Saturday, October 26, 2019

The New Mutants #18 and X-Men The Hidden Years #1

In an unusual move in the 1980s Marvel Comics took a daring step and allowed artist Bill Sienkiewicz to draw The New Mutants beginning with issue #18.

Sienkiewicz’s early pencilling style emulated Neal Adams work but changed to be more stylized and unique.

It was a bold step and at first fans either loved or hated his pencils. 

He also created the covers and they are still considered some of the most innovative and original covers ever created for a comic book series.

Besides the Bill Sienkiewicz artwork issue #18 also introduced the alien shape-changer Warlock and the physical presence of the Demon Bear.

The New Mutants #18 marks a decidedly different approach to story telling and is considered by many to be a clever shot at the status quo.

Back in the late 1960’s Marvel Comics’ The Uncanny X-Men title was lagging in sales.

Stan Lee tried to remedy the situation by assigning Roy Thomas as the writer and hiring on superstar penciller Neal Adams to do the art.

The result was some truly remarkable and groundbreaking issues that are considered classics today.

Unfortunately sales numbers did not increase substantially enough and the series was cancelled after issue #66.

Ironically if the sales tracking methods used today were available back then the sales numbers would have indicated a solid seller.

Later the series would continue through issue #93 as reprints.

Writer/artist John Byrne pitched a new X-Men series in the early 2000’s that would fill-in those lost issues with new stories.

Byrne had previously been one of the pencillers on the series and believed that fans would appreciate his attempts to fill-in the lost years up until the New X-Men were introduced in issue #94.

By all indications the series was a success.

For some unexplained reasons Marvel Comics powers-that-were abruptly cancelled the series with no viable explanation.

A possible reason could have been an editorial staff change and a new direction for the X-Men franchise.

This infuriated and shocked John Byrne and he left Marvel Comics in a huff and has not returned even to this day.

For true X-Men completists X-Men The Hidden Years is an important series that fills in the gaps of the classic series up until the introduction of the New X-Men. 

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