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Oct 17

X-Men #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are going by the digital edition.

X-MEN: This is the fifth volume of just-plain-X-Men, although confusingly the legacy numbering continues from the last run of Uncanny X-Men.

COVER (PAGE 1): The residents of the Summers House (plus the visiting Corsair) in the Blue Area of the Moon. More of that inside.

PAGES 2-3: A flashback to Charles Xavier giving Scott Summers a pair of ruby quartz glasses to control his optic beams. It’s a metaphor for Xavier giving Scott the confidence to embrace what makes him superhuman, of course – plus, there’s a parallel being drawn with the leader of Orchis, Killian Devo, but we’ll come to that. Scott’s visor can be seen sitting on a stand in the corner of the room.

Scott seems unsure that the glasses will work, but it was established way back in the 1960s “Origins of the X-Men” back-ups that Scott got his ruby quartz glasses at the orphanage, long before he met Xavier. (The original explanation was that he was given them to control headaches; a 1980s retcon brought Mr Sinister into the picture,) So if this is meant to be the first time Scott uses ruby quartz, it’s a retcon. Maybe he’s just unsure about trusting a new pair.

PAGE 4: Laid out like one of the House of X / Powers of X data pages, but it’s a typical Marvel recap page with headshots of the cast.

PAGE 5: Credits, still in the HoXPoX style. The Krakoan text above the X (simply reads “X-Men”, and the word above the credits is “one”.

The issue title is “Pax Krakoa”, playing on “Pax Americana” (the notion that American dominance brought comparative world peace in the latter 20th century). Basically, it’s positioning Krakoa as a superpower.

The small print in the bottom right reads “Mutants of the world unite”, referring to the famous line from the Communist Manifesto (“Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains”). That fits both with the mutant liberation theme, and with the theme of individuals becoming part of a larger whole. Not subtly, but it does.

PAGES 6-17: Cyclops, Storm, Magneto and Polaris attack “the last Orchis stronghold on Earth”, bring it down, and liberate the people who Orchis were holding in stasis tubes – all of whom are mutants except for one…

Orchis. Orchis were the main villains in House of X, where they were trying to build Sentinels in space in what they apparently considered an act of self-defence against humans. HoX played up the parallels with the X-Men and the vicious cycle of escalation rather more, and made them come across as somewhat more sympathetic and understandable. This bunch, in contrast, are demented extremists. Base leader Dr Mars rejects the idea of wiping the database to stop it falling into X-Men hands, and opts instead for a suicide scheme of turning everyone into an ape. We don’t actually see what happens to the apes (Magneto deals with them off panel), but presumably that precious database falls into the X-Men’s hands.

“The last Orchis stronghold on Earth.” The term “stronghold” is significant as part of Hickman’s cosmology of cosmic societies from Powers of X, though that’s not something Storm herself would recognise in using the term.

Cyclops and Storm. Storm’s a bit zealous at the start of this scene, isn’t she? Granted that these guys are Sentinel builders, she keeps talking about Orchis as “conquered people”. She also berates Orchis for keeping people in stasis – “How little they must think of themselves to treat others this way” – despite having voted to do something broadly similar to Sabretooth in House of X #6.

Cyclops gives a somewhat more measured inspirational speech about how the X-Men are winning because mutants are the future and no amount of Orchis science and technology is going to stop that. In the context of the wider Hickman project, this is dramatic irony – Powers of X tells us that in fact, a technology-driven posthumanity always wins in the end.

The stasis tubes. Most of them hold mutants, though they all seem to be new characters. The two gold and silver figures are specifically drawn to our attention in the next scene, so they’re probably important – otherwise they seem to be randoms. We’re not told why Orchis were holding them, but presumably some sort of experimentation was in mind.

The unnamed non-mutant. This is Serafina, a character from Mike Carey’s run. She was one of the Children of the Vault (as Storm seems to realise) – a community who had been locked inside a sealed vault where time was accelerated relative to the outside world, so that 6,000 years passed for their society while 30 years passed outside. This is why Polaris detects “massive atemporal development”. Although the Children were said to be a separate species on account of their genetic drift, their actual superpowers were attributed to advanced technology. In other words, they’re posthumans, just like Powers of X warned about. Serafina, in particular, had technology interfacing powers, making her the most posthuman of all.

