cool.

I also liked X-Men Evolution in concept, but not always in practice. Nightcrawler was particularly grating on that show, they totally marginalized Storm, and Spyke was just lame.

Anonymous said...

The X-Men ushered me into full-blown superhero comics fandom as well, back in the early '80s. I'm still not sure what the ramifications of that are.

Although, I will admit to thinking that Rogue's ultra-mullet in that group pic was once seen by me as really cool. Go figure. It probably helped that I was a Rogue fan: The same hair on lil'Phoenix probably would've pissed me off.

Nik said...

Oooo, there better be lots of Jubilee this week!

I'm just sayin'.

Nik said...

And my first X-comic was the thoroughly entertaining Uncanny X-Men #168, with the first page featuring Kitty Pryde telling Professor X to f--k off or something like that. And Paul Smith! And dragons! Whoa!

Anonymous said...

Dude - 81 cents for a 60 cent comic? That's like 35% sales tax! Or was this purchased in a "Comics Specialty Shop" with a "Special Collector's Issue" mark-up?

I remember buying Hulk #200 off a drug store spinner rack for 26 cents (a whole quarter plus a penny tax). That was 1976 after all.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I had X-mens before this, but the first one I really remember was the Wolverine/Havok miniseries. I have since gotten sick of looking at Wolverine's face on everything, but when he snikted through that guy's head and skewered his glasses, I have to admit, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Anonymous said...

My first X-Men issue was Uncanny X-Men #150. That would be their last battle with Magneto until Claremont's (first) farewell arc some ten years later. I read that issue Every. Single. Day. until #151 came out. I then read them back to back every day until #152, etc. I was 7.

Today, I only read a few X-books. There was even a five year stretch where I didn't read a single X-book, but so much of my childhood was spent reading and drawing and babbling non-stop about X-Men comics, that I'll always have at least 60% of my long-term memory devoted to miscellaneous mutant trivia. ;)


Anonymous said...

My first X-Men experience was a TPB of the Dark Phoenix Saga that I picked up at used book store. This had to be 1986 or 87 and I was 9 or 10 years old. I'm sure I didn't understand it all, but it blew me away. I was hooked after that, through New Mutants, Excalibur, X-Factor, the Jim Lee X-Men with five covers, X-Force... okay, they lost me there, as I could not afford to buy all those comics back in the day. Still, I am enjoying some of the new tpbs that they are coming out with, even if I still can't afford to collect everything X out there.

Jim said...

I didn't begin really reading X-men until Claremont and Lee did the blue and gold wild thing in 1991, but that wasn't my foray into the mutant arena. My dad bought me my first comic book, my first X-men comic book, in Uncanny X-men 191. I didn't know what was going on; I didn't know who the X-men were; I didn't know a super-hero from a muppet, but I knew I liked this comic. It had Collosus and Vision slamming each other against a backdrop of John Romita Jr. drawn faces and I was hooked.

CalvinPitt said...

First X-Men comic? Uncanny X-Men 201 (I think). Rachael Summers decides she's going to kill the Beyonder (great idea!). And he's even willing to help. He's gives her enough of his power for her to do it. Then he transports all the X-Men to San Fran, where they are, and makes Sentinels appear - ten years early! - so rachael has to decide what to do: kill the All-Powerful Jheri-Curl, or save her friends?

I'm still trying to figure out how Magneto could use cerebro; I thought telepathy was required for that.

Anonymous said...

My first X-men experience?I was getting comics for 12 cents the math,fanboys!

Anonymous said...

My first X-Men comic was #99, from about 1976. I was 12. Several pages in #99 have some fucked-up coloring, but i would have had no idea what was going on anyway.

But Night-Crawler was just too awesome and there were too many freaky people and the ending was like ... they're crashing and Jean is putting up a psychic force-shield and it's all blowing up and WILL THEY SURVIVE?!?!?!

The next issue was #100, and then #101 had Storm naked and that sealed the deal! This was the mag for me!

I have the issue you mention, and I even remember the plot and I even liked it. But I was pretty much done with the X-Men by then. Storm's Mohawk was a symptom, not a cause.

Anonymous said...

No way, that was my first X-men comic too! I could never get into Romita Jr's art, but the stories had me hang on until the middle of Silvestri's art run when they went to Austrialia. The writing went to hell in a handbasket and I've only returned for an issue here or there ever since.

Anonymous said...

My first X-men was #... uh.. 266? The one where Wolverine is crucified on that big X on the cover.
Man that was a cool cover, and it was all dark and deep, and not at all what I was used to in other comics at the time.

