The freshmen of ‘94:Generation X

With tons of super hero and teen books written over the years Generation X has always held its own with a quintessential mix of the action that made super hero books exciting and the teen angst drama that made so many other books classics. Even fifteen years after the series ended, Generation X still stands as the supreme teen book and the greatest high school super hero team [in training] of all time.

By: Carefree Black Nerd

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By 1993 the X-Men franchise was well into its 30th year of print. The franchise had its own classic stories filled with crossovers, classic villains and a deep rich attachment to the core team and their history. As great as all that was for the already established X-Men fans I found that it was rather difficult as a new comer to the series.

As a child I found it very challenging to sort out that 30 year old history. I collected comics as they popped up in the grocery store every month but that wasn’t an easy task for a child with no income. So getting complete story arcs was nearly impossible. In spite of all that I still wanted to know everything I could about the rag tag group of vibrantly costumed mutant heroes. You can only imagine my glee once I discovered the X-Men animated series which aired on FOX kids. But even with the cartoon I still couldn’t make heads or tails of all the different characters and plot lines.

Relief came in the summer of 1994 in the form of Uncanny X-Men’s The Phalanx Covenant. Marvel had the great idea of having the X-Men play a minor role in this seven series summer crossover. This event spawned the greatest teen group of all time: Generation X. This teenage team came along right on time for me. This new series had aculturally diverse cast, it was relatable to the current real-life gen x-ers and it was different from all other X-books so it allowed readers being introduced to the Marvel universe a different feel than the high energy action packed drama of the previous 30 years.

The book consisted of ethnically diverse teenage mutants. This was done specifically by design to reflect the intricacy and cynicism of the real life demographic. Ranging in age from 14 to 17 years old there was Chamber, a British mutant with the lower half of his face and his chest replaced with fire. Husk: a young white girl from Kentucky who could shed her skin leaving her body in a different solid substance every time. Jubilee: A Chinese American former X-Men team member who could produce colorful explosive plasma energy. M: A wealthy Monaco born girl, who could fly, had superhuman strength and telepathic ability. It’s worth noting that this character was also written as autistic.

Mondo, a Samoan boy whose body could take on the properties of objects he touched. Skin: the Hispanic former gang member from East Los Angeles possessed six extra feet of grey tinted skin. Synch: African American teenage guy from St. Louis who could copy the power set of any other mutant or super human person nearby. Penance: was a mute childlike red skinned girl with razor sharp skin and claws. Lastly added towards the end of Generation X’s run was Gaia. She was from another world and was the guardian of Citadel of the Universal Amalgamator.

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You can imagine my surprised when I opened this book and saw not only kids who looked like me but kids who represented other ethnicities and social economic status from around the world. Some of which I knew about first hand but most I knew nothing about. The X-Men were an entertaining group of characters but they, much like the other X-titles were majority white with a few token characters of color making their way in the comics one way or another. Add to that they were all adults, sure I had Storm to look at and seesomething of myself and I would be crazy not to mention Bishop. But nothing screamedrelatable like a young teenage black boy from St. Louise in a comic book using super powers like all the heroes I had seen growing up.

The Generation X team’s diversity is what made them relatable to me. I didn’t have a wealthy Middle Eastern love interest growing up. Nor did I have any British friends who spoke solely into my head using telepathy I still saw in this book more of what I knew to be true of the world at large: A mixed bag of different cultures and races trying to get by. This team existed in a world of chaos and strife as a group of kids in a boarding school trying to get an education and a better handle on their own mutant powers. The concept was set up to succeed before day one by just existing in the X-universe in the way it did. Add to that a few love triangles, family drama and story arcs that took you all across the United States and other dimensions and the series practically soldit.

Generation X was different from all other X books. It wasn’t the, on the frontline battling kind of book like the X-Men [X-Force, X-Factor, Excalibur and Wolverine] was. It was a teen book but that is where the similarities ended with its predecessor, the New Mutants. The team didn’t even have a rival super powered team or school to battle with. Generation X was not mentored by Professor X they weren’t even trained at his estate in New York.

The Generation X team was taught and supervised by Banshee (former X-Man) and the White Queen (former supervillain). Their base of operations was the Massachusetts Academy—a prep school in the Berkshire Mountain of Massachusetts where the White Queen has been the administrator for years most notably as the headmaster for the Hellions (rival team to the New Mutants) The series ran from 1994 to 2001, ironically enough the most formative years of my life which is partly why I stand by my original idea that Generation X is the greatest high school super hero book of all time. And because of this Chris Bachalo (the original artist) has become not only my model artist for the series when I think about the characters but also my favorite artist to this day.

During my hiatus from comics the series ended and the characters were spread throughout the Marvel universe. So you can imagine my heartbreak when I walked into my neighborhood comic shop and received the bad news. Apparently Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief thought there were too many X books out so he disbanded the team at issue #75. This was also done because Grant Morrison (X-Men writer) wanted to add a new cast of teens to the New York Xavier Institute.

There was a Fox Network made-for-television movie about Generation X back in February of 1996. The movie received mixed reviews and plans to develop a series were abandoned soon after. But oh how I wish they would’ve done a Generation X movie the right way now that comic book movies are all the rage. Scratch that, I would love to see Generation X as a gritty 13 episode Netflix series in the same vein as Daredevil and Jessica Jones. A nerd can dream.

** Honorable mention: Blink, Leech, Artie and Franklin Richards

               Feature | Season 1 | Issue 1