Hello, my friends. All of mutant-kind is about to reach the end of an entertainment era as we know it. With “The New Mutants” set to cap off a long-running film series helmed by 20th Century Fox (known nowadays as the Disney-owned 20th Century Studios), let us celebrate this string of movies that had its fair share of high and low points. As such, I intend on doing my part by looking back to the past and gandering at its supplementary material with a special series called…
Before we begin, let us go back to how the first X-Men movie came into existence. As far back at 1984, Orion Pictures initially held the film rights, but development never really took off due to their slowly-growing financial problems. In 1989 & 1990, there was an attempt to make a movie through Carolco Pictures with James Cameron as the director. However, he decided to work on a Spider-Man film instead (which ultimately never came to pass), Carolco went under and the rights went back to Marvel. Following a failed 1992 deal with Sony-owned Columbia Pictures, an agreement was ultimately struck in 1994 as Lauren Shuler Donner (wife of famed director Richard Donner) purchased the rights for 20th Century Fox. Over the next six years, the screenplay would get developed as Andrew Kevin Walker wrote the initial scripts, while Laeta Kalogridis, John Logan, James Schamus, Joss Weadon and Michael Chabon contributed with their own ideas & rewrites. Meanwhile, the director’s chair was initially offered to Brett Ratner (who would eventually direct “X-Men: The Last Stand”), Robert Rodriguez and Paul W.S. Anderson, but all of them declined. Bryan Singer, fresh off the “The Usual Suspects”, was then approached with the offer. However, he initially turned the job down several times. Thankfully, he changed his mind when he read several X-Men comics and even watched the animated series. By 1998, Singer and Tom DeSanto delivered a treatment to Fox, which was ultimately approved. Christopher McQuarrie and David Hayter were then brought in to finetune the script, with the latter receiving sole credit for the screenplay via the Writer’s Guild of America.
Eventually, the movie debuted at Ellis Island on July 12, 2000 before getting its widespread U.S. release two days later, where it went on to gross over $296 million worldwide on its $75 million budget and was greeted with generally positive reviews. In the grand scheme of comic book/superhero movies, this film alongside 1998’s “Blade” and 2002’s “Spider-Man” are forever credited with helping the sub-genre regain its modern day confidence amongst the populace.
Now, let’s get into the meat of this article and the main reason why we’re all here: the tie-in comics. Leading off this particular set is a trio of books (all of which were released in June 2000) that follows a particular key set of characters prior to the main action of the movie. As such, let us go back into this universe’s past and see how they’ve built themselves up for what’s to come.
First up, we have “X-Men: The Movie Prequel-Magento” (Writer: Joe Pruett, Pencils: Mark Texeira, Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti). We open at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 with Soviet forces having overthrown the Nazi’s control over the dreaded facility. As the Jewish prisoners are being escorted out, one particular boy among them sees the building where his parents were killed before noticing a Soviet soldier lighting a Nazi colonel’s cigarette. It’s soon revealed that this is a young Erik Lehnsherr as he uses his budding power to force the Soviet sentry’s gun at the Nazi before redirecting it towards his feet and firing it.
Afterwards, the Soviet soldier apologizes and says that he couldn’t control his firearm before getting executed from behind by a fellow trooper. The Nazi colonel says that the young boy is responsible for this act, but the head Soviet official doesn’t believe him before ordering his troops to escort their captured leader off the premises. Several decades later, Erik returns to the grisly site as Magneto and remembers a joyous time with his parents before using his ability to obliterate their death site.
Afterwards, he heads back onto his aircraft and rejoins his Brotherhood of Mutants, consisting of Raven Darkhölme a.k.a. Mystique, Mortimer Toynbee a.k.a. Toad and Victor Creed a.k.a. Sabretooth. Victor wonders why he and his fellow cohorts were brought out here, yet didn’t get to do anything. When Creed then brings up the fact that he joined the group in order “to cause some damage”, Erik responds to his rude remark by levitating his beastly ally (chair & all) and sends him across the craft before smashing into a wall before telling him to never question his motives. Afterwards, Mystique says that she partially agrees with Sabretooth on the fact that Magento has been vague about his reason for returning to his grisly site. She then asks him if he found anything of significance, to which Erik says that he has. In particular, it’s given himself a stiff remembrance of his past so that he can push forward towards the future. Toad asks if that involves delivering “some serious payback”, to which Magento confirms him as they take off.
We then cut to two months later in Washington, D.C. as Senator Robert Kelly oversees footage of a mutant encounter in Topeka, Kansas. The young man just wants to be left alone, but the cops refuse to comply and order him to surrender. Just then, the guy reveals his mutant power as he grows into a giant and goes on a small rampage before the officers are forced to take him down as they fire their guns and execute him. Afterwards, Robert is met upon by Ms. Hutchinson who proceeds to inform him about a particular military complex in New Mexico. She says that while it’s unknown how many casualties there were, the facility’s weapons vault was pilfered. She was unable to learn what was taken due to military classification, but her sources have confirmed that an “exact itemization” occurred within the past day. Ms. Hutchinson concludes the briefing by confirming that Magneto was behind the theft before Sen. Kelly dismisses her.
We then flashback to Israel in 1992 as Erik plays a game of chess with another man. Just before he makes a move, a particular figure approaches and advises him against it. Lehnsherr asks how he could possibly know what move he would make, to which the guy simply states that he can “believe” in Erik’s thoughts before suggesting that he uses his defense to properly set up his attack. Lehnsherr is initially skeptical, but he decides to comply with the suggestion and ends up winning the match. This upsets his opponent who demands for a rematch, but Erik declines as the guy promises to carry out a reckoning. Afterwards, Lehnsherr rejoins his newfound friend, who turns out to be Charles Xavier. He explains that he’s on his own self-discovery journey in order to find his purpose within the world, before sharing his own realization from his travels. Specifically, there’s “two kinds of men–those who seek and those who hide”. After introducing himself, Erik says that he only seeks one simple thing: peace. Suddenly, the bar gets rocked by a devastating car bomb as he protects himself and his new friend from the blast. As the medical team arrives to deal with the newly-deceased victims, Xavier finds Lehnsherr mourning over a young woman and asks whether “this senseless persecution” will ultimately cease or they’ll be forever enveloped within absolute fear. As the medics takes her corpse away, Charles assures his friend that while this is a horrible act, the responsible party will be brought to justice and they’ll rightfully pay for their hate crime. However, Erik says that it’s possible that the young woman wasn’t interested with the politics that ultimately took her down, just because the responsible fiends decided that she and her fellow people deserve to get wiped out. Xavier says that there wasn’t anything that he could have done to stop this, but Lehnsherr doesn’t agree before walking away.
We then move ahead to the next day as they meet up with each other as Charles explains that a “previously unknown gene in certain individual’s DNA” will lead to the evolutionary rise of a particular subspecies where this slice of humanity has “extraordinary abilities”. Erik responds with an interest to the hypothesis, but says that the mutants will “become feared and persecuted” by mankind. Suddenly, they’re approached by the defeated chess player who’s returned with a dagger in order to carry out his reckoning. Xavier tells his friend to just pay him and peacefully resolve this conflict, but Lehnsherr has a different idea in mind. Specifically, he manipulates the blade and threatens to use it against the guy. Ultimately, Charles has to telepathically tell him to stop. As the man runs away, Erik is stunned by the revelation that his friend is a mutant. Xavier tells him that he’s capable of reading his mind, but he won’t do so out of respectful morality. Believing that this was a good and possible reason for meeting each other in the first place, Lehnsherr says that they have much to learn about each other. Just then, he spots a familiar face from his tortured past and realizes that it’s the Nazi official from Auschwitz. He attempts to follow him, but his target easily disappears within the crowd. Afterwards, Charles explains that although his research has mentioned the existence of mutants elsewhere within the world, he hasn’t found any others aside from his new friend. Erik assures him that while there are other mutants on the planets, they’re presently minuscule. He even mentions that although he’s come across other mutants throughout the year, it’s unknown how many there are on the planet, especially due to them having to hide from humanity. Xavier tells him that mankind has historically feared anyone who was different, to which Lehnsherr says that humanity should since mutants are becoming the next step in the evolutionary line. As such, he hopes that they’ll overtake the common man’s control over the planet. However, Charles exclaims that their people needs “to better understand” themselves before bringing up his idea for a school where mutants can safely learn to harness their abilities and properly cope in the greater world, thus allowing them to peacefully coexist within “a world where they might be hated and feared”. As such, world domination isn’t how they’ll overcome man’s bigoted scorn. Erik describes his ideal as foolish as he sees this as society’s deep-seated and irreversible nature. Fortunately, Xavier says that it’s why a school for mutants is needed and sees it possible for bigotry to be conquered, due to it being “a learned trait rather than an inherited one”. While Erik compliments his friend’s positive nature and “idealistic reasoning”, he’s not entirely convinced. As such, Charles tells his friend to come with him to America in order to get the school started up and even positively share his ideals with the students, to which Lehnsherr agrees.
