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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 (10969 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 (12606 posts) - - Show Bio

When Claremont left.

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#5 Posted by Helloman (28540 posts) - - Show Bio

They didn't.

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#6 Posted by butterflykyss (5922 posts) - - Show Bio

when Claremont left is the correct answer.

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#7 Posted by AsheTDust (1813 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 (17628 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 (6818 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 (243 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.