Sunday, May 30, 2010

X-Men (Vol. 2) #1

TITLE: X-Men (Vol. 2) #1

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER DATE: October 1991


37 pages


I didn't think so at the time, but looking back, this issue can plainly be seen as the downfall of my voracious interest in all things X. It would be years before I would give up on Marvel's mutants all-together, but from this point on there would be only brief snippets of genius intermingled with monthly mediocrity.

I still can recall vividly buying this issue (and all of the different covers) from my comic book store. I also remember laying all the covers out on my floor, to make one big panorama. This was when Jim Lee was king, and at this point he could do no wrong in my book.

Oddly enough, most of my memories of this book deal with my emotional reaction and ties to the issue, and not to the quality of the actual story itself. I don't really have a sense of the story, only that Magneto returns. Although, now that I think about it, this must be where Magneto's Alcolytes are introduced as well. I really didn't care for these jokers as villains or antagonists, so if this is dealing with them in detail, color me bored already.

Still, we'll give it the old college try and see how this issue holds up after close to two decades.

  • Writer: Chris Claremont
  • Co-Plotters: Chris Claremont, Jim Lee
  • Penciler: Jim Lee
  • Inker: Scott Williams
  • Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
  • Colorist: Joe Rosas
  • Assistant Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
  • Editor: Bob Harras
  • Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco
In space, a group of mutants in a hi-jacked space shuttle are desperately trying to find Mageneto's old base of operation, Asteroid M. They are just about caught by trailing military personnel, when Magneto makes his presence known.

Demanding only to be left alone, Magneto destroys their ships and is about to hurtle them all back towards Earth when one of the fleeing hijackers appeals to Magneto as a fellow mutant, as it's him they've come looking for.

Back on Earth, the fracas in space does not go unnoticed as both the Soviets and the Americans initiate their own plans to deal with Magneto once again.

The X-Men, meanwhile, are oblivious to what is going on out in space as they are in the midst of one of their ever-present training exercises. Professor Xavier has recently returned from Shi'ar space, and is back in a leadership position among his students. After being gone for so long, however, he looks to re-familiarize himself with their abilities and fighting styles.

What we get is eleven pages of the X-Men divided up into three different teams. Rogue and her group attack the mansion from outside and above, penetrating it's walls, only to fall within feet of the Professor at the mercy of Jean Gray and her psychic powers.

Wolverine and his group take a different tack and try to infiltrate the mansion from the tunnels below. Gambit falls first, as he takes the time to impress the ladies instead of delivering the killing blow. Wolverine proves that he's the real deal and manages to pop his claws mere inches from Professor X's over.

After the battle has ended, Wolverine and Cyclops have their usual pissing match that typified much of their relationship in this era.

It's not long, however, before they are summoned by Nick Fury and briefed on the recent happenings on Asteroid M. With the Russians and the Americans both on edge, Fury thinks it's best that the X-Men are notified. Cyclops agrees, while Wolverine thinks a man should be allowed to make a mistake first, before you condemn him.

Again with the disagreement...why don't you two get a room already.

Back on Asteroid M, Magneto has saved both the mutant hijackers and the American military that were chasing them, trying to stay neutral in their struggle. All he has done, however, is bring their conflict to his doorstep as one of the mutants is gunned down at his feet.

Using his magnetic powers, he forces the soldier's gun to point itself back at it's bearer and fire. Prodded and goaded on by Fabian Cortez, another of the mutant hijackers, he is once again brought into the struggle for mutant equality. These mutants, who have pledged themselves to his cause, will be his Acolytes.

Realizing that the Americans are unlikely to let this death go by unanswered, he decides to act pre-emptively in his own self defense. Returning to the scene of one of his own greatest tragedies, he raises a Soviet submarine that he was responsible for sinking earlier. He's not here to reminisce, however, as he uses his magnetic powers to salvage the remaining nuclear missiles that are still lodged within.

Unfortunately for him, the X-Men are here to talk him out of it. Its a pitched battle, but Magneto is able to withstand their assault long enough to gather his nuclear missiles and make good his escape.

Rogue is not willing to let Magneto go without hearing a piece of her mind, however, as she tries to draw on their recent time together to reason with him.

During her speech, the two of them have inadvertently flown over Russian airspace and the Russians have decided to take this chance to get their revenge on Magneto for the sinking of their submarine. Their fighter jets open fire, with Rogue caught in the crossfire. A further enraged Magneto reacts, with the closest weapon at his disposal...a nuclear weapon!

Before the rest of the X-Men can mourn Rogue for too long, Professor X sends a psychic communication that he has found her. She has ended up in a hospital on the island nation of Genosha? Now exactly how and why this happened remains a mystery (to me, at least), but it gives the X-Men a chance to go toe to toe against Magneto's Acoyltes because they all happen to be there as well, wreaking havoc on the city streets.

It's all a bit too much, and screams plotting by committee as everyone had to get their favorite location inserted into this issue. The X-Mansion...check. Asteroid M...check. Genosha...check.

It all comes to a head, as Magneto reappears to collect his wayward acolytes and pronounce that Asteroid M shall from this day forward be a sovereign nation for all mutantkind. Any act of violence perpetrated against a mutant, shall now be answered in kind.


I think the biggest thing we've learned with this issue, is how much the economy of comics have changed in the previous two decades. Thirty-seven pages for a buck-fifty? That's crazy.

What's even crazier, is that all thirty-seven (and a two page centerfold also) are drawn by Jim Lee! I think that pretty much matches his output for the last three years?

As much as I enjoyed looking at all thirty-seven pages of this issue, it was probably twice as long as it needed to be. I mean, I love a good danger room sequence as much as the next fanboy, but a dozen pages worth? That's a bit much.

There's also an interesting kernel of a story in here, but it just gets buried by word balloon after word balloon. Claremont has never been the most terse of writers, but I don't ever remember it being this bad. Maybe it's the fact that Jim Lee co-plots starting with this issue, and it ended up cramping his style somewhat...who knows?

I liked the idea of Magneto being out-crazied by Fabian Cortez, and seeing him essentially being used by him, but it just takes us way to long to get there and did we really need to go to Genosha too? Say what you will about Claremont's meandering, years in the making, simmering plot lines, but they've always at least seemed like Claremont's heart was in it. This time...not so much.

It's too bad that this story ended up being Claremont and Lee's swan song as a team on the X-Men, as they were really put out high-quality work up until this point. Still, it didn't hurt the X-franchise any as they would go on to dominate the market for the better part of the rest of the decade.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics


  1. You know, its hard to separate something that's overrated, over-hyped, and highly sold-out from something that's the opposite. Just look at comic book movies of the last few years.
    I honestly love the X-men around this time, any title, it's just really some of the best comic books printed. Not overrated, in my opinion.
    The continuity and ongoing story were really tight, there was a lot of characterization, and the plots were as believable as they were creative. As hard as it is to disagree with such a brilliant blogger, it just shows there really are many walks of life.

  2. That's the beauty of comics, with so much material out there and available, there's something for everyone.

    I had such ambivalence towards reading this issue, as the emotional attachment is just too strong. I didn't want to read it and end up diminishing my love for the X-Men from the Claremont/Lee days.

    I could honestly go on happily with my life never rereading these and letting my memory of that time in my comics history have a life of it's own, but the Randomizer is having none of that.

    Thanks for stopping by and joining in.