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14 History: The 1980s: An explosion of new titles




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This article is from the X-Men Comic Books FAQ, by Kate the Short (racmx@yahoo.com) with numerous contributions by others.

14 History: 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,
UXM #161-167.

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
months.

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
teleporter Gateway.

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
background."

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
X-Men.

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.



 

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