onsdag den 23. maj 2012

X-Men and X-Factor united

With Wolverine as the villain, Gambit as the betrayer, and Professor Xavier’s final battle with the Shadow King had writer Chris Claremont stayed on the books.

Writer Chris Claremont explained the reason for the X-Men and X-Factor merger in X-Men vol.2 #1 in 1991 to Amazing Heroes #192: “It was felt: Rather than perpetuate the confusion that has existed for so long with the original X-Men being in a book under a different title, acting like the X-Men, and the X-Men being in their own title acting like the X-Men, it would be better to combine the two teams into one team, which is what they should’ve been – and have been – from the start.”

“I think having the original X-Men come back was a good idea,” artist Jim Lee told Marvel Age #104. “It didn’t really make any sense for me why X-Factor existed. Especially with Xavier back now, it seems more strange that there would be these two separate teams, when they all know each other very well, and they all share the same mission or dream in life.”

“(Editor-In-Chief) Tom DeFalco’s vision of the new X-Men book was to have two books done by two different artists with the same five characters in each – essentially making the book a bi-weekly,” Claremont revealed in Comics Interview #98. “I opposed that and Bob Harras agreed with me – basically (…) it was a waste of resources. We had a dozen or more really superb characters: To have to cull them down to a half dozen – first of all, you’d be casting six characters into comic-book limbo, who would immediately be picked up for some other series, which would perpetuate the X-Factor mess.”

“It’s very hard, to the point of impossible, to adequately fit a dozen or more main characters in a monthly title,” Claremont admitted in Amazing Heroes #192, “(so) there are two different teams, two different artists, two different (books).”

Picking the teams
The plan was for Chris Claremont to write both books with X-Men vol.2 being pencilled by Jim Lee, and the Uncanny X-Men being pencilled by Whilce Portacio beginning with issue #281 in 1991.

According to Amazing Heroes #188, early plans consisted of Cyclops, Rogue, Psylocke and Iceman starring in Uncanny X-Men, and Marvel Girl, Storm, Beast, Wolverine and Gambit starring in X-Men vol.2. Professor X would lead both teams with assistance from Forge.

“(Editor) Bob Harras basically thought that (Jubilee) was not a viable contribution to the team mix,” Claremont revealed in Comics Interview #98. “His feeling was that by focussing a lot of attention and energy on a new kid character, it functioned to take a step or two away from the established characters. He wanted to restore the focus more tightly on them, so he decided to shunt Jubilee into the background for a while. The same sort of thing is probably going to happen to Forge and Banshee. They’ll be there, but they’ll be background characters like Jarvis in The Avengers.”

“The X-Men team currently, I believe, is Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Psylocke, Beast, and Gambit,” Claremont told Amazing Heroes #192. “The Uncanny team is Storm, Jean Grey, Archangel, Iceman, Colossus, and a sixth character that we’re in the process of designing.”

“We’re talking about introducing a brand new sixth character to the team,” Claremont confirmed in Comics Interview #98, “but at this point, nothing’s been defined about him.”

This sixth character eventually became Bishop, who debuted in Uncanny X-Men #282 after Claremont’s departure from writing that series.

“People’s assumptions were, “Scott (Summers, Cyclops) and Jean (Grey) will be together; Storm and Wolverine will be together; X-Factor will be together,” Claremont told Comics Interview #98. “We wanted to attack that head-on. (…) Some of the X-Factor characters went to one book, some went to another; Scott’s in one, Jean’s in the other; Storm’s in one, Wolverine’s in the other. We tried to create a mix that would leave each book with strengths all its own (…) Definitely new synergies.”

X-Men #0

“The first issue of X-Men, X-Men 1, my original idea was to do a double-sized sort of entry level book,” Claremont revealed in an Internet interview. ““What do we do with 53 X-Men?” I had this great sequence worked out where – we sort of hinted at it in what was X-Men 1 – I wanted to do this five page scene where Storm and Scott are in the danger room. Scott’s up in the booth, Storm’s down on the floor. You have this incredible fight going on, Brotherhood of Evil versus the X-Men, bodies flying everywhere. Storm just wanders through the middle of it, fights going on around her. She’s taking notes. They freeze it. Displays appear, assessing everybody’s performance. And what Scott and Storm are doing is running scenarios, mixing various members of the teams. “A twelve man team is unwieldy, you need to have six people teams, who’s the best mix? Does Jean go with Storm or with Scott? Where does Wolverine go? If Wolverine goes somewhere, where does Jubilee go? Should Jubilee go anywhere, or are we doing Kitty all over again?” Show them actually working this out, actively figuring out, “Where do we go from here? How do we protect the mansion?” Here’s Xavier trying to deal with what I’m doing with Moira.”

