Tag Archives: Marvel

iReview | The Official Handbook of the MARVEL UNIVERSE

For the first time collected in one volume, the one that started it all, every hero, every villain, every landmark location of the Marvel Universe as it was chronicled in the early 80s.

Imagine if you will, what it was like for me in 1982 — I was then a still emerging comic book fanatic — to gaze upon a singular volume of published books from Marvel Comics that would give me details about every single one of the major heroes and villains in the Mighty Marvel pantheon. I suddenly had an insider’s view of my favorite character’s alter egos, the major locations they operated out, and how many of them got their superpowers. Not to mention, every alphabetized entry featured my favorite Marvel hero in a super “superhero” pose!

Marvel was only beginning to celebrate a landmark publishing milestone in 1982 when The Official Handbook of the MARVEL UNIVERSE was first released, but many of imprint’s titles were rapidly marking their pace as best-selling books leaving significant marks on popular culture. Suddenly to hold in my hands, a book that immediately validated the role models I had accepted into my most impressionable adolescence, to learn that Captain America was 6’ 2” and weighed 240 and that by comparison Spider-Man was 5’ 10” and his eyes were Hazel — my heroes were real!

I was also infamously obsessed with written mythologies and historically intricate narratives, and Mark Gruenwald and many of the creative staff in the Mighty Marvel Bullpen had gone to incredible depths of detail to realize the world for me. The OHOTMU (as it had become popularly known among devotees) put it all together for me, and among my most favorite entries were the ones that listed everyone on the roster of the most popular superhero teams like the Avengers and the Defenders, and especially who were the founding members and where they were based.

The OHOTMU changed the way I looked at comics. It made them tangible and relevant to my world; especially as a native New Yorker, I felt I could just walk on over to the famed headquarters of the Fantastic Four, the Baxter Building and head on uptown to the Fifth Avenue location of the Avengers Mansion. Over the course of the original volume’s publication, the initial 12-issue release was followed by two additional tomes chronicling the “Book of the Dead and Inactive” as well as a technical volume detailing “Weapons and Paraphernalia” there would be many changes…

The new omnibus repurposes John Byrne’s classic art from the final issue of the series featuring many of the Marvel Universe’s major players.

From A to Z

Once Marvel got its groove, it wasn’t long before a “Deluxe Edition” of the Handbook replaced the original, elaborating on some of the entires popularized by the first. An entires “Origin” would be replaced by “History and in many cases would guarantee that most of the major character entries would have greater relevancy, as a hero like Black Panther would have their legacy chronicled over the course of multiple pages — and not limited to a single page. This would also provide an opportunity to detail a hero and villain’s look during the span of their career!

And speaking of legacy, as in the case of one’s like Hank Pym, the “Original” Ant-Man for example that passed on their identity to a new individual, a roman numeral would differentiate between the two. Scott Lang would be known as “Ant-Man II”, while Hank Pym would be referred to as “Ant-Man I”, etc. Future volumes would also more readily define a character’s “Strength Level” for easy comparison and individuals that had been gone inactive or deceased would be incorporated into the natural mix of things, more accurately defining the entirety of the Marvel Universe.

But it all started with the first series of books, and now those iconic 15-issues have been faithfully reprinted and collected in the latest Marvel Omnibus and featuring many of the original artwork and interlocking covers from the 80s issues that have become iconic. This is not just a nostalgic trip down memory lane, this is the classic Marvel Universe in its purest form, even as it prepares to mark its 80th Anniversary redefining popular culture as one of the narrators of the leading modern mythologies dictating legends of heroics and inspiring the impossible in our imaginations.

Marvel Omnibus | The Official Handbook of the MARVEL UNIVERSE | $75.00 available from Marvel collecting The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1983) #1 — #15. Check it out here.

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iFeature | Marvel’s Cinematic Universe on AVENGERS Heading Towards the “ENDGAME”

The final curtain is about to drop on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and after “The Snap” heard around the universe, it’s anyone’s guess how it’ll all play out, but invariably MARVEL STUDIOS redefined the superhero movie!

