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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

X-aminations in January 2018...and Beyond!

First, a quick scheduling note: it turns out I don't have a digital copy of Thunderstrike #2-3 (and finding one is turning out to be slightly more difficult than it should be), so I've put those issues on the list for a future Retro X-amination, and will instead be reviewing Avengers #368, the first part of "Bloodties", for my December 27th review.

The first half of 2018 brings the publication year of 1993 to a close, and with it, an end to the celebration of the X-Men's 30th anniversary, as both "Fatal Attractions" concludes (finally) and the whole anniversary shebang is closed out with the X-Men/Avengers crossover, "Bloodties". But Marvel, still flooding the market with product even as the effects of speculator market bubble bursting are starting to be felt, barely slows down, continuing to churn out additional one-shots and limited series in addition to the seven monthly X-books, the quarterly X-Men Unlimited, and the series' annuals (not to mention the reprint X-Men Classics, which is joined by Sabretooth Classics and X-Men: The Early Years in 1994, X-Men Adventures, the tie-in book to the animated series, the updated Official Marvel Index to the X-Men, and X-Men 2099). The X-books, long-established as the crown jewel, sales-wise, of Marvel's catalog, manage to stave off the effects of the market crash far longer than most other franchises; even as Marvel finally begins scaling back and cancelling series in the second half of '94 and into '95, the X-books continue to expand, adding another monthly book (Generation X) in 1994 and another (X-Man) in 1995, along with evermore extra limited series and one-shots.

Despite the conclusion of the anniversary celebration which featured big events like Magneto returning (and then losing his mind) and Wolverine losing his adamantium and discovering he has bone claws, the X-office keeps their foot on the gas coming out of "Fatal Attractions", with nearly every series featuring a significant happening of some sort: the departure of John Romita Jr. and the arrival of Joe Madureira in Uncanny X-Men, the marriage of Cyclops and Jean Grey in X-Men, the death of Madrox in X-Factor, the "Child's Play" crossover between X-Force and New Warriors (which brings to an end the long-running and vaguely-defined Upstarts storyline), the return of Captain Britain and the (very long-term) departure of Phoenix in that Excalibur's 75th issue, and the final establishment of the relationship between Cable, Stryfe & Cyclops in Cable. Even X-Men Unlimited features a pair of issues which make significant contributions to the narrative. Only Wolverine is relatively quiet over this period, as the series features more standalone and one-in-done stories as it explores the ramifications of recent events on the character. The quality of all those stories can (and does) vary, but there's no denying that the X-books continue to feature buzzy and/or narratively-significant happenings even without an anniversary to celebrate.

And for all that, even bigger things are on the horizon, including another linewide crossover, the launch of Generation X and shortly after that, arguably the biggest X-event of the decade. The comic book industry may have been crumbling, putting Marvel on the path towards bankruptcy, but you'd be hard-pressed to know that judging by the X-books of the time. I was certainly mostly oblivious to it back then (a few Wizard articles aside), and these issues represent some of my favorites from this era, as I stood on the verge of teenage-hood, still all-in on what Marvel was selling as far as the X-Men were concerned.

On Sale September 1993
January 3: Wolverine: Killing
January 4: Cable #5

January 10: X-Men (vol. 2) #26
January 11: X-Force #28
January 12: Excalibur #71

On Sale October 1993
January 17: X-Men Unlimited #3
January 18: Avengers West Coast #101
January 19: Wolverine: Global Jeopardy

January 24: Uncanny X-Men #307
January 25: X-Factor #97
January 26: Wolverine #76

January 31: Avengers #369
February 1: Cable #6

February 7: X-Men (vol. 2) #27
February 8: X-Force #29
February 9: Excalibur #72

On Sale November 1993
February 14: Uncanny X-Men #308
February 15: X-Factor #98
February 16: Wolverine #77

February 21: X-Men (vol. 2) #28
February 22: X-Force #30
February 23: Excalibur #73

February 28: Gambit #1-4
March 1: Cable #7

On Sale December 1993
March 7: Uncanny X-Men #309
March 8: X-Factor #99
March 9: Wolverine #78

