MARC ALAN FISHMAN: X-Men – Built By The McMansion of Ideas

Marc Alan Fishman

Marc Alan Fishman is a graphic designer, digital artist, writer, and most importantly a native born Chicagoan. When he's not making websites, drawing and writing for his indie company Unshaven Comics, or rooting for the Bears... he's a dedicated husband and father. When you're not enjoying his column here on ComicMix, feel free to catch his comic book reviews weekly at MichaelDavisWorld, and check out his books and cartoons at Unshaven Comics.

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12 Responses

  1. zwallyzool says:

    I have to agree with you here all the insane x-cross overs drove me away from the X-books years ago. While I loved Claremont’s work and huge story archs. They seemed to matter way more than slop they’ve been throwing at readers lately. The last run I tired with X-men was when Chuck Austen was writing the series. Honestly his run on the book renewed my love for the X-men. He was developing original stories that always had you asking yourself what was going to happen next. He was redeveloping previously undeveloped characters or ruined characters back to their former selves and adding small twists to them. Brought back Havok, retooled Nightcrawler and hinted at the origins of mutants like Nightcrawler and Mystique. Every time I finished an issue he wrote I was hungry for more and could barely wait for the next issue exactly how I felt reading Claremont.
    Now days I can’t even look at the X section without getting physically angry at how many writers have essentially crapped all over the characters I loved.
    Whatever happened to the confident swashbuckling fuzzy blue elf? Where did this emo fuzzy blue priest come from? What happened to the shy but courageous Russian teenager? Now we have this terribly tortured steel “golem”.
    I miss the days when you only had 3 to 4 Xbooks and it was easy to follow the stories without having to know too much about the X-men. I’d give anything to see the days of Uncanny X-men, New Mutants, X Factor, and (possibly) Wolverine.
    While I enjoy Wolverine; I’d really love to see them kill him off for a while. They whole “I’m the best at what I do and what I do isn’t very nice.” has become more and more of a joke the more I hear it and read it. I know I know, it’s Frank Miller gold, but even the greatest writers of all time can become a parody of themselves with time and popularity and even cliche.
    And one other thing I’m kind of getting tired of this whole Retcon thing. I understand using it for the right purposes and when done right makes a book almost magical. When a sub-par writer uses it, it just ruins the book and basically gives the finger to long time readers who’ve put up with decades of continuity. DC and Xbooks are notorious for it. I think the editorial staff at Marvel really need to figure out what the heck they’re doing, because they’re just destroying great books and they wonder why they’re tanking now. Oh well I guess you always could just read Atlas. That’s why I’ve been doing.

  2. Thanks, Zwally. I knew I wasn’t alone.

  3. Jonathan (the other one) says:

    The difference between X-Factor and X-Force (aside, as you say, from Peter David’s talent)?

    Jamie Maddrox feels much the same way about the other X-Teams as you do, and wants little if anything to do with them. He’s consciously separated “X-Factor Investigations” from Marvel’s No-So-Damn-Merry Mutants; he even refused Cyclops’ “invitation” to move to their new island off San Francisco. (And when was the last time anybody turned down the big ol’ Boy Scout with the, um, forceful gaze?)

    I admit, financial concerns have kept me away from the racks for the past few months – but so long as I return to an X-Factor that isn’t under the X-Men’s collective thumb, I’ll be happy. (And I have an odd feeling that if Marvel ever wanted to force the team into the main fold, PAD would be finding himself another employer…)

  4. Marc Alan Fishman says:

    Jon– if I ever find myself with a glut of cash, x-factor is about the only book I would consider.

  5. George says:

    I’ve never gotten into the X books for a similar reason. Like the other Jon though I did dig X-factor for a LONG while, but fell off all comics due to financial reasons. It’s an expensive habit. It seems you may have a problem with group books. Often they have trouble touching on story of every character, and they can become bland stereotypes just to fill the gap the writers need.
    One thing though, Spider-Man is typically hated in New York, much thanks to JJ. Typically, not always as they change things so much because the main characters can never die or age.

  6. Jim May says:

    They had the 1 leader, 1 roster thing when they started, so the 40 years claim isn’t entirely accurate. I’ve been working my way through the entire run of the core book, from issue 1, up to around 375 now. The early years (Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman & Marvel Girl) were fun and the Claremont years had a lot of great stories. It seems like late 80’s, early 90’s is when it started to go to crap. They spawned such a glut of ancillary books that you can’t follow most stories by just reading the original. And honestly, things get so convoluted, that I’m guessing reading all of the X titles wouldn’t help too much. I’ve still enjoyed reading them though, for the most part.