All it may have taken was a single “Snap!” to tragically undercut the growing legacy of the Marvel Studios heroes, in Avengers: Infinity War the big bad that has loomed in the shadows, puppeteering events across a decade of blockbuster films, the Mad Titan Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) altered the course of the history by annihilating half of the entire galaxy’s population — and taking with him some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest stars including Black Panther, Doctor Strange and the newly integrated Spider-Man.

The third installment in the Avengers franchise, crushed under its heel any anticipated hope fans may have had of a new “phase” elaborating on an ever-expanding universe capturing the spirit of the Marvel Comics that many movie goers had been thrilled to see come to life, since the introduction of Robert Downey, Jr in 2008s Iron Man. Studio chief Kevin Feige envisioned a theatrical experience that replicated the serialized episodic world these characters had inhabited in their 2-D incarnations, fleshing them all out fully to properly transition to the big screen.

By the time all the main players converged onto widescreen for the Avengers team movies, the film just couldn’t get any better, the action more dynamic and the stakes always higher, but at its core the players remained rooted to the core of their origins — their creator Stan Lee had always believed in the premise that as extraordinary as the circumstances that were that made these individuals heroic, they were always as “real” as real could get — especially in the case of sharing hall space with a thunder god and a radioactively rage-filled hulk.

The Avengers (2012)
L to R: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)

A Marvel Indeed

When the titular heroes including Iron Man, Captain America and Thor (and arguably The Hulk) were corralled under one umbrella to be featured in the team film Avengers the studio blockbuster would immediately be altered forever! Successful franchise films had become regularly expected, especially with genre-inspired material like the X-Men or Spider-Man films, although by the time those features hit their third installments the narrative often felt stale, leading to the inevitable reboot. Kevin Feige imagined a longer, more linear experience and inspired a universal story arc.

Avengers bent that rule by landing all the separate or anticipatory franchise characters inside of a team roster. The first film released in 2012 introduced the “founding members”, its follow-up 2015s Avengers: Age of Ultron expanded upon the roster, and by the time we’d arrived at 2018s Avengers: Infinity War the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was recruited to take on the larger than life adversary. It was also necessary since the team was essentially disbanded.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo Captain America: Civil War (2016) the third film in that franchise disassembled our core heroes, but introduced Black Panther, initiated the Ant-Man and gave us an amazing Spider-Man: Homecoming. The Avengers may have come to an impasse but movie audiences knew that the real war was infinitely on the horizon, and that when the stakes were raised to upwards of a cosmic scale, it would take all of our muscle to fight back — unfortunately we hadn’t factored in that the bad guy might win in the end!

The Next Phase

So perhaps now would be a good time to catch our breath before the next, and fourth film in the franchise hits theaters worldwide. Avengers: Endgame is not shying away from admittedly letting its audience know upfront — however this plays out, the title should be taken very seriously. Inevitably some of our favorite characters may live, and others might die, and still some others have to determinately crawl themselves back from where ever they may have found themselves after that fateful “Snap!”

Marvel Studios has proven in its premiere decade its dominance over the superhero film franchise, a formula that others have attempted to emulate with mixed results, but never as effortlessly as Marvel appeared to master the medium. With the theatrical experience marking a steadfast transition to the home, the Marvel catalog is now getting the 4K respect that it widely deserves. In the Ultra HD resolution that 4K offers the Avengers franchise especially has never looked or sounded so epic!

Picture quality is unmatched and this is most evident in the heavily CGI moments that often occur when the screen is inhabited by Hulk and an army of Ultron robots. 4K also enhances the environment that these actors exist in, turning their highly futuristic war rooms and battle sites, whether deep on the edges of the earth or on the streets of New York appear all the more textured and tangible. The cinematically profound depths of the audio bombardment is also something to behold! With all three of the current film’s available on 4K, this is the only way to assemble proper!

iReview | ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Marvel’s most astonishing pint-sized hero is back for another big screen adventure, but after battling on the side of the angels in the climatic Civil War Ant-Man and The Wasp must team-up — for the first time — to save the day!

In the annals of Marvel Comics creations, the characters of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne are without a doubt instrumental in setting in motion the comics imprint’s modern era of superheroes. As two of the founding members of the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the duo had a significant influence inspiring every generation that followed in their footsteps. When Marvel Studios announced that they would be adding the pair to their cinematic line-up, fans assumed that they would debut as part of the premiere team-up of Avengers. Not so.

