X-Men #1, 1991, Cover by Jim Lee & Scott Williams, Marvel Comics
The POP Retro Cover Of The Week examines and celebrates iconic comic covers from the 1970s through the 2000s. This week the rotation returns to the Nineties, when most comics had increased in cost to $1.50 or more. The decade saw the the start of a trend of books being rebooted at #1, along with uncountable gimmick covers, to hopefully gain new readers and boost sales among speculators.
The Uncanny X-Men was the highest-selling title on the market, and was being illustrated by Jim Lee, one of Marvel’s young superstar artists, a group that would soon leave the company to start one of their own, Image Comics. Jim Lee was arguably the most dynamic artist in comics at the time; every title he worked on was a big seller.
Jim Lee’s run on The Uncanny X-Men had proven so popular among fans that Marvel decided to start a second X-Men title with Lee as the main draw, no pun intended. The simply titled X-Men #1 debuted in 1991 and featured another cover gimmick, four covers that when placed side-by-side created a dramatic panorama of the X-Men facing their greatest enemy, Magneto. A special variant had a foldout cover with all four images. The foldout cover version featured a depiction of the comic’s title carved out of the background cliff face, adding to the comic's epic first appearance.
The issue was one of the first true mega-selling events of the Nineties. The Guinness Book of World Records verified that pre-orders of well over 8 million copies were received, but actual sales were estimated to be half of that. Even so, it is a sales record that will probably never be broken.
Next week: A cover from the 2000s!