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The Second Wave: X-Books

The entire gaggle of X-Books (we’re collecting 4 of them) consisted of 13 issues, and some were fairly slow going due to a lack of interest on my part. So, without further ado, here goes:

ASTONISHING X-MEN:

 

Of course, we all know a few of the main reasons this book was making it in the box. It was penned by “the man” Mr. Whedon, and it revolved around everyone’s favorite lovable band of Merry Mutants. Two great flavors that certainly tasted great together…while they lasted.

*Cue dramatic music*

 

Warren Ellis now helms this book, bringing with him an artist, Simone Bianchi who seems hell bent on making everyone and everything look like a Halloween Super Store exploded on the pages. He’s not all that bad really…but his art is spooky and all the characters look like malicious goblins or demonic war-lords. It’s definitely a change from the clean and shiney inks of John Cassady.

As for Ellis, I can’t say he and I have much history, or will in the future. His book is much too technical and wordy to suit my X-Men desires.

And that’s fine, right? There are many other X-Books to choose from. No harm, no foul.

UNCANNY X-MEN:

After the Messiah Complex tore the team asunder (and annihilated the X-Mansion for the billionth time), it only seemed appropriate that the team members should take a hiatus. Xavier was dead, the mansion destroyed, the dream hanging in tattered shreds.

So, let’s all pick up and move to San Francisco.

Eh, what? Does anyone else remember how bad of an idea that is? Similar plot-lines wherein the X-Team alters locations never end well. And come on – San Francisco? Let’s take the comic allegory and decorate it with political trappings please. Be sure to mention HYBRIDS! I don’t know about this Ed Brubaker character.

*sigh* As if all this wasn’t bad enough – Rogue and Gambit are MIA (remember them, two of your more popular characters??) and Emma Frost is doing her best Jean Grey impersonation to everyone’s discomfort. She sticks out like a sore thumb that the X-Editors are intent on jabbing in the eye of every reader who thinks Jean Grey should return from the dead and kick the holy telepathic shit out of her.

But Emma’s on every other page – with smarmy retorts and her boobies jostling up out of her top. Always so classy, Ms. Frost.

It would seem that the X-Creators forget she’s only ever worked as a minor character and only when given some sort of purpose. Otherwise, she’s like a venereal disease infested peacock preening and pretending to fill the shoes of the most powerful mutant in the Universe. Puh-thetic.

Cyclops is back as the leader (AS ALWAYS). Could anyone be less enthused?

There were some other references to a new evil “Humans Against Mutants” kinda group and a plot about Dazzler and the mayor of San Francisco and…*shrug* I don’t really care.

Not particularly interested in the New Mutants , er excuse me, Young X-Men and their need to appear in the adult X-Books. My willingness to continue collecting X-Books is perfunctory at best…born of some vague idea that once I stop…it will start to get good again.

The art is spastic – especially in the last three issues when it changed artistic hands three different times in three different pages. This is like the exact opposite of what folks like myself want from their comic books. Yegh!

Disappointing. It’s still on the pull list…but I’m not making a special point of reading it.

X-MEN LEGACY:

When you’re good, you’re good. This book is my favorite of the heap at the moment because it features Xavier’s survival (don’t act shocked) and struggle to piece together his life based on his memories and the memories of others. Really intriguing plot done by Mike Carey, with plenty of opportunity for fun and interesting guest stars. Gambit, Mr. Sinister and Rogue all oblige.

Things are going along swimmingly with the art, done by Scot Eaton, which hasn’t changed hands in the first 5 issues (always a good sign). The only real bone of contention is Rogue’s costume has been altered yet again. Please bring back the cape. I love Rogue in a cape.

But yes – everything seems to look good here.

Until the very latest issue when Cyclops and Emma Frost make their appearance. My distaste for this couple has grown the more they appear in every X-comic I read. Cyclops especially is a whiny-ass bitch in the Legacy series because…he’s a whiney-ass bitch. So Xavier isn’t 100% morally upright. Get over it. You’re dating the White Skank.

I am not pleased with Grant Morrison’s version of the X-Men, and am even further disgruntled that it now dominates all X-Books. Including the only one that has really gained any traction with me since the Whedon run on Astonishing finished. Whedon has a knack for making bitches and evil villains tolerable, but in the hands of lesser writers…Emma Frost and Scott Summers are unpalatable.

I predict a lot of leafing and not any real reading in the future with this series until things pick back up again (aka, Cyclops and the White Queen exit stage left).

X-FACTOR:

My solace in the storm – as the X-Books flail about with their annoying co-mingled plots and “new directions” every two months…this book has been a joy with it’s consistent and good writing.

