torsdag den 30. august 2012

Taking the X-Men to the extreme

Legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont continued writing about the X-Men in X-Treme X-Men before wrapping up his long association with the mutants with a third run on Uncanny X-Men and a few spin-off books.

When Chris Claremont was removed as writer of Uncanny X-Men and X-Men vol.2 by new Editor-In-Chief of Marvel, Joe Quesada, in 2001, they talked about what Claremont could write instead. “One of Chris’ wishes was to write X-Men that wouldn’t be impaired by the ever-present continuity, or intertwining with all the other adventures of all the X-books,” Quesada told Wizard #111. “We said, “Chris has a good point, and he’s got some good ideas about it – let’s go with that.” We took him out of a situation where he’s having a hard time, and gave him a situation where he’s gonna flourish.”

“Joe’s original thought was to give (writer) Grant Morrison one X-Men book and me the other,” Claremont revealed in Comics Creators On X-Men. “Then he asked me what would I like to do if I had my choice. I said I’d like to do X-Men under the Marvel Knights imprint, which was more out of continuity, out of the mainstream. That way I could do what I want and not have to worry about playing nice with the other writers. The next thing I knew I was on X-Treme (X-Men). We divied up the characters between the three books and that seemed pretty fair.”

“When I started working on X-Treme X-Men the core team was two original cast, two new cast, two second generation cast. Storm, Beast, Sage, Bishop, Rogue and Psylocke,” Claremont told

“Grant, in his manifesto, specified which characters he wanted,” Claremont continued in Comics Creators On X-Men. “I went up to Matt Hicks, who was my editor, and sat down and blocked out the first year and it was great. My contract specified I did two books a month, but I only had X-Treme so I wrote two issues a month and got really far ahead.”

“I did a year’s advance worth of stories built around the Beast,” Claremont revealed to “Only to discover that Beast had been pulled from my cast and handed over to Grant Morrison’s cast (in New X-Men). That meant rewriting an entire year’s worth of stories, which was a pain in the neck. Some stories had to go in one direction, some stories had to be postponed and others pulled completely. It changed the entire timeline. (…) So even when your plans are totally meticulous, there is always the unexpected to be factored in.”

“The Beast stayed in our first arc because Salvador Larroca had already drawn it,” Claremont told Comics Creators On X-Men, “but I had to rewrite everything else. So suddenly, the Savage Land arc, which was all about the Beast, became all about Storm.”

No resolutions

Claremont revealed on his Cordially Chris forum in 2003 that in his original story-arcs for X-Treme X-Men – the ones that included Beast – he also had plans for Forge, Dani (Moonstar), Rahne (Sinclair) and Rachel (Summers), but with the subsequent changes in editors and development of story-arcs, they were dealt out of the cards.

When Claremont started writing X-Treme X-Men, he didn’t give much hope to readers about seeing the characters he introduced during his short stint on Uncanny X-Men and X-Men vol.2 in 2000 and 2001 in the new series, nor resolutions to the unresolved plots he had to leave behind. “Much as I would prefer otherwise,” he lamented to

“Partly there’s a parochial desire to keep characters within the Canon were they were created,” he explained. “Partly a perception (in-house and in the marketplace, justified or not) that I have a tendency to strip-mine my own characters and continuity. Partly, a perception in-house that the characters created by me for the FF and the X-Men weren’t that interesting. Hence, the enthusiasm with which the concepts have been bastardised or outright excised from the books.”

“But from my own perspective, I wont be using them, at least for the first publishing year, because there isn’t room. Too many characters already, too much to do,” he concluded, but added: “If we last longer than a year, then we’ll see.”

Characters introduced during Claremont’s second stint on the main X-Men books began to appear during X-Treme X-Men’s third year, among them the villains Revenant, Manacle, Bludgeon and Cudgel from Uncanny X-Men #383.

No Shi’ar story

In an interview in the back of X-Treme X-Men #1, 2001, Claremont was asked where the team would be going, and he answered with a question: “Shi’ar space?”

Then, in X-Treme X-Men #10, 2002, Sage was looking at a prediction from one of Destiny’s Diaries that had a picture of Storm, Bishop, Thunderbird and Lifeguard facing off against Deathbird alongside a text about Lifeguard: “Earth shall be her home, the stars her destination. Mothered by War, her Father’s her Salvation. The price of Xavier’s Dream shall be the Ancient Aerie’s FALL.”

This plot was developed further in X-Treme X-Men #14, when it was revealed that Lifeguard’s mother was Shi’ar royalty. So her “war(ring)” nature was caused by her Shi’ar genes and her “salvation” was her humanity inherited from her human father. Was it possible that her mother was actually Deathbird who spent many years in exile on Earth prior to her debut appearance in Ms. Marvel #9 in 1977, or was her mother the sister Deathbird claimed to have killed in Ms. Marvel #10?

