To many longtime X-Men fans, Chris Claremont may as well be an X-Man himself. The longtime writer is responsible for many of the team’s most famous and iconic moments. His legendary Uncanny X-Men run in the 1980s led to fan favorite characters Psylocke, Sabertooth, and Emma Frost just to name a few. Without a doubt, Claremont is as important a name in X-Men history as Wolverine or Charles Xavier.
After his lengthy run with Marvel’s merry mutants ended, Claremont pursued other avenues in comics. In 2004, Claremont returned to Uncanny X-Men as part of ReLoad, a revamp of the X-Men books. X-Men ReLoad Volume 1: The End of History collects Uncanny #444-461 and X-Men #165. Claremont’s return to Uncanny is an interesting look at a familiar title that was essentially starting all over. Here are some reasons to check it out.
The nostalgia works (up to a certain point)
One of Claremont’s strongest assets as a writer is he is never afraid to show the X-Men as normal people. They may have unbreakable metal fused to their bones or can fry another person’s brain without batting an eye, but that does not mean they can never cut loose and relax. ReLoad opens with the X-Men playing a not so friendly game of baseball. This is a textbook example of Claremont’s writing style. The readers know how important the X-Men are to the world. They also know the team is not shirking their duties. This is simply a case of the heroic mutants taking advantage of some rare free time to have some fun. It’s a nice touch that humanizes the characters.
Inevitably, another Claremont staple rears its head. There is internal strife (they may be mutants, but that doesn’t prevent them from having the same disagreements us normal humans have) that leads to a confrontation. Once again, this makes the characters more relatable, but it’s also a tactic that Claremont uses far too often.
Over the course of the near twenty issues in ReLoad, Claremont is joined by a variety of artists. Alan Davis, Olivier Coipel, Andy Park, Tom Raney, and Salvador Larroca all add their impressive talents to the book. Each artist brings a lush look to the issues that bring Claremont’s writing to life. Whether it’s Storm and Nightcrawler headed out for a night on the town or Wolverine and X-23 doing battle, the art adds another dimension to the story. Claremont has always been able to tell a story, but the best X-Men tales are just as pleasing to the eyes.
The first run of Excalibur is one of the most fun mutant books Marvel has ever done. Claremont and Davis seem to have had free rein to be a little more silly than the mainstream X-books. There was still all the action and soap opera, but Excalibur was also unafraid to add a sense of wackiness. It was only for a brief moment, but it was cool to see almost the entire original team reunited in the pages of Uncanny.