In what appears to have been a project long in development, Marvel announced The First X-Men today, a five-issue, Wolverine-centric story written by Christos Gage and drawn by famed Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow artist Neal Adams.
While the series will be written by Gage, it was apparently a story idea pitched to Marvel by Neal Adams, according to a liveblog that Marvel did earlier this evening.
The story, which will feature Wolverine, Sabretooth, Magneto and other X-characters and be set in the days prior to Charles Xavier’s involvement with the mutant community at large, was a story designed to look at what might drive Xavier, who could hide his powers if he wanted, to get involved and active in such a visible way in the movement for mutant rights.
“Of all the mutants on Earth, Professor X could easily pass as a human,” Adams said during the event. “Why would he want to get involved in this? Maybe all this was going on before Professor X was Professor X…when Professor X was a teenager. Maybe mutant kids were getting abused by the military, by the government. Somebody would have been looking out for them, but maybe that person came to Charles Xavier, realizing he couldn’t protect these kids. That was my pitch.”
That was a good enough pitch to impress Nick Lowe, the senior editor for the X-Men family of titles, who called the project “the perfect marriage of creator and character that we knew fans would go nuts for.” The ferocity and realism of Adams’ style along with the brutality of an old-school, pre-superhero Wolverine story does seem like a perfect fit, something the fans at the liveblog all seemed to agree with.
Gage, who was brought into the project by Lowe, describes the series as follows: ”It takes place before the original X-Men and at a time when the government was snatching mutants up and doing scary things to them. Logan notices this and thinks somebody needs to look out for them. He recruits Sabretooth, who asks ‘Why?’ and so he pays him. Professor Xavier is a young man studying at Oxford, who’s engaged and wants nothing to do with this.”
Adams joked that while the story might sound as though it’s set in the world of X-Men: First Class, it isn’t–but they were happy to steal the Nazi-hunting version of Erik Lensherr, who will appear in the story as well. There will reportedly also be an appearance by Namor the Sub-Mariner, who at this point in his character history was a homeless amnesiac.
Of Adams, Gage told the fans, ”If I had been asked for a wish list if who I’d like to work for, Neal wouldn’t have been on it, because I wouldn’t think it would have been possible.”
The First X-Men will launch in August, the culmination of a pretty long road for the story. This morning, Bleeding Cool dug out a pair of year-old tweets from Neal Adams discussing the story and the prospect of working with Gage.