81: X-Men 1 - 3 (Jim Lee X-Men Re-Launch)

What’s Covered?

X-Men Volume 2, # 1 - 3 (August - October 1991)


Roster Watch

Amazing Art

I'm introducing a new feature where I will simply highlight amazing art. I try to keep my synopsis of each issue tight if possible, but there were just too many panels that looked beautiful and I felt it was wrong to not include them.

In my opinion, this will just always be the best characterization of the team...ever. Ever. Ever.

What a badass looking Colossus. Even though Colossus becomes a regular of the Gold team in Uncanny, I may use this for my team graphic because it's so badass. While Portacio (Plotter and penciler for the initial new run on Uncanny) is a pretty good artist himself, so I'll try to find a good image for him from within those pages...But no promises.

What a beautiful looking Rogue. Rogue is the one character I had the hardest time finding a good image to use for my weekly graphics. When I found a good one, I would stick with it for a while until I found a better one. But she was one who I switched every week because I never had a decent one. I feel like I'll be using this one for quite some time, however Jim Lee is around for a while so I may be able to get more goodies.

Badass Gambit image.

Jim is so good at drawing Wolverine and Psylocke.

Badass Beast picture, with another solid Wolverine, Psylocke, and shirtless Gambit.

Jim Lee LOVES drawing Psylocke.

Badass little team picture.

I always loved this.


Synopsis

#1: A New Era

Plot - Chris Claremont and Jim Lee

Script - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Jim Lee

I can't believe I'm covering this! I've read this issue so many times in my life and what a blast to finally be up to this point. At this point, Magneto is hiding up on Asteroid M after getting pissed off at Earthlings in the Savage Xavier story (An amazing Magneto story!). Here a group of mutant acolytes are flying to reach Magneto while being chased down by Shield.

Magneto is trying to stay out of earthly politics, but the acolytes tell him that they came for him and his people need him.

Meanwhile, the X-Men team is back in the re-built mansion. Remember, we've spent the last bunch of issues trying to clear the table and bring everything back to the status quo for this series. That includes the mansion being re-built, Storm having her body back, Colossus having his memories back, Xavier being in a wheelchair again, and more.

The team is running a mansion defense simulation, where the new combined team is working together to test the defenses of the mansion. Obviously, this gives Jim Lee a good opportunity to show off the new team.

Wolverine and Psylocke working together. In my head cannon, this is due to how close they got during their Madripoor Missions.

Gambit breaches the mansion's security, but it turns out Jean and Charles are robot's which explode.

It's actually Wolverine who finds the real Charles. And he gives us one of our final Claremontisms, Bang...you're dead.

So this is actually hilarious. Cyclops is ragging on Wolverine about getting so close to hurting Charles and Wolverine is pretending like he doesn't care. As he walks off, him and Jean are smirking. Clearly, Logan is purposely trying to get under Scott's skin and Jean knows it.

So a few things here. First, Magneto is once again trying to stay out of the drama which has come to his doorstep, however the Shield agents and Acolytes are fighting amongst themselves.


This is where we meet Fabian Cortez, the leader of the mutant faction that is looking for Magneto's aide. We'll see a lot of Cortez in the coming years.

To protect himself, Magneto goes to the Russian nuclear sub he sunk (as covered here) and takes it's nukes with him up to Asteroid M.

The X-Men meet him here and he is really trying to avoid fighting him but Cyclops is incredibly trigger happy. It actually makes perfect sense because he never trusted Magneto and that was one of the reasons why he left the X-Men in the first place.


However, Wolverine did get along with Magneto and I feel the betrayal as much as Magneto does. To be honest, this really bothered me. I really don't think Wolverine would go for the kill like this on him after all they have been through. Jim Lee may have got this wrong.

Claremont does a great job of showing us that Magneto continues to be forced into these positions. He really didn't want to fight the X-Men. He wanted to be left alone. Rogue tries to use her relationship with him to talk him off the ledge but it doesn't work.

Fabian Cortez uses his power to heal Magneto, but we will soon learn that he is actually using that power to influence him more than help him.

The Acolytes, under Fabian Cortez, go rogue and attack the magistrates in Genosha.

The X-Men show up to fight the Acolytes, who are fighting for mutant supremacy.

