Christopher S. Claremont (born November 25, 1950) is a comic book writer, most famous for his work as the writer of X-Men from 1975 to 1991, and a few shorter runs later. During his first tenure on the series, Uncanny X-Men developed from one of the least popular Marvel comics to one of its flagship titles, and spawned many spin-offs (such as New Mutants, X-Factor and Excalibur). His original 16-year run on Uncanny X-Men is one of the longest tenures by a single writer on any Big Two superhero comic, if not the longest, and it was him (along with people like Dave Cockrum and John Byrne) that turned them into the pop-cultural juggernaut they remain to this day.
Claremont was one of the first superhero writers to deliberately set out to create strong female protagonists who were often the most powerful members of any given team. During his original time at Marvel, he created or strongly influenced many of the female characters that remain centrepieces of the line today, including Storm, Jean Grey, Rachel Grey-Summers, Rogue, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Kitty Pryde, Carol Danvers, Jessica Drew, and the Empress Lilandra. He also codified Magneto as a morally complex Well-Intentioned Extremist, turned Wolverine from one-shot Hulk villain into a pop-culture phenomenon, and rung in an era of far more sweeping stories, creating some of the most recognisable stories in comics history - in particular, The Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past and God Loves, Man Kills. This makes him one of the single most influential writers in comic-book history (and through X-Men, to all of pop culture), to the point where four out of the nine current X-Men films are directly based on stories he wrote, and the other five (Logan possibly excepted) were all very heavily influenced by them. However, modern audiences mostly know him, if they know him at all, as "that guy with the strong mind-control, S&M gear, and dominatrix fetish who used to write X-Men."
After departing from Marvel in 1991, owing mostly to repeated clashes with the editorial department at the time, Claremont worked on several other projects. This includes a series of original novels (First Flight, Grounded!), contributions to George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series, and co-writing Shadow Moon, a novel set in the Willow universe, with George Lucas. He also wrote an original series for DC called Sovereign Seven that lasted 36 issues.
He returned to Marvel in the late nineties, writing Fantastic Four and X-Treme X-Men with Salvador Larroca and Igor Kordey. He was later put on Exiles, which was later relaunched as New Exiles before being cancelled, and the alternate-universe reboot X-Men Forever. His most recent comics project, ending in April of 2014, was Nightcrawler with Todd Nauck.
You can spot a comic he's written instantly from the dialogue, known by some fans as "Claremontese."
Tropes this author is known for:
- Ace Pilot: Claremont loves aviation and super-impressive heroines, so a whole slew of his female characters are commercial or military crack pilots: Betty Bradock (Psylocke), Carol Danvers (Ms Marvel, later Binary/Warbird/Captain Marvel)note and Madelyne Pryor are only the most famous of them. They get numerous enough that it might well be a deliberate wink to the fans when he is content to make Nightcrawler's similarly air-themed girlfriend Amanda a "mere" stewardess, rather than a command pilot.
- Action Girl: Claremont is arguably the Trope Codifier for the action girl in American superhero comics, along with writers like Steve Gerber and Tony Isabella.
- Ambiguously Gay: Mystique/Destiny, Karma, and Northstar. His stories heavily hinted about the characters' sexuality, but nearly nothing was depicted on-panel.
- Surely it's more "Every woman is bisexual"?
- And a few of the men. His novelization for the third X-Men movie has Iceman practically melting (no pun intended) over Angel. Hilarious In Hind Sight.
- Northstar's homosexuality was introduced by John Byrne in Alpha Flight and Karma's by other writers during Claremont's absence from the X-books; he did use them in stories of his own, though. As Claremont wrote them, Mystique and Destiny were an unambiguously lesbian couple (his plan to reveal them as Nightcrawler's parents, with Mystique as the biological father was nixed by his editors), it was other writers who introduced heterosexual relationships into Mystique's biography. Since at the time of Claremont's first run homosexuality could not be addressed openly and he does have a predilection to write about close friendships as well as strong female characters who are not defined by their romantic relationships, people who like to see Les Yay and Foe Yay everywhere have a field day with his stories. Thus one critic in the mid-1980s read rather squicky subtexts into the relationships between young teenagers Kitty Pryde and Rogue and their mentors/surrogate mothers Storm and Mystique (overlooking the much more obvious and probably intentional lesbian undertones to the friendship between Storm and Yukio).
