Tags Matching: claremont

100 Days of Summer… Comics. #100

Hot day today, and many more in front of it.

As I sat at work peering across a very large office at some very large windows, I thought about how I spent many summers as a kid. Playing football in the street, exploring the woods near my house both vast and… not so vast, and laying around reading comic books on the floor of my very small bedroom. It’s funny to think about how much free time I had, and how looking back on it I wouldn’t change a second of how it was spent. Albeit I do wish I had been forced to endure a Todd Marinovich level of training in football or basketball, my parents were happy to see me reading, whatever it was that I was reading. And looks like so far I’ve done better than Mr. Marinovich.

So to celebrate two great things that work really well together, I am going to do 100 days of Summer, a look at a single issue every day from now until September 18th. Marvel Comics exclusively, because that’s what I read as a wee lad (and pretty much still focus much of my attention on now). No particular thread to hold any issue together to the next – just damn good comics. Why September 18th? Because that’s when the fall semester starts at the last school I attended, UC Irvine. So, without any further explanation, the first installment.

#100 – Uncanny X-Men #273

A weird note to start. Writer: Chris Claremont. Artists: Whilce Portacio, Klaus Janson, John Byrne, Rick Leonardi, Marc Silvestri, Michael Golden, Larry Stroman, Jim Lee. Quite a list. A veritable who’s who of X-artists, and though it doesn’t add to the story on initial reading, it’s pretty neat now looking back at it. The X-books found themselves closing the end of a very trying time, the fall of the “outback x-men” bled right into the x-tinction agenda, and here’s Lila Cheney. Galactic insanity to ensue. But this story does a lot of things right. Heavy on character development, Claremont is at his best right here. He’s cleaned up a lot of his loose ends – and here he’s tying together some threads while at the same time laying out a whole new era.

There’s a feeling here of rejuvenation and a weird combustible closeness; the proximity of the greater x-teams was never closer and the full house was a welcome change to almost a decade of a very divided house of x. Even the combination of artists pushes this along now, looking at it; all you need to see are the Jim Lee drawn pages of an Iceman / Boom Boom interaction to see what I’m talking about. Worth every penny.

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Art Proofs…

For some reason there’s a TON of artist proofs up on ebay right now. Maybe I haven’t been paying close enough attention, but this has hit my radar hard so I’ll have some observations on more than a couple.

This one, for example, I would like to own. However, the price tag is a little much for me. Is that common? I mean, it’s a copy. A really cool copy, but… still.

My other problem is this – Rogue has the worst case of dead eyes I’ve ever seen in a Jim Lee piece. Otherwise this is one of my favorite Lee X-Men covers. And… Nick Fury!

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My Favorite Uncanny X-Men (cover)

I’ve spoken highly of Marc Silvestri before, and I think it’s pretty clear that I am among the many who was / is a devotee to the church of Xavier.

At one point, like many others I’m sure, I would have told you Wolverine was my favorite comic book character. But the 90’s killed him.

He became a caricature of what he was supposed to be, he was softened by the successful Fox animated series, and overexposure just escalated. And this was 15 years ago – as is now he’s a member of both the X-Men and the Avengers and has no less than 2 books published with him as the headliner a month, ongoing or otherwise.

But when Uncanny X-Men #251 dropped, it was the ultimate seal of my approval for Wolverine. He was grizzled, defeated, crushed. But he wouldn’t roll over and die.

This cover exemplifies the issue, although when you see the use of purples and green tones, it might give you some otherworldly feel. The only otherworlding going on here were hallucinations on the part of Wolverine, which added to this issue feeling as low as it should have. The X-Men had disbanded, crossed through Siege Perilous (it’s a long story…) and basically chosen a chance at normal lives over the fight they had given their whole lives to. But not Wolverine. He was the last of the outback X-Men, crucified by Donald Pierce and the Reavers, basically the twisted and contorted broken branch of the Hellfire Club tree.

This was not a child friendly comic book. He’s crucified. On a pile of bones. And just as it seems like this it… a light in the darkness. Jubilee.

In hindsight… that’s pretty funny.

But it doesn’t change my utter devotion to this issue. Absolute classic.

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Poster Xtravaganza…

Well it’s just a couple, but they’re pretty damn cool. The very excellent cover of X-Men #2 and a cool group shot of such unbelievably popular mutant heroes such as Feral, Boom-Boom, Domino and Cannonball. Man, I hate Cannonball. So corny. I like every other member of the Guthrie clan ten times more. Show me where Husk’s at?

But I do love these posters. Both deserve a frame. And for $5.99, you can afford to do it right. 

Did you know Rob Liefeld was once in a Levi’s commercial? Yeah, you probably did. But maybe you never saw this. Now try to unsee that. 

Anniversary Issues – a story of diminishing returns

Anniversaries are slowly becoming less relevant in our society. 

Am I wrong? Doesn’t the sentimental significance of an “anniversary” mean less and less, as our attention span zooms in on minutes and seconds over months and years?

Maybe I’m just cold. Or too real. But regardless, that’s how I feel. And comic books are on my side. Uncanny X-Men, step up to the witness stand.