“In the middle of this Magneto shows up. There’s the obligatory confrontation. There might even be a fight. The gist of it is that Magneto and Xavier have come to a parting of the waves. They can’t see each other’s point of view any longer. Magneto is certain that humanity will betray them. Xavier is just as certain that humanity will not. The statesman versus the terrorist, who knows which is right? They go their separate ways. The X-Men realize that there is a nasty world out there and they have to be ready. They divvy up the teams.”

“The first issue was a sort of, “Hi, if you’ve never read the X-Men before, this is what we’re all about. This is the mansion, these are the characters, this is why the characters exist, this is the world they live in.””

“The whole story would be selfcontained in X-Men #1,” Claremont told Seriejournalen.dk. “The only function that issue had was basically as a primer to introduce new readers to the X-Men. What was the core of the team? What was the genesis of it? What was its reason for being? What was its major opposition? It was basically to restate the theme. (…) It was primarily to bring new readers in. If you wanted to give someone who had never read the X-Men before, but wanted to know what it was all about – give them X-Men #1. And then the end of it would be the springboard for the launch of the issues, which would begin with Uncanny X-Men #281 and X-Men #2. Ideally, X-Men #1 should’ve been X-Men #0.”

Wolverine as a villain

According to Amazing Heroes #188, the books would then start off with three-issue storylines. The X-Men vol.2 team would go up against the Hand and Omega Red. The Uncanny X-Men team would go up against the Wild Boys – a group of sadisctic, young mutants who wanted to thin out the fearsome Hellfire Club for not being ruthless enough. One of the Wild Boys was Shinobi Shaw who had been introduced in X-Factor #67 in 1991. Despite Claremont’s departure from the book, the Wild Boys did make their scheduled debut in Uncanny X-Men #281, but as the Upstarts.

“I had a whole arc built up (before leaving) leading up to Uncanny X-Men #300,” Claremont revealed in Wizard #85.

“(It would take) Wolverine through moderate degrees of hell along the way, making him a more natural character just because this is one of the things that always bugged everybody. Myself included,” Claremont told Wizard #51.“If he was going to have claws and all these abilities, why not make them natural, if for no other reason than it would save us a ton of explanation every three or four issues - then you get letters saying, “How could he do that?””

“The way it was supposed to build, in my head, was that Wolverine would die and be resurrected somewhere in the late #280s,” Claremont revealed in Wizard’s X-Men Special. “And Wolverine would be a villain for the better part of a year-and-a-half, culminating in issue #294 where they get him back.”

“I was planning (Wolverine’s death) for X-Men #3,” Claremont told Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. “(Editor) Bob (Harras)’ objection was, “What do we do with (the) Wolverine (series)?” My solution was easy for me to say, probably not easy for (Wolverine writer) Larry (Hama) to execute. “We do a book for two years where he is the villain, and the stories are how you deal with it because he is the villain in his own book.””

““You have situations where you can bring in the Avengers – they could fight Wolverine and they could win,”” Claremont added in an Internet interview. “Of course, the hero would then lose in his own book. Or the hero can win in his own book, but that means the bad guys win - lots of possibilities. And I would have thought it would be a lot of fun.”

““You go into the relationships - why Charlie always felt he was integral to the X-Men, why he was the first one contacted, what is his past, his present, his future” – all sorts of ideas,” Claremont continued in Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. “Basically, it floundered on the fact that it was too disruptive to the ongoing continuity stories involving Wolverine crossovers, Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine, the whole nine yards. That struck me as sort of absurd.”

“I write the X-Men, (Larry Hama) writes Wolverine, which is the senior book?” Claremont asked in the Internet interview. “Bob would come and shake his head and act as if he couldn’t deal with this person anymore.”

The death and resurrection of Wolverine

“(X-Men) issue 2 I was going to kill Wolverine,” Claremont revealed in the Internet interview. “He would have a fight with Lady Deathstrike and she would rip out his heart. She’d die, he’d die, except he wouldn’t die because he has a healing factor, and he has his followers, so the Hand grab the body. They resurrect him. He comes back as the master assassin of the Hand. For two years, leading up to Uncanny X-Men 294 (in 1992), he would be the X-Men’s greatest foe. The story would range from Uncanny to X-Men and back again.”

“Along the way, an interesting thing was going to happen. Wolverine’s healing factor went into ultra high gear when he was “killed.” It was essentially rebuilding his heart. What would have happened if he had been left alone, his arms and legs would probably – this is really disgusting, but his arms and legs would have rotted, as his heart healed. His conscious mind would have been in total suspended animation. Everything about him would have been geared towards keeping his sentiency intact and repairing his heart – everything else would have been left to go. So assuming no scavengers came in and started to eat him, you would find this partially decomposed body with a fully healed torso, at which point the decomposed bits would begin to heal. It would take a long time and be disgusting beyond words, but ultimately he would have survived.”

