Redesign Rewind: Alex Ross’ X-Men!

Note: Did you know that before Frank Quitely re-envisioned the X-Men for his run on New X-Men with Grant Morrison another artist got a chance but was turned down? That’s right, Alex Ross was asked by Marvel to come up with his take on the X-Men in 2000. Although Ross’ designs where never used, Wizard Magazine published them soon after. We’re spotlighting that magazine spread and a few additional pieces from the project to remind people what could have been. Quitely’s designs were perfect for the time, but imagine an alternate world where Ross’ designs took the center stage. – Chris A.



41 comments on “Redesign Rewind: Alex Ross’ X-Men!
  1. ALWAYS Loved these designs. Cyclops is by far the coolest in my opinion. It brough back the cowl before Cassady did in Astonishing and the simplistic glowing piping the makes the X really stands out. I also love how they all have the Z motif but the color and desings change for each character and harken back to a previous look. Also love the idea of Colossus’ body being a golumn.

  2. I adore these. The collar on Kurt irks me a bit, even just because it’s a weird little detail in what is for the most part a stunningly simple costume design. I really like all of them, but Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm have to be favourites. I love how there’s continuity in all the suits, but without sacrificing those small elements that are key to each character.

  3. I’ve always liked that Wolverine design – graphic, simple and still says ‘Wolverine’.

    Not that crazy about the others, though.

  4. That should be Wolverine’s costume, and that almost IS Cyclops’ current costume. Be interesting to see him revisit the language of parts and come up with a suit for Kate Pryde, Emma Frost, and Dr. Henry McCoy.

  5. losing the “X” belt buckle would make it better. not liking Jean’s long dress-like look and what is with all the hoods?

  6. Okay, I’m going to get some poop flung my way for saying this, but these designs were completely boring. Granted, what Marvel went with instead was not much better, but these minimalist designs were pretty bland.

  7. I always thought these designs were almost too perfect … an obvious no-brainer that somebody should have thought of already. I love how each character has their own highlight color … but with so many Xmen they may have to double up eventually!

    As cliche as this next statement is – I have to say Wolverine works particularly well. Cyclops and Angel are really strong designs too. Colossus is the weakest here, just doesn’t feel right.

  8. These are really interesting. I keep thinking of animation when I see them. They may owe a debt to Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men: Evolution. I wonder what they would look like in motion…

  9. WHY DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN?!! Actually, I know exactly why. I guess a better question is: WHY DID MARVEL LET THE X-MEN MOVIES SUCK THE JOY OUT OF THEIR COMICS?! Seriously, the leather paramilitary look stuck around for wayyyy too long in the comics because of how successful the X-Men movies were.

  10. Really still enjoy these. The “X” shapes are mostly great and the mysteriousness of the hoods and simplicity works for almost all the characters. Oddly, Wolverine’s is the most busy with all of those triangles and I must say his is the least appealing redesign. Besides that, Nightcrawler probably shouldn’t be wearing a priest’s collar on a superhero costume.

  11. Not great, not terrible. Although I appreciate the graphic simplicity, it seems like a fairly obvious take to put a big “X” on top of everything. I think all the divots in Wolverine’s costume makes it look overly busy. The only part of it that really communicates the claw motif well are the ones at the top pointing down; the rest can be done without. I do really like Nightcrawler’s, though. The bold purple hue contrasts very nicely with the black, and the priest’s collar provides a nice little accent.

    And yeah, what is with the hoods?

  12. Is it my imagination or does Iceman look like Val Kilmer? Maybe he’s looking for Angel to be his “wingman”. haha.

    I’m curious what Storm’s “color” would be for the trim. Lighter purple? Given the way its drawn, it looks like her sides are just bare skin.

    Design wise they’re alrighty, though I think they might have more drapery than some artists could deal with on a monthly schedule.

  13. Hoods are for Closers!
    hehe. kidding.
    I like the hoods btw. I know they seem overused, but taking into the fact that mutants were supposed to be oppressed and misunderstood, hoods seem like a visually nice way to conceal identities. That said, you show up in a hood cloak more than once, then u are gonna get spotted (same conundrum applies to the increasingly awesome Assassins Creed games). The only person the hood is serving maximum purpose for is Angel, so as to conceal his wings.

    Wolverines out of costume outfit is quite nice. did he EVER wear a hat like that? it suits him..
    I like Alex Ross’ note at the end saying it should be kept as single tone black rather than texture and the reason why. He seems like such a reasonable guy through that one line…
    Also whats wrong with Nightcrawlers preist collar? isnt that an aspect of who he is? He spent a long while wearing his preist robes and a trenchcoat over it awhile back, didnt he?

    jean Grey here is the only one who doesnt work with me, only because, i think she looks alot like a recent or modern day rogue costume (only that is green). also if u look like jean grey, u dont need to cover ur face. I wouldnt if i looked all foxy like her. :)

  14. It seems that all the ideas for takes on Marvel and DC characters that Alex Ross comes up with are ignored (Did anyone else read his ideas for SHAZAM/Capt. Marvel in Rough Justice?).

    Why? Because they are cool ideas the fans would like by a fan of comics.