But before the answer, and the fall of the “Ancient  Aerie” (the Shi’ar Empire), came about, Lifeguard and Thunderbird left the X-Men in X-Treme X-Men #19, 2002, to go search for Lifeguard’s brother, Slipstream, and a cameo appearance in Excalibur vol.3 #5 in 2004 aside, they never appeared again, despite Claremont’s assurance to that readers of X-Treme X-Men hadn’t seen the last of Thunderbird and Lifeguard. “I have plans to resolve the situation with those characters,” he said.

“For whatever reason - and the writing/writer has to take his own share of responsibility – (Thunderbird) never seemed to gel with the readers (in X-Men vol.2),” Claremont  told “So I tried a second time with Neal (Shaara, Thunderbird) in X-Treme (X-Men), didn’t seem to work there, either. “Delhi Dimwit” was a particularly memorable description of him on-line. With character-designs, it’s always hard to tell - what works in concept may not travel to execution. Sometimes that can be fixed, others you just have to take your lumps and move on.”

“A character may crash and burn, as Neal Shaara did, suggesting we not emphasize him, unduly in future,” Claremont concluded to

In 2003, Claremont confirmed on his Cordially Chris-forum that he did have plans for the villain Vargas to re-appear, too, but that didn’t happen, either. He explained that any plan he had was dependent on editorial approval, and that had become an increasingly difficult thing to achieve in the last few years. “If (editor) Mike Marts and I decide to pursue the Shi’ar story arc, then we’ll let you guys know when it’s a done deal. Same goes for Hecate.”

In 2004, Claremont wrote the out of continuity X-Men: The End Book One – Dreamers & Demons mini-series in which the prediction from Destiny’s Diary was now about another character, Aliyah Bishop, instead. Also in that series, Slipstream had become a villain and Vargas a hero.

No Mekanix ongoing

Claremont revealed to in April 2001 that he had a mini-series starring Storm in the works. When it ended up not happening, the story for the Storm mini-series became the 2004 X-Treme X-Men #36-39 story arc instead.

In 2002, another mini-series entitled Mekanix did appear. It starred Kitty Pryde, Karma and a new character, Shola Inkosi. However, Mekanix was intended as an ongoing series, but Claremont revealed on his Cordially Chris-forum that it didn’t have enough readers to continue. He said that as things looked in 2003, Mekanix would end following its six-issue test-run and that he had plans for Kitty (Pryde), but it hadn’t been decided yet if he would have the opportunity to include the rest of her Mekanix cast. Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) ended up appearing in X-Treme X-Men and Shola Inkosi re-appeared in the 2004 Excalibur vol.3 series.

In Mekanix #6, 2003, the mutant-hating Purity organization member Alice Tremaine began to repair a small mutant-killing Sentinel back to operating capacity and was seen still working on it in X-Treme X-Men #33 that same year, but although Alice Tremaine later appeared in Uncanny X-Men #449, 2004, and in the 2005-2006 X-Men: The End series also written by Claremont, her pet Sentinel was never seen again.

Stories in queue for X-Treme X-Men

In X-Treme X-Men #31, 2003, a female Genoshan mutant from a refugee camp in East Africa killed some soldiers who had murdered people from Doctors Without Frontiers. Apparently this was the beginning of a new storyline, but besides a quick reminder of the Genoshan mutant’s existence in X-Treme X-Men #33, nothing was seen of her again.

“In certain cases what looks like a dangling plotline may actually be, stuff came in and got in the way,” Claremont said to “It had to wait until a queue opened up so to speak.”

In 2003, Claremont told about two story-arcs in queue for X-Treme X-Men: “Following “Intifada” (in X-Treme X-Men #31-35) was originally meant to be a four-part high adventure, as the X-Treme team visits a country in Central Asia that has been taken over and is now wholly ruled by a quartet of mutants, in their variation of the classic Rudyard Kipling story, “The Man Who Would Be King”. It’s meant to be fun, stealing liberally from the Arabian Knights, the work of H. Rider Haggard and just about every swash & buckle Hollywood epic ever imagined.”

“That’s the set-up for what was intended as the keystone arc for this “season”: “Sixteen Million,” Claremont continued. “The premise here is utterly simple. Sixteen million people died when Cassandra Nova’s uber-Sentinel annihilated Genosha. Now, a group of survivors – ordinary citizens of that country, some mutant, some not – have banded together to exact what they consider is appropriate (and Biblical) retribution on the world at large that stood by and allowed their country, their friends, their families to be murdered. In all the time that’s passed since that terrible event, no one has been publicly and legally brought to account for that crime against humanity, and for all these people know it could happen again, anytime, anywhere, to any group of mutants seeking to build a decent life and homeland for themselves. They don’t consider this terrorism – terrorism was what was done to them in the first place, they consider it justice. Eye for eye, life for life.”