Though, to be honest, despite how interesting that issue was to me, I wasn't inspired to collect until after dumping, at a friend's arcade birthday party, like $6 into the X-men arcade game.

"I am Magneto, master of magnet. Welcome to die. HA HA HA HA HAAA X-chicken!"

That was so cool, how could I not continue reading about that amazing team of mutants!!?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Also, can anyone who ever played that game explain to me why Juggernaut would need to carry a bazooka?
Because he did.

Anonymous said...

Yay! X-Nostalgia! I've drifted away from the X-books like most (except for one or two books), but the 80s Claremont era is still one of the jewels in my collection. In fact, I think #175 was my gateway issue, too. It was all because of the cartoon on Fox at the time, and the guys at the shop recommended the back issues simply because they were better.

Nothing could beat Uncanny, Excalibur, and the first slightly-more-than-half of New Mutants for me, nostalgia-wise. Even with the goofy Claremontisms and high lesbian population count, they're still one of my favorites.

I'm looking forward to this, Dave. Thanks!

I said...

It's about time! My first X-Men was #141 - the start of that whole "Days of Future Past" arc that would eventually become an underlying-yet-confusing theme for the book. I was 10 and usually grabbing a DC comic for my weekly read - but I had all the DC titles I was interested in at this time. The cover - an older, uncostumed guy shielding some lady wasn't so interesting, but the Wanted poster with all the dead/apprehended heroes behind them grabbed my attention. The following issue - with a cover stating "Everybody Dies" kept my attention and I (and my brother) were hooked! I get each issue every month - unfortunately more out of habit than of love for the title...but at least I don't miss things like Morrison's run or the occasional gem here or there.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Storm was naked in #101? How the heck did I miss that? I haven't picked an X-comic in ten years, but I think #101 was about when I was collecting them.

Anonymous said...

You guys make me wish I'd started collecting comics as a kid.... My introduction to x-men came in one of those "read 2 skip 3" collections of a rich boy I went to High School with. I'm actually ridiculously happy with all the "Essentials" Marvel is putting out. Ok, I lied, but the x-men ones are great!

My love affair started (and hasn't stopped) with superheroes colelctor cards. Shadowcat. Best power, and rated as REALLY smart, so she knew how to use it to her advantage, and the hair (much like in your banner)!

Kitty made me want to read x-men. Nightcrawler sucked me in. Unlike every other team, the x-men seemed to acknowledge that not everyone's powers were useful in every fight. Magneto? bye-bye Colossus! Wendigo? Nightcrawler... um sit back... Crazy Badoon monster? Run, Kitty, Run! (until it actually bothers you, and Colossus knocks it through a wall and off a mountain!!)

The only other team to EVER do this like Claremont's x-men is the better early issues of J.S.A.

Thank you Dave, and everyone, for acknowledging Joss Whedon. Joss Whedon is my master. How about that whole, "No, he doesn't get away." bit, with the two-page Fastball Special? Yeah, baby! (and the ethics argument)

Anonymous said...

My love affair with the Merry Mutants follows the trend described above. The same delight and wonder eventually leading to the same ultimate saturation and apathy with increasing number of spin offs and unresolved soap opera plots.

For me, I Mr. Neal Adams introduced me to the X-Men for a glorious visual feast...and then they were gone. Still, their images lingered in my brain long enough that when the Giant Sized X-Men trumpeted "The New X-Men!", I snapped it up.

That's actually why I'm rather enjoying the X-Movies. No time for tedious, endless angst. No requirement to read five different titles to have a clue what's going on in this issue. All self-contained mutant, love, laughs, paranoia and action.

Anonymous said...

Funny that the "Mutant Massacre" was where a lot of you guys bailed on the X-Men...that's actually where I came in.

First X-Men comic was number 212, where Wolverine goes after the Marauders solo and runs into Sabretooth, reviving an old grudge match. Meanwhile, the other X-Men were battered or in critical condition back at the mansion. I was so intrigued and wanted to find out what had happened.

So not only did my dad, sister and I (yes, it was almost a family mom read them, too, but she wasn't quite as avid as the rest of us) start getting Uncanny X-Men, we also picked up Classic X-Men, which was out at the same time. It was so cool to see the "present" stories and have the past all fleshed out at the same time. Back issues of Uncanny and Classic were picked up through Mile High Comics. X-Factor was involved in Mutant Massacre, as well, so we began buying that, too, though we never liked it as much as X-Men. I was also into Spider-Man, and I had the Web of Spider-Man annual that guest-starred Warlock, which in turn got us into New Mutants.

