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X-Men

From Academic Kids

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The X-Men are a group of comic book superheroes featured in Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they first appeared in X-Men #1 in September 1963, the same month as the debut of the Avengers.

X-Men has grown to become one of the most hugely popular franchises in the comic book industry, producing dozens of spin-off series and turning many of the writers and artists involved in the series into industry stars.

Since the early 1990s, the X-Men have been adapted into many other media, most notably two animated television series and a string of blockbuster Hollywood movies.

The X-Men are mutants, human beings who, due to a quantum leap in evolution, are born with superhuman abilities. Mutants are often hated by regular humans both because of ordinary prejudice and because humans fear that mutants are destined to replace them. This fact is worsened by a number of mutants, most notably the team's arch-nemesis Magneto, who use their powers to try to disrupt and dominate human society. The X-Men were gathered by the benevolent Professor X to protect a world that hates and fears them from Magneto and other threats.

The X-Men series is known for containing a richly diverse cast of characters and is perhaps the most multicultural book in comics.

Contents

The comic books

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X-Men #1, Vol. 1. Art by Jack Kirby.

The original X-Men

In the early 1960s, Marvel Comics editor/writer Stan Lee, artist Jack Kirby and several other illustrators produced a number of superhero titles which stressed character personalities and personal conflict as much as action and adventure, including The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man. X-Men was one of the last titles of this Silver Age renaissance, appearing in September 1963.

In the comic book series, the X-Men were founded by the paraplegic telepath Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X. Xavier gathered the X-Men under the cover of a "School for Gifted Youngsters" at a large country estate in Westchester County, New York.

Cover-billed as "the strangest heroes of all", the original X-Men consisted of five teenagers still learning to control their powers:

  • Cyclops (Scott Summers), who emitted powerful “optics blasts” from his eyes that could only be controlled by a "ruby quartz" visor. He would become the X-Men's field leader.
  • Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), who possessed telekinetic powers and later developed telepathy.
  • Angel (Warren Worthington III), who flew from two feathery wings that extended from his back.
  • Beast (Hank McCoy), who possessed ape-like strength and agility.
  • Iceman (Bobby Drake), who froze moisture in the air around him and who could cover his body with snow and later developed the ability to turn himself into solid ice.

A precursor to the concept of a school for feared genetic mutants appeared in the 1953 science fiction novel Children of the Atom by Wilmar Shiras, which has been credited — though never officially confirmed — with inspiring the X-Men. The title characters of the novel were also mutants, the results of an unintended experiment in genetic mutation. The term "Children of the Atom" has also been used at times during the X-Men franchise's history, often as a subtitle for various X-Men publications and video games.

Despite the philosophical concepts which appeared in X-Men, Lee has said he invented genetic "mutants" to find a way to create a number of super-powered characters without having to come up with a separate and interesting origin for each one.

X-Men #1 also introduced the team's arch-nemesis, Magneto, who controlled magnetism and who felt that mutants should rule over or kill all normal humans. Magneto's character would later be fleshed out to reveal that he once shared a friendship with Professor X and that his decree that mutants must conquer or be conquered grew from his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. X-Men #4 introduced Magneto’s team, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

While a few other important villains debuted during the 1960s — such as Professor X's superhumanly strong stepbrother the Juggernaut and the mutant-hunting robot Sentinels — the X-Men often fought easily-forgotten mutant criminals, alien invaders and brutish monsters. As a result, this era is largely regarded as unremarkable and X-Men became one of the less successful Marvel series during the 1960s.

Lee and Kirby departed the series in 1966, handing the reins over to Roy Thomas and Werner Roth. Roth gave up the regular art chores in 1967, and Thomas dropped the scripting slot in 1968. The title went with no long-term creative time for about a year, notable only for a pair of issues drawn by Jim Steranko. In 1969, Thomas returned, joined by fan favorite artist Neal Adams in an effort to save the series from its sagging sales. These issues are more highly regarded by fans and introduced two more X-Men:

  • Havok (Alex Summers), Cyclops' rebellious brother who produced powerful "plasma blasts"
  • Polaris (Lorna Dane), who possessed magnetic powers and was originally believed to be Magneto's daughter

Though sales did improve while Adams illustrated the book, it was too little and too late, and Marvel stopped producing new issues of X-Men in 1969. The series continued by reprinting old issues and the X-Men appeared in other Marvel comics, but faded to near-obscurity.

