Marvel’s 90s “extreme” comics are generally considered to be shameworthy now, and despite revisiting cult favorite Adam-X, even the X-Men agree.
Warning: Contains spoilers for X-Men Legends # 1!
The 90s saw an “extreme” era of comics, replete with characters with big guns, lots of bags, and grim and brave attitudes, and Marvel and the X Men they were not immune to this trend. But in a recent adventure starring Adam-XIt seems that even they admit it was a bad idea. X-Men Legends # 1 takes readers back to the 90s and shows the era in all its “extreme” glory. Written by Fabian Nicieza (who actually wrote the title during that time), with art by Brett Booth, inks by Adelso Corona, and colors by Guru-eFX, the issue is now available in stores and digital comic outlets. .
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In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the comic book world saw the arrival of artists such as Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, and Todd McFarlane. These artists were unlike anything seen before – their styles were dynamic and eye-catching, often featuring lithe, scantily clad women and scarred, muscular men with ridiculously large weapons. The costumes took a more militaristic turn, with belts and bags proliferating to suggest characters that were always equipped for the battle to come. The stories changed to accommodate the new attitudes; It became popular to take down long-standing characters like Superman and Spider-Man and replace them with newer, bolder versions. This era also saw the debut of Cable and Deadpool, two characters who came to represent the spirit of the age. Another character that debuted around this time was Adam-X the X-treme, and now Marvel is returning to the character almost 30 years later, providing some commentary on the era in the process.
As the problem unfolds, Cable is looking for Adam-X and finds him meditating in a cornfield in Iowa. Adam senses Cable sneaking up on him and, true to his high-octane nature, throws a scythe at him. Cable uses his telekinesis to stop him, but watches with disdain, “I thought we were both over our … extreme phase?” Introducing two rude and violent characters by having one throw a gun only for the other to catch it in midair is the peak of the ’90s comics, and it’s interesting to see that while Nicieza is reviewing the characters that defined that moment ( in fact, many fans feel that Adam -X really can’t work out of it) is doing it with a wry eye for his limitations. Cable tells the frustrated and angry Adam that he now works with the X-Men and that people can change and grow.
Like Cable, Adam-X represents the exaggerated and “extreme” mentality that dominated the comics of the early ’90s; the word is even in the name of Adam. Both Adam and Cable are hyper-macho with ambiguous moral codes, and both nail the visual aesthetic of the time: Cable with his infamous bags and pistols, and Adam with his long hair, preference for swords, and grunge attire. But while Cable has passed from this era, becoming a more thoughtful old soldier before being replaced by his younger self, Adam-X never did. As a result, Cable is still relevant and appears in the books today, but Adam has fallen by the wayside and is generally considered a joke among fans. Uncanny X-Men # 533 it even includes a joke in which a villain selling mutant powers is shocked when one of his clients asks about Adam-X, proving that he has become the symbol of forgotten characters.
The “extreme” comics of the 1990s may seem worthy of shame to fans today (and no doubt many of them were), but the move resulted in huge sales and huge press coverage at the time. What X-Men Legends promising to revisit the Adam-X story and address the plot threads that hang around the character, one of the most interesting things to discover will be how Nicieza balances critical hindsight with allowing the character to do what he does best. For now, it appears that Cable was wrong to think that Adam-X had passed his extreme phase, but the question remains if there is anything else to go. Adam-X be be.
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