Looking back, I realize that I liked the older stories more than the newer ones. I kept waiting for the whole Marauders/Mr. Sinister thing to go somewhere and it never did. A satisfying story with the X-Men taking down the Marauders was rushed through for 'Inferno', a pretty uneven crossover. 'Fall of the Mutants' was good, at least on the X-Men's side of it, but the 'Australian Era' that followed was also uneven (Brood story-good, Savage Land annual-good, Reavers-bad). The true classics are in the John Byrne, Paul Smith, and John Romita Jr. runs. Any X-annual drawn by Art Adams or Alan Davis are still classics, at least to me. I enjoyed Excalibur until it went off the rails with the 'Cross-Time Caper', and I never got into X-Force.

X-Men was a mind-blowing reading experience for a young kid like I was at the time (grade school age). Not only was there this fantastic, mysterious backstory to explore, there was so much neat stuff in the stories themselves...time travel, trips to Asgard and Limbo, trips to outer space, battles inside volcanoes, encountered space pirates, traveled the globe, and fought cool villains.

Another cool thing about the X-Men is that you could identify with them. They were usually behaving like real people. The X-Men (and New Mutants, etc) argued, supported one another, got hurt, fell in love, dealt with the pressures of schoolwork and their training, went to bars together, dealt with prejudice and hate (heavy topics for a little kid), and generally did a lot of "human" things we can all identify with.

In the late 80s to early 90s quality slipped and the mutants became so popular they were everywhere, dilluting what made them special.

Anonymous said...

Everyone else is doing it, why not me?

First X-Men was #165, mid-Brood, first Paul Smith issue, so I don't need to explain the instant addiction...

Curiously, I dropped the X-Men mid-Brood the second time round, what, 230's?

You want wierd? I read every other arc of the Morrison run.

Scott M said...

I had a similar experience to you. My first X-Men comic was X-Men #128, but my first exposure to them was a Marvel Team-Up reprint in the Marvel Treasury: Astonishing Spider-Man.

There was indeed something very difference about them - and I jumped into the X-world wholeheartedly.

I pretty much gave up on X-titles somewhere around the release of X-Factor #1. I wasn't buying too many comics back then and the Marvel Universe was getting too complicated.

Last week, I picked up a copy of the Wolverine mini-series reprint TPB from '87 and I was struck by just how awesome it was. I have the original issues, but I haven't pulled them out in ages. I still have a lot of love for all things 'X' of the early 80s (my baby boy's name is Logan) - but doubt I'll ever rekindle that flame.

Benari said...

"and I will remember a time when the coolest thing in the world would have been having retractable three-foot long blades popping out of my knuckles."

Ahhhh, Dave, I swear I am not trying to be a dick pointing this out, but since the geek floodgates have been opened:

I remember having this exact argument with a buddy 15 years ago! All because of poor wording in the Marvel handbook.

The handbook stated that Wolverine had three foot-long retractable adamanitum blades in each hand. Meaning, each blade is one-foot long and he has three of them. But the handbook DID (at first glance) make it appear as if he had 3-foot long blades). Which wouldn't make sense - do you realize how unwieldly three-foot blades would be? It would be like having three small children popping out of your knuckles. And at 5'3", 3-foot long blades would look pretty ridiculous...make your own Liefeld joke here.

Anyway, just wanted to clear that up. Wolverine's blades are one-foot long and he has three of them on each hand.

If we can't clear up common geek misconceptions here, where can we?

All that being said: between the smoking, drinking, ample sexual tension, humor and pathos, angst and excitement, huge battles and quiet moments, the X-Men in the 80's was totally Airwolf.

Bully said...

Heck, I'd want Wolverine to have three-foot long blades.

Better yet: one 18-foot blade on one hand.


D said...

I have that issue....'cept it's the "Classic" version.

call me jack... said...

I'm part of the group that started reading comics after the X-Men movie.
my first was... whatever the first issue is in the Dark Pheonix Saga TPB. pretty sure it is #129. the first issue I bought was months later, after devouring tpb after tpb, #390.

btw, IT'S ROGUE, NOT ROUGE!! sorry, that's a pet peeve of mine.

Anonymous said...

I think the first issue I read was the first re-match with the Marauders when they went chasing across the country to save Maddie Pryor, just prior to the Fall of the Mutants. Great Silvestri cover, with Wolvie getting blown away by a malfunctioning Havok.

But I didn't start collecting until like a year later, with the Brood storyline and Colossus on the cover throwing a car at someone. They did one of those classic bits at the beginning of one of those issues to introduce everyone, and ol' Piotr Rasputin gets the F@#& Yeah moment when he sneaks up behind one the mutant Brood who was killing Longshot.

"This is Colossus. He's a strong as he looks."

And then he snaps the guy's neck! Yow.