- Surely it's more "Every woman is bisexual"?
- And That's Terrible: Claremont did most of his best-known comics work under Jim Shooter's term as editor-in-chief at Marvel, where one of the primary rules was that "every issue could be someone's first"; this is why '80s Marvel comics have so many footnotes and flashbacks. Claremont himself also has a pathological inability to trust the artists he's working with. As a result, one of the leading criticisms of Claremont's work is that his characters tend to constantly self-narrate just so there's no risk whatsoever that what's going on could be somehow misinterpreted.
- Author Appeal: Claremont's mother was a British World War II veteran and a bona fide badass; he's also heavily influenced by Robert A. Heinlein. When he looked at mainstream American comic books in the mid-seventies when he started, he saw almost no female characters he liked, and set out to redress the problem, creating or heavily influencing several dozen of Marvel's primary heroines, including characters who are still considered pillars of the universe to this day - in fact, he invented pretty much every famous X-Man or X-Woman who wasn't part of the original team, and reinvented and revamped Jean Grey (turning her from average telekinetic into psychic goddess), Magneto (turning him from standard B-Movie villain to morally complex Well-Intentioned Extremist), and Carol Danvers (turning her from second string Avenger and victim of a horrendous storyline that led to her being Put on a Bus to cosmic level powerhouse, Binary). As such, he's arguably one of the most influential superhero writers of all time.
- Unfortunately, things that also appeal to Claremont include mind control (and characters heroically overcoming it), body horror, characters being somehow "corrupted" into evil or sensual versions of themselves, villains who pursue the romantic attentions of a heroine, and flimsy excuses for female characters ending up half-naked. He's also been unable to shake a rumour, started in the mid-2000s by an angry former fan, that he's actually very much in love with Storm.
- Author Catchphrase: Multiple.
- Canon Discontinuity: If he didn't write it, he doesn't care.
- In his heyday, Claremont was the continuity master, with events in other books always having an impact on whatever it was he was writing. Since he started writing for Marvel again, though, he's never been shy about retconning, rewriting, or undoing several things that happened right after he left the X-books in 1991. That said, he stepped quite neatly into the current status quo at the Jean Grey Academy when he came back to write Nightcrawler in 2013.
- Claremont is thought to dislike what other writers (and editors) have done with some of his former pet characters, such as derailing redemption arcs or turning sympathetic villains to rampaging maniacs. In some cases, he has attempted to once again redefine these characters. With mixed results.
- Catch-Phrase: Invented many well-known catchphrases, most famously Wolverine's "The best at what I do". Less famous for Cyclops's "Only my ruby-quartz visor can contain my optic blasts", Psylocke's "focused totality of my psychic powers" and Cannonball's "Ah'm pretty much invulnerable while Ah'm blastin'."
- Contemplate Our Navels: Constantly between battles, and quite often during battles.
- Creator Backlash: Not so much regarding his works, but Claremont has gone on the record that he feels that both Disney/Marvel Comics AND 20th Century Fox has caused the X-Men to be sidelined since the former doesn't have the film rights to the franchise and the latter does. He also argues that if Disney had bought Marvel when the latter had the film rights to all their characters, the X-Men would be the predominant comic of the Marvel Universe. It should be noted that this was before Marvel announced Resurr Xion, a planned triumphant relaunch of the X-Men in reaction to backlash against the sidelining.
- Creator Cameo: Claremont, or a barely-concealed version thereof, shows up in his comics every once in a while, and something bad usually happens to him about ten seconds later. Kitty Pryde once stole his car and left him stranded in the middle of Scotland. Kitty Pryde is also a big fan of Emma Bull's band Cats Laughing.
- Death by Cameo: Mojo killed Claremont once, over a brief argument that was an obvious metaphor for Claremont's editorial struggles.
