Retro Made Righteous In X-Men '92

by Vince Brusio

The Dark Age some called it. Grim and gritty. But the costumes were so colorful! And remember those foil covers? What about the hologram cards that were embedded on the cardstock covers? Yes, the early 90s was a good time for superhero comics. It was all-out flash, crash, and bash in many of those titles. It worked! So writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers thought, why not an encore performance? And with a green light from The House of Ideas, the two writers along with artist Alti Firmansyah bring back those good ol' days of spandex with the release of X-Men '92 #1 (JAN160739), due in comic shops on March 30th!


PREVIEWSworld: What’s the significance of the title? Why are the X-Men in 1992 being singled out specifically? Has there been some secret movement on social media that pushed this project past the finish line?

Chad Bowers: Were you not around in the 90s? Because I’m telling you, they were awesome! And as far as the X-Men go, they’ve never been bigger than they were in 1992. “X-Men” #1 sold something like 8 million copies, and there was the cartoon, the toys, the video games, trading cards, restaurant promotions… the list goes on and on. In a world where Ultron is a household name, it’s pretty easy to forget how incredible that kind of success was, but at the time, it was unreal.

In our book, the X-Men are a huge deal! Thanks to their heroic actions in something called The Westchester War, they’re basically as popular in the comic as they were in the real world circa 1992. So the title, “X-Men ‘92”, really captures the essence of that era in story form. 

Chris Sims: The fan response has been pretty overwhelming. I think we both knew that people loved ‘90s Jubilee — heck, we both love Jubilee! — but until we started writing the previous X-Men ‘92 mini-series, I don’t think we really knew how much they loved her and the rest of that team. There was definitely a desire to see more of those ‘90s costumes and the kind of high-action adventure that we loved when we were kids, which made the project a whole lot of fun.

PREVIEWSworld: What distinguishes the X-Men in 1992 from the X-Men of today? Is that period of time lighter or more naïve because Google was just an idea at Stanford?

Chris Sims: I don’t think “lighter” is the right word, especially for our first story!

Chad Bowers: Yeah, the X-Men stories of that era tend to be a little darker, I guess — maybe “edgier” is a better word — and we’ve certainly embraced some of that in our opening arc.

As for what sets the 90s X-Men apart from today’s incarnation, I’d say it’s “the times.” Being sort of birthed out of the Civil Rights movement, the X-Men have always been a kind of fluid metaphor for the what’s happening outside our window, so naturally, things that were on minds in 1992 aren’t necessarily what we’re thinking about in 2015, and the comics have always done a good job of reflecting that. 

Chris Sims: I think what really sets those early ‘90s comics apart, and the thing that we’re trying to recapture with our approach, is how fast the action hits. These are characters that readers already know and love, so our job is to just keep putting them in bigger, weirder, harder-hitting situations, and we’re getting weird with it right off the bat.

PREVIEWSworld: Describe your affection for the X-Men of ’92? How would you compare its aesthetics to, say, the Chris Claremont era?

Chris Sims: I was ten years old in 1992. ‘Nuff said.

Chad Bowers: Chris and I affectionately refer to the 90s as the “Action Age” of comics, and those pre-Image Jim Lee X-Mens are the best examples of what we absolutely love about that period.

As far as comparing the 90s stuff to what Claremont did -- and keep in mind, I’ve spent the better part of 2015 reading and rereading 90s X-Men -- there’s shockingly little difference in the story aesthetics. Visually, yes, those books are kind of all over the place. But for the most part, guys like Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell, Joe Kelly, and Steve Seagle all carry-on the Claremont tradition for most of the decade. And it’s not really until Grant Morrison takes the reins in 2001 that the X-Men see a major shift in tone. That’s why you’ll see us pulling a lot of stuff in from post-90s X-Men in “X-Men ‘92”. We feel like its pretty cool to see the 90s X-Men run up against situations and enemies they’ve never faced before, and maybe aren’t even emotionally prepared to deal with.

PREVIEWSworld: As writers, how did you two work together on this book? How many unused revisions are lying on the floor? Or was this Sgt. Pepper right out of the gate?

Chad Bowers: Wrong decade, man. Sgt. Pepper was the 60s. Chris and me are like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic!

Chris Sims: Imagine every argument X-Men fans could have over who would win in a fight or what a character would say in a given situation, and then have them have those arguments while doing Wolverine’s growl and Rogue’s Southern accent, and then imagine that it’s all happening before the book even comes out. That’s our writing process.

PREVIEWSworld: Giving you the last word, how would you pitch this book to a hungry crowd at a comic con panel? What would you say about X-Men ’92 #1 that would make fans want to put it on their pull list?

Chris Sims: In the mini-series, we pulled in a lot of stuff from the history of the X-Men and put it together in a whole new way. In the ongoing series, we’re doing the same thing, but now we’ve got access to an entire 1992-style Marvel Universe that we didn’t use before. We’re going to new places, bringing new enemies, and still tying it all together with those classic X-Men that we grew up with. If you’ve been missing yellow spandex, focused totality and Gambit talkin’ ‘bout the t’ieves guild, then this is the book for you.

Chad Bowers: Bingo! That said, we’re not simply rehashing the past, either. Without giving too much away, you’ve never seen the X-Men like this!

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