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#1 Posted by benjaminkicks (4 posts) - - Show Bio

Popular consensus in the X-fandom seems to be that at some point in the 1990's, the quality of the line and its writing dropped off significantly. What is less agreed upon however, is when exactly that drop off in quality took place.

From what I've seen the most popular answers are:

  • When Claremont leaves
  • When the Image guys leave
  • After the Age of Apocalypse
  • Onslaught
  • After Lobdell leaves/the start of Seagle's run

Maybe you agree with one of these takes, or you have your own specific pinpoint for when the books got back. Maybe you have an especially hot take, like the drop off in quality is overstated and you enjoyed all of the 90's, or the line got bad even before the 90's started.

Whatever your answer is, I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on the matter. Bonus points if you also identify a point when the line got back to being good, either in the 90's or after.

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#2 Posted by Koays (11487 posts) - - Show Bio

Hmm.

Thing is, all of these are points where there was a general dip in quality that eventually leveled out before dipping again. And as a whole they contribute to a overall lack of quality when you look at the entire era in retrospect or in comparison to other periods before and after the 90s

Will discuss more later

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#3 Posted by benjaminkicks (4 posts) - - Show Bio

I've been thinking about this because I'm currently in a readthrough of the line (at the end of '95 right now) and I've seen a lot of talk about a drop off in quality but I haven't really experienced that for myself yet. Maybe it's just a case of me having lowered expectations reading this stuff so long after the fact for the first time (I was born in the 90's, so I was too young to catch this era when it was happening) but I'm still really enjoying most of the books for the most part.

So far I think the biggest dip in quality was during the time right after Claremont leaves and the Image guys are doing the plotting, but once they're gone and Lobdell/Nicieza fully take over as the writers, I think the line in general is really strong up to where I'm at now. Obviously can't speak to Onslaught or the stuff after Lobdell because I'm not there yet.

I can definitely buy that it's really a case of the decade being overall weaker than the decades before and after it, but that's not really how I've interpreted the "90's get bad" takes I've heard. I've talked to a lot of people who specifically say that they dropped off reading the line at a certain point, usually one of the places I highlighted in my initial post.

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#4 Posted by THUNDERBOLT30 (12613 posts) - - Show Bio

When Claremont left.

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#5 Posted by Helloman (30115 posts) - - Show Bio

They didn't.

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#6 Posted by butterflykyss (5929 posts) - - Show Bio

when Claremont left is the correct answer.

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#7 Posted by AsheTDust (1875 posts) - - Show Bio

The X-titles started dropping in quality when Bob Harris became the editor. He was directly responsible for the firing of Claremont and promoting Scott Londell and Fabian Nicieza to the main writing positions. You remember them and their widely praised and thought provoking storylines, right? No one else does either.

Bob was put in that position to increase sales and profit. Which he did. Mainly by events, special covers, having popular characters appear in multiple titles at once to over saturate the market and cutting costs wherever he could. Like getting rid of a certain expensive writer who had been building the X universe for almost two decades.

Bob did a great job. So well in fact that he was promoted to editor in chief for all of Marvel from the X titles job, where he continued to practice sales gimmicks for a quick buck to increase profit margins.

And then the company collapsed.

Some of the reasons Marvel nearly folded are because of those very same sales gimmicks he used so successfully to work his way up the ladder. Short term gain at the expense of quality story telling. Marvel never really has recovered from that crash, if fact they still use use some of his tricks even today.

Look at the way comics were made before he became the editor and then afterwards. It’s pretty easy to see once you’re looking for it.

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#8 Posted by cattlebattle (17731 posts) - - Show Bio

The X-titles started dropping in quality when Bob Harris became the editor. He was directly responsible for the firing of Claremont and promoting Scott Londell and Fabian Nicieza to the main writing positions. You remember them and their widely praised and thought provoking storylines, right? No one else does either.

Bob was put in that position to increase sales and profit. Which he did. Mainly by events, special covers, having popular characters appear in multiple titles at once to over saturate the market and cutting costs wherever he could. Like getting rid of a certain expensive writer who had been building the X universe for almost two decades.

Bob did a great job. So well in fact that he was promoted to editor in chief for all of Marvel from the X titles job, where he continued to practice sales gimmicks for a quick buck to increase profit margins.

And then the company collapsed.

Some of the reasons Marvel nearly folded are because of those very same sales gimmicks he used so successfully to work his way up the ladder. Short term gain at the expense of quality story telling. Marvel never really has recovered from that crash, if fact they still use use some of his tricks even today.

Look at the way comics were made before he became the editor and then afterwards. It’s pretty easy to see once you’re looking for it.

I agree with this and everything, but, I feel like you sell Lobdell and Nicieza a bit short.

