Sunday, October 12, 2014

X-Men

The X-Men have been around for ages.  I didn't know anything about the comic book related team until around the mid-80's when I met a guy that was a big fan of the book.  I think he may have been collecting them somewhere around the 70's, and also followed other Marvel titles.  He'd read the Dark Phoenix saga way before it became popular with the mainstream comic buyer.  So I got a quick introduction to the team through him. 

There's a new movie out about the super heroes called Days of Future Past, which I haven't seen, but judging from the critical and fan response it should be pretty good.  Once it makes it to DVD I'll certainly give it a shot.  While on the subject talking about super heroes on film (at least the small screen), did you catch The Flash on the CW channel last week?   I thought it was pretty decent.  It's been a while since I've read any Flash comic books, so I couldn't tell you very much how they've changed up that cannon, other than Iris West, is played by a black actress.  That's neither here nor there, just that the last time I read the Flash, ages ago, Iris was Caucasian, and I don't even remember if they were married.   Overall though, I thought it captured the essence of the Flash, and I could appreciate the added special effects, and that it fits firmly inside the super hero universe--something that Marvel's Agents of SHIELD lacks.   I've also enjoyed watching Gotham, the prequel, more or less of the Batman universe.   Anyway, I digress.

So with the new movie coming out on DVD I was interested in reading something about the X-Men, and just randomly picked something from their classic era.  I ended up reading Classic X-Men #10.  I like these reprints, as they are in color, and have a new cover on the front, but also give you the original cover inside the book as well, along with some extra pin-ups, and contain an additional new short story inside the book as well as a back up story.  By the way, it's hard to beat the teaming of Chris Claremont with either John Byrne or Dave Cockrum as artist.   I tend to favor Cockrum, maybe by only a half star or so, because I think both are great artist with strengths, but I tend to find that Byrne draws facial features a bit too much the same, whereas Cockrum can differentiate them a bit more.  Cockrum is great with action poses and  sequences as well.  But like I said, I can appreciate and respect them both.

 Classic X-Men #10 also integrates about 3 new pages into the reprint of Uncanny X-Men 102. "Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?" Script by Chris Claremont, new pencils by John Romita, reprint pencils by Dave Cockrum, new and reprint inks by Sam Grainger. It also contains a New Wolverine back-up story: "Tag, Sucker." Script by Claremont, art by John Bolton. (John Bolton was never on the regular X-Men titles, but I've always enjoyed his art work, and found when he did a back-up story, a special treat.)  New Arthur Adams illustration; new Adams/Terry Austin front cover; new John Bolton back cover. Cover price $1.00.  What?  $1.00?  All that for a buck?  Yes, hard to believe at the prices of comics these days.  Granted it's on pulp newsprint, and not on slick paper, but that doesn't bother me one iota.  At any rate, if you run across any of these in a used bin or used book store or wherever, pick them up, as they are worth the price of admission, and contain some of the classic tales as the cover implies.

One of the things about the X-Men group, is that the team has gotten so dang big, it can be overwhelming for a novice comic reader or fan.  So where to begin?  You've got Uncanny X-Men, Ultimate X-Men, All-New X-Men, Astonishing X-Men.  You have the early years with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the revamped team, and then once they got popular, they had new teams like The New Mutants, X-Factor, solo adventures and titles, team-ups between characters, etc.  To give you some idea check out the info graphic below, and I don't think that covers all the mutants.

Hopefully you'll be able to enlarge this graphic.  Actually I think it would have worked better had the artist made better depictions of the characters.  It would be nice to see it done in styles akin to some of the classic artist that have worked on the book throughout the ages as well.  However, with the info graphic above the art is hard to distinguish between who is who.  Below is a legend for the above.
Hopefully the legend will enlarge as well, so you can see a who is who.  It starts out with Professor Xavier and Magneto at the top, and then the second tier, begins the silver age team: Angel, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, and Ice Man, and so on.

As long as I'm on the topic of the X-Men, I wanted to include a couple of printed interviews that I found on the web with Dave Cockrum, one of X-Men's artist.  He passed away a few years ago, but I considered his art to be identifiable or definitive to that book.   Both interviews seem to come from TwoMorrow publishers, but are two separate interviews.  One is a straight interview, and easier to read, and the second contains some of his art work, but the printed part of the interview won't enlarge (at least on my computer, which I found a bit frustrating), but I think it's worthwhile to squint and read it, if you're a fan of Cockrum. 

