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The X-Men Captions Are Really Mean to the X-Men!

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
The X-Men Captions Are Really Mean to the X-Men!

In every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

This time around, it’s a bit different than usual, in that I’m going to spotlight two different early issues of X-Men by Chris Claremont, but just two very specific bits in the two issues.

X-Men #96 is a very special issue because it was the first issue of the X-Men plotted by Chris Claremont after Len Wein gave up the series due to his Editor-in-Chief gig taking up more and more of his time (he eventually would give up being Editor-in-Chief for that very reason). Claremont had written the previous two issues based on Wein’s plots. Even this first solo issue apparently had some plotting help by Bill Mantlo.

Anyhow, at the end of the previous issue, Thunderbird of the X-Men was tragically killed. Cyclops, as the leader of the team, was taking the news particularly hard. It does not help, then, when the captions start to goad him!

Did he just respond to the captions?!? How crazy is that! It would be one thing if the captions were clearly just Cyclops’ inner thoughts, like how Jeph Loeb often uses captions (especially in Superman/Batman), but this was clearly NOT the case, as the captions continued the narration after leaving Cyclops. So the captions kind of goaded Cyclops into anger and then he…responded to them? That’s hilariously weird.

I mean, I certainly get the idea that this ramps up the tension and all of that, but it’s a weird approach and obviously one that Claremont mostly dropped after this issue (I wonder how much influence Mantlo had on that aspect of the story).

While it was MOSTLY dropped after this issue, there was still a funny bit in X-Men #101 where the captions once again talk directly to the characters, and this time it was kind of outright mean. During the classic Sentinels storyline from X-Men #98-100, Wolverine and Jean Grey had some cool moments together, like when he called her “Red” and when he tore her dress so that she could move and fight without tripping up on her outfit. So you could tell that Claremont wanted to explore the idea more (he ended up doing so many years later, with some retcons that Jean Grey reciprocated the feelings that Wolverine had for her) and in X-Men #101, when Jean Grey is recuperating after turning into Phoenix, Wolverine goes to visit her and bring her flowers but is shocked to see that everyone else is already visiting her. The captions note that of course he’s surprised, as he’s never had friends before…

Harsh, captions, harsh!!

I believe that about does it for the captions being mean to the characters, but I could be missing some. So please feel free to write in the comments section if you can think of some other instances of the captions being mean to the X-Men characters. I’ll try to add them in later!

Also, feel free to send in suggestions for other bizarre but cool comic book stories for future editions of I Love Ya But You’re Strange! E-mail ideas to me at brianc@cbr.com!

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