As we shift ahead by two years within the familiar mansion in New York’s Westchester County, Xavier manages to completely build Cerebro and thanks his friend for helping out in bringing his initial dream to life. From there, he gives the machine its trial run in order to search for any mutant. Suddenly, he discovers a young boy getting chased by an angry crowd before telling Erik that it’s occurring fairly close by as they proceed to head out.
Back with the hunted boy, he tries to climb up a tree to safety. However, he gets dragged down and gets severely beaten up. Fortunately, Lehnsherr manipulates their shovels in order to force the angry mob off of their victim. The head goon attempts to approach him, but Erik uses his power to twist the shovel around the man and chastises him for his unrelenting bigotry. He then brings up his past where he was forced to see heartless killings and that he refuses to stand aside if he’s able to stop it. As the head goon dares Lehsherr to murder him, Charles tells him to refrain and let the guy go since they need to focus upon saving the injured young mutant. As such, Erik releases his grasp upon the fiend as he and his posse run away. Afterwards, Xavier informs him that the battered mutant suffered “some cuts & bruises” at best and possibly “a few broken bones” at worst. As he picks the injured boy up, he expresses his shame towards humanity’s cruel act against someone from their own kind due to him having “the exception of an extra ingredient in his DNA”, asking Erik if it’s fair to the lad or anyone from their own kind.
Later, the young boy named Henry is resting up back at the mansion as Charles tells him that he’s healing at a surprising rate, but that he should stay put for the night for observations. He then assures the young boy that the angry mob won’t be hunting him down within this house before taking his leave, but not before the future Beast thanks him for saving his life. From there, Xavier heads downstairs and rejoins Lehnsherr who’s watching a newscast about mutants. Charles asks his friend about what’s bothering him, to which Erik says that the notion of “tolerance” between humans and mutants is unlikely as the newscast shows Sen. Kelly declaring that “Americans” should “have the right to know” whether or not a mutant is living among them. Xavier says that while he’s aware of the senator’s opinions, he only sees this as attention-grabbing and trying to feed into humanity’s deep-seated fears since humankind is capable of thinking for themselves. However, Lehnsherr calls his friend’s notion absurd and that no one will care about the grim implications of mutant genocide until it already happens. Charles then tells his friend that he’s been clouded by his past cynicism and that humanity has learned from its mistakes, but Erik brings up the Khmer Rouge as another example of an oppressive group that slaughtered their own people while the rest of the world seemed to have turned a blind eye on them. Suddenly, the newscast brings up the arrest of a Nazi war criminal named Hans Von Shank who’s being held in a Brooklyn jail cell and will eventually be deported back to Israel in order to stand trial for his crimes against humanity. It’s at that moment that Lehnsherr recognizes him as the man that he saw in the concentration camp and on the streets of Israel. Xavier tells his friend to let his tortured past go since the fiend will now rightfully pay for his acts within the International Court. However, Erik refuses since he wants Hans to dearly pay. Charles says that they’re not vigilantes and that they can’t let themselves “become that which we despise”, but Erik Lehnsherr simply states that he no longer belongs to stay at the mansion as he storms off.
Later in Brooklyn, Hans is within his jail cell when he’s suddenly approached by Magneto who informs him that he’s aware of the numerous people that were slaughtered under his watch. Hans calmly admits to his fiendish act as he proceeds to explains that he started off as a solider following orders before it slowly grew into a poisonous obsession for him. However, it didn’t die down following the war’s conclusion where he departed for Israel before he eventually left for America. Erik then tells him that he should have died a long time ago by a certain guard back when the Soviet armada liberated Auschwitz from Nazi control before taking his helmet off and saying that he was the young boy who attempted to murder him from afar. With Hans rightfully shocked, Magento puts his helmet back on and manipulates the bars around the former Nazi’s neck in order to strangle him.
Suddenly, Xavier arrives and orders him to stop. After calling his friend out for possibly using his mental power to make his way into the cell block with ease (while the guards catch them on the security cameras and activates the alarms), Erik points Hans out as an example of humanity’s resistance towards peaceful coexistence, as well as Sen. Kelly’s growing influence of man’s hatred and decimation. However, Charles gives him one last chance to stop this revenge-fueled endeavor. With neither side refusing to stand down, he proceeds to fire a telepathic blast. Despite the hit, Magento gets up and says that the only way he’ll stop is if he’s killed.
A pair of cops come in to intervene, but Erik easily takes their guns away and crushes them. After dodging the incoming ball of crumpled firearms, Xavier proceeds to strike back with his mind. A struggle between friends ensues before Magento wraps Charles up within a mattress and bounds him with a pair of prison bars. From there, he gets back to his original plan. As he prepares to execute Hans, he thanks the former Nazi for unintentionally inspiring him to forgo his humanity in order to accomplish his goal. Xavier calls out to his friend and asks him if that’s what he truly wants to become, since killing Hans won’t honor his parents’ death or bring them back. In the end, his words manage to strike an emotional nerve as Erik frees his former friend and spares the former Nazi’s life before blasting through the brick wall. Before he leaves, he tells Charles that they’re even and that he should refrain from getting in his way. Additionally, Lehnsherr says that he doesn’t believe in the notion of peaceful cohabitation between mutants and humans, as well as “a genetic war” where he sees regular civilians as the enemy.
We then shift back to the present as Magento sits within his base and surrounded by several broadcast screens. He then focuses in on a particular newscast where Sen. Kelly promises to take action against the supposed rise of the “mutant problem”. Afterwards, the rest of his Brotherhood comes in and sees the same report. Toad asks if he wants Robert executed, but Erik wants to save that action for later. For now, he dismisses his agile ally out and Mystique before having a private discussion with Sabretooth. From there, Victor confirms that he privately slayed Hans for his master before Erik tells him to rejoin his cohorts and informs them that they’ll head out in a half-hour in order to carry out an “errand”. After Creed takes his leave, the comic ends with Magento watching a newscast mentioning the former Nazi’s savage death from within his cell. From there, he moves a chess piece and tells his former friend that it’s his move.
Next, we have a crisis brewing in the south and rising with “X-Men: The Movie Prequel-Rogue” (Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils: Alan Evans, Inker: Rob Nikolakakis). We begin at a high school in Mississippi where the eventual Rogue herself, Marie D’Ancanto, has returned to the institution two days following an incident at the school dance. However, the moment is still fresh upon the minds of her classmates as they demand for her to explain what she did to Sean in order to put him in the hospital. Marie simply exclaims that she didn’t do anything and tries to get to her classes, but one guy starts to give her some trouble and attempts to grab her. Suddenly, she surprises everyone by flipping him over, which results in him getting knocked out. Even she’s rightfully stunned by what she just did before running off towards the gym.
Once inside, she thinks back to the dance where she was approached by Sean and gets complimented on her beauty. They ultimately kiss, but her mutant ability kicks in as she absorbs his life force and unintentionally sends him into a coma. Back in the present, she narrates how this has been going on for a couple of months and it was just minor incidents initially. However, this recent event has resulted in her knowing Sean’s memories and his karate techniques, even after two days. Just then, she’s approached by the same guy alongside a group of his classmates who intend on getting back at her. A chase ensues as Marie winds up trapped behind the bleachers.
Fortunately, she uses Sean’s knowledge of his gymnast skills to leap towards the upper railing. She walks across the top with careful ease, but her temporary possession of Sean’s skills finally fades away as she loses her balance and falls off, where she grabs a nearby curtain to ease her plummet. Shortly after she slams onto the floor, the head guy and two of his cohorts catch up and attempt to grab her. However, the skin-to-skin contact activates her power as she absorbs their life forces while the other two guys are scared off.
