Dave and I are about to start reading fifty years of X-Men comic books. We have each collected in the past, and have recently decided to start collecting again. I myself only read on and off from 1991 until around 1995. My clearest memories of X-Men comics involve X-Men #1, and the short time where Jim Lee was drawing X-Men and Liefield was drawing X-Force.
So trying to jump into X-Men in 2013, I’m starting to get acquainted with where the characters are now and what has changed. And for anyone who hasn’t been reading for a few years, it can feel as if everything has changed. With any book as old as X-Men, there is always going to be a tangled web of backstory to try and make sense of. Today’s team, with Magneto and Emma Frost, fragmented between Cyclops and Wolverine, with no Professor X and no Jean Grey, is a far cry from the organized, friendly blue and gold teams that I remember.
And so I decided to go back. Because we live in a marvelous age of digital technology, it’s easier than ever to catch up with an old series. I started seeking out several of the major events from the past few years, such as Schism and Civil War. However, every time I would connect some piece of the story it would just lead me back to even further parts I needed to read. Remembering the X-Men’s triumphant return to form in October of 1991, I then attempted to restart from there and catch up as if I had never stopped collecting. Still, I wasn’t satisfied not having the whole story. It seemed pretty obvious that the only way to truly have a clear understanding of all that is going on in this universe is to start at the very beginning. September, 1963. So that’s where we will begin.
I’m looking forward to reading the earliest comics and witnessing how such humble beginnings evolved into the more mature comic that we have today. The X-Men that Jack Kirby drew were young, untrained, idealistic, and innocent. They’re not any group of X-Men I’ve ever read about. I’m sure this read will surprise me, since there is so much I don’t know about the first thirty years it was published. There are, I’m sure, going to be things that I thought true that are proven wrong.
After I started reading the first few issues, I discovered the current title All New X-Men, and have been reading them simultaneously. This blog may from time to time also discuss the relationship between the two. It’s great being able to draw from Stuart Immonen’s artwork of the 1963 team as I read Kirby’s books. I am currently reading All New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, and Cable and X-Force. The goal of this read through will be to reach this point, when the original team is brought to our present, and then be fully caught up with the entire history of this series.
That will include several of the X-Men titles that have been published over the years, since this story has long been fragmented. For starters, it will include every single issue of X-Men vol. 1, which was printed from September 1963 until #544 in December of 2011. The name was officially changed to Uncanny X-Men in 1981. It will also include every issue of X-Men vol. 2, which began in October of 1991 until issue #225 in June of 2009. That series changed names several times, starting as X-Men until it changed to New X-Men in 2001, back to X-Men in 2004, and finally X-Men Legacy in 2008. We will also read all of Astonishing X-Men vol. 3, which began in 2004. Along the way I’m sure we will decide to include other titles as well. I feel like we might be compelled to read the first leg of both X-Factor vol. 1, and X-Force vol. 1. We are expecting to read more than a thousand comic books before this blog is finished.
Our goal is not to feel that we have to provide a post for every issue that we read, but simply to discuss anything at all that we find interesting along the way. We encourage you to read along with us, or to provide any insight you can. Especially feel free to suggest issues from other titles when they coincide with plot points that we mention. One thing I’m wondering before we begin is exactly how long it will take us to read a thousand comic books. Not too quickly I hope, because I’m going to take my sweet ass time and enjoy them.