Serafina claims here that she emerged from the Vault “before [she] was fully cooked”, because “wild gods [were] loose in the world”. The Children’s actual motivations in the Carey stories weren’t always entirely clear, but broadly they seemed to believe that they were the rightful inheritors of the world. Note that Magneto – who knows what happened in Powers of X – suggests that the wild gods are mutants, and wants to chase after her until Cyclops overrules him.

Serafina did not have the photo-negative look when we last saw her. That’s new, and it’s a plot point. Nor does the story give any clue of what Orchis wanted with her, bearing in mind that she’s not a mutant – though maybe they just couldn’t tell the difference.

PAGES 18-22. The X-Men bring the liberated mutants back to Krakoa and Dr Cecilia Reyes checks over them.

Cecilia Reyes. A mutant doctor who’s been a member of the cast on and off since 1997. Basically the go-to X-Men medic these days, if the injuries aren’t exotic enough to call for a full-blown scientist character. Reyes is basically a non-combatant; her power is a force field.

Magneto. The children of Krakoa idolise him, and he rather enjoys the adulation. This doesn’t seem entirely healthy – and note that he gets much more attention than the other X-Men, perhaps because he’s willing to play along.

Polaris and Cyclops. Scott invites Lorna to join the Summers family reunion, pointing out that Alex will be there; the significance here is that Lorna and Alex were a couple for years. Scott talks about the birth of his son. That’s Cable, of whom more later. It’s the second somewhat-inspirational speech Scott has given in this issue, and Lorna politely questions how much of it is for show.

PAGES 23-26. Killian Devo arrives on the Orchis Forge to take charge of the operation. Generally, this scene takes us much further back to the parallels between the X-Men and Orchis which we saw in House of X. Devo talks about the Orchis Forge as a refuge (in similar terms to Krakoa) and uses the same “Look at what they have done” line, in reference to the Orchis dead, that House of X used about mutants.

Killian Devo. This is the first time we’ve seen him, but in the data pages of House of X #1, he was named as Orchis’s director. He’s said to be 63, and before he was in Orchis, he was affiliated with STRIKE (a UK organisation from Captain Britain which was broadly aligned with SHIELD). He clearly sees Orchis as the good guys, cheerfully rattling off all the reputable organisations where his staff worked in the past, and grudgingly conceding that there are also ex-HAMMER and -Hydra staffers (whom he considers a “lesser evil”). He personally designed the Orchis refit of the station, but hadn’t arrived by the time the X-Men attacked – he does seem to feel some personal responsibility for the deaths that ensued. Karima indicates that, despite the X-Men’s attack, the Orchis Forge is still conducting some sort of “experiment” (our attention is drawn here to the former location of the Mother Mold), for which Devo is necessary.

Devo also appears to be somewhat posthuman – he has cyborg arms and has some sort of visor fitted to his head. He tells us later that this allows him to see despite natural blindness. Visually, there are parallels both with Xavier and Cyclops, in terms of the permanent eye-covering.

PAGES 27-31. At the Summer House, the Summers family entertain the visiting Starjammers. Aside from the actual content, one thing to notice here (and throughout) is the shift of scale from House of X. That book was concerned with the huge social changes brought about by Krakoa; X-Men shifts focus down to the level of smaller groups.

The Summer House. A home for the Summers family next to the Blue Area of the Moon. We’ve seen it before in House of X #3, when the X-Men set off for their attack on the Orchis Forge. It was mentioned in Powers of X #5 as the location of one of Xavier’s back-up “cradles”.

Interestingly, Cyclops has chosen not to have his home on Krakoa itself, though the Summer House is a Krakoan habitat with a link to the main island. We’re told later that the Summer House is on the Blue Area of the Moon; its main significance for the X-Men context is that this is where Jean Grey “died” as Dark Phoenix. Which seems like an odd place to set up home.