Later, she’s in the principal’s office as she looks out the window to see the unconscious boys get placed inside an ambulance. Meanwhile, the principal talks with a cop about how she was able to do this. Just then, the X-Men drive up as Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops, Jean Grey and Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm have arrived to retrieve her. Marie sees them from afar (albeit not very good) and confuses them as federal officials, thus prompting her to slip away. As such, Cyclops tells his teammates to head out and find her.
Jean telepathically contacts Charles and asks if he’s able to nail down their target’s location. However, he’s unable to get a good read. From there, Grey sets up a telepathic link between her teammates before they begin their search. Eventually, Storm manages to find Marie and summons some wind to close off one exit. Ororo then tells Cyclops that their target is heading his way as he proceeds to follow Marie down towards the boiler room. She locks herself in, forcing him to use a low level of his Optic Blast to break through the door. However, she manages to climb outside before the X-Men arrive. As such, Ororo summons a thunderstorm in the hopes of slowing their target down. Fortunately for Marie, she manages to get a ride from a big-rig trucker and escapes.
We then shift ahead six weeks later in Virginia where she’s been hitch-hiking her way north and is presently sleeping within another big rig. However, the driver named Gar emerges from the bar drunk with a dopey and ill-conceived intention for her. Unfortunately for him, he wound up on the receiving end of her ability and winds up unconscious. However, Marie ends up with his drunken state as other truckers find their comrade out and intend to harm her. In a desperate state, she attempts to drive off. However, she struggles with controlling the big rig. Even worse, the police are nearby and intervene. In the end, one of the cops shoots out a tire and causes her to crash.
Marie is then ordered out as an official named Lenny heads over to handcuff her. However, he makes skin-to-skin contact and ends up unconscious from her power. The rest of the cops are baffled by what she’s done to their teammate, but a fellow policeman in a green trenchcoat realizes that they’re dealing with a mutant. As such, he takes out a special tranquilizer gun and takes a successful shot at her.
Several hours later, Henry Gyrich (who’s an assistant to Sen. Robert Kelly) arrives at a secret base where he’s met upon by Sherman, the facility leader and supporter of Kelly’s political stance against mutants. From there, he gives Gyrich a tour of the building as he explains about how much his family’s pharmaceutical business has grown over the decades, to which Henry says that Robert will fully support the facility once the Mutant Registration Act passes. From there, they watch a repeat showing of Sen. Kelly’s speech to Congress and his imploring of the act. As they arrive at the Gamma Section of the facility, Sherman says that they must access the mutant genes in order to benefit the human race. From there, he shows Henry the holding cells containing a couple of enslaved mutants. Gyrich then informs Sherman that unless “these activities are legalized”, then the senator mustn’t know about his test subjects. Afterwards, the guards bring in the newly-captured Marie as Robert prepares to take his leave with Sherman informing him that he’ll receive his “usual fee” on the way out.
Later, she wakes up and finds herself wearing a specialized prisoner suit before she’s met upon by a four-armed mutant prisoner named Jed. While they’re trapped within their own specialized cells, he proceeds to introduce her to their fellow imprisoned comrades: Miguel (who can manipulate gravity), Billy (who can rapidly spin and become his own mini-tornado) and his sister Milly (who can become living water). Just then, they’re approached by Dr. Teed who proceeds to put them through painful testings and analysis.
Afterwards, he presents his findings to Sherman before stating that their newest captive (whom he codenamed “Unit X” due to Marie refusing to reveal her name) has a power that can potentially exceed the other prisoners, especially since she can “absorb mutant abilities and even memories from pure humans by touch alone”. As such, Sherman orders him to speed up their testing process and focus their efforts on her. Back in Cell Block 5, Billy is worried due to the doctors injecting his sister with a multitude of drugs in order to keep her under their sedated control. Miguel and Jed begin to argue with each other before Marie tells them to calm down as she exclaims that she’s come up with an escape plan. Because they can’t break out of their own cells due to them being built specifically to nullify their powers, they’ll focus their abilities at each others’ cells. As such, Miguel sets it in motion by focusing his gravity powers in order to weaken Jed’s cell, who then uses his claws to pierce Milly’s tank. After she spills out, she manages to touch Marie’s hand and allow her to temporarily have her power. Just as they break out of their cells however, Sherman finally notices this via the security cameras and activates the alarm. As the imprisoned mutants begin their escape, the liquefied Marie tells Billy that his sister will stay solid now that she’s out of her cell, though she will be out of commission for a while.
Just then, they’re met upon by some guards as Miguel uses his gravity-based power against them. Afterwards, he watches over Milly while Billy turns into a mini-twister and attacks. Just as Marie joins the fight, she’s shocked to find Jed holding Dr. Teed at bay and intends to slay him. Fortunately, she tells him to not “descend to their level” as the devious doctor is allowed to escape. Just as Miguel is helping the semi-conscious Milly out, he’s suddenly fatally shot from behind by a guard with Billy retaliating against the sentry. Marie & Jed return as they discover what happened before she tells him to get the mutant siblings out. Before she heads out to join them, a dying Miguel asks her for one last favor.
Meanwhile, Billy, Milly and Jed are about to escape from the facility. However, they’re met upon by Sherman who reveals that he’s a mutant. In particular, he becomes a green and scale-like being with his left arm becoming a massive tentacle. Jed wonders why a fellow mutant is keeping them against their will before Sherman attacks him and Milly in response as he exclaims that he wants to be “cured”. As he holds Billy by the neck, Sherman says that he hopes to find a cure within their DNA. Just then, Marie arrives as she reveals that she’s taken Miguel’s gravity powers before he died. As such, she easily evades his strikes before using her temporary ability to press him up against the wall. She then exclaims that she could easily crush him, but willingly chooses to go against it in order to reveal this devious operation to the world. However, Sherman had a remote at the ready as he uses it to blow the base up. Fortunately, she uses the remainder of Miguel’s gravity power to contain the massive blast.
Later, she wakes up with her fellow mutants inside of a boxcar that’s heading north. Jed explains that she contained the explosion long enough for them to escape, but holding back the massive blast caused her to pass out. Milly thanks her for helping them out and offers her to stay with them so that they can reunite with their family, since they’re part of a traveling circus. However, Marie declines since she wants to “live a normal live”, as well as “find out who I am”. Meanwhile, Magento watches a newscast about the explosion at the Sherman Chemical Plant. Because Erik has known about Sherman’s connection to Sen. Kelly, he tells Sabretooth to investigate the scene so that they potentially add to their ranks. And so, the comic ends at a familiar Canadian bar (the Lion’s Den) as Marie thanks a truck driver for helping her out, but that she would like to head out on her own. However, he says that she’s staying with him before ordering her to get some beer. From there, she heads over to the bar and asks a particular Canucklehead for help.
We now conclude this particular batch with a fight for self-discovery up north in “X-Men: The Movie Prequel-Wolverine” (Writer: Jay Faerber, Pencils: Karl Waller, Inker: Mark McKenna). This tale begins with James Howlett a.k.a. Logan a.k.a. Wolverine arriving at the Lion’s Head Bar in Kamloops, British Columbia, while a newscast reports about the recent U.S. Senate hearing between Jean Grey and Robert Kelly concerning the rise of mutant activity. Logan makes his way to the counter and shows the bartender a picture of himself with a woman standing next to a sign with the word “Lion” on it before asking if this is the same place. However, the bartender says that it isn’t and that he doesn’t recognize him. Afterwards, a patron makes a random comment about him having “a face that’s pretty hard to forget”. This sets James off as he proceeds to fight the guy and his comrade while the newscast gives an explanation on how a person is born as a mutant. She says that Xavier has a notion where it stems from the “Junk DNA”, a certain strand within the “millions of genes” that seems to be useless, but are believed by scientists to have been the reason why some people have developed mutant powers. Meanwhile, Logan defeats the two ruffians before the bartender draws a shotgun on him. Fortunately, he easily slices it up with his Adamantium Claws. As he takes his leave, the newscast continues its mutant discussion by exclaiming that the result of what can occur from their genetics are seemingly infinite and can range from harmless to harmful. While Charles exclaims that mutants are still human beings, the uproar within the U.S. Senate isn’t on the same boat of believability. We then transition to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters as the X-Men were also watching the newscast. Cyclops blasts the TV out of anger that the broadcast seemed to portray all mutants as freaks. Charles then tells his field leader to calm down before exclaiming that the team needs to be as level-headed as they can get, especially in preparation for what Magento has in store. From there, we briefly shift over to Erik and his Brotherhood of Mutants who’re in flight on their mission. While the rest of the team (particularly Mystique & Toad) goofs around, Magneto tell his group to stay focused on their mission since they have “a war to win”.
