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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Supervillainy - the X-Men stories that we lost

Though there was a large hiatus in my reading (creating a gap that I've since pretty much filled by researching back issues), I've been following the X-Men narrative since I was very young, in fact almost from the beginning. I was a little kid when I read a second-hand copy of  the original X-Men #4, which caught my imagination (and I soon caught up with most of the other issues that had already been published). Admittedly with gaps, I've followed the ongoing narrative ever since.

So I was around reading the last months of Chris Claremont's original X-Men run, and I'd been following Claremont's work through most of his run, which I enjoyed at the time.

Some events in the later part of this period don't make much sense because they were never followed up after Claremont left. Crucial plot threads were left hanging or, much the same thing, cut brutally short.

Thus, we never did see the story arcs that Claremont had in mind, and was foreshadowing, toward the end of his run, particularly a fragmented war of mutant against mutant that would have involved the Shadow King somehow controlling the Hellfire Club. It was revealed that Magneto had already fought some kind of epic battle against the Shadow King and had had to do something he considered shameful to prevail, or least survive the encounter... but we've never learned what happened.

At the end of Uncanny X-Men #275, Magneto executes the "foul creature" Zaladane, abandons Rogue, with whom he's developed the beginnings of a romantic relationship, and resolves that he'll no longer try to be a "kinder, gentler" version of himself - but he'll be taking on the Shadow King and the Hellfire Club, among other major threats to mutantkind, including perhaps the UN itself.

None of this happened in the way foreshadowed. Instead, Magneto was (apparently) killed off at the very end of Claremont's run, only a few months later. When he returned (as major villains always manage to do), he did, indeed, eventually have run-ins with the UN, but he was much more like his old villainous self, rather than the wild card or anti-hero that he'd become by the end of the much-celebrated Savage Land story.

I wish those Claremont stories had happened. The narrative was building to something that could have been exciting, and the creators involved were at the peak of their powers. Well, here is an account of what it was all about that gives us an idea of what was intended... and what X-Men fans twenty years ago missed out on, thanks to the rift between Chris Claremont and Bob Harras/Jim Lee.

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