“One of the side effects of this, the healing factor is purging all non-organic matter, which means the adamantium. So what was going to happen was, it would start to leech out of his skin. There would be a time where Wolverine would look like the Silver Surfer with hair. He’d be this blinding, shining creature with killer claws. Ultimately, the adamantium would just be part of his hair – he’d look like a silver porcupine.”

Wolverine’s heroic victory

“Scott and company are figuring, “Wolverine’s gone bad, we gotta put him down,”” Claremont continued in the Internet interview. “Xavier is unmoveably adamant about the need to save him, the need to salvage him, to bring him back to the light.”

“Jean would go in and try to rescue him and end up becoming his evil babe, though not really – she would be faking it this time. She is trying to tap into the Wolverine, which is buried beneath all of the Hand’s spell.”

“At some point in the storyline, Colussus and he would have a major fight, and it would have this great cover: It would be a black background with a spotlight of light and in the centre of the spotlight are two sets of claws with the housings, just as if they had been ripped out of his arms, and one of the claws would be broken. What was going to happen in that issue was that Colossus was just going to pull the claws off from their roots.”

“So, of course, the Hand would then give him artificial claws. They would work or not work as the case may be, but again, as part and parcel of the healing process, gradually he would realise that he was growing something new. That there is a natural element in his body that gives him claws. And over a span of six issues, you would see them grow. They would be growing faster than normal because of the accelerated healing.”

“So, when all is said and done, it would come down to a major league fight between the X-Men and Wolverine. A major component of the fight would be Wolverine’s battle with himself - with the goodness of his soul, the warrior of his soul, fighting this demon he has become, and he would win. The adamantium would flake off and eventually he would stand himself, reborn as a totally natural being. His bones and claws would be virtually unbreakable. They could be broken, but they would also heal. But because of the incredible stress he has been under for the past two years, his healing factor is like, “I’m tired. Don’t do this again… Not for a while, okay?””

“When all this is said and done, Wolverine is not only more vulnerable – he’s not going to butt his head through walls, because, “It hurts and why do I wanna hurt myself? Why don’t I just use the key? Or get Colossus to do it?” It is like Wolverine has come face to face with his own mortality and his own limitations, and it’s like, “I’m too old for this shit. We’ll find a better way.””

The love triangle

“(The storyline) would create a bond between (Wolverine) and Jean like nothing that’s gone before,” Claremont continued in the Internet interview. “So that even if she was still in love with Scott, there would be a level of communication between her and Wolverine that Scott could only dream about - or have nightmares about, it depends on your point of view.”

“It was going to involve Jean Grey being forced to choose between Cyclops and Wolverine,” Claremont added in Wizard #85.

“The triangle between (Wolverine) and Jean and Scott would come to an end, hopefully not how people expect,” Claremont revealed in Wizard’s X-Men Special 2003.

“I think it would have been nice to set up a rivalry,” Claremont told Back Issue #4. “I think it would have been fun to add some romantic tension to this book. I think it was something that evolved in concert with Dark Phoenix. So a lot of possible romantic consequences of what we set up ended up dying with Jean. End of story, move on. And we did. That’s when the Mariko stuff was really blowing into the forefront, because Jean was out of the picture, completely. Then she came back and things got complicated again.”

“The thing with Jean is it’s just pure chemistry. They walk into a room together and sparks fly and they have no idea where this is coming from.”

“He sees Jean, Jean sees him, hormones kick in, the rational brain checks into the Happy Hour hotel, and everyone else runs for cover.”

Gambit: An evil traitor

Although Claremont’s storyline about Wolverine’s death and resurrection was rejected by editor Bob Harras, and Claremont left the X-Men, Wolverine did end up getting the adamantium sucked out of him by Magneto in X-Men vol.2 #25 in 1993 written by Fabian Nicieza, resulting in him becoming the more natural character Claremont had envisioned. “A lot of my stories were rejected and has suddenly come up in the last three years as X-Men stories,” Claremont commented to Seriejournalen.dk.

Years later, in 2004-2005, Claremont’s idea for Wolverine to get killed and revived by the Hand as their master assassin ended up happening in Wolverine vol.3 #20-25 written by Mark Millar. That storyline only lasted for six months, though.

Claremont’s plan for Gambit was also used – although moderately – by subsequent writers, when new X-Man Bishop arrived from the future and accused Gambit of being a traitor to the team in X-Men vol.2 #8 in 1992. Gambit’s character and loyalties were also called into question by Yukio in Uncanny X-Men #312 in 1994 and by Sabretooth in X-Men vol.2 #33 the same year. Claremont revealed his original idea in his online Cordially Chris forum: “Gambit was created to – among other things – be an X-Men adversary who worked to undermine and destroy them from within. The connection to (Mr.) Sinister was part of his creation from the beginning – but that connection related exclusively to my idea of Sinister and the plans I had for him and the team following X-Men vol.2 #3.”