Until – that is – the Messiah Complex. And then Secret Invasion. And now, nothing in my good graces could force me to read the last two issues.

Most of this can be blamed on Marvel’s obsessive need for plot-rupturing cross-overs…which consume several books and leave shitty story archs and gaps in their wake.

Peter David had a great thing going. He was sizing Madrox up for interesting revelations. He was building great rapport and bonding with the cast of characters he’d been offered. I was totally head over heels for this series as a refuge from all that has been bad in the main X-Books. Sure, it had a constant rotation of artists, but my favorite Pablo Raimondi appeared every few issues, rescuing me from the banality of shitty comic book art.

But this latest artist, Larry Stroman is horrific. His characters all look like deformed versions of human beings. That may be purposeful due to Secret Invasion antics, but if that’s the case…my desire to read this cross-over has been severely muted.

As has my desire to read any X-Factor issues penciled by Stroman. The art is tragic and distracting to the point where I couldn’t even will myself to read the Peter David awesomeness lurking in those pages. I tried on three separate occasions.

The only outright winner in the pile of 13 books was the Layla Miller one-shot. The writing was pure PAD goodness, and the art by Valentine De Landro was familiar and comforting. Like a snack of milk and cookies. Mmmm.

It really felt like a relic from a by-gone era, when X-Factor was a safe haven of amazingly good writing and art that sat a little outside the mainstream, never failing to offer pleasant surprises.

I will miss those days as most assuredly they are gone.

IN CONCLUSION:

I’m not sure any of the X-Teams survived the Messiah Complex and Secret Invasion intact. The X-Books (with the exception of X-Factor) have been getting steadily worse since I stopped really reading back in 1995. The recent move to San Francisco only cements them as champions for the liberal agenda, which is too close a marriage of politics and comic books. These characters are meant to be ALLEGORIES…but no one seems to understand that anymore. *weep*

I’ve been collecting these books on and off since I was 10 years old. It’s no small thing for me to cull them from my pull list when they start sucking really bad, because inevitably they’ll cycle back around again to a writer who cares more about character development than fancy new San Fran hovels and nasty Frost/Summers bang-fests.

There is hope – Astonishing will be kicked to the curb, with one month reprieves for all other X-Books. Though, I have a feeling my most bitter complaints (inconsistent art, skanky couples, etc) might now be staples of the books, and my dream of a world in which Mutant related comic books don’t suck, may just be that – a dream.

Let’s hope Xavier can piece together the shit-heap that has become of his beloved X-Men in the Legacy series, or we may all very well be doomed.

Much Love, Mindy C

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About tinyheroes

Mindy Crouchley is a 33 year old woman with a degree in English and Technical Writing from Portland State University. She has accumulated three+ years experience in the Marketing and Communications field - with an emphasis on creating digital media content. She has been reading comic books since she was 10 years old. She currently lives in outer southeast Portland with her spouse Dan Robertson, her baby girl, and their dog - Jabba the pug. She spends her free time devouring books, crafting cosplay, video gaming, attending comic cons, writing stories/screenplays, attending book to film adaptation club meetings, volunteering, and watching copious amounts of TV and movies.

8 responses to “The Second Wave: X-Books”

  1. Hisham says :

    Come on, you’ve got to give Stroman a little love. He was the original artist on Peter David’s first run on X-Factor. He helped to redesign Jamie Madrox. Before Stroman, Madrox was just a goofball in that ugly green and yellow outfit.

    Ok, ok maybe I’m just letting nostalgia for the X-Men of the early 90s take over my judgement, but it was still kind of neat to see him back on that book after so many years.

  2. tinyheroes says :

    I will give Stroman some love on other work that I’ve seen in books he’s done prior to his stint on Secret Invasion X-Factor.

    I did a little research too, to figure out where the hell this guy came from…and it sounds like maybe the colorist and inker possibly screwed him over for these last two issues.

    I know that PAD really respects him, and is excited to work with him…so that must mean something, ya know?

    I’m going to give him another shot post-SI, but I honestly am pretty terrified of the nightmarish renderings of my favorite X-Factorites in the last two issues.

    And if he sticks around as a regular arist – that would be awesome. I think X-Factor deserves great written and drawn talent.

    Much Love, Mindy C

  3. Michael says :

    Just a quick note to say that I couldn’t care less about any of the X books and haven’t done so since the Age of Apocalypse. That being said, I constantly feel the need to be in the loop with what’s going on in the books, so I always appreciate re-caps like this one.

    Oh, yeah, the whole reason for this comment… For some reason, I get the feeling that you’ll really like this. Make sure to follow the link to see the previous three ads. Mmhmm. There’s something for you to look forward to. 🙂

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