March 14: X-Men (vol. 2) #29
March 15: X-Force #31
March 16: Excalibur #74

March 21: Unstacking the Deck: X-Men Fleer Ultra '94
March 22: Cable #8

March 28: Action Figures: X-Men Series V & VI and X-Force Series III

On Sale January 1994
April 4: X-Men: The Wedding Album
April 5: Marvel Pro-Action #1

April 11: Uncanny X-Men #310
April 12: X-Factor #100
April 13: Wolverine #79

April 18: X-Men (vol. 2) #30
April 19: X-Force #32
April 20: Excalibur #75

April 25: X-Men Unlimited #4
April 26: New Warriors #45
April 27: Cable #9

On Sale February 1994
May 2: Uncanny X-Men #311
May 3: X-Factor #101
May 4: Wolverine #80

May 9: X-Men (vol. 2) #31
May 10: X-Force #33
May 11: Excalibur #76

May 16: What If? #60

May 23: New Warriors #46
May 24: Cable #10

On Sale March 1994
May 30: Uncanny X-Men #312
May 31: X-Factor #102
June 1: Wolverine #81

June 6: X-Men (vol. 2) #32
June 7: X-Force #34
June 8: Excalibur #77

June 13: X-Factor Annual #9
June 14: Cable #11

On Sale April 1994
June 20: Uncanny X-Men #313
June 21: X-Factor #103
June 22: Wolverine #82

June 27: X-Men (vol. 2) #33
June 28: X-Force #35
June 29: Excalibur #78


  1. You're based in the Twin Cities correct?

    If you're looking for physical copies of Thunderstrike #2 & 3, I bet Midway Books have about 50 of each in their basement. There are one or two longboxes full of X-Men #1's down there. I put together a near full run of New Mutants, X-Factor, and MCP for pennies on the dollar.

    Outpost 2000 have boxes and boxes of random comics from the 80's and 90's but they require extensive digging as that stuff is not organized at all.

    1. Yeah, I'm in the Twin Cities. Midway Books is pretty fantastic - I put together a nearly full run of TRANSFORMERS, along with some other stuff, on the cheap via their basement back in the day. I've also found a few decent-priced copies of my beloved Three Investigators books there through the years.

      But I really need to find a digital copy - which I'm sure I can do via...less than legal means (since it's not available via Marvel Unlimited or for purchase digitally). I just wasn't in a position to do that over the last couple weeks, so I punted coverage of it for now (since it's not exactly essential X-Men reading).

  2. "The comic book industry may have been crumbling, putting Marvel on the path towards bankruptcy, but you'd be hard-pressed to know that judging by the X-books of the time."

    Totally with you here. I mean, I was aware of some books I read getting cancelled around 1994-95, such as the 2099 stuff, but I mainly just read X-Men and Spider-Man at this point, and both of those kept going strong -- plus I was a teenager and didn't pay attention to the financial side of any of this, nor did I read any sort of fanzines, WIZARD, etc. -- so the Marvel bankruptcy announcement took me by complete surprise!

    (I still remember asking the owner of our local shop if that meant Marvel would close shop and cancel everything, but he assured me that was not the case; they would just be scaling back.)


  3. I’d been waiting for this post as the most appropriate place to drop a question and a link — then I missed the opportunity to do so in a timely fashion. Sigh.

    Question: Does anyone “here” own a copy of Marvel’s Crazy Magazine #88, dated July 1982, from which photocopies or scans could be sent my way? I’m gathering stuff for a potential article on variations of the Dark Phoenix Saga and that issue has a parody consisting of 11 pages of material from X-Men #134-138 re-scripted by Jim Owsley. Wherever/however/whenever I do get hold of the sequence I’ll pass it along to Austin should he ever indulge in a retro post on parodies like this and — just keeping it to Marvel’s own publications — stories in What The—?! and Not Brand Ecch.

    Link: The Hollywood Reporter posted an oral history of X-Men: The Animated Series a couple of months ago. I’m not sure I ever watched as much as one complete episode, having no attachment to the comics at the time and being turned off by the animation, but I came away from this piece impressed with the passion those making it possessed and by hearing it was so heavily serialized — enough to want to check it out one day for sure.


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