We then transition into a nightmare where Logan is going through the painful process of having the adamantium bonded to his skeleton before the mysterious woman from the picture tells him to come back to her since she still loves him. He then wakes up from the dream within his mobile home before he tearfully exclaims that he hates criss-crossing the Canadian countryside not knowing his true self or even whom the lady in the picture is. Just then, he hears someone coughing outside as he runs out and discovers a Chinese woman lying in a field. While she’s unsure of how she wound up here, she’s also says that she doesn’t remember her name. Logan takes her inside his mobile home and proceeds to test the range of her amnesia, discovering that it seems to only be affecting her on a personal level and that it stems from a traumatic event. When he suggests taking her to either a doctor or the cops, she freaks out and says that she can’t go to the police. James calms her down and says that he won’t carelessly discard her and that they’ll discover her identity together. She then asks why we would want to help her, to which he exclaims that he’s become very familiar with amnesia.
We then cut to the following morning in Downtown Vancouver where Logan has not only bought some clothes and breakfast for her, but he even allows her to wear his jacket. Suddenly, they’re approached by a police officer as James finds their means of escape by punching a motorcyclist off of his bike and taking the helmet for her to wear. A chase ensues before they ultimately elude the cop by making a skillful leap onto a ferry. During the ride, Logan asks her why she had to elude the law. She exclaims that she felt unsure since she didn’t feel like a criminal, yet she was absolutely certain that she couldn’t talk to the cop. Suddenly, she starts to get a familiarity from being out on the water as James tells her elaborate on it. However, she ends up losing her mental image.
Later that evening, the ferry arrives at the Vancouver Ferry Terminal where the police were waiting. They stop a fish delivery driver and ask to search his van, unaware that Logan and the woman are hiding on the underside of the vehicle. With the police unable to find them, they send the driver on his way.
Later that night, they make their way to Vancouver’s Chinatown where James continues his attempt to help her reclaim her memory. During their stroll, they start to grow close to each other as they proceed to hold hands. After she helps a young boy who fell off of his bicycle, Logan asks her if she has any kids. She exclaims that she doesn’t know, but it’s something that she would like to remember if she did. Unbeknownst to them, a pair of guys are on the phone with someone as they exclaim that they’ve found her. Later, James and the woman arrive to eat at a Chinese restaurant before she excuses herself towards the ladies room. After a while, James starts to worry about her and heads over to the restroom. Just then, his heightened sense of smell picks up some cologne from within the ladies room as he bursts in to discover three guys attempting to subdue her. Logan takes out the gunman, but the woman gets forced out of a window with another thug.
Thankfully, she fell onto an adjacent rooftop and landed on top of the goon. Another fiend leaps down and attempts to shoot her, but James tackles him with enough force to disrupt his aim. A struggle ensues before both sides end up striking each other as Logan jams his claws into the goon while taking a bullet in his shoulder. While he and the woman manage to escape, the lone surviving man calls up his boss and informs him that their kidnapping scheme was upended by a mutant. After ordering him to get himself and any of his surviving comrades some much-needed medical attention, he hangs up and tells another associate that their scheme had hit a minor setback, since their target has someone protecting her. As such, he orders his lackey to contact the Silver Samurai.
Later that night, James and the woman manage to hide out at the Luxury Inn, with him checking in under a false name and paying with cash in order for them to not get tracked. After thanking him for going above-and-beyond to save her, she starts to examine his wounded shoulder. However, his Healing Factor managed to eradicate the majority of the injury already. As such, he admits that he’s a mutant who also has enhanced senses and surgically-grafted claws. He also admits that because of his amnesia, he doesn’t know who gave him the specialized claws, yet the fact that they both have this specific kind of memory loss is why he wants to help her. She then says that once the morning comes, she’ll head out in order to not burden him. However, he holds her back and asks if the true reason for her sudden need to leave is because he’s a mutant, which is also why she’s still alive. She then says that her true reason to depart is because she’s been relying on him too much and that she’s sure that she was never the kind of woman who let’s others fight her battles. Logan then says that he’s actually fighting his own battle since he was willing to give up trying to rediscover his own identity right before she came along. With deep admiration for his actions, she expresses her thanks with a hug. We then shift over to Japan where Kenuichio Harada a.k.a. Silver Samurai easily slaughters his sparring ninjas before his assistant informs him that Kohama requires his help and that he must fly overseas immediately.
Back in Vancouver, James has been staying up in order to keep watch while the woman is sleeping. Suddenly, she wakes up as she informs him that she dreamed of something that’s possibly tied to her past, though she’s able to recall a single word: “Orchid”. He then tells her to concentrate in order to figure out how it’s connected, but she still struggles to make the mental connections as she asks when she’ll be free from her own confusion. He proceeds to comfort her and promises that her own mental struggles will end real soon.
We then shift ahead the following morning as they attempt to head out. However, a pair of undercover detectives were observing them from afar as the police get signaled to successfully swarm them. Later at the Vancouver Police Station, the woman is met upon by the same figures from before as they introduce themselves as Detective Brian Genessee and Detective Phil Taft before assuring her that her memory will ultimately be restored. Brian then hands her a specific item, which turns out to be a police badge as she discovers that she’s a cop named Natsu Teshima. When she asks why the police were after her if she’s an officer, Genessee explains that she was infiltrating a criminal organization that’s led by a gangster named Kohama. She had worked her way deep within the devious circle before she vanished from police contact, thus explaining why the cops were after her. Natsu says that it starts to make sense to her before saying that she was pursued by “some Japanese men” who’re probably working for Kohama. Brian then proceeds to implore her about something vital that she was going to tell him for an upcoming meeting. When he asks her what happened there, she says that she’s unsure before he exclaims that her “new friend” could possibly fill in the blanks for them.
Afterwards, the two detectives approach James and proceed to interrogate him on his dog tags, specifically about the name “Wolverine” and what it’s supposed to mean about him. However, Logan just snatches them from Genessee’s hands and calls him “kid” before demanding to know why he’s being held here. Phil tell him that they can keep him in jail for a single day before they’re able to slap him with a legit charge, while Brian snaps at James’ wisecracks and demands to know his real name. He says that they shouldn’t be wasting their time with him and should instead try to keep the woman safe, to which Genessee says that they’ll take “good care” of Natsu before telling him to get used to this police station. Later, Logan has been placed within a jail cell. While the guard has his back turned, he uses his adamantium claws to slice the outside bars and escape.
Meanwhile, Brian and Phil are driving Natsu to a safe house. During the ride, she starts to smell a certain and familiar cologne emanating from Genessee. Suddenly, the scent snaps a mental spark within her mind as she remembers what it was she was going to report. Just then Genessee takes out his gun and executes Taft before Natsu grabs his arm and exclaims that he’s on Kohama’s payroll. During the struggle, he loses control and ultimately crashes into another vehicle. However, he remains conscious as opposed to Natsu as he carries her body and commandeers another citizen’s car before driving off.
Later, they arrive at the Vancouver dockyards as Natsu is being held at the mercy of Kohama and Brian. The Chinese crime boss then proceeds to help Officer Teshima regain her memory on the incident that made her lose it to begin with as the corrupt detective tried to kill her, but she managed to jump overboard and escape. Kohama says that his men would’ve captured her at the Chinese restaurant had her “Guardian Angel” not intervened. As such, he hired the Silver Samurai in order to deal with her protector. Now that her mutant bodyguard is out of the way, Harada will now execute her. Just then, one of Kohama’s henchmen is dropped from his lookout position upon the walkway as Wolverine arrives to save her. After landing on top of Kohama, Logan explains that he was able put “Orchid” and the feeling she got from the ferry ride together in order to discover that he had to go to the docks. After giving Natsu the sentry’s gun, he proceeds to take on the Silver Samurai while she goes after Kohama. James manages to evade Harada’s strike before kicking his helmet off and slicing his katana. Afterwards, Kenuichio exclaims that he doesn’t need to sword to win. He then grabs James’ claws and says that the blade wasn’t the source of his powers as he sends a tachyon pulse through the claws, delivering insufferable pain upon Logan. Fortunately, he manages to withstand the great agony and takes care of Harada off-panel.
