Meanwhile, the actual Spanish artists Carlos Pacheco and Salvador Larroca had gotten their foot in the door with the X-Men. Pacheco followed up on his AoA work with a Starjammers mini-series with Warren Ellis in 1995. That led to a regular gig on Excalibur. He drew his first cover for the title with #87 (the first issue following AoA) and his first interior art for issue #90 (October, 1995). Pacheco was the primary artist for the London Hellfire Club story that ran from issue #96 to #100. However, Excalibur was considered a second-tier title and great artists were quickly pulled off of it in order to work on other high-profile projects. Pacheco was given a short stint on the Fantastic Four, closing out that title before it made room for the Heroes Reborn version. And then Carlos was quickly brought back to the X-Men, where he was made the regular penciller on the second title. His X-Men debut was issue #62 in March 1997 and he remained the regular artist until issue #75 in May 1998.
Salvador Larroca already had a regular gig, working on Ghost Rider. But, following the AoA, he was slowly shifted over to the X-Men as well. He followed Carlos Pacheco (and Brian Hitch) on Excalibur, drawing issues 107 through 110. He then drew the Psylocke and Archangel: Crimson Dawn mini-series in 1997. It looked like Larroca might become the next regular penciller on the X-Men at that point- he even drew issue #67 as a fill-in artist for Carlos Pacheco. But Larroca was side-tracked into other, prestigious projects. He was named the artist on the Heroes Return mini-series, bringing many of Marvel’s biggest stars back to their regular continuity.
In 1995, ’96 and ’97, the Spanish American style was all over the X-books. At one point, Joe Madureira was the artist on Uncanny X-Men, Carlos Pacheco on X-Men, Salvador Larroca on Excalibur and Chris Bachalo on Generation X. Plus, Roger Cruz (a Brazilian with a strong Madureira influence) was the artist on X-Man, Adam Pollina was on X-Force and Jeff Matsuda (a Japanese-American with a similar style) was on X-Factor. It was a great time for fans of this particular style.
Of course, it couldn’t last. As the proverb goes, all good things must come to an end.
Joe Madureira, the first of these artists to arrive in the X-Men playground, was also the first to leave. He was given the chance to be a star on his own, the driving force behind a creator-owned comic. Madureira became one of the founders of Cliffhanger comics, a new imprint through Image Comics and Wildstorm studios. He created Battle Chasers, a fantasy story with sci-fi and action-adventure influences. The new title debuted in April of 1998 and was a big hit at the time.
With Madureira’s departure from Uncanny X-Men, Marvel needed a new artist to anchor their flagship title. They turned to Chris Bachalo, who had put in three years on Generation X. Bachalo hadn’t been solely devoted to the teen title- he had reunited with Neil Gaiman for a second Death mini-series in 1996. At the urging of his wife, Bachalo was ready for a new challenge. He took over as the regular penciller on Uncanny X-Men with issue #353 in April of 1998. However, Bachalo would only hold that position for a year. Reeling after the collapse of the speculator bubble and Marvel’s bankruptcy, the late ‘90s were a rough time for the comic book industry. The X-Men, as the top blockbuster, were especially affected. It seemed like the team changed direction and the title changed creative teams every 8-10 months. Bachalo’s last issue of Uncanny X-Men was #365 (March, 1999). He would then move on to other projects at Image and DC.
Carlos Pacheco had already moved on by that point as well. His tenure on the other X-Men title, known simply as “X-Men,” over-lapped with both Joe Madureira and Chris Bachalo. However, Pacheco was being offered other projects. The chance to draw a different set of heroes proved irresistible. Pacheco left the X-office after X-Men #75 (May 1998) in order to take on the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.