- Crossover: It's not quite so consistent as for there to be a "Claremont Universe," but he enjoys throwing in a lot of relatively subtle cameos or shout-outs in his later work. The X-Men supporting character Lila Cheney is apparently a popular rock musician in the Grounded! universe, and the Sovereign Seven operated out of a small restaurant that was inexplicably popular with several barely anonymous members of the X-Men.
- Darker and Edgier: Marc Silvestri's work as artist on Uncanny X-Men in the '80s also marked the point at which the series became much bloodier than it ever had been before, beginning with the infamous Morlock Massacre crossover, and could arguably serve as an early benchmark of comics' "Dark Age."
- Executive Meddling: He's had to endure this a lot in recent years.
- For values of "recent" that can be read "the past forty", yes. In addition to ideas that were outright rejected by the higher-ups (most famously, his plan for Mystique and Destiny to be Nightcrawler's parents, with the shapeshifting female Mystique being his father), most of his storylines get interrupted by Marvel sending him to a different book, and bringing in a new writer who scraps Claremont's plans. Although it has gotten worse lately.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Famously refers to Destiny as Mystique's "leman" near the end of his most well-known run — yes, that means "lover."
- Go-Go Enslavement: See Author Appeal above.
- Godwin's Law/Those Wacky Nazis: For whatever reasons, Claremont appears fascinated with the Nazis. Nearly every human X-Men villain he wrote is compared to Nazis at some point by sympathetic characters, and not infrequently, they are also objectively either actual Nazi bitter-enders or government conspiracies that like Putting on the Reich. This isn't limited to his X-Men writing, either; his work on Captain America and other titles also shoe-horned in numerous references to Nazis and the Jewish holocaust. (Cap, of course, always had some Nazi villains, but rarely to the extent Claremont did it.)
- He's the child of two British veterans of World War II and Jewish on his mother's side. Of course the Nazis figure heavily into his image of evil.
- And since it heavily influenced the character of Magneto, making him a much more sympathetic and compelling character, it's arguable that (at least at times) Tropes Are Not Bad.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Cripes!" "Flaming!" "To the abyss with our orders!"
- Claremont evolved a lot of his characters' unique oaths due to Jim Shooter being much more strict about foul language in Marvel's comics than was industry standard at the time. Most of it's since fallen by the wayside.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Each and every of his characters that don't come from an English-speaking country will have it. Colossus and Nightcrawler can be pretty much considered the most prominent examples, being long-running front-line X-Men and all.
- Graying Morality: Was iconic in introducing this to the X-Men. Most notably, he developed Magneto into the compelling Anti-Villain that he's best known as. He also established a trend of more morally-flexible Anti-Heroes in the X-Men's lineup, most famously Wolverine, and wrote stories about complex, no-win situations such as The Dark Phoenix Saga. While it never really got to Gray and Grey Morality, there were considerably more shades of gray than in the Lee-Kirby X-Men.
- Inner Monologue: Before Jeph Loeb came along, Claremont was the king of this.
- Kid from the Future: Claremont did this with two different characters. Both have even used the same Code Name. No, surely he wasn't plagiarizing himself.
- Kill 'em All: As early as the mid-eighties, Claremont has been in love with plots and scenes that involve most if not all of the cast of his book at the time dying or appearing to die. This always gets undone somehow by the end of the issue. So far, this has included the remaking of reality, with only a few survivors retaining their memories of the event in question; Mystique wiping out an entire team of X-Men before we find out she's only fighting a bunch of X-Men robots in Murderworld; quick resurrections by Rachel Summers or Roma; dream sequences (most recently with a sequence in X-Men Forever where Kitty has a dream about Wolverine massacring the X-Men); alternate realities; dark futures; or immediate reincarnations. Like most of his go-to tropes, this is really shocking the first time you see it, but he just keeps doing it.
- The bloody massacre of the entire Grey family in Uncanny X-Men is an example of this trope being played completely straight. If readers particularly cared is another matter. The casualties included some long-running supporting characters (such as Jean Grey's parents, nephew, and niece), but most of the others were one-shot characters introduced in time for the massacre. Jean Grey's sister had already been killed in another storyline, more than a decade before.