The all-new, all-different X-Men

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Giant-Size X-Men #1. Art by Gil Kane & Dave Cockrum.

In 1975, writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum introduced a new team of X-Men. Rather than teenagers, this group consisted of adults who hailed from a variety of nations and cultures. The wide range of cultures came from Marvel's intention to target the title in markets outside its U.S. base. Giant-Size X-Men #1 introduced this team, called together by Professor X to rescue the original team from captivity on the radioactive "living island" of Krakoa.

The "All-New, All-Different X-Men" were led by Cyclops, and consisted of:

  • Sunfire (Shiro Yashida), a hot-tempered Japanese mutant who wielded an "atomic flame."
  • Thunderbird (John Proudstar), an Apache man who possessed super strength and speed.
  • Banshee (Sean Cassidy), an Irish mutant who possessed a "sonic scream."
  • Colossus (Piotr Rasputin), a quiet, contemplative Russian who could turn his body into "organic steel."
  • Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), a rascally German who possessed great agility and the ability to teleport. Nightcrawler also had a freakish appearance including blue skin, glowing eyes and a devil-like tail.
  • Storm (Ororo Munroe), a strong-willed African woman who controlled the weather. Storm would become the X-Men's leader in times of Cyclops' absence.
  • Wolverine (Logan), a gruff Canadian government agent who possessed heightened senses and a regenerative "healing factor", which also slowed his aging process. A covert agency had bonded the fictitious metal alloy adamantium to Wolverine's skeleton, which included a set of three retractable, razor-sharp, foot-long claws on each hand. Between his unbreakable skeleton and healing factor, Wolverine proved virtually impossible to kill. Revealed piecemeal, Wolverine's origin would become one of the series's greatest mysteries.

After Giant-Sized X-Men #1, Marvel began publishing new issues of X-Men, featuring the new team (minus Sunfire (who had quit) and Thunderbird (who had died in battle after two issues in X-Men #95)). The series was illustrated by Cockrum and written by Chris Claremont, who would go on to become the longest-standing contributor to the series. One of the most important storylines of this era was "The Phoenix Saga" (X-Men #101-108, 1977), in which Jean Grey (seemingly) bonded with a cosmic entity called the Phoenix and led the team on an intergalactic mission. The saga introduced the Shi'ar alien race and its empress Lilandra, a recurring love interest of Professor X.

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Uncanny X-Men #136. Cover art by Dave Cockrum.

In 1978, Cockrum was succeeded as penciller by John Byrne, who also co-plotted the series with Claremont (soon retitled Uncanny X-Men). This marked the beginning of what many consider the X-Men's first creative renaissance, during which the series became one of the most popular in the industry. Following a confrontation with Magneto, Professor X and Jean Grey believe the X-Men lost and over the continuity of a year the team fights its way back home. Byrne also introduced a series of Canadian-themed adventures with the introduction of Alpha Flight, a Canadian super-hero team. Wolverine consistently won awards as the most popular comic character, so between 1980 and 1984, at least one issue per year focused on him.

Claremont and Byrne thrust the X-Men into a variety of desperate situations that tested their character, most notably "The Dark Phoenix Saga" (Uncanny X-Men #129-138, 1980). In this story, the aristocratic Hellfire Club seduced Phoenix, using Mastermind's mutant ability to create complex illusions. This tampering with her mind unleashed Phoenix's dark side, and she went on to destroy a populated planet. Although the X-Men tried to control her and apparently succeeded, Lilandra had Jean Grey captured in the hope of ending the Phoenix threat. Professor Xavier called for a duel of honor for the right not to surrender Phoenix. Lilandra, with the agreement of the Kree and Skrull as long as the superheroes' defeat was guarenteed, agreed to the challenge. The result was a battle on Earth's moon between the Shi'ar's Imperial Guard and the X-Men, with Jean Grey's fate hanging in the balance. The X-Men were eventually overwhelmed, but the stress of the battle, during which Cyclops was injured, overcame Phoenix's mental restraints against her dark persona, and it returned. At that point, Lilandra ordered the solar system destroyed in hopes that the Phoenix might be killed in the process, and Professor Xavier regretfully ordered the X-Men to kill their teammate to prevent such destruction. Because of Jean Grey's humanity and willpower, Phoenix committed suicide to prevent further loss, a watershed moment for comics; major characters had rarely been killed up to that point, and sacrificial suicide had previously been inconceivable. "The Dark Phoenix Saga" introduced several characters, including Kitty Pride, the White Queen of the Hellfire Club (and future X-Man), and Dazzler.