It's almost as badass as when he went berserko during the mutant massacre. "Harpoon! Make peace with your gods little man, you are next!!"

man, I miss that Claremontian dialogue.

Anonymous said...

But from a fashion standpoint, misapplied rouge is public enemy #1!

Anonymous said...


I just noticed in the top cast illustration how Colossus is taking in the fullness of Storm's Breasts and has a little smile on his face. shades of Ultimate Piotr...he's checking out the fullness of Cyclops' breasts.

Either / or.

Just sayin'


word verification:


Russian term for bodacious ta-ta's!

Lenin's Tomb! Vill you look at those Opnequv!
Boshe Moi!

uh...or looking at it AGAIN...
He could be getting "Steel Hard" near Wolverine's hidey-hole and Logan's thinking; "Hey, Bub! I know you're having a rough time waiting for Kitty to be of legal age, but c'mon! I can smell your spoor! And that BETTER not be the Fuzzy-Elf's TAIL there too! Damn, I need a brew!"

Anonymous said...

I got my first X-Men comic when I was ten. It was the one where Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, ShadowCat et cetera face off against Nimrod and the Hellfire Club, right before The Mutant Massacre. Colossus was on the cover (a lot of Colossus covers among the comments!), wrestling the white/red/pink Nimrod robot, a Sentinel from the future, if I am not mistaken. It rocked. In my memory, Colossus is crushing the wrists of the evil robot, with splinters flying. John Romita Jr. on the drawing pencil, Claremont on the writing one. The beginning of the comic has ShadowCat accusing Wolverine of murder, since he presumable killed Selene, the vampire/Hellfire Club Black Queen, when rescuing Rachel Summers. All good.

I started collected after that issue, and stopped somewhere after the Inferno cross-over. Lost interest, I think. Then I returned as never before when I at school, in an art class, found a recent issue of X-Men (#275?) with Jim Lee doing the works of X-Men in space with the Shi'ar Empire, and Wolverine stabbing the Xavier clone. I RUSHED to the store to get the next issue, and it was the start of X-Men, probably #2, where the Gold and Blue team face off against each other on Magneto's asteroid. Pure Jim Lee gold. I resumed collecting.

Where I am from, Sweden, there was and is one monthly X-Men comic, about 64 pages, which incorporated about 3 American issues (and no ads!). Since I'm remembering the covers of the Swedish comic, some issue numbers in my post may be off.

call me jack... said...

philip said...

But from a fashion standpoint, misapplied rouge is public enemy #1!


Anonymous said...

My first exposure to the X-Men came in my buddy's copy (I own it now as he stopped collecting comics a year or so later and gave me all of his) of Iron Fist #15. As I was only a comics reader for a few months at that point I was rather confused as to whether the X-Men were good guys, bad guys, or somewhere in-between. I sure liked that Wolverine guy (he was wearing a dead alien's costume in the IF story) even though he seemed like a jerk, and Storm and Phoenix had a great relationship and cool powers and, boy, did Nightcrawler and Colossus look neat! I was very intrigued by them for sure. So, when I went to the comics rack soon thereafter I found X-Men #109 on the shelf and was hooked for the next few years. The Magneto/Antarctica/Savage Land story are still some of my favorite comics ever.

Then Byrne left.

I hung in there for the next few years. I didn't like Cockrum's return, but I found Smith refreshing, although I disliked Wiacek's inking, but the stories were just missing something. When Storm got the mohawk and the biker clothes I pretty much had had it at that point. The characters didn't interest me anymore and I moved on. I think the last issue I got might have been that aforementioned Colossus/Juggernaut brawl. I think that might have been a pretty good issue, but those were few and far between at that point. I picked up two issues later on (the Barry Smith ones) and found them boring and confusing and those were the last X-Men books I bought.

I bought the New Mutants from the beginning of the run until Sienkiewicz left, but that book never thrilled me and usually I actively disliked it. I also got the first dozen or so issues of X-Factor and boy did that book suck. Bob Layton is a fine inker, but as a writer? Hooboy!

I've since sold everything but the Byrne issues on eBay. They all went for a song.

Claremont and Byrne together were magic. Separately I don't think either was ever as good as they were circa 1979.

Verification: xdweudl. Fill in your joke here.

Anonymous said...

You young pups!

MY first X-Men comic was #106, two issues before Byrne came to the title for the first time.

It really did seem different than a lot of other titles I was reading then, for all sorts of reasons. The characters were substantially unlike anything else, the mood was different, the plotting borrowed heavily and addictively from the structure of soap operas.

