Published July 6, 2022

A Guide to 'X-Men Legends' #1

Let's take a look back at the time leading up to 'X-Men Legends' #1.

Roy Thomas may have left his impression on Marvel's Mighty Mutants, but he's not done yet! With X-MEN LEGENDS #1, which releases in August, he teams with artist Dave Wachter to fill readers in on some never-before-seen moments in the group's history.

After UNCANNY X-MEN was launched by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, Thomas took the reins with issue #20 and guided the series through #44, before taking a bit of a break and returning with #55-66. In that time, he co-created Banshee, brought back characters like Mimic and Juggernaut, and even oversaw the creation of new team costumes. Alongside artist Neal Adams, he put together a must-read run for all X-fans. 

And then everything stopped. For the better part of five years, UNCANNY X-MEN still came out, but it only featured reprints of earlier stories from late 1970 through part of 1975, specifically #67-93. New stories began once more when the blockbuster GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 tore through the fourth wall in 1975. Not long after, UNCANNY #94 hit with the new cast, and Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum got to business building on the groundwork laid by those who came before.

With LEGENDS, Thomas intends to tell a few more X-stories from that time before Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Thunderbird, Sunfire, and Nightcrawler agreed to help Professor Xavier save his captured team from Krakoa. Additionally, he plans to fill in a few gaps on Logan's whereabouts around that time, as well as Beast's. 

If you're a little foggy on what was going on with these characters 50-plus years ago, we've got you covered! When Thomas and Adams began working together on issue #56, they pitted the team against the Living Monolith, which also lead to a reunion between Scott Summers and his brother, Alex, who had debuted just two issues prior. He would officially become Havok and meet Polaris in #58. She made her first appearance in #49 and was drawn by Jim Steranko during his brief stint on the series with #50 and 51. 

Havok and Polaris were soon made official members of the X-Men and began serving alongside originals Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Jean Grey, and Iceman as they fought Sentinels, Sauron, and even the Hulk. It was this squad who first encountered the hot-headed Sunfire in UNCANNY X-MEN #64 when he attacked the United Nations. Otherwise known as Shiro Yoshida, he would reappear in GIANT-SIZE to help save the captured X-Men, but did not stick around to become an official member.

It's important to note that there were still new X-Men stories during this time, both solo and group, just not as many as you get in any given week these days! As seen in AMAZING ADVENTURES #11-17, Hank – who was then large of hand and foot – left the X-Men to study genetic mutation. He soon discovered the chemically isolated cause of mutation and consumed it, leading him to grow fur all over. By the time his former team made their reappearance in 1975, the bouncing blue Beast had already joined up with the Avengers.

The rest of the X-Men managed a few of their own adventures as well, even without Beast. They showed up with Spider-Man in MARVEL TEAM-UP #4 to take on Morbius and again in 1973's AVENGERS #110-111, wherein they were captured by Magneto and controlled by the Piper until he rebelled. 

Their most substantial mission came in 1974, when Professor X, Cyclops and Marvel Girl appeared in CAPTAIN AMERICA #172-175. As the mutants looked for their missing comrades Angel, Iceman, and Beast, they discovered their quest was related to the one Captain America and Falcon were also on.

The original Secret Empire had been targeting mutants as well as heroes in their mission to usurp control of the nation while it was distracted by other topics, such as Cap being accused of a murder he did not commit. The Secret Empire stealthily kidnapped and subdued nine mutants, including the missing X-Men, and attached them to a machine used to fuel their takeover of the U.S. government. Thankfully, that play was ultimately thwarted by the assembled heroes. 

One of the mutants caught up in the Secret Empire's plot was a previous acquaintance of the team: Banshee. The former Interpol agent first had met the X-Men when he was being blackmailed by the nefarious Factor Three in UNCANNY X-MEN #28. The heroes helped free him and, although he tried getting back to a normal life, he still had run-ins with the likes of Sentinels and the aforementioned Secret Empire. From there, he got back on the straight and narrow, which is where Professor X found him when putting together the new X-team. 

Fellow new X-Man Logan was also getting up to all sorts of shenanigans around this time. He bowed in INCREDIBLE HULK #180-181, which came out just a year before he joined the X-Men. At the time, readers only knew that this blue-and-yellow clad individual was just crazy enough to throw himself into a titanic tussle between the Jade Giant and Wendigo. The Canadian agent called both Wolverine and Weapon X used his adamantium claws to take them both on and survived, but was next seen leaving, via air transport, and did not appear again until GIANT-SIZE X-MEN.

Of course, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Thunderbird all debuted in that seminal issue, though they were kicking around the world before that, which means that they're also on the table when it comes to these stories. We'll just have to wait until May to find out more!

X-MEN LEGENDS #1 arrives on August 10th.

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