Glow-In-The-Dark, Holofoil, Chromium and Die-Cut – Comics In The Nineties Weren’t All Bad – Generation X

GameStop, Inc.

by Carl R. Jansson
Senior Correspondent
[email protected]

 

The nineties get a lot of flack nowadays from comic fans, and some of it is very well deserved. Many things happened in the nineties that made it a very dark decade for the comic industry, many things we would like to forget happened at all, and some things we just can’t seem to let go of. And pouches, so very many pouches. Each Tuesday I discuss the many things that made that decade truly a great time to be a fan. This week, I bring you another reason the nineties weren’t all bad.
Generation X.
 
Generation X was arguably one of the most popular titles in the X-Men family in the early nineties, for a time at least. The brainchild of Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo (I write about Bachalo a lot), Generation X was a slightly different take on young mutants. No Xavier’s School this time out, hell, No Xavier at all, this team were brought together by Banshee and former villain Emma Frost to be taught at the Hellfire Club’s former Massachusetts Academy.

The seeds of Generation X were originally planted during the line wide X-Family crossover storyline, The Phalanx Covenant, in late 1994 by writer Scott Lobdell, specifically in the Generation Next storyline that ran through the two main X-Men titles. This is the storyline that introduced the main characters and core concepts that would become Generation X.

The first issue of Generation X, preceded by an ashcan preview, was released in September of 1994, and the fans loved this different version of young mutants learning to control their powers. Scott Lobdell gave unique voices to each of these young X-Men in training, writing them as believable teenagers, and he gave them powers and personalities far different than anything else in the X-Universe. Their powers, while on the face of it could be construed as being kind of lame, but were used in such a way to make them far more interesting than they should have been. I mean, one of them had six extra feet of skin, and went by the highly un-ironic name “Skin”. But Lobdell, and Bachalo, knew how to make them actually cool.

These teenagers, like those before them in the original X-Men and New Mutants, had to deal with normal teenage drama, and it was highly relate-able to me in my formative years. But, Lobdell really ramped up the drama, developing, at times, interlinking back stories between the characters, and really using their powers as defining factors of their personalities. For instance, Chamber’s power, when manifesting itself, blew off half of his face and chest! How could that not inform much of his life and personality? Lobdell brought back the tragic mutant-power-as-curse side of things that hadn’t been seen in some time in the Mutant books.

And with Chris Bachalo providing the artwork, it didn’t look like any other X-title of the time. With his quirky, highly stylized renderings of the characters, his brilliant and complex page layouts, and his playful use of panel gutters, Generation X stood out on the shelf. Bachalo was at the top of his game here, his style growing and evolving over the years into something formidable. Gone were the simple black and yellow costumes of earlier X-teams, Bachalo designed costumes that were new and different from what came before, but with flourishes that told you this was still an X-team.

And the fans lapped it up! It was soon one of the most popular X-books, with spin-offs, inter-company cross-overs, a truly terrible television movie (that you can find on youtube if you really hate yourself), a holiday special, action figures, and even the unconventional Generation X Underground Special by indie sensation Jim Mahfood! This book was hot!

Unfortunately the original creators left in 1997, but with creators such as Larry Hama, Terry Dodson, Jay Faerber, Warren Ellis, and Brian Wood, the book would go on until 2001, when Joe Quesada cancelled it, along with five other books, due to what he felt was over-saturation. Many of these characters have stuck around long after cancellation, appearing as guests in other books, or in mini-series’ of their own, which is a testament to the creativity of Lobdell and Bachalo, as well as the fans. And this is why Generation X was one reason it was great to be a comic fan in the nineties. Next week, I’ll bring you another.

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