So Sayeth the Odinson: History of the X-Men: Part 3 of 6 – The Modern Age (1985-1991) in 10 Images

Greetings from the Odinson,

The Odinson continues to tell the exciting and astonishing history of the X-Men franchise using only covers. 

Be sure to check out Part 1: The Silver Age and Part 2: The Bronze Age.

History of the X-Men: Part 3 of 6 – The Modern Age (1985-1991) in 10 Images

Uncanny X-Men #200 (1985)Art by John Romita, Jr.

The decade of the 80s was a pivotal time for the Master of Magnetism.  From Uncanny X-Men #150 to God Loves Man Kills, from Uncanny X-Men #200 to New Mutants #35, from X-Men vs. the Avengers to X-Men #1, Magneto undergoes one of the most amazing and important character arcs in Comics History.  I talk about this arc in detail HERE

UXM #200 is the moment when a mortally wounded Charles Xavier leaves the future of his students and mutant kind in the hands of his former friend and mortal enemy.  John Romita, Jr. beautifully captures this decisive moment in this image that shows Magneto shackled by the sins of his past, the slump in his posture showing the weight of the responsibility that has been thrust upon him, and the battle behind him illustrating the chaotic state the world of mutants is in at this time. 

X-Factor #1 (1985)Art by Walt Simonson.

This was a huge moment in X-History.  Phoenix Rising told the seemingly impossible tale of the return of Jean Grey.  It all starts in the pages of Avengers #263 when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes make a startling discovery, a strange cocoon at the bottom of the Jamaica Bay.  In Fantastic Four #286, Marvel’s First Family discovers that within this cocoon is encased Jean Grey?!  Jean’s startling return drew together the original X-Men who band together to save their kind one mutant at a time.    

Yes, it seems all the way back in Uncanny X-Men #101 the Phoenix Force had not possessed Jean’s body but instead took her form and encased Jean’s radiation-ravaged body within this cocoon to heal (see Classic X-Men #8 and 43 for details).  As we already know, the Phoenix plays an enormous role in the past, present, and future of the X-Men franchise.  That moment when Jean and the Phoenix crossed paths forever changed them both, merging essences from each into the other forever tying them and the fate of the Children of the Atom together.          

Uncanny X-Men #211 (1986)Art by John Romita, Jr.

Before Fall of the Mutants, Age of Apocalypse, and Messiah Complex, before them all there was the Mutant Massacre.  The Massacre was the very first franchise-spanning crossover event that not only pulled all the mutant titles into the fray but even affected other prominent Marvel Heroes like Power Pack, Daredevil, and Thor.  In terms of the impact it had on the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe, Mutant Massacre is a Crisis-caliber event.   

The aftermath of the Massacre was so devastating that it left its mark on the X-Men franchise for decades to come.  This amazing image by John Romita, Jr. beautifully illustrates just how devastating as the most indestructible X-Man is war-torn and battle damaged to the point never seen before and rarely since.  The Odinson has talked many times about the significance of this event and will do so again in more detail in the near future.

NOTE: This cover is also part of Marvel’s 25th Anniversary celebration that took place in 1986.

Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #1 (1987)Art by Jon Bogdanove and Terry Austin.

This stunning tale serves as the official epilogue for the Mutant Massacre.  This is an extremely powerful image that evokes, nay demands, an emotional response.  There are so many layers to unfold. 

At a loss for any other options, the X-Men take Kitty Pryde to Latveria where they seek the aid of Victor Von Doom or risk losing their youngest member forever.  As the tale unfolds, a secret is discovered that could tear the Fantastic Four apart.  These parallel dramas draw the Children of the Atom and Marvel’s First Family into a conflict with each other, and Doctor Doom, that culminates in one of the most thrilling and satisfying climaxes in Comics History.

The X-Men vs. the Avengers #4 (1987)Art by Keith Pollard and Joe Rubinstein.

To the world, Magneto is a terrorist that needs to be brought to justice.  This is where the Avengers come in.  The Soviet Super Soldiers seek revenge against the Master of Magnetism for what he did in Uncanny X-Men #150.  And stuck in the middle of it all are the X-Men struggling with the ramifications of siding with one of their greatest enemies in the name of protecting a fellow mutant against the rest of the world.

This is another chapter in that amazing character arc Magneto was on at this time.  It is the moment he is forced to reconcile with his villainous past.

X-Factor #25 (1988)Art by Walt Simonson.

Fall of the Mutants had startling effects on both the X-Men and New Mutants but it was in the chapters involving Xavier’s First Class that resonated the most.  The uber mutant tyrant Apocalypse makes his big move.  With his titanic celestial starship casting a shadow over Manhattan and his deadly Four Horsemen wreaking havoc across the city, X-Factor fights a losing battle against a superior foe while at the same time coming to terms with the fact that their friend Angel has been transformed into Death incarnate.

Apocalypse will go on to become one of, if not the, X-Men’s greatest adversaries, as tales like Age of Apocalypse and The Twelve have proven.  Plus, from this point on, Warren Worthington III was forever changed.

New Mutants #87 (1988)Art by Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane.

With their mentors Professor Xavier off world and Magneto having a crisis of character, the New Mutants are introduced to Cable.  Cable is a cybernetically enhanced mutant super soldier from the future with mysterious ties to the past/present.  Cable would go on to break down the next generation of heroes and reforge them into an elite super team known as X-Force

In the years after his debut, we learn that Cable is actually Nathan Summers the son of Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor introduced in Uncanny X-Men #201 and the infant that played a pivotal role in the Inferno storyline.  To save his life, in X-Factor #68, Cyclops sent his infant son to the future.  There, now known as the Askani-Son, Nathan was raised to become the rebel hero that opposes Apocalypse’s rule.  And, all of that culminates right here in this iconic image that introduces the New Mutants, and the readers, to the man called Cable,

New Mutants #98 (1991)Art by Rob Liefeld.

The Merc with a Mouth.  What else is there to say?  Wade Wilson, the infamous Deadpool, would go on to rise to heights of popularity that arguably even surpassed that of Wolverine, seriously.  And, this is the image that introduced him to the world.

Marvel Comics Presents #72 (1991)Art by Barry Windsor-Smith.

Up until this moment, Logan’s past was a great big mystery, to him and the readers.  Even though Uncanny X-Men #109 and 120-121, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Alpha Flight #33-34 and #52-53, and Wolverine #10 gave us tantalizing brief glimpses into Logan’s mysterious past, the Weapon X storyline was the first full length tail to truly explore it. 

In the years since, the Odinson feels that way too much has been revealed about Wolverine and some of the mystique has been lost, but even I cannot deny that Barry-Windsor Smith captured the imagination and captivated his audience with this important chapter in X-History.    

X-Men #1 (1991)Art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams.

It’s the best-selling issue in the History of comics! 

Jim Lee crafted a unique and truly epic image of the X-Men battling their greatest foe, Magneto, in a sprawling piece of artwork that takes five variant covers to connect. 

X-Men #1 is one of the most important issues in the modern era of X-Men.  It marks the climax of Magneto’s amazing character arc that began way back in Uncanny X-Men #150, and it sets the stage for the future of the franchise.  This bold image was the launching pad for the next decade of X-Stories.   

Tune in next week for History of the X-Men: Part 4 of 6 – The Modern Age (1992-1999) in 10 Images

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

NOTE: Be sure to check out my new book – Autumn Dawn: A Glen Haven Tale.  Available in Paperback and on Kindle.

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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