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The Tragic Loss of Magneto's First Daughter Occurred...in a Back-Up?

This is "Turns Back the Page," which is a look at interesting back-up stories from comic books. If you have suggestions for back-ups that you'd like to see me write about, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

1986 was "only" 32 years ago and yet, in many ways, it feels like it was a million years ago, at least within the context of our current understanding of the world of comic books.

By 1986, the X-Men were by far the most popular comic book series in the entire comic book industry. However, such status was still a fairly recent distinction. It had only been three years since Uncanny X-Men became the most popular Marvel Comics title and it is up for debate when it took the title for all of comics. New Teen Titans definitely out-sold Uncanny X-Men in the early years of the 1980s and I don't know precisely when that changed. Certainly by 1986, but not by such a great change that it was like X-Men was the top book for many years. Because of that, that means that while the Byrne/Claremont/Austin years certainly saw a notable rise in sales for the X-Men, it was more towards the latter half of their iconic run that sales really started to go up. That sales trajectory continued through Dave Cockrum's return to the title and then it finally hit #1 when Paul Smith took over the book (RIGHT AWAY, so obviously it wasn't like "Oh man, this is Paul Smith's first issue, let's make this the #1 selling book at Marvel!) and Smith kept the book there and the other artists that followed followed suit.

This is important because it means that many of the important issues in the history of the X-Men were not read by a whole lot of people at first. So the early 1980s saw a big rush in back issue sales of the earlier X-Men stories, especially the Byrne/Claremont stuff and the very earliest stuff. So we hit the first part of my "How different things were" bit. Nowadays, you would just read a trade paperback collection of those issues (or buy the back issues, of course). Then, that wasn't really an option. So while reprint comic book series were not quite as popular after back issues became big in the late 1970s/early 1980s (as specialty comic book shops popped up all over the place), there was still a market then that doesn't really exist anymore. So Marvel decided to do a new series called Classic X-Men that would reprint the stories featuring the all-new, all-different X-Men.

The covers for the series were by the amazing Arthur Adams, who really did a marvelous job on the book...

Classic X-Men also came with back-up stories in every issue. Let me pose a question to you - why would there HAVE to be back-up stories in a given issue of Classic X-Men? Think about it for a second and you'll get the answer on the next page if you didn't already figure it out...

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