Meanwhile, Natsu continues her pursuit of the devious crime boss. Suddenly, Kohama slams a door upon her as she rams into it and become dazed. He then takes the gun and drags her by her hair topside as he prepares to finally kill her off. Fortunately, Wolverine intervenes once again and stabs the crime boss with his claws before tossing him over the side. Just as they begin to take comfort in the fact that this harrowing ordeal is finally over, Natsu spots one last henchman approaching them as Logan shields her from the fiend’s aim. Even though James ends up getting shot over the side, she managed to discreetly rearm herself and gun the perp down afterwards.
We then cut to Logan’s mobile home two days later as Natsu pays him a visit. She tells him that the police have assumed that he died as a result of their recent venture. Not only that, but she used her precinct’s computer system to search every Canadian bar with Lion in their names as she gives him a list of said businesses, as well as a probability rate of those he should seriously focus on. They thank each other before he sadly exclaims that they’ll most likely never see each other again. She says that it’s most likely, since their amnesia is what brought them together in the first place, before asking if they could give a possible relationship with each other a try should he finally reclaim his identity. After sharing a kiss, James tells her that “maybe” they could. Four days later, his search has taken him to the Alberta-based Lion’s Den as he shows the familiar picture to the bartender. While the guy tells him that it’s most likely that it was taken in front of this bar, he’s not familiar with the woman on the picture. Afterwards, the comic ends with Marie getting told by a truck driver that she’s staying with him before ordering her to get him a beer, where she proceeds to approach James and ask him for help.
On a quick sidenote before we continue, the majority of Wolverine’s prequel tale was also presented in a promotional piece called “X-Men: The Movie-Special Movie Prequel Edition”. As shown on the cover, it was given out at Toys “R” Us (whose legacy lives on nowadays as Tru Kids Brands) on July 14, 2000 (if the cover is any indication). While it does focus on the aforementioned Wolverine prequel comic, it’s not the entire tale as it starts at Logan’s nightmaric past of the Adamantium bonding process and ends with the Silver Samurai who’s about to embark on an international flight for Vancouver in order to fulfill Kohama’s kill-order.
Now, we’ve reached the core part of this particular tale. Released the same month as the three prequel comics, Marvel published “The Official Comic Adaptation” where it went on to sell 46,246 copies and was the 25th best-selling comic of June 2000. Not only that, but it slightly outsold Wolverine’s prequel issue by only 155 copies. As for the core people who worked on this screen-to-page translation, Ralph Macchio would handling the writing duties, Anthony Williams took care of the pencil work and Andy Lanning was in charge of inking this tale. As for the differences that the comic adaptation made in comparison to the film, here’s what I found.
In terms of its own prologue, it begins by omitting Charles’ opening monologue about mutation. Following Erik’s introduction within Auschwitz, the comic then presents an exclusive opening for Storm. It presents her as a child in 1988 Kenya where she’s tormented by a group of rowdy children, even calling her “Silverstreak”. Ororo ultimately summons a hailstorm to chase them off. Afterwards, Rogue’s introduction has an alteration. Instead of the incident occurring in a house (within Meridian, Mississippi), her life-absorption power accidentally activated at a school dance. Either way, she accidentally sends a young boy (Sean in her prequel comic, David in the movie) into a coma.
Shifting over to the U.S. Capitol building, the comic adds onto Jean Grey’s presentation as she shows Congress her findings of the mutant population’s rise due to their “Junk DNA” activating this new evolutionary stage. However, another addition felt more like a detraction since after Sen. Kelly holds up a confirmed list of names listing off the mutants currently living in America & convincing the Senate to push forward with the Mutant Registration Act, Jean decides to telekinetically take this list from his hand in order to see it for herself. Needless to say, that action doesn’t exactly help out the mutant cause.
Following Xavier’s talk with Lehnsherr, the comic then adds a scene with Logan arriving at the Lion’s Den in order to implore about his past via a picture showing himself with a woman, while also omitting his cage matches. This then leads into a difference between the comic adaptation and the film. In the comic, Marie gets hassled by a pair of goons and decides to ask James for help. One of the perps ends up touching her face and winds up on the receiving end of her power. The other ruffian thinks that Logan was somehow involved before he puts the perp in his place. Meanwhile, the movie had the hooligan attempting to cause trouble upon our Canucklehead after losing a cage match. James is able to hold him up at claw-point before easily slicing the bartender’s shotgun and calmly take his leave.
Afterwards, Rogue attempts to sneak a ride from Logan, but his heightened sense of smell easily picks her up. The film had her hiding outside on the trailer and is initially ditched before his consciousness allows her back on. Here, she was hiding within the mobile home and is automatically allowed to stay. From there, their initial conversation was altered in translation. In the movie, they exclusively talk about their powers and share their first names. As for the comic, she asks him about the woman in the picture before they briefly talk about their mutant connection. Finally, there’s the part involving Sabretooth’s sneak attack upon Wolverine. While that scene essentially plays out the same way, including Victor getting chased off by Storm & Cyclops before they save Marie and Logan from the exploding vehicle, the comic added the picture getting incinerated as a result. On a side note, that snapshot of James & the woman is exclusive to the tie-in material and is never seen in the film.
From there, let’s move past Victor showing Wolverine’s dog tags to Erik and head over to the X-Men’s underground facility where Jean looks over Logan. The movie has her presented within more of a casual doctor oufit and she was about to inject him with some medical fluid. Here in the comic, she’s in her crime-fighting costume. Either way, he wakes up and briefly chokes her before attempting to escape.
Eventually, Wolverine unintentionally makes his way to Professor X. In the film, Charles uses his mind to cast out false voices in order to guide James towards his location, which is a classroom. Here, Logan finds Xavier all by himself within a room. While their initial scene somewhat plays out the same way in the movie, the particular teammates and how their initial meetings are handled has been altered. While the comic has a much-more worried Scott & Jean enter before they get properly introduced, the movie had a far-more calm Scott & Ororo enter, followed by Jean. Also, the comic omits James getting a tour of the campus by Charles, Rogue’s first class where she meets her love interest for the series in Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman and Xavier informing Logan about his own burgeoning psychic power, as well as his initial meeting with Erik. The adaptation also omits the scene where Jean gets to properly examine Wolverine, as well as her presentation of his Adamantium skeleton to Professor X and her teammates, where it also establishes his Healing Factor and the signature memory loss that resulted from the traumatic bonding process, not to mention a foreshadowing line where Charles says that he’s not entirely sure that Magento is really after Logan.
The scene where Magento demonstrates his mutation machine to the captured Sen. Kelly essentially plays out the same way, but omits Sabretooth and Toad from this scene in the comic. The adaptation then adds a brief moment where the affected senator is released from his shackles and he immediately escapes. As a result, it ends up omitting Robert’s actual escape via his newfound jellyfish-esque flexibility and slickness, not to mention the part where he pops up on a public beach and sees a newscast mention the upcoming United Nations summit meeting on Ellis Island. From there, the comic then omits the scene where Jean shows Logan his bedroom. She briefly demonstrates her telekinesis before exclaiming that her psychic prowess is nowhere near the same level as Charles. She then briefly attempts to read James’ mind and gets a few flashes of the traumatic bonding process before Scott shows up, which sets up the love triangle between these three characters.
The scene involving Logan, his nightmare of the bonding process and then waking up to accidentally stab Rogue with his claws before she’s forced to touch him & briefly gain his Healing Factor plays out like normal. However, it’s followed by a pair of differences. First, the comic only has Jean, Scott and Ororo show up while the movie had them, alongside Bobby and a small group of the students here as well. Second, while the movie saw Cyclops immediately get a pillow for the unconscious Wolverine, the comic felt the need for him to be a bit jealous and resentful, thus boosting the love triangle. From there, the following scene of Xavier explaining Marie’s life-absorption power to James essentially plays out the same way. However, the comic adds Jean to the scene in order for them to have a little romantic banter.
The part where Rogue gets convinced into leaving the mansion basically plays out the same way, but while the movie used Mystique disguised as Iceman, the comic had Raven pretending to be some random student named John. This essentially goes back to the difference the comic made in omitting Bobby from the life-absorption incident. Because he was present for that moment in the film, it could be argued that Mystique was there pretending to be him and that this particular moment presented a golden opportunity for her and the Brotherhood of Mutants. So yeah, big point for the movie.
