This is the strapline that almost inevitably accompanies the opening credits and issue title as sure as "Stan Lee Presents..." and the names of the artists, writers and editors responsible. It is the most straightforward explanation of what the X-Men ethos and the world in which they exist.
Creatively, Stan Lee initially found "mutation" a solution to the problems of providing heroes with individual origin stories.
It also gave rise to the "cast of thousands" that populates the multiplicity of books generated by the franchise. The glossary at the fansite, Uncanny X-Men.net is currently at close to two thousand mutants.
- 1 Wide Range of Canon
- 2 Canon as Intimidating Fandom?
- 3 Creators
- 4 1970s Reboot
- 5 The World of the X Men
- 5.1 Cast of Thousands
- 5.2 Their Adverseries
- 5.3 Fuzzy Moral Boundaries
- 5.4 Timetravel
- 5.5 Quantum Leaps
- 6 Suggested Starting Points
- 7 Areas of Particular Fannish Interest
- 8 Fannish Resources
Wide Range of Canon
This covers a wide range of comics, it's not unusual to see up to ten X Men related series running in any given week. The core titles are Uncanny X-Men and X-Men (second series) otherwise known as "adjectiveless X-Men". The more recent addition of Astonishing X-Men is close to assuming central position as a creator-led book run by such top notch talent as Joss Whedon with John Cassaday and Warren Ellis with Simone Bianchi and going in new and exciting directions.
Further comics abound, including everything from character-centric adventures to noir detective and conspiracy. There are also several other team books running at any one time taking advantage of the rich canon universe and cast of thousands (or pretty damn close, see below). Characters move, fall in love, develop new alliegences and go to seminary. There are few continents untouched by the various X-Men. Antartica is a non-starter, as it is home to The Savage Lands inhabited variously by strange mutant animals, Kazaar (a Tarzan analogue to put it very crudely), and Magneto. At various points, the Uncanny X-Men based themselves in Australia, Atlantis, New York, Scotland and Outer Space.
Some series have ambigious titles which obscure their "parentage" as related comics, although an X in any title is a mostly reliable indication.
Mutiplicy of Comics
Sometimes, when a run of a title finishes, there will be a switch to a newer title. For example the kids at Xavier's College for Gifted Students followed in the original New Mutants mostly graduate into the semi-independent X-Force. Adding to this confusion, retired titles are being increasingly resurrected, but not always with the same characters, storyline or plot. An example is New X-Men - formerly a change in name for the adjectiveless X Men - being moved to a new comic that covered the students at Xavier's in a mode not unlike the original New Mutants. Furthermore, the title eventually reverted to New Mutants with some of the original characters returning as educators.
If we start to consider appearances and cross-overs into other Marvel titles, the canon grows to almost stagering proportions. Some of the X Men have variously been seen in the Avengers (the Marvel Comic not the 1960s television show), the Defenders and Heroes for Hire. When we add the plethora of additional material, two highly successful animated series, three movies with semi-independent canon, one-shots, graphic novels, and tie-in novels; it is easy to see how intimidating the fandom seems to newbies and potential fans alike.
Canon as Intimidating Fandom?
Comic fandoms can be scary. The X-Men especially so, with a large canon that is fertile ground for fanfiction writers and fanartists. As a Marvel comic there is a strong bent towards personal stories and character interaction. The limited run Muties series demonstrated the potential of the form as five creative teams built individual comics about life with the wrong set of genes. However, for a long time there has been a fannish body of work collectively known as The Common People exploring and stretching the potential of the canon and its impact on individuals.
There are several reassurances to newcomers with a fear of being buried in comics:
- Very few people can tell you the entire history of any given character or summarise every single book. Even fewer of them write fanfiction.
- Most X Men fanfiction revolves around the "core" comics, the main cast and fan favourites. Furthermore, a great deal of the fanfiction is character-based as opposed to storyline- based.
- If you've seen the 90s animated series, you are already quite knowledgable, the stories closely matched canon and even tackled complex stories such as the comic-classic Days of Future Past.
- There are several information sites, most noticably Uncanny X-Men dot Net, which covers almost everything you could ask about, from key events to naming that mutant.
(Where to cover fandom?)
