I previously wrote about how this year was the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, and how it shaped me into the geek you see before you today, but there was another event that set foot in motion the comic book geek side to my personality, and that was in June, 1992, and an issue of X-Men (second series) # 11. Well really it was the cover that stuck out to me, a great bit of art from Jim Lee, featuring a handful of the many characters in the series, in a great portrait, Wolverine standing front and center of course.
Now, up until this point, while I was reading comics, and had made attempts at collecting them, putting them in large sandwich bags as a child, with cardboard cards remarking on the issue, and the value of the issue, it wasn’t until I’d picked up this issue of X-Men, a second part issue to the X-Men’s adventure in Mojoworld, a television obsessed extra dimensional villain. Something about the art, by Jim Lee, and the story by Scott Lobdell spoke to me, it was something fresh and different. Up until this point I’d been more of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan then any other comic thing really, and I’d been hooked since then.
While of course I’d heard of the X-Men growing up, and I recalled playing the Godawful NES game that had the name of the X-Men and that’s about it, it wasn’t until this moment that there was something more interesting out there, some characters that I could truly relate to. The X-Men were outcasts for their powers, I was an outcast for my awkwardness and geeky interests. (This was in the days when the kind of stuff we’re into was looked at in mockery, can’t imagine that kind of world anymore, but that’s what it was) This was where I belonged, and it certainly wasn’t in the sewers of New York.
I’d started buying the book on a regular basis, and soon learned of the other X titles surrounding the series, which I also devoured. Some people said that the books were too continuity heavy, even back then, but I managed to follow the story just fine, just took a bit more effort in doing so. It was in the X-Men that I started venturing into the other books of the Marvel Universe as well, outside of my other favorite, Spider-Man and I got really into the vast intricasies of Earth 616 (that’s the designation for the Marvel Universe proper, for those not in the know) How the characters from different books played into each other, and in the order that the stories connected to each other.
But even through all that it was the X-Men that always held my interest longest, from the gruff Wolverine, to the steadfastness of Cyclops, and of course the great comic book love story of the 90’s Rogue and Gambit it was quite an epic saga. It also taught me that everyone is different, and that’s okay. I remember when I was like 14 or so, and my parents had told me that one of my cousins had come out as being gay, I was just like, okay. It’s no big deal, people are different, and I have the X-Men, and it’s storied list of creators for putting that viewpoint in me. It not only taught me to be proud of my own talents, and interests, odd as they may be, but it reinforced a spirit of tolerance that has stuck with me to this day.
And it all stemmed from this one great series. It’s been 50 years this year since the X-Men first appeared, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby. And surprisingly to me there’s no fanfare or celebration, barely a mention at all of this anywhere. Sure it’s also the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and that’s also an awesome and highly nerdy event(s) in and of itself, I was a mutant long before I was a Whovian.
A few classic storylines that I highly recommend checking out, if you haven’t read them:
The Dark Phoenix Saga-by Chris Claremont and John Byrne
X-Men: Mutant Genesis: by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee
X-Men: The X-Cutioners Song
And those are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head, and ones that are on my bookshelf, there’s plenty more great adventures to read, but those are just a few of my favorites that stuck with me. So, what are some of your moments that shaped your inner, and outer geek?