    Disclaimer: This opinion is from someone who read DC on and off as a kid and standalone graphic novels as I got older. I picked up almost all of the now-discontinued GIT Marvel collections a couple years back and finally found a great way to read them courtesy of Apple. So I’m working my way through X-men now, then moving on to Fantastic Four. I’m definitely not someone with the extensive knowledge of most who come here.

  7. Unshaven Matt says:

    The X-Books have lost a lot of mojo for some time now. I personally look at the loss starting sometime in the 90’s. Yes, the 80’s saw the X-Teams really branch out,(The New Mutants, soon followed by Alpha Flight, X-Factor, Excalibur, and a solo Wolverine title) but it was all stuff you could keep track of. You had a main X-Men book and the spin offs where all there own thing, but with mutants as the main theme. Not until you saw the 90’s come along with the splitting of even more titles did it now get really confusing.

    Same problems plagued Spider-Man, but Marvel streamlined that down to one title with 4 teams. When one team is done, the next comes on and so on and on. Thus nobody is waiting for the next story to get done, it’s already waiting in the wings.

    I think the X-Books need to cut the fat off and just get down to this formula:

    1 X-Men book
    1 New Mutants book (half the appeal of the original was that they where young and outcast)
    1 book showcasing international mutants. Remember, being a mutant is a worldwide phenomenon, why are all the stories set in one country?

    You leave room for an OGN once and awhile for a good one shot story and BOOM, instant continuity fix. Want to know what happened in the X-Men five issues ago? Go look five issues ago in X-MEN! Not across ten other titles to get the full story.

  8. Steve Chaput says:

    Brilliant! You capture my own thoughts about the X-Men almost 100%. (I thought the Doom Patrol a rip-off of them, but we can agree to disagree.)

    I started picking up the original series by Lee & Kirby with the very, first issue and continued buying it until he went into reruns. By the time the book was restarted with a mix of old & new members I was temporarily out of comcs, so I was a late comer to the whole Wolverine thing. I briefly got back into it when Peter David was doing his first X-Factor stuff and even read the original New Mutants title. I don’t think I have read a single X-Men book since before the first film based on the franchise hit the multiplex.

    I’ve heard some good things and bad, plus seen the books handled by writers I respect, but the whole thing is too complicated and I don’t have the time or interest to try and catch up.

  9. The only 2 ongoing Marvel series I’m currently reading is X-Factor and I’m giving the new Ghost Rider series a chance.

    X-Factor is by far the best comic Marvel puts out. Even when forced to be in crossover, like Second Coming PAD treated (at least from my perspective) as a glorifed jokey sub-plot where the big bad villain didn’t even seem to care about X-Factor. I also love how PAD makes references to other events (both X-related and Marvel Universe releated) and treats them like jokes or finds ways to make different.

    • I almost went for the Ghostrider book, but my unshaven cohort Matt is getting it. The only Marvel books I presently read is FF, and Invincible Iron Man. Thanks for commenting Chris. I’m seriously going to look into X-Factor when money isn’t so tight round these parts.

  10. Rebel Rikki says:


    Great article. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Keeping up with the X-books feels like homework. I enjoyed X-Men: First Class enough to want to dive in to Marvel’s current offerings, only to find that not a one of them was new-reader-friendly… and sadly, they seem to think the answer to attracting new fans is to split the characters everyone knows down the middle and sell two concurrently-numbered series starting at #1. Blah.

    I did, however, quite enjoy Joss Whedon’s run, and although it was not quite as strong and petered out in the end, Morrison’s before it. Those are the only two runs of X-Men worth reading to me in recent memory.

  11. AdamYJ says:

    I can’t say things the same way that everyone else has. I don’t have a problem with their being more than one book because I grew up reading X-Men in the ’90s. I came in during the Lobdell and Nicieza runs circa ’94 around when Generation X started. However, I will agree that it’s lost some of its luster for me. I think it may be more about me than it is about the books, though. After you’ve been through enough team line-up shifts, deaths, resurrections and relocations and seen more than one “student team” get introduced only to amount to nothing, you start to feel like you’ve seen everything they have to offer. They really started to lose me when they had the Decimation, which was a concept I hated. Then I officially decided to move on when they turned Jubilee into a vampire. Which is funny because I like Jubilee and I like vampires, but I just don’t think the two go together.

    Overall, I don’t think their ideas are worse than when I started (like I said, it was the ’90s). I just think I may have grown out of the X-Men. X-Men has its greatest appeal when you’re a 13-year-old kid who feels like the entire world is against you. After that, it might be best to move on.