I can’t remember the first time I saw an X-Men cartoon, or read an X-Men comic. I’m sure it was my pre-teens/early teens. I think one of the first things I remember about anything X-Men related was playing the X-Men arcade game at the now defunct 49th Street Galleria in Murray, Utah. Maybe it was when my dad bought me a Wolverine action figure from the store when I was pretty young. The grocery store we went to at the time carried these Marvel action figures, and I remember when my parents would go shopping my dad would buy me one. I had Captain America, Spider-Man, Daredevil, etc. For some reason, Wolverine’s always stood out to me. When I saw the game at the Galleria (as we called it back then), I only wanted to be Wolverine, because he was the only one I really knew.
As I got older, and started buying more comics, I bought some of my first X-Men comics. Mostly, I stuck to Superman and Justice League, and for various reasons I had the odd Spider-Man issue. But one time, at a Costco of all places, they had this package of Marvel comics you could buy. It had like 20 random issues in it. One of the issues was the iconic X-Men #1, with art by Jim Lee and story by the iconic Chris Claremont- so I was at least 9 years old. That particular comic really stood out to me for a couple of reasons. One reason was because it was a number one. I didn’t know much about comics at the time, but I was already a sucker for number ones. I mean, I even bought Super Pro #1 because I was that big a sucker. Another reason that issue stood out to me over the other issues in the pack was what it was.
I have always been into superheroes, but the X-Men felt different. They didn’t have the super flashy costumes that the Justice League had, and their secret identities weren’t really that secret. And they weren’t overly powerful. And they fought a different fight. Superman, for example was beloved by the people he helped. He was like a celebrity in the DC Universe. He was trusted and respected. The X-Men weren’t. It was kind of the opposite. They were hated by regular people. They were feared. No one trusted them. The reasons for that and why that mattered is something I am going to discuss in my post for Wednesday, so I won’t dig deeper into that here. Suffice it to say- the X-Men were different, and for me and my pre-teen little self, they were the right kind of different.
As the 90s rolled on, I clung to the X-Men. I have always considered myself a DC guy when it came to comics and superheroes, but the one major exception to that was the X-Men. As I have gotten older, I also love a lot of other characters and stories in the Marvel universe, but the X-Men were the first characters to draw me over to Marvel, and I am drawn to them still today. I just think there is so much to love about them. I think the number one thing, though, that draws me to them over and over is that I have always felt like an outsider. I think everyone does as a teenager or beyond. I think everyone does regardless of age at certain points in their lives. I was never the popular kid in school. I have never been the guy with a bunch of friends. Mostly that’s my fault, but that’s a different post for a different time.
The X-Men became my best friends in my middle school years. And more secretly all through high school. And less secretly now. I was so excited when the first X-Men movies was released. I couldn’t wait to go see it. I didn’t have any friends who wanted to go with me, so I went by myself opening weekend It was awesome. And very lonely. But mostly awesome. These were characters I have grown to love and appreciate, and I learned a lot about what it means to accept “the other” (again, more on that later). This team of misfits and outcasts got me through my formative years. I loved the comics, the films (the first two anyway, and now the newer ones), I loved the cartoon series, and the comics. There was just a lot to love. And in the 90s, Marvel was all about the X-Men.
It’s hard, because I obsess about a lot of different things, so sometimes it feels like I forget about some of the things I have obsessed about. Then something happens that helps me rediscover one of those obsessions. I have definitely had times where I didn’t focus so much on the X-Men, but whenever I remember my obsession, these old friends are always waiting for me. These heroes, who are fighting a very different battle are always there. I am excited to talk about the X-Men with you all this week. I think it is important to talk about the X-Men right now, and talk about the lessons they teach us. Now, maybe more than ever, it is important to talk about “the other” and how we can understand them more. Maybe not more than ever. It’s probably something that has always been this important. In any case, the X-Men have helped me understand it more, and I think that is crucial right now.