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What the D'ast? The Relaunch of Uncanny X-Men

Posted By: Wonder Worlock
Mon, 09/26/2011 - 16:41

(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of irregularly-scheduled op-ed columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with the issues of today’s comic book world from the perspective of a 53-year-old and aging fanboy. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of Cosmic Book News. He welcomes both raves and opposing views in the CBNForum.)


picOK, OK, I will admit it.

It was Dave Cockrum’s great artwork on Legion of Super-Heroes in August 1975 that caused me to “borrow” Dad’s car – I hadn’t actually gotten a driver’s license yet, but I had my learner’s permit; I figured that was good enough to drive a block – and venture to S&S Food Mart to the rickety turn rack to purchase X-Men #94.

Today, that might seem like an odd issue to start reading a magazine, but hold on. For the uninitiated, it will be explained.

Y’see, from 1970 to 1975, the Uncanny X-Men title – the original X-Men title of the 1960s -- consisted of reprints due to lack of sales. In May 1975, Giant-Size X-Men #1 by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum (and I know Chris Claremont was around somewhere even then) was unleashed upon an unknowing world, as were the “All-New, All-Different” X-Men!

Well, you can already guess who missed out on that issue – although I later procured a copy of it, by blackmail, but that is another story – so just as I get ready for Giant-Size X-Men #2, Marvel in its madness drops its Giant-Size line (Fantastic Four, Dracula, Avengers, Defenders and probably more I cannot recall).

Being one of the few Giant-Size properties without their own title, these new X-Men found a home in the original X-Men’s previous book, and reprints turned into beautiful, fun tales of Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Banshee amd Colossus. Professor X was in and out, of course, and even Jean Grey came back (you may recall the name Phoenix?) eventually as well.

So you see, X-Men #94 was actually Uncanny X-Men #1!

And this book made an immediate impression, both on fans and the Marvel U. Sunfire, who I had high hopes for and who was one of my favorite characters, returned to Japan that issue. I could not believe Banshee, heretofore a villain, stayed. And most surprising of all, a beautifully-designed Cockrum character, Thunderbird, was actually killed in X-Men #95, only two issues into the new book, as it were!

Wow! This, I told myself, was gonna be some ride!

And sure enough, it was. Through high school, college, my first and second newspaper jobs on up through Chris Claremont’s sad departure and into the Scott Lobdell era, the Uncanny X-Men and all the dozens of titles to which it it gave birth formed a tapestry in my life. I used to actually mark events happening Real-World-side by what was going on when in Uncanny X-Men, including two graduations, three family deaths and two floods! Soon all I was buying were X-books, but real life and the newspaper world seemed to be cutting into my enjoyment of same.

About the time those same issue, 12 different gaited cover deals started, your humble columnist went on a 10-year hiatus, and in talking with some of my fellows at CBN and around the forum I’ve found that many others who have returned to comics and Marvel nowadays did the same. I returned with Uncanny X-Men and was glad to see Claremont back at the helm, but something seemed to be missing: the fun.

Then Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers caught my eye, until I saw an ad for a new coming title – Guardians of the Galaxy, with a strange mix of Jim Starlin characters and others. I was hooked and became cosmic again, for the first time since Adam Warlock and Captain Marvel’s sagas had ended.

I am really sad to see the end of the original Uncanny X-Men’s run. Like Action Comics and Detective Comics to DC, this title is a benchmark in that it has come through all sorts of real world atrocities and kept its numbering pure.  Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #1 were titles I was not happy to see relaunched this month.

But make no mistake. I am excited about Uncanny X-Men #1 getting set to relaunch in November and I hope that this book remains the linchpin about which the other X-titles, whatever they may be, revolve. It will be interesting to see these new “All-New, All-Different” X-Men under the superstar creative team of Kieron Gillen and Carlos Pacheco. I look forward to it.

If only God would permit us to have that fun, beautiful Dave Cockrum art again …