Brad Surveys The X-Men: Hope He Survives The Experience!

Hey, remember when Dirk Deppey reviewed a bunch of X-Men comics that one time? This is sort of like that, but without the dripping disdain for Chris Claremont, so some of you may want to leave now.

Really, I just wanted to read more X-Men comics than usual and decided that blogging about it under the auspicies of "the state of the X-Men" kind of think Dirk did would help me maintain the facade of a detatched blogger with good taste and not a lapsed X-Men fanboy who really wants to read a bunch of Marvel mutant comics again. That shit ain't gonna hold up long, mind you, since I liked all of these pretty well, but hey, I tried to try. Give me some credit.

Giant Size Uncanny X-Men First Class One Shot- I liked the all ages X-Men: First Class okay, but I'm glad that they've moved on to the cast that wasn't an abject failure. Like the rest of comicdom, I like the "new" X-Men better than the original group. That holds up here.

Other than tapping out on Banshee's Irish brogue infused story, I enjoyed this book immensely. It's an anthology of stories about each member of the team. The framing story (which is about how much Cyclops hates all these new jerks) is pretty funny, but nothing tops Wolverine recapping his own origin. That's really the only origin he will ever need. The Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler solo stories all hit the vital points of their origin stories; I'm always up for Nightcrawler in the circus stories. But really, this book is worth the $4 just for the Wolverine story. Trust me. I can be right sometimes!

I have a tendency to not follow the Marvel Adventures style all ages comics well. Even Wolverine: First Class, which seemed to be pandering exclusively to me by being a Kitty Pryde/Wolverine team up book written by Fred Van Lente, lost me eventually. When he made Kitty a furry, I guess. But I'll at least check in from time to time. The Claremont/Cockrum era X-Men could use this approach, given how morose they were. But I'll get to the old man later.

Uncanny X-Men #511- The one X-Men comic I've been following regulary since Grant Morrison left, although I suppose Jason Aaron's Wolverine and Jeff Parker's Exiles count now. Anyway, this is the end of the Red Queen storyline. I liked it. Even Land's art seemed okay to me. I liked the resolution of Maddie's plot, and the fact that Beast knows that Scott and Emma are doing some shady crap. Nice that he got to be the one to confront them for once, instead of Wolverine (of course, Logan's on Scott's secret hit squad, so he'd be a bit of a hypocrite if he did).

Fraction's X-Men run is such an odd duck for me. I really like what he's doing, even the stylistic flourishes that annoy others (love those character info boxes he plucked from either Scott Pilgrim or the Intimates), and especially what he's doing plot wise. That said, I'm still always on the verge of dropping it. It's just good enough, which isn't good enough, especially considering what Fraction's capable of. What may finally do me in is the upcoming, multi part crossover with the Dark Avengers. Marvel can go to a prostate buffet if they think I'm shelling out for that, especially since it appears to be nothing but set up for an X-Men team that features Daken and Cloak and Dagger. That's a jumping off point.

Wolverine #73 and 74- I liked Aaron's explanation for why Wolverine's on a million teams more than Chad did, especially since it hinges on his getting his memories back in House of M. Good to see someone use that thing well. Also, he was on a fairly sensible number of teams in the '90s for a cash cow, wasn't he? It was pretty much whatever X-Men team needed him and ocasionally the Secret Defenders and New Fantastic Four, if I remember correctly. I did stop reading comics regulalry between '95 and 2001, though, so maybe I missed more than I thought.

Anyway, good fill in story here. I loved that Spider-Man was the guy who confroted him about it, too. For a character that doesn't suit Aaron's style at all, he writes him well. Nice art from whichever Kubert brother it was, too. I honestly can't remember nor be bothered to google it or even look up in the issue which is right there which Kubert brother it was. I'm just going to pretend it was the rarely seen third Kubert brother, Sancho, and move on.

The other story (this was two single issues fill ins chopped in half and serialized together to fill the gap between Old Man Logan and Dark Wolverine, in case you didn't know) is also solid. Logan bumps in to his 1,000,000,000th old friend we've never heard of (who resembles John Goodman) and helps him sort some things out. I think Marvel has a Mad Lib for pitching this story at this point.

It's written by Daniel Way, and overcomes my low opinion of his work (which is unfair, as I've largely ignored it) by being pretty good. It even has some emotional resonance! That's nice, even if it does comes from the stupid existence of Wolverine's stupid son (who is stupid). That said, it could have been about anything, I wouldn't care; the real draw of it was Tommy Lee Edwards' art. Hell, I'm eventually going to buy that Marvel 1984 thing Millar's did for it, too. He's that good.

X-Factor #44- This is the first Peter David comic I've read in years. It's also the first X-Factor comic I've read since I tracked down that issue where Doc Samson gives the team therapy that David wrote. The first time he was writing the team. When I was in grade school.

So, yeah, things done changed since then. Madrox is really the only link between the two incarnations besides Captain Punderful writing it (and I guess Val Cooper counts, too). For one thing, I have no real idea who Darwin is, because I've never read Brubaker's X-Men. He seems like an okay guy, though, and I like the rest of the cast (Longshot FTW!) so everything turned out well there. I have to admit the cast is always a big part of why I like an X-Men comic, more than frivolous concepts like "plot" or "sense making". I even came around on Joss Whedon's X-Men eventually because I liked his team.