The Summers family. Traditionally portrayed as one of the most important mutant bloodlines. We’ll come back to the history of individual characters if it turns out to matter in future issues, but the permanent residents are:

  • Cyclops himself, obviously.
  • Wolverine, who is not a member of the Summers family. I’ll come back to that.
  • Jean Grey / Marvel Girl, Cyclops’s wife and fellow founding X-Man. (Or ex-wife, depending on whether you think their marriage ended on her death – we don’t establish here how they regard their current relationship.)
  • Alex Summers / Havok, Cyclops’ brother, and an X-Man on and off since the late sixties.
  • Gabriel Summers / Vulcan, the third Summers brother who was born in outer space and never knew his relatives until X-Men: Deadly Genesis came along. After Ed Brubaker’s run, Vulcan was shunted off to Marvel’s cosmic titles and the X-books pretty much forgot about him until now. He spent some time as the Emperor of the Shi’ar, and as near as I can tell, he was last seen in War of Kings #6, where he vanished in battle with Black Bolt. (Black Bolt long since returned from the same apparent death, so there’s no particular reason why Vulcan wouldn’t have survived too.) He’s behaving like a grandiose Silver Age villain in this story, but it seems to be partly tongue in cheek. There’s obviously a back story to be filled in here.
  • Nathan Summers / Cable, the son of Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor (who later turned out to be a clone of Jean Grey). Nathan grew up in a far future dominated by Apocalypse, where he was raised by a time travelling Scott and Jean as seen in the miniseries Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix. Cable was the quintessential early nineties guns and ammo character, but this is a divergent version of Cable who first appeared in the recent Extermination miniseries, and had his back story fleshed out in the recent X-Force. In very broad strokes, when the teenage X-Men from the Silver Age spent an extended period in the present day (in All-New X-Men and X-Men Blue), this eventually caused disruption to the timeline that led to Cable travelling back in time decades early to sort it all out and to get rid of the older, original Cable who ought to have dealt with it but failed to do so. So this is a younger Cable but, sharing the back story of the original through to his late teens – as such, he still recognises Scott and Jean as his parents.
  • Rachel Summers / Prestige, the daughter of Scott and Jean from the alternate future timeline of Days of Future Past, who travelled back in time to become a permanent resident here. She’s been a member of the X-Men and Excalibur on and off since the 80s. She was a Hound in the DOFP timeline, which she likes to remember with the spikes on her costumes (mentioned here); the tattoos on her face are connected with that as well. The codename Prestige comes from X-Men Gold.

Hickman largely avoided characters with time-travel back stories, like Cable and Prestige, in House of X. Cable, in particular, comes from a timeline in which events don’t seem to pan out as seen in Powers of X – Apocalypse rises to dominance instead.

The visitors are the Starjammers, space pirates and general adventuring swashbucklers:

  • Christopher Summers / Corsair, the father of Scott, Alex and Gabriel, abducted by aliens when Scott and Alex were children. He’s a regular human.
  • Raza, the cyborg
  • Ch’od, the big strong reptile guy.
  • Hepzibah, the skunk-woman, who is Corsair’s partner.

For present purposes you really don’t need to know anything about the last three beyond the fact that they’re Corsair’s regular entourage.

PAGES 32-33. Data pages on the Summer House, largely with a floor plan, though also confirming that Vulcan has been a bit of a troublemaker. There’s a story coming with him, clearly. The Summer House has two empty bedrooms, though it’s not clear who they’re being reserved for, if anyone. Recall that Mr Sinister’s gossip column in Powers of X #4 suggested that there might be still more Summers brothers.

That column also implied that Wolverine was having an affair with someone “married with a kid”, with the full knowledge of her husband, who was “up to much the same, and more.” This now seems to be Jean, the kid being Cable, and the husband being Cyclops. Look closely at the floor plan: not only is Jean’s bedroom between Cyclops and Wolverine (something that isn’t obvious from the numbering of the legend), but those three bedrooms have connecting doors which are missing from all the other rooms. As for Cyclops’ own affairs, the obvious candidate would be a resumed relationship with Emma Frost.

PAGES 34-35. Corsair is worried about the X-Men’s ambitious new direction, and Cyclops reassures him. Pretty self explanatory.

PAGES 36-38. Back on the Orchis Forge, Devo speaks to Alina Gregor about the death of her husband. The parallels with Krakoa continue – Alina reveals that she has a way of bringing her husband back. This seems to involve a ruby quartz crystal in some way (which would suggest a connection with Sinister), and implies that Alina believes she can restore him from back-up just like the mutants are doing. If that’s right, then it would cast doubt on whether the X-Men really do need those five combined (though Moira seemed to think so in her journal).

PAGES 39-40. The Krakoan text on the trailer page reads “NEXT: ARAKKO.” That was the name of the other island which was supposedly split off from Krakoa in ancient times.

