Saturday, June 14, 2003

Where Did The Time Go?

In Uncanny X-men #188, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Forge and Storm finish off a group of Dire Wraiths at Forge’s hi-tech Dallas-based skyscraper Eagle Plaza, with the help of Ilyanna Rasputin (Colossus’ sister) and Amanda Sefton (then Nightcrawler’s girlfriend). Later, at the X-mansion, Rachel Summers (Cyclops’ and Jean Grey’s daughter from an alternate reality) goes berserk after overhearing the fact that Jean Grey had died. (Grey, as history would have it, was later resurrected in an issue of The Fantastic Four, which in my book was one of the lamest ‘resurrection’ stories in all of superhero comicdom.)

I remember getting excited about this issue’s cover, where Rachel unleashes powerful psi-bolts at the X-Men. And last night as I read through its yellowed dust-grainy pages, I’m reminded of that special aspect of the X-Men that got me hooked to the series – the intense soap opera that happens beyond the superheroics as only Chris Claremont could write it. And those Miami Vice threads! So… eighties. Courtesy, of course, of John Romita, Jr., whose style has evolved immensely since that time.

Yes, the eighties. Issue 188 was published in December 1984, almost 20 years ago. I was thirteen then, a high-school freshman. But that issue seemed to have come out only yesterday. The Claremont-Romita, Jr. run churned out some of the most exciting X-Men stories, and a lot of them still remain vivid in my mind.

I began to think: how would an 18-year old X-Men fan look at issue 188, released almost two years before he was born? Would this issue, where Rachel shakes Kurt Wagner from disillusionment over Charles Xavier’s dream of human-mutant co-existence, be relevant to him? If we take it through other issues: would he care about Ororo getting a mohawk, or Kitty Pryde’s calling Storm a ‘monster’ because of it? Would he engage himself in Rogue’s angst of proving herself worthy of being with the X-Men because of her past association with Mystique and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants? Would he find himself at the edge of his seat during the trial of Magneto before the world tribunal? Would he be truly disgusted over Professor X’s getting that God-awful yellow and black spandex costume?

Those were the good ol’ days. While I immensely enjoy Grant Morisson’s edgier take on the X-Men, Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men run in the 80s was top-dollar engaging entertainment. Freakin’ 20 years ago. Where did all that time go?

“An X-MEN movie sounds like a great idea to us! Stan Lee has been over in Hollywood trying to get one made for years. Stan wants to do a Wolverine movie first, with Wolvie joining the X-Men at the end. Then an X-Men movie would come after that. Will these movies ever happen? We can’t say for sure.”

- Response of X-Men editors to fan mail printed in X-Men #270 letters column, November 1990

I’m sooooo glad they waited a decade for the visual effects technology.

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