Link to interview Number One. 

With this second Cockrum interview, you'll probably have to scroll down past a few pictures, which have been added to the blog where the interview is found.  It's found on thedorkreview.blogspot.com to get to the article, but I think it's worth checking out.  Link to interview Number Two.  

If you aren't burned on the X-Men yet, there's also a podcast devoted to the X-Men.  One of the things I enjoy about the previously posted Superman podcast is that it's generational or family friendly ie. no offensive language at least from what I've listened to.  However, that's not true with the X-Men podcast.  They don't overuse profanity, but they use some, so be advised.  Why bloggers  or podcasters resort to limit their audience in that  manner is beyond me.  I know people talk like that in high school and younger and real life as well, but if I had a kid, I would try and steer them clear of such.  Oh well, that said, you might want to give it a listen.   The X-Men podcast can be found here. 


 







4 Comments:

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Though when young I read a lot of the early Marvel comics -- Hulk, Fantastic Four, Spiderman, et al -- I never got into the X Men. I don't know why. I guess in even comics one can't read everything. So, the movies were didn't have the nostalgia element for me that the other Marvel-based ones had. Nonetheless I'll probably watch Jennifer Lawrence even if she is blue. The reprints sound great.

My mom was pretty open-minded about comics and often bought them for me -- she figured reading was reading. She usually slipped Classic Comics into the mix; these, you may recall, were comic adaptations of classic novels. The stratagem worked: I read more than one novel because I first saw and liked the comic.

 
At 8:31 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Your mom was smart, Richard, and slipping in a Classics Illustrated comic was sly on her part. My mom didn't mind us reading the majority of comics we picked up, just the Mad stuff, and a few of the Sick magazines. I think we tested the boundaries with that, perhaps it was the irreverence of them or they had an attitude of sexiness? Who knows? But you know, boys will be boys. I still have a ragged Frankenstein comic from way back when.

You're right though, you can't read everything, which might be one of the things about the arts--there's a lot to draw from it. The early Kirby & Lee X-Men were similar to a Fantastic Four title, with bickering, etc. Kirby might have been channeling some Challengers of the Unknown too, which I believe he worked on previously with DC. The X-Men for me (and probably most X-Men fans) didn't click until Claremont started writing them, and infused them with much more personality, a mixture of SF and fantasy, and the artist he worked with brought in great artwork as well. That's more or less where the movies get their influence from as well.

I'd agree, I'd watch Ms. Lawrence in just about any color too. :) The Hunger Games showed this past weekend, and I found myself watching most of it again.

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

My first run in with the "X-men" was because of the animated series that came out in the early 90s. It captured my imagination and I loved it. My wife actually got into the series too. It is probably the only American comic series I collected for a while. But even then you had "X-men" and "The Uncanny X-men" to pick from and determine which storyline you liked best.

My favorite mutants were Gambit and Rogue. Gambit was a charming scoundrel with a checkered past and Rogue had that amazon physique with the sweet southern accent. How could I resist?

I was a bit disappointed in the more realistic tone of the first couple movies when I first saw them. I mean skinny dinky little Anna Paquin as Rogue?!? But once I got on board with what Brian Singer was going for, it all clicked. An uneven series of films, but mostly entertaining.

I still have a bunch of my old X-men comics from the 90s floating around in a closet. Right next to my Japanese manga collections of "Gunsmith Cats" and "Oh My Goddess". :)

 
At 11:43 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Roman, yeah, I agree about Paquin as Rogue, a bit miscast & young. But the movies are a bit of a mixed affair. I can still enjoy the first two, and at least they got a few things right. I should give the third movie a day in court. :)

I think my two favorite X-People, aside from Wolverine (until he got overused) were Storm and Nightcrawler. I'm not sure why. When I read Storm I hear the voice of Uhura or Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek. Ha. Don't know why. And Kurt or Nightcrawler had this lighthearted air about him. I always thought Professor X was a good leader too, sort of a fatherly figure. I have fond memories of reading some of the comics. They jump in their jet and go off somewhere or jet off to the coast of Scotland and even outer space.

Yes, I do remember the cartoons, and they did a pretty decent job with those as well. If I remember right, some of the cartoons followed the Dark Phoenix Saga.

 

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