Bring on the comments

  1. Job says:

    @Chris V

    “The fact that we are, presumably, meant to agree with the outsider’s view-point”

    This isn’t a fact. I would argue this isn’t even true. We don’t actually know anything about his point of view. This single dismissive line about the X-Men validates the impression Hickman was ambiguously (intentionally or not) trying to present to us.

  2. Chris V says:

    Yet, you, yourself, seem to say that you agreed with this Russian soldier’s viewpoint.

    You’re arguing semantics.

    The Russian soldier is a villain.
    He says that Krakoa is a weird cult.
    Presumably, readers of these comics have come to the conclusion that what is going on with Krakoa seems like a weird cult to them.
    Ipso facto, the reader is put in to the perspective of the Russian solider, who is an outsider viewing Krakoa, and also portrayed as the villain of the piece.

    If the reader really needed to hear the Russian soldier mention one line about Krakoa seeming like a “weird cult”, then their comprehension of the story must not have been very deep.
    There have been warning signs throughout House/Powers.
    There was nothing ambiguous about it.

    How many readers in these threads have said, “This is mind control”, or “this seems like a cult”? A lot.

  3. Chris V says:

    One man’s weird cult is another person’s salvation.
    Notice that the mutants that Kitty and her crew are rescuing from the Russian soldiers point out that they were really going to be rounded up and put in a gulag.

    If we look at the story through the eyes of the persecuted mutants, the Russian soldier’s line about a “weird cult” doesn’t seem accurate anymore.

  4. Job says:

    @Chris V

    “Yet, you, yourself, seem to say that you agreed with this Russian soldier’s viewpoint.”

    No. The Russian soldier has no viewpoint. He’s barely a character.

    I am saying that Duggan, being a mediocre writer, approached the ambiguity which Hickman established, intentionally or not, and took a sledgehammer to it by dropping the “cult” line.

    It’s like when the media asks leading questions like, “Is the president a criminal?” or “Is Bernie Sanders too old to run?” They’re not making a statement, but they’re planting the idea for the audience to consider.

    In Duggan’s case, though, he’s not planting the idea because, intentionally or not, Hickman has already conveyed it. Duggan is validating that impression by spelling it out.

    “There have been warning signs throughout House/Powers. There was nothing ambiguous about it.”

    Warnings/signs are ambiguous. They’re not explicit.

  5. Aiden says:

    I don’t understand why people are complaining about the writers, storylines, characters – and pretty much everything. I can understand a little criticism but if it’s ALL criticism then, seriously, why are they even reading the comic?

    I’m a long time X-Men fan (1989 was the year I read my first story – Inferno). I enjoy reading them still, although not in the obsessive way I did as a teenager! But if I hated everything about them and got to the point of writing comments (and ongoing arguments) on a site like this which celebrates X-Men and Paul’s monumental X-Axis critiques, then there’s seriously a question I’d have to ask myself. Why bother trying to convince people that the X-Men are crap on a site that is probably the best, most balanced view of the series. I have been reading Paul’s columns for ages and he’s an astute and thoughtful reader. I used to read the comments too, and had interesting ideas brought up to ponder, but recently it’s just been embarrassing. I hope Paul doesn’t feel responsible for the comments section – and I’ll be taking a break from reading comments here. I don’t expect a love-in but the repetitive and aggressive nature of some of these comments is just ridiculous.

  6. Job says:


    “I don’t understand why people are complaining about the writers, storylines, characters”

    It’s called discussion. It’s what you talk about when applying critical analysis. If everything is perfect, then you don’t really have anything to discuss (or more likely, you lack the ability to think critically).

    Also, these are first issues. You can’t know whether or not you like them until you read them.

    “a site like this which celebrates X-Men and Paul’s monumental X-Axis critiques”

    Critiques, you say? So only Paul is allowed criticism and nobody else is?

  7. Col_Fury says:

    re: Aiden

    Hey! I started reading X-Men right around Inferno like you, but just shortly before the crossover. Simultaneously, I was reading a friend’s brother’s Classic X-Men collection (as I’m sure you know, that’s how we had to do it in the days before the internet). So I was reading the Dark Phoenix Saga and Inferno at basically the same time for the first time, which was my introduction to the X-Men. Subplots introduced in the Claremont/Byrne run which were being paid off in the Inferno story (or, long-term storytelling) is what really got me into the X-Men. I’ve been hooked ever since. 🙂

    Ah, good times.

