The final days of the X-Men

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14th December 2012

The destruction and revamping of the team leading up to the Mutant Wars and Chris Claremont's departure from writing the series.

Following Uncanny X-Men #250 in 1989, the book headed in a new direction featuring "the destruction and revamping of the team," as phrased by writer Chris Claremont in Marvel Age #85. "As for this new team, we've already introduced one new member Jubilee. Other characters may be developed until they can be considered new people, and in some cases, new characters WILL be introduced."

The first character to get developed in a new direction was Lorna Dane (formerly Polaris). When her sister Zaladane stole her magnetic powers in Uncanny X-Men #250 in 1989, Lorna Dane mysteriously grew in size and developed extra physical strength and invulnerability instead. In Uncanny X-Men #254 from the same year, Dr. Moira MacTaggert reached the conclusion that Lorna was absorbing energy, but she never got around to perform further tests to determine what energy and from what source. In Marvel Age #85, it said: "No longer Polaris; (Lorna Dane) may soon take on a new super hero name to go along with her new powers."

Lorna Dane also seemed to have gained the power to catalyse negative emotions. In Uncanny X-Men #257 in 1990, she noticed that she brought forth the worst sides of the people around her, including Legion's. He had multiple personalities of which the worst was Jack Wayne. He killed Destiny in Uncanny X-Men #255 in 1989 and captured Lorna in #257, intending to take control of everyone on Muir Island through Legion's telepathic ability. However, in Uncanny X-Men #259 in 1990, the Shadow King possessed Legion and usurped Jack Wayne's plan.

In Uncanny X-Men #269 from 1990, it was revealed that the Shadow King was now in control of Legion and through him everyone else on Muir Island. Obviously, Lorna Dane's new powers came along before the Shadow King, but when Chris Claremont left the book, subsequent writer Fabian Nicieza attributed the powers to the Shadow King's influence, so that when Muir Island was freed from his influence in Uncanny X-Men #280 in 1991, Lorna lost her new powers and shrank to normal size.

In X-Factor #70 from 1991, written by Peter David, Lorna Dane was back to being Polaris, complete with magnetic powers and completely without explanation, ignoring Claremont's character development.

A brand new Psylocke

Another X-Man who was taken in a new direction was Psylocke. In Uncanny X-Men #255 from 1989, the Hand sent her to Spiral's Body Shoppe, where Mojo and Spiral transformed her body into that of an Asian woman, so she could better serve as The Hand's assassin in Hong Kong.

Although Psylocke had simply been through Spiral's Body Shoppe like Lady Deathstrike in Uncanny X-Men #205 in 1986, that didn't stop subsequent writer Fabian Nicieza from writing a complicated story in X-Men vol.2 #21-23 in 1993, where Psylocke had instead switched minds with an Asian woman, Kwannon (Revanche). In X-Men vol.2 #31-32 from 1994 he did add that Spiral had been involved with the body switching, though.

In Uncanny X-Men #254 from 1989, the precognitive Destiny had a vision wherein everything was made of the purest crystal. In Uncanny X-Men #255 from the same year, she told Forge that some future elements were obscured in her visions; while others could be perceived so clearly it was as though all eternity had been cast from cut crystal. The crystal in her vision must then have been but a metaphor for a crystal clear future, where the glory that existed in place of all stars and beings - and which finally enveloped her self was death. A small part of her wanted to deny and fight this destiny, but it was too late to save her self. Throughout the vision she had an hourglass on her forehead with time running out, predicting her own death in Uncanny X-Men #255.

It is possible that the vision was a warning of the danger posed by the Shadow King, because in Uncanny X-Men #279 from 1991 he planned to claim the stars, but Claremont left the series before the vision came true. Subsequent writers took the crystal in the vision literally and used it as inspiration for two connected crossovers between the X-Men line of books in 1995, "Legion Quest" and "The Age Of Apocalypse."

