By and large, the X-MEN stories in the year following the “Dark Phoenix Saga” and “Days of Future Past” had paled in comparison to what had come before. The old hands who weren’t writing THE X-MEN were all too happy to opine that its sales had surpassed its aesthetic achievement, and that it benefited from a lack of other exciting options. If THE X-MEN had been published in the mid–1970s, Steve Englehart insisted in interviews, it wouldn’t have been such a phenomenon. “In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” sniffed Roy Thomas. It was a dedicated kingdom, though: according to Diana Schutz, a manager at Comics & Comix in Berkeley, California, “People were buying case lots of X-Men. Two, three hundred copies. Some people were buying two lots, for investment purposes.” Appearances by Man-Thing, Spider-Woman, Dazzler, and Doctor Doom reestablished THE X-MEN’s ties with the rest of the Marvel Universe, but there was the nagging feeling that those crossovers were just meant to jump-start sales of less popular characters. Or maybe something was just being held back. Dave Cockrum created an amphibious heroine named Silkie, and then retracted the character when he couldn’t negotiate to retain partial ownership. He had a whole group of new heroes, he said—but they’d remain his now.