There’s also some altered dialogue when Charles introduces Cerebro in an attempt to locate Marie after she ran away. While Xavier’s dialogue starts off word-for-word, it then proceeds to differ after he says that the device allows him “to locate mutants across great distances”. In the comic, he tells Logan that he used it to follow Sabretooth in order to ultimately find him. He then says that Jean will operate Cerebro’s controls from the outside (not sure how that works since the movie never goes there) while he uses the headpiece in order to find Rogue. For the film, James asks why he can’t just use Cerebro to find Magento, to which Charles says that Erik has “found some way to shield himself from it”. This particular inconstancy will pop up again, so I’ll bring it up when we get there. Either way, the film at least does have Charles acknowledge the moment from Magento’s prequel comic where Erik assisted him in creating Cerebro. One last note about this scene, the comic omits James asking Jean if she ever used it, to which she says that she hasn’t due to it requiring the user to have lots of mental control. As such, it also ends up omitting a later scene where she fixes Cerebro after Mystique’s tampering sent Xavier into a coma. Despite the psychic strain, she managed to use it long enough to learn what Erik’s master plan is.
As a consolation, the comic does have a later scene where Jean mentions that she repaired it before Cyclops tunes it towards her own brainwaves in order to locate Rogue. Either way, this initial scene ends with Wolverine taking off to get her back, yet the comic omits the part where he takes Scott’s motorcycle in order to reach the station.
Because Raven breaking in to Cerebro happens at the same time that the X-Men are at the train station, I’ll briefly mention the difference in how Mystique pulls off her side-mission. While the part of her changing her retina to match Charles’ eyes is consistent on both sides, how she looks going in and what she does to Cerebro are different. The comic has her initially disguised as John and after she gets inside, she simply stabs a vital mechanism with a screwdriver. The movie still has her initially looking like Iceman and after she manages to gain access, she installs a vial containing some kind of mental toxin.
In the scene where Logan gets to the train that Marie is on, there’s some alteration within their conversation. The comic weirdly has James mentioning what little of his past that he’s able to remember. Specifically, he woke up within the woods one day with no memories and no idea how he got his Adamantium claws, even trying to kill himself since he only saw his power as a curse. Thankfully, he ultimately thought against that ever since Rogue used her life-absorption ability on him and he had a brief touch with death from that experience. As such, he thanks her for that personal reconsideration. In the film, they briefly acknowledge said incident before she explains why she’s running away. She even mentions that the first boy she ever kissed (most likely David) wound up in a three-week coma. Not only that, but she still feels some mental residuals of him within her mind. Either way, both scenes end with Wolverine convincing her to give Xavier’s school another shot and he even promises to help her out.
As for Storm getting assaulted by Sabretooth, the comic has a minor alteration as Victor boastfully smacks her aside. Meanwhile, the movie has him grabbing her neck at the ticket booth. Either way, Toad still uses his tongue to swipe Cyclops’ visor before Ororo summons some lightning onto Sabretooth.
Now, we get to Magento, Sabretooth and Toad having kidnapped Rogue and are attempting to escape before they’re met upon by the police. The comic omits Erik using his magnetism manipulation to relieve the officers of their firearms and even threaten to turn their weapons against them. While the comic has Charles taking mental control over Victor (instead of both him and Mortimer like in the film) and communicates through him in order to tell his former friend to cease with his scheme, the most baffling moment comes where Charles & Erik mentally talk to each other. If you remember from Magento’s prequel comic, Xavier was able to psychically attack Erik, even though he was wearing his signature helmet. Even if the comic included the movie’s line where Lehnsherr was able to evade Cerebro’s detection, there’s already some contradiction within the tie-in materials since Joe Pruitt and Ralph Macchio have both forgotten that Erik shouldn’t be receiving anything psychic-related as long as he has his helmet on. Also, the movie allows Erik to deliver a far-more devious ultimatum: He’ll only let Marie go if he allows Charles to mentally control Sabretooth into killing him, thus proving to humanity that mutants don’t deserve to co-exist with “homo sapiens”. Also, Magento uses an officer’s gun and fires a bullet at the official’s forehead, yet he manages to use his power to temporarily prevent the shot from complete penetration (which does happen in the comic) before threatening to carry through with the rest of the firearms. After Xavier releases his mental control and Mystique arrives with the helicopter, the movie simply has Erik and his henchmen stroll onto their craft and head out. For some reason, the comic decided to have the police attempt to fire back at him, yet Magneto easily protects his comrades with a magnetic field. As this long-winded difference will no doubt show, the film easily wins this particular round out of common sense. However, I will end this paragraph on a positive note by saying that both versions do have the cop getting spared from the deadly bullet.
In the aftermath scene at Xavier’s mansion, both versions portray Wolverine being mad at Charles for not knowing that Rogue was Magneto’s true target before he attempts to leave in order to search for her. While the movie has Xavier rightfully exclaim that Erik’s helmet was able to negate his telepathy, the comic decides to have Logan argue with Cyclops about it (with Jean silently watching). Because Ororo was present in this scene of the movie, she tries to convince James not to run off on his own and that he should stay and prepare for their upcoming battle. The comic condenses this moment into a single panel where he’s by himself, but he still initially refuses to fight alongside the X-Men.
Now that the slowly dying senator has arrived at the mansion, we then reach the part where Xavier scans Kelly’s mind in order to learn what Erik truly has in store. Just like the film, he and his team learn about Magneto’s machine and his attempt to forcefully mutate humans, but their bodies reject it and are instead harmed by the radiation. However, the comic doesn’t show Charles mentally seeing the key moment where Magneto was weakened from powering his machine, thus the team would figure out how Rogue will be used. As such, it saves that revealing detail for later when Erik is about to use Marie to power the machine for him. Afterwards, the comic does omit Magneto and the Brotherhood arriving at Liberty Island in order to set up their master plan, in addition to Erik telling Rogue that America isn’t tolerant and that she’ll be sacrificed in order for the world leaders to become mutated. It also cuts out the X-Men planning to infiltrate this scheme, as well as their flight.
From there, their initial infiltration mainly plays out on both sides, beginning with Wolverine temporarily going off on his own, Mystique disguising herself as Logan in order to attack the team and James intervening in time before fighting her. Afterwards, Toad comes in and takes Cyclops out of the fight, temporarily deals with Storm and then spits some gunk onto Jean’s face where she starts to suffocate. While Scott recovers and uses his Optic Blast to destroy the gunk, Ororo also rebounds and summons some severe winds to blow Mortimer out, where he’s forced to hold onto a railing with his tongue before she takes him out for good with some lightning. If you’re wondering, the comic does leave out her infamous line.
When Mystique disguises herself as Storm and approaches Logan (not knowing that his heightened senses gave her presence away), he takes her out in completely different ways. While the comic simply has him knocking her out with a punch to the face, the movie sees him delivering a non-fatal stab of his claws. Afterwards, there’s also a minor difference in how Wolverine proves to Cyclops that he’s the genuine article. The comic has James saying that he would’ve turned him into “Shredded Wheat”, while the film has him simply exclaiming “You’re a dick”. Either way, Scott gets convinced as the team regroups.
When the X-Men get captured within Lady Liberty’s crown before they’re approached by Erik and Victor, the comic simply has Magneto confirming his plan to them while the movie has Jean and Storm informing him that the forced mutation has killed Sen. Kelly, though Erik doesn’t believe them.
From there, certain events do play out on both sides: Magneto allows Rogue to absorb his ability in order for her to power his machine, while Wolverine stabs himself with his claws in order to free himself, recover with his Healing Factor and then fight Sabretooth, reacquiring his dog tags in the process. While Cyclops does ultimately take Victor out with his Optic Blast, the comic has an artistic flub. While Scott does get some telekinetic help, it has Storm saying that she’ll telepathically open up his visor instead of Jean. With Mike Marts & Mike Raicht credited as editor and assistant editor respectfully, I’m surprised that no one caught this blunder.
As for the climactic finale, the setup and payoff are handled differently. The movie has Cyclops unwilling to blast the machine without risking Rogue’s life, while the comic version saw Scott actually wanting to do so, yet Logan refrains him from said action. After Storm uses some wind to get Wolverine up to the active machine, the comic sees him easily destroying the machine before confronting the weakened Erik where he knocks the fiend out with a punch. On the other hand, the film saw Magneto able to hold Logan back. As such, Cyclops takes precise aim and shoots his Optic Blast, taking Erik out and allowing James to destroy the machine. Either way, both versions have Marie alive enough for her life-absorption ability to take his Healing Factor in order to completely heal herself.