Anyway; I don't want to get dragged in to any drama with David and the Scans Daily crowd (just thinking of that little spat makes me root for the meteor). So, I won't spoil anything plot-wise, or even allude to it. I'll just say I thought this was a solid comic. Maybe even pretty good. Not going to start buying it regulalry, but it was pretty okay and I wouldn't rule out catching up on the trades at some point possibly, on a slow week, if I have purchased every other comic book I would ever want to read. Is that qualified enough?

X-Men Forever #0Alpha and #1- Yeah, so, I was going to ignore this, like every Claremont X-Men comic since he left the first time. But it does have a lot of my favorite X-Men characters in it (watching Pryde of the X-Men as a kid really hardwired me to always want Kitty and Nightcrawler on the team. I was able to except that Wolverine wasn't Australian and that Dazzler sucked* eventually, though). And I never did read Claremont's last issue of his first run, so I had to get the reprint of his last story arc with Jim Lee they tacked a teaser for the new series on to. How funny is it in retrospect that was meant to be a "passing of the torch" moment, given how long Lee stuck around to run the X-Men?

Also, I like Tom Grummett a lot. I know Joe Rice will finally disown me once he reads this but, well, it was gonna happen eventually. I just read some of his Superboy run with Karl Kessel recently; those were some fun comics. I want that guy back, damn it!

Anyway, the last Claremont/Lee X collaboration showed why Marvel wasn't big enough for both of them, because holy hell! They're basically on two different planets! Claremont's characters are so verbose they make Don McGreggor's look... well, he was probably still wordier. But dear lord, all the soliloquies in that thing got ridiculous, especially given how much they exposed Jim Lee's lack of range. It really cuts the dramatic tension off at the knees when Magneto's giving his death speech and all I can think is "shut up and die already, old man, so I can stop reading this and take some Tylenol!" And yes, I realize I also am longwinded. I learned it from Claremont! That's what reading his comics growing up did to me. That, and I say things like "no quarter asked, none given" way more than I should. Like, that one time I said it. That was too many times.

He's actually much less verbose in X-Men Forever #1, which picks up where X-Men '91 #3 left off. Except half the team has disappeared off panel, Kitty and Kurt have rejoined, Gambit and Rogue have real names (wait, Remy Picard? For real?), Nick Fury's become more of a douche than he was in '91, and a lot of the characterization is rewired to fit where Claremont wants to go instead of whatever they were setting up for after his departure. Otherwise, it's just like it's 1991 all over again!

That out of the way, I liked this issue a lot. I mean, they had me with that sequence where each member of the team shares their innermost thoughts before the mission. That will always work on me. And it did read like a classic issue of Claremont's X-Men, with a bunch of subplots established and a big cliffhanger (which he really never could have done in 1991). Not sure I want to read this in bi-weekly installments, but I'm actually looking forward to the eventual trade.

X-Men Legacy #224- And we end with the actual X-Men series that's continued since Claremont left in 1991. Despite liking Mike Carey as a writer, I've never tried his X-Men before. His initial run was drawn by my two least favorite artists in mainstream comics (yes, more than Greg Land), Chris Bachallo and Humberto Ramos. Since the comic took on the subtitle, I've been leary of trying it because it appeared to be continuity porn. Well done continuity porn, but still; I really don't want to encourage that much navel gazing if I can help it.

That said, this was pretty good, too. I mean, Mike Carey made an actual character out of Danger and made Professor X chaining it up in the basement make him seem like an awful person. That deserves an award higher than the Eisner, folks. Like a statue the size of King Kong Bundy made of deep fried gold.

This is also a pivotal issue for Rogue, as someone finally got the go ahead to resolve the problem that's been the crux of her character forever. Throw in some attractive Scott Eaton art and you have a pretty good comic in my book. Entitled "I Have Low Standards, But At Least I'm Not This Guy, Awesome As He Is." I'm still looking for a publisher on that, by the way.

I'd love to declare the X-Men line healthy, but despite this sampling, I'm not reading everything in it. Between Warren Ellis's glacially paced serialization of Astonishing X-Men (I'll get the trade maybe), the New Mutants relaunch (which I would have bought but forgot. Twice), the Wolverine/Punisher and Mojo serials in Astonishing Tales (kind of want the Mojo thing because Hickman's doing it), Cable, X-Force, Cable vs. X-Force, Cable Loves X-Force, all the X-Men one shots, all the Wolverine one shots, Cable and X-Force Are Just Friends With Benefits Now, and the confusion over whether Deadpool and Captain Britain are considered part of the X-Men family or not; crap, writing all that made me tired. You know, there's only so much of this stuff I can afford/read before blood shoots out of my ears. What I did read was pretty good, though, so that's nice to see. I like when my imaginary friends are doing well.

*Burgas, I already obtained a restraining order against you, so you better turn your car around and not head down here to strangle me. Besides, I think Dazzler's okay in small doses. I'm just messing with you.

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