Thursday, June 9, 2011

X-Men First Class to Last Issue...



Despite the fact that you can go to a comic book store right now and buy a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #663 and Fantastic Four #588, and that the book was once canceled back in the 1970's, Uncanny X-Men is Marvel Comic's longest running title...at least, it will be up until October.

Marvel announced this morning that Uncanny X-Men will end at issue #544 to be published in October. While 544 issues is less than 633 (or 588) issues, both Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four have both ended their initial runs only to restart publication with new issue #1's only to see their original numbering restart at a later date. Technically, the Fantastic Four title (that ended publication with issue #588) was Fantastic Four volume 3. And while Uncanny X-Men was canceled in the 1970's, it never ceased publication. The last new and original story the title saw back then was in issue #66, and from issues 67-93 the title featured reprints of earlier stories. Regardless, in some form or another, the comic that launched in September of 1963 made its way on to shelves regularly for the past 48 years. More so, with Uncanny X-men being the only Marvel comic that has continued since the Silver Age, and DC Comics ending all of their books in August that technically makes Uncanny X-men the longest running super-hero book on the market for two months.

There's no mention in Marvel's press release about a new Uncanny X-men #1 for November...nor is there any word on what will happen to X-Men Legacy or X-men, ancillary titles that were launched in 1991 and 2010 respectively. It's hard to believe that Marvel would just walk away from the X-Men, once their best selling and most popular franchise, but regardless, the ending of this book is still newsworthy.

The X-men have kind of seen themselves written into a corner over the last 10 years. Fans of the movies can sum up the premise of the book as "Mutants struggling to find acceptance in a world that fears them while fighting against evil mutants looking for dominance." And up until the late 2000's that would have accurately described the comics as well. But when Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada decided that there were too many Mutants in the Marvel Universe he put into place a story called "House of M" where the daughter of Magneto, the Scarlet Witch, reduced the mutant population to around 200. After that story, Cyclops found himself the de facto leader of the Mutant population when he did what X-men founder Charles Xavier and his opposing number Magneto could not: uniting the Mutant population in a nation-state of Utopia (a floating asteroid off the coast of San Francisco). For the last few years, Uncanny X-men has become a book full of a rotating cast of Mutants who, depending on how you look at it, got what they've wanted since 1963.

The ending in October will come after a storyline called "Schism". While the details on this story have been kept under wrap, one thing is known: the story will focus on a difference of opinion between Cyclops and long-time X-Man Wolverine (you all know who that is, right?). Described as "The X-Men's Civil War", the story will end with a divide that will split the X-men and more than likely the united Mutant population. Conceivably, this will put the Marvel Universe with two fractions of X-men: Cyclops team, and Wolverine's team.

Under Marvel's current publishing scheme, there are three X-Men books: X-Men Legacy (the 1991 title) that has its own team and adventures (based out of Utopia), X-Men (the 2009 title) that has a rotating team of mutants (also based off of Utopia), and Uncanny X-Men which is centered on Utopia and is kind of like the big family book of 200 Mutants. So when you look at it like that, it almost makes sense that Uncanny X-Men will end after the "Schism" storyline.

Like I said, I harbor no illusion that the X-Men are going away after October (after all, not only are there three books with X-men in the title, there are a whole crap load of other books associated with the X-men published by Marvel as well), but the idea that Uncanny X-Men, Marvel's longest running title is ending is bittersweet nonetheless.

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