Spreaker Widget

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Reading the X-Men: Age of...Onslaught, I guess...

Ok, I see I need to get back to doing some of that writing stuff on here. Yes, I ended Part One of my Age of Apocalypse columns on a cliffhanger that I'm sure all of you (ooo...ooo...ooo (that's an echo because no one is reading this)) were dying to find out what happens next. I will get to the rest of the AoA parts soon because life finally threw a curve ball and chilled out for a brief minute. The podcast is on our usual sabbatical after wrapping up the giant-sized 13th issue, so there is a little down time for the moment.

I wanna talk about Onslaught. After all, you can't spell 'Onslaught' without 'Laugh? Tons!'
Why so serious?

This was the crossover about Professor X getting so jealous of Magneto's red and purple swag that he makes an even bigger and spikier version of Mags' costume and threatens all humanity. Then he turns into an evil lobster, then a blob of energy, then he turns all of the Avengers and Fantastic Four into early 90's Image comics.

I was sooooooo excited when it came out. Seriously. Barring a couple of subscriptions I had gotten before, this was the first time I ever ordered comics through the mail, via a catalog. Didn't have net yet, so suck it. I got every single issue of it in one big package (heh). And because I put in an order of, like, 60 bucks or something, I got another 30 random comics free! I now own more Archer & Armstrong than I ever expected or wanted to! Yay for free comics!

So I sat down one fine summer evening at my aunt's house and read the entire damn thing. I was cool with the story at the time, being a dumb little 15-year-old. 

Now? Nope. Ugh.

This is the first time fans were really starting to see the editorial seams in the smooth running machine. What did I know about the business side or production of these colorful little floppies that took up all my allowance? Pretty soon, a good bit. Courtesy of comics news becoming a thing mostly through Wizard magazine, then through the internet not long after. Sales were down! Marvel was opening their own distributor! Marvel goes bankrupt! Marvel goes creatively bankrupt! Marvel sells the movie rights on their biggest characters which would never come back to bite them on the ass! So execs and edits (is that shorts for editors?) began micromanaging in a big way that grew and grew. The X-line in particular, considering it was the biggest sellers at the time by a wide margin, was being guider more by that strong editorial hand rather than the creators.

Now take into account, please, I'm not an industry insider. Anything I talk about here was due to the participants airing their issues in public forums, interviews, etc. Uncannyxmen.net is a good place for a lot of backstage secrets and stories.

Scott Lobdell was the main X-writer at the time as Fabian Nicieza had gone to greener pastures soon after AoA. Lobdell immediately introduced the idea of a character he was hoping to turn into a cosmic level nightmare for the X-fellers. Onslaught was his name, and in his name's first appearance he knocked Juggernaut clean across the country right to the X-Men's feet. We wouldn't see this powerful being for a year at which time it went from the X-Men's newest villain to a controversial crossover leading to an even more controversial line of comics.

This is where the Marvel execs stepped in.

What a Marvel exec at the time may have looked like.
Sales weren't turning around quick enough (nevermind that the entire comics industry was in freefall) for stupid looking, bald, rich, old white guys. So they made a deal with Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld to come in and takeover two titles apiece. Lee would get Fantastic Four and Iron Man, and Liefeld would get Captain America and Avengers. They would get their own little separate universe to 'reboot' these titles. All four were canceled and then restarted with new number one issues in a move that the comics industry would pull ad nauseam for the next two decades. So thanks, ugly old fart.

It was decided that the upcoming X-Men crossover featuring the as yet unseen Onslaught would instead become a line-wide crossover and be the catalyst which sent the Avengers and FF characters into another universe or plain of existence or dimension or whatever. 

What kills me is none of this has anything to do with the quality of the crossover. More on that next time! 

(And, yes, I realize that means I now have two essay columns that are ongoing. If Marvel can do it, so can I)

No comments:

Post a Comment