    Of course, what followed, in theory, really shouldn’t have been any good for a new reader: Wolverine goes away, the team is sucked into the Siege Perilous and lose their memories, and then there’s basically no team for 20 issues. But at the time I didn’t care; it was all great.

  8. Andrew says:


    That was where I came aboard too – Around the time of Inferno and the weirdness that followed.

    It was exciting as hell. I dropped off at some point in the mid-90s and then came back with Claremont in 2000.

  9. Chris V says:

    Job-Yes, that is correct. The Russian soldier is barely a character. His character is, basically, that he is mean.

    I see your point now. It didn’t come out clearly in your first comment.
    I agree.

    The biggest problem I have right now, is that Krakoa doesn’t feel like a real place to me.
    Hickman has had thirteen issues to flesh out Krakoa now, but there are still so many questions left dangling.
    Are there characters traveling to and from Krakoa on a constant basis?
    Is everyone staying on Krakoa all the time now?
    If so, what are they doing on the island?

    We’ve seen Scott and the Summers’ House. So, that was a nice start, finally.

    We see certain characters in this Marauders comic, but I don’t get the feeling that they are part of a lived-in society.
    You can feel the writers’ hands behind everything that occurs on Krakoa.

    Iceman says that Krakoa is a continual party. Maybe that’s because that is Bobby’s idea of Heaven.
    A constant party would grow boring pretty quickly though. Especially with some of the other characters on the island, who might not be as interested in a party as Bobby.

    Have they set up schools on the island? Are the X-Men leaving behind the concept of having schools to raise fellow mutants?

    Really, some of these things should have been addressed by this point, so you can feel like there is life going on with Krakoa.
    Reading Marauders, I got the feeling that the entire island was put on pause, while Kitty’s crew went and did something.

  10. SanityOrMadness says:

    On the whole Jean/costume/regression thing, the thing Dauterman was drawing with her in a different (recoloured) costume has been announced – it’s a Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey & Emma Frost* one-shot (part of an infrequent series similar to Web of Venom apparently) by Hickman & Dauterman, and she’s in a green/yellow version of her X-Men Red suit.

    *Odd that it’s not “Marvel Girl & White Queen”, with the whole stressing of the “mutant name” thing in HOX.

  11. Jason says:

    “A total aside, Rogue’s outfit at the time is still my favorite outfit for her. The green bathing suit over the black body stocking one.”

    I agree with your total aside. Between this and Classic X-Men #27’s backup story, we’re batting 1000 on agreement about random X-Men elements from the 1980s!

  12. Jason says:

    “Hey! I started reading X-Men right around Inferno like you, but just shortly before the crossover. Simultaneously, I was reading a friend’s brother’s Classic X-Men collection (as I’m sure you know, that’s how we had to do it in the days before the internet). So I was reading the Dark Phoenix Saga and Inferno at basically the same time for the first time, which was my introduction to the X-Men. Subplots introduced in the Claremont/Byrne run which were being paid off in the Inferno story (or, long-term storytelling) is what really got me into the X-Men. I’ve been hooked ever since.

    Ah, good times.

    Of course, what followed, in theory, really shouldn’t have been any good for a new reader: Wolverine goes away, the team is sucked into the Siege Perilous and lose their memories, and then there’s basically no team for 20 issues. But at the time I didn’t care; it was all great.”

    *And I also am pretty much with you on all of this as well! It was a lot of confusing stuff, but I ate it all up. I remember that reveal that Madelyne could call Mr. Sinister … “FATHER” being mind-blowing to me, even though I had no idea who Madelyne was, and also no idea who Mr. Sinister was. 🙂

  13. Col_Fury says:

    Oh, yeah. Starting in the middle was confusing as heck. That’s what fueled the hunt for back issues to fill in the stuff we didn’t know. I remember saving my paper route money to place a mail order through Mile High Comics to get some Uncannys I couldn’t find at the shop in the next town over. The Brood issues (early #230s), if I remember right.

    Oh, poor Madelyne. Her husband runs off with his old flame right after she gives birth, I don’t blame her for going crazy. Or for starting a relationship with his brother.

