The First Reunion of the Original X-Men
As a new era dawns for the mutants, revisit the '80s classic 'X-Factor' #1!
So with that—and the ever-lovin' 80th anniversary—in mind, we're taking a look back at some of the greatest comics in X-Men history...
In 1963's UNCANNY X-MEN #1, Professor X made history when he brought five mutant teens together to not only train them in how to use their powers, but also present a positive message to the rest of the world about mutantkind. That group, of course, consisted of Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Hank McCoy, Bobby Drake, and Warren Worthington III—otherwise known as Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, and Angel!
That core crew, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, grew up together and spent years fighting the likes of Magneto, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the Sentinels, Juggernaut, and many others. However, surprisingly, the series itself didn't do so well, so it became a reprint comic with 1970's issue #67 all the way through mag #93 in 1975!
Though the X-Men ceased to be a headlining group, that didn't stop the members from continuing to save the day in other books. Beast joined the Avengers for a time, while Iceman and Angel became Champions and Defenders (with Beast joining the latter group down the line). The X-Men did make a triumphant return in 1975's GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 with Cyclops working with a new team that carried over into UNCANNY #94. Jean Grey also rejoined that squad, though she seemed to perish thanks to the Phoenix Force.
Scott Summers had married a woman named Madelyne Pryor, who looked an awful lot like Jean Grey. He served with the time faithfully—that is, until Professor X disappeared in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #200. In the following issue, Madeylne gave birth to their son Nathan and Scott lost a fight with Storm to decide who would lead the team. Feeling out of place, Scott, Madelyne, and Nathan moved back to their home in Alaska.
Meanwhile, DEFENDERS (1972) came to an end in 1986 with issue #152 which freed up Angel, Iceman, and Beast. Warren had no ill will about leaving the hero world behind, but his pals weren't exactly thrilled about trying to enter the work force. But everything changed for those four mutants in the pages of two other books. In AVENGERS (1963) #263 by Roger Stern and John Buscema, a plane crashed in the water near J.F.K. airport and a huge burst of energy erupted. When the team investigated, they found a strange capsule-like object. It defended itself at first, but the heroes got it back to the mansion where readers learned that it held none other than...Jean Grey!
Then, in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #286 by John Byrne, Reed Richards and company showed up at the mansion and he got invested in the mystery of the capsule. Jean Grey burst out, expecting to fight Stephen Lang and his robots, which originally happened in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #100. At the end of that issue, Jean flew the escape pod as it seemed to burn up on re-entry. In the following ish, it seemed as though the Phoenix Force had taken over Jean's body, but in reality it made a copy and took on her personality. So, when the Phoenix offered up her own life in UNCANNY #137, the real Jean Grey was still healing in that pod in the river!
Grey regained some of her memories after going to her parents' house and retrieving the Holempathic Matrix Crystal the Shi'Ar bestowed on them. With that, Reed called up Warren Worthington III which brought the millionaire soaring to the Big Apple in 1986's X-FACTOR #1 by Bob Layton and Butch Guice! Warren then contacted Scott who walked out on Madelyne and Nathan to see Jean again.
She had no intention of going back to the X-Men if Magneto was on the team, but also knew that something had to be done about the growing anti-mutant sentiment. Warren got to work on the idea and a few weeks later he called Bobby and Hank to his new Lower East Side headquarters where they reunited with Jean! Once they convinced Scott to come back with them, the team heard about Warren's plan. With some public relations help from Cameron Hodge, X-Factor would pose as humans tracking down mutants, train them to use their powers and then get them back into normal life.
Thanks to Warren's backing, they had plenty of funding and began saving the likes of Rusty Collins, Artie Maddicks, Leech, Rictor, Skids, and Tabitha Smith. Eventually, they realized that their ruse caused more anti-mutant sentiment, which was actually part of Hodge's plan as a member of the mutant-hating group, the Right!
Louise Simonson became the regular writer with issue #9 and would shepherd the squad through some rough times as they faced Apocalypse, saw Angel turned into Archangel, learned the dark truth about Madelyne Pryor, and witnessed the early moves that would turn Nathan into Cable. In the wake of the "Muir Island Saga" story, the originals returned to their original series and with issue #71, X-FACTOR began focusing on a government sponsored team featuring Quicksilver, Havok, Polaris, Strong Guy, Multiple Man, and Wolfsbane.
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