Between 1991 and 1996, I never missed a single issue of Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor, and X-Force. I stuck with the X-Men family through the good and the bad. I even kept reading when the comics started plots that were never resolved.
My love affair with the X-Men came to an end with the Onslaught saga, turning Charles Xavier into Onslaught was just too much for me. Anyways, over the next twenty-one years, I have occasionally checked in on the mutants to see what they’re up to, but I never went back to collecting the X-Men books full-time. That however, may change soon.
Over the next couple of months, Marvel is relaunching most of the X-Men books. starting with a one-shot called X-Men Prime. After that, there will be two main X-Men titles: X-Men Gold & X-Men Blue. Later on they will be joined by Generation X, Cable, and I believe a couple of solo books.
Marvel is the king of relaunching titles, but I don’t believe starting with new #1 issues is enough anymore. The company needs to give me a reason to stick with the books, and I have a couple of ideas on how I would achieve that:
5. Stable Rosters
One of my favorite things about the early nineties X-Men were the rosters. For a few years they stayed constant, so if you wanted to read about Storm, you knew she was in Uncanny. If you were a Boom Boom fan, you went to X-Force.
My suggestion for the new books is keep the rosters they’ve announced for at least a year. This will give the readers a chance to know the characters, and see how they interact with each other on missions, and at home.
4. Solid Creative Teams
When I started reading comics about 30 years ago, writers and artists stayed on a series for a long time. When someone left a book early, it was big news because it just didn’t happen often. Sometime in the late 1990’s, but especially in the 2000’s, long runs by creative teams became a rarity.
For the new X-Men books, Marvel needs to make sure the creative teams stay on their series for more than one story arc. I can not explain how mad I get when an artist stays on a book for only 4-6 issues.
3. Bring Back the Humor
Long time X-Men fans will tell you that one of the coolest things about the team was when they were between missions. During those rare occasions you’d see them playing baseball, football, cooking together, having a picnic by the lake, or just hanging out at Harry’s. These quieter times usually led to some funny moments.
I miss reading those kind of moments, but it would be nice if the new comics brought back some of the fun and humor. It doesn’t need to be slapstick comedy, just a few lighter sequences would be nice.
I’m an old school comic book fan, so superheroes in costumes are a must for me. The leather look brought on by the movies and the Grant Morrison era was awful. Plain and simple: The X-Men need costumes. But they can’t be just any costumes, they need a good design too.
From what little I’ve seen of the new X-Men books, the costumes are iffy at best. Angel and teenage Cyclops have arguably the worst costumes in my opinion. The design doesn’t work on teenage characters, they look like their wearing hand me downs from their predecessors.
Look, I’m not saying they need to go back to the Jim Lee designed suits from 1991, or even the yellow and blue suits with the X on the belt. Marvel just needs to find an artist who can design 2017 costumes for the teams.
1. Four Books is Enough
When the X-Men line was at its best, it contained four main books: Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor, and X-Force. There were other monthly series of course, Wolverine and Excalibur for instance. But the core books were limited to four titles.
If I were in charge of the upcoming relaunch, I would go back to four main books: Uncanny, New Mutants Academy, X-Factor, and Exiles. Uncanny would be the flagship book. In other words, what happens in Uncanny would dictate what happens in the other books. If any major crossovers take place, they should start an end in Uncanny X-Men.
New Mutants Academy would see former members return to the school to teach and train the next generation of heroes. And after a year or so, you could graduate the team, and introduce another roster to keep the Marvel suits happy.
X-Factor would be based in what is currently the Alpha Flight space station. The new X-Factor would feature some of the smartest characters in the X-Men universe, like Beast, and Forge. Their team would deal with space invasions and the like.
And finally, Exiles will feature a clandestine team of X-Men. This group will di what other X-Men can’t or wont. I would put Psylocke in charge of the Exiles, and she would be joined by Archangel, Colossus, Aurora, Wolfsbane, and Sunfire.
So those are my suggestions for Marvel, and a little bit of what I would do if I was in charge of the X-Men line. For now, all I can do is hope the new X-Men series will brang back the essence of the classic X-Men runs.