The import of Phoenix's sacrifice was highlighted in an issue of What If. In an alternate timeline, Jean Grey prevents Cyclops from being injured and is rendered unconscious. Thus, her transformation and suicide are avoided, and the Shi'ar perform a psychic lobotomy on her to remove her powers and prevent the Phoenix force from returning. However, in a later battle with Galactus, Grey sees Cyclops about to be killed, and her powers return. Although she and the X-Men initially are ecstatic, especially since she feels no touch of her dark side, Grey ultimately begins to feel the hunger caused by her power once again and covertly looks for sustenance. After consuming a small star, the X-Men confront her, provoking her anger and the return of Dark Phoenix, who easily kills them all, Cyclops last. As she sees her beloved murdered by her own hand, Grey loses complete control of her power, and the unsatiable Phoenix Force, in the form of a gigantic firebird, destroys the earth and continues into the entire universe.

For their swan song, Claremont and Byrne produced "Days of Future Past" (Uncanny X-Men #141-142, 1981), which portrayed a dystopian future in which America is a wasteland controlled by Sentinels. In this timestream, most X-Men, and other heroes, are dead, and mutants are confined in concentration camps. In the classic storyline, the psyche of the adult 'Kate Pryde' is sent back in time to the body of her younger self (Kitty), and she convinces the X-Men to help her thwart the assassination of a senator by a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by the shapeshifter Mystique. This dark vision of a future created by fear, hatred, and intolerance has inspired many X-Men stories in the years since.

In 1982, Claremont wrote and Brent Anderson illustrated the graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, in which Reverend William Stryker began a religious crusade against mutants, capturing Professor X to manipulate his powers to attack and eradicate mutant minds. The X-Men united with Magneto to battle Stryker, resulting in one of the clearest examples of mutants as a metaphor for race relations in the series. More than 20 years later, the story inspired the second X-Men film.

Meanwhile, Uncanny X-Men continued with Claremont and artists such as Paul Smith and later John Romita Jr.. Early 1980s storylines introduced the subterranean mutant gang the Morlocks, explored Wolverine's love of Japanese aristocrat Mariko Yashida, saw Storm adjust to the (temporary) loss of her powers and form a relationship with the mutant government weapons contractor Forge, and delved into Cyclops's relationship with Madelyne Pryor, a seeming doppelgänger of Jean Grey. This last story ended with Cyclops marrying Pryor and retiring from the X-Men.

The X-Men gathered several new recruits in the early and mid-1980s, including:

  • Kitty Pryde, a Jewish-American teenager who "phased" through solid objects. She would later be called Shadowcat after an adventure in Japan with Wolverine.
  • Rogue, a southerner who involuntarily absorbed the strength, memories and, in the case of mutants, powers of anyone she touched. Rogue was introduced as a member of Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. As a member of that team, she permanently absorbed superhuman strength and the ability to fly from the heroine Ms. Marvel, and turned to the X-Men for redemption.
  • Rachel Summers, the second Phoenix and the adult daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey from the "Days of the Futures Past" timeline, who inherited her mother's telepathy and telekinesis.

The series becomes a franchise

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New Mutants #1. Art by Bob McLeod.

