Friday, January 25, 2013

My 2013 Pull List-All New X-Men

My 2013 Pull List-

So, coming back I want to do something that is a little different than just reviews. I've been gone for a little while. Just a little while. I'm sure you didn't notice. Anyway I did not want to do a massive pile of reviews for every comic I've read while I was not updating the blog( because Lord, would that take forever) or leaving a big gap between the issues I've reviewed, instead I'm going to give everybody a peek at my pull list.
I'll show the series that I personally think are good enough that I'm going  to my closest comic book store every other week and slapping down my hard earned cash for. Pretty simple concept right? So let's quit wasting lazy bastards.

#1 All New X-Men- When Brian Michael Bendis was announced as the writer of a series that would see the original five X-Men traveling to the present, to try to right the wrongs of their modern day counterparts, for the first time in years I found myself genuinely excited about the direction of a major X-book. All-New X-Men felt like a ray of sunshine after a seemingly endless cycle of crossover, death, blow everything up, new status qua, another cross over, more death, on and on. Notable exceptions include X-Factor and X-Men Legacy, however I didn't really discover X-Factor until very recently and X-Men Legacy tended to get knocked off coarse by whatever incredibly important event  was CHANGING THE X-MEN FOREVER!! that month. 
    So...recap of the last decade of X-Men stories? First Xavier is revealed as a prick so Cyclops takes over the X-Men. Cyclops becomes a prick, Jean Grey dies, and later Colossus comes back to life. M-Day/Decimation happens and all the mutants go away. Cue much moaning and naval gazing from the X-Men. Messiah Complex, Hope is born and people fight over her. The X-Men fight the Marauders and also each other. Bishop kills Xavier. Everyone is sad. Then it turns out Xavier was not dead. Hope travels to the future with Cable. The X-Men move to San Francisco which lasts about a week because Norman Osborn takes over the United States and attacks them in the Utopia event comic. They move to an island and declare themselves an independent nation. Everyone is kind of happy for awhile but then Hope comes back so zombies and robots from the future attack the island(Necrosha/Messiah War). Nightcrawler and some other people die. Cyclops becomes more of a prick. Schism happens. The X-Men fight each other over how much of a prick Cyclops is and Wolverine starts his own school. The Phoenix comes back and the Avengers try to kill Hope. The Avengers and X-Men fight. The Phoenix Force bonds with Cyclops and four other X-Men. They try to save the world and then wind up killing  lots of people. Cyclops becomes a straight up villian. The Avengers and the X-Men fight the Phoenix Five. They lose and then the Phoenix Five fight each other. Cyclops kills Xavier (for realz this time). Hope gets the Phoenix Force and brings all the mutants back. Cyclops goes to jail. The end.

For so long the X-Men  comics have felt like they were on a repeat cycle of blow everything up, put it together in a new way, and then blow it up again, saddled with an artificial feeling of grimness, created through characters complaining, heroes doing evil stuff, and occasionally the killing of a beloved/ and or mildly popular character.
And then boom! All New X-Men hits and I get to read a comic by a writer I love, starring characters I love, and it's offering me the fulfillment of a ten year long wish, promising a day when I read an X-Men book and have FUN doing it.  Maybe this is just the new gimmick and after a few months some one will die and the X-Men will move on to whatever the next new gimmick is, I don't now. What I do know is that I am five issues in and I'm loving All-New X-Men. It helps that the idea is just so meta, appealing to the comic book nerd/ collector/ critic in me. Horrified at what's become of themselves and their world the original X-Men decide they're going put things the way they are supposed to be even if it means smacking some sense into their future selves.
The moment when we see a young Jean Grey absorb all of the memories of her team mates is both cool and heartbreaking. On the outside we, the readers, are seeing 60+ plus years of storytelling in a beautiful two page spread by Stuart Immonen. Inside the story, we know Jean Grey is experiencing her whole life. The consummation and eventual failure of her marriage. The moment her powers finally reach their full potential only to corrupt her in the end. She forms connections with people she has not even met yet and she watches them die. She watches herself die. It's all there in the image, a mixture of awe and horror as her entire future is condensed into a matter of seconds.
SPLASH PAGES. Making continuity Fun!