As part of the next phase of the extended Marvel cinematic universe Ant-Man was introduced in his own big screen adventure, but it wouldn’t be Henry “Hank” Pym in the title role. Veteran Hollywood actor Michael Douglas was cast as the original hero first introduced in the classic Tales to Astonish #27 (Jan. 1962), but it would be comedic leading man Paul Rudd who would step into the super suit with the abilities to control his size and mass! Rudd was cast as Scott Lang, the second hero to assume the mantle of “Ant-Man” and introduced in Marvel Premiere #47, 1979.

In the comics, Lang a talented engineer was also a small-time crook who stole Hank Pym’s suit, but after proving himself to the scientist, Pym recognizes Scott’s potential and gives him the suit, so long as he uses it to fight crime. As the new Ant-Man, Scott Lang would become a hero in his own right often teaming up with Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and even joining the Avengers for a time. His daughter Cassie would eventually assume her own superhero persona and join the next generation of heroes inspired by the Avengers.

Hope Van Dyne (Lilly) is every bit the hero the world needs, and a capable force even at pint-size!

On the Big Screen

When the hero was realized for the big screen, his origin was similarly styled after his comic book introduction. Pym (Douglas) has learned that the technology he has developed and coveted over the years called “Pym particles” is being coopted by a former business partner. With the help of his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (played by Evangeline Lilly) the pair intended to recruit Lang to their cause to subvert the organization that is intending to weaponize his science and turn his life around as a superhero.

As the Ant-Man, Scott fought along with Captain America when the heroes confronted one another in the midst of a “Civil War”. At the end of that epic confrontation, Scott was sprung from prison and kept a close eye on by the FBI. Under house arrest there isn’t much that he can do, so he spends a lot of time with his daughter, Cassie, but when the fugitive Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne seek his help, Scott may lead the way to the mysterious whereabouts of Hank’s missing wife and partner, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer).

In Ant-Man and The Wasp Scott and Hope will team up once again under the directorial eye of Peyton Reed who proved uniquely capable at balancing the dramatic and comedic sides of the first feature which played like a classic caper film. The follow-up to the franchise doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but greatly enhances the mythology and solidly places Ant-Man and The Wasp rightfully in realm of the growing number of heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most of which recently met their fate at the hands of the Mad Titan Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

Ant-Man (Rudd) finds himself facing an enemy that’s out of phase with reality in “Ant-Man and The Wasp”.

Larger Size Action; Bigger Heart

The first Ant-Man is perhaps one of the best origin stories in the Marvel Studios pantheon; it was highly beneficial in helping to establish Scott Lang and the Ant-Man who had been largely eclipsed by the more iconic contemporaries including Thor, Hulk and the aforementioned Captain America. Even though the characters were both pioneering members among Earth’s Mightiest, both Ant-Man and The Wasp remained largely enigmatic second players. The success of Ant-Man changed all of that, and his appearance in Captain America: Civil War raised his profile.

In the premiere installment the villainous Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) plans on selling Pym’s tech to none other than Hydra, the clandestine organization that infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D. — our heroes are able to stop Cross who adapts Pym’s suit advances it into the  “Yellowjacket”. Lang emerges a true contender nimbly battling his adversary and turning an army of ants into a formidable force to be reckoned with! Stoll’s Yellowjacket will undoubtedly emerge as one of the most frightening foes, and the pair’s epic confrontation in Cassie’s playroom one of the best yet!

The supporting cast returned to join Scott, Hope and Hank on their mission to rescue Janet from her exile to the Quantum Realm, but even as they race against time another threat the mysterious Ghost (the crazy fantastic Hannah John-Kamen) is also chasing after Pym’s technology. As a young girl, the Ghost was caught in an industry explosion that placed her “out of phase” rest the rest of the world. An associate of Hank’s, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) promises to help, but it soon becomes evident that the government prefers to turn the Ghost into a secret agent.

