Friday, November 29, 2013

Fastball Special

We conclude our second annual John Byrne month with a classic "Fastball Special".  Have no fear, there's plenty of John Byrne X-Men left to post!  'Til next time!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marvel Age

This image of Wolverine and Colossus fighting a Sentinel was printed in Marvel Age 16.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Death of Phoenix

Perhaps the most well-known Unpublished X-Men story was the original ending to X-Men #137, where Jean Grey lived.  Of course, this was rectified rather quickly when the story was published in Phoenix: The Untold Story in 1984.  This issue publishes the entire story with the original five page ending that was changed due to an edict by Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter.

According to Wikipedia:

"The ending of the story was a matter of intense controversy with the editorial staff. Jim Shooter's recollections are that the original intent of the Dark Phoenix storyline was to introduce Dark Phoenix as a cosmic nemesis for the X-Men. This was what had been discussed originally amongst the creative team and Shooter, and this was the story development that had been approved. When Uncanny X-Men issue 135 was in the final artwork stages, Shooter happened to look at the proofs for the issue and noticed that the story included the destruction of an inhabited solar system, with an explicit mention of billions of lives lost. Louise Simonson feels it was Shooter's outrage over this plot element which led to him taking editor Jim Salicrup off the series several issues earlier than he'd been scheduled to."

"Upon questioning Salicrup about where the plot went from there, he was told that issue 137 ended with Jean being permanently depowered by the Shi'ar and released into the custody of the X-Men. Shooter disagreed with this development both from a storytelling standpoint as well as, secondarily, a moral standpoint, likening the ending to "taking the German army away from Hitler and letting him go back to governing Germany," and finding it out of character for the X-Men to retain friendly relations with a being who had committed genocide. Byrne and Salicrup explained that they had no problem with this resolution because they had always thought of Dark Phoenix as a separate entity who had possessed Jean Grey, with Salicrup drawing an analogy to the film adaptation of The Exorcist: "In the movie there's this little girl who's taken over and several people get killed, but by the end, when the demon's gone no one thinks, 'Let's kill that murderous little girl.'"However, on reading the issues over they agreed with Shooter that from the reader's perspective, she did not seem to be possessed, and Claremont admitted that while writing the Dark Phoenix Saga he was never clear in his own mind whether Jean Grey was possessed or her actions as Dark Phoenix were her own."

"Shooter, during a conversation with Claremont, suggested a scenario where Jean would be permanently imprisoned as a compromise, and Claremont responded that such a scenario was unfeasible since in his opinion, the X-Men would want to continually try to rescue Jean from imprisonment. Shooter claims that Claremont suggested having Jean die at the end out of frustration. Although Shooter claims that the suggestion was a bluff by Claremont, playing on the unwritten rule that main characters were not to be killed permanently, he accepted the idea. Ultimately, it was decided by Byrne and Claremont to have Jean commit suicide after her Dark Phoenix persona resurfaces at the climax of the fight against the Imperial Guard. Issue 137 was left largely unchanged, but the last five pages were completely rewritten and redrawn for the new ending, and Claremont also took the opportunity to write a second draft of his script. Because of this, comparison of the original and published versions of X-Men #137 reveals numerous differences in the script with no connection to the ending; for instance, in the original version of the day of rest, the individual X-Men are each thinking of their own personal issues, while the published version shows them reflecting on their decision to protect Jean."

"The original ending ultimately saw print in 1984 in Phoenix: The Untold Story. Besides the original version of Uncanny X-Men #137, it featured a transcript of a round table discussion between Claremont, Byrne, Simonson, Salicrup, Shooter, and inker Terry Austin, discussing the story behind the original ending and why it was changed."

