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Showing off the Shelves: X-Men January 2017

Today, I’m showing off my current X-Men shelf configuration, with some volumes "weeded out" for present, possibly permanently, or to be added back in once I expand my shelving, which my collection has pretty much outgrown at the moment.

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One of my earliest collected volumes ever was that original The Essential Uncanny X-Men 1 that I bought right before leaving for college back in 1999. Obviously, my X-collection has grown significantly in the last 17 1/2 to 18 years!

I have stuff largely in chronological–or near-chronological–order, moving through the franchise’s history, with this first shelf pretty much covering 1963-1994-ish.

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Picking up in 1995, this second shelf pretty much takes us through the later ’90s, early 2000s, Morrison, Whedon, and up to 2010 or so.

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And moving beyond Second Coming and the Fraction run, a bunch of the miscellaneous/skinnier volumes taper off the X-Men proper, and get into other stuff…primarily Wolverine and X-Factor.

Of course, with Marvel discontinuing the Essential line in favor of the Epic line, I may eventually be swappign out some of the Wolverine and X-Factor stuff, or pay inflated prices to fill the Wolverine run in. Time will tell!

The X-books are–next to Superman–the most significant part of my entire collection, and certainly out-do the rest of my Marvel collection; while not exact, I’d say these account for at least 35% of my entire Marvel collection.

Impressive as they can be…knowing the "gaps" in content from the various X-Men oversized hardcovers and omnibus volumes…I find it kinda hard to imagine sticking just to the omnibus/OHC format…there’s so much more to be had by combining the formats. That said…I’d be interested in the Inferno and Inferno Crossovers volumes if I could get them relatively cheaply…though more immediately I’ll probably be content to just get the paperbacks as those’ll be much cheaper, period, and there are several other paperbacks that I want that do not (to my knowledge) have hardcover counterparts…including several Gambit volumes!

But that all gets off on other topics (like "wishlists")…

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Recent Omnibii Acquisitions

Last December or so, or maybe late November, I ordered the Trial of Captain America omnibus. And I recently threw in and got the Age of Apocalypse Companion volume…and then Onslaught.

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While I don’t like the pricing (and have only gone in with significant discounts online)…I have a number of Marvel omnibus volumes…but thus far have only ever bought one DC omnibus. And I have never bought an Absolute Edition despite a couple somewhat having my interest.

I’m a sucker for nostalgia. For the ’90s.

Brubaker‘s Captain America being a bit of an exception. And the Marvel volumes fit much better in with other volumes on the shelf…they’re just significantly thicker.

I’m thinking the Onslaught volume hopefully caps a bunch of large purchases for a bit. Outside of a handful of out-of-print X-Men volumes…I’m largely content to wait–as far as omnibii–for the actual Age of Apocalypse volume next year.

Meantime, some thicker paperbacks have my growing attention on the DC side.

The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Prime

90s_revisited

xmenprime001Racing the Night

Writers: Scott Lobdell & Fabian Nicieza
Pencilers: Bryan Hitch, Jeff Matsuda, Gary Frank, Mike McKone, Terry Dodson, Ben Herrerr, Paul Pelletier
Inkers: Al Milgrom, P. Craig Russell, Cam Smith, Mark Farmer, Mark McKenna, Tom Palmer, Tim Townsend, Hector Collazo
Letttering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Coloring: Steve Buccellato and Electric Crayon
Cover: Bryan Hitch
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 1995
Cover Price: $4.95

With this issue, we’re back to the “real” reality/universe/timeline/whatever. The 616 Marvel Universe. Bishop and his mission was a success, and by stopping Legion from killing Xavier…the Age of Apocalypse never happened, things have been set right. Or have they?

We have a bunch of plot points sharing this issue…while the various Age of Apocalypse mini-series led into X-Men: Omega, this issue now serves as the focal point for the return of the “regular” X-Men titles…as a “regular universe” Alpha issue to introduce readers to the current status quo of the characters and teams that make up the X-side of the Marvel Universe and send the readers into the mix of titles having had this bit of setup for where things are moving forward.

I do think that if Free Comic Book Day had been around in 1995, this would certainly have been a Marvel offering…an in-continuity quasi-anthology to get readers to jump aboard the entire line of X-comics.

