Excalibur

eXaminations – Week of 1/10/18

It’s really hard to be an X-Men fan right now.  At least it is for me, and I’ve been through some pretty awful periods of the X-Men.  Two weeks ago, I said on Generation X was doing me in.  Then last week, Iceman threw me a pretty hard stinker.  This week – well, let’s just get to it.  We’re looking at:

  • Cable #153 in which one of the poorer 90’s stories gets dug up and made worse.
  • Phoenix Resurrection The Return of Jean Grey #3 in which the X-Men continue to wait for the series to end so they can get Jean Grey back to start X-Men Red.
  • X-Men Blue #19 in which some back peddling is done with the teenage X-Men.
  • X-Men Gold Annual #1 in which the old Excalibur team reunites for the return of a story that didn’t involve a single one of them.

I also picked up the latest issue of Archie, but I’m going to cover that book in a separate post.  It’s actually really good.

So SPOILER WARNING and all that.

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1992’s Where Are They Now?

I started my X-Men fandom back in 1991 when my brother picked up Uncanny X-Men #275 (featuring my all-time favorite cover), and then had me buying them just three issues later.  1991 was a big year for the X-Men franchise, as the three big titles – Uncanny, New Mutants and X-Factor all went through major changes.  With the release of the cartoon shortly after, the X-Men became an even bigger sensation for young fans, even for a line that had for some time been THE book of the comic scene.

A lot of my time in late-91 and most of 1992 hanging out a small local comic shop about three blocks away from my house hanging out with the local solicitor, a guy I only knew as Steve.  Steve had opened a comic and card shop along with a small art gallery in a building next to Louisville’s Clifton Pizza, which is why to this day I associate the smell of a sit-down pizzeria with comics.  Steve was an amazing contributor to my fledgling comic fandom, one of the three people that _ my love of comics (along with my older brother and my friend’s Aunt Jane – who was my comic mentor).

I spent many a dollar in Steve’s shop, and he gave me numerous deals that helped me build my collection of both comics and cards.  For the entire summer of 1992, I spent dollar after dollar on packs of the first-ever X-Men trading card set.  This 100-card set (not counting the bonuses) was drawn completely by Jim Lee, and reflected all of the X-Teams, even Excalibur.  This card set let me learn about all the X-Men characters, in a time when Al Gore had yet to develop the Internet.  Back then, you had to read the issues yourself or find some kind of resource to get your knowledge.  And this one was mine.

At a dollar a pack, I spent most of the summer of ’92 piecing together this set.  Steve was nice enough to buy back my doubles as I slowly but surely worked on the entire set.  In fact, two weeks was spent looking for two cards to finish the set – Shatterstar and Danger Room Gambit – until one fateful day I bought one pack that had BOTH cards in it.  I was one happy camper.

In fact, my biggest regret of the numerous lost pieces of my youthful comic collection is that I managed to lose this set somewhere along the line.  It was probably pitched or given away by my mom, but I can’t really blame her as it likely took place during my down period of comic fandom in the early 00’s.  I could actually buy the whole set now for not that much, but I can’t say I have the money for it right now.  (If any reader would like to…just saying, ha!)

But I occasionally go back and look through the set, via a site of scans at comiccovers.com, and reminisce about the fun I had collecting them.

But today when I did so it dawned on me that there are some characters that were highlighted back in this boom period of X-Men that have been lost into character limbo over the years.  After all, it’s been over 2 decades since this set came out.  So let’s look at some of the featured characters from this period that have been largely forgotten over time.

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Colossus and Kitty Pryde: the rocky road of love

Some couples simply can’t catch a break.  Wolverine has this habit of leading his significant others to their deaths.  Cyclops and Jean Grey ran into the pitfall of not only both of them seemingly dying, but also two clones of her whom he had proposed to dying as well. 

But few couples run into quite as many problems as do Piotr Rasputin and Kitty Pryde: the X-Men’s Colossus and Shadowcat.  For nearly the entire existence of both characters, they have been either trying to hook up or trying to pretend that they weren’t wanting to.  Everything from villain attacks to romantic rivals to even editorial mandates have done their best to keep the two apart, yet somehow they’ve managed to persevere. 

With the announcement that April will see begin the solo-writing stint of Kieron Gillen on Uncanny X-Men came the announcement that his first arc would star the two troubled lovers in their first real story together since Kitty returned from her Space Bullet just before Second Coming kicked off.  And with that ahead of us, let’s take a moment to look back at where the two have been and just what has stood in their way these last decades.

Get comfortable.  This might take a little while.

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