After Claremont had left the X-Men, Gambit became so popular a character that the subsequent writers backed out of the idea of him being a traitor or reconsidered it because it was what readers expected him to be. But in Uncanny X-Men #350 from 1997, written by Steve Seagle, it was revealed that Gambit was responsible for gathering Mr. Sinister’s Marauders and providing them access to the Morlock tunnels prior to the Mutant Massacre story in Uncanny X-Men #210-213 from 1986-1987. In the end, the X-Men forgave him for that past transgression and Gambit remained a hero.

When Claremont returned to Marvel and the X-Men, he revealed in X-Men: The End – Book Two: Heroes & Martyrs #5 from 2005, that Gambit himself was one of Mr. Sinister’s clones. He was cloned from both Scott Summers’s and Mr. Sinister’s own DNA.

Mutant weapons

“My overarching goal was heading towards Uncanny #300 (in 1993) and taking the world up to the brink of the war between humans and mutants with the Shadow King at the heart of it,” Claremont revealed in Wizard #51.

“What I was building to was the final conflict with the Shadow King, which was the X-Men basically heading off what the Shadow King was trying to ignite – a war between humans and mutants, homo sapiens and homo superior,” Claremont told Seriejournalen.dk. “And where I was going to go from there I wasn’t sure, but that was issue 300 or so.”

“I was trying to build up a whole network of people who were using the concept of mutants, evolving the threat to the X-Men from pure prejudice to the realization on the part of the world at large that mutants are exploitable commodities – that to have a telepath working for you is a good thing. And that the danger now is going to come from governments, corporations and organisations trying to get – you know – the Earth’s governments worrying about a mutant (being used as a weapon), which is what the Shadow King was all about, and what the Hand with (Matsuo) Tsurayaba was all about, and what (Mr.) Sinister was all about.”

In X-Men vol.2 #2 from 1991, a Russian general sold a weapon to Matsuo Tsurayaba. That weapon was the mutant Omega Red, but Claremont’s idea of mutants being used as weapons was never really used after he left the title, although it was later considered as a theme for Excalibur when Richard Ashford started writing that series with #72 in 1993.

“Excalibur will be sent on rescue missions for various mutants,” Excalibur editor Suzanne Gaffney told Marvel Age #131. “They will realize that a lot of mutants are being used as pawns internationally. For example, countries will horde mutants like they are nuclear weapons to use against each other or to keep mutants from being used against them. Some of these mutants will be joining the team. Some of them will be staying for a couple of issues. There will be new members coming in and going out with a solid core of the three of them (Shadowcat, Nightcrawler and Phoenix).”

However, Ashford’s tenure as Excalibur writer became shortlived. He only wrote three issues of the series before Scott Lobdell took over and moved the storyline in other directions.

The death of Xavier

“Then it leads us to the final confrontation with the Shadow King, which would culminate with Charlie’s death in the 300’s and the official passing of the torch to Magneto,” Claremont revealed in Wizard’s X-Men Special 2003. “That was actually the whole goal of the Uncanny X-Men arc from #200 (in 1985) to #300 (in 1993). The whole point was that (Professor) Charles (Xavier) dies in a fight with the Shadow King, and Magneto would end up running the school.”

“And that would have closed the circle,” Claremont added in Uncanny X Cast Episode 77. “It would’ve been a moment where in the final confrontation, Charlie would’ve sacrificed his life to save the world. It would’ve been the kind of thing where I structured it out so that you had tease after tease, so you’d say, “Oh, no! This is it! Oh, no! This is it! Oh, no! This is it!” And he gets away with it each time because he’s just wonderful, and then – right at the end – out of nowhere there was gonna come a moment where someone had the drop on Magneto and the two of them come together and it’s a toss-up – they’re both trying to save the other, determined, “I’m not gonna let you die.” “I’m not gonna let YOU die!” And the gun fires, and Charlie’s just pulling every way of cheating that he can, and Magneto’s blocking the bullets.”

“Both of them can’t survive. One of them has to die. And Charlie is the one who dies, ‘cause he’s dying anyway for other reasons. He sacrifices himself to save his friend. The argument, the rationale is that Charlie’s fate is he knows where he stands. The whole point of the excersise is for Magneto to redeem himself and the only way to prove that is to actually put his back to the wall and say, “You’ve got to choose now. No more fucking around.””

“I really had no effective plans beyond the idea that I wanted Xavier once and for all to die in the 300th issue,” Claremont told Seriejournalen.dk.