“It’s never been publicly revealed that Cassandra Nova was responsible,” Claremont continued in Wizard’s X-Men Special 2003. “There’s a growing belief among the mutant community that baseline humans are responsible for Genosha – and they want payback.”

“The precursor arc to “16 Million” has the title “Kill Charley,”” Claremont revealed on his Cordially Chris forum. “”Kill Charley” is an echo of Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill.””

The mysteries of Magma and Selene

Instead of ”Kill Charley” and ”Sixteen Million”, story-arcs entitled “Storm: The Arena” and “Prisoner of Fire” followed “Intifada”, and in X-Treme X-Men #45 Magma was confronted with the first Lord Imperial of the Hellfire Club, Elias Bogan, having a connection to her parents. It was never explained how, because the series was cancelled with #46 in 2004, and Bogan never appeared again in any X-Men book.

While Chris Claremont wasn’t writing the X-Men from 1991 to 2000, other writers had postulated that Magma was actually a girl named Allison Crestmere, and that her life as Amara Aquilla in Nova Roma had been a lie fabricated by the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, Selene. Claremont did away with that nonsense when he started using Magma in X-Treme X-Men, and in #46 Magma now knew that her time as Allison Crestmere had been but a cruel dream intended to steal her away from Nova Roma to torment those who loved her. But it was never revealed who was behind this scheme, although it is possible that it was Selene, who confronted Magma in X-Treme X-Men #45 and was waiting to claim her as a slave.

As for Selene, she was supposed to be trapped inside the New York Hellfire Club, but she revealed in Uncanny X-Men #454, 2005, also written by Claremont, that she had struck an alliance which secured for her a certain freedom of action, but it was never revealed who that alliance was with.

Goodbye to X-Treme X-Men

In an interview with in 2003, Claremont looked back on his ups and downs writing the X-Men from he left them in 1991 to leaving X-Treme X-Men: “It’s hard to walk away from something, there are memories, scars, regrets and all the rest of them. But there (were) other things I wanted and needed to do back then and I did them. I got a second chance to come back and do the book three years ago and for various reasons pretty much beyond my control it didn’t work out. On the other hand the last two and (a) half years writing X-Treme X-Men has been a real delight. The opportunity of working on 24 issues with (artist) Salvador Larroca has been wonderful. I have yearnings but no complaints.”

X-Treme X-Men was cancelled despite having stayed among the 20 best selling comic books on Previews Top 100 in order to bring the characters back into the main X-Men books. “It’s bittersweet to bring X-Treme (X-Men) to an end, when it feels like the series was only just getting started and we were in the process of building our momentum through a really exciting series of stories,” Claremont told

With the cancellation of X-Treme X-Men, Chris Claremont was hired on as writer of Uncanny X-Men beginning with #444 in 2004. It was his third run on the title. At the same time, he launched a new Excalibur series.

The short-lived Excalibur series

“With the announcement that X-Treme (X-Men) would be cancelled, (artist) Igor (Kordey) and I were kicking around the idea of what to do next,” Claremont told about the creation of Excalibur vol.3. “I had some thoughts that had been percolating for some time, that I’d been planning for X-Treme (X-Men), that synergized with the news that Charley (Professor Xavier) would be leaving Uncanny (X-Men) after (writer) Grant (Morrison)’s run.”

“Igor and I began constructing the world we wanted to create on Genosha, the visual feel for the book, the type of characters who’d live there and the stories we’d tell. We were going great guns,” Claremont continued. “Now, due to circumstances wholly beyond his control, (artist) Aaron Lopresti (who replaced Igor Kordey on Excalibur vol.3) has to play six months worth of pre-production catch-up in half as many weeks, which is a challenge I wouldn’t wish on anyone but one he’s embraced enthusiastically. So, despite all the speed-bumps, I think the book will be off to a great start.”

In Excalibur vol.3, Professor Xavier went to the ruins of the island nation of Genosha and along with Magneto he gathered a new group of mutants. They had adversaries in a group of mutants led by Unus that included the teleporter Hub. In Excalibur vol.3 #2, 2004, it was revealed that Hub was actually an undercover agent in Unus’ gang. She was secretly working with two other mutants, Hack and Purge, and in Excalibur vol.3 #3 they were revealed to be taking orders from a woman named Chimère. In the following issue, Chimère recalled Hub, Hack and Purge from helping out Excalibur because her plan was more important.

In Excalibur vol.3 #6, 2004, Chimère once again told Hub, Hack and Purge not to help out Excalibur because the plan was more important and it would be better for them if Professor Xavier was taken out of the equation. Although Hub appeared as an undercover agent in Unus’ gang again in Excalibur vol.3 #8-10 and reluctantly joined Excalibur on a mission in Excalibur vol.3 #11 and 12, her purpose as an undercover agent and Chimère’s plan was never revealed before Excalibur vol.3 got cancelled with #14 in 2005. Chimère never appeared anywhere.

