X-MEN: Daunting History

Written on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 by Kyle posted by kyle

I’ve always been a little afraid of reading the X-Men. It’s mainly due to the huge amount of history involved with them. The X-men have been around in some form since1963 and like most comics from that point they have a huge amount of back story, and rightfully they should. The X-men story just seems so much more complicated because of the rotating cast.

The X-men roster has been re-organized, re-started from scratch, shuffled and divided so many times even wikipedia can’t keep up with them. People have switched sides from good mutants to bad with a surprising regularity. I have no idea who Gambit or Angel/ Arch Angel are really working for right now.

I’m the sort of person who really likes to know as much of a back story as possible for the books I read. With a lot of characters its incredibly easy to sum up a character’s history and major motivations. Batman and his supporting cast can each have their major points explained pretty easily. I once asked an X-men fan to tell me what the whole story with Cyclops and Jean Grey exactly was, and he felt I wouldn’t be able to understand it without a complicated chart.

I’ve read some of the stories, I was really impressed when I borrowed Joss Whedon’s run. I even collected Warren Ellis’ run because I’ve always been entertained by what he does. The main draw of these stories for me so far has been that they haven’t largely addressed the teams complicated past.

Marvel does have a type of solution to this problem. There are the X-men Essential books available. Now you can even subscribe to their online service. Unfortunately both of these are a little costly when you look at the number of Essentials you would need to buy, or the amount of time you would spend online reading each individual issue. From my understanding Marvel hasn’t put ever comic they’ve ever written online, so that’s not even a good way to go about it.

Still, I have my own idea as to what would help people like me who want to like/ read more X-men but feel it would be too difficult. My own idea is to do a few issues as a limited series that tells the abridged history of each major x-men milestone and change that has happened. I realize a lot of that has happened on Wikipedia and so many other fan sites, but it would be nice to have it come from the creators. Marvel can let us all know which stories are still in continuity, get the perspective of the artist and writer at the time putting in their notes as to why Beast turned blue, and whatever else is considered a major turning point. And if Marvel thinks this seems like a lot of work, imagine how we feel.

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