Find Quote: Stan Lee on how he discovered mutation as a catch-all reason for superpowers, after he had already used "gamma rays" The Incredible Hulk, insects (most notably Spiderman) and "cosmic rays" (The Fantasic Four) and felt that genetic mutation would give him a world of easily explaned superpowers.
The proto-X-Men story in Amazing Fantasy (or another title) showing a young mutant communicating with a psychic avatar of an early Professor Charles Xavier.
How the title flopped, revived and went into re-runs.
The World of the X Men
Cast of Thousands
This is not hyperbole. The character glossary at Uncanny X-Men dot Net lists 1995 at the time of writing. http://www.uncannyxmen.net/glossary/
The League of Evil Mutants
Fuzzy Moral Boundaries
What actually makes the difference? How are the acts of X Men different? Even Magneto veers around the spectrum.
Sentinels, Bolivar Task, and Bastion
The Hellfire Club
In an universe where incredible technology has moved far beyond our own,mutant abilities such as teleportation and astral travel, brilliant scientists can change the world, and there is communication between other spacefaring races, it makes sense that travel between times is possible. Thus far, it remains hard to achieve and the results unpredictable.
Ever since Days of Future Past broke the mold, the X Men universe has developed an obsession not only in what the team does in the modern day, but their future success and the memory they leave. Given the sometimes gritty mileau of the comics, it is rarely good news.
Days of Future Past
As sbove, it is hard to state how far Days of Future Past changed the tone of the comics. It was an unexpected move from the creators, Chris Claremont and John Bryne, and took the readership unaware.
In itself, the cover has become a classic of the genre and has been oft-imitated. An aged Wolverine protecting an adult Kitty Pryde as a Sentinel looms large, the shadow almost enveloping them. The brick wall behind them has posters of their friends. Wanted posters. Almost every one bares a pasted-over legend; dead, apprehended, like some monsterous liturgy.
The message was clear, in their adventures, their fights, their sacrifice, the X Men achieved nothing. The legacy is a world of segregation, concentration camps, failing freedom fighters, all maintained by the Sentinel robots and their masters. It could all be traced to one moment, the death of Senator Kelly, a key anti-mutant lobbyist.
One moment, one day, one plan, one person.
massively important in comic historyaat large as well as shaping the X Men synopsis
further later ties in, e.g. the days of future now
Bishop and Xavier’s Security Enforcers
Not quite like the Days of Future past Introducing Bishop and his "history" of the X-Men Jubilee the last X-Man? Averted? Several tie in series
Other timetravel events
Askani'son X-Men: the End - claremont, More recently, House of M, no more mutants...
If we exempt the Ultimate Line (a modern rebooted range of series, some parts of which diverge greatly from the original Marvel Universe and its canon) and the Epic (?? 80s string of creator-owned and "hands off" titles i.e. Elektra Assasin] and the general fun of What If? The latter a title that would go down well with fans, given its treatment of cracked-out synopses, such as Spiderman's Aunt May becoming the new Super Surfer while babysitting Franklin Richards, the psychic genius son of the Fantastic Four's Mr Fantastic and Invisible Woman.
Interactions with the other Marvel Titles
Main Marvel Universe - Earth 616
Epic Crossover Events
Fan reaction to
Mutant Massacre (does Thor and the Power Pack make this a wide event?)
The one with Madyline and baby!Cable and demons. Inferno (are these more X events?)
Age of Appocalypse - something of an exception - titles cancelled and replaced eg. X-Calibre - characters who sneaked into the regular Universe while
One wonder of the Marvel Universe is the way it deals with parallel realities. (find something from X Man or Excalibur]
Dimension roaming titles - Excalibur Cross Time Caper and everthing regarding the exiles
Freedom this gives to fans and mass enjoyment - no idea is too cracky
Crossover potential and how a fan can have fun with canon multiple universes - find some great examples, where is that Nazi-Excalibur fic?
Suggested Starting Points
Areas of Particular Fannish Interest
X-Men, due to its large cast and years of publication, has every trope that a fan could ever want -- canon includes ship wars (for example, Scott/Emma vs. Scott/Jean), long-running het pairings like Gambit/Rogue, openly gay characters like Northstar, highly subtextual relationships like that between Xavier and Magneto, trans romances like Mystique's with Irene Adler, inherent fusion (such as the theory that Mystique was Sherlock Holmes), kidfic, and wingfic.