In the 1980s, the growing popularity of Uncanny X-Men and the rise of comic book specialty stores lead to the introduction of several spin-off series nicknamed "X-Books." The first, The New Mutants, was launched in 1983 and featured a group of teenaged mutants attending Xavier's school. In 1985, the original X-Men, including a controversially resurrected Jean Grey, formed X-Factor. In 1986, Wolverine was granted his own solo series, which often dealt with his struggles with personal honor and his past. In 1987 Marvel added the offbeat Excalibur, featuring Rachel Summers, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and the English superheroes Captain Britain and Meggan. With so many spin-off series, the X-Men franchise became one of Marvel's most valuable assets, although the X-Men mythos became increasingly complex and the larger X-Men storyline more difficult to follow. In the coming decade the success of the X-Books would inspire other popular franchises, such as Spider-Man and DC Comics' Superman and Batman, to develop into interconnected "families" of series.

Another controversial move was to have Professor X relocate to space in 1986 after he sustained injuries so severe that only Shiar technology could save his life, while a convenient solar flare prevented Xavier from returning to Earth. The major controversy arose from former arch-villain Magneto taking Xavier's place in running the school as well as the various X-teams (this was the reason given for the original X-Men's decision to form X-Factor and keep their identities secret -- they thought the new team had "betrayed" Xavier by working with Magneto).

This plethora of X-Men-related titles led to the rise of crossovers (sometimes called "X-Overs"), storylines which would overlap into several X-Books, sometimes for months at a time. The first, 1986's "Mutant Massacre," featured the Marauders, a group a murderous mutants, who slaughtered the Morlocks and severely injured many of the X-Men who intervened (Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler's injuries allowed the writers to ship them off to England for Excalibur). The saga introduced Mister Sinister, a nefarious mutant geneticist who was the Marauders' leader and a central figure in many subsequent plots. It also brought Sabretooth, previously an opponent of the martial arts hero Iron Fist, into the X-Men's world as an adversary for Wolverine, with the suggestion that the two were linked in the past.

During this period Claremont unveiled a new X-Men line-up consisting of Storm, Rogue, Wolverine, Colossus, Havok and several characters new to the team:

  • Magneto, the team's then-reformed former nemesis, was left in charge of the X-Men and New Mutants by Xavier as he departed. Magneto left the X-Men after he failed to prevent the death of one of the New Mutants, and ultimately reverted to villainy.
  • Longshot, a television action star with "good luck" powers from an absurdist alien dimension run by the tyrannical television network head Mojo.
  • Dazzler (Alison Blaire), a former disco singer who could turn sound into light and energy beams. Dazzler had been introduced in the book several years earlier and had had her own failed comic series in the intervening years.
  • Psylocke (Betsy Braddock), an English telepath and femme fatale, originally introduced in the Captain Britain comic.

Following the 1987 "Fall of the Mutants" crossover, in which the X-Men died and were reborn fighting a demon called the Adversary in Dallas, the team briefly relocated to an abandoned outpost in Australia. The Australian period saw the introduction of the Reavers, a band of cyborg mercenaries, and the crossover "Inferno", which revaled that Madelyne Pryor was actually a clone of Jean Grey created by Mister Sinister. The X-Men and X-Factor battled Pryor, who was now the insane Goblin Queen, and the demons she had allied herself with. One of the high points of the story was the reunion of X-Factor and the X-Men -- X-Factor had no idea the others were really alive, and the X-Men had assumed Jean Grey was still dead. The Australian sojourn finally ended with Storm and Rogue presumed dead and most of the others, despondent, choosing to enter the Siege Perilous, a crystal which determined their individual fates. Claremont took this opportunity to write Dazzler and Longshot out of the series (they paired up and left to raise a child). Unlike most X-characters, they have rarely been seen or heard from since their departure.

In late 1989, Marvel began publishing Uncanny X-Men twice a month, allowing Claremont to write intertwined plot threats involving a number of X-Men. The 1990 crossover, "The X-tinction Agenda," pulled the X-Men back together, with two new members:

  • Jubilee (Jubilation Lee), a teenage "mall rat" who produced plasma "fireworks" from her finger tips. Jubilee stowed away with the X-women when they teleported home from a mall excursion. She lived in their quarters without their knowledge for several weeks, finally revealing herself to save Wolverine from a crucifixion at the hands of Lady Deathstrike.
  • Gambit (Remy LeBeau), a suave Cajun thief who "charged" small objects, usually playing cards, with explosive kinetic energy

From 1987 until 1990 Marc Silvestri illustrated Uncanny X-Men. He was succeeded by young artist Jim Lee, who was one of the most popular artists in comics during his tenure on the title.