Magneto shows up and claims that he doesn't necessarily support what the Acolytes are doing, but they are under his protection so he's here anyways to whoop some ass. Also, this is another badass panel.



#2: New Directions

Plot - Chris Claremont and Jim Lee

Script - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Jim Lee

Magneto willing to support the Acolytes.

A little philosophical battle before the physical battle.

Magneto tries to stop them from fighting each other.

Psylocke shuts Magneto down with her psychic knife.

Magneto literally rips a house into the sky so he can talk to Charles and Moira. As someone who has read HoxPox, I am paying even closer attention when these three get together.

Magneto accuses Moira of tampering with his DNA when he was turned into a baby. This is actually pretty interesting. Magneto is essentially saying that he only became a good guy for a while because Moira tampered with his DNA.

At the end of this issue, the X-Men Blue team pledge themselves to Magneto's service. WTF!?


#3: Magneto's End

Plot - Chris Claremont and Jim Lee

Script - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Jim Lee

In this issue, the the Gold team (Storm, Archangel, Iceman, Jean, Colossus) sneak into space to stop Magneto and see what's going on with their peers.

The brainwashed X-Men are living in peace with the Acolytes at Asteroid M. This is the start of Gambit flirting heavily with Rogue and Rogue being ok with it.

The Gold team sneaks on board and frees Charles.

Jim Lee's not going to miss an opportunity to have an X-Men vs. X-Men battle.

Gambit shatters Banshee's jaw, which isn't good when your super power is a sonic scream.

The X-Men start to snap out of their brainwashing. Magneto tried to use the same science that was used against him as a baby to brainwash the X-Men, but Moira explains that as soon as they use their powers, they snap out of their brainwashing. This also means that Magneto was not really impacted by Moira and that all of his decisions were his own.

Fabian Cortez ditches out on them all and tries to set off the nukes. Apparently he's been a bastard all along.

Asteroid M explodes and Magneto uses all his power to hold things together.

Magneto uses the last of his power to save Charles and the X-Men, but decides to go down with the ship.

Well done Claremont, well done. You went out with a bang. Magneto is your Magnum Opus.


My Connections


This is it. This, is my X-Men. I'm 38 right now (in 2021) so this was my 9 year old heaven. All of my comic collecting spiraled out of this issue. Any issues of New Mutants, Uncanny X-Men, or X-Factor I owned was only purchased after I had read this and become hooked. Not to mention that this was the team (minus Psylocke) that was featured in the animated series, so pretty much EVERY kid my age was into X-Men. In my opinion, this is perfection. The art is absolutely astounding and the writing is some of Claremont's best. But, all good things must come to an end.


In the context of my X-Men Journey, it has taken me 85 blogs to get here, so how am I feeling about this now that I fully understand how we got here? Well, I love it. If you've been following along with me, you know that I love when the characters interact with each other. I freaked out during Inferno when the original 5 members (X-Factor) finally met up with X-Men. Well this, 3 years later, is what that was leading towards. The reunion of the original members (Cyclops, Jean, Beast, Archangel, Iceman) with the more recent X-Men characters (Storm, Wolverine, Psylocke, Colossus, and Rogue) has now merging with newer recruits (Gambit, Forge, Banshee, and soon Jubilee).


Another interesting point in the context of my X-Men journey. I signed up for a Marvel Unlimited Membership 1 year ago and immediately began reading this series, as well as X-Force. This is how I realized there was so much I didn't understand. There was a reference to Xavier's legs recently being crushed. Why is Banshee with the team and since when is he with Moira? Why do Rogue and Magneto seem to have a special relationship? What does Magneto mean when he says that him and Logan were recently on the same side? "What's the deal with Genosha? This is what spurred me to go all the way back to the beginning. And I decided to write about it because I figured there were probably other people out there who might go back to Step 1 themselves one day and might want a friend to read along with along the way.


Jim Lee will be taking over a new Blue Team consisting of Cyclops, Wolverine, Psylocke, Rogue, Gambit, Beast, and soon Jubilee (she's mysteriously missing from these first 3). It really seems as though Jim Lee got to pick all the best mutants because this leaves Uncanny X-Men (the Gold Team) with Storm, Jean, Iceman, Archangel, and Colossus. Obviously Storm is great and Jean is an X-Men powerhouse, but Archangel, Iceman, and Colossus have always been the least interesting characters to me. Bishop will soon be joining the Gold team to spice things up, but that's a blog for a future time.


Creators

Unfortunately, as is becoming too common a feature in my blog lately, there was a lot of drama behind the scenes.


In American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990's, Keith Dallas and Jason Sachs explained:

"Like Louise Simonson before him, Claremont had fallen out of favor with Bob Harras. Indeed, Harras had spent much of the previous year undoing many of the changes Claremont made to the X-Men (e.g. removing the team from exile, returning Professor Xavier from outer space)."

According to CBR.com's Comic Legends Revealed,

"The problem was that Lee and Claremont had very different ideas of where to go with the title moving forward. One of the big divides was that Lee wanted to revisit some of the classic X-Men characters and villains that he had never gotten a chance to draw before and Claremont wanted to do different things with the book.
Neither was wrong or right, and there was certainly no animosity between the two guys, but there was a clear roadblock here.
Editor Bob Harras "broke" the roadblock by siding with Lee. He decided that Lee would be in charge of the direction of the series now, and to signify this, they would launch a SECOND X-Men ongoing series that Lee would plot and pencil."

On a recent Robservations podcast, Rob Leifeld comments on how he first heard the news from Jim Lee. On a joint call between Leifeld, Lee, Erik Larsen, and Todd McFarlane (the future Image creators), Lee said:

“Hey, did you get Spider-Man # 1? It’s me. Next year, it’s me. I’m getting the slot, X-Men # 1, next Summer.”

Spider-Man # 1 broke sales records, so Marvel decided to start a new X-Men comic to see if they could do what Todd McFarlane did with Spider-Man.


In Comic Creators on X-Men by Tom DeFalco, Bob Harras said the following about starting a new X-Men book:


"I thought it was the worse idea on the face of the Earth, but you were the boss (Tom DeFalco) and you said 'Hey, we gotta do another X-Men book.' I thought that if we went to 5 (X books), we were going to kill the Golden Goose."

Harras was obviously very wrong. Unfortunately, the legendary Chris Claremont was none too pleased with Bob Harras during this time. On April 4, 1991 Claremont wrote a latter to the VP of Publishing at Marvel, Mike Hobson, saying:

"This afternoon, Bob Harras and I declared war.
Whether his role as an editor is to help facilitate in me the creation of the best possible work I’m capable of, or my role as a writer is to facilitate the production of the stories he has decided to tell.
I find myself looking at a body of work that encompasses nearly half my life, that I am very proud of, and wondering why I bothered. I look at a company that I have loyally served for longer than most of the people currently working there, and again wonder why I bothered.
I do not wish to leave X-Men any more than I do Marvel, but I also have too much respect for myself and my work to participate in a situation that will lead ultimately to the degradation of both."

The situation was untenable. Keith Dallas and Jason Sachs continue explaining what happened in "In American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990's":

"Before long, Claremont had enough of the situation and he quit. His final issue was X-Men 3 (Dec. 1991), not that Marvel promoted the fact with any kind of fanfare. The printed acknowledgement of Claremont’s departure was almost unnoticeable.
There was no editorial that waxed poetic about [C’s] contributions to Marvel’s most popular property and no farewell column from Claremont himself. The longest-running tenure of any creator on any title in Marvel Comics history ended quietly, and business went on as usual.
Within a few months, the X-Men’s letter column was being filled not with missives that lamented Claremont’s exit but with breathless praise of Jim Lee’s work. Some letters that the editors selected to run even suggested that the series was better off without Claremont."

So this serves as both the high watermark for the series (in my opinion) and the emotional end of an era. Claremont, after being the sole voice in charge of the X-Men for so long, decided to write these 3 issues and depart Marvel. If it's any consolation, Claremont was able to buy a house with the royalties he made of these 3 issues. X-Men # 1, with it's 6 different foldout covers, still holds the #1 spot as the highest grossing single issue of a comic of all time. The early nineties provided a sales powder keg with the height of the speculator market intersecting with a re-launch of one of it's most successful titles. This is Claremont's swan song and in my opinion, he does it masterfully with a beautiful final (even though no one stays dead) story for Magneto.


My Rating - 10/10


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