Yesterday, writer Jim Zub started a hashtag on Twitter that quickly took off into this glorious internet waterfall of remarkable comics. There’s lots of great stuff there with both creators and fans chiming in that definitely makes it worth scrolling through the tag.
I did, of course, share my own four.
It started with my older brothers’ comics. A few Aquaman, but mostly stuff like G.I. Joe and Punisher and I remember one cover that had Nick Fury on it, but I can’t recall if it was a S.H.I.E.L.D. comic or Howling Commandos or what. Those ones never appealed to 7-year-old me, but Aquaman … oh my God, Aquaman … with his pretty blonde hair on that cover, so colorful and happy looking—that definitely drew me in. I would sit and read those comics in the attic when my brothers weren’t home so they didn’t know I was touching them. And while Aquaman himself was amazing, I eventually met Mera and couldn’t believe how beautiful she was and how fierce. That is my earliest memory of comics, and when I think about it I still get that same feeling I had when I read them so long ago. That warm, incredible feeling that something like this could exist—characters like that could exist. I wish my brothers still had those issues, but none of us have been able to find them for years, and I’m lost as to what happened to them.
I still have my hands on that Ren & Stimpy, which was the first comic I ever consciously chose for myself, picked up off the rack at the comics shop during a trip with my brothers. Calvin & Hobbes came after, a collection that my sister had and encouraged me to read again and again. Most of the jokes and brilliance of that book were quite far over my head at the time, but it was still enjoyable and further fueled the addiction. I just recently asked my sister if I could have that well-loved copy of Calvin, but was met with a resounding no. (In fact, I think the exact words were “HECK NO, I love that book.”)
As my siblings got older, spent more time being social, and eventually outgrew comics, my access to the good stuff took a big hit. It wasn’t until my preteen years when I was on a trip with my parents and happened to walk into a bookstore that—shock!—sold comics, that my love for them was reignited. They had collections of re-printed arcs, and I remember seeing an X-Men cover with Savage Land Rogue on it. That was the moment it was all over. The deed was done, the cement block of love walloped me on the head, and I was finished. I saw that issue and thought I MUST HAVE THIS.
And I did have it.
And it was like a drug.
I was already a huge Rogue fan, having grown up watching the X-Men animated series, so realizing that the story was still going and that I could, in fact, get more of it was life-changing. I continue to collect X-Men to this day. And while there’s more to my particular history of comics—working in a comic shop, branching out to genres outside of superhero, even sacrificing comics for a time—the one constant has been that feeling I always get when I pick up a book that speaks to me. It’s a feeling that no other medium can replicate. Like going home.
The #fourcomics trend from yesterday gave me that feeling a hundred times over.
I’m scouring eBay for that issue of Aquaman.
Hi, gang! Surely you must have known when I promised a new post in “a couple of days,” that it meant over a week, right? Of course you did! Sorry, Sleepers. I have been decidedly rubbish in several different ways this week. I don’t just fall or trip up, but rather take spectacular dives off long cliffs.
The pile of catch-up reading continues to grow ever more, and I am slowly working on a couple of different pieces for your reading pleasure. In between, there’s been much news about various things, some of it just god-awful, and some of it bad to the point of hilarity, and some of it outright awesome. Great stuff to write about; even better stuff to use as fodder for chats at the comic shop.
Here’s a review.
I’ve been dreading the coming of this issue for a while, as it marks the end of what was a remarkable and celebrated run by Mike Carey on this book. I’ve expressed my love for Mr. Carey on several occasions here, and when his departure from this book was announced, my reaction was flat-out depression. I also may or may not have acted like a child who lost her favorite toy (“But WHY?! Why does this have to happen?! Goodbye, favorite title! I hate comics!”); waah, waah, waaaah, and so forth.
I know, I’m really building up my credibility here, aren’t I? Take the above with a grain of salt. (Sort of.)
Tantrum aside, when I learned that Christos Gage would be taking the reins of X-Men Legacy, I was actually quite … relieved. Some of you may know Christos as a friend of the store and a Worcester native, but more importantly, he’s a very talented writer. Christos is putting out some great work on Avengers Academy and Angel & Faith right now, but the only work of his I’ve read has been miscellaneous issues of Avengers Academy and a quick guest-stint he did on Amazing Spider-Man last year (which I loved). I’ve since gone back to pick up the first AA trade, but the catch up process, as you know, can take a while for me. Ultimately, the feelings of trepidation subsided and I started to look forward to Christos’ debut issue.
I’m happy to say I wasn’t let down.
Writing a team book, let alone an X-Men book, can be quite challenging, but Christos Gage makes it look easy. He does very well in splitting panel time between team members and students, and does so in a manner that helps make the story flow as oppose to hinder it via too many scene transitions.
If you’ve ever attempted to learn how to drive a car that has a manual gearbox, you know that one of the harder things to get down is just getting the car moving out of first gear and shifting smoothly into second. The first few tries, you’re likely to clunk around, stall it once or twice, and find your head bobbing against the headrest with every release of the clutch. Reading a team book where a writer doesn’t transition well can be a similar experience–the story is thumpy, you’re starting and stopping, and the result is little to no flow. But with this issue of X-Men Legacy, I’d read through to the final page without even realizing I’d taken in so much story so quickly. Because it just kept going … until it didn’t. And I like that.
