As the school year begins, students from the most famous school in comics are center stage in several Marvel Comics publications.
The original five students from Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters are joining today's Marvel universe in “All-New X-Men,” a new series starting in November by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen.
The first five recruited by Charles Xavier to the school were Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl; Scott Summers, aka Cyclops; Bobby Drake, aka Iceman; Hank McCoy, aka Beast; and Warren Worthington, aka Angel.
They'll be rocketed to the present in “All-New X-Men,” part of Marvel's “Marvel NOW!” initiative this fall.
“I'm a big fan of these kinds of stories, ‘Pleasantville' or ‘Peggy Sue got Married,' where a character faces the truth about themselves and what their life can mean versus what it does mean,” Bendis said at Marvel.com. “They're very interesting stories and the idea of the original X-Men — seeing what the X-Men turned into — is absolutely fascinating to me.”
Fans who want to get some of the background of these teenagers before they make their new-series splash can check out the original adventures by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the “Marvel Masterworks: X-Men” series. Over the years, other writers and artists have returned to the original team, including Jeff Parker with the all-ages “X-Men: First Class” series; John Byrne with the retro “X-Men: The Hidden Years,” and writer Dennis Hopeless with this year's “X-Men: Season One.”
Hopeless talked about the “Season One” book earlier this year at Planet Comicon in Overland Park, Kan.
“We're going back to the first year of the X-Men,” Hopeless said. “The book is about when Jean Grey first shows up at the Xavier Academy and sort of coming together with the original other four guys and forming a team.”
Hopeless said the story fits in with the original stories told by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby in the 1960s, but brings it forward.
“The story is told within all of the fights of that first year, and we kind of dance around the raindrops of what Stan and Jack did and tell the new story that builds on that,” Hopeless said. “And it also modernizes it, so they're not wearing checkered suits and going to beatnik bars like they were in the 1960s issues.”
The X-Men and spinoff teams have been prominently featured in Marvel's lineup in the 49 years since the X-Men's introduction, especially since a class of “New Mutants” debuted in 1983.
Since then, the school has welcomed the “Generation X” team, the “New X-Men,” the “Young X-Men” and more. The school has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. The most recent revival brought with it a name change. When Wolverine reopened the school in the 2011 series “Wolverine and the X-Men,” he changed the name to honor Jean Grey, who was killed in battle.
The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning is the focus of the ongoing series “Wolverine and the X-Men,” which features Wolverine as the headmaster of the reopened school for mutants. In the comics, the school is at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, in the northeast part of New York's Westchester County.
The first hardcover collection of “Wolverine and the X-Men,” collecting the first four issues, was released in May, featuring Wolverine's battles to get the school open, both against X-Men foes and the local bureaucracy. The second hardcover, collecting issues 5-8, is set for September release. In the second volume, the school is invaded by the alien race known as the Brood, and Wolverine has to go to an intergalactic casino to find the funds to keep the school going.
Despite the school's many travails — and invasions — throughout the years, it's still the starting point for most of Marvel's mutant heroes. And it continues to turn out graduates: August 29's “Wolverine and the X-Men” No. 15 is set to reveal the first graduate of the renamed Jean Grey school.