The sales boom of the 1990s

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One of the covers to X-Men #1, Vol. 2. Art by Jim Lee.

After the X-Men's return to the Westchester, New York and Professor X's return to Earth in early 1991, Marvel revised the entire lineup of X-books. Artist Rob Liefeld transformed The New Mutants into the platoon-like X-Force, led by the mysterious warhawk Cable. The original X-Men abandoned X-Factor and returned to the X-Men, many of them much different from when they left. Beast had developed blue fur and earned a PhD in genetics and Angel, now called Archangel, had been transformed by the 2,000-year old supermutant Apocalypse and now had blue skin and metal wings. Meanwhile, Havok, Polaris and several secondary mutants formed a new, government-affiliated X-Factor.

To make room for the enlarged main team, Marvel launched a second X-Men series, simply called X-Men. Written by Claremont and illustrated by Lee, the new series featured the "blue team," consisting of Beast, Psylocke, Rogue, Gambit, Cyclops and Wolverine. Uncanny X-Men, written and illustrated by Lee and Whilce Portacio, featured the "gold team," consisting of Colossus, Iceman, Archangel, Jean Grey, Storm, and Bishop, a gun-toting renegade mutant from a distant future. Professor X, Banshee and Jubilee stayed on as non-combatant X-Men.

The popular art of Lee and Liefield and the buzz produced by this reformation raised the X-Men's popularity even further and the first issues of X-Force and X-Men became two of the best-selling comic book issues of all time, thanks mainly to the sales boom from comics speculators.

Amid the success, internal friction split the X-Men books' creative teams. Claremont left after only three issues of X-Men due to clashes with Marvel editors and with Lee, ending his fifteen-year stint as X-Men writer. Months later, Liefield and Lee left Marvel with several other popular artists (including Silvestri and Portacio) to form Image Comics.

The X-Men's rise in popularity continued, largely thanks to the Fox Network's top-rated X-Men animated series, which debuted in 1992. Meanwhile Uncanny X-Men was handed over to writer Scott Lobdell and artist Joe Madureira, whose manga-like style helped generate a new interest in Japanese comics in the U.S. X-Men continued with writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Andy Kubert.

X-overs proliferated, becoming almost annual events during the 1990s. Although they consistently boosted sales, fans began to complain that they were just contrived publicity stunts. Some of the more prominent crossovers from the decade include:

  • "The X-Tinction Agenda" (1990), in which the government of Genosha, a fictional island off the coast of Madagascar where mutants are used as prison labor, captured the X-Teams.
  • "The X-Cutioner's Song" (1992), in which Cable's clone and arch-enemy Stryfe framed the X-Force leader for an attempt on Professor X's life. He also captured and tormented Cyclops and Jean Grey, the genetic parents of both Cable and Stryfe, who were revealed to be time-travelers.
  • "Legion Quest" / "Age of Apocalypse" (1995), in which Professor X was killed by his time-traveling son Legion before he had ever formed the X-Men. An alternate reality unfolded in which Apocalypse ruled North America and Magneto led the X-Men as a resistance force.
  • "Onslaught" (1996), which dominated all Marvel series for two months. In this storyline, Professor X lost control of his powers, producing an evil, near-omnipotent secondary personality called Onslaught, which battled the X-Men, The Avengers and the Fantastic Four.
  • "Operation Zero Tolerance" (1997), in which an anti-mutant army is given license to hunt down the X-Teams and other mutants.

The 1990s saw an even greater number of X-books, with numerous ongoing series and miniseries running at any given time. Ongoing series from this time included Generation X, starring another team of teenage mutants and X-Man, starring a powerful young mutant from the "Age of Apocalypse" reality. Marvel launched solo series for several characters including Cable, Gambit, Bishop and Deadpool, a sarcastic mercenary antagonist of X-Force. In 1998 Excalibur and X-Factor ended and the latter was replaced with the parallel world series Mutant X starring Havok.

