Or what some people will probably excuse as, “You’re just getting old.”
I remember it clearly. I was in the 4th Grade and my friend (still my friend to this day!), Charles Stevens handed me two comics. It was Avengers #159 and Uncanny X-Men #121. I remember reading them – and I remember opening them up and seeing characters with such wild and vibrant color costumes. All these characters had a wide variety of powers that were just amazing to me. And in both issues, it seemed pretty helpless for the heroes! In Avengers they were fighting someone who could control gravity – and in the X-Men they were fighting a team that was as skilled as the X-Men!
I was definitely hooked.
As the years progressed, my obsession – and collection – exploded in size. Over the years, my Marvel collection expanded from Uncanny X-Men, Avengers, to Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, New Mutants, Web of Spider-Man, Power Man & Iron Fist, Micronauts, ROM, Dazzler, and of course – New Warriors, Night Thrasher, Nova – among so many others. I now own thousands upon thousands of comics now. While, the current state of Marvel Comics isn’t my cup of Joe – I still collect comics. And I continue to go back and fill my collection backwards, to the point that I am now picking up comics that were released by Marvel – before I was even born. Marvel Comics became a staple in my life back then. It helped my imagination grow and expand and enter the world of Super Heroes.
Despite all of those comics – the one that always stood out above the rest, and remained a staple favorite of mine was Uncanny X-Men. I lived, breathed, loved, and worshiped this series! I mean, Uncanny X-Men introduced me to Alpha Flight – which was this dynamic looking team, that was created specifically to counter the Uncanny X-Men. Then it introduced me to the elegant Hellfire Club, and even more mutants like Sebastian Shaw and the White Queen – and more importantly, Mastermind (going by the name and illusion of Jason Wyngarde, who would go on to play a pivotal role in one of the greatest stories told in Uncanny X-Men and that is, of course the Dark Phoenix Saga.
The incredible and heart wrenching story of Jean Grey’s transformation into The Dark Phoenix is one that I think most comic book collectors would say was a very memorable storyline and arc.
We not only saw Jean Grey, who for the most part, had always come across as the most innocent and pure member of the Uncanny X-Men, transformed into the most vicious – she devoured planets and destroyed them, for the sheer thrill.
Still, we saw Jean Grey trying to fight for control, all the way to the very end in Uncanny X-Men #137, where she gave up her life so that the other X-Men might survive against the battle of the Shi’ar Empire’s Imperial Guard.
And that leads me to another thing – the Uncanny X-Men introduced me to the Starjammers as well as The Shi’ar Imperial Guard (and sure, I get that the Imperial Guard are “spoofs” of various members of another comic book company’s greatest team members – but still loved them!)
The Uncanny X-Men would go on to battle the likes of Doctor Doom, Arcade (and Murderworld), Magneto, the Brood, Deathbird (can’t get enough of her!), Belasco (Uncanny X-Men #161 is iconic, because it leads to the creation of the character known as Magik!), and then into a great Brood storyline!
Uncanny X-Men #161 – 167 remains probably one of my all time favorite story lines, aside from the Dark Phoenix Saga. This entire story line saw the X-Men going through some drastic changes and make some pretty drastic choices! Not to mention, we got to see the birth of Binary (formerly Ms. Marvel, having lost her powers to – then member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!) Binary remains – even to this day, my favorite version of Carol Danvers! And that’s even including her great solo series, at this very moment, Captain Marvel.
Let us not forget that, the Brood story line introduced us to the lovable Lockheed. Speaking of Lockheed – let me take a step back to the unforgettable and humorous Kitty’s Fairytale in Uncanny X-Men #153, where we saw Wolverine portrayed as the character Mean and Nightcrawler was a specifies of cute creatures called Bamfs.
Uncanny X-Men would go on to bring us Gambit, as well as bring in characters like Havok, Longshot, Polaris, Psylocke, Dazzler, Rogue, Bishop, among many, many, many others!
So then the question comes back to what started this entire post right? What happened that shouldn’t have happened? What does it have to do with getting old? Well, clearly it has something to do with the Uncanny X-Men…
So – the thing that happened, that should have never happened – never could have foreseen it happening – this week, I went to the comic store, and finally removed Uncanny X-Men from my pull list.
I have been collecting Uncanny X-Men for 35 years. That’s older than most people who might be bothered to even read this. At this point and time, Uncanny X-Men has been a part of 80% of my life. So why did I finally drop it? Well, over the last five or ten years, it’s gotten to the point, that I was picking it up, just because I always have. I wasn’t finding much enjoyment within the pages of Uncanny X-Men. And that’s where someone might say, “Well, it’s because you’re getting older and not enjoying comics like you did as a kid, you know, 35 years ago!”
And to that I say to thee, “Nay!” (That means I disagree with that statement!) I don’t think me getting older has anything to do with it. I like it has everything to do with the quality of writing, art, and everything within Uncanny X-Men going to Hades. You see, if I was getting older (well, okay, I am getting older!), but it has nothing to do with losing interest in comics. You see, in the last year, I am actually reading more comics than I ever have in my life. (Having a good job that allows me to afford more comics, probably has a lot to do with that, compared to skipping lunch at school just so I can afford two comics a week!)
From Marvel Comics I was pulling: All New X-Factor, Amazing Spider-Man, Amazing X-Men, Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Guardians 3000, Legendary Star Lord, New Warriors, Nightcrawler, Nova, Spider-Man 2099, Thor, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men.
From DC Comics I was pulling: Aquaman, Aquaman & The Others, Batman, Batman: Detective Comics, Batman: Eternal, Cat Woman, The Flash, Grayson, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, He-Man – Master of the Universe, Justice League, Justice League United, Lobo, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Red Lantern, Secret Origins, Sinestero, Suicide Squad, Supergirl, Superman, Superman / Wonder Woman, Teen Titans and Wonder Woman.
From other companies (Image Comics) Cyberforce, (IDW Comics) Judge Dredd, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Ragnarok, and (Darkhorse Comics) ElfQuest.
About 10 years ago, the most I collected was probably about 10 books – at the most.
So I don’t think it has a damn thing with me getting old, and not enjoying comics. I am enjoying them (for the most part!) more now than ever before! I really think Marvel itself, has been tanking in regards to their comics. Their movies – another story entirely. Best thing since sliced bread (and I love me some sandwiches!) Their comics? I feel are suffering. All New X-Factor just released their final issue, and the horrid mess that is Spider-Verse has made me want to drop Amazing Spider-Man, New Warriors recently came to an end, and I don’t know how much longer I will be on board with Thor (I love the idea of a female Thor, just not a fan of Jason Aaron’s writing – he’s a good writer, it’s just not my cup of tea, is all!)
Anyway – this long winded post – just to say – I never thought the day would ever come that I’d mark Uncanny X-Men from my pull list.
A little piece of my childhood is crying, somewhere in my soul.
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