25 years ago.
It’s been 25 years since I first started reading superhero comic books. But I didn’t jump into them right away.
I was a genteel lad. The only comics I had read at that point were of the Disney variety.
Then I saw X-Men: The Animated Series.
(God, that theme song)
I fell in love with the show and wanted more.
It just so happened that around the time I started watching the X-Men is about the same time my grandma (my mom’s mom) died suddenly. On top of that, I was sent to see psychiatrists and therapists because of “behavioral problems” and lack of attention in my studies and my refusal to go to school. It felt like all my problems were my fault and never that of the administration or those that bullied me and made me an object of ridicule. I ended up being diagnosed with “Pervasive Developmental Disorder”; I was twelve.
Anyway, one day in June of ’93, my dad took me to the comic book store. He expected me to get a Donald Duck comic or something but I didn’t want a Donald Duck comic. I was twelve and I was into the X-Men and wanted something that wasn’t so Disney or kiddie.
That’s when I spotted this:
And I was captivated. Just the sight of an angry Colossus (who in the cartoon was presented as a calm and caring individual) having to be held back by Bishop (who in the cartoon was shown to be a trigger happy, rather unpleasant individual) and Iceman peaked my interest.
So, I bought the comic with my allowance and took it home and devoured it. I thought it was the greatest thing ever.
Do I still feel that way now?
Let’s go over the issue, shall we?
Our issue opens in Dallas, Texas, where the top of the skyscraper where the X-Men ally known as Forge lives has just blown up due to the actions of the villain Trevor Fitzroy. This would no way in hell fly today. At least, I don’t think.
People are running and screaming as hurricane force winds blow around them to keep the debris from falling on them and adding more casualties.
The one generating these winds is, of course, Storm.
And we get one of the unfortunate trends of comic books in the early 90s – sideways panels. You had to turn the book like you were looking at a Playboy centerfold. The comic book editors knew what they were doing in their contempt for comic book fans. The worse things about comic books are the editors.
Regardless of my grousing, it is an awesome panel:
I’ve always loved Storm. She’s probably my 2nd favorite X-Man. (The 1st is Rogue).
And I can’t be the only one who hears Alison Sealy-Smith’s voice when I read her.
Anyway, Storm gets screamed at by a mutant hater, but she saves his life by blowing him out of debris she couldn’t catch.
Next, we focus on Bishop as he heads down into the towering inferno that was Forge’s penthouse. I was accustomed to him sounding like a stereotypical tough black guy like he did in the animated series, so imagine my surprise to hear him thinking and, later, talking in a quasi-formal fashion. He’s supposed to be a tough 90s anti-hero but he’s so articulate in his manner of speech.
One thing that urked me, though, is this:
Apparently, in Bishop’s timeline, sound effects of the X-Men powers are terms of speech. I…just find that irritating.
Back at the Xavier Mansion, a bestubbled Professor X is going over the vitals of Illyana Rasputin, the little sister of Colossus. He thinks of how her illness started out as a simple flu has now turned into a full on degeneration of her genetic structure. He fears that she is dying of the “legacy” unleashed by the villain Stryfe, a bad guy with a very 90s spelling.
Illyana awakens wanting her brother. Professor X uses his mental powers to make her think her brother is with her.
Back in Dallas, Storm finally exhausts herself. An angry mob closes in on her.
Storm is saved by the intervention of a cop and they have this exchange:
I just love this!
Back in the burning tower, Bishop finally finds (and almost kills) Forge,
Anyway, Forge tells Bishop they need to get the wounded Mystique medical attention. I had no idea how to pronounce Mystique in my young age. At first, I always called her “Misty Cue”.
Back outside, Storm and the cop are still facing down an angry mob. The mob leader steps toward them when suddenly he slips on a large patch of ice.
It’s here we get an interlude for the big X-Men/Avengers 30th Anniversary spectacular.
The insert tells of a couple of Wolverine trade paperbacks, the Gambit limited series, the Sabertooth limited series, a Technet limited series that never came about, a new character called Exodus, The X-Men Survival Guide to the Mansion,
a new Avenger with the very 90s name of Deathcry, an ongoing Thunderstrike series (that lasted all of 25 issues), an ongoing series for War Machine (who became much more of a mainstay), and a tease for the Generation X spin-off. And we get a special “Hunt for Magneto” tie in promotion for the X-Men Sega game.
Back to the story. Iceman manifests himself, grabbing the mob leader. Storm tells Iceman to throw up a barrier between them and the mob and he does so in the form of an icy spider web.
Meanwhile, Forge and Bishop continue to talk despite their being in an unstable environment. Just then, Fitzroy attacks.
It’s hard to take Fitzroy seriously when he’s using words like “bamfing” and “softcores”. Frak you, Fitzroy.
Anyway, before he can attack, Fitzroy’s crystal armor is destroyed by the mind powers of Jean Grey. She, along with Colossus and Archangel, have arrived. Bishop powers up his fist to finish off Fitzroy, when Colossus suddenly attacks!
Colossus rants about all the various mutant villains who have sought to dictate mutant lives. He even says Professor Xavier has done the same thing in his fashion. Colossus is able to say all this while in a free fall with Fitzroy (say that three times fast), which, even at twelve, I called bullshit on.
Anyway, Colossus is about to rain down a killing blow, when he gets held back by Archangel. Warren gets smash through some windows for his trouble. Bishop and Iceman (how’d he get up there so fast?) hold Colossus while Jean Grey admonishes him for almost killing mutant terrorist Fitzroy, really twisting the knife by bringing up Colossus’ parents and their recent in murder in X-Men vol.2. Colossus asks Bishop to back him up as the future mutant killed over a dozen mutant criminals who escaped into the past, but Bishop corrects him saying they were escaped convicts who were tried and sentenced in his era and that he was within his jurisdiction, obeying the rules dictated to him by said era. Meanwhile, Warren is still sailing over seven city blocks.
At the mansion, Jubilee (yay) is studying remedial algebra. She’s annoyed that she’s the only mutant ever at the school to be failing math. She also makes an insensitive comment about Illyana’s illness when suddenly the door bell rings. Jubilee answers the door to find
So, that’s the book. Sadly, I don’t feel the same about this book when I did when I was an early adolescent. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up and my reading tastes have changed or because I don’t really collect comics anymore (I fell out of collecting comics around 2002 or 2003 and only had a vested interest in them again in 2015 with the Secret Wars event).
And, yet, the comic is still special to me. It’s because of The X-Men comics that I got into reading in the first place. I hated reading in school but the comics got me into it. That’s more than The Witch of Blackbird Pond ever did. So I owe much to the X-Men for introducing me into the world of reading.
Also, I sympathized with Colossus. All the frustration over how his life was going got to him just like it was getting to me. Plus, he was in turmoil over losing members of his family just as I was when my grandma died. It was like I found a kindred.
On a related, I recently got the omnibus of the X-Men 30th Anniversary storyline “Fatal Attractions”. It’s the size of the freakin’ Bible! The storyline doesn’t have the same impact on me as it did when I was younger, so I’m really considering donating it to the local library. Maybe give a youngster going through a similar situation like me the key to the world of reading and superheroes.
And don’t get me wrong – I still love my superheroes. But, at the same time, I’ve realized I’ve grown up and I can never be twelve again. It’s all very bittersweet.
People on this site have been posting fanfiction based on Marvel stuff. Maybe I should give it a shot.