Much has been written about Giant Size X-Men #1, and it deserves all the awards and more. Len Wein and Dave Cockrum took a team nobody was reading about, from a title that had been running on reprints for nearly three years, and planted the seeds for the most powerful franchise in comic book history. Instead of teenagers populating a school, the team was an international mix of young adults and old veterans who knew how to use their powers but were used to operating alone.
The cover showed the old team, recoiling in horror at the likes of Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Thunderbitd, Colossus, Banshee, Sunfire, and Storm.
And the comic world would be forever changed.
After it published in May 1975, Marvel stopped running reprints and retitled “X-Men” as “Uncanny X-Men.” GSX#1 was created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, but by the time the team returned to a monthly book, Wein was credited as “plotter-editor” and new writer Chris Claremont has signed on. Lots of people forget that Claremont may have been the architect of the Uncanny X-Men for 20 years, but he didn’t create them!
The splash page of issue #94 showed a mix of new and old members looking at Professor X, but reflected in the mirror behind him. A wonderfully symbolic way to open a book about a new team, led by the leader of the old team.
By the end of the next issue, #95, the “old” X-Men had quit (except for Cyclops), and Thunderbird was dead. Note: He died in a plane crash. Note that, because it will become a trope for these early Uncanny issues…In fact, X-members crashing vehicles would become so common that I’ve created a tag for it
The new team was formed, and the table was set.