Sunday, February 24, 2008

ARTWORK: John CassadayCreated in the early sixties by comics legends Jack Kirby and Stan Lee; the X-Men faced cancellation early-on, but would soon be revived in what would eventually be one of the biggest come back stories in comics history. The seventies through to the eighties saw the rise of the brand with powerhouse influences like; Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont, and John Byrne.

Though the nineties would be responsible for cementing the franchise's strength through mainstream mass media exposure; the decade would also mark a substantial drop-off from the quality of the classic tales told by Claremont and Byrne - stories that remain highly regarded twenty years later.

If you've been following chronological C2C X-Men features [1, 2, 3] you'll have noticed that Infinite Wars coverage is heavily back ended. If any era has been grossly under represented, it's the periods of time that have defined what people still come to expect from the X-Men, and continue to regard as some of the geatest superhero stories ever told. I'm not sure that's something I can hope to change any time soon, but for all the negativity still surrounding the brand, maybe that strong pedigree is worth remembering...

Ultimate X-Men #49 (September 2004)
"The Tempest" Vaughan/Peterson

The X-Men explode onto the scene for a brand new era of ultimate action! Following on from the success of Ultimate Spider-man comes this bold new vision of the X-Men, retooled and revamped from a contemporary audience.

Xavier's school for gifted mutants is bulging with a rapid increase of mutants, seeing the special secret class of the X-Men increasing exponentially. Among the new recruits is the emotionally conflicted power-stealer called Rogue, whose past is a chequered one.

When the mansion is attacked by a psychopathic mutant killer, called Sinister, the incursion proves a welcome opportunity for the troubled mutant to vent
her frustrations as she faces a coming-of-age with her new classmates.

Wolverine #25 (April 2005)
"Enemy of the State" Millar/Romita Jr

After a trip to Japan turns out to be part of a complex ruse to lure Wolverine into a trap; the mutant finds himself killed and resurrected only to become the assassin-slave of Hydra, courtesy of the cult ninja sect, The Hand.

As part of Baron Von Strucker's final attempt to prove his worth as leader of the International terrorist organization, Wolverine is launched on an unsuspecting America as an agent of Hydra, fast making him an enemy of the state!

The conflict brings Wolverine home to the X-Mansion as he attempts to utilize the advanced technology of Cerebro to locate the US President, but instead
comes to blows with his friends, family, and vengeful agents of SHIELD.

Wolverine #37 (February 2006)
"Origins & Endings" Way/Saltares/Texeira

Wolverine's storied history is as mysterious as it is complex, but the many manipulations of Weapon X soon fade as the mutant comes to terms with revelations discovered about his past, and the clearing of a self-imposed fog that hid his history from himself.

On a journey for answers, Wolverine comes face-to-face with a successive collection of his long running greatest foes, marking Japan for a confrontation with Kenuichio Harada, defender of the Japanese Prime-Minister, and legendary warrior - the Silver Samurai!
Answers may prove evasive for the memory lapsed mutant, but the battle marks a bloody opportunity to close a chapter in his violent past.

X-Men: First Class #2 (December 2006)
"The Bird, the Beast and the Lizard" Parker/Cruz

Flashback to the earliest days of the X-Men as Professor Xavier leads his first class of merry mutants into a world that ignorantly fears and hates them for what they are!

Having already faced many villains, the Professor agrees to let the team take a vacation break opportunity at the Worthington holiday mansion, while he visits an old friend in Florida, Dr. Curt Conners.

The holiday's cut short for Beast and Angel when Curt Conners' condition as the Lizard resurfaces. The X-Men are thrown into feral battle, but against such a powerful foe, can they possibly prevail?

Wolverine #50 (March 2007)
"First Blood" Loeb/Bianchi

One of the X-Men's greatest foes has spent various periods as one of it's allies, but for Wolverine, the bad blood between he and Sabretooth has never been quelled by matching belt buckles. Itching for a rematch, the Canuck storms the mansion to call Sabretooth to a final battle!

Wolverine uses Sabretooth as a battering ram to smash their way to the school grounds, where the reformed villain reverts to old ways, welcoming the deadly challenge.

In what was touted by writer Jeph Loeb as the story to end the Wolverine/Sabretooth rivalry, witness what might just be their least impressive encounters!

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