    And what’s the first thing Wolverine does when he finds out Jean’s alive in Uncanny #242? He gives her a big old smooch in front of everyone. Still one of my favorite X-moments. 🙂

    Another favorite bit of mine was in the no-team era, when Wolverine, Jubilee and Psylocke are palling around and Wolverine’s healing factor isn’t working right and he thinks he’s dying… and starts hallucinating old friends (Nick Fury & Carol Danvers). I don’t think that was ever explained or resolved, but I still think it’s great stuff.

    In the mid/late ’90s when I was a regular letterhack, I had one printed in Gambit (I think); I pointed out that characters were starting to get lazy and were just calling him “Sinister,” and that he deserved to be called “Mister Sinister” because he earned it (or something). So yeah, another Mister Sinister fan over here!

  14. Col_Fury says:

    Found it: Gambit #11. I even managed to mention Nick Fury. 🙂 Lost to the mists of time is why I thought Apocalypse was behind the Weapon X project. Not lost to the mists of time is that e-mail address. I still use it today.

  15. Jason says:

    “why I thought Apocalypse was behind the Weapon X project.”
    *Didn’t Claremont actually want to reveal that, not long after Weezie created him? Wolverine mentions something “familiar” in Archangel’s scent in issue 242, just a bit after he gets done kissing Jean. 🙂

    It was a long time before I read those Brood issues in the early 230s, but I was all about the arc that followed, with Genosha and the Press Gang and what-not. I read and re-read those four issues … jeez, probably dozens of times in my youth.

    I don’t know if it’s the appropriate thread to be waxing nostalgic for X-Men ’88, but I must say I’m digging it. 🙂

    (And you’re right, the hallucinated Nick and Carol just kinda faded away after a while. Somewhere between issue 261 and 268, as I recall.)

  16. Col_Fury says:

    Oh, yeah! Those Genosha issues are great. Rogue goes into a panic and the Carol Danvers personality takes over for a bit. Fantastic. Those were my first X-issues. I had no idea who Carol Danvers was at the time, but I thought it was great that she was friends with Wolverine. 🙂

    re: Apocalypse
    That sounds familiar (Claremont wanting to use him); I recall another hint that there was a Wolverine/Apocalypse connection in Wolverine: Jungle Adventure (with art by Mike Mignola, written by Weezie’s husband Walt).

    And hey, I’ll take any chance I can get to wax nostalgic about great comics. I’m having a blast!

  17. Jason says:


    “I’m having a blast!”

    Same here!

    Yeah, I had no idea who Carol was, but that moment when she shows up in Rogue’s mind was awesome to eleven-year-old me.

    Any other favorite Bolton-illustrated backups? Those are my all-time favorite X-Men stories right there.

  18. Col_Fury says:

    Oh, Great Kirby. I love all of them, really. But if I had to choose a greatest hits…

    Classic #27: Jean, Scott & Logan deal with sewer monsters and their romantic rivalry. Scott’s uptight, Logan’s having a blast, and Jean’s intrigued. 😉

    Classic #8: Jean makes a deal with the Phoenix. To save her friends she’d deal with Satan himself (but also, she doesn’t want to die). It’s a retcon/explanation story, but I LOVE it.

    Classic #28 (Ann Nocenti, not Claremont; but Bolton): the creepy masquerade party.

    Classic #4: Logan dares Kurt to turn off his image inducer and walk around town as himself.

    Classic #12: Magneto (I don’t care about later revelations; his name is Magnus; not Erik, not Max) recalls the death of his daughter, and his wife being terrified at the revelation/use of his powers.

    Classic #18 (Jo Duffy, not Claremont; but Bolton): Jean (Phoenix) uses her powers to lift an entire lake, but drops it when distracted.

    Classic #3: Thunderbird’s funeral.

    Classic #13: Jean & Misty Knight save some dolphins.

    Classic #10: Sabretooth “helps” Wolverine celebrate his birthday (the birthday isn’t mentioned here, though).

    Classic #5: Colossus helps a ballerina against Russian mobsters, but she’s horrified when she learns he’s a mutant.

    Classic #9: Nightcrawler makes friends with a ghost.

    Not Claremont/Bolton, but still:

    Classic #32 (Nocenti/Bolton): Wolverine & Nightcrawler fight Proteus in a psychedelic battle.

    Classic #33 (Nocenti/Bolton): Havok & Polaris deal with Proteus’ assault.