X-Men #100. Claremont returns to the X-Men. Art by .
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X-Men #100. Claremont returns to the X-Men. Art by Art Adams.

Era of reformations

By the time "Operation Zero Tolerance" concluded in 1997, major characters such as Bishop, Gambit, Jean Grey and Cyclops had been written out of the X-Men. In place, writers assembled a new team consisting of Wolverine, Rogue, Beast, Storm and several newcomers including Cannonball, a former member of the New Mutants and X-Force who flew at jet speeds; Marrow, a former Morlock whose body grew protruding bones which she could remove and use as blades or clubs; Maggott, a South African with cybernetic slugs bonded to his body; and Cecilia Reyes, a Puerto Rican doctor with a personal force field. .

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New X-Men #114, the start of Grant Morrison's run. Art by Frank Quitely.
2001 also saw the ascent of writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely to X-Men, retitled New X-Men,featuring the line-up of Beast, Jean Grey, Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine and Emma Frost, a seductive telepath and former White Queen of the Hellfire Club. The team was outfitted in black leather uniforms resembling those of the 2000 X-Men film and a student body of teenage mutants was added to Xavier's School. New X-Men was known for its high-minded science fiction concepts, and its ambitious, unexpected twists and turns such as the killing of 16 million mutants in Genosha at the hands of the Sentinels, as well as for controversial changes in long-established characterisation. One of Morrison's more controversal plotlines involved the married Cyclops having a telepathic affair with Emma Frost behind Jean's back.

Meanwhile Uncanny X-Men was revamped by writer Joe Casey and artist Ian Churchill and later writer Chuck Austen, along with a revolving door of artists. The book, which focused on traditional action and adventure, featured Iceman, Nightcrawler, Archangel, Havok, Polaris, Alpha Flight's Northstar, Generation X's Chamber and Husk, and (surprisingly) the Juggernaut, who had been a criminal and enemy of the X-Men since the mid-1960s (Austen had Juggernaut redeem himself, in one of the few storylines of his run that was well-received). Chuck Austen brought back Havok, who had been floating in limbo (literally) ever since Mutant X had been cancelled. Both Casey and Austen, however, received considerable backlash. Many critics felt Uncanny X-Men was treading a derivative and well-worn path (especially in comparison to the more adventurous New X-Men), while fans often objected to the changes that were made, including retcons of Nightcrawler's becoming a Catholic Priest, a change in the character of Polaris (turning her into a mentally disturbed terrorist), and a controversial Archangel/Husk romance (Husk being an 18 year-old roughly 10 years Archangel's junior).

Current age

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Astonishing X-Men #1, Joss Whedon's first issue. Art by John Cassaday.

In 2004, Morrison left New X-Men and Marvel prepared for what was already being called the "post-Morrison period". Marvel cancelled X-Treme X-Men and placed Claremont back on Uncanny X-Men. The company also launched Astonishing X-Men with writer Joss Whedon (well-known as the creator of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and artist John Cassaday (Planetary).

Astonishing X-Men became a hit among comic book fans due to Whedon's plotting and dialogue, and John Cassaday's clean and realistically-styled art. Some attribute the title's success to its relatively straightforward presentation: many X-Men books (especially from the 1990s) are known for complicated continuity and flashy art overshadowing the characters in the story. The series included the return of decisively dead X-Man Colossus, which fans generally accepted since the character was quite popular. Psylocke was also resurrected in Uncanny X-Men (Chris Claremont had intended on bringing her back ever since her death over in X-Treme X-Men, but was not allowed to due to a 'Dead is Dead' rule at the time).

Marvel has also launched several new secondary X-Books, including District X, in which Bishop polices a mutant neighborhood of New York City, New X-Men: Academy X, a continuation of the recently launched New Mutants vol. 2 starring Xavier's student body, and a new Excalibur, featuring Magneto and Professor X's attempt to rebuild Genosha. Rogue, Nightcrawler, Gambit, and Jubilee all received their own eponymous ongoing series at this time, although Jubilee was cancelled after only six issues, as it had sold less copies per issue than any other X-Men spinoff ever published at that point; Gambit and Rogue only made it to twelve issues each.

