Welcome to the five hundred and forty-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, did we nearly get a Chris Claremont/Scott Lobdell split of the X-Men books during the 1990s? Was Elektra inspired by a Bond Girl? And did an action figure spoil the ending of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm before the film was released?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Scott Lobdell and Chris Claremont nearly split the two X-Men titles between them in the late 1990s.
This week, G. Kendall begins a new feature on the blog examining Wizard: The Guide to Comics. For years, Kendall wrote the blog Not Blog X, an examination of X-Men titles during the 1990s. In honor of Not Blog X and the new series he’s doing here, I’ll spotlight an X-Men legend from the 1990s, an event that could have changed the course of X-Men history dramatically.
Beginning roughly with the 1992 X-Cutioner’s Song crossover, Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell became the regular writers on the two main X-Men titles, X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, respectively.
That was the set-up for the next few years, with Nicieza and Lobdell even seemingly divvying up the tie-in books, with Nicieza writing X-Force and Lobdell launching Generation X.
In 1995, however, Nicieza was let go from X-Force and X-Men by Marvel Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras (I don’t recall if Harras had yet become the full Editor-in-Chief of Marvel, or if it occurred during the period where Marvel tried co-Editors-in-Chief, with Harras being in charge of the X-Men line of comics), presumably over some sort of conflict over his plans for the book but what exactly is still unclear (Nicieza later recalled, “I never wanted to leave that title, and never felt my firing was justified. … I don’t recall being given a reason, and I also don’t recall asking for one. … Considering it was a Top 10 selling title at the time, I felt it was a wholly unjustified decision”). Whatever the reason, the end result was that suddenly one-half of the X-Men ongoing writing staff was gone.
While remaining on Uncanny X-Men, Lobdell was allowed to then plot the other X-Men title (after an attempt by Marvel to have Mark Waid and Scott Lobdell work together failed miserably), and that was the set-up basically through 1996 and most of 1997, with Mark Waid (after Waid was replaced as the regular writer), Ralph Macchio and Ben Raab working as scripters over Lobdell’s plots for the Onslaught crossover and the Zero Tolerance crossover (Lobdell would plot and script Uncanny).
However, heading into 1998, Marvel had an interesting plan for 1998. They were going to bring Chris Claremont back and give him one of the books (presumably X-Men)!
Claremont told Tom DeFalco in DeFalco’s seminal X-Men interview book, Comic Creators on X-Men (DeFalco’s “Comic Creators on…” series is perhaps the greatest comic book history interview book series ever) about the plan:
Scott Lobdell would write the other. Bob figured that would be the best of both worlds. Scott had a certain following and so did I. We could maybe play to our different strengths.
However, things fell apart when Lobdell abruptly quit the X-Men titles in late 1997.
Claremont recalled that before he could sign on to write the book, he had to work out some contract points (involving royalties owed to him) and by the time he was ready, Lobdell had already quit and Bob Harras suddenly needed to replace TWO books, and instead of waiting for Claremont, he hired Joe Kelly and Steve Seagle to come in together to split the two books up.
Claremont, instead, followed up another book Lobdell had dropped, the Heroes Reborn Fantastic Four…
He also became Marvel’s Editorial Director.
After Kelly and Seagle left, Alan Davis took over temporarily (with Claremont secretly chipping in at times) before Claremont took over both books in 2000 for a short-lived stint as the main X-Men writer…
It’s fascinating to think of what might have happened had the two actually managed to work together on the two X-titles.
Thanks to Tom DeFalco and Chris Claremont for the information!
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