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You can go home again: How a lapsed X-Men fan made an astonishing return to collecting

How Uncanny X-Men writer Matthew Rosenberg helped reignite one reader’s passion for the X-Men.

Since their debut in 1963, the X-Men have sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them, but here at AiPT! we’ve got nothing but love for Marvel’s mighty mutants! To celebrate the long-awaited return of Uncanny X-Men, AiPT! brings you UNCANNY X-MONTH: 30 days of original X-Men content. Hope you survive the experience…There comes a point in every child’s life when they’re introduced to comic books. This may be a one-off moment that leads nowhere or it could develop into a lifetime fandom. Most often, it turns into a fun hobby that lasts a few years before suddenly going away. For me, it was the latter.

I don’t remember how old I was, but the first comic book I remember reading was G.I. Joe. I don’t really remember much about the actual plot but I do know Snake Eyes was in the issue. He had somehow been separated from the rest of the Joes. The coolest thing about the comic was how Snake Eyes didn’t have his mask. His face was never shown, but it really amazed me.

The other thing I remember is the Dreadnoks, who were portrayed as little more than jokes in the animated television show but came off as downright scary in the comic. For some reason, the part that’s stuck with me is one small panel into which Buzzer is lighting a cigarette and menacingly says, “Right as rain.”

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

I never became a collector of G.I. Joe, but somewhere along the line a friend introduced me to Uncanny X-Men. This was during the “Inferno” storyline featuring Madelyne Pryor’s transformation into the Goblin Queen. Talking to friends, I soon discovered that this was a huge moment in X-Men history. I didn’t understand how important the story was to the team’s history, but I was instantly hooked.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Over the years, I came to love writer Chris Claremont’s X-Men. From the team’s adventures in Australia to Psylocke being turned into an assassin and even the issues that were entirely about the Muir Island team–I was enthralled. The stories were fun while being genuine. I could feel their angst (keep in mind, my teen years were approaching). I loved how the book dealt with issues like racism and depression. Archangel was my favorite character in the world, not because he looked a badass with his victim metallic wings–which he did–but because he was the first character I ever read who openly talked about committing suicide. This was very heady stuff for a 10 year old and I followed all my favorite mutants’ adventures through Uncanny X-MenX-Factor, X-Force and Excalibur. If there was a crossover, I made sure to get every issue.

And that is where the problem began. “Inferno” was easy to keep up with. “Acts of Vengeance” was a company-wide event that didn’t require me to pick up tons of different comics. Then in 1991, the “Kings of Pain” storyline proceeded to run through all the mutant annuals and The New Warriors! It was a sign of things to come. The crossovers were becoming more frequent and required more purchases from me. Finally, in 1992, “X-Cutioner’s Song” was released.

“X-Cutioner’s Song” had a simple premise. For months, X-Force’s leader Cable and his doppelgänger Stryfe had been shrouded in mystery. “X-Cutioner’s Song” promised to answer many of these questions about the two. After the 12-part series was over, many more questions were raised but it felt like no answers were given. It’s not that the crossover was bad, it was just unmemorable and disappointing.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

I soon stopped picking up X-Men comics at this point. There were too many books, too many crossovers and nothing seemed to matter anymore. I never made a conscious decision to stop collecting the X-books, I just stopped buying them. 

Over the years, I still kept up with the X-Men’s exploits. I would ask friends and check online to see what was happening. I kept thinking that some story development would draw me in. Instead, I heard about confusing characters like Xorn, how Nightcrawler may be related to Satan or about numerous deaths. The more I would hear about the various X-books, the less interested I became.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

I then went though a period where I didn’t care about the X-Men. I would watch the movies and I would listen to my friends, but I knew I would never buy another issue again. My thinking changed earlier this year. The comic book club I’m in chose to read 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, written by Matthew Rosenberg. This comic is emotional, action-packed, well-written and, above all else, funny without ever losing a sense of the story. I instantly became a fan of Rosenberg’s.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Rosenberg would be writing a Multiple Man limited series as well as take over writing duties on Astonishing X-Men. I knew immediately that I would be collecting both. The books have taken me back to my youth and brought something to the X-Men that had been missing when I stopped collecting. Rosenberg has the tone down perfectly; X-books are supposed to be fun and that’s what the writer brings to the table.

Marvel’s recent X-Men Black mini-series further exemplifies the need for humor in the X-Men line. After a disappointing first issue that wallowed in its own seriousness, X-Men Black followed with Mojo, an unabashed romantic comedy. Mystique, Juggernaut and Emma Frost were all excellent titles due to the simple fact that they have managed to be fun despite the seriousness of their of their plots.

When I first started collecting Uncanny X-Men, I didn’t think about why I liked the characters. When I stopped, it was not a decision I made–it just sorta happened. As I read a new generation of X-titles, I have come to the realization as to what makes a good X-Men comic–for me. There’ll always be angst, adventure and a whole a lot of drama, but when the books lose their sense of fun, there’s no enjoyment in reading them.

Right now, I can confidently say I’m having a lot of fun reading the current X-Men titles and I’m excited to see where they go from here.


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