Goodbye, X-Men

With Claremont resigning from the X-Men, none of his plans for the merged X-Men and X-Factor teams reached fruition. Instead, he wrapped up his run with a story of the new X-Men teams versus Magneto. “Magneto, he has the power to turn the world on end, yet the very nature and degree of the forces he manipulates have quite probably, in my structure of the character, driven him mad, and will continue to do so,” Claremont told Back Issue #4.

“(X-Men vol.2 #) 1, 2 and 3 were basically my wrapping up as many loose ends as were available,” Claremont added to Seriejournalen.dk. “It was not a happy time – they’re not very good issues, I think. And that’s the way of it. But that book at that point was in the process of being defined by the editor and the new writers and artists – the way they wanted it – and has been so ever since.”

Claremont left readers with a final couple of unresolved plots. At the start of X-Men vol.2 #1 from 1991, Major Harry Delgado chased a team of criminal mutants on their way to Magneto’s Asteroid M. At the end of the issue, he was fighting alongside the same mutants, who had now become Magneto’s Acolytes. Beast and Wolverine wondered how that came about, but the mystery was never solved. Subsequent writers decided to introduce all-new Acolytes, rather than using the ones Claremont had created.

Also, in X-Men vol.2 #1, Wolverine recognized the new villain, the Upstart Fabian Cortez, but it was never revealed how Wolverine knew him.

?: Chris Claremont, Internet interview, 1994
Amazing Heroes #188, March 1991
Chris Hutchins: Chris Claremont, Wizard #85, September 1998
Cordially Chris, comixfan.com/xfan/, 2003
Jim Lee: Dynamic Duo, Wizard #51, November 1995
Anya Martin: Excalibur Reborn!, Marvel Age #131, December 1993
Darwin McPherson: An Exact Man, Amazing Heroes #192, July 1991
Patrick Daniel O’Neill: Chris Claremont, Comics Interview #98, 1991
Peter Sanderson: Jim Lee Interview, Marvel Age #104, September 1991
Peter Sanderson: Pro 2 Pro – Claremont And Byrne: Wolverine At 30, Back Issue #4, June 2004
Tue Sørensen and Ulrik Kristiansen: Chris Claremont Interview, seriejournalen.dk, 1995
Uncanny X Cast Episode 77, pod-cast, 2009
Wizard’s X-Men Special, 2003

torsdag den 10. maj 2012

The final days of the X-Men

The destruction and revamping of the team leading up to the Mutant Wars and Chris Claremont’s departure from writing the series.

Following Uncanny X-Men #250 in 1989, the book headed in a new direction featuring “the destruction and revamping of the team,” as phrased by writer Chris Claremont in Marvel Age #85. “As for this new team, we’ve already introduced one new member – Jubilee. Other characters may be developed until they can be considered new people, and in some cases, new characters WILL be introduced.”

The first character to get developed in a new direction was Lorna Dane (formerly Polaris). When her sister Zaladane stole her magnetic powers in Uncanny X-Men #250 in 1989, Lorna Dane mysteriously grew in size and developed extra physical strength and invulnerability instead. In Uncanny X-Men #254 from the same year, Dr. Moira MacTaggert reached the conclusion that Lorna was absorbing energy, but she never got around to perform further tests to determine what energy and from what source. In Marvel Age #85, it said: “No longer Polaris; (Lorna Dane) may soon take on a new super hero name to go along with her new powers.”

Lorna Dane also seemed to have gained the power to catalyse negative emotions. In Uncanny X-Men #257 in 1990, she noticed that she brought forth the worst sides of the people around her, including Legion’s. He had multiple personalities of which the worst was Jack Wayne. He killed Destiny in Uncanny X-Men #255 in 1989 and captured Lorna in #257, intending to take control of everyone on Muir Island through Legion’s telepathic ability. However, in Uncanny X-Men #259 in 1990, the Shadow King possessed Legion and usurped Jack Wayne’s plan.

In Uncanny X-Men #269 from 1990, it was revealed that the Shadow King was now in control of Legion and through him everyone else on Muir Island. Obviously, Lorna Dane’s new powers came along before the Shadow King, but when Chris Claremont left the book, subsequent writer Fabian Nicieza attributed the powers to the Shadow King’s influence, so that when Muir Island was freed from his influence in Uncanny X-Men #280 in 1991, Lorna lost her new powers and shrank to normal size.

In X-Factor #70 from 1991, written by Peter David, Lorna Dane was back to being Polaris, complete with magnetic powers and completely without explanation, ignoring Claremont’s character development.

A brand new Psylocke
Another X-Man who was taken in a new direction was Psylocke. In Uncanny X-Men #255 from 1989, the Hand sent her to Spiral’s Body Shoppe, where Mojo and Spiral transformed her body into that of an Asian woman, so she could better serve as The Hand’s assassin in Hong Kong.

