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Did Marvel Insist On X-Men Having One Original Member at All Times?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader Don B. wrote in to ask:

Was there ever a Marvel editorial mandate the required at least one of the original X-Men to be part of the team?

When Warren Worthington rejoined the team after Cyclops’ indefinite leave of absence starting in (Uncanny) X-Men #138 (after “Jean’s” funeral), I wondered if it was mainly because he was an original X-Men member. Up to that point there had never been an issue of Uncanny X-Men without at least one of the five original members in it (I’m not including Professor X). After Warren left in #147, Scott appeared in #148-149 and then returned to the team in #150, staying this time until #168. Then Angel appears in #169, Scott in #170-177 (although he did not rejoin the team). Professor X appeared in #178-181; however neither any of the original 5 nor Professor X were in #182 (a Rogue-centric issue).

Therefore at least one of the original 5 students appeared in 1-177 and if you include Professor X it is 1-181. Just coincidence? I am skeptical.

As an aside, I like that this gives me a good excuse to use this piece from the Art of the X-Men portfolio that came out in 1980. Portfolios were a really big thing in the early 1980s. Everyone had one, it seemed. Anyhow, in this X-Men one, there’s a great shot of the original team and the then-current team…

As Don notes, it is interesting to note that Angel was brought back to the series for the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” right when Cyclops left the book following Jean Grey’s death.

Obviously, editorial having a say in the makeup of the team is something that has been going on for years. A number of years ago, I wrote about the situation in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed:

Nowadays, we’re used to writers such as Dwayne McDuffie being told for a book like Justice League of America, DC’s premier superhero team, that he cannot use characters that he would want to have on the team, like big-time characters such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

Heck, Grant Morrison’s JLA seemed to have an imposed change to the roster every six months (“Sorry, Superman’s blue now.” “Sorry, Hippolyta is Wonder Woman now.” “Sorry, this guy is Flash now.”).

Well, such restrictions were in place for decades, such as when Marvel Head Editor Stan Lee passed on his self-imposed restrictions from himself to incoming Avengers writer, Roy Thomas.

Thomas wanted to write the bigger names, like Iron Man and Thor, but Lee stuck him with the current team, a mixture of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” plus Wasp and Goliath.

So it would certainly not be that surprising to see if Marvel editorial had decided to dictate the membership of the X-Men. So, is that what happened?

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