That’s right. It’s not click bait. It’s not a hoax. John Byrne is writing and drawing the book that made him famous once again. Sort of.
I know. I know. I can hear the groans from all over the internet, but hear me out first. Before we get in to that . . . a little backstory.
Marvel’s ever-popular mutants, The Uncanny X-Men, weren’t as popular as they once were when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby launched them in 1963, publishing bi-monthly, using reprints, and ultimately being cancelled.
“If you like the Original X-Men, you’ll love the New X-Men,” boasted the house ads introducing the concept of a new team. And we did. Len Wein and Dave Cockrum introduced a new group of heroes to follow in the footsteps of Professor Xavier’s graduated students, including Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Banshee, Thunderbird, and Sunfire. Wein and Cokrum wouldn’t be on the book for long, though. No one wanted to write it, and Dave Cockrum couldn’t keep up with the new monthly schedule. Enter Chris Claremont and John Byrne. The clandestine duo would usher in a renaissance for the X-Men era: Days of Future Past and The Dark Phoenix Saga, part of their mythical canon.
Claremont and Byrne famously butted heads, and eventually Byrne left the book at the height of their popular run. Apparently, Byrne felt disrespected by Claremont when the dialogue wouldn’t match up to the images on the page. Claremont would stay on the book for several years after Byrne’s departure. Spending a long time away from the X-verse, Byrne would return to draw Wolverine and launch X-Men Hidden Years, a series filling in the gaps to when the team was in reprints. Despite good sales and fan interest, Hidden Years was cancelled, enraging John Byrne who left Marvel for good, being “burned” again himself.
It would seem an impossible dream to see John Byrne return to Marvel’s Merry Mutants, let alone to draw anything at all, as he has limited himself to commissions and put a hiatus on that recently. And then, out of nowhere, like Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Byrne started dropping newly penciled X-Men pages on his forum, Byrne Robitics, with little more explanation than “Scratching an itch.”
As a life-long fan, it was jaw dropping to see the new art. It was Byrne. It was The X-Men. And, it was good! Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Kitty, The Savage Land… be still, my fanboy heart. Tears of joy may have streamed down my face as I was sure to be witnessing a modern miracle. I thought it may be just a few pages for nostalgia’s sake, but, at the time of this writing, there are 15 fully penciled pages and half of them being lettered. Can we hope for inks? Colors? Marvel publishing it as a new book? Who knows if Byrne would be open to it, but I have to say, if he’s not, it’s interesting for a professional of his status to produce an entire store containing a company’s characters for the fun of it.
If this is a calculated scheme or some sort audition for an official return to The X-Men, I say “Make it so!” These are arguably some of the best Byrne interiors in years and arguably the best X-art I’ve seen in a long time. And then Byrne released a logo containing the heart-stopping words, “X-Men: Elsewhen” Aaaaaaaaahhhhh! OMG! This could totally happen. Please! Please! Please! This would be the even of the decade.
What are you waiting for, Marvel?
Follow me on Instagram (@MichaelFitztroy).