One of the charms of the film is how heavily it relies on Marvel Comics mythology, and the elaboration of the backstory that sets up the covert missions of the original Ant-Man (Douglas) and The Wasp (Pfeiffer) with the introduction of Fishburne’s Bill Foster who also is best known to comic book fans as the size-changing hero Goliath. Rudd and Lilly have an onscreen chemistry that work on multiple levels, but establish both as inheritors of the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic narrative. No doubt that Pfeiffer’s Janet Van Dyne will also emerge as one of the best cast roles.

The final act of Ant-Man and The Wasp as our heroes work to save the day is a phenomenally choreographed piece with Hope’s Wasp fully integrating herself into her role as a hero and Lang still navigating the intricacies of the suit, but proving his heart is bigger than most, and that he is truly one of the Marvel Universe’s most larger than life superheroes! Let’s all hope that given what’s at stake after the conclusion of Infinity War and (SPOILER ALERT) the disappearance of most of the Ant-Man family, Scott emerges the hero we all know he is!

Ant-Man and The Wasp starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas directed by Peyton Reed is currently playing in theaters.

On MARVEL Studios | AVENGERS Infinity War

A decade in and Marvel Studios proves it still has all the best ideas with a cinematic universe that culminates in an epic confrontation in a war to end all wars — literally with AVENGERS: Infinity War.

After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and its follow-up Captain America: Civil War the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had become splintered beyond repair and with them scattered to the winds, a new phase was introduced that included an ant-man, a sorcerer supreme and the homecoming of a much loved web-slinger, and still a crisis was looming ever closer, creeping across the galaxy. Even a stalwart group of guardians would be in over their heads, as a god of thunder faced his own mythical Ragnarök, an “end of all days” had arrived. So begins Avengers: Infinity War.

Entering into its first decade Marvel Studios has cornered the market on perfectly adapting the comic book superhero genre to the big screen, and upon launching proper with the introduction of 2008’s Iron Man starring Robert Downey, Jr. the producers had their minds set on creating an entirely different cinematic experience — they dedicated themselves to developing a serialized universe. Now 10 years later, they’re dismantling their perfect world in preparation for its next evolution, and as they say: you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

The mastermind behind Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige was quoted by recently on the daunting task of brining Avengers: Infinity War together:  “This feels like the culmination of something that’s been building for years.” The fact that it did indeed come together so solidly is a testament to Feige and his creatives, who managed to pool the narratives of all the Marvel Comics adapted films into a singularly spinning storyline, that first tested its durability with the release of Marvel’s The Avengers in 2012. It was the first time film properties crossed over so effectively, and it paid off!

“Avengers: Infinity War” spans the galaxy of the Marvel Studios cinematic universe, from as Spider-Man and Iron Man find themselves across the galaxy with the Guardians.

Assembling the Team

Over the course of Marvel Studios first decade, the arc of the storyline was divided into phases, each positioning each of its title characters to intersect into the next chapter of an Avengers film, while properly introducing new heroes that would spin-out into their own solo projects. Before Avengers: Infinity War came to theaters, the Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony Russo delivered a one-two punch with the “bonus” Avengers flick Captain America: Civil War which (re)introduced two very important Marvel properties into the cinematic universe.

With the rousing introduction of the Black Panther and Spider-Man joining the rest of his big screen contemporaries, Marvel Studios guaranteed that even after Iron Man, Captain America and Thor round out their 3-picture deals, the mantle will have plenty of room for some newly minted heavy-hitters that would also include Ant-Man and The Wasp and Doctor Strange. Before those installments land in your local multiplex, the Russos were tasked with rounding out the first 10 years of films and prepare the segue into the next phase.

In Avengers: Infinity War the mad god Thanos (a motion capture realization by Josh Brolin) has finally gathered all six of the startling powerful Infinity Stones and embarked on his genocidal cleansing of the universe. As far as Thanos is concerned, he’s doing everyone a favor by getting rid of half of the universe’s population. With resources throughout the galaxy spread so thin, and wars over territory often leading to bloodshed, Thanos takes it upon himself to end the chaos and be rid of half of the people everywhere, a god-like initiative he handles with a simple snap of his fingers.