The series is slightly darker in tone than I had hoped but for once the level of grimness seems believable and totally appropriate to the situation rather than being forced or over the top. It helps that the moodiness comes from the character's themselves.
It is created by the contrast of five idealistic young X-Men running headlong into a bleak world and seeing how time has warped their beliefs and turned them against one another, rather than by some editorially mandated body count or another yet full page shot of Wolverine decapitating somebody. The darkness also helps to make the lighter moments that much brighter. In a world where everyone is at everyone else's throats, fretting over the time-space continuum, or hobbled by guilt over past failures scenes like the five X-men together in the blackbird or angel's enthusiasm over meeting his past are downright refreshing. Rather than be changed by this new world the Young X-Men rebel against it, giving a sense of hope that if the fly straight and keep together as a team maybe they'll be able to make a difference.
           And of course there is the art, which I can critique by delivering a simple comprehensive statement that you all probably already knew. Stuart Immonen is awesome! I love virtually every panel in every single issue. The character designs, motions, expressions, backgrounds, everything is spot on and a real pleasure to look at. His figures have become more detailed and solid since when I first saw him in Ultimate X-Men, or even Ultimate Spider-Man, while still conveying that sleekness that I find very appealing. David Marquez, the series second regular artist, has only been around for one issue but his stuff looks great too. He does a good job of matching his style to Immonen's and in some places he does a little better. His characters aren't as smooth and loose but the faces are more distinctive and the young X-Men look even more "classic" and out of time when he draws them.
 If I have to make one complaint it is a stupid, fanboy complaint that in some panels Marquez makes young Scott look like a dork, a negative that is completely canceled by the fact that when he draws Cyclops being awesome, he is AWESOME! I mean just how great is All New X-Men #5 when he just blasts Logan in the face?
Snagged this image from

I have been waiting for that moment literally since I was six years old, when Wolverine punched Cyclops in the gut in the very first episode of X-Men the Animated Series. And then Jean Grey stepped in and stopped the fight before he could get even! I know Cyclops has gotten bad ass moments before but to me they were always a little tainted because they were being used to show how edgy and morally gray the new Cyclops was by writers who felt that he could only be cool if he was cool in the same, stubbley, hard drinking, always-a- dick-to-everyone-he-meets sort of way that Wolverine is. This is Cyclops how I've always wanted to see him, being a hero and being AWESOME at it. For that alone, this series has earned my eternal love and devotion.

Do you hear me Brian Michael Bendis?! You own me now. I will do anything you want!! Which would be great for him if I had any useful skills...
    Back to the review, if I had to point to one technical complaint it would be this. The book is titled All-New X-Men and so that should really be the main focus. It's good to set up the opposition and make them believable but I really don't see the need to spend so much time watching the break up drama between Emma and Scott or the whole subplot about Magneto losing his powers. I mean "evil" Cyclops and his team are getting their own book anyway? Why is this story being told here and not there? I picked this book up specifically because I thought it would have MORE original X-Men and LESS Emma Frost, Magneto, and Magick. Hey, let's play a game. It's called guess what my three least favorite X-Men characters are? I will give you a hint, one of them is Emma Frost. The other one is Magick. The third is actually Fantomex but Magneto when he is pretending to be a good guy is pretty close behind on that list. also I hate Danger. And Longshot, Psylocke, Hellion, Cameron Hodge, The Stepford Cuckoos, Hope Summers, Rachael Summers, Dazzler, David Xavier, and Vulcan.

So I guess that's that. Tune in again soon for my next post which I am sure will run along similar veins. That's right #2 on my pull list is Ultimate X-Men by Brian Wood. It'll be fun.

For me, at least. Not for you. Have I used that joke before?

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