From there, Logan’s recovery scene with Jean essentially plays out the same way as in the movie (aside from her wearing casual clothes instead of her doctor’s outfit, James asking about Scott instead of Professor X and Logan somehow having a cigar in his bed). Afterwards, Wolverine learns about “an abandoned military compound at Alkalai Lake in the Canadian Rockies”. The comic then sees Logan giving Charles his dog tags in order for him to give them to Marie. In fact, James doesn’t bother to see her again here. As for the film, they do chat one last time before he embarks on his personal mission. For their final conversation within this piece, they do comment about the newly-formed silver streak in her hair (which the comic doesn’t give her) before he gives her his dog tags and promises to return. The scene also has another difference in terms of a newly-deceased senator. The film has a newscast where Mystique is disguised as Robert Kelly and mentions the personally changed stance on mutants, while the comic just acknowledges his “disappearance”. Either way, the scene ends with Logan getting Scott’s motorcycle before riding off.
As for the final scene where Charles is visiting Erik within his plastic prison, the only major difference there comes in the form of rearranged and altered dialogue.
Just like Wolverine’s prequel tale, the fine folks at Toys “R” Us also published their own version of the comic. This Special Edition does contain the majority of the movie adaptation, starting with Logan’s arrival at the Lion’s Den and ending with him leaving the mansion for Alkali Lake. Not only that, but it also contains some bonus features. It has a sketchbook containing drawings of mutants that were set to appear soon within the main line of X-Men books, profiles of the featured X-Men members called “Magneto’s X-Men X-Ray”, uses a scene from Magneto’s prequel comic in a section called “How a comic is made” and there’s even an interview with Hugh Jackman himself. If you’re interested, then consider adding this to your collection.
Next up, we have a short and unexpected entry amongst this stack of tie-in material called “X-Men: The Movie–I-Connect Special”. Published in Late 2000/Early 2001, this minuscule tale which was written by Scott Lobdell, drawn by Salvador Larroca and inked by Art Thibert & Scott Hanna will explore a minor incident that occurred following the team’s triumphant victory in a short story called “A Rogue By Any Other Name”.
We open at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters as Iceman is walking towards the mansion with a fellow student named Kitty Pryde a.k.a. Shadowcat. Specifically, he’s escorting her to her dorm room and is just making sure that she safely gets there, especially due to recent events. Suddenly, they’re approached by Marie who’s in a feral-like state and is about to attack them. Kitty manages to shove Bobby out of the way before becoming intangible as she phases through Rogue’s strikes.
Just then, Marie gets hit by Cyclops’ Optic Blast as he and Storm arrive to get their teammate under control. However, Rogue isn’t able to snap of her primal rage and attempts to attack Scott. Fortunately, Ororo uses a timely gust of wind to protect the team’s field leader. Kitty then asks about this current dilemma, to which Cyclops explains that Marie was dying due to the massive strain from Magneto’s machine. As such, Wolverine touched her and allowed his Healing Factor to be absorbed into her. While Rogue did recover, she also absorbed some of Logan’s feral-like personality. When Shadowcat asks if Professor X can help, Scott says that he can, yet he’s currently away on some personal business.
Meanwhile, a fully-recovered Charles is visiting a fully-restrained Erik. Lehnsherr exclaims that the horrors he went through in Auschwitz continue to haunt him as Xavier tells him that he was only dreaming “of a world the way it was”. However, Magneto continues to berate his former friend for continually visualizing “a world that will never be”. Within the walls of the plastic cell that Charles had built specifically for him, he tells Erik that he came to talk with him “about the future”.
Back at the mansion, Jean has entered the fray as she psychically subdues Rogue. From there, she proceeds to probe through Marie’s mind and is able to snap her out of her own berserker rage. And so, the comic ends with Rogue asking how Wolverine is doing, to which Storm exclaims that they’re unsure as he lies unconscious within his personal recovery process.
We’ve now reached our final piece of tie-in material for this inaugural film called “X-Men: The Movie-Special Edition”, presented by the famed card game company known as Wizards of the Coast. Published in 2000, Jay Faerber is once again called upon to handle writing duties. Joining him in the artist’s chair is Anthony Williams on pencils, while Steven Baskerville takes care of inking duties. As such, let’s wrap this section up with an action-packed tale called “Call To Arms”.
We open within the underground base beneath Xavier’s School as the X-Men are telepathically summoned by Professor X. Upon the team’s arrival, he explains that Magneto has sent out his Brotherhood of Mutants to commit two separate attacks upon the opposite coasts. As such, he tells Wolverine & Rogue to fly out to California in order to deal with Sabretooth, while he has Cyclops, Jean and Storm go to New York City in order to stop Mystique & Toad’s rampage. Victor is causing destruction out in the Golden State (and most likely in Inglewood, since the familiar sign for Randy’s Donuts is seen).
Suddenly, he’s approached by Logan and Marie as they evade Creed’s attempt to harm them with a hot dog stand before James manages to land a punch. However, Sabretooth kicks him away as Rogue steps in and touches his face, which causes them to fall off the boardwalk and into the water. Wolverine dives in to help her, but she’s holding her own as she uses Victor’s savage fury against him before Logan knocks him out by slamming his head into the pier.
Meanwhile, Scott, Jean and Ororo are having trouble as Mortimer’s agile nature keeps the team at bay. Cyclops tries to fire his Optic Blast at Toad, but he misses and accidentally causes some massive rubble to fall towards some innocent civilians. Fortunately, Jean uses her telekinesis and saves the bystanders before telling them to clear out. Afterwards, Scott is approached by a cop who asks him how he can assist them, to which Cyclops says that he can help evacuate the nearby people from the area. However, he suddenly gets blindsided by the officer who turned out to be Mystique. Fortunately, Storm caught her act as she takes Raven out with a massive gust. After Jean regroups with Toad psychically caught, they hear Magneto attempting to contact Mystique. Scott takes the communicator and tells Erik that he & his team have lost.
Magneto is furious to hear of his team’s failure before returning his attention towards a young boy named Malcolm. Because the child is also a mutant, Erik attempts to recruit him by convincing him that humankind will never accept him. Just as the kid says that he’s unsure, they’re suddenly approached by Charles who tells the boy that Magneto will only teach him how to hate and resent humanity. Erik calls his former friend foolish before showing off his recently recruited Acolytes, consisting of Suvik Senyaka, Fabian Cortez and Joanna Cargill a.k.a Frenzy. Magneto then reveals that he purposefully sent his Brotherhood out to cause destruction in order for them to distract the X-Men long enough for him to talk with Malcolm.
However, Xavier says that he’s also done some recruiting as well, signaling the arrival of Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Angel, Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. Colossus and Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke. From there, both sides of newly-recruited mutants begin their attack as Senyaka wraps his energy whip around Angel’s leg. Fortunately, Warren is able to take flight and drag Suvik for a while before they crash into the trees with Worthington being the only one staying conscious following the conflict. Meanwhile, Psylocke is fighting Cortez. However, Fabian grabs her arm and unleashes his power enhancement upon her. With her own telepathy getting overloaded to the point of mental strain, she manages to take him out with a Psyblade as she stabs his mind and causes him to pass out. Finally, Frenzy is initially able to land several strikes upon Colossus. Fortunately, he’s able to grab her arms and take her out with a strong backhand. As Magneto retreats with his Acolytes, the comic ends with Xavier telling Malcolm that mutants & humans are capable of living in peaceful coexistence and that in time, it’s a dream that’ll become reality.
