For those of you just tuning in, the first installment of The Secret Origin of Lincoln Crisler covered the first two of four X-Men comic book issues given me by my older brother for Christmas when I was twelve. I’ve recently re-read those issues for the first time as an adult—and, since my twelve year-old self had no money whatsoever to spend on comic books, for the first time ever in the context of the several years’ worth of story that preceded them. The other two issues I received that year were:
X-Force 30, featuring the second-ever appearance of Adam X, the X-Treme. X-Treme was a Shi’ar/Human hybrid who appeared to be in his late teens/early twenties. His first appearance was in the prior year’s X-Force annual, which I finally got to read a few years down the road. One issue was all I needed to completely invest in this character. He was a badass looking blade fighter, could go toe-to-toe with Shatterstar and had an awesome power: if his foe had an open wound, he could ignite the electrolytes in their blood and incapacitate them.
A year or so later, I traded for another single comic issue, X-Men 39, which also featured him, and that—a story of X-Treme and Phillip Summers (Cyclops’ grandfather), of all people—is another of my all-time favorite X-Men comics. The next time I saw him in a comic, it was at least ten years later, in a cameo appearance written by a guy who had no sense of the character and portrayed him as a whiny, Earth-normal mutant bitch for a couple of panels in a book I don’t even remember all that well. He was supposed to be the third Summers brother (born of Emperor D’Ken and Cyclops’ mom), but that never came to fruition and we got Vulcan instead. Meh.
Side note: this comic also featured, along with the first Deadpool limited and the New Warriors/X-Force crossover, the subplot involving Black Tom’s conversion to a wood-based tree looking creature. I’d never gotten to read this entire subplot, though, as a huge fan of Generation X (issue 25 of which featured Tom) I was excited as hell to read the set-up for those issues in their entirety (Tom was adapted by some doctors after being shot up by Cable in the early X-Force/Spider-man crossover from ’91 or ’92).
X-Factor 99, the issue before the Death of Multiple Man, featuring an awesome villainess named Haven who was introduced in issue 96 and wasn’t seen again after issue 100 except for a two-issue or so subplot several years later setting up a battle between Forge and the Adversary. Waste of a great character, if you ask me. She was from India (a cultural rarity in comics), had a striking character design and a great back story written by Peter David (whom I’ve asked in a recent letter to consider bringing the character back) and had an immense impact on X-Factor. She was responsible for curing Wolfsbane of the engineered attachment to Havok she’d had since her time in Genosha back in ’90 or ’91, and attempted to cure Madrox of the Legacy Virus. As with X-Men 28, the book had an exciting cover and featured another of my favorite characters, the mercenary Random.
I think what I miss most about the comics of this era, besides the storylines and the art, was how interwoven the various comics and their characters were. The entire X-franchise was tight and polished. Characters had lengthy, consistent storylines and arcs. The X-Men were put through the ringer during that period—the battles against Stryfe and Magneto, Wolverine losing the adamantium, Colossus joining the Acolytes, the deaths of Illyana and Madrox—and you actually gave a shit. Nowadays, I’m reading the new X-Factor book (written by David again—imagine that!) and not much else, except for when I pick up an issue of one of the other books for nostalgia’s sake.
Next week, we’ll shift gears for a couple of installments and begin discussing a few of my favorite science fiction and fantasy novel series’ from my childhood. Fans of Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffery and Piers Anthony will want to stay tuned, for sure.