Although Psylocke had simply been through Spiral’s Body Shoppe like Lady Deathstrike in Uncanny X-Men #205 in 1986, that didn’t stop subsequent writer Fabian Nicieza from writing a complicated story in X-Men vol.2 #21-23 in 1993, where Psylocke had instead switched minds with an Asian woman, Kwannon (Revanche). In X-Men vol.2 #31-32 from 1994 he did add that Spiral had been involved with the body switching, though.

In Uncanny X-Men #254 from 1989, the precognitive Destiny had a vision wherein everything was made of the purest crystal. In Uncanny X-Men #255 from the same year, she told Forge that some future elements were obscured in her visions; while others could be perceived so clearly it was as though all eternity had been cast from cut crystal. The crystal in her vision must then have been but a metaphor for a crystal clear future, where the glory that existed in place of all stars and beings - and which finally enveloped her self – was death. A small part of her wanted to deny and fight this destiny, but it was too late to save her self. Throughout the vision she had an hourglass on her forehead with time running out, predicting her own death in Uncanny X-Men #255.

It is possible that the vision was a warning of the danger posed by the Shadow King, because in Uncanny X-Men #279 from 1991 he planned to claim the stars, but Claremont left the series before the vision came true. Subsequent writers took the crystal in the vision literally and used it as inspiration for two connected crossovers between the X-Men line of books in 1995, “Legion Quest” and “The Age Of Apocalypse.”

Cyborg madness

In Uncanny X-Men #260 from 1990, pilot Cylla Markham, a friend of Banshee’s, was badly hurt and in Uncanny X-Men #261 that same year, she accepted an offer from Donald Pierce to become one of his cyborg Reavers. In Uncanny X-Men #269, also from 1990, he made her into his new Shullbuster, replacing the one who had died in Uncanny X-Men #255 in 1989. Claremont didn’t get to introduce the finished result before leaving the series, but in Wolverine vol.2 #55-57 from 1992, writer Larry Hama introduced a cyborg created by Donald Pierce that went by the name Cylla. This cyborg bore no resemblance to the new Skullbuster and was killed off in Wolverine vol.2 #78 in 1994. Then, the original Skullbuster reappeared without explanation in the 1997 Domino mini-series written by Ben Raab.

When Claremont returned to Marvel, Cylla Markham finally debuted as the new Skullbuster in X-Treme X-Men Annual 2001, ignoring what had happened in between his stints as X-Men writer.

In Uncanny X-Men #262 in 1990, Donald Pierce sent his Reavers after his former Hellfire Club colleague Emma Frost, but they never caught up with her. Claremont was building up to a final confrontation between the Reavers and the X-Men, which never happened, because subsequent writer John Byrne had the Upstart Trevor Fitzroy’s Sentinels kill off all the Reavers, except Lady Deathstrike and Cylla Markham, in Uncanny X-Men #281 in 1991. All of them were revived for the X-Treme X-Men 2001 annual, though.

“The Mutant Wars – The First Salvo”

In New Mutants #75 from 1989, writer Louise Simonson dropped the first hint to the coming Mutant Wars crossover in the X-Men family of books. Hellfire Club members Sebastian Shaw and Magneto debated the future of mutantkind, with Shaw mentioning various mutant factions and Magneto predicting a war between those factions.



Four 1990 annuals (Fantastic Four Annual #23, New Mutants Annual #6, X-Factor Annual #5 and X-Men Annual #14) featured a “Days Of Future Present” crossover that set the stage for the “Mutant Wars” crossover that would appear in the regular titles that fall. “X-Factor will play a pivotal role in this fall’s “Mutant Wars,” as the first salvo is fired leading to “Days Of Future Past,”” Marvel Age Preview #1 advertised. “Mutant against mutant, faction against faction, each trying to be the strongest – the survivors. As seen in “Days Of Future Past” (Uncanny X-Men #141-142 in 1981), the future is bleak. The lines have already been drawn, and the mutants in the Marvel Universe have formed their allegiances: The Hellfire Club, Apocalypse’s forces, Sebastian Shaw’s renegade faction of The Hellfire Club, the re-formed X-Men, X-Factor, The Marauders, The New Mutants (led by their mysterious new leader, Cable), Legion (controlled by Farouk (Shadow King), in turn controlling Moira MacTaggert).”


“The first salvo in the Mutant Wars will cross from X-Men to New Mutants to Excalibur to X-Factor for three months this fall. The action will run in a tight continuity from each issue to the next. Only the four mutant titles will be directly involved. The heroes will try to stop the other mutants from splitting into warring factions. But for most, survival is the issue, even if it means sacrificing fellow mutants.”

