Retro X: Remembering Uncanny X-Men #400

Retro X: Remembering Uncanny X-Men #400

The X-Men have been down and out; they’ve been the hottest mainstream success in the industry; they’ve been on the brink of cancellation…and by this point in their illustrious history they had stormed the gates of Hollywood with “X-Men” in 2000. Even with the implosion of the direct market during the mid 90’s, Marvel’s mutants carried on—Chris Claremont had moved on to create X-Treme X-Men and the team upgraded from colorful spandex to biker leather…

With only mere hours left before most readers get their hands on the 500th issue of Uncanny X-Men, Newsarama and its panel of “eXperts” finish its nostalgic look back at the hundred issue milestones of the series.

Uncanny X-Men #400

Writer: Joe Casey

Artist: Various

Release Date: December 2001

Cover Price: $3.50

Title: “Supreme Confessions”

Nearly 8 years have past, during which the introduction of the Legacy Virus and the Phalanx coupled with Magneto’s resurgence and the return of Jean Grey’s “other costume” entertained fans. Historically, the United States was only a couple of months past the tragic events of 9/11; Chris Jericho unified the championship belts of the WWE and its longstanding rival WCW; the Parliament of India was attacked by armed militants; the streets of Argentina were filled with rioters during their economic crisis; and The People’s Republic of China was granted permanent normal trade relations with the United States.

Team Roster: Archangel, Iceman, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Chamber, and Stacy X.

The 21st Century X-Men had started out on odd footing with a streamlined look, leather-clad look and a very modern logo to boot—and a mutant hooker had just joined the team! In a post-modern twist, humanity was on the rise again in the form of the Church of Humanity; led by the seriously creepy, Supreme Pontiff. Over a series of months, the X-Men were becoming more entangled with these fanatical humans as they sought to cleanse the gene pool of their mutant problem. In issue #400, Wolverine interrogates one of the members of the Church of Humanity and learns about their mission statement. Stacy X makes a rookie mistake and teleports herself into the heart of their operation—only to have her teammates rescue her. But there’s a price: the Supreme Pontiff captures Nightcrawler and, in one of the eeriest moments in X-Men history, violates his brain and alters him…in mysterious ways.

How Joe Casey remembers writing Uncanny X-Men #400: It's been long enough that I don't think I could accurately recall my intent for Uncanny #400. When it comes to the story, does it really matter what my intent was? I can tell you that, in the absence of a regular artist on the book, I fell back on the age-old chestnut for anniversary issues: the multi-artist jam. But in the early days of what would eventually—and, in hindsight, painfully—be referred to as "Nu Marvel", pushing the envelope was the order of the day. Which suited me just fine.

And so, for the first and only time in the history of the X-Men, the artist roster for this issue included such names as Ashley Wood, Sean Phillips, Javier Pulido and—wait for it—Eddie Campbell. These were artists that I sought out and recruited to share in the X-royalties (and, being issue #400, there were certainly a few coins in the pot). But to me, it was built to be the “alt. comix” version of an X-book and, from a creative standpoint, I was pretty psyched about it. Naturally, longtime readers wanted to burn me at the stake for spearheading something so opposite of what they'd come to expect from a decade chock full of "hot" X-artists. What is it they say about pioneers...? Okay, I may not consider myself one, but I've got enough arrows in my back to at least stand at the bar with a few of them.

How Mike Carey remembers reading Uncanny #400: “#400 was during the Joe Casey run, and he did that amazing art jam with Ashley Wood, Eddie Campbell, Javier Pulido, Sean Phillips... A great ride. I wasn't following the title regularly at the time, but I picked that issue up because it was a special, and I really enjoyed it.”

How Troy Brownfield remembers reading Uncanny #400: “I thought that the jam art was very distracting, and Stacy X doesn't float my boat.”

How Steve Ekstrom remembers reading Uncanny #400: “I had actually stepped away from the X-Men right before this run started; I was finishing my English degree and becoming a bit of an “Indie/ Lit-Snob”—and I remember loving this very eccentric mix of artists and the ultra dark tone of this issue. It kind of hammers home the “this ain’t your daddy’s X-Men” train of thought that Marvel had taken when they rebooted the line. I loved it…well, Stacy X not so much…but I really got behind this book because of the sinister tones and the truly wicked artwork; probably one of my favorite issues as an adult reader.”

How Lucas Siegel remembers reading Uncanny #400: “This originally came out just prior to my comics re-awakening. I have since gone back and read the whole Uncanny run, and liked this for it's use of tons of artists and Chamber. Oh, how I miss Chamber when he was just a psi-talented rogue instead of a descendant of Apocalypse with augmented abilities and no more than two lines in any issue...”

How Chris Yost remembers reading Uncanny #400: “Huge fan of Joe Casey, and was really excited when his run started. He changed everything, giving the X-Men a tone that I really don't think it had ever had before. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, business, politics, neo-fascism, and religion... all tied to mutants. It was so much more a real world book than anything I'd read before... certainly in Uncanny X-Men.”

That’s a wrap, folks—thanks for taking a look down “Memory Lane X” with us. Coming soon: a “Director’s Commentary” of Uncanny X-Men #500 with Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction!

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