    Classic #34 (Nocenti/Bolton): a Hellfire Club tale of sexual agency.

    Classic #38 (Nocenti/Kyle Baker): Dazzler deals with a creepy parking lot attendant.

    There are others for me, but this is what springs to mind.

    Flipping thru these issues I’m reminded of just HOW GREAT the Claremont/Byrne run was. Quite possibly (most likely/almost definitely) my favorite run of the book. The Mesmero/circus stuff (#111) & what followed was great, and of course the Dark Phoenix Saga. Wolverine in the Hellfire Club sewers followed by the Reavers’ (Cole/Macon/Reaves) revenge crucifixation of him still resonates with me. 🙂


  19. Jason says:


    Excellent choices all!

    I agree with you about the Claremont/Byrne run, although I find the Claremont/Bolton backups to be essential supplemental material. (I also like all the interstitial pages from Classic X-Men, even if the art in them was never as good as Byrne’s … usually not even close.)

    To your list of great backups, I will add

    Classic #19: Young Magneto hunting down German war criminals for the CIA. (I am guessing this influenced the opening sequences of the “First Class” movie.)

    #2: Jean and Ororo get to know each other

    #7: Coup d’etat of the Inner Circle!

    #14: Lilandra solo

    #15: Chris Summers starts jammin’.

    #16: Sean and Tom love triangle!

    #17: Mesmero!

    #21 and 22, the Savage Land stories about Colossus and Storm, respectively, both of which got a sequel in X-Men Annual 12 (which is my favorite of all the annuals).

    #29 Colossus goes home … not Bolton-illustrated, but I love the bittersweet “can’t go home again” aspect to this one.

    #30 Arcade vs. Murderworld! (This one isn’t objectively the greatest, I realize, but it’s my first one. I still can picture the giant stuffed animals with guns.)

    I know between the two of us we just named virtually every single one of the backups, but like you said, they’re all great!

    On a Chris Claremont forum, someone was asking what would be their CC dream X-project, and I suggested “Classic X-Men Forever,” where Claremont and Bolton would pick up on backups starting with Classic X-Men 45, where the original backups ceased. That’s’s still something I’d pay good money to see. 🙂

  20. Col_Fury says:

    I almost included #19 & 21-22, but the list was getting so long…

    But yes, I agree that they’re all great. Claremont was always good at getting character work into the stories, but the Classic backups were all basically character studies. I know I learned a lot about these characters just from the Classic strips.

    I’m glad this conversation popped up; it gave me a reason to read through them all again, something I hadn’t dome in years. Thanks!

  21. Jason says:

    My pleasure, and thank you as well! I love connecting with fellow fans of the Classic backups (or the “Vignettes” as I guess they’re called in the official Marvel library?).

    If you remain on the “Classic” kick, this is a fun nostalgic look-back from “Women Write About Comics.”

    I (with bias) recommend this one as well …

  22. Col_Fury says:

    Oh, ho! The world just got a little smaller. 🙂

    I used to know you as Ocean Doot when you were hanging out at the Chronology Project. I recall a big discussion about Wolverine #7, the Hulk and Psylocke’s armor…

    Also, I’m going to have to track down your book.

  23. Jason says:


    “Also, I’m going to have to track down your book.”
    *I’d be honored, and most curious to hear what you think!

    ” I recall a big discussion about Wolverine #7, the Hulk and Psylocke’s armor…”
    *Ha. 🙂 That’s a discussion I’d love to forget … The passion was somewhat out of proportion to the issue being debated …

    Follies of youth. 🙂

  24. SanityOrMadness says:

    Oh, Hi Doot. I didn’t realise that this Jason was you 😀


  25. CJ says:

    Immediately purchased. Very cool, @Jason.

  26. Col_Fury says:

    Oh, ho! The world just got a little smaller. 🙂

    Hi, SanityOrMadness.

  27. Jason says:

    “I didn’t realise that this Jason was you”

    Somebody! How the heck are ya?

    Umm … no hard feelings on that argument Col_Fury brought up, right?

  28. Jason says:

    “Immediately purchased. Very cool, @Jason.”

    *Thank you so much!

    I wonder if Paul would review it if I sent him a comp copy …

  29. SanityOrMadness says:

    Jason> Umm … no hard feelings on that argument Col_Fury brought up, right?

    Honestly, I didn’t even remember it until it was mentioned here 🙂

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