Overall, this batch of tie-in material has its own unique blend of highs and lows. Magento’s prequel comic excels in presenting a backstory for Erik’s past friendship with Charles, delivering their ideals on how they should handle the unjustly prejudice that mutants have endured. Despite Xavier’s kind-hearted friendship, he’s unable to look past his personal pain as his faith in humanity has been wreaked by the infamously cruel tactics of the Nazis, the random attacks by terroristic madmen and the misguided beliefs of politicians like Sen. Kelly. The interactions between the two fri-enemies provides the strongest narrative throughout as their clashes in both peaceful debate and in tense confrontation delivers the uneasy history that these two beings will carry into their actual cinematic ventures within this particular timeline. I’m aware that a Magento-centered origin movie was in development throughout the 2000s, though those initial plans were ultimately retooled into “X-Men: First Class” following the critical failure of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. After knowing of the creation and eventual strain placed upon that iteration of Charles and Erik’s friendship within that different timeline, it was nice to see something similar happen within the original iteration, thus giving Xavier and Lehnsherr’s past some room to develop in a way that the movie was unable to do. However, it’s biggest problem is the art work. While its generally fine and competent throughout, there are a few moments where people look sketchy or in the case of Charles during the scene following his last encounter with Henry (a.k.a. the future Beast), looks stretched out and looking like a fleshy twig. Also, there’s the aforementioned moment during the climax where Xavier attacks Magneto with his mind. Maybe those mental attacks could be see as forceful shots, but there was actually a moment where he communicated with Erik and another one where he places a mental strain on him after disarming the cops. All of which occur while Magneto was wearing his signature helmet, which is supposed to protect his mind from those things. Even with its faults, Erik’s development into the grand being and the bane of the X-Men for this iteration is still mainly solid with a man who’s plight is understandable, even when his morality forces him to become a powerful bully against humanity’s own bigoted bullies in order for mutant kind to survive. For Rogue’s tale, the beginning is a bit conflicting in terms of when her incident at the dance happened in occurrence with her first scene in the movie where her power affects David. Maybe her introductory moment from the movie took place several months before the school dance and it was so traumatic that she attempted to block it from her mind. After all, the film (at least in terms of her appearances) goes from that to her arrival at the Calgary-based bar. Speaking of, that initial meeting in both her prequel comic and Logan’s doesn’t necessarily match up with what we get in the movie. After all, she’s not under any idiot trucker’s thumb there like she is here. Other than those bookends, the rest of Marie’s tale flows fairly well. It captures the unsure and worried nature that she would bring to the film when she’s lonely, insecure and wandering around on her own with no home or family to call her own, especially when she’s constantly on the run from those who’re after her. I also buy it when she runs from the X-Men here, since she never gets a good look at Scott, Jean and Ororo’s faces. By the time in the movie when Cyclops and Storm arrive to save her (and Logan from both Sabretooth & a potentially explosive motor home), she’s weary from both the crash and the building smoke from the growing flames. When she’s captured and interacts with her fellow prisoners, it gives the first sign of comfort & camaraderie that she would ultimately get to experience and have within Xavier’s mansion. Unlike the movie, she gets to present herself very well in battle and alongside the ragtag team as well. She’s very confident and able to hold her own during the escape, which was sadly lacking in the film since she was never able to portray this kind of morale at any point. At least here, it gives Marie her biggest chance to shine early on within this part of Fox’ X-Men world as she deals with a crisis that she’s able to handle. If this does establish something that carries into the film, then it’s the fact that she’s in need of being with someone in order to feel at home with herself in order to grow the necessary confidence with not just herself, but out in the world. This tale is also backed by some good artwork as Alan Evans’ efforts feels more fine-tuned, as opposed to the prior issue. While there are sketchy faces on people who’re a certain distance away, no one is bizarrely drawn and it presents its story nicely with its color palette. As such, Rogue is able to make the most out of her particular tale within a professional presentation and thus becomes pretty accessible. In terms of Wolverine’s prequel story, it’s very unique for it to present a mystery where a pair of amnesiacs are at the center of it. In terms of how it handles its own original character within the comic, Natsu is fairly competent throughout. Sure, she’s crippled by her own specific memory loss and has some points where she’s in peril. However, she does have a few moments where she defuses her tense situation and she even delivers the final shot in the climax. By the end, she’s regained her thoughts and is a fully confident woman once again. As for how Logan is handled, he starts off as a guy who’s fumbled through life unaware of what his past life was ever since the traumatic bonding process. When he comes across Natsu, it gives him his first meaningful sense of purpose ever since the famed incident and begins the building blocks for his eventual mold into the rough-and-tumble hero that he would go on to forge during his tenure with the X-Men. While the pursuits are thrilling and the climactic fight is pretty decent, it would have been nice if he and Natsu were able to discover her self-identity under their own power instead of having to get captured by the police where a pair of detectives are able to easily help restore it for her. Still, the entire comic comes with very good artwork. Sure, there are a few moments of face sketchiness and a few times when “Youngblood’s Disease” (a.k.a. People draw with their eyes closed) pops up. There’s even a brief moment when Logan and Natsu arrive in Chinatown and some piece of incomplete building is partially drawn over the street. Not to mention, his initial meeting with Rogue never includes his successful steel cage fights. I defintely won’t fault this particular issue for its use of Silver Samurai, especially since “The Wolverine” came to theaters 13 years later and they separated Harada from his signature persona for that film, so the comic’s creative team couldn’t have anticipated this. In the end, those are only minor faults in the grand scheme since this comic still sets the groundwork for a prevalent character who’ll constantly find himself (in some way, shape or form) working alongside a woman. For the official comic adaptation, it does generally follow the movie’s plotline, yet instills its own differences for this translation. Some of those are perplexing as to why they were implemented, such as Jean’s telekinetic forcefulness to look at the registered list of mutants in front of the Senate, Logan’s picture with a woman, Scott’s unnecessary rudeness to Jean following the bedtime incident between Wolverine & Rogue (which feeds into the love triangle), Mystique’s simple approach to tampering Cerebro in order to incapacitate Charles, Xavier being able to psychically talk to Magneto during the train station stand-off, the police officers not being stripped of their guns & thus deciding to unsuccessfully fire back at Erik & his cronies as they escape and Wolverine not sharing one last conversation with Marie before taking his temporary leave. Other than the artistic gaffe between Storm and Jean that I mentioned earlier, the art work is mainly good and comprehensible throughout. The characters are given some good details, the color palette was very pleasant and the action is displayed really nicely. It does have some hiccups like its source material, but this adaptation is still a good read and worth adding to your collection. In terms of the I-Connect Special, it’s a short tale that wasn’t entirely necessary, especially since it’s mainly about Cyclops, Jean and Storm attempting to get Rogue under control after her life-absorption ability briefly gave her Wolverine’s feral side. Sure, there is that moment in the movie where Jean does mention to a recovering Logan that Marie did take on some of his “charming personality traits for a while”, but never did anyone expect it to be this. I guess in that vein that it’s nice that someone actually decided to make a quick romp out of a throwaway line, even if it no one asked for it. Either way, this brief tale is told through colorful artwork and backed by a brief pace. If you’re able to find a copy at a decent price, then it’ll be an interesting piece for your collection. Finally, the Special Edition appears to be a non-canonical series of clashes between the X-Men and Magneto’s vast mutant group. The fights themselves are fun to watch as every member of Xavier’s team does get their own moment to display their individual power and the throwdowns do appear to be in the classic Stan Lee style of action. However, the Brotherhood does face an X-Men lineup where Rogue has fully become a member of the team (silver hair streak & all) and given how each of those members ended up the end of the movie, it’s hard to imagine where within the timeline of the original film (or even between it and its sequel) when this dust-up could even occur. Even still, there’s some fun to be had by these fights. As for Charles and his new recruits’ encounter with Magneto and his Acolytes, it was nice to see some particular mutants from Erik’s team that aren’t exactly well-known to the populace outside of die-hard Marvel and X-Men fans, especially since they each get to use their unique powers. As for the trio that Xavier has in store, they’re also nicely handled and also get their chance to demonstrate their key abilities. In retrospective hindsight for Fox’ entire series, it turns out that Colossus has always been a part of Charles’ school since he apparently has a brief cameo in the first film (portrayed by Donald Mackinnon) where he’s sketching out in the courtyard. From there, Daniel Cudmore would become the character’s prominent actor for this particular timeline. Just like Silver Samurai in Wolverine’s prequel comic, no one would have known that Angel and Psylocke would be used in a completely different way for the movies than how they’re used here. On one last side note, it’s also odd that these two always seem to appear in the same project within this overall series. Not only are they in this comic, but they were also present for “X-Men: The Last Stand” within this particular string and even “X-Men: Apocalypse” in the rebooted Beginnings timeline. Despite all of that, the Special Edition is still a fun little romp that may be a microcosm of the series’ eventually infamous kerfuffling of its continuity, but its vibrant artwork makes it pleasant on the eyes and action-packed throughout. Despite it being light on narrative presence, it’s still a feel-good ride that’s still worth getting for anyone’s X-Collection.
Next Time: Our merry mutants and the Brotherhood will be clashing once again, but not against each other. A regular human of high command is looking to permanently eradicate their kind and it’s going to take their combined efforts to stop him. As such, this two-part series will conclude as I unite the tie-in comics for “X2”.
X-Men (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) is owned by Marvel Comics.