“Before we reach “The Mutant Wars,” we have to answer some key questions and resolve some major storylines. The new X-Men team will have to be established, and the world will have to learn that they are still alive. Once begun, “The Mutant Wars” will continue to affect the lives of every mutant in the Marvel Universe for years to come. It will be the most important event in the mutant milieu since the death of Phoenix.”

“The issues: X-Men #267-269, New Mutants #95-97, Excalibur #28-30, X-Factor #60-62.”

A big mystery

“The X-Men will come back together to re-form the team – just in time for the first salvo in the Mutant Wars,” Marvel Age Preview #1 announced. “Dazzler, Forge and Banshee are searching for the others, trying to learn who survived the confrontation with (the Reavers in Uncanny X-Men #251, 1989). Their investigations take them beneath the ruins of the X-Mansion, where they face the vengeance of the Morlock called Masque. They are joined by Marvel Girl.”

The Masque story took place in Uncanny X-Men #262-263 in 1990, but without Dazzler. Forge and Banshee learned that she was alive in Uncanny X-Men #260 that same year, but they never searched her out, and she was suffering from amnesia and didn’t remember the X-Men.

“Wolverine, Jubilee and Psylocke also seek their surviving teammates,” Marvel Age Preview #1 stated.

“(Wolverine) sort of cold-bloodedly took Jubilee along with him when he set out to find the other X-Men,” Claremont told Comics Interview #98. “He knew they were alive. He had to find them and bring the team back together, one way or another. In the conception at the time - the storyline I was running - Wolverine was dying and he saw this as his farewell to arms. He was tying up all the loose ends of his life. He was restoring the balance, paying debts. His way of doing that was bringing the X-Men back together whether they wanted it or not.”

“Storm is on the run, trying to escape the clutches of Farouk (Shadow King),” Marvel Age Preview #1 continued. “The evil telepath controls Legion, and through him Muir Island. There, he is creating a dark version of Xavier’s school.”

“Excalibur must liberate Muir Island from Legion in time to prepare for “The Mutant Wars.””

“Colossus is in New York’s Soho, stripped of his memories. In a crossover with X-Factor, he investigates when Ship crashes near his new home.”

Colossus did meet X-Factor in X-Factor #54 in 1990, but in a different story.

“The whereabouts of Havok and Rogue remain to be seen,” Marvel Age Preview #1 stated. “As the heroes draw closer together, events taking place in this summer’s “Days Of Future Present” (in X-Men Annual #14, 1990) make it obvious that the Mutant Wars are about to begin.”

However, when Uncanny X-Men #267 finally appeared, there were no Mutant Wars! But selected Marvel comics cover dated May 1990 (like Sensational She-Hulk #15) featured a Bullpen Bulletins page announcing: “The start of the Mutant Wars in X-Men #271.”

But Uncanny X-Men #271 featured a “The X-Tinction Agenda” crossover instead. What happened to “The Mutant Wars” is a big mystery.

Magneto vs. Shadow King

In Uncanny X-Men #275 from 1991, Magneto recalled an untold confrontation between him and the Shadow King. He felt sick shame at the awful cost of his survival. The circumstances of the confrontation and the shameful cost of Magneto’s survival were never revealed, and when a fan asked about it years later, in 2003, on the online Codially Chris forum, Claremont replied: “I hate to say this but my presumption is that anything dating from the previous millennium, and certainly my first tenure on “X-Men” (as opposed to my second, slightly 21st century tenure) is considered in-house to be ancient history and not worth relating to. Since the likelihood of seeing the Shadow King again is as small as seeing my own incarnation of Magneto, I don’t see the point of revisiting old storylines, and thereby re-opening old wounds. Sorry.”

In Uncanny X-Men #275, Magneto also implied that the Shadow King was part of the Hellfire Club. This revelation corresponded with Excalibur #22 from 1990, where the Shadow King was revealed as the true ruler of the Hellfire Club in the “Days Of Future Past” future of Rachel Summers. “Shadow King didn’t found the Club,” Claremont stated in his Cordially Chris forum, “he simply exploited it for his own purposes.”

In Uncanny X-Men #279 from 1991, Shadow King was in need of a new host body and had several candidates in mind. Who Claremont had intended for him to possess until the final battle with Professor Xavier in Uncanny X-Men #300 in 1993 remains unknown. Claremont left the X-Men with Uncanny X-Men #279, right in the middle of the Muir Island Saga, which featured Shadow King. All of Claremont’s story-elements were dropped between page 12 and 13 of that issue, and new writer, Fabian Nicieza, cut the Shadow King storyline short by having Professor X defeat him in the very next issue.

“My Muir Island story was much different from the one that appeared,” Claremont stated in a 1994 Internet interview.