I think they were terrible writers, but, there is no denying that their contributions to the X-men are just as indelible as Claremont's....and in a shorter amount of time. The story lines they wrote like Age of Apocalypse are also just as well known and probably more popular than Claremon'ts sans Dark Phoenix and DoFP as unfortunate as that is. And a lot of their stories would probably be more appealing to non X-Men fans than Claremont's, just sayin, your average 13-17 year old, which would be you average comic book demographic, would likely display more interest in something like Fatal Attractions than they would the first Legion story from New Mutants or would more likely want to read Generation X than they would show interest in reading soap operatic love story like Lifedeath.

Claremont leaving when he did probably wasn't such a bad thing honestly. You can read interviews with him from the early 90s where he freshly left the book and claims that he wanted to make the X-Men more global and "interdimensional" which is what he wound up doing when he returned to Uncanny in 2000 with Tullamore Vogue and that crap. Another example was making Kitty the leader of interdimensional pirates, because being a genius, computer hacker, ninja and future president of the US isn't enough for some characters I guess.

Anyways, it likely wouldn't have mattered if Harras had been editor or not considering the comic book boom the X-men were at the forefront of and the popularity they had with the cartoon. The success would have forced the comic to be more like the animated show with focus on those characters...which it did, and Claremont wouldn't have been down for that and probably would left regardless. What I am trying to say here I guess is that Claremont's writing style and themes likely wouldn't have likely survived the changing, 90s style of comics.

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#9 Edited by LordOfAllHumans (6973 posts) - - Show Bio

The 90s were awesome. The quality dropped after New X-Men in 2000s. Too many shitty crossovers and weird ass kids with stupid powers getting the spotlight, because hipsters suck and their idea of shaking things up equaling writing unrecognizable crap about established characters and trying to make Pixie and Armour a thing.

Rant over.

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#10 Posted by DaSalvadore (377 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm going to mix-metaphor here but I think it's more that the '90s was very much the perfect storm that planted the seeds of horrible writing that has plagued Marvel and the X-world specifically.

Claremont had a blend of being able to write stories for the now while also working on the long-term. Whether you like CC's work or not, his method of storytelling is the gold mine for both the comics and the TV industry. Him leaving was a major part of what happened next.

Problem 1 - Either no one knew what his eventual plans were or they were ignored, This means plot threads were left abandoned or totally shifted up (the Twelve, leaving Jean dead, making Sara Grey a living Cerebro/modern day hound).

Problem 2 - The writing method got changed up so it was all about the now. Who cares about future storylines when we need more right now so write, write, write! This only works when you have people who can write good stories and when you don't run out of short arc creativity.

Let me expand on this one a little more. Take a look at the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix Sagas. Practically everyone thinks that one follows immediately off the other. They don't. Phoenix Saga happens in XM101-108 while there's then 20 issues before the start of Dark Phoenix (XM129). That's four years between Jean becoming the Phoenix and her losing her mind! (76-80). The end of Fall of the Mutants and start of Inferno are split by 10 issues and two years. And these issues aren't filled with junk, they still have character development, fun stories, breadcrumbs being laid down and more.

Between the 2007 (Endangered Species) and 2009 (Necrosha), we have effectively 8 mutant focused events (with 12 events total in that same timeframe) spreading across 161 issues. This insanely paced schedule has its direct roots in the 90s drive of short-term gains, pushing specific characters everywhere, and lack of long-term vision for the company that still echoes within Marvel today.

Problem 3 - Originality. Rehashing characters and major retcons rather than new material. The mutant side of Marvel has a huge collection of characters who could be turned into something special only for someone to decide they're going to go back to the tried and true older lot even as new characters are still being developed. The creative flow of the team is constantly being split between freshening things up and keeping the old guard around.

Let's take Cable as an example. Rather than bring back Stryfe or another bad guy he's battled countless times, the easy answer would be to have a powerful mutant who got tragically caught in Nathan's time-war with Apocalypse. Someone brand new who could have been a hero if not for Cable's obsession.

I mean, for crying out loud...they've damn well brought back the RED SKULL!

And these problems do stem from the 90s. The 90s saw a lot of "we need to shake things up because something isn't working" only for "that doesn't work, go back to what we know" course correction.

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#11 Edited by Invain (5148 posts) - - Show Bio

For the most part, I enjoyed 90s X-Men up until AoA. Lobdell and Nicieza were indeed a step down from Claremont, but they were also the last X-Men writers to write the X-Men as Claremont's characters. It seems like most writers after them try too hard to make the characters their own. The books really went bad when they left in the mid 90s and other writers started to take over. It got to the point to where most of Claremont's X-Men became unrecognizable by the 2000's. But that's a trend that effected comics as a whole during modern times, and is not exclusive to the X-Men.

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#12 Edited by DiarrheaRegatta (5254 posts) - - Show Bio

Everyone really tried to live up to what Claremont did in my opinion, and that's the wrong way to go.

