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The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 1-9

Several years back, I started covering this card set, one "page" at a time. (You know, those 9-pocket pages that fit in standard binders and are commonly used for storing trading cards and gaming cards and whatnot).

Life got in the way at the time and I’m pretty sure that was one of the points that I trailed off and let this blog go for awhile.

I’m almost curious myself what I wrote about these back then and how my thoughts/perceptions/memory may have changed since then. But now I’m going to give it another shot, and see if I can get through the entire set this time…and perhaps get a bit more detailed than I had that time.

What I intend for now is to show the entire "page" of cards, and then I’ll offer some sort of comment(s) on the individual cards, which I’ll show further below.

I scanned every one of these myself and did all the editing to make ’em pretty for these posts. If this goes well, I may cover a couple other sets. I suppose time will tell!


It’s interesting-ish to note the mix of "wide" vs "tall" images and the rather arbitrary placement/use of them. As I believe these are all Jim Lee pieces, perhaps it’s just what he felt like drawing, or whoever was working on the card set felt like cropping.

As I think this was one of the "earlier" such card sets (and pre-dates Magic: The Gathering and the whole "collectible card game" thing by a few years) so perhaps they were "learning" what/how to do a card set. C’est la vie.

xmen_series1_full_001-009

Beast and Wolverine I can see as some of the top X-Men…I’m a little surprised at Havok’s place here (but then, I’m typing this in 2017, and these were published in 1992–a quarter-century ago!) Similar goes for the others. I wouldn’t tend to associate Siryn or Wolfsbane with top-level, premiere X-Men…I associate them more with stuff like X-Force or X-Factor. Same for Cannonball.

I’ve noticed, though, that the "X" icon on the cards changes color depending on the character–this seems to correspond a bit to their specific team/title affiliation. I guess we’ll see as we go through the cards!

001a

Typical Beast…and very much a classic rendition of the character. I far prefer this version to the more modern takes.

001b

I don’t care at all, really, for the "stat graph". I do find the description basic and to the point, and the sort of thing that would definitely "informed" my knowledge of the character. I also like the brief info for name, affiliation, and first appearance…though Beast is a character that (now) that’s all information I take for granted.

002a

I’ve always preferred the yellow costume on Wolverine…though I appreciate this one. I’m sure part of that is the ’92 animated series, and that the character had "gone back to" the yellow by the time I was actually getting "into" the X-Men.

002b

Would it be wrong to suggest that this card’s text is "cute," given all the additional info that’s been added to the character in 25 years? In a way, it’s almost laughable how dated the card is for the character as he’s evolved…PARTICULARLY the bit about his "first recorded mission!" First? Pretty sure that’s long since been retconned…and/or I just take for granted how MUCH the character did long before that.

003a

This image of Havok reminds me a BIT of the holographic image from X-Factor #92…though this predates that issue by a year or so at least.

003b

I don’t think I ever realized Havok "absorbed cosmic energy," I just thought his power was some sort of bio-energy projection. Sorta interesting that there’s no mention on the card of Havok being the brother of Cyclops–Scott Summers. I know it, obviously, but you’d only be able to "guess" from the info provided here.

004a

Not really sure what I think of Iceman at this point. This is one of the more boring sort of looks for the character, even if it’s good art. I remember enjoying some of the stuff in the early/mid ’90s with them building the character a bit after Emma Frost got inside his head and utilized aspects of his powers that he himself hadn’t used. There’s also his role in LegionQuest and attempting to freeze Legion solid.

004b

I don’t recall the story this card mentions, of his being unable to control his powers. That strikes me a bit like Rogue’s, perhaps–though I can’t be certain (since I haven’t read the story!). I’ve also never "gotten" the ice-slides as travel…the LOOK is cool (no pun intended) but the physics and such behind it seems questionable. Still…suspension of disbelief and all that, right?

005a

While I don’t consciously recall reading much involving this version of Phoenix, I do recall seeing the character here and there and not being quite sure what to make of the character. That said, that fact and this sort of imagery is part of where I had a real problem with AvX–if the Phoenix was manifesting regularly like this, it was a bit more suspending of disbelief to buy into it as such a rare entity needing to "return," but that’s a bunch of thinking for another time.

005b

Well there’s another thing I’d forgotten–Rachel using her powers to hide the tattoos. I’m sure I knew that along the way because her being shown with OR without them rarely phases me or gives me much pause over the different appearances.