One of the big things about Mike Carey’s run that endeared me to him was his development of Rogue as a character. Anyone who has been following along knows that she has grown by leaps and bounds as a result of her role in Legacy, and a factor I feared the most in Carey’s departure was the idea of Rogue being relegated to the background once more. Goodbye, leadership role. Goodbye, panel time. Goodbye, power control. These were things I had waited decades as a reader to see for Rogue, and the potential threat of regression terrified me.
Happily—as in, GOOD GOD WHAT A RELIEF—this doesn’t seem to be the case. At least, not yet. What’s awesome here is that if no one told me that the writer had been replaced, in my glee reading this, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. The changeover is relatively seamless; Gage plays off of Carey’s groundwork while shifting Rogue’s team to its new status at the Jean Grey School. It’s great to watch this group interacting with the X-kids again, and Gage wraps it all up with a fun little surprise at the end of the issue—a surprise you could likely see coming, but still great to read nonetheless.
Before reading this issue, I checked out a couple of reviews online and was surprised to find a mixed, below-average reaction. Among the chief complaints are the artwork, which I have to agree with—while not outright bad in skill, it’s a little too … “cartoony” and … well, straight-up ugly for my taste. I miss Clay Mann on this title and am hoping the current artist isn’t on for the long haul. An X-Men book like this should only be saddled with a steady, consistent artist, and I’m learning that very little of that exists at Marvel (I’m looking at you, Captain America/Wolverine & X-Men/X-23/Secret Avengers/Thor/you-name-it).
Aside from butt ugly art, I’m also hearing that Rogue’s casual borrowing of other’s powers in this issue is uncharacteristic of her. I have to argue otherwise, as Mike Carey spent a long time crafting the idea of her becoming comfortable with the use of her powers, and I’m loving the more free-spirited vibe Christos gives her here. Especially in the context of the training scene, where she’s preparing the students for an element of surprise, I don’t see it as disrespectful but rather fairly inventive. Just my take.
That said, this is probably one of the longer reviews I’ve done in a while about a comic I’m pleased with, so that should tell you something about my confidence in this title moving forward. I’m psyched to have Christos on board, and happily, still looking forward to X-Men Legacy.
The even more intriguing parts of this tale unfold toward the end of Legacy and throughout New Mutants, wherein Kitty Pryde comes into play and we discover that not all is as it seems within the Fortress. Imprisoned beneath its walls are a number of mutants deemed too powerful and “dangerous” to be let free, and you may or may not be able to guess what surprises lay there.
After reading the first two parts to Age of X, I went back into older issues of Legacy to see if I could piece together any information from previous hints dropped in the preceding stories. There is a great, great line in #244 wherein Rogue speaks to Madison Jeffries and asks him if he’s getting a sense of deja vu—which will only make sense if you read New Mutants #22. The thing that makes it so difficult to review a book like this is that there is so much to address, and yet so little you actually feel you can address without “spoiling” what makes it so special. This is particularly so with regard to new readers—you’re better off coming in blind (pun!) than trying to form some sort of understanding of the plot before you read it. Where normally I’d be rioting against a story that takes place across multiple books and forces you to pick up more titles than you’d care to (e.g., Civil War, Secret Invasion, Marvel’s next big event, on and on), this one actually makes sense. You really need more than one title a month to contain this story, and you’re only picking up one extra book, rather than five or seven.
And I nearly forgot to say something about Clay Mann’s pencils, which are extraordinary. Mann is quickly emerging as one of my favorite pencilers, and he is absolutely at the top of his game here. I cannot say enough good things about him.
Take the leap and pick up these two titles. In fact, part three of the story was due out yesterday in Legacy, and it is beyond worth a look. If you’re used to the commonplace, stale guff that’s been going on in Uncanny lately, you’ll find energy in this book. Do yourself a favor and meet Mike Carey in Age of X.
X-posted @ Nerd Caliber
This issue of Legacy continues in India, where young mutant Indra has come home to a comatose brother and a subsequent arranged marriage. Meanwhile, in the heart of the city, Rogue, Magneto, Anole, and Loa take on a Sentinel sent by the Children of the Vault, who have made their triumphant return. The group also takes in a new mutant girl, Luz, who has the power to bend light and create “light sculptures.” Little do the X-Men know, she is on the run from the Vault, and proceeds to stir up trouble amongst the group of mutants before the Children make their appearance known at the end of the issue in order to recapture her. There’s also an absolutely hilarious, badass, and completely unexpected scene between Rogue and Magneto that I won’t spoil for you, because it’s worth checking out. So … go. Check out.
And that’s just what’s happening on the surface. Below that, there is so, so much more. Carey is clearly continuing to build and plot with this storyline–wherever the story ends, we’ll continue to feel the effects of it long during the writer’s tenure, I’m sure.
What can I say about Clay Mann? Something about his pencils echoes Olivier Coipel to me, and I like it. In fact, this guy might just be my artistic hero. I can’t remember the last time I actually opened up a comic and saw the human figure drawn proportionately and real. Rogue is full bodied and lovely. Magneto is robust in his civvies without appearing overly muscular and fake. The background sceneries and architecture are inviting, and everything’s easy on the eyes. Overall, I can’t imagine what this title might be like in the hands of someone else when it comes the script, and now the art is living up to the writing. Can’t say I’ve been this happy about an X-book for a long time.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Written by Mike Carey
Pencils by Clay Mann
Inks by Jay Leisten
Colors by Brian Reber
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit