What’s in the Run?
Generation X # 1 - 28, Excalibur # 35 - 41, 57 - 60, Uncanny X-Men # 286 - 350, X-Men V 2 (Various)
Who is Scott Lobdell?
What comes to mind when you think of the Scott Lobdell era in X-Men comics? Perhaps Generation X or Age of Apocalypse? Maybe you recall his lack of planning of great use of the "slow issues." While Lobdell himself may not be remembered in as endearing of a way as Chris Claremont, there's no question that some of his accomplishments are remembered fondly. He kept the X-Men afloat and generated a lot of revenue for Marvel (and himself) over the years, something that can't be taken away from him.
Let's start at the beginning. In an interview on the True Stories Based on Fiction podcast, he had the following to say:
“Bob was in a fix because he had to get the book out. He went to Ralph Macchio and Howard Mackie. The people who would normally be called on to write the book. And they were like ‘I’m not going to be the guy who ruins the X-Men.’ So he went to Fabian and told him that he needed to do it. Fabian pointed to me and Bob said no. But Fabian said “At the very least, it’s going to be solid and it will be completed.’ The only reason I got the job was because no one wanted it…There is something to be said about being at the right place at the right time, but also having the skill set.”
I've heard many different versions of this story. I like that he doesn't even deny that he only got the job because he was in the right place at the right time. But he adds a very crucial point in this interview...yes he got the job out of pure chance, but he kept the job for seven years because he had the skills.
Clashes with Fabian Nicieza
In the beginning, Lobdell (on Uncanny) and Nicieza (on Adjectiveless) navigated the X-Men together. And considering the absolute chaos of the Image exodus, it's pretty impressive that these two got their act together and put together a pretty good event in X-Tinction Agenda. As the years went on though, Lobdell got in a bit closer with Chief Editor Bob Harras and Nicieza was eventually shown the door. Lobdell wouldn't have any challenges to his vision from that point on.
Kicked off Generation X
One thing that Lobdell seems to be universally remembered fondly for was the creation of Generation X. While I personally haven't been loving the series, almost everyone who read the run as a kid has pleasant memories of it.
If there's one particular attribute that people seem to cling to negatively, it's that Lobdell was not a long term planner. Nicieza has made it clear that this was something that grated on him over time. At first I didn't see it as such a big problem, but as the years went on it became harder and harder to ignore. Lobdell describes this himself in Comic Creators on X-Men:
“Some guys work out every last detail up front, but I tend to unwind my ideas slowly and just follow a character or a story line. I feel like I’m somebody who has a clothesline that’s all knotted up and I follow line until I get to the end. Hopefully, a story or a character will reveal itself by the time I get there. I don’t have any problem with finding a story instead of telling a story. ”
While I admire his confidence and process, this just isn't for me. I would also assume that after the debacle with the new Star Wars trilogy and Kathleen Kennedy's lack of planning, it will be harder for the foreseeable future for major creatives to get very far without having a well thought out plan.
As someone who is completed a total re-read project, I deeply appreciated Lobdell's solid understanding of continuity. He would constantly make deep pulls from older stories and tie them into new stories, especially when he first came on board.
Great Slow Issues
I would argue that his greatest skill came from character development, which was never more in the spotlight than during the patented slow issues. Like Claremont, Lobdell would take his time after events to let things simmer, and these issues where there was little plot development were some of the strongest in my opinion.
Age of Apocalypse
I think it can be argued that his greatest accomplishment was Age of Apocalypse. It's pretty shocking that Marvel went along with a complete re-hashing of every major line and devoting 4 months to an alternate reality. But it certainly paid off. My only gripe was how many mistakes Marvel made trying to capture lightning in a bottle afterwards when the event ended. Hey, let's make a list:
Giving X-Man an ongoing comic.
Thinking the Sugar Man was worthy of bringing back to the main continuity
Pigeon holing Wild Child into a regular comic with Sabretooth.
making Havok evil (which I liked) but not sticking with it (which I didn't like).
Re-writing canon to make AoA characters have long lasting impacts, such as Dark Beast being the original Morlock and Sugar Man being behind Genosha all along.
Other Great Events
There were a lot of pretty good events under Lobdell:
Bringing Stryfe to a new level, having the guts to keep him dead, and introducing the Legacy Virus all came from this event.
A years long Magneto black out and Adamantium-less Wolverine came from here.
This happened. If I end up liking Marrow one day I can attribute that to this event. That's about it.
We got Douglock here! We also got a cool introduction to Generation X (and Blink!)
Pretty much a failed event, but it was bold.
Perhaps the best event with the best villain (Bastion).
“I didn’t ever want to be like Chris or Peter David. A writer who gets wheeled away from the computer with their finger nails drilled into the keyboard. I never felt the X-Men were my book. I don’t feel a proprietary stake in it. So I may or may not have had enough followers at the time. I told Bob that we get along, I make bold choices, you support them, why don’t you allow me to do Fantastic Four and someone else can write X-Men. “
“At the time I was making some ridiculous amount of money based on the contract. So when it (a new contract) came back, they said they were going to pay me 10X less than what I was making, which was still more than others."
Lobdell makes it sound like his departure was his idea and no big deal (in the True Stories Based on Fiction podcast) but if that is the truth, then why didn't they let him finish the Trial of Gambit?
Roster's thru time...
Wow, I almost forgot that he's been around this time. The first time we saw him was when we took over Excalibur immediately after Claremont left the comic. These comics weren't great (Promethean Exchange, Lockheed's race, Dr. Doom, etc) but they certainly were competent and showed a lot of respect for what came before.
He got rid of (or was loosely associated with getting rid of) Kylun, Cerise, and Phoenix. Not cool.
Generation X Rosters
We got a great introduction to the team members during Phalanx Covenant. I immediately fell in love with Monet and Husk.
The official comic begins and we meet Penance, Chamber, and Emplate.
Shortly after getting to know them, we were thrust into an alternate reality version of them. Mondo received more characterizations here than he did in the main continuity (at least to date.)
Gene Nation, Cassidy Keep, and Mondo. This is where Lobdell stayed true to his promise to keep them as kids and kept them out of the larger conflicts.
Emplate's a pretty good villain, so I like it when we get to see him pop in.
Ah, the good ole' Gold and Blue teams. Remember how simple things were back then? I miss when the art house style was still "Image impersonation."
Remember when Lobdell decided to have Storm and Forge break up? He realized that she kept saying he was her true love, yet no one ever drew them together. So...he decided they must not really be in love.
A great event.
Wow, was this before Colossus turned evil?
Back when Fitzroy and the Upstarts were still a thing.
Magneto is lobotomized and Wolverine loses his metal.
Weak Exodus story.
Finally a marriage.
The start of the whole Sabretooth living in the mansion status quo.
The Phalanx Covenant event. Tough times when Banshee has to be your Omega.
Legion Quest is heating up, Archangel and Psylocke hook up, and Sabretooth still living in the mansion. We are officially past the Gold/Blue rosters.
Legion destroys the Marvel Universe.
Rogue goes on a road trip and Cannonball is pointlessly promoted.
Sabretooth escapes and Manga begins.
Dark Beast replaces regular Beast.
We start building towards Onslaught. Wolvy is Feral. Too many X-Men for one graphic.
Graydon Creed runs for President, Iceman leaves the team, and we still have too many team members.
Joseph joins the party officially.
Back to simpler times when Uncanny focused on 5 X-Men at a time.
Weak Shang Chi story.
Cecilia Reyes, OZT, and a sidelined X-Men.
New characters abound and old characters are sidelined.
Enter Maggot, exit Bishop and Gambit.