Didn't help that most Marvel 90's titles were horrifically reduced in quality (Spider-Man, Hulk, etc) due to Marvel seeking quantity over quality and bad writers who overestimated what they could get away with and how good they really were.

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#13 Posted by Rockette (5939 posts) - - Show Bio

It didn't. Early 2000's are to blame. 1990's was a fun and exciting time for comics!

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#14 Posted by phisigmatau (1983 posts) - - Show Bio

The X-titles started dropping in quality when Bob Harris became the editor. He was directly responsible for the firing of Claremont and promoting Scott Londell and Fabian Nicieza to the main writing positions. You remember them and their widely praised and thought provoking storylines, right? No one else does either.

Bob was put in that position to increase sales and profit. Which he did. Mainly by events, special covers, having popular characters appear in multiple titles at once to over saturate the market and cutting costs wherever he could. Like getting rid of a certain expensive writer who had been building the X universe for almost two decades.

Bob did a great job. So well in fact that he was promoted to editor in chief for all of Marvel from the X titles job, where he continued to practice sales gimmicks for a quick buck to increase profit margins.

And then the company collapsed.

Some of the reasons Marvel nearly folded are because of those very same sales gimmicks he used so successfully to work his way up the ladder. Short term gain at the expense of quality story telling. Marvel never really has recovered from that crash, if fact they still use use some of his tricks even today.

Look at the way comics were made before he became the editor and then afterwards. It’s pretty easy to see once you’re looking for it.

I agree with this fully. However there is something that comic book fans usually don't admit: they're a huge part of the problem. Knowing the "collector" obsession with many comic book fans, the companies actually play off of that. Whether it is just collecting every "uncanny x-men' (no matter the quality), collecting every (insert fave character here) appearance, #1 issue relaunch, crossover events, etc... what ends up happening is the companies just follow the $$.. Until comic book fans get out of these, honestly, really dumb collector habits- companies will continue to do this quick cash grabs.

Also, The A listers have been around for 50-100 years now. Theres only so many story lines you can come up with before you do one of the 2, make the character go out of character or just recycyle the same arc with different nuances.

We can't have it both ways. Comic book fans have to be willing to embrace new characters or not complain when their current favorite character is getting poorly written out of character

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#15 Edited by Combo-Man (249 posts) - - Show Bio

Around October/November 1995 following the fall of Avalon story from X-Men #42 - Heaven Can Wait to X-Men #44 - Lost and Found

After Magneto's Avalon space station was destroyed in X-Men #43 - Falling From Grace; Magneto and Colossus go missing for a while(Magneto for a long while) so the Acolytes are pretty much done. it was a big deal, basically the conclusion to years of stories involving Magneto, Colossus and the Acolytes.

so imo this was the last story that felt classic and high quality.

and there were some other indicators that X-Men was going downhill or changing even prior to AoA.

such as Jubilee leaving the team in late 1994 which was an important moment in 90s X-Men and a huge indicator that the book was going through a major change. and Sabretooth being "killed off" in Sabretooth Special #1 - In The Red Zone is another example.

That said, the art in X-Men vol 2 stayed great right up until Andy Kubert left in late 1996. but there was a lot of other stuff in 96 that made it lower quality such as Wolverine being feral and wearing a red do-rag. plus Warren ditching his classic blue and pink costume. plus I didn't like Joseph or Cannonball as X-Men.

also Onslaught, while it wasn't as bad as people say, it wasn't that great either.

1997 and most of 98 were pretty bad really. but I think in late 1998 when Scott and Jean leave the team; and Nightcrawler, Colossus, Shadowcat re-joined the team. and Marrow was the new addition, I really liked that roster and most of the stories from that time. the 1999 era of X-Men is underrated imo.

The classic early 90s roster will always be one of the best

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but I also loved this roster and the adventures they had (from 1999) underrated imo

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#17 Edited by Combo-Man (249 posts) - - Show Bio
@diarrhearegatta said:

Didn't help that most Marvel 90's titles were horrifically reduced in quality (Spider-Man, Hulk, etc) due to Marvel seeking quantity over quality and bad writers who overestimated what they could get away with and how good they really were.

I mean Peter David's run on Incredible Hulk in the 90s is generally accepted by Hulk fans (like myself) to be superior to Hulk comics from the 80s rather than "horrifically reduced in quality."

you might have a point about Spider-Man though. but even then I'm not sure because while 80s Spider-Man was better overall, I actually prefer some elements of 90s Spider-Man comics.

such as the Spectacular Spider-Man title, The Harry Osborn Saga is probably better than any Spider-Man story from the 80s.

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#18 Posted by cattlebattle (17731 posts) - - Show Bio


That said, the art in X-Men vol 2 stayed great right up until Andy Kubert left in late 1996. but there was a lot of other stuff in 96 that made it lower quality such as Wolverine being feral and wearing a red do-rag. plus Warren ditching his classic blue and pink costume. plus I didn't like Joseph or Cannonball as X-Men.