On a side note, in theory this issue is supposed to take place in the alternate reality in which Rachel Summers is born, leading to Days of Future Past.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Superaventuras Marvel

This modified version of Uncanny X-Men #132, from an international edition.
(I suspect it's Portugese)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wolverine Redesign

John Byrne didn't like the yellow and blue color scheme of Wolverine's costume, so he designed the classic brown version seen here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wolverine and Rogue

This commission may be one of the only times John Byrne drew Rogue, and probably the only time in the Jim Lee designed costume.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The cover of Marvel Fanfare 45 featured the original X-Men as well as the New Mutants on the back, and some of the new X-Men on the front.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Death of Mariko features a post by a longtime friend of John Byrne, Cory Vandernet, who found a list planned storylines through Uncanny X-Men #150.  One story was the death of Wolverine's love, Mariko, after a vicious attack at the hands of Sabretooth.

JB: Something that jumps out at me is the "death of Mariko" referece. That was going to be a hugely powerful story. In fact, when this list was made, with the death of Phoenix not even in the cards yet, it was probably the most powerful story we had planned.  I'm going to break one of my own rules here, since I have, at one time or another, discussed most of the details of Mariko's death as I had worked it out. So here it is all together, for those who haven't seen it before (and even those who have): Sabretooth attacks Mariko as a way of getting to Wolverine. He brutalizes her beyond imagining. (Nothing sexual. This is sheer animal violence.) He leaves her for dead, torn and bleeding in an alley. But she isn't dead, and the X-Men, tracking Sabretooth, find her. They race her to a hospital, and over the next several issues she lies in a coma, on life support. Other things occupy the X-Men's time for a while, but their thoughts keep coming back to Mariko. Wolverine returns to her bedside as often as he can. Her condition remains unchanged.

Finally, he can take it no longer. He begs Jean and Xavier to do something, to save her. Xavier scans her and makes a sad discovery. She is brain dead. Only the machines are keeping her alive. 
Wolverine refuses to believe it. But Jean links his mind to Mariko, and he feels the emptiness where her soul used to be. He asks to be left alone with her. Xavier and Jean depart, to wait outside. Wolverine sits by Mariko's beside, holding her hand, stroking her hair. He rises. He looks at the machines that are maintaining her life functions. In a sudden, swift movement he pops his claws and slashes the power cables. The machines fizzle and shut down.  Outside, in the hall, Jean and X have both "felt" what has happened. They move toward the door, but Wolverine comes out before they can enter. He stands for a moment in silence, looking at them. Finally he speaks. "She ain't meat," he says softly. And in an instant, he is gone, disappearing down a stairway.

Next issue, he finds and, in the most horrifying battle the Code would allow, kills Sabretooth (who was, at this point, to be revealed as his father.)

Regarding the above image, Cory writes:

"A little back-story, back in the day JB used to visit Grandpa Takes A Trip Comic-shop once in a while. When John broke the news that Mariko was going to die and Wolverine was going to kill Sabertooth out of revenge, the last few panels of the last page of the first part were to be of Wolverine cradling Mariko's body and the last panel was Wolverine raising his head with an expression of grief and hatred. I asked John what that would look like and he drew this free-hand with a ballpoint pen. At first he drew a tear welling up in the corner of his eye thought better of it and penned over it."

Friday, November 8, 2013


He's just finished doing what he does best in this commission by John Byrne.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


This drawing of Henry Peter Gyrich with a Sentinel was published in The Comics Journal while John Byrne was still drawing the X-Men.

Monday, November 4, 2013

John Byrne Wolverine

Before Dave Cockrum drew Wolverine's face, there was much speculation as to what he would look like.  John Byrne came up with this design, which was later used for Sabretooth, with some changes.  This was the genesis of the idea that Wolverine and Sabretooth would be related.

John Byrne had this to say about the image. "Ah, yes — that was my original suggestion for Wolverine’s face. I sent that to Chris and he responded “You blew it! Dave has already designed Wolvie’s face.”

Updated version of the original concept drawing of Wolverine under the mask by John Byrne. 2012.

After looking at the original 1976 version of Logan’s face, John tried his hand at doing it again. He wrote: "Morning’s exercise: the same face, with thirty five years of additional experience driving the pencil…"

Friday, November 1, 2013

Colossus by Art Adams

You can just make out some of the changes from the original sketch in this inked Colossus drawing by Art Adams.  From Marvel Comics of the 1980's.

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