During the early '90s comic book industry boom, the X-Men received a massive overhaul and a new #1 issue, one that would go on to become the Guinness-certified official best-selling comic book of all time. X-Men #1, with a cover date of October 1991, marked the return of the original five X-Men to the team (they were previously members of X-Factor) and the creation of the Blue and Gold teams that most casual '90s fans remember. Jim Lee's classic redesigns also debuted in this issue; those are the looks that would be used for the '90s animated series.
But the trading cards published at this time tell a completely different story.
The Marvel Universe Series 1 trading card set (1990) has two X-Men team cards. One is for "their most powerful lineup", a classic one from around Uncanny X-Men #200 (1985).
The other card depicts what it calls the "latest roster" as of 1990. The problem is, it's a roster that never even came close to appearing in the title.
Regarding the Uncanny X-Men roster for 1990, there wasn't one. This card was published during a time when Chris Claremont and Jim Lee were following former X-Men on solo adventures. But this doesn't appear to be a placeholder card meant to represent the various characters being featured in Uncanny X-Men for a number of reasons:
- Gambit did not make his first appearance until late 1990
- Havok did not appear in an X-Men comic until the very end of 1990, and then he was portrayed as a brainwashed Genoshan Magistrate
- Sunder is listed as a member even though his last appearance ever was a year before this
- Rogue only appeared in one issue of Uncanny X-Men in 1990, and it was not as a member of a team
On top of having a trading card made, this same roster even had promotional art made for it, adding in Beast (below is a modern, recolored update of the 1990 image).
Without knowing the actual release dates of the trading card set, it's hard to determine what comics they were basing this roster off of. However, the problem persists in the Marvel Universe Series 2 trading card set from 1991, the same year that the iconic X-Men #1 was released.
This one is also problematic because even though it doesn't reflect the roster that debuted in late 1991 (which is understandable, as this set was probably made in late 1990/early 1991), it does not even depict the set-in-stone, definitive roster that starred in Uncanny X-Men prior to the late 1991, Jim Lee relaunch with X-Men #1. The trading card should have looked like:
Granted, the only differences are Havok's inclusion and the lack of team uniforms. But again, why was Havok included when, again, he was a brainwashed Genoshan Magistrate at the time? Was he intended to be part of this lineup after that storyline?
My question is, do these rosters represent ideas that Chris Claremont had for the future of the X-Men before it was decided to launch a Jim Lee-driven X-Men #1 in late 1991? Or were these just glaring mistakes, preserved forever in trading card format?