Introduced in the after-credits stinger of The Avengers after our heroes assembled to fight off a blitzkrieg alien invasion of New York City, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had all-but blown up, and by the end of that feature-length film space was anything but the final frontier — certainly for our heroes and the people of Earth. Besides a technological ironman, a green skinned hulk, a god of thunder and several super soldiers, the idea of our place in the galaxy had expanded beyond anyone’s imagination.

Captain America, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) finds himself in the grip of the mad Titan Thanos!

Guardians of Every Galaxy!

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe went beyond the boundaries of planet Earth incorporating the space-faring adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarök the kid gloves had seriously come off, and with the gauntlet (the Infinity Gauntlet specifically) thrown down and in play, anything would be possible! The universe was literally the limit! Avengers: Infinity War although it spans the entirety of the Marvel cinematic world, it ultimately brings everything full circle and tightly walks the rope of credibility. We believe every minute of this movie!

Whether it’s because as an audience we’ve become so familiar with the exotic locations, whether the far reaches of Thanos’ home world of Titan, or the jungles near Wakanda, the seriousness of our heroes mission is never lost on us, and it’s because we believe in the Avengers that we become invested. After a decade, the heroes that we had loved for many more on the pages of our comic books, had sprung to life on the screen, made flesh and bone by Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, Hemsworth and Pratt, alongside Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Saldana and Elizabeth Olsen.

Unexpectedly, the formula here gets tripped up, as our heroes face a threat greater than anything or anyone that they’ve faced before! The audience is forced to struggle alongside with them. The Infinity War may be more than they’ve ever bargained for, but for movie-goers especially die-hard genre fans, it’s exactly what we’ve all been waiting for all along. With Avengers: Infinity War the pay off comes in the serialized connectivity between all the Marvel Studio films and how instrumental it is that it’s all come together.

Comic Book readers have known all along, that these heroes and their adversaries are far more dimensional than the paper they are printed on, and finally the rest of the world has caught up to us. It may have taken an infinity, but from the looks of it, it’s only just begun…

Marvel’s PHOENIX RESURRECTION: The Return of Jean Grey

As part of imprint’s “Legacy” exploration Marvel (literally) resurrects one of its most enduring and endearing characters. The time has come to welcome back the X-Men’s Jean Grey!

In issue #135 of The Uncanny X-Men originally published by Marvel Comics in 1980 all hell literally broke lose and for longtime fans of the book the fate of one its most beloved characters was about to written! Series writer Chris Claremont and his co-conspirator John Byrne had spun a tale so powerful and emotionally wrought that when “The Dark Phoenix Saga” finally ran its course, it would forever alter the way audiences read comics! The stakes had suddenly been raised and many realized that nothing lasts forever!

Certainly in a world where men walk among gods, individuals blessed with superpowers the consequences of which could be lost on most mere mortals. In the world of the X-Men it all became painfully real, as original X-Men Jean Grey evolved from the telekinetically gifted Marvel Girl and into the world-devouring Phoenix — a creature of such great potential that its power had become feared throughout the cosmos. That power, as power often does, eventually consumed Jean and turned her into the Dark Phoenix the ultimate personification of pure force!

Her teammates are forced to engage the Dark Phoenix in combat until inevitably, Jean is considered to great a threat to the universe and is served a death sentence — a trial by combat — between the X-Men and the galactic member nations of the known galaxy itself. In the end, before she once again could succumb to the fury of her dark side, Jean in a final act of mercy, sacrifices herself so that her friends to do not have to pay the ultimate price for her mistakes. The Dark Phoenix may no longer have been a threat, but the X-Men lost Jean Grey…or so it seemed.

The X-Factor of it All!

The Uncanny X-Men had become a phenomenon much to the credit of its writer Claremont, who continued to write the series and even introduced its first spin-off The New Mutants which featured the next generation of mutant heroes. The demand for mutant-based books was high! In 1986 the original X-Men would be once again reunited and among their ranks we’d find Jean Grey, much like her namesake, had risen from the ashes for the inaugural run of the new mutant team book X-Factor. Jean’s return would be considered quite controversial.