Achmed Al-Khalad, the leader of the modern-day pirates the Weaponeers, was mentioned in Uncanny X-Men #444 and in Excalibur vol.3 #11, but he never appeared anywhere either.

Mysteries involving Fraser’s Bank

In 2006, Claremont launched the series New Excalibur, and in #4 and 5 Warwolves attacked the team, but it was never revealed who had hired the Warvolves. In seemingly unrelated events, a couple of murders had taken place in New Excalibur #4, and it was never revealed who was behind those, either.

One of the victims in New Excalibur #4 was an employee of Fraser’s Bank, and in New Excalibur #1 a team of evil X-Men from another dimension called Shadow-X had chased another employee of Fraser’s Bank. The Shadow King controlled Shadow-X, but it was never revealed why they were chasing the employee of Fraser’s Bank.

But a subplot concerning the head of Fraser’s Bank and White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Courtney Ross, was also building. In New Excalibur #4, all of her credit cards and her cellular account had inexplicably been cancelled and in New Excalibur #17, 2007, she was forced to sever all connections with Fraser’s Bank by a group of businessmen.

All of these plots involving Fraser’s Bank never went anywhere before New Excalibur got cancelled with #24 in 2007.

Goodbye to the X-Men

Meanwhile, Claremont had been let go as writer of the X-Men. “I was recently informed that my run will end with Uncanny (X-Men) #474 (in 2006),” Claremont told Comics Creators On X-Men. “Seems Marvel wants to bring on some new writers and change direction. Again.”

Claremont left readers with an unresolved plot in the 2008 GeNext mini-series set in the future. Shadow-X kidnapped team-member No-Name because she had information that they needed to prevent the world from being destroyed and dimensions from being destabilized. When No-Name was saved, it was never revealed what the information was Shadow-X wanted, or how the world and dimensions would then be saved, because No-Name wanted to leave it as something she walked away from a long time ago.

“One of the reasons all the stories in the second (GeNext) arc were set in India was because I wanted to see if it was possible to reach out and perhaps appeal to the sub-continental audience,” Claremont admitted to “If we’d gone to a third series, that would have been set in China; an intentionally global concept if it went forward as an ongoing.”

“Think about it,” Claremont continued. “You have a whole host of X-Men locked up in North America; enough already, let’s see if we can entice a more international clientele. In a way, this kind of thinking goes back to where we started: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Dave Cockrum, Len Wein in 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men – with the intentionally international team. It worked then, and it could work now.”

“But I have a certain vision for certain characters, and Marvel, for example, is taking their books in a direction that is not simpatico with that vision, so for me it’s easier to focus on other things that are definitely more enjoyable,” Claremont stated.

So from 2009 to 2011, Claremont wrote the out of continuity X-Men Forever series, which took place in Dimension 161. However, the series was cancelled because of poor sales before a storyline about Mr. Sinister kidnapping Cyclop’s son could be wrapped up, and shortly thereafter Claremont stopped working for Marvel, leaving readers with no hope for resolutions to his many unresolved X-Men plots.

“I’ve always liked the characters,” Claremont reminisced on, ”and always, to this day, felt there were stories left to tell. Sometimes I feel like I’ve hardly scratched the surface.”

All the more the pity that Claremont’s long association with the X-Men has now come to an end.

Chris Arrant: Chris Claremont Talks About The Future,, 2 January 2012
Jennifer M. Contino: Claremont To The X-Treme,, 27 December 2002
Jennifer M. Contino: Chris Claremont Pt 1,, 28 January 2005
Cordially Chris,, 12 August 2003, 27 March 2004 and 4 April 2004
Tom DeFalco: Comics Creators On X-Men, April 2006
Daniel Robert Epstein: Claremont_X2,, 2003
Richard Ho: X-tra X-tra!, Wizard’s X-Men Special, 2003
Benjamin Ong Pang Kean: Back In The Saddle Again,, 2004
Christopher Lawrence: The Wizard Q&A – Joe Quesada, Wizard #111, December 2000
Eric J. Moreels: Claremont Talks X-Treme Down Under,, 22 April 2001
Eric J. Moreels: Claremont Talks X-Treme “Schism”,, 21 December 2002
Eric J. Moreels: Claremont’s “X-Treme” Plans,, 2003
Your Man @ Marvel: Claremont Gets X-Treme!, X-Treme X-Men #1, July 2001

torsdag den 2. august 2012

Forbidden tales of the X-Men

Fan-favourite writer Chris Claremont’s return to the X-Men became short-lived, when a change in Editor-In Chief lead to him being removed from the books after only ten months. This resulted in plenty of abandoned storylines.

