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Random Comic Book Friday Yo!

Today you can spend your money on a box o comix, or a middle of the road graded X-men #15, featuring the second appearance of the Sentinels. Odds on that issue turning up in the box o comix… probably not good.

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Did I Miss A Random Comic Book Friday?

I do believe I did. Sorry about that, I got this new toy called an iPad and was busy playing with the Marvel and DC apps for most of last week… they’re pretty sweet, I’ve gotta say. Anyways, to make up for it, here are not 2, but THREE random comics (well, 2 comics and one comic strip):

Ok, wait, really? $19.99 BIN for issue 12 of the latest volume of New Mutants? At first my mind was kind of blown, but then I checked into it and saw that yes, many copies of this issue have gone in the 15-20 dollar range (the David Finch varient gets into the upper 20s/30 dollar range). And there are other copies up with BIN’s in the $35-50 range, so hey, this is actually a bargain.

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Go get the Barfbag.

Made in an edition limited to 125.

If I was a rich man, I would consider collecting these to rid the Earth of them. Unless your name is Flinthart Glomgold I don’t think you should own a metallic gold hat.

Seriously, vomitous. 

Marvel Comics PROFESSOR XAVIER Official X-Men NEW ERA Ultra Limited Edition Flagship Exclusive 59FIFTY CUSTOM Fitted Cap from 2008. Inspired by the leader of the Uncanny X-Men’s Wheel Chair with all-over metallic outer and a buffalo PLAID underbrim which represents the blanket Professor X uses to cover his legs. it is considered one of the rarest New Era Marvel Caps produced. It is a size 7 1/2. This original fitted hat was only available EXCLUSIVELY by special order and was limited to a low 125 worldwide!

Let’s talk Cannonball and X-Force. And shoulderpads.

X-Force dropped like a bomb. 

X-Force #1 sold 5 MILLION copies. Only topped by X-Men #1.

 

Five million copies – which is why you can now cop one for about… 50 cents. Still polybagged.

It was a weird time for comics. There was a speculator interest in comics for investment value. Variant covers were hot. Rob Liefeld was in a Levi’s commercial. There were button sets.

And trading cards. Lots of them. Complete sets in fact.

The Batman movies were still good. Superman was about to die. Like I said – weird times. 

And X-Force was hot. White hot. And then something happened. It wasn’t that good. If you are mad at me right now, go back and re-read those first 10 issues. Not good. Let’s be honest – issues 3+4 are absolute garbage filler created to crossover two of the three hottest books of the day (McFarlane’s Spider-Man being the other) and Liefeld’s run ONLY lasted 8 issues (1-7, 9) so for two of those 8 to be filler… wack. And the stories were thin. Issues 1 + 2 I enjoy, but the Spider crossover’s only redeeming feature is some good back and forth between Black Tom Cassidy and Juggernaut – that’s all.

Oh, and remember that whole development of Cannoball? Well.. it kind of.. sputters? He’s an external. Do you know what that means? He can’t die. That separates him from other Marvel heroes how? As it turns out the Sauron issues were the “highlight” of the Liefeld run, and that’s where Sam gets gutted, literally. And the rest of the team turns that hotbed of teen angst into a vengeance mission… which is about as good (and deep) as it got with X-Force.

I’ll say this – at least he’s not whining. And just as Liefeld exits stage right… so does Cable. Latchkey X-Force. (*LOL at $50.oo for the shirt below)

But then the strangest thing happens… X-Force becomes readable. Very readable. The art is spotty in the post Liefeld period but finds some consistency with Greg Capullo. who later found his nitch on this little series called Spawn. My interest, however, peaked when artist Tony Daniel joined the team.

Daniel’s art was quick, sharp, and decidedly different than the very Image influenced feel that X-Force had suffered from post Liefeld. Daniel had a style that I have a hard time of pin pointing, but will say it has sharper lines, tighter definition and makes me think of a controlled Chris Bachalo who deals in sharper angles and images; whereas Bachalo softens images with curves, Daniel gives you a sharper cut to his lines.

But a change was coming, and Jeph Loeb and artist Adam Pollina took over. Through both these runs I thoroughly enjoyed X-Force, and part of that just happened to be Cannonball leaving to join the X-Men (where he was AWFUL. Talk about paint drying level of characterization) and inevitably rejoining them.

I think this is the best and most underrated era of either the X-Force or New Mutants series and urge people to check this run out. Loeb was a great talent and huge part of making the tangential x-series (Cable, X-Force) quality, and a reason the X-Men ruled the 90’s with no real challengers. 

What happened next? Warren Ellis joined the book at a very poor period and the series fell apart. Peter Milligan shuffled the deck and gave the series a last gasp, but it was a completely different beast. 

So, my point is – Cannonball is a bummer. He’s best remembered when he’s not around. Last seen, he’s been sporting a costume with a giant “C” on his chest. He might as well right “AVERAGE” on his boots. Or maybe just “MEDIOCRE”. But decide for yourself. Maybe you always wished to be a human rocket, but not the coolest one (Nova, The Rocketeer, I’m probably forgetting a few) or a third rate Cyclops. But me?

Not a fan.

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

The Juggernaut! The Juggernaut! The Juggernaut!