Why Claremont quit
“What happened was that the editor of the book and I had for a long period of time leading up to that point increasingly disagreed on the direction the book should go in – how the book should be handled,” Claremont told Seriejournalen.dk.

“My feeling is that I was in a position where I was the defining force on X-Men for longer than any of the editorial staff had been in professionel comics, much less working for Marvel,” Claremont explained in Wizard #22. “Yet a change in editor (to Bob Harras) created a situation where all of that credibility, history, and track record meant absolutely nothing. He was in charge. His decision was policy. My responsibility as an employee was to follow that policy or get the hell out of the way.”

“The problem was that (artist) Jim (Lee) was just as strong-willed as I was,” Claremont revealed in Comics Creators On X-Men. “Jim wanted to do stuff that reminded him of the things that made him get into comics in the first place. He wanted to bring back Magneto and do the Sentinels and all that sort of stuff. My problem was I’d already done those things… at least twice. I wanted to try and find some new stuff to do. New stuff for the new millennium, you know! We couldn’t find any sort of common ground that would allow us to compromise. Rob Liefeld had just forced Louise Simonson off New Mutants and that left a lot of frustration and negative resonance. Bob Harras was editing X-Men in those days and he was a lot more simpatico to Jim than he was to me. (…) Bob and Jim wanted to do what they wanted to do and the feeling was I could not or would not go along, and they were going to do it anyway.”

“The editor (Bob Harras) at that point made the decision that I should no longer plot the book,” Claremont told Seriejournalen.dk. “And when he made that decision I made my decision, which was that I wasn’t going to stay on it if I wasn’t plotting it – and left. The transition occurred on page 12 of Uncanny X-Men #279 (in 1991). That’s the last page I wrote.”

“The circumstances of my departure were such that there was no opportunity to tie up those loose ends,” Claremont said in Comics Focus #1, regarding all the unresolved subplots. “There was no practical way of doing it.”

“Wish I’d done differently?” Claremont asked himself 18 years later on Xmennation.com. “Gotten along better with Jim (Lee) and Bob (Harras) back in the day. Who knows what might have happened to sales back then had we stuck together?”

The editor’s point-of-view

“When Jim (Lee) came aboard, he had a lot of ideas about what he wanted to do with the book and where he wanted to take the characters, and I liked those ideas,” editor Bob Harras admitted in Comics Creators On X-Men. “They were more in keeping with what I thought the book should be. With X-Men, there are some things you can’t get away from for too long: The school dynamics, Xavier, the fact that they’re essentially students learning how to use their powers and trying to teach other mutants to use their powers – that sort of thing.”

“But the book was becoming more like Avengers. The X-Men now had aliens and magically-powered characters on the team. I felt like we had to go back to what X-Men was all about, and to me X-Men was Xavier and Scott and Jean and all the other classic characters. But Chris didn’t want to do that kind of stuff any more. He felt that he had done it already. My point was, “Sure, but THAT’s the X-Men!” It was getting so we were speaking the same language, but we couldn’t understand each other.”

“The other thing was, as the books were coming out during all this tension, they were getting better and better. There was more excitement in them. So I thought, “Okay, if we can get through this, Chris will see that we’re having a great ride here.” Not that it was pleasant, but the tension was being transformed into really dynamic comics that people were reacting to. I thought, “If we can just ride this out a little longer, everything’s going to settle down.” But that didn’t happen.”

“I had read Chris’ X-books for years, so his leaving was huge. I really wanted to work it out. I wanted Chris and Jim to be a team. When Chris opted out, there was this definite feeling of, “Holy shit!” But another part was, “Okay, we can still do this.” Because I DID believe in the characters, the concept, and that we could keep going.”

That year, in 1991, Fabian Nicieza wrote the “Kings Of Pain” crossover in New Mutants Annual #7, New Warriors Annual #1, Uncanny X-Men Annual #15 and X-Factor Annual #6 featuring the new villain Harness (Erika Benson) and her son Piecemeal (Gilbert). Harness was working for the A.I.M. organization and it was revealed that she also had a seven years old daughter who was in the care of A.I.M. However, Harness never appeared again, and her daughter never appeared anywhere at all.

?: Chris Claremont, Internet interview, 1994
Comics Focus #1, June 1996
Cordially Chris, comixfan.com/xfan/, 16 June 2003
Tom DeFalco: Comic Creaters On X-Men, April 2006
Jordan Lurie: Creating Claremont, xmennation.com, 3 June 2009
Marvel Age #85, February 1990
Marvel Age Preview #1, 1990
Patrick Daniel O’Neill: Chris Claremont, Comics Interview #98, 1991
Patrick Daniel O’Neill: Claremont Returns With The Write Stuff, Wizard #22, June 1993
Tue Sørensen and Ulrik Kristiansen: Chris Claremont Interview, seriejournalen.dk, 1995