No, not those sort of X titles! I am talking X-Men here, the Eagle award winning comic book series from Marvel. Since its inception in the 1960s, X-Men has featured various teams of mutant superheroes recruited by Charles Xavier (aka, Professor X) to hone their abilities and battle the predations of evil mutants, super-villains, and various alien menaces.
While the series experienced its rebirth in 1975′s immortal Giant Size X-Men #1 (re-printed here), and enjoyed a host of epic tales all the way through the late 1970s, my most vivid memories of these salad days of Marvel’s merry mutants come from the 1980s. Days Of Future Past (circa 1981) posits a dark future where many of the world’s mutants have been hunted and killed, and those remaining imprisoned in concentration camps to await uncertain fates.
John Byrne, perhaps my favorite X-artist, actually completed the bulk of his impressive run in 1981, paving the way for the return of artist Dave Cockrum. Cockrum’s return did not last all that long, and he left to work on more personal projects in 1982. From 1983 – 1984 X-fans enjoyed the good favor of the exciting work of then new artist Paul Smith. You can find Mr. Smith’s amazing run on the book in Essential X-Men Vol. 4. Smith’s first run on the title lasted only a scant nine issues, but his clean lines and expressive style made him forever a fan favorite. Artist John Romita, Jr. took up the art chores on X-Men for pretty much the remainder of the 1980s. His work during that period is best represented by the contents of Essential X-Men Vol. 6.
Throughout all of these many changes writer Chris Claremont held down the fort. While many fans will agree that Mr. Claremont likely overstayed his welcome on the title, his run from 1975 to the late 1980s remains a singular feat of endurance rarely matched in the history of the industry. After departing the book in the early 1990s, his star dimmed a bit, but his legacy, built largely by his work in the 1980s, lives on through numerous trades and reprints.