I can’t say I’m honestly all that thrilled with this issue on this re-read. I certainly appreciate that there are “only” two writers credited, offering a bit of consistency to the story side of things. The issue is quite a mix visually due to the numerous pencilers and inkers getting their chance to work on pages presumably germane to the individual titles. Reading through this time, I noticed a bit of wonky art at points, but somehow was not particularly jarred by the shifts…perhaps for familiarity with the Age of Apocalypse stuff as a whole.

After the shiny “chromium” covers for X-Men: Alpha and X-Men: Omega, seems Marvel felt the need to give this a special cover as well–a clear plastic-ish thing with an inner orangey background. We also get the “alternate” X-Men logo, with the Prime part next to it…and the whole thing is a wrap-around (which I very much appreciate 20 years later in an age of VARIANT “interlocking” covers).

The story introduces or re-introduces some characters–and I even see hints of Onslaught in this reading. We find out that several characters–Nate Grey, Dark Beast, Sugarman, and Holocaust–escaped the Age of Apocalypse and wound up in the real timeline. Nate first appears in the “present,” while Magneto’s Acolytes only now in the present discover what will be revealed to be Holocaust…but Beast and Sugarman arrived 20 years ago, and were responsible for the Morlocks and Genosha’s Mutates, respectively. Marrow is reintroduced, aged twenty years from a prior appearance…Rogue and Iceman are on a roadtrip, the former haunted by whatever she saw in Gambit’s memories (Gambit’s in a coma). Trish Tilby reveals the Legacy Virus to the public along with the knowledge that it’s affecting humans as well as Mutants. X-Factor chases Mystique and Havok’s powers act up on him; X-Force’s base is destroyed. Wolverine is living in the woods outside Xavier’s mansion (refusing to reside under the same roof as Sabretooth) and Bishop is having unconscious outbursts as a result of the visions he’s having as a result of his temporal status in relation to the Age of Apocalypse. Amidst all this a mutant seeks the X-Men but winds up victim of humans lashing out against something they fear and do not understand.

This certainly sets up the various X-titles moving forward, so for that alone is pretty much an “essential read.” Yet, unless one intends to pursue those issues from mid-1995 that this is immediately germane to, there’s not much to really dig into singularly with this issue. Outside of characters involved and how they now will interact in the 616 universe, there’s no actual story-content directly tied to the story of the Age of Apocalypse timeline.

Given that, my covering of this issue is much like why I covered the non-Legion Quest X-books that preceded Age of Apocalypse: this is stuff coming out on the “other end”, the border, “bleed,” or whatever butting up against the Age of Apocalypse without actually BEING an issue of that..

While rarer than the Alpha or Omega issues in bargain bins, I certainly would not pay much more than cover price for this (and that would be a grudgingly-paid price). I’d seek this out to use as a starting point diving into any or all of the X-books of the time but certainly not if you’re only interested in the Age of Apocalypse.

Unlike contemporary Marvel, this does not kick off “the next” EVENT but rather gives the individual titles time to flex and explore their own things for awhile before everything heats up again with the following year’s Onslaught stuff.

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Yet More December Acquisitions: The Complete Onslaught Epic

Thanks to a Black Friday sale (online), I was able to get vols. 0, 1, 2, and 3 of The Complete Onslaught Epic for well under the price of two volumes. I paid full price for vol. 4 at a local shop, as it was not available, and seemed (based on searches online) to be out of print and people asking WAYYYY above cover price.

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This set adds to my Complete Age of Apocalypse Epic as well as the Heroes Reborn and Heroes Return sets. I suppose next up–if I can find ’em cheap (say, $20 or less per volume) and be able to get the entire set in one go–is Spider-Man: The Complete Clone Saga.

Of course, I have a bunch of other volumes also on my “wish list” and I might actually use that as a topic of a later post before the year is out.

