Posted by:
Byron Brewer

The Brewer Report: The First X-Men


1755 DC Comics scored big with its relaunch of its entire universe last September, and now there is more talk of Aquaman and Justice League than there may be of Captain America and Thor.

Be that as it may, are retcons better than reboots?

There has always been something comforting in knowing, despite the discrepancy between real time and “Marvel Time,” that this is the same universe you began reading comics in, that Hulk not Cap was one of the first five Avengers, that the FF were four humans not three humans and a H.E.R.B.I.E.

And that the first X-Men were Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel and Beast.

Or they were until now.

The theory is that Professor X gathered his X-Men at a time when persecution of mutants was reaching an all-time high, but that mutants were persecuted long before that. So who protected them before Xavier became a champion for mutant rights?

Glad you asked!

In a sort of sideways retcon (See Bendis’ Avengers 1959) this August, writer Christos Gage and legendary artist Neal Adams will bring readers the answer in the 5-issue miniseries, The First X-Men.

In an interview with our friends at CBR, Gage said the book takes place “when Professor Xavier was young, in college and at the start of his military career. And I'd say it spans the course of several months.”

Both Logan and Sabretooth are in the book, but will they be comrades or enemies – or maybe both? Gage said that “since we wanted fans who aren't immersed in Marvel lore to be able to fully enjoy the story, we are employing a little sleight of hand in terms of the history between Sabretooth and Wolverine. It's well established that various entities have messed with both their memories, so in this particular tale, as far as Logan and Creed are concerned, they've been working together for a little while as mercenaries, but beyond that they have no memory of earlier encounters.

“They both go through significant character arcs over the course of the story. For Sabretooth, especially, this is kind of his last chance at being something other than a killer. I love writing characters who have sort of given up on themselves and then grasp at a glimmer of hope of rising above their nature. Succeed or fail, it's always powerful.”

A major foe of Xavier’s X-Men, Magneto, is also in the mini.

“Magneto's presence is important, but the big question is whether he wants to be part of Logan's team,” Gage said. “Will he join or not? What I can tell you is that Magneto and Xavier never cross paths -- their first meeting as written by Chris Claremont is still their first meeting. Part of what makes this story interesting is that figures we see as great leaders in mutant history, like Magneto and Xavier, haven't become that yet. So you have someone in Wolverine who is really more of a field leader, a soldier, than a general, but he's adopting a role he doesn't necessarily feel totally comfortable in, because individuals who may be more suited to the position aren't stepping up.

“And yes, this is a point when Magneto is hunting escaped Nazis. I think we all loved seeing that in the X-Men: First Class movie -- though I hasten to point out they borrowed it from the comics! -- and it seemed like a natural place for him to be in this story. He's doing it on his own, to get revenge for wartime atrocities.”

Gage said he is overjoyed to be working with a legend like Adams, who conceived the premise and the plot and pitched it to Marvel before the writer was involved.

“--Working with Neal is a dream come true, but honestly I'd never even dreamed about it, because it's something I never would have imagined could actually happen. It's like working with [Martin] Scorsese -- someone who is a titan of the art form and was redefining its language before you were born. And is still that good. I mean, I grew up staring goggle-eyed at Neal's giant Treasury Edition covers. When I was a kid, DC was putting out one Neal Adams treasury after another, or at least getting him to do covers -- so his art is always larger than life to my eyes. And when he turns in pages for First X-Men, which I get to see in pencil form, they're just as awesome as the giant Ras al Ghul head or the Kree/Skrull War. The last page of issue #1 is just so good -- he's still the man!”

Look for Gage and Adams on the mini First X-Men in August from Marvel.