Cyborg madness

In Uncanny X-Men #260 from 1990, pilot Cylla Markham, a friend of Banshee's, was badly hurt and in Uncanny X-Men #261 that same year, she accepted an offer from Donald Pierce to become one of his cyborg Reavers. In Uncanny X-Men #269, also from 1990, he made her into his new Skullbuster, replacing the one who had died in Uncanny X-Men #255 in 1989. Claremont didn't get to introduce the finished result before leaving the series, but in Wolverine vol.2 #55-57 from 1992, writer Larry Hama introduced a cyborg created by Donald Pierce that went by the name Cylla. This cyborg bore no resemblance to the new Skullbuster and was killed off in Wolverine vol.2 #78 in 1994. Then, the original Skullbuster reappeared without explanation in the 1997 Domino mini-series written by Ben Raab.

When Claremont returned to Marvel, Cylla Markham finally debuted as the new Skullbuster in X-Treme X-Men Annual 2001, ignoring what had happened in between his stints as X-Men writer.

In Uncanny X-Men #262 in 1990, Donald Pierce sent his Reavers after his former Hellfire Club colleague Emma Frost, but they never caught up with her. Claremont was building up to a final confrontation between the Reavers and the X-Men, which never happened, because subsequent writer John Byrne had the Upstart Trevor Fitzroy's Sentinels kill off all the Reavers, except Lady Deathstrike and Cylla Markham, in Uncanny X-Men #281 in 1991. All of them were revived for the X-Treme X-Men 2001 annual, though.

"The Mutant Wars The First Salvo"

In New Mutants #75 from 1989, writer Louise Simonson dropped the first hint to the coming Mutant Wars crossover in the X-Men family of books. Hellfire Club members Sebastian Shaw and Magneto debated the future of mutantkind, with Shaw mentioning various mutant factions and Magneto predicting a war between those factions.

Four 1990 annuals (Fantastic Four Annual #23, New Mutants Annual #6, X-Factor Annual #5 and X-Men Annual #14) featured a "Days Of Future Present" crossover that set the stage for the "Mutant Wars" crossover that would appear in the regular titles that fall. "X-Factor will play a pivotal role in this fall's "Mutant Wars," as the first salvo is fired leading to "Days Of Future Past,"" Marvel Age Preview #1 advertised. "Mutant against mutant, faction against faction, each trying to be the strongest the survivors. As seen in "Days Of Future Past" (Uncanny X-Men #141-142 in 1981), the future is bleak. The lines have already been drawn, and the mutants in the Marvel Universe have formed their allegiances: The Hellfire Club, Apocalypse's forces, Sebastian Shaw's renegade faction of The Hellfire Club, the re-formed X-Men, X-Factor, The Marauders, The New Mutants (led by their mysterious new leader, Cable), Legion (controlled by Farouk (Shadow King), in turn controlling Moira MacTaggert)."

"The first salvo in the Mutant Wars will cross from X-Men to New Mutants to Excalibur to X-Factor for three months this fall. The action will run in a tight continuity from each issue to the next. Only the four mutant titles will be directly involved. The heroes will try to stop the other mutants from splitting into warring factions. But for most, survival is the issue, even if it means sacrificing fellow mutants."

"Before we reach "The Mutant Wars," we have to answer some key questions and resolve some major storylines. The new X-Men team will have to be established, and the world will have to learn that they are still alive. Once begun, "The Mutant Wars" will continue to affect the lives of every mutant in the Marvel Universe for years to come. It will be the most important event in the mutant milieu since the death of Phoenix."

"The issues: X-Men #267-269, New Mutants #95-97, Excalibur #28-30, X-Factor #60-62."

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A big mystery

"The X-Men will come back together to re-form the team just in time for the first salvo in the Mutant Wars," Marvel Age Preview #1 announced. "Dazzler, Forge and Banshee are searching for the others, trying to learn who survived the confrontation with (the Reavers in Uncanny X-Men #251, 1989). Their investigations take them beneath the ruins of the X-Mansion, where they face the vengeance of the Morlock called Masque. They are joined by Marvel Girl."

The Masque story took place in Uncanny X-Men #262-263 in 1990, but without Dazzler. Forge and Banshee learned that she was alive in Uncanny X-Men #260 that same year, but they never searched her out, and she was suffering from amnesia and didn't remember the X-Men.