    No way that’s gonna get past corporate…nuh-uh.

  15. I get the appeal for some people. These just really aren’t for me. I feel like Alex Ross is the only man who could pull these costumes off in an effective way. Imagine doing a group shot with all that straight black? It’d be a mess.

  16. Nate: WHY DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN?!! Actually, I know exactly why. I guess a better question is: WHY DID MARVEL LET THE X-MEN MOVIES SUCK THE JOY OUT OF THEIR COMICS?! Seriously, the leather paramilitary look stuck around for wayyyy too long in the comics because of how successful the X-Men movies were.

    The whole “black latex/leather” look can be blamed on movie makers copying the Batman movies. After the Batman & Robin debacle, Hollywood didn’t want to use the colored spandex and not have the Shumacher connection come up. Thank god movies like Spider-Man (the Raimi saga) and the Marvel Studio films are breaking us out of that.

  17. I’ve always like most of these designs when I saw them in the Wizard X-Men special book. Wolverine looks amazing as do most of the other characters. This is what I feel that comic artists in the big two overlook; simplicity. Makes me wish companies like DC and Marvel would call up Alex Ross more often (especially DC these days). He definitely understands the concept of a superhero costume without going overboard with details or falling into the trappings of “realism”.

    Mr. Q

  18. Kurt, the one guy who really needed a hood to hide his feature, didn’t get one. Always bugged me.

    I liked Jean’s skirty thing.

  19. Chris A.: Why shouldnt Nightcrawler have a priest collar, Mike?

    Because it’s like a character with a doctorate having one of those old-school mirror headband things. It’s too on-the-nose.

    I’ve got a lot of time for Alex Ross’ work, but this bunch are just really, really dull.

  20. Well, it struck me as odd for two reasons: (1.) A priest’s collar just seems odd on a superhero costume, especially when (2.) I think it’s been established that Nightcrawler isn’t a priest. He either tried, but never finished, or was duped into thinking he was? It agree it isn’t a bad design choice, and maybe in this version of the team, he was to become a superhero priest.

  21. I liked these when they came out when I was a kid, but I think I just liked seeing something different at the time. In hindsight, they come off kind of lazy and simplistic, but not iconic. The notes he wrote about the solid black areas under the Wolvie sketch kind of upset me too when he says “there’s no reason to expect…people to accurately draw textures correctly”. Yes, there is reason to expect that. They’re paid artists. I’d be more okay with it if said specifically “Rob Liefeld and Greg Land can’t be expected to accurately draw textures” but it doesn’t.

  22. Pingback: Alex Ross’ vision of the X-Men | SUNNYHEADCASE

  23. Wolverine has too many triangles! That bothers me a lot…
    The counter figure is too complex.
    I’d like it with less of those triangles.

  24. Bruce B.: Kurt, the one guy who really needed a hood to hide his feature, didn’t get one.

    Kurt is wearing a hood in the group shot.

    I remember when these came out. I thought they were nice. I had read Kingdom Come. But more recently, I had read The Authority. I was excited for Quitely’s take on characters I had read from the gold and blue teams up until Joe Mad left, and then I came back just for New X-Men.

    I also adored Morrison’s write up of his New X-Men pitch. The concept alone blow Ross’s designs out of the water. Ross’s costumes are totally suitable for a Claremont run. But Morrison basically saying that X-Men, a book about evolution, never evolves, really spoke to me, and I loved their work gear. They looked comfortable. Wolverine looked like a greasy pervert in pants and suspenders. Cyclops actually was tall and slim. New X-Men was so much fun.

    When Astonishing X-Men started and Marvel practically erased Morrison’s run, I was annoyed. I did notice that Cassaday’s Cyclops design felt like Ross’s. Which was fine. These designs are fine. The only criticism I have now is that there is too much black. It works the best on Angel and Cyclops, imo.

    And I don’t find Wolvie’s triangles too terribly distracting. It’s a little busy, but when you consider that his original blue and yellow costume had 8 on his torso (10 if you count his shoulder pads and triangles), and his current costume has 8 on the torso and 6 on his thighs, Ross’s design isn’t too far beyond that. But yeah, it’s a little busy from his knees to his collar bone, and the rest is boooooooooring. I like his little gloves though!

  25. all that I like about this is Wolverine’s mask and gloves, the rest of it so so plain jane. It really demonstrates Ross’s generic redesign style blah-ness.

  26. If I had to judge the designs on their own merits, I would say that they were almost there. Jean’s dress just isn’t working for me and theres a few two many stripes on Wolverine’s bodysuit. If you told me that they were intended for Grant Morrison’s run though, I would have to say no. If they were to show up in a Claremont story, then I would be ok. It really just comes down to marrying the visions of the artist and writer and Morrison and Quitely’s run was just that. It was a marriage of creative brilliance.

  27. The only Wolverine costume I’ve ever seen that makes him look like part of the team while still looking like a Wolverine costume.

  28. I don’t know how this hasn’t been mentioned yet, but these costumes were used…in the Earth X series, which – unless I’m mistaken – is what they were designed for in the first place.

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