I stuck with it for a long time, but eventually Claremont's bad habits as a storyteller and in characterization really overwhelmed me. I'm really surprised when I read back on occasion how bad most of the stories were once you got up to the second coming of Cockrum and beyond. Even the somewhat good ones were composed of a single good element or subplot surrounded by lots of steaming excess or self-indulgence.

The worst thing about Claremont's style was the endless larding on of baroque layers of characterizations and subplottings on top of characters who the readers had barely gotten to know in their original or unadorned form. Look at the New Mutants: Danielle Moonstar was an American Indian with illusion powers. Then there was a Demon Bear as her adversary that was composed of two innocent people. Then she was a Valkyrie with a flying horse as well. Then she got a dream spear and could make things solid as a result of some villain's scheme. etc. Even when it wasn't Claremont doing it, it was the basic template that Claremont had established for the X-Books, that every character should have some layer of plotting goop applied with a trowel every eight issues or so, preferably with a maximum of melodrama.

Anonymous said...

My first X-Men was either Uncanny #149, or Annual #6. Probably the annual. Nightcrawler friggin' impales Dracula with a spear, which made him my favorite to this day.
Aside: my son checked out from the library the Essential X-Men with that annual, and asked me to read some to him. And the words nearly choked me to death. Read it out loud sometime, I swear if I'd have kept reading, the boy would have gotten into grad school before I finished.

J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

(Meant with sarcasm)

This is supposed to be X-Men week not Dave's life. So review some comics already!

Anonymous said...

As one of the slightly younger pups here, I must admit that my first real exposure to the X-Men was the cartoon. X-characters had popped up in other character's comics that I had, but I wasn't really old enough to understand who they were or anything... I don't think I was even in school yet. I just remember Beast looked cool in a team-up with Spidey I got somewhere.
But the cartoon totally hooked me... for a few years there, X-Men was the balls, as far as I was concerned. I started out with 'X-Men Adventures' (see? those books did introduce kids to the characters), I think my first real X-comic was X-Men #300, with the silver background and JR jr. art.

Side note: When I first saw an X-Men comic on the newsstand, my parents wouldn't let me get it, because they thought it was some kind of crazy devil-worshipping thing (Nightcrawler was on the cover).

NiolK said...

Did somebody mention Jubilee? I fuckin hate Jubilee.

Where the fuck is his jam?

Anonymous said...

Hey Bub,

You write good, funny stuff. So I don't care if it's by this Tuesday or if it takes as long as Claremont took to wrap up a subplot . . .



Captain JLS said...

Say, wait a sec ... compare that Cyclops at the top of this post to the infamous Liefeld shot of Captain America (most recently reproduced at Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin here:

My god, Liefeld swiped him and INFLATED him! O_O

Oh, and, yeah, I was kind of looking forward to a week's worth of X-Men-ness, too, so um, please do get on that as soon as you can. I loves the Long Box, I do ...

Anonymous said...

Joining with the crowd, my first issue was 207, with Wolvie slicing the cover with his claws. It ends with him stabbing Rachel Summers. After that I started buying back issues and the like. The arc where Kitty was thought to have died while battling the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and Peter was trapped in cement was an arc I remember enjoying as I tracked down back issues.

I was looking through my comic box a few weeks back and was surprised that I actually collected continuously into the 230s, because I remember the comic book getting pretty bad once Dazzler, Havoc and Longshot replaced Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and Phoenix. And a weird thing for me has been the last two "Essential X-Men" featuring covers of comics I bought as new. To me the "Essential" collections are stories from before I was born, not stuff I witnessed first hand.

Anyway, I remember the Claremont/JRjr issues fondly, especially this one, because I liked the Juggernaut, and the failed teen romance of Kitty and Peter, but I'm afraid to re-read them, because the repetiton of Claremount's writing really irritated me by the time I finally threw in the towel, and I'd be disappointed if the stories were as good as they were when I was ten.

Anonymous said...

Uneven tastes?!? You mean Nova isn't edgy? Have you forgotten about the Champions of Xandar? Or the New Warriors?


Older Dave's blog spawns disillusion in older Todd ...

missbhavens said...

Plus, a guy could go broke buying all those goddamn books.

Yup. It very nearly did, on a babysitter's salary. And again during the Age of Apocolypse on a waitress' salary.

Let me join in the reminiscence.First X-Men book? Uncanny #153. Yes, the one with the fairy tale. I was 12. And a girl (still am). Stories didn't get much better for a 12 year old girl! Years and years later a boyfriend of mine gave me his copy for Christmas.

Man, was I in love with that guy.

lazy_cg said...

good god the women's hair is messed up! we've got a weird jerry curl going for pheonix, a big ass mohak on storm, a mop for shadowcat, and what looked like a skunk on rouge's head. weird.