This Was Then: Jim Lee and Chris Claremont’s X-Men

It is impossible to deny the impact that Jim Lee and Chris Claremont had on the X-Men universe. The first story arc of this new series redefined the X-Men, as seen by the public eye. The characters designed by Lee and brought to life by Claremont’s writing were shoved to the forefront of pop culture. All of the X-Men cartoons, action figures, and video games of the time were based on these specific characters. The first action figure I ever got as a child was Cyclops (Toy Biz 1991). However, when the X-Men animated series came out, I was disappointed that my Cyclops figure did not match the one on T.V. I quickly got over it, but never quite loved my Cyclops figure as much as I did before the cartoon came out. Luckily, years later I was able to get the newer Cyclops, (Toy Biz 1993) that looked like the one from the cartoon. And all was right with the world.

All of this to say, Lee and Claremont’s run on X-Men deeply affected my view of the X-Men. What they accomplished gave the X-Men more attention than ever before in pop culture, so I took it upon myself to take a closer look at this 3-issue story arc that started a snowball, which propelled the X-Men into the spotlight.

In all honesty, the characterization of the X-Men themselves is terribly lackluster. There are eleven X-Men floating around, so each of them only gets one line of dialogue per issue, if they are lucky. The real star of this story is Magneto. His vision for the future and fuel for his anger are depicted very well. The artwork is top notch for 1991, primarily the covers. X-Men #1 is arguably the greatest comic book cover of all time. It is no wonder why this run on the series created a craze that spilled over into other forms of media.

My only complaint on Lee and Claremont’s run is that there are too many X-Men all fighting for center stage. Cyclops, Rogue, and Wolverine stand out, but the rest of the team is all but ignored, aside from an occasional line of dialogue. All things considered, I give X-Men #1-3 a pat on the back. Not only does the story and artwork stand up 19 years after its original release, but also it helped catch the attention of millions of people, making them take notice of the X-Men.