I remember this as I was a kid at the time and there was a noticeable transition from JRJR and Kubert's art to Madureira and Bachalo's more cartoony, exaggerated sort of art style in the mid to late 90s X-men books. I like Bachalo and everything but I always felt their style never really fit the X-men. The X-Men and New Mutants had a history of almost always being drawn by artists with more "realistic" grips on anatomy and character depictions like Byrne, Lee, Davis, Silvestri, Sinkewiecz, Cockrum etc. The change in style didn't do it any favors.

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#19 Posted by Combo-Man (249 posts) - - Show Bio

I remember this as I was a kid at the time and there was a noticeable transition from JRJR and Kubert's art to Madureira and Bachalo's more cartoony, exaggerated sort of art style in the mid to late 90s X-men books. I like Bachalo and everything but I always felt their style never really fit the X-men. The X-Men and New Mutants had a history of almost always being drawn by artists with more "realistic" grips on anatomy and character depictions like Byrne, Lee, Davis, Silvestri, Sinkewiecz, Cockrum etc. The change in style didn't do it any favors.

Yeah I agree, same as you I like both Madureira and Bachalo, but they weren't the right artists for the main X-Men titles. two more suitable replacements for Andy Kubert and JRJr would have been Ron Garney and Steve Epting.

in hindsight Marvel should have just taken the X-Men adventures title a little more seriously and assigned Madureira to be the artist on that book his cartoony style would have been perfect for it. Bachalo could have been put on X-Force or X-Factor.

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#20 Posted by cattlebattle (17731 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah I agree, same as you I like both Madureira and Bachalo, but they weren't the right artists for the main X-Men titles. two more suitable replacements for Andy Kubert and JRJr would have been Ron Garney and Steve Epting.

in hindsight Marvel should have just taken the X-Men adventures title a little more seriously and assigned Madureira to be the artist on that book his cartoony style would have been perfect for it. Bachalo could have been put on X-Force or X-Factor.

I thought Epting did work on the X-men as a penciler in the mid 90s. I thought he was involved with Age of Apocalypse. I think Perez coming over from Avengers would have been a big deal at the time. I am not sure what the deal was with Bachalo, when he did Shade the Changing Man and the first dozen or so issue of Generation X his style was more in line with prior X-men titles and was more practical, maybe when he had multiple titles to work on he sort of when into cruise control and started mailing it in and the art started to look more bubbly. After a while his style started just started to look like graffiti.

Maduireira on the other hand I was never too crazy about, he really shines when doing video game artwork, or Battlechasers or something but whenever I see a comic he drew all the characters just look like Street Fighter characters to me.

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#21 Posted by Combo-Man (249 posts) - - Show Bio

I thought Epting did work on the X-men as a penciler in the mid 90s. I thought he was involved with Age of Apocalypse.

Yeah Epting was the artist on Factor X, that's why I think he would have been great on one of the main X-Men titles, same thing with Garney he was guest penciler on one of the Legion Quest parts, so both would have been ideal.

I am not sure what the deal was with Bachalo, when he did Shade the Changing Man and the first dozen or so issue of Generation X his style was more in line with prior X-men titles and was more practical, maybe when he had multiple titles to work on he sort of when into cruise control and started mailing it in and the art started to look more bubbly. After a while his style started just started to look like graffiti.

Maduireira on the other hand I was never too crazy about, he really shines when doing video game artwork, or Battlechasers or something but whenever I see a comic he drew all the characters just look like Street Fighter characters to me.

Agreed. Bachalo's early Generation-X issues are good; he just started getting a little too experimental, kind of ruined his art. this happens with a lot of artists. not sure why.

Madureira was actually great in the early days, on paper he sounded like a great pick. his work on the 1993 Deadpool: The Circle Chase mini-series was fairly traditional, more European style. and even some of his work on The Phalanx Covenant was fine, but just like Bachalo he quickly started to drift from a more traditional European style to a more modern experimental manga-esque style, which was disappointing.

For example these pages from that Deadpool mini, if JoeMad's work had stayed like this I think he would have been fine as the regular artist on Uncanny X-Men.

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#22 Posted by Helloman (30115 posts) - - Show Bio

Hmm.

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#23 Posted by darthphoenix (2365 posts) - - Show Bio

wwhen jim lee left

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#25 Posted by JCG79 (118 posts) - - Show Bio

It was all downhill after Inferno.

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#26 Posted by Combo-Man (249 posts) - - Show Bio

@jcg79 said:

It was all downhill after Inferno.

more like uphill. Cyclops, Jean, Beast, Archangel, and Xavier all returned to the team. and Cyclops became the leader again.