In 1995 Chris Claremont was asked in Wizard, the Guide to Comics #51 under what circumstances he would consider writing X-Men again, or if he even missed writing the characters. “I have thought about it off and on,” Claremont replied. “You know, if somebody from Marvel called up and dropped like 10 million bucks on my desk and said, “Come back, all is forgiven,” I couldn’t automatically say no.”

In 2000, Claremont did indeed say “yes” to returning as writer of the two core X-Men books. “They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Claremont told Wizard #103. “The opportunity presented itself; the challenge was irresistible.”

“I wrote the book for 17 years, and (early 20th-century author) Thomas Wolfe’s dictum about not being able to go home again looms very large over a circumstance like that,” Claremont continued. “Everybody has an opinion, everybody has expectations, so there’s a lot more attention and pressure on this gig than there was in 1975.”

These words would prove tragically prophetic. Shortly after Claremont’s return to writing the X-Men books in 2000, Marvel got a new Editor-In-Chief, Joe Quesada, and he didn’t appreciate Claremont’s X-Men stories at all. “They were completely unreadable,” Quesada opinionated in Wizard #111. “Right around the time of the movie, the heavy hand of continuity for whatever reason just came crashing down on these books. You just could not pick a single issue from the two core X-titles and start from scratch. None of them had a jumping-on point.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Quesada continued. “Chris sort of jumped into a weird set of circumstances with it, and I know he tried to work his way through it as best as he could, but even he knew that it was a very touchy, almost unworkable situation. (…) Really desperate measures had to be taken.”

Quesada chose to remove Chris Claremont from Uncanny X-Men and X-Men vol.2 after only 10 months back as their writer.

What went wrong

Claremont’s version of what had gone wrong with his crossover-impaired second run on the X-Men books was reported on in 2001. “In retrospect, I probably tried to do too much, too soon,” Claremont said. “Whatever the cause, it’s evident in retrospect that the creative mix on the books was not synergizing as smoothly or effectively as it needs to in our business. Hence, the changes that were made.”

“In a lot of cases, stories and characters that I had lots of plans for were truncated or dropped altogether,” Claremont continued. “It’s hard to embroider a character when the editor (Mark Powers) doesn’t like it. Them’s the breaks.”

“Some of the elements – the treatment of the villains and the absence of Kitty (Pryde) – came about because of editorial decisions that had direct impacts on the ongoing storyline. For example, the decision to bring the teams together in July, to echo the movie. In fact, if we were going to do that it should have been incorporated into the macro plot structure from the beginning. Instead, because no one realized until late spring that the movie might actually be successful, not to mention good, we had to play serious catch-up at the same time as we were trying to establish the entire structural foundation of the two series.”


The Psylocke and Phoenix power switch

When Claremont started writing the series with X-Men vol.2 #100 and Uncanny X-Men #381 in 2000, there was a six months continuity leap from the previous issues. During those six months, Psylocke and Jean Grey (Phoenix) had somehow switched powers so that Psylocke now had Jean Grey’s telekinetic ability and Jean Grey had gotten Psylocke’s telepathic ability. Claremont didn’t get the opportunity to explain the power switch before he was removed from the books.

In 2003, Claremont was asked on his online Cordially Chris forum if he had considered writing stories for X-Men Unlimited, a series which at the time mostly published solo X-Men stories, as a way of telling stories from the six month gap. “Stories for Unlimited are the province of editor C.B. Cebulskie,” Claremont replied. “If he wants any he knows where to find me. I’ve done what I can, which is let him know I’m interested and available. The ball’s now in his court.”

Unfortunately, Cebulskie didn’t ask for any stories dealing with the six month time gap, but in 2001 Claremont explained his motive for having given Psylocke Jean Grey’s telekinetic power on CoolBoard. He said he thought that the readers had started to take Psylocke’s personality and abilities for granted, so he wanted to present her with a challenge – to set her back to a point in her life where it was necessary for her to become a student again in order to emphasize the school aspect of the Xavier Institute. He wanted to establish a contrast between her and Jean, so that instead of being an echo of each other, they could now function independently, both as individuals and as teammates.

“It was, at that time in 1999/2000, intended to be addressed in an “annual” or possibly a subordinate arc or mini-series that would cover what happened between Jean and Betsy during the “six-month-gap” which would explain why their powers switched,” Claremont revealed on his Cordially Chris forum in 2003.

Claremont told CoolBoard that there had always been an explanation and had he found the time in 2000, the story would have been in (Uncanny) X-Men Annual. But that opportunity had passed, and given the current status quo in X-Mythology – the fact that Jean had been set back to her normal status quo as a telepath/telekinetic (by subsequent writer Grant Morrison and also without explanation) – Claremont doubted that the story would ever be told. Why explain a continuity twist that no longer existed?

“If I ever get my hands on Jean again, ” Claremont added in Back Issue #4, “there’s a lot I would like to do with her in terms of character structure to have her come to terms with all that’s happened in her life.”

