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John Byrne
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Grumpy Old Guy

Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 131977
Posted: 14 July 2023 at 3:22pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Chris is often applauded for having written the X-Men for something like 17 years, but I often note that he accomplished that only on a technicality.

Sure, he worked on UNCANNY X-MEN for that long, but he constantly changed the characters and the dynamics of the book. By the time he departed there was little left of what we’d seen in GIANT-SIZED X-MEN 1.

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Michael Penn
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Joined: 12 April 2006
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Posted: 14 July 2023 at 3:42pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Seems like your time on UNCANNY X-MEN was the aberration, JB. 

Leaving aside the first issues plotted by Len Wein, which were fairly standard X-Men type stories, once Mr. Claremont took over... he introduced... 
  • a demon, 
  • the Phoenix entity (or whatever) changing/destroying Marvel Girl forever, 
  • an entire outer-space civilization/empire that would become primary characters ever after, 
  • a band of space pirates (or whatever) including Cyclops' own father, changing/destroying his backstory forever, 
  • and... leprechauns.
Gevalt!

Sure, there were the Sentinels and Juggernaut and Magneto too, but... whew. And once you were gone, JB, ...bring everything unearthly and whacked out! POPULAR but... the X-Men...?!


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John Byrne
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Grumpy Old Guy

Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 131977
Posted: 14 July 2023 at 4:19pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

It’s hard to measure the success of the X-Men. From whence did it spring? Was Chris making all the right choices, hooked up with some top flight artists?

We need to remember that the marketplace was undergoing a major change. The Direct Sales Market, created to sell back issues, began to move into a greater position of power. Realizing that product sold thru the DSM was almost pure profit, the publishers began catering more and more to that venue. And that venue was increasingly controlled by fans, who assumed their tastes represented the marketplace as a whole.

It was a topsy turvy time, and the ultimate madness came when the publishers shifted ALL their products into the DSM. This eliminated the impulse purchase, on which publishers had been dependent for decades, and created an environment in which potential new readers had to make a conscious decision to seek out and buy comics.

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Mark Haslett
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Joined: 19 April 2004
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Posted: 14 July 2023 at 5:28pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I think there’s a tremendous amount to unpack in trying to understand
the success of the X-Men.

One more thing about Chris’ writing that had a great affect on me was
that his constant sense of character change mixed with his call-backs
to past Storylines to create a mythologizing/marketing kind of effect.

I felt compelled and gripped by the HOBBY of comic collecting because
he made it seem like you needed all the back issues to really
understand the whole story.

Edit: this illusion eventually wore off and left me deeply unsatisfied— a
“wound” that only Elsewhen could heal— which is why, for me, there
can never be another series like Elsewhen. (The closest comparison is
another John Byrne creation, Star Trek New Visions which healed my
“Season 3” feelings —that’s a funny coincidence).

Edited by Mark Haslett on 14 July 2023 at 5:34pm
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Joe Smith
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Joined: 29 August 2004
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Posted: 14 July 2023 at 6:04pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

A grizzled veteran of reading comics for 49yrs, I now see
that I loved the NEXT ISSUE box just as much as anything
else. This pertained to the series with consistent
characterization of the main cast. X-Men after JB was like
a pile of mercury and I couldn't hold on to the thread. I
came back when John Cassaday and Frank Quitely were there
for the artwork, but, it's hard to say I liked the stories.

Elsewhen moved me.
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Peter Martin
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Joined: 17 March 2008
Location: Canada
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Posted: 14 July 2023 at 6:39pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Claremont had some great strengths and some obvious flaws. I enjoyed the spell with Romita Jr in the mid 80s, though there were frequent diversions into weird realms that I didn't enjoy. I jumped ship during the Silvestri years and then came back for a short time for part of the run with Jim Lee. I think the consistency that came with JB's input never occurred again.

Claremont was really good at a kind of introspective storytelling, where he would make you feel what the characters felt as they went through their trials and tribulations, like you were really in their head, and each character had a unique pattern to their emotions and reactions. And then there was all the magic and demons and space pirates and gumpf...
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Brennan Voboril
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Posted: 14 July 2023 at 9:49pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I think after Cockrum, and then Byrne, people could just not stop reading X-Men.  IMO if the X-Men had had lesser artists to "get the horses outside the gate" it would not have had the later success it did.  
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Steven Queen
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Posted: 21 October 2023 at 11:44pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Just reading through these again --- dang!  These are priceless.  The art is some of your all-time best while still staying true to the original look.   It so well rendered, ink them is likely to cause more harm than good.  The characterizations are pitch perfect.

Dang.

(I still want to know how the Phoenix story ends! :P)

Just a little methadone?
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Michael Hogan
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Posted: 22 October 2023 at 1:51am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Methadone, HA! I'd settle for a fortune cookie with one
sentence on the slip of paper with JB's plans.
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John Byrne
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Grumpy Old Guy

Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 22 October 2023 at 2:19pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

The Phoenix story doesn’t end. In this “reality” we have Jean/Phoenix as a recurring villain, like Doctor Doom or Magneto, until the discovery that Jean is actually a separate entity. Then it would be Dark Phoenix making return visits, without the emotional baggage.
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Steven Queen
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Posted: 22 October 2023 at 5:35pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I totally get that.  What I hope you'll share are your plans for how Scott would escape (etc.) in *this* episodic appearance, and how/where the Phoenix flees?  

Such a cliff-hanger for a great, slow-build, story foundation!

Sorry to be a pest.  It's the fanatic in this long-time "fan".

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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 23 October 2023 at 5:05am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I have found that looking through many of the John Byrne commission pieces now feels like seeing glimpses into further X-Men Elsewhen adventures.

There are many glimpses of Dark Phoenix potential stories, including a battle with Thanos where Dark Phoenix gets his gauntlet. She even defeats the Justice League in a cross-over event. There are one or two X-Men/Teen-Titans adventures, some great Magneto battles and -- there's one incredible image of Doom Vs. Magneto which feels like it could somehow fit somewhere into the story we find in the final Elsewhen issues. Wolverine is even in the correct costume!
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