Over the course of the character’s development, it would be greatly debated as to wether Jean had been replaced by the Phoenix “entity” and placed in hibernation for an undefinable period of time, but in all eventualities she would eventually find herself inevitably connected to the powers granted to her by the Phoenix. Jean Grey would “die” several more times, and come back from the dead just as many, but in recent history Jean had finally merged with the power of the Phoenix and moved on from this plane of existence — “dying” again — though not forgotten!

She’s back!

Like a mercurial specter, the Phoenix has remained a constant in the world of the X-Men, invariably connected to Jean Grey as its primary host and the only individual worthy of wielding its cosmic might. It was only a matter of time before she would be reintegrated into the modern mythology, and as Marvel explores many of its most favored heroes and villains with the recent publishing-wide “Legacy” arc, it seemed fitting and appropriate to bring the X-Men’s most formidable presence back into the fold in Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey limited series.

The timing of which hasn’t escaped anyone that the next blockbuster feature film in the franchise X-Men: Dark Phoenix will bring Jean’s story to the big screen! The limited series written by Matthew Rosenberg begins with the appearance of what might be a large flaming bird, as psychics begin to disappear around the planet, and somewhere in an unassuming small town, a young woman is finding her world is unraveling before her eyes — a woman named Jean Grey! The X-Men are scattered across the planet following a trail…but to what?

Without a doubt the Marvel Universe without Jean Grey, one of the imprint’s original heroines, is just not the same — and the X-Men haven’t enjoyed the popularity that they once relished, not since their counterparts in the Avengers became Hollywood sensations (though arguably the X-Men film franchise did launch before the introduction of the extended cinematic Marvel Universe). As the tale continues to take shape, exactly what the fate of the Phoenix will be is still unknown. Who is this new Jean Grey and is she in fact the latest resurrected form of the Phoenix?

And if that’s the case, is the Phoenix back to save us from ourselves, or burn the house down? The story continues to evolve in Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey issues #1 through #3 are on sale now!

A Mutant Renaissance :: Marvel Comics X-MEN GOLD & BLUE

The Uncanny X-Men are back in the spotlight with a pair of coinciding series that bring with them a new revitalization of a franchise that was once the pearl of Marvel Comics! Setting the Blue and Gold standard!

Once upon a time there were these misfits teenagers brought together under the sage guidance of a headmaster of a “school for the gifted”, but just how gifted these unlucky teens were wasn’t entirely clear even for their creator. After a string of successes that included the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Avengers and even the Hulk, Marvel Comics the House of Ideas wanted more from Stan Lee and demanded another hit from the man!

Stan had already given the world the mightiest, the most amazing, and the fantastic — the only thing left to do was go astonishing and uncanny! The answer came in the form of The Uncanny X-Men. Published in 1963 the group would be a very close reflection and raise social commentary on the social upheavals being experienced in American culture. The X-Men were “mutants” — humans born with the genetic propensity to super powers!

Where most of Stan’s creation had derived their abilities from unfortunate accidents, given to supernatural or super scientific circumstance, mutants were born with their gifts, and ultimately became the focus of fears and prejudice by a “normal” society that felt threatened by mutants  evolutionary advantage, or in some cases their ascent to superiority. It led to some of the series most outstanding storylines.

Uncanny!

The obscure popularity of the X-Men especially in those early adventures certainly solidified an audience for the group of teenagers who took it upon themselves to travel the world in defense of those feared and disenfranchised who couldn’t help themselves, but suddenly the title’s demand starting to wain. In 1969 the original stories ended with the release of Issue #66 and the series continued with reprints into it’s Issue #93.

In 1975 the “All-New, All-Different” line-up was introduced by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum and with Giant-Size X-Men #1 a new era was born. The team was a mix of diversity featuring characters from all corners of the globe. At first the new members had a difficult challenge of proving themselves, especially to one another, but soon they would develop into a family. These X-Men would be properly introduced with Issue #94 of The Uncanny X-Men written by Chris Claremont.

Claremont would begin an unprecedented 16-year run on the title that would propel The Uncanny X-Men to the top at Marvel Comics marking the mighty mutants (alongside Spider-Man) the lead sellers for the publishing giant. The X-Men’s message of inclusivity among diversity resonated with readers from all walks of life, and secured their transition into mainstream with a blockbuster film franchise, Saturday morning cartoons and several action figure toy lines.