Magneto #12 [Review]

magneto012AXIS tie-in

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Roland Boschi
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles and Cory Petit
Cover: David Yardin
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s the cover that did it. I’ve had absolutely no purchase-level interest in Axis nor any of its tie-ins…but the cover of this issue grabbed my attention. Onslaught, with the Red Skull’s face, dwarfing a defiant Magneto. Talk about hitting the right buttons for me. The original Onslaught story was HUGE in my youth–in scope, in tying back to Fatal Attractions, in tying into that X-Traitor subplot that even touched the cartoon series, that played with the matter of Xavier, his relationship to Magneto, to “The Dream,” etc. The reason Magneto as a character is interesting to me is the way the character was handled in Legion Quest and the Age of Apocalypse and afterward–as well as the “Joseph” period and all that. I’d also seen some sort of “preview” or “solicitation” text on the issue referencing Erik dealing with his friend, and all that–I recall an apparent plot point being the Red Skull stealing Xavier’s brain–so that plus the cover, and I couldn’t bring myself to NOT buy the issue.

Getting into the issue was a different matter. I haven’t read anything else involved with this Axis “event”–Axis itself or tie-in issues–nor have I read the last 8-9 issues of this series, so my reading this issue was functionally jumping in “cold,” so to speak.

Apparently Magneto’s already mid-battle with “Red Onslaught” (how original, that name), and he’s gathered other “villains” and allies (Carnage, Doom, Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, etc) to combat the Red Skull in Onslaught mode. He has his daughter (Scarlet Witch) cast a spell meant to access whatever there is of Xavier and bring that to the forefront. While this is going on, he recalls a happier time, in his younger days, when he and Xavier were new friends in Israel. The issue goes back and forth, present to flashback and we see an episode where Magneto revealed his powers to Xavier as they fled Baron Strucker and the two men sought to save Xavier’s lover Gabrielle Haller. Something happens and Magneto’s knocked unconscious, coming to to find the other villains gone and the Avengers present. As he wonders if the Scarlet Witch’s spell worked, he encounters the mind of Xavier–apparently the spell worked–and the two converse, the psionic image of Xavier essentially passing the torch to Magneto and telling him his way was right all along.

The art for the issue isn’t horrible, though I’m not terribly impressed–particularly compared to the cover. I know my attitude toward the visuals is partially the actual style and partially that I don’t care for some of the character designs or “new looks” or such. It’s also “tainted” by my presently re-reading old X-Men issues from late 1994 and loving those–for the nostalgia and the art and familiarity from my past. There’s really no way this issue can hold up visually to the likes of Kubert or Jim Lee or other artists whose work I particularly enjoyed twenty years ago. Yardin‘s cover drawing me in the way it did makes me think I’d enjoy his work on the interior, though.

The story itself seems solid enough, and I was absolutely THRILLED at the actual use of CONTINUITY, that the notion of Xavier and Magneto having become friends while working at a hospital in Israel is still there, and the presence of Gabrielle Haller. Stuff that I’d almost have “expected” to be swept under the rug in favor of some other “take” on the characters’ relationship, some other period of time instead of something that’s been touched on before. While I don’t care whatsoever for the Baron Strucker stuff, and struggled to recall what little I knew/know or thought I knew/know, I know the characters didn’t jump from what we see in Legion Quest to a “present day,” and so it makes sense they’d have other adventures and such. I just don’t much care for the constant “inbreeding” of the same body of established characters being constantly revealed to have had earlier and earlier and earlier interactions/involvements with each other, knowingly or otherwise.

But ultimately, while I WANTED to like this issue, it manages to fall short of my expectations–perhaps because this IS just a single chapter of something much larger, and I’m out of the loop and all that. I’m not overly thrilled to have spent $4 on the issue and had so little Magneto/Xavier as well as so little Magneto vs. Red Skull in direct confrontation, etc. I might be somewhat interested in this Axis event later if I can get a collected volume or the single issues cheaply, but despite being a bit intrigued (was it actually Magneto that set the entire Axis thing in motion, I’m curious about and don’t know from just this issue) I’m not motivated by this issue to chase down anything else for Axis, nor am I left with any particular desire to get the next issue.

This is probably a great issue for ongoing readers of the title; I can’t speak to its place or value in the overall Axis story, though…this doesn’t seem to convey anything one can’t get from the main series, and I actually have the feeling one would appreciate this issue more WITH the main Axis series being read.