Uncanny X-Men #100. “At last”? I’m willing to bet it was an absolute shock to many that the Uncanny cast made it to 100 issues. Please note – the X-Men series was actually cancelled after issue #66, and was published as reprints from #67-93. Really. So this was a big one, and had a pretty decent premise. I remember it, but it took a refresher. rating: 7/10

Uncanny X-Men #150. Great issue. The first full blown Magneto bash that the “all new, all different” team had, and this was a doozy. Pretty much a classic at any price, but the one above is still in the bargain column. Now established as a titan, Uncanny was just churning with Chris Claremont in his glory. rating: 8.25/10

Uncanny X-Men #200. The trial of Magneto. Fenris. Magneto in some weird new purple pajamas. John Romita Jr. drops in and really pulled this one together as Professor X makes yet another prolonged absence; he doesn’t reappear until #273-#275 – more on that later. A real twist as the X-Men started to veer off the tracks as far as their team direction. For me, the team only got better from here until issue #275.For anyone who’s taken a college level history course, I always enjoyed breaking it into two periods – the RISE and the FALL. I was always on the “Fall” side, as far as interests lie. Here begins the fall, and eventual rebirth. But as a single issue, well, it’s continuity heavy. And that’s gonna knock it back. rating: 7.25/10

Uncanny X-Men #250. Full disclosure, this is a part of my favorite era of the Uncanny X-Men, roughly issues 235-260. A true golden era, Claremont demolishes the team to rubble with Silvestri, Dan Green and this guy named Jim Lee serving the art up on a golden platter. I dig this issue, but I will give some perspective to balance it out. Man, I want to give it a 9, but I won’t.No icons, no long lasting results, Havok and Polaris have been retconned so many times… rating: 7.5/10

Uncanny X-Men #275. So good that it needed to be included even though I’ve been sticking to the century and half century marks. Chris Claremont’s opus essentially concludes here, with a brief encore in the eponymously titled X-Men for a brief three issues. Everything and the kitchen sink – multiple long running trademark Claremont plot threads get wrapped up, Shi’ar, Xavier, Savageland, Rogue, Gambit, Wolverine, Jubilee, dinosaurs, Magneto and some big ol’ spaceships. Absolutely classic and can be enjoyed by people who only know the X-Men from a movie or cartoon. rating: 9.5/10

Uncanny X-Men #300. A huge dropoff. I’m not going to blame the creative team – Scott Lobdell deserves a lot more credit than he receives for his X-Men contributions, and you can’t lose with John Romita Jr and Dan Green on the stick and ink. But storywise, this one’s a dud. The lamest incarnation of the Acolytes (please argue this with me, someone) with Fabian Cortez at the helm, Bishop prominently featured on the cover (a later post to detail his fail levels being dangerously high to come) and Moira MacTaggert, a leading support character who died and has seen zero interest in a resurrection. That is a testament to her lameness. Fabian Cortez, Bishop, MacTaggert… three lames and you’re out. rating: 5.5/10

Uncanny X-Men #350. The conclusion to a dangling storyline almost a decade in the wait. Probably more like five years, though for some reason this was the beginning of the end for any and all Gambit love. He never recovered his heat after this, but I will give this issue some points. Joe Mad’s only contribution on here and though I’m not his biggest fan, I do think he did a great job for the X-Franchise. The story and summation of Gambit’s past was good and I think this could be enjoyed on a single issue level. Though people maybe confused by who this “Joseph” character is… rating: 7.25/10

Uncanny X-Men #400. Alright, here come those diminishing returns. I’m not going to flack this too hard, but let’s just talk about the major characters used in this one. Archangel, Chamber, Nightcrawler, Iceman, Wolverine, and Stacy X. Stacy X. Really. So let me just stop there, and for those unfamiliar, Stacy X was introduced in this arc and was a prostitute mutant who controlled pheromones. And I’m not even a HUGE detractor of the character, just on how poorly she was fleshed out and developed. Poor form. Joe Casey had a rough time to be writer on X-Men and I don’t think it was his best work. rating: 3.5/10

Uncanny X-Men #450. Chris Claremont + Alan Davis + X-Men = … BAD?!?! NO! Say it ain’t so, Joe (Q)! This is real. Alan Davis has his normal smooth style but I would even say this was a low moment for him. Some weird facial angles can really jack up what I normally love in Davis’ art, which reflect this odd oblong structure and overly pronounced cheek and lip definition. Big story development – the introduction of X-23. Not the worst, and certainly relevant now, but… overall a very anti-climactic return to Uncanny for both Claremont and Davis. rating: 3.75/10

Uncanny X-Men #500. I wanted to love this. Not just like, but LOVE. And I didn’t. I didn’t even really like it. I tried. Believe me, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction are absolutely tops of the game in this era, and I have admitted to really digging on Terry Dodson’s art. But there was too many moving pieces and just a kind of poor execution here. Magneto, and Sentinels, two pencilers and two writers… it just didn’t gel. Not bad, but forgettable in that “wait, what happened in last month’s issue” kind of way. rating: 4/10

X-Men Oddlot

The X-Men were on top for basically 20 years. You could maybe extend that an extra 5-10 years on either side, but it’s pretty obvious they bow at the Avengers throne these days.

Through that 20 years, there were many artists, a handful of writers (thanks to Chris Claremont and Scott Lobdell making extended (and quality) visits at the helm) and a whole lot of great. 

What’s for sale here is basically the salad bar of Uncanny X-Men issues. Some delicious stuff, some eh stuff, and it’s all from different parts of the bar. There’s a few empty bins, but you get to a good feel. Imagine walking into your local Dollar Store and there was a package of 64 random issues of Uncanny? 

Would Buy.

Now – What if I mentioned the lot included the first Jim Lee issue of Uncanny? How about the infamous Uncanny 275? And what about the first issue of Whilce Portacio’s run (a personal favorite)? And then some good ol’ John Romita Jr., both his first and second stints on Uncanny? And to top all that off… Joe Madureira’s first full issue too. Hot damn.

Must Buy.

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