"Wolverine, Jubilee and Psylocke also seek their surviving teammates," Marvel Age Preview #1 stated.

"(Wolverine) sort of cold-bloodedly took Jubilee along with him when he set out to find the other X-Men," Claremont told Comics Interview #98. "He knew they were alive. He had to find them and bring the team back together, one way or another. In the conception at the time - the storyline I was running - Wolverine was dying and he saw this as his farewell to arms. He was tying up all the loose ends of his life. He was restoring the balance, paying debts. His way of doing that was bringing the X-Men back together whether they wanted it or not."

"Storm is on the run, trying to escape the clutches of Farouk (Shadow King)," Marvel Age Preview #1 continued. "The evil telepath controls Legion, and through him Muir Island. There, he is creating a dark version of Xavier's school."

"Excalibur must liberate Muir Island from Legion in time to prepare for "The Mutant Wars.""

"Colossus is in New York's Soho, stripped of his memories. In a crossover with X-Factor, he investigates when Ship crashes near his new home."

Colossus did meet X-Factor in X-Factor #54 in 1990, but in a different story.

"The whereabouts of Havok and Rogue remain to be seen," Marvel Age Preview #1 stated. "As the heroes draw closer together, events taking place in this summer's "Days Of Future Present" (in X-Men Annual #14, 1990) make it obvious that the Mutant Wars are about to begin."

However, when Uncanny X-Men #267 finally appeared, there were no Mutant Wars! But selected Marvel comics cover dated May 1990 (like Sensational She-Hulk #15) featured a Bullpen Bulletins page announcing: "The start of the Mutant Wars in X-Men #271."

But Uncanny X-Men #271 featured a "The X-Tinction Agenda" crossover instead. What happened to "The Mutant Wars" is a big mystery.

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Magneto vs. Shadow King

In Uncanny X-Men #275 from 1991, Magneto recalled an untold confrontation between him and the Shadow King. He felt sick shame at the awful cost of his survival. The circumstances of the confrontation and the shameful cost of Magneto's survival were never revealed, and when a fan asked about it years later, in 2003, on the online Codially Chris forum, Claremont replied: "I hate to say this but my presumption is that anything dating from the previous millennium, and certainly my first tenure on "X-Men" (as opposed to my second, slightly 21st century tenure) is considered in-house to be ancient history and not worth relating to. Since the likelihood of seeing the Shadow King again is as small as seeing my own incarnation of Magneto, I don't see the point of revisiting old storylines, and thereby re-opening old wounds. Sorry."

In Uncanny X-Men #275, Magneto also implied that the Shadow King was part of the Hellfire Club. This revelation corresponded with Excalibur #22 from 1990, where the Shadow King was revealed as the true ruler of the Hellfire Club in the "Days Of Future Past" future of Rachel Summers. "Shadow King didn't found the Club," Claremont stated in his Cordially Chris forum, "he simply exploited it for his own purposes."

In Uncanny X-Men #279 from 1991, Shadow King was in need of a new host body and had several candidates in mind. Who Claremont had intended for him to possess until the final battle with Professor Xavier in Uncanny X-Men #300 in 1993 remains unknown. Claremont left the X-Men with Uncanny X-Men #279, right in the middle of the Muir Island Saga, which featured Shadow King. All of Claremont's story-elements were dropped between page 12 and 13 of that issue, and new writer, Fabian Nicieza, cut the Shadow King storyline short by having Professor X defeat him in the very next issue.

"My Muir Island story was much different from the one that appeared," Claremont stated in a 1994 Internet interview.

Why Claremont quit

"What happened was that the editor of the book and I had for a long period of time leading up to that point increasingly disagreed on the direction the book should go in how the book should be handled," Claremont told

"My feeling is that I was in a position where I was the defining force on X-Men for longer than any of the editorial staff had been in professionel comics, much less working for Marvel," Claremont explained in Wizard #22. "Yet a change in editor (to Bob Harras) created a situation where all of that credibility, history, and track record meant absolutely nothing. He was in charge. His decision was policy. My responsibility as an employee was to follow that policy or get the hell out of the way."