There are worse issues one could randomly grab from the middle of a run, inside the middle of an event, I’m sure. But unless you’re specifically following the event or this title anyway, this does not seem particularly worth its $3.99 cover price and I am not going to keep chasing the bait of hoping to see more Magneto/Xavier stuff.

The Weekly Haul – Week of November 19, 2014

This proved to be a rather large week yet again, with some clustering and an impulse purchase.

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Valiant has out what I believe is its first “original” thing since its return 2 1/2 years ago in Punk Mambo #0. Surprisingly enough in a way, the Dynamite Gold Key books keep coming out.

And I couldn’t resist the Magneto issue for that cover and the prospect of him dealing with his once-good-friend being dead and corrupted.

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Then of course the DC Weeklies, a random $1 issue, and Astro City (which I really need to catch up on my reading with!)

I also snagged a bunch of quarter-bin issues (first time in awhile that that actually gave me “buyer’s remorse”), but picked up most of a run of Supreme vol. 2 from Image’s early-days. Also picked up a bunch of X-Force issues that may or may not be duplicates, as I haven’t properly curated my list.

So nothing particularly amazing or special this  week; just a clustering of the Valiant and Gold Key stuff, and the THREE weeklies are starting to make every week rather large.

And the Magneto issue…irked me, on reading. But I’m planning on reviewing that “properly” so I’ll save my comments for there.

The ’90s Revisited: The Incredible Hulk #444

incrediblehulk444Cable Vision

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Angel Medina
Inker: Robin Riggs
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Enhancement: Malibu
Assistant Editor: Polly Watson
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.50
Cover Date: August, 1996

It’s amazing how much “context” can play a role in a random issue working or not. This issue is labeled as Onslaught: Impact 1, meaning it was an “impact” issue of the first month of Onslaught. From what I recall, there were two types of issues associated with Onslaught: the Phase 1/2/3 issues, and the Impact 1/2/3 issues. Phase were main parts of the “core” story, while the Impact issues were much looser tie-ins…literally “impacted” by Onslaught, but not having much to do with the main story.

I pulled this issue from the quarter bin for that Onslaught tag. Reading it reminded me just how “loose” the tie-in could be. The basic premise of this issue is that Onslaught has basically wiped the Hulk’s mind, setting him on killing Cable. Banner’s been blocked out, so there’s just the mindless, mission-centered beast. The issue opens with Cable already beaten and barely conscious…the only other ally trying to save him is X-man Storm. The issue is basically one long fight-scene, as Storm turns the elements on the Hulk, and a death-ready Cable rallies and does what he can in his state. Eventually the two manage to develop a risky plan to break Onslaught’s control, and restore the Hulk.

Story-wise, there’s not exactly a lot to this issue. And yet, it shows that David “gets” the X-characters, writing a decent Cable and an impressive (at least power-wise) Storm. But, being a big fight sequence, there’s not exactly much character development…moreso we seem to have had a plot point (Onslaught possesses Hulk) that had to be dealt with to get the Hulk from there to the next plot point (back to being himself again, but Really Very Ticked-Off At Onslaught).

Visually, the art’s not bad, though nothing wonderful. The coloring seemed somehow kinda dull, and the Hulk’s shade of green especially a bit different, more subdued, than what I’m used to for the character. I’m also not all that familiar with this particular interpretation of the Hulk…but knowing this was the “Banner’s consciousness/Hulk’s body” era…and the mid-’90s (and this being a single, isolated issue I’m reading) that mostly gets a pass.

Overall, not a bad issue, but nothing spectacular. I don’t believe I’d ever read this back in the ’90s when originally published, so it was interesting to read a loose tie-in to Onslaught, and getting a single-issue “feel” for the “impact” of that story on this title prior to the bigger shakeup of losing Banner but keeping the Hulk that was the status quo once Onslaught ended.

As a 25-cent issue in an age of $3.99 comics, this was a decently enjoyable issue…but I’m not sure I would care for it without already having a working knowledge of the “main” Onslaught story. Taken by itself as a random issue and being a big fight scene, it’s not really something to specifically seek out unless you’re looking for all the Onslaught issues, or a complete PAD run on this title.

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