Aborted romance and dead Neo

In X-Men vol.2 #100, Rogue and Colossus shared a kiss. It wasn’t explained how they could touch without Rogue absorbing Colossus’ powers and personality, rendering him unconscious in the process, as usually happens when Rogue touches someone, but this was intended as the beginning of a new romance. Editor Mark Powers revealed in Wizard #102 that readers shouldn’t be surprised if Rogue wound up in a relationship with another teammate, and warned that Colossus was going to hook up with another X-character.

“I (…) thought it might be fun to introduce some potential romantic complications outside the traditional couples box,” Claremont told “That’s why the kiss between Colossus and Rogue in X-Men (vol.2) #100, to explore the possibilities of re-introducing a measure of romantic tension to the various relationships. Originally, I thought Neal (Shaara, Thunderbird) might be fun for Jean (Grey, Phoenix).”

“And the Rogue notion got spiked so fast you don’t want to know,” Claremont continued. “Once again, let’s hear it for the Interneteratti, who are all for change so long as it confirms to their prejudices, pro and con.”

“This is a new millennium. A new beginning,” Claremont told Wizard #103. “My goal, at least for the first year, is to primarily introduce new material, new characters, new relationships, new conflicts.”

“The initial storyline in both books will involve them coming up against a new breed, a new offshoot of humanity, sort of like the next generation beyond mutants,” Claremont continued. “Basically, the war that everyone has been afraid of between mutants and humans is sort of about to start, but it’s not the war everyone expected. And it’s not the enemy everyone expected.”

“And, unfortunately, the outcome’s not gonna be as clear cut as everyone expected.”

The new breed Claremont was talking about called itself “the Neo.” However, the promised war between them and the mutants never developed beyond the Neo establishing a beachhead fortress in Brooklyn before Claremont had to leave the books.

“I would have preferred to take more time with the Neo and the (Crimson) Pirates,” Claremont told But that was not to be, as those characters were probably among the ones the editor didn’t like. So it was most likely an editorial edict that subsequent writer Scott Lobdell had Magneto kill the Neo in the Brooklyn fortress in X-Men vol.2 #110, effectively ending the threat of war between Neo and mutants just one month after Claremont’s final issue.



Shadowcat’s untold destiny

In X-Men vol.2 #100 Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) was separated from her teammates who subsequently were in no particular hurry to find her again. Claremont explained the circumstances to in 2001: “What happened was that the original, proposed story arc got shot down after the series was set in motion and the first issue plotted.”

“My idea was to establish Kitty as a subplot that would run through the conclusion of the Neo arc, around (X-Men vol.2) #104-105, and then move center stage,” he continued. “Then, (the X-Men) go after Kitty. When the arc structure got nuked by the editorial decision to reunite the two books and teams in July, to coincide with the movie (…), the Kitty arc was shifted over to a stand-alone mini-series (X-Men: Shadowcat – Captains Courageous) which would cast Kitty and a team of Captains as a kind of pan-temporal S.W.A.T. team, dealing with crises on alternate Earths and serve as the foundation/springboard for a possible new ongoing series.”

The Captains Courageous plot was originally intended as a Nightcrawler story when Claremont wrote Excalibur in 1990, but it wasn’t realized before Claremont left the X-Men Universe in 1991. Unfortunately, the plot didn’t become the Shadowcat mini-series either, when Claremont revisited the idea nine years later. “We had plots, we had an artist (Lee Moder) but then the green light turned orange after Labor Day and the whole shebang fell into turnaround Hell,” Claremont revealed to “I have further plans for Kitty and assorted other characters, and for the macro-story I set out to tell in her series, but I’m leery of talking about them too far in advance for fear I’ll jinx the concepts.”

When Claremont realized he had to leave the X-Men books without an opportunity to incorporate a decent explanation as to what had become of Shadowcat, he cut the story short in his final issue, X-Men vol.2 #109. In that issue, Viper delivered a message to Wolverine from Shadowcat that she was alive and well. It was anti-climactic, but at the end the only way to wrap up the plot.

“As far as I’m aware, that (Shadowcat mini-series) proposal is dead,” Claremont concluded to in 2001. “The basic thrust of the concept has been enfolded into X-Treme (X-Men) for the last major story arc of our first publishing year, the “Invasion From Dimension X” (in X-Treme X-Men #10 to 16).”

“The nice thing about comics, though, is that nothing’s lost forever,” Claremont comforted’s readers. “The story that isn’t used today in X-Men may resurface down the line.”

A story about what happened to Shadowcat between X-Men vol.2 #100 and 109 and how she survived her ordeal with the Neo at the end of X-Men vol.2 #100 still hasn’t surfaced, though.