Cain Marko’s on a mission
And he has no fear
Get ready for pain
Because the Juggernaut’s here
Six foot ten 900 pounds
Of pure fury
He’s his own judge
And his own jury

I hear the footsteps
I feel tremors
No one can stop him
The Juggernaut

Here comes destruction on two legs
If you cross his path punk
You’re better off dead
Because all he wants to do
Is get paid
And if you’re in the giant’s way
Stay the hell outta his way

I hear the footsteps
I feel tremors
No one can stop him
Who is it?

The Juggernaut!


Alan Davis.

Best known for his work with Alan Moore on Captain Britain and Marvelman/Miracleman, and for his runs on Batman and the Outsiders and Excalibur, Alan Davis is one of my GOAT comic book artists. Everything about his work is perfect. Clean, crisp lines, exciting yet easy to follow layouts… I literally have never seen a sloppy or confusing Alan Davis page. He has a style that combines the best aspects of both sliver and modern comic book art. Just the perfect superhero comic artist.

So, for those of you with the big bucks to spend, here’s something for you to pick up and display on your wall (in a nice frame, obviously) with pride:

And for the rest of us, well, we can just make do with posters.



The X-men vs…

My favorite team line up of the X-men was always the late 80s Magneto allied team. Wolverine. Colossus. Shadowcat. Havok. Longshot. Dazzler. Punk rock Rogue and Storm. Hell yeah, total bad ass era of the X. I think my fondness for this team is in large part due to my childhood exposure to two 1987 X-men miniseries, where that team went toe to toe with the two most wholesome of mighty Marvel super teams: The Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

I read issue 2 of X-men vs Avengers in Fiske’s General Store while at one of my sister’s soccer games (the field was up the street from the store, so I would wander up there and spend my allowance on Batman cards and penny candy while my parents watched the game). I was instantly enthralled, despite missing the first issue (and subsequently never reading the last 2 issues until years later), and since I know I ended up owning the issue, it may even have been one of the few comic books I actually convinced my parents to buy for me. You had the Avengers trying to bring in Magneto to stand trial for crimes against humanity, the X-men doing everything they can to keep Magneto from getting brought in, Magneto WANTING to stand trial but needing to destroy a portion of his old asteroid base that had fallen to Earth first, and the Soviet Super Soldiers interfering every step of the way because they want to kidnap Magneto and bring him to Russia for a trial free execution. Just straight awesomeness, even with Dr Druid being on the Avengers at the time, and drawn by Marc Silvestri when he was at his absolute best.

Sadly, the fourth issue fell kind of short when it came to matching the awesomeness that preceded it, as the entire creative team changed (writer Roger Stern abandoned it because of editorial interference with the plot, and Silvestri was brought over to Uncanny X-men), and as result the story and art became far more blah. Still, 3/4 of awesome still comes out to a majorly awesome mini series.

Fantastic Four vs X-men I actually remember some what less fondly. Not due to quality but because I was swindled out of my issues relatively quickly by the kid across the street (in this same manner did I also lose the X-men/Teen Titans crossover, and those bad trades are probably why I could never get into record/shirt trading). Because of this, I actually am pretty foggy on what happened. I do remember that the focus was on Franklin Richards and Kitty Pryde, with Franklin having precognitive dreams about his father destroying the FF and Kitty slowly phasing away because of her injuries from the Mutant Massacre. A little research tells me that the full plot involved The X-men trying to force Mr Fantastic to help Kitty, but Reed is going through a crisis of conscience because of the discovery of a journal he wrote (or did he?) that says he let the FF’s fateful flight fail; it’s torn the team apart and shattered his confidence so he won’t help, so the X-men instead accept the help of Dr Doom. Mad beef ensues.

If that doesn’t sound cool enough, take a look at those covers and tell me you wouldn’t be sold on this mini-series. Reed Richards in Dr Doom’s armor, standing over a fallen Sue Storm and a crying Franklin with Wolverine sneaking up behind him declaring his intentions of murder? That’s some intense stuff. I also dug how the covers then proceeded to tell a story (tho it’s not the actual story of the miniseries; the covers actually fill out Franklin’s nightmare from the first issue), but truth be told, I could have done with out the speech balloons on the first two issues. I mean, would that 4th issue cover be better with Franklin getting a “The X-men killed my family. I killed the X-men. Now my family is going to kill YOU” word balloon? I don’t think so.

Both are mini series’ are now available in nice hardcover versions, but I think I personally would prefer to pick up the original issues. Not because they’re cheaper, but because my memories of them are so wonderfully pulpy that I’d need them to be on yellowing pages with old ads for full enjoyment. I’m the same way with back issues of Creepy. But that’s a different entry.



POWER LIFT ACTION.

Colossus was always awesome. Totally under rated X-character, always getting short shrift in favor of the little Canadian dude and the schmuck with the playing cards and Halle Berry…

Dude was mad awesome back in the 80s though, when he was hooking up with under age Kitty Pryde and going toe to toe with the Juggernaut.

I’m sure the “power lift action” is just the old Super Powers “squeeze the legs and the arms go up and down trick” (or maybe it was a little lever in the back, I feel like I remember this line going the level route), and bicep curls aren’t what I’d call a power lift, but still. You get a Colossus action figure that can do bicep curls all day long. Match him rep for rep. You won’t.

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