It’s interesting to note the language here–rather than going into the more complex aspects of her history, they say "an alternate reality." Days of Future Past

006a

Nightcrawler’s one of my favorites, yet I rarely think of the character when put on the spot or trying to think of favorites off the top of my head. I guess that’d make him a "forgotten favorite."

006b

Another "X-tra Fact" that I didn’t/don’t recall about the character. Perhaps that’s further push that I need to read the entirety of the Claremont run one of these years. Like Wolverine, definitely interesting-ish to see the character’s background as presented here, compared to what would come over the subsequent 25 years.

009a

Cannonball is a character I remember primarily for "graduating to" the main X-Men team during the ’90s. Something to this costume is a bit off, so I’m thinking I’m more familiar with a different look…I just can’t recall it off the top of my head.

009b

I often "forget" that the New Mutants got their start in a "pilot" of sorts in the graphic novel, and that it was the first appearance of a number of characters. It’s further interesting to consider that that was 1982–maybe 11-12 years before I would have learned much of anything about the character. And that it’s been well over 2 decades SINCE learning of the character!

When I see the character’s last name–Guthrie–I often think of Age of Apocalypse and the character and his family as used there.

008a

I feel like I often mix Wolfsbane up with another character…yet, as I type this, now I can’t think OF the other character! Perhaps it’s more that the character changed over the years and wasn’t restricted just to New Mutants or X-Factor?

008b

And of course, part of the above association with the character is not clarified by the card text. I do recall the character being unable to shift back into a human form, though. And really have gotta get around to reading some of these other key stories from pre-1991/92 that had so much impact on characters as they were in the ’90s when I was actually reading their ongoing stories!

007a

I remember Siryn primarily because of her being in the Spider-Man/X-Force crossover that I initially read in its tpb form (when such things were relatively rare). Her costume is rather recognizable, so she’s one of the more distinct characters for me visually…at least with this costume.

007b

Here’s another case where I’m actually learning about the character NOW from the card–I did not know about her first appearance (and would have pegged it as X-Force #1 or thereabouts…not Spider-Woman…and at LEAST would have thought she was a more recent character than early-’80s! I also don’t recall much of anything about Banshee lamenting a lost child…but then, haven’t read much with Banshee, period, so…yeah.


Perhaps a bit disjointed/random…but that’s my stream-of-conscious commentary on looking through these first 9 cards!

Uncanny X-Men #600 [Review]

uncannyxmen600Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immonen, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez, Frazer Irving
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin
Colors: Marte Gracia, Jason Keith, Chris Bachalo, Frazer Irving
Cover: Chris Bachalo
Lettering & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editors: Christina Harrington, Xander Jarowey
Editors: Mike Marts and Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel
Cover Date: January 2016
Cover Price: $5.99

Winter Carnival

Writer: Mary Jo Duffy
Penciler: George Perez
Inker: Alfredo Alcala
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Cover Art: Paul Gulacy
Associate Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

The first X-Men comic I clearly, consciously remember getting is Uncanny X-Men #300. The costumes, the characters, the cover–it fit the then-current animated series on tv that I was getting familiar with, and had a nice shiny cover to draw extra attention (to say nothing of being a thicker cover physically, making for a durable, high-quality issue to hold).

Several years later I picked up #400, and then years after that 500–though I hadn’t kept up with every issue of the title.

So again now, I bought #600 despite not being entirely current on the title (and overlooking the multiple reboots between the last legitimately-numbered issue and this) because of having bought the last several 100-issue round-number issues when they came up. Some 22 years after getting #300, here I am with #600.

My understanding is that this is Bendis‘ final X-Men issue, as far as being the driving force behind the main X-books. Despite catching up a fair bit on Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men recently via Marvel‘s Digital Unlimited, I’m still a bit out of the loop on whatever’s transpired between where I left off there and stuff immediately prior to Secret Wars and the Last Days stuff. But I do know the characters and the bulk of recent stuff in the most general of terms.

This issue finds Beast (Hank McCoy) experiencing an “intervention” by his teammates, forcing him to confront what he’s done of late–with emphasis on having time-traveled to bring the original X-Men into the present where they’re now stuck. Amidst the intervention/confrontation, we get some flashes to a number of smaller interactions–“original” Jean wants to leave the group for awhile; “original” Bobby confronts current Bobby on repressed feelings; Kitty, Colossus, and Illyana catch up with each other, and so on. Meanwhile, we also see Scott Summers’ recent dream to fruition…and it proves to be just a bit different than we’ve been led to believe.

We also get a lengthy “backup story” by Perez, a solo Iceman thing, that while it looks good does not feel particularly relevant nor current. It seems set in the early 1970s, though it feels like a more recent piece. The art is very good–I usually do enjoy Perez‘ art–though I don’t entirely appreciate the black-and-white instead of color. Perhaps it was intended this way, maybe it was a stylistic choice, but that contributes to it not feeling like it belongs in this issue.

The main feature’s story is solid enough, and though it doesn’t feel like an ongoing issue but more like a one-shot, it works decently enough as itself, as what it is. At the same time, I’m not thrilled at what appears to be Bendis trying to cement several key points just before taking off, like he has to solidify or shoehorn in some stuff to force subsequent writers to address things or leave Bendis‘ work to be an absolute character element. I do definitely approve of the supposed conclusion of the Cyclops arc, and hope to see stuff picked up on, that it’d “redeem” the villanous element applied to the character over the last several years.

Visually…while I appreciate the CONCEPT of letting a bunch of artists work on the issue as “the” big anniversary issue…I can really do without it. The shifting visual styles is distracting and draws attention to stuff in a way that takes away from the otherwise-natural shifting nature of the story, giving us some smaller character moments while addressing the larger overall confrontation with Beast.

I definitely enjoyed Perez‘ work on the Iceman story…but it’s such an unrelated thing that I’m honestly resentful at its inclusion, at this issue being over-priced at $6 over the “standard” $4 just for the story’s inclusion. Better a $3.99 issue without it than $5.99 WITH. That said, the story would work as some bonus/extra cheap attraction, as it really has nothing to do with current continuity, and has no likely/obvious ongoing elements to contribute to stuff, other than being a ’70s-looking/’70s-sounding story.

The main story’s art was distracting…and I was reminded how recognizable and unwelcome (to me) Bachalo‘s art is amidst it all…especially for the cover. It’s also very disappointing that the cover looks like it’s half of or one of several “panels” of a larger image, without even a wraparound…only a bunch of variants.

I bought this issue personally for being the anniversary issue, being the actual high-number or “legacy-numbered” issue. That’s for the personal element of having got #300 off the shelf, and each subsequent 100-numbered issue. In and of itself, if you have followed Bendis‘ X-work, you’ll want to pick this up. Otherwise, this is quite skippable for whatever will be ‘current” moving forward. Outside of whatever closure you’d get having followed this series, and/or All-New X-Men, I’d suggest skipping this and waiting for whatever nearest #1 most directly follows and grabs your attention.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Factor X #4

aoa_revisited_logo

factorx004Reckonings

Writer: John Francis Moore
Pencilers: Steve Epting w/ Terry Dodson
Inker: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Richard Starkings, Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Cover: Steve Epting
Editors: Kelly Corvese, Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

The order has been given–the pens of humans are to be culled. The newly "promoted" Alex Summers lords it over the others to enforce the order. Meanwhile, Cyclops and Jean are trying to save the humans, help them escape. This leads to the two having to fight through multiple obstacles (though they find unexpected allies). Things ultimately come down to brother vs. brother, and a new leader of the would-be-culled humans. Also meanwhile, Angel’s club is shut down, while Worthington himself ditches the place, essentially laying aside his neutrality in things.

This issue really does not offer any true finality or closure to what’s been set up throughout…more, it’s the fourth chapter of this side-trip following Alex, Scott, and (Dark) Beast and whatnot–our glimpse into things going on within Apocalypse’s ranks with characters we’re familiar with from the "regular" universe. To get finality for these characters and their arc within AoA, one definitely needs to follow this with X-Men: Omega.

The story, though, is good, and AS a story I don’t really have much to say on it; the writing is solid and consistent and not unexpected. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s also something to Cyclops as written here that made me think he’s portrayed as a lot more interesting than I recall his being at the time in the regular Marvel universe. Perhaps the notion of his having served with Sinister and Apocalypse at all, or a number of other potential angles of the character that could be explored to answer "Why is he where and how he is now?"

My surprise with the issue’s creative side is just how much I really like the art. My one actual "problem" with the visuals is Jean’s hair–I’d swear she’s had much shorter hair in prior appearances, where Jean in this issue has the longer hair of her 616-counterpart of the time. I could be annoyed at the inconsistency…but I prefer long-haired Jean as depicted here, so I like it.

I’m not nearly as familiar with Havok in general, and it’s been rather strange seeing him as so thorough a villain in the Age of Apocalypse (same for Beast). Still, there’s a lot more than could be explored between just Alex and Scott’s relationship, that it’s sort of regrettable this four-issue journey is over.

I’ve enjoyed the series, and enjoyed this issue. Were it a self-contained mini-series I’d almost certainly be quite disappointed at the ending. As-is, it leads into X-Men: Omega, and I recall a definite end-point for Jean, Scott, and Alex as well as the fate of the Beast; looking ahead to that, it occurs to me that Omega serves in many ways as a #5 for the various minis, with Alpha having served as a #0.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Factor X #1

aoa_revisited_logo

factorx001Sinister Neglect

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inker: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Cover: Steve Epting
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

I’m beginning to consciously realize that some of my trepidation approaching these various Age of Apocalypse minis is that I apparently think of Astonishing X-Men, Amazing X-Men, and X-Men Chronicles as my favorites (along with the bookend Alpha/Omega issues). Any of these others are simply "other" and so part of me just isn’t as interested in the "idea" of them. Yet, that’s added to some relative surprise at enjoying these, thinking I’ve "forgotten" how much I enjoyed them…but if I didn’t enjoy them as a kid, there’d be no reason for Age of Apocalypse to reign as one of my all-time favorite X-stories.

The issue’s cover shows us Cyclops, Havok, (Dark) Beast, Northstar, and Aurora…Sinister’s "Elite" group of enforcers. Not a bad image, and certainly conveys the menace they exude…this definitely shows a group one would PROBABLY not want to mess with. Sort of generic, kinda iconic if forgettably so, but it works.

The story is a blend of Sinister’s narration as he prepares to fully set into motion his own plan against Apocalypse while we follow Cyclops, Havok, and the others about their business in the early days of Sinister’s disappearance. We’re shown the tense/adversarial relationship between Cyclops and Havok, and the latter’s jealousy/ambition; more of the atrocity from Beast, and that Angel’s "Heaven" is definitely neutral ground for anyone who can pay.

Showing the change in myself and the notion of picking up on new things each time through even a familiar story–there’s a snippet of conversation in the bar scene with reference to Lazlo and letters of transit that made me grin, picking up the obvious-to-me-now reference to Casablanca.

I rather liked the juxtaposition of Sinister’s narrative with the unfolding events–there’s something rather identifyable in the narration, in branching off on one’s own and wondering what others are doing without us after a period together.

The issue’s visuals are quite good, and aside from some slight weirdness to me in Cannonball’s appearance in a couple panels, everything else worked well and only stood out to me in appreciating how much I liked the way things looked.

In some ways, I want to judge this issue simply as another #1, but it (as the other titles also do) draws heavily on the events of X-Men: Alpha which in some ways makes this a #2 issue. We’re (re) introduced to several characters, others are furthered, and we’re introduced to still others, while things are set up for what’s to come: Beast and what he’s doing, Havok and his romance with a human, Cyclops being basically good despite currently working for Sinister and Apocalypse, and Sinister having something major up his sleeve in going against Apocalypse.

This title and the main group of characters it focuses on being "villains" adds another "side" to the overall story and rounds things out, giving some depth to even the "bad guys," rather than leaving them as two-dimensional strawmen to throw the X-Men against. I enjoyed this issue, and look forward to others…as well as the alluded-to reference to Havok’s incident in Weapon X #1.

That footnote reminded me that these issues don’t have an exact reading order printed in them…this is Factor X #1 with characters who appear in the general AoA continuity and thus other titles as well, and more is happening than is necessarily focused on for any given character in only one series…particularly high-ranking characters such as Havok and Cyclops. Which is part of the fun of continuity–for me–and the appreciation of footnotes in issues I read.

X-Men Series 1 Revisited, Part 1

This is definitely a strange set to look back to, having come out in 1992…22 years ago! At the same time, it’s rather cool to look back this far, as this is the X-Men just shy of my discovering them originally, and it’s cool to revisit what these characters’ status quo was then, given everything that’s come about SINCE.

It’s also a bit odd to consider the publisher of these cards–Impel–as I am almost certain they aren’t even around anymore, and that they passed the torch (so to speak) for the next series of X-Men cards that was published in 1993.

Especially compared to the Marvel Universe Series IV set, this seems rather amateurish in a way…with some of the cards being landscape oriented, others portrait, and seemingly not organized within the set with an awareness of the standard 9-pocket card pages these would often be stored in.

All of these first 9 are oriented the same way, but as we’ll see next week, the next 9 switch to virtually all portrait orientation, where much of the set remains before a switch back. The coloring on some of the cards–as we’ll see in later posts–also does not all go together for single pages. And yet the final 9-card grouping does make a single larger image.

This first grouping introduces us to a mix of characters from several of the then-current teams: the X-Men themselves, as well as X-Factor, X-Force, and Excalibur.