Nightcrawler and Mystique’s relationship

According to Wizard #102, Claremont was giving more thought to the secrets surrounding Nightcrawler and Mystique’s relationship. “Stick around. It’s in the works,” he promised in Wizard #103. However, he didn’t get around to it before being removed as writer of the X-Men.

One of Claremont’s storylines that was originally intended for Uncanny X-Men and X-Men vol.2 did get realized by the writer himself, though: His spin-off-series X-Treme X-Men’s starting point, that a group of X-Men left on a quest to find Mystique’s dead lover Destiny’s 13 diaries. “It was something we were considering for (the X-Men books in) the Spring of 2001,” Claremont revealed to

In the Wizard #103 interview, Claremont also answered the question if Mystique would still be hunting Professor X: “No. She doesn’t have to,” he replied. “She’s been there all along. Wait until you see who the new staff member of the Xavier Institute is… heh, heh, heh.”

The Xavier Institute’s new staff member turned out to be Tessa, formerly affiliated with the Hellfire Club. She joined the X-Treme X-Men team under the new codename Sage and was clearly not one of Mystique’s many secret identities. So whatever Claremont had originally planned for Mystique, it didn’t come to pass, although Mystique did appear in his “Dream’s End” crossover in 2000.

X-Men: Year Zero

In Uncanny X-Men #381, Jean Grey revealed that she had worked alone with Professor Xavier before the formation of the X-Men. Claremont said on his Cordially Chris forum in 2003, that he had proposed Marvel an X-Men: Year Zero limited series, which would have told the story. The limited series was intended to deal with the time-frame between Xavier losing his legs to the opening scene of X-Men #1 (1963).

“It would go into the origins of (Xavier’s) relationship with Sage, and Sebastian Shaw, his recruitment of Jean, their adventures together, back-story concerning Logan, and his gradual decision to form the X-Men,” Claremont revealed. “Marvel chose to pass on the proposal.”

Professor Xavier’s first meeting with Sage was instead incorporated into X-Treme X-Men #44 in 2004.
Two other announced Claremont projects – a Lila Cheney mini-series and a Wolverine ”fantasy” project with artist Rick Leonardi – were both reported as pronounced dead by in April 2001.

When Claremont took over Uncanny X-Men and X-Men vol. 2 in 2000, the idea was to introduce a new X-Man in each series. The one was Thunderbird in X-Men vol. 2. Claremont told about the other in Wizard #103: “She’s actually an animation artist from Japan. She draws things and they come to life. We call her Reanimator.”

However, when she was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #383, it was under the name Sketch. And then she was never seen again. Claremont commented on it to in 2001: ”Also lost in the shuffle: More on Sketch.”

Cross-Time X-Men

In Uncanny X-Men #383, Chris Claremont introduced the villain Tullamore Voge, who was of an alien species that Claremont had introduced all the way back in “The Cross-Time Caper” in Excalibur #16 and 17 in 1989 – a story which Claremont drew quite a bit of inspiration from after his return to the X-Men Universe in 2000, for example in X-Treme X-Men #25, 2003, wherein Shadowcat for the first time ever referred to the event in Excalibur #16, where she killed the witch Anjulie to save the life of Princess Kymri.

Claremont used Kymri again in X-Men vol.2 #104, 2000, and established that Tullamore Voge and his slavers had conquered her world, and that Kymri now served Crimson Pirate Killian as his personal Hound. (Hounds are enslaved humans in chains, which Claremont has portrayed at various points of X-Men Mythology. Tullamore Voge and his race used them as personal slaves. The Shadow King also made use of them, for example in Uncanny X-Men #265-267 in 1990. Rachel Summers served Ahab as a Hound in the apocalyptic future she had escaped from.)

Claremont had probably intended that Kymri’s fate should evolve into a story where she and her world would be liberated from slavery if he had continued as writer of the main X-Men books. In X-Treme X-Men #36, 2004, Storm went after Tullamore Voge and he made a cameo appearance in X-Treme X-Men #39 but remained at large, while Kymri’s destiny also remains unresolved, despite Nightcrawler wondering what happened to her in Uncanny X-Men #450, 2004.

In 2004, the letters page in Uncanny X-Men #446 promised that, “as for Tullamore Voge and Princess Kymri… well, just be sure to check out that other X-book Chris (Claremont) is helming, X-Men: The End.”

In the out of continuity X-Men: The End Book One – Dreamers & Demons #3, Nightcrawler had saved Kymri from the Slavers and had married her.

The Summers family reunion

Cable was on Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men team in 2000, and one of the villains Claremont had big plans for was the clone of Cable, Stryfe. “We used Stryfe in the (X-Men) Annual (2000). And the interesting thing is that while there’s a tremendous enthusiasm for the character in-house, fan reaction has been incredibly vehement,” Claremont told Comic Book in 2000. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of affection for Stryfe as a character, which to me is a big red flag in front of a bull. It’s like, “You don’t like him? OK, by the time I’m done…” Nobody liked Rogue when she first showed up, either, so we’ll see.”