- Kudzu Plot: The man loved his subplots, but he never followed through on three-quarters of them. Often, he never got the chance to follow through, because an editor would veto it halfway through or he'd be shuffled to a different book partway into his elaborate storyline and the new writer would take it in a different direction. Probably the only time things went more or less as he planned even after he moved to another book was with Excalibur, as after a couple of years of not much happening in it, his co-creator Alan Davis returned to the book (this time as both artist and writer) and implemented their original plan. Since Excalibur was relatively obscure and isolated from the other X-books at the time, and no other creative teams had any real clue what to do with it, the status quo was basically intact when Davis returned and thus his and Claremont's plans were still viable. Every other time one of Claremont's stories has been interrupted by staff changes, that's not been the case.
- Note that he was originally on X-Men for 15 years in a row! The list of dangling plot threads from then would require its own wiki. The problem there is that he had a really long story in mind, one that it was probably unrealistic for him to expect to have time for.
- Claremont spent most of his original X-Men run with Jim Shooter as the editor in chief, and the two of them had frequent clashes over the directions in which Claremont wanted to take the story. Many abandoned subplots had to be dropped suddenly because Shooter vetoed them, such as Mystique and Destiny's relationship. Continuing this fine pattern of Executive Meddling, Claremont clashed so badly with his editor Bob Harras that he left the X-Men franchise entirely in the early nineties, which is one of the early benchmarks that marks the start of superhero comics' Dark Age.
- Put it this way: compared to Claremont, Chris Carter is an amateur.
- In some cases, the subplots involved one or more heroes and villains making implications concerning their pasts and the actual motivations behind their actions, which were never actually followed even when Claremont was still on the writing board. For example, Mystique in her earliest appearances in "Ms. Marvel" vol. 1 #16-18 is receiving orders by an unseen character who she calls "Lord". It was never explained who that was. In a 1983 storyline, Mastermind plagues Mystique's sleep with highly disturbing nightmares, seems to have a hand in causing Rogue to run away from her mother (by amplifying her despair), assaults and incapacitates Emma Frost, and threatens the life of Sebastian Shaw as well. The storyline heavily implied that it was all part of an elaborate revenge scheme, but finished without explaining why Mastermind wanted revenge from these characters. Frost and Shaw were Mastermind's former allies, and he had no known previous encounters with Mystique and Rogue.
- Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me:
- The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Sovereign Seven.
- The Psycho Rangers: Evil versions of the original five X-Men came to bedevil the "all new, all different" X-Men on multiple occasions. When Xavier's dark side was out of control, it manifested the original X-Men as psychic projections. Not long after that, evil robot versions of the original X-Men appeared in the story that led to Jean becoming the Phoenix. More recently, New Excalibur had the Brainwashed and Crazy X-Men of a different dimension (their Xavier was possessed by the Shadow King and warped his students.)
- Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Claremont created Mystique, Rogue, and Deathbird as Ms. Marvel villains, and Sabretooth was originally a villain for Power Man and Iron Fist. In general, if Claremont takes a shine to a character on one book then leaves the title or the title is canceled, the character will pop up in another book he writes.
- When Claremont wrote Fantastic Four for a while in the '90s, they spent a lot of time having to deal with villains Claremont had introduced in Excalibur.
- Viper/Madame Hydra was originally a Captain America villain, but Claremont seems to have taken a serious liking to her. He used her as a villain against both the X-Men and the New Mutants in the 1980s, re-introduced her as Wolverine's wife and Madripoor's new ruler in the late 1990s, and had her join a revamped version of the Hellfire Club in the 2000s.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: A component of Claremontese. While it is not like the whole cast thinks they're Beast, everyone drops a big or obscure word now and again. (This is probably how "leman" got past the radar - by now, editors had stopped saying "what's that mean?"
- Soaperizing: Turned the X-Men into the ludicrously complicated and absurdly incestuous superpowered soap opera that we know and love.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Uncontested king. Lampshade Hanging in an early cameo - "Do us all a favor, Chris: shut up and run!"