All-New, All-Different

In recent times, the mutants have taken a backseat to the other members of the Marvel pantheon including The Mighty Avengers who have themselves overtaken the cinematic spectrum of the Marvel Films universe and become bigger stars on the big screen then they might have ever been in the publishing mecca. Over the course of the characters’ rise among theater audiences, the Avengers became the center narrative of the publishing arm of Marvel as well.

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This didn’t leave much room for the X-Men who never fell out of favor with their fandom, but were relegated to the side as a clear uniformity was built to strategically align with the cinematic world, to which the X-Men were not (at least at the moment) subscribed to. While many of the publishing events centered on the Avengers, the X-Men were often written into B-stories, or segregated into inclusion with representation coming only from the bigger stars in the line like Wolverine or Storm.

It has also quickly become evident that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has also substituted the mutants within its narrative with the Inhumans — a nearly godlike off-shoot of the human race that has lived in seclusion and often in hiding from the rest of mankind, but who have been taking their place at the table in contemporary plot lines. The Inhumans became centrifugal in two recent publishing events, and took over an arc on television’s Agents of SHIELD.

The Inhumans will also headline their own primetime series this fall on ABC.

Astonishing in Blue and Gold

One would assess that with the continuing profitability of the X-Men movie franchises still drawing audiences nearly two decades later, especially after a recent cinematic reboot, the mutants had a fanbase that would not be ignored. It appeared that the time to reinvest in the X-Men had arrived. Springing out of the recent Inhumans vs. X-Men limited series which pit the two enigmatic forces against one another, Marvel retconned the X-Men titles with a series of brand new #1s.

Reintroduced in the one-shot X-Men Prime #1 the future of the X-Men is precarious at best, so looking to the future Storm insists that Kitty Pryde return to the fold and assume a role she has been groomed for her entire career. Ororo wants Kitty to lead the X-Men and serve as a role-model, as headmistress to the next generation of young mutants. In order to achieve that goal, Kitty demands that the X-Men must give up their exile and rejoin the rest of planet.

At the conclusion of the aforementioned Inhumans vs. X-Men limited series, the X-Men moved their base of operations to Limbo in order to escape the effect of the Inhuman’s Terrigen mist; released into the Earth’s atmosphere and proven dangerous to mutants. With little other choice left to them, the X-Man Magik moves their headquarters to her demonic Limbo. Not exactly an ideal location by which to thrive and or raise a family. Kitty demands that the group return to Earth.

Using her skills of teleportation Magik lands the X-Men and their mansion into the heart of New York City, literally placing the home in Central Park. Kitty is able to keep most of the team together, but does not convince the “original” five X-Men including Jean Grey, Cyclops, Angel, Beast and Iceman to stay with the group. The time-displaced teenagers decide that the future they’ve inherited is not all that it’s cracked up to be and carve out their own path.

X-Men: Gold is written by Marc Guggenheim and follows the more traditional course of action as Kitty attempts to secure her X-Men’s place in the world. Fighting on her side are classic X-Men including Storm, who has given up the reigns of leadership to Kitty, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Prestige (Rachel Grey) and Old Man Logan. Their mission statement remains the same, and already they’ve come face-to-face with a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Sentinels.

The title in the line X-Men: Blue is written by Cullen Bunn who is propelling the younger “originals” led by Jean Grey on a completely different tangent. This group has decided on Jean’s insistence to ally themselves with the X-Men’s greatest foe Magneto and it’s evident that the Master of Magnetism has his own agenda in the works. If some of these larger, over-reaching arcs sound familiar, you’re not alone. You’ve been reading X-Men comics for more than three decades.

No one may want to admit that what the X-Men require is a significant reboot that simplifies the mythology. It had gotten particularly out of hand in the late 90s into the start of the new millennium, and has just not been able to get back to the richer, humanistic story arcs that Claremont infused into the title. The writer even attempted to return to the comic for a short period of time, and it appeared that the magic truly had gone off into limbo.

X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue are on sale now and are published by Marvel Comics.