Claremont used Stryfe again in X-Men vol.2 #105, where he is the mysterious man in the shadows at the end of the story, whose identity was never revealed in the comics. “Actually, the original idea for that scene spun off of the X-Men 2000 Annual and the team’s confrontation with Stryfe,” Claremont revealed to in 2001. “He was doing to Psylocke in (X-Men vol.2) #105 what she had done to him in the Annual, only in this case he uses telepathy instead of ninja powers to mask his presence.”

Stryfe’s appearance in X-Men vol.2 #105 was meant to be the beginning of a bigger story. When Comic Book in 2000 asked about what stories Claremont had up his sleeve, he replied: “A Summers family reunion.”

Claremont confirmed in an interview with Upstart that a Summers family reunion was underway. “After that we’ll deal with the repercussions,” he said, “and in January the X-Men will undergo a fundamental change.”

The latter he expanded on to Comic Book “Assuming all goes well, the X-Men at the end of January 2001 will be a fundamentally different concept than the X-Men right now – in ways, hopefully, that the readers will wonder how the hell we’re going to dig ourselves out of this one. And for the first time in their career as super heroes, they are going to be seriously, seriously on the defensive.”

“They’re going to be up against a set of foes who know them better than they know themselves, and are probably stronger than all of them put together,” he continued. “They are characters you’ve seen before. Certainly within the last five years. Or less. And some of them may surprise you.”

Stryfe’s X-Men

When the Summers family reunion didn’t happen because Claremont was removed from the X-Men books, Claremont revealed on in 2001 what he had meant with ”a fundamentally different concept” for the X-Men books, and what team of enemies the X-Men should have been up against: “The thrust of that story was for (Stryfe) to build an all-new, all-different team of X-Men based on family, sort of a Summers family reunion, consisting of himself, Cyclops, Jean and Cable, and possibly Nate (Grey, X-Man). They were going to evict Xavier and the others from the mansion and go public, pulling a Thunderbolts riff by branding the fugitive X-Men as criminals and portraying themselves as heroes.”

“The idea was that Stryfe would slip into the Search For Cyclops series and hijack both characters at the end, then gather Cable and in (X-Men vol.2) #110, seize control of X-Men. No more Xavier Institute. In its place: The Summers School.”

“I thought it would be fun, but editorially it didn’t fly.”

Jean Grey and Cable were attacked on the astral plane by an unknown enemy in Uncanny X-Men #384, wherein that same enemy also possessed Cable. The enemy’s identity was never revealed in the comics, but Claremont spilled the beans on his Cordially Chris forum in 2003: “It was meant to be Stryfe, as a precursor to the arc that would close-out 2000, wherein the X-Men and Xavier would be “evicted” by the Summers Clan (Stryfe, Scott, Cable, Alex, Jean and Rachel), who would present the school to the public as the Summers Scool For Mutants. They would control X-Men (vol.2) and the fugitive team (think about it, how would you – COULD you – fight adversaries who comprise four of the most powerful psis in creation, plus two (Cyke & Cable) of the pre-eminent tactical and strategic strategists?) would be on the run in Uncanny (X-Men). And that would be the status quo until (Uncanny X-Men) #400, when things would get really squirrelly.”

“We’re talking conflict here, a civil war/War of the Roses between the Lancasters and the Yorks of the House of Mutants!” Claremont continued. “So much for that idea.”

Claremont had barely left Uncanny X-Men and X-Men vol.2 before subsequent writer Scott Lobdell (presumably on editorial edict) ensured that the Summers family reunion couldn’t happen by killing off Stryfe in the Gambit & Bishop: Sons of the Atom mini series.

Kim S. August: Chris Claremont: The X-Treme Interview,, 1 May 2001
Jennifer M. Contino: Chris Claremont Pt 1,, 28 January 2005
Cordially Chris,, 16, 18, 20 and 30 June 2003
CoolBoard, 2001
Christopher Lawrence: What Next?, Wizard #102, March 2000
Christopher Lawrence: The Wizard Q&A – Chris Claremont, Wizard #103, April 2000
Christopher Lawrence: The Wizard Q&A – Joe Quesada, Wizard #111, December 2000
Jim Lee: Dynamic Duo, Wizard #51, November 1995
Eric J. Moreels: Claremont Talks New X-Title,, 24 January 2001
Eric J. Moreels: Claremont Reflects On Core X-Book Return,, 26 March 2001
Eric J. Moreels: Claremont Talks X-Treme Down Under,, 22 April 2001
Josh Roberts: Chris Claremont Interview,, 18 August 2000
Peter Sanderson: Pro 2 Pro – Claremont And Byrne: Wolverine At 30, Back Issue #4, June 2004
Upstart Comics Interviews Chris Claremont,, 2000