Last November, around Thanksgiving, I took a task upon myself of a nature that seems ludicrous, mind-numbing, and not at all something a husband, father, full-time employee, and part-time student should waste the ridiculous amount of time to undertake. That's never stopped me from doing something this dumb before!
I think the 'kids' these days call it a 'deep dive'. I call it READING EVERY X-MEN COMIC EVER.
I got inspired by one of my favorite podcasts, Jay and Miles X-plain the X-Men, in which the goal is for Jay and Miles to read every major X-Men comic and then do a podcast on the latest story arc, mini-series, graphic novel, or other ephemera. Each episode they explain the plot, the characters, connections to future stories, connections to other pop culture, critique the story and art, and generally come across as charming, energetic, and passionate about the X-Men. So I said to myself, "Self, you should do this, too. Except you should read it all. ALL of the X-Men and X-Men related comics." So if a character spun out of Uncanny into their own title then I have to read it. I've read every issue of Dazzler in this project. Dazzler.
|You aren't understanding hard enough. I read every issue of Dazzler.|
If Wolverine so much as farted in an issue of Power Pack, I have to read it. And chronologically I must add. I found someone only slightly more ridiculous than I on the interwebs who has posted a chronological reading order of every X-Men related comic. It sits at 245 pages of a Word document listing every single comic in order. And where I have disagreed or found something left out, I made changes. Yeah, I'm that severe of a nerd, too.
|"I told you, bub, that wasn't me!"|
I've been having to pull comic from a number of different sources: my own collection, adding to my collection via 25-cent bins, a CD-Rom Brian got me of every issue of Uncanny X-Men from 1 to 500, and interlibrary loans. As I've been reading I would periodically write about it on my old blog I had before we started this site in conjunction with our podcast. If you are really that bored, you can go to it here. Don't be that bored.
Once I've reached my year anniversary on this project in November, I'm going to do a numerical rundown of how many comics I've read so far. Now, I've skipped the silver age X-Men so far, but I intend to go back and read those soon. I preferred starting with Giant-Sized X-Men #1 with the beginning of the "All-New, All-Different" era of X-Men that most people know. I'm now at Uncanny X-Men #278, published in July 1991. Not only was this the first Uncanny X-Men comic I'd ever read - 25 years ago now - it was also the last full issue that Chris Claremont wrote in his seminal, ground-breaking run. Claremont came back a few times years later, but I'll get into that when I get to those comics.
Have you seen the X-Men movies? 95% of the concepts, familiarities, and characters were either created by Claremont or fleshed-out by Claremont. He didn't create Wolverine, but everything the public knows about Wolverine came from him. He is that important to X-Men, and comics in general. And my first issue was his last.
Now, I'd read X-Factor before when I was little. I was 6-years-old reading about Warren Worthington - Angel - having his wings amputed due to injury and then seemingly committing suicide over it. Yay!
And I'd read some of my brother's New Mutants before this as well. I was familiar enough with the mutant concept to get how they connected with Uncanny. But I was never interested in X-Men. Never. My memories of X-Men were trying to figure out why everyone liked this dude with claws who was either routinely covered in blood on the cover, or threatening a Power Pack kid in the cover up above. He didn't appeal to me.
It feels bizarre coming back around to where it all started. After reading 278, I've never looked back. I didn't understand a single thing going on in that comic. Everyone was either brainwashed or beating up team members or whatever. I just knew something cool was going on, and I wanted in on it. I also didn't know that I was just a few months away from getting a copy of the still-highest selling comic book of all time, X-Men #1 by Claremont and Jim Lee. I didn't know then how big it was.
Incidentally, as a side, Claremont is know for mind control storylines. I just read Uncanny #270-280 which featured 3 major storylines. The first saw Storm and Havok in Genosha, brainwashed by the government. The second was in space featuring the Starjammers mind controlled by a captured Professor X. The third is the start of the "Muir Island Saga" which features Shadow King mind-controlling a batch of X-Men against other X-Men. Then Claremont's final three issues (during this era) on X-Men #1-3 has the X-Men blue team controlled by Magneto against the X-Men gold team. Claremont's final four stories of his legendary run were all mind control stories! Geez, Chris.
And reading it through the miasma of time, there are so many new perspectives to gain on it. I mean, I've been reading some form of X-Men since I was 7, and now I'm 35. Almost three decades of life gives you a wildly different set of eyes when going back and reading a comic about suicide and broken homes you first read as a second grader. Then putting it all together as a giant puzzle, all of my English major learnin' takes hold and I can see the connection, the patterns, the character arcs working or not working. It's fascinating in this scope. While the Marvel Universe is worthy of that designation considering the size of that literary universe, the X-Men almost form a Marvel Universe Part A, or X if I'm so inclined. When I get to crunching some numbers on MU vs MU.X, I'll really be able to see just how many comics make up our merry mutants.
Enough rambling, got more X-Men comics to read. A LOT more.
Enough rambling, got more X-Men comics to read. A LOT more.