I don’t much care for the power grid on the backs of the cards–I’ve never cared for this sort of stat with characters, as stories are constantly changing things and these never seem–to me–to remain accurate. All the more for comparing the characters.

The short snippets are nice as a bit of introduction to the characters, and I like the note of their first appearance…a rather handy piece of information to have, even these 20-odd years later. The “X-tra Fact” is also a neat piece of info to have…particularly to help set these cards within the time they came out, as I’m looking back on them now.

I actually hadn’t realized until going through these for this post that Siryn first appeared in Spider-Woman and not a “regular” X-book somewhere.

Nothing too spectacular about these, though I do rather like the Jim Lee art, as well as the use of DIFFERENT art on the backs of the cards rather than a re-use of the front…showing that there was a bit of thought put into these.

[Click below to see the individual cards…]

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Marvel Universe Series IV Revisited, Part 13

This is EASILY my favorite “page” of the entire set. Between the comics and the animated series, I’m quite familiar with all nine of these characters.

It’s kind of amazing to consider how far they’ve all come in the past 20 years; through multiple solo titles and mini-series, and their various developments in the “main” X-Men titles.

Storm’s card is probably the only one I’m not particularly thrilled with here; all the others look quite good to me individually as well as put together for the single image. Archangel benefits the most, I think, from the larger whole of the cards put together…and Magneto’s card looks fantastic even taken by itself…that energy burst blocks out most of the context of the image for his part, making it work especially well taken on its own. Wolverine’s also works well, with the bottom border being the main thing really indicating it’s even part of a larger image.

Because of the X-Men cartoon, I know I would have been quite aware of these characters from that alone, and with these costumes. I may not have been as familiar with Archangel at the time, though even he had appeared in a couple episodes of the cartoon by the time this card set was out.

While the X-Men “posing” doesn’t make much sense with Magneto (then an arch-nemesis) powered-up behind them doesn’t make much sense, on the whole I would absolutely QUITE enjoy having a poster of this image.

Perhaps it’s that I like these characters, at this time so much, but I think this is also some of my favorite artwork in this entire set, as well as the page makeup on its own.

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Marvel Now: All-New X-Men #s 2-5

allnewxmen002Of all of the Marvel Now books, All-New X-Men has been by far my favorite. I enjoyed the first issue quite a bit, and from the second issue on, the ride’s kept moving at a nice pace–other than the $3.99 price point, I’m actually quite enjoying the double-shipping.

The issue by issue pacing has been a little quick…I’m glad to get into the story more, but I do wish the single issues had a bit more content to them.

The preview that so thoroughly hooked me for the first issue had turned out to be the final several pages of the issue–a little disappointing, but it left me eager for #2. Getting into the second issue was a real treat–the writing is a definite “hit” for me from Bendis, and the art’s been thoroughly enjoyable. allnewxmen003Seeing the younger X-Men in the present and the reactions–theirs as well as the adults–worked very well…especially Wolverine’s reaction to Jean (and vice versa).

The third issue almost seems likely to be a backdoor pilot for Uncanny X-Men; though I have no complaint about the issue having a good look at Cyclops, Magneto, and their group…except it seemed a bit out of place after the first two issues–almost like it should’ve been something else. As a single issue, it sticks out; but the inevitable “graphic novel” collected edition will probably read just fine with the pacing.

allnewxmen004The fourth issue finally sees the intended consequence of the original X-Men being brought forward in time as Cyclops is stunned by their presence and tries to figure out what happened. And of course, the fifth issue seems to bring the first arc to a loose close, while solidifying the status quo.

And as has been all over the place, the fifth issue sees the Beast’s Next Mutation, which–after something like 11 years of getting used to “feline-Beast” is rather jarring and not much to my liking.

As said above–I’m really digging Immonen‘s art, and the rest of the art team is doing a superb job with giving a great-looking issue each time out. allnewxmen005I’ve yet to sit down and re-read the whole arc, but everything’s fit pretty well together visually.

The very concept of this title should leave me disliking it, but this is the original X-Men I read at the start of my freshman year of college in an Essential volume, meeting up with the present-day X-Men after 20 years I’ve followed them to some degree or another. And while the high concept shouldn’t seem to be sustainable–I once said that Lost, Prison Break, and Castle didn’t seem like [tv] series that should go beyond one season, so I’m open to seeing what’s done with this.

And with Bendis on the book, hopefully we get to see at least a couple years of this title, if not a good long run in general with something old bringing something new to the contemporary Marvel Universe.

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