Beyond REGENESIS: The History of X-MEN Relaunches

The History of X-MEN Relaunches

For the past few months, Marvel has been on a publicity blitz promoting "X-Men: Regenesis," an upcoming re-branding of nearly their entire X-Men line as a result of currently unfolding miniseries X-Men: Schism. There have been interviews, teaser campaigns, leaked images, redesigns of each book's logo, and they're even restarting venerable 48-year-old flagship book Uncanny X-Men with a new #1 in November.

Though the hook is a new one — X-characters sharply dividing between two philosophical lines, with Cyclops leading one pack and Wolverine the other — the overall goal is a familiar one. Marvel has revamped and refreshed the X-Men books several times in the past, and, like "Regenesis," they've frequently been "re-" something.

Here's a look at the history of major X-Men revamps, beginning with the oldest — and still most important — of them all.

 

Giant-Size X-Men #1

Year: 1975

It's a story that's been told many times, but Len Wein and Dave Cockrum's Giant-Size X-Men #1 was a game-changer in every sense of that smooshed together word. After languishing in reprint purgatory for five years, Marvel revived the X-Men with this one-shot comic that introduced new characters Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Thunderbird, and added Wolverine to the X-Men mix for the first time. The rest is history: writer Chris Claremont soon embarked on a lengthy and vastly influential run on the book, Wolverine became the most famous X-Man of all time, dozens of spinoff series followed, and the characters and concept have enjoyed widespread popularity in multiple forms of media ever since.

 

X-Men #1

Year: 1991

This fall, there will be five different comics in mainline Marvel continuity with "X-Men" in the title — Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-Men: Legacy, and, simply, X-Men. But just 20 years ago, a second X-Men series was a pretty revolutionary idea, thus the massive success of Chris Claremont and Jim Lee's X-Men #1, recognized by Guinness as the best-selling single-issue comic book of all time. The comic also brought change to the status quo of the X-Men themselves, as they strategically split into two squads: adjectiveless X-Men's blue and Uncanny X-Men's gold, a designation returning with "Regenesis" (at least from a marketing sense).

 

Revolution

Year: 2000

With the first X-Men film about to hit theaters, Chris Claremont returned to both X-Men and Uncanny X-Men in 2000, with the word "Revolution" printed right on the cover of the books and high-profile artists Adam Kubert and Leinil Francis Yu in tow. Jumping forward six months in storylines, Cable was placed on the X-Men proper and new villains the Neo were introduced, but overall things didn't really click, and Claremont was off both books in less than a year. "Revolution" also included the smaller revamp "Counter-X," with acclaimed writer Warren Ellis overseeing satellite titles X-Man, X-Force and Generation X, and respectively joined by co-writers Steven Grant, Ian Edginton and Brian Wood — the DMZ creator's highest-profile comics work at that point.

 

New X-Men

Year: 2001

Things got shaken up even further just a year after "Revolution" with the arrival of Grant Morrison to the X-Men comics. May 2001's X-Men #114 — retitled for the entirety of his run (and a little bit after) as "New X-Men" — brought an entirely different perspective to the X-Men books, with touches still seen in current comics. Morrison and frequent artistic collaborator Frank Quitely placed the X-Men in more practical outfits not dissimilar to their movie looks, and the writer known far-out concepts didn't disappoint, creating characters like Fantomex, a Weapon Plus alum with an external nervous system that doubles as a flying saucer. Along with New X-Men, Claremont moved over to new series X-Treme X-Men, and Peter Milligan and Mike Allred teamed for a paradigm-shifting run on X-Force, which later evolved into X-Statix.

 

ReLoad

Year: 2004

Following Morrison's departure from X-Men — and Marvel in general — Marvel chose to "ReLoad" the X-titles, recruiting Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon to write his first Marvel comic book, Astonishing X-Men, with Planetary illustrator John Cassaday on art. Though running with several elements introduced by Morrison — like the relationship between Cyclops and Emma Frost — Astonishing was also a bit of a back-to-basics book, bringing Colossus back to life and returning the X-Men to more traditional superhero costumes. Whedon remained on Astonishing for 24 issues plus a Giant-Size denouement. As a result of "ReLoad," X-Treme X-Men ended, and Claremont returned once again to Uncanny X-Men, for about two years this time.

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