"The problem was that (artist) Jim (Lee) was just as strong-willed as I was," Claremont revealed in Comics Creators On X-Men. "Jim wanted to do stuff that reminded him of the things that made him get into comics in the first place. He wanted to bring back Magneto and do the Sentinels and all that sort of stuff. My problem was I'd already done those things at least twice. I wanted to try and find some new stuff to do. New stuff for the new millennium, you know! We couldn't find any sort of common ground that would allow us to compromise. Rob Liefeld had just forced Louise Simonson off New Mutants and that left a lot of frustration and negative resonance. Bob Harras was editing X-Men in those days and he was a lot more simpatico to Jim than he was to me. () Bob and Jim wanted to do what they wanted to do and the feeling was I could not or would not go along, and they were going to do it anyway."

"The editor (Bob Harras) at that point made the decision that I should no longer plot the book," Claremont told "And when he made that decision I made my decision, which was that I wasn't going to stay on it if I wasn't plotting it and left. The transition occurred on page 12 of Uncanny X-Men #279 (in 1991). That's the last page I wrote."

"The circumstances of my departure were such that there was no opportunity to tie up those loose ends," Claremont said in Comics Focus #1, regarding all the unresolved subplots. "There was no practical way of doing it."

"Wish I'd done differently?" Claremont asked himself 18 years later on "Gotten along better with Jim (Lee) and Bob (Harras) back in the day. Who knows what might have happened to sales back then had we stuck together?"

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The editor's point-of-view

"When Jim (Lee) came aboard, he had a lot of ideas about what he wanted to do with the book and where he wanted to take the characters, and I liked those ideas," editor Bob Harras admitted in Comics Creators On X-Men. "They were more in keeping with what I thought the book should be. With X-Men, there are some things you can't get away from for too long: The school dynamics, Xavier, the fact that they're essentially students learning how to use their powers and trying to teach other mutants to use their powers that sort of thing."

"But the book was becoming more like Avengers. The X-Men now had aliens and magically-powered characters on the team. I felt like we had to go back to what X-Men was all about, and to me X-Men was Xavier and Scott and Jean and all the other classic characters. But Chris didn't want to do that kind of stuff any more. He felt that he had done it already. My point was, "Sure, but THAT's the X-Men!" It was getting so we were speaking the same language, but we couldn't understand each other."

"The other thing was, as the books were coming out during all this tension, they were getting better and better. There was more excitement in them. So I thought, "Okay, if we can get through this, Chris will see that we're having a great ride here." Not that it was pleasant, but the tension was being transformed into really dynamic comics that people were reacting to. I thought, "If we can just ride this out a little longer, everything's going to settle down." But that didn't happen."

"I had read Chris' X-books for years, so his leaving was huge. I really wanted to work it out. I wanted Chris and Jim to be a team. When Chris opted out, there was this definite feeling of, "Holy shit!" But another part was, "Okay, we can still do this." Because I DID believe in the characters, the concept, and that we could keep going."

That year, in 1991, Fabian Nicieza wrote the "Kings Of Pain" crossover in New Mutants Annual #7, New Warriors Annual #1, Uncanny X-Men Annual #15 and X-Factor Annual #6 featuring the new villain Harness (Erika Benson) and her son Piecemeal (Gilbert). Harness was working for the A.I.M. organization and it was revealed that she also had a seven years old daughter who was in the care of A.I.M. However, Harness never appeared again, and her daughter never appeared anywhere at all.

Marvel Age #85, February 1990
Marvel Age Preview #1, 1990
Patrick Daniel O'Neill: Chris Claremont, Comics Interview #98, 1991
Patrick Daniel O'Neill: Claremont Returns With The Write Stuff, Wizard #22, June 1993
?: Chris Claremont, Internet interview, 1994
Tue Srensen and Ulrik Kristiansen: Chris Claremont Interview,, 1995
Comics Focus #1, June 1996
Cordially Chris,, 16 June 2003
Tom DeFalco: Comic Creaters On X-Men, April 2006
Jordan Lurie: Creating Claremont,, 3 June 2009