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  1. #1
    Mighty Member psylurker's Avatar
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    Default What did you think of John Byrne's Hidden Years?

    I recently had a chance to re-read John Byrne's whole run on X-Men: The Hidden Years from the early 2000. I must admit I didn't exactly love it at the time - it came out during the Authority/Ultimates/"Nu-Marvel" era, where wide-screen action and minimal approach to dialogues, captions and continuity were all the rage, meaning it was the exact opposite of what was in vogue in comics at the time.

    But what seemed hopelessly dated at the time feels delightfully nostalgic, but in an extremely solid kind of way, upon a second read now that I'm very tired of Marvel's decompressed approach to storytelling and lackluster character work. Every single character in the book gets a chance to shine, there's subplots and dense narration and the idea that it's all building up to something, which makes sense since this should have ideally taken readers to Giant-Sized X-Men #1. Byrne's approach to dialogues is quite retro and stiffed at times but works well within the context of the series.

    The artwork is VERY strong: Palmer's inks complement Byrne's pencils wonderfully - the art is still very recognizable as Byrne but has a much stronger and firmer look: I find it light-years above much of what Byrne has produced around the same period, both when inking himself (like on Wonder Woman) or when inked by others (on Amazing Spider-Man)

    Byrne's use of continuity in this series has been quite amusing. While in some instances it ends up contradicting stuff that's already been established, or sits in a very grey area (like Ororo meeting the original team prior to the Krakoa mission), other bits like the Phoenix Force making first contact with Jean are a nice bit of foreshadowing which can still work well within established continuity. I also really enjoyed how Byrne worked what was effectively Marvel/Timely's first-created mutant Tad Carter and The Promise into "modern" continuity.

    So what did you all think? Did you enjoy The Hidden Years or did you consider it a pointless retcon exercise? Do you consider it canon or glorified Byrne-fiction?


  2. #2
    Extraordinary Member Phoenixx9's Avatar
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    I think I liked it more when I first read it than now.

    I think it started off well, but for me, it lost that good start about half-way.

    I was looking for better stories, a lot of "hidden" detail regarding Jean, Lorna and Alex. That did not happen with Lorna and Alex, and except for the PF story, it also did not happen with Jean. I did not like Candy wearing Jean's current uniform nor Jean wearing an older costume, because it was the only clean one! I wanted to see A lot of Lorna and Alex using their powers and working with the team--all of them together on missions, with Xavier guiding them from the Mansion. Also was looking for some Xavier reports on Alex and Lorna's powers, like what they can do, potential limits, how they have improved, etc.
    Last edited by Phoenixx9; 03-02-2019 at 08:32 AM.

  3. #3
    Kinky Lil' Canine Snoop Dogg's Avatar
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    lol who lets byrne write comics
    Quote Originally Posted by ???
    The world has changed, and so have I.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoop Dogg View Post
    lol who lets byrne write comics
    Ashida-san was apparently courting him to come back to Marvel a while back.

  5. #5
    Fantastic Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anduinel View Post
    Ashida-san was apparently courting him to come back to Marvel a while back.
    I think the rumor was he was trying to put Byrne and Claremont back together. How much writing Byrne would do is probably the reason it hasn't happened, yet.

  6. #6
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    Also, I thought Hidden Years was okay. Byrne doing out-of-continuity work, like those Batman/Superman specials and Hidden Years, seem like something he likes to do, but I never think it's his strongest work. Yes, I do think Hidden Years falls outside continuity. Has any X-comic referenced any of those stories? It was good to see Byrne drawing any regularly published X-title, but it wasn't his best work. The whole thing was a nostalgia trip. If what Byrne claims happened between him and Marvel regarding the cancellation of that title is true, then he was treated pretty poorly. I hope he could figure out a way to work for Marvel again. I'd buy any X-book John Byrne draws, even if I didn't think it was great. It would still be enjoyable, just like Hidden Years was.

  7. #7
    Mighty Member Mike's Avatar
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    Hidden Years was the last X-Book that I read and enjoyed.

  8. #8
    Fantastic Member
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    It was a delightful change from the grim X books at the time.
    Byrne clearly loved these characters, and the series was written and drawn with care.

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Wolfsbane's Avatar
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    Iím in the process of re-reading x-men from the beginning starting with the Epic Collections. Should I read Hidden Years after the title goes into the reprint years and before giant sized for sake of continuity?
    Favorite Characters: Wolfsbane, Storm, Psylcoke, Beast, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Gambit, Angel, Iceman, Havok, Frenzy, Cecilia Reyes, Multiple Man, Feral, Skids, Rictor, Shatterstar, Sunspot, Cannonball, Magma, Moonstar, Karma, Warlock, Cypher, Penance, Quicksilver, Shard, Captain Britain, Cerise, and Gideon

    Favorite Titles: New Mutants, Excalibur, X-Force, X-Factor, Uncanny X-Men, X-Treme X-Men

  10. #10
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    It was more entertaining than most of the other X-books at the time, but I don't think it was up to the potential of the subject, which was something that others had pitched before Byrne. Kurt Busiek (one of the famous original X-Men die-hards who never warmed to the Claremont version) had pitched a similar idea, and "Untold Tales of Spider-Man" was what I wished "Hidden Years" had been.

    It's not really about whether something is canon or not, it's whether the stories shed any new light on the early versions of the characters, and I felt "Untold Tales of Spider-Man" had some insights into who Spider-Man was, and I felt "X-Men: First Class" had new things to say about the younger versions of the original X-Men, but with Byrne I didn't get that impression. I think he was trying too hard to write the kind of stories he thought they might have done if the comic hadn't been cancelled.

  11. #11
    Mighty Member psylurker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfsbane View Post
    I’m in the process of re-reading x-men from the beginning starting with the Epic Collections. Should I read Hidden Years after the title goes into the reprint years and before giant sized for sake of continuity?
    I think it flows pretty well from X-Men 66 which is the last issue before the series went into reprints. Doesn't gel as well with some bits that come after perhaps, and doesn't lead into Giant-Sized X-Men 1 in the slightest, but as a follow-up to the plots set up in the original series, I'd say it works fairly well.

  12. #12
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    "Untold Tales of Spider-Man" were issues that informed a reader what happened in-between issues crafted by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee while "Hidden Years" I believe, was a series that was meant to be stories that would be published as X-Men #67 up to X-Men #93 if the series never went into re-print. It got cancelled with issue 22 which was 5 issues to soon!

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Omega Alpha's Avatar
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    I didn't care much for it, Byrne seemed to be busier with making continuity fit than with having fun.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Alpha View Post
    I didn't care much for it, Byrne seemed to be busier with making continuity fit than with having fun.
    If that was the case, he failed spectacularly. The X-Men spend weeks in the Savage Land while Xavier cares more about Warren's uncle Dazzler and then somehow, they're in the Savage Land so long that the Magneto usurps Atlantis story happens? X-Men 66 and Fantastic Four 101 were published 8 months apart and in those 8 months, the continuity of the Fantastic Four comic, the Hulk and everything in between shows that is just unfeasible.

  15. #15
    Spectacular Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uurgh. It was a frustrating comic.

    At a time when the books struggled with lateness (Marvel's contempt for shops and customers being so evident) it was nice to have a book with no fill-ins and always on time. I suppose it filled a niche, and had more reason to exist than say, X-Men UNlimited or Mutant bloody X, but Jesus Christ, if you dont like the Savage Land this wasn't the book for you. The first few issues were promising enough.

    I'm glad it got axed when it did. It felt like the new direction was genuine (which it turned out not to be, as followers of my Joe Casey thread will doubtless see) and the book didn't fit in.

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