The X-Men: A Short Introduction

by Steven J. Owens (unless otherwise attributed)

Somebody I know got interested in the X-Men because of the movies and asked about the comic books and how they compare to the movies.

Most stuff is out there in perfect-bound Graphic Novel format. I'd be surprised if they weren't still reprinting the X-Men. Hm, a cursory check of Amazon turns up the examples below. A lot less expensive than buying back issues:

That's 528 pages for $10

That's 640 pages for $12

Stan Lee invented the X-Men decades ago, and the early works have a distinctly different visual style. Claremont & Byrne were a very, very popular creative team (my favorite) and then Byrne left and Claremont became some sort of messianic cult figure. I really didn't like the Claremont era so I lost track around then.

The original Phoenix/Dark Phoenix saga, btw, which bears absolutely no resemblance to the third movie, was from the Claremont & Byrne era.

(I do have to credit Claremont with really pushing for strong female characters; I've heard that he had a rule of thumb along the lines of "is there any reason why this new hero shouldn't be female?")

The movies seem to be largely based on the more recent version of the comics, which makes marketing sense since that's the version the majority of the fans are familiar. Many of the younger movie characters are in fact the older comic characters. The most notable example is Bobby, the Iceman; if you saw The Incredibles, the ice-based superhero in that movie is pretty much a clone of the Iceman, to give you some idea of what stunts you can (hopefully) look forward to in future movies. The Iceman was part of the original team (i.e. issue #1).

Still, Cyclops and Jean Grey (code name "Marvel Girl") were issue #1 X-Men. I'm guessing they were included because of the love triangle with Wolverine (which was part of the original series, though not as overt) and the Dark Phoenix plotline.

Magneto was the big baddie supervillain from issue #1, though he wasn't quite as much of an noble anti-hero until later on (another Claremont/Byrne bit).

Wolverine and Storm and Rogue are also from the Claremont/Byrne era. So is Mystique, though she was more of a mastermind (and subtler, just as deadly but more through skill, intelligence and sneakiness than through sheer physical ability), running her own version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Mystique and Rogue had a mother/daughter sort of relationship, so I assume they translated a bit of that relationship to Magneto/Mystique.

(and yeah, I read way too much of this stuff as a kid :-)

See original (unformatted) article


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