Marvel ended X-Statix when creators Peter Milligan and Mike Allred left. Milligan replaced Chuck Austen as writer of X-Men (which had since dropped the "New" from the title) in January 2005.

Meanwhile, the long-delayed series NYX introduced the character X-23, a teenage female clone of Wolverine who had originally appeared on the animated television series X-Men: Evolution. X-23 subsequently joined the Uncanny X-Men team. This is the second time Marvel has brought in a character to their comics who originally appeared in a TV series; the first was Firestar from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, who made her first comic book appearance in Uncanny X-Men and later joined the New Warriors and later the Avengers. DC Comics had done the same in the 1990s, introducing Harley Quinn into the DC Universe after gaining popularity on Batman: The Animated Series.


Real-life comparison

The entire X-Men franchise is buildt on a sociopolitical undercurrent. Mutants are often seen as a metaphor for racial, religious and other minorities that face oppression. Professor X has been compared to African American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Magneto to the more militant Malcolm X.

Another civil rights metaphor the X-Men have is gay rights. Comparisons have been made between the mutants' situation, including the concealment of their powers and the age they realise these powers, and homosexuality, as was illustrated in a scene of the X-Men film X2 (a film by openly gay director Bryan Singer) that had Bobby Drake "come out" as a mutant to his parents. The comics themselves delved into the AIDS epidemic during the early 1990s with a plot about an incurable disease thought at first to only attack mutants, the Legacy Virus.

Appearances in other media

Animated television series

In 1989, Marvel Entertainment produced a pilot for an X-Men series called Pryde of the X-Men, which only aired once but was later released on video.

In 1992, the Fox Network launched an unrelated X-Men animated series with the roster of Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Jean Grey, Jubilee, Professor X, Rogue, Storm, and Wolverine, with Bishop and Cable frequently guesting. The series was an extraordinary success, becoming one of the most watched animated series in television history. It continued for five seasons, ending in 1997.

In 2000, Warner Brothers Network launched X-Men: Evolution, which portrayed the X-Men as teenagers attending regular high school in addition to the Xavier Institute. The series ended in 2003 after its fourth season.

Feature films

The first attempts to make a film version of the X-Men began in the late 1980s along with Spider-Man and Hulk films. James Cameron, director of Aliens and The Terminator, was said to be the most likely director of the films, but it never came to fruition. In 1996, FOX produced a television movie based on the X-Men spinoff Generation X.

X-Men

In 2000, 20th Century Fox released X-Men, a $75 million film adaptation of the comic superteam directed by Bryan Singer. The film, along with Spider-Man, gathered approval from fans and enough good reviews to begin a revival of superhero-themed movies, such as Daredevil, Elektra, The Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four.

X-Men 2

In 2003, the sequel X2: X-Men United, also directed by Singer, was released. This film was loosely based on the 1982 graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills. It was a greater success than the first movie, and many fans and critics considered it a superior film.

X-Men 3

As of summer 2005, a third movie, X3, is being planned for release in 2006 and filming is scheduled to begin in June 2005. Director Matthew Vaughn was slated to direct, but dropped out in June 2005 due to "personal issues". 20th Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment set Brett Ratner ("Rush Hour" films) to replace Matthew Vaughn as the director of X-Men 3.

Spin-off movies

Lauren Donner, producer for the first two movies, has said the movie studio is interested in producing two spin-off films.

  • One film will star Wolverine, in which Hugh Jackman will reprise his role as the clawed warrior.
  • Screenwriter Sheldon Turner is currently working on bringing Magneto to the big screen in his own spin-off film. The plot will deal with the character's friendship turned sour with Charles Xavier. Turner has stated that "It's going to take place from 1939 Auschwitz up to 1955 or so,".

Video Games

Crossovers

In 1995, Pocket Books published Planet X, a novel that featured the X-Men sharing an adventure with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Ironically, the cover of this novel featured both Charles Xavier and Jean-Luc Picard. Picard was portrayed by Patrick Stewart, who would play the role of Xavier five years later in the feature X-Men film.) Similar crossovers occurred in comic book form, as Marvel had just launched a new series of Star Trek comic books. These crossovers were roundly criticized by fans of both franchises.

Related articles

External links

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