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The ’90s Revisited: The X-Men Collector’s Edition #1

90s_revisited

xmen_collectors_edition_0001Slice of Danger!

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Andrew Wildman
Lettering: Rick Parker
Inker: Steven Baskerville
Colors: Jim Hoston
Editor: Glenn Herdling
Published by: Marvel Comics & Pizza Hut
Cover Price: "$1.50 Value"
Cover Date: 1993

Back in 1993, the X-Men were an extremely "hot property." Their comics were at a definite high, they had a new cartoon series, they had trading cards, they had action figures, they had all sorts of merchandising going on…they were Marvel‘s Merry Mutants and all that. And one of those merchandising deals was with Pizza Hut. For whatever the price of a kids’ thing, you got a pizza, a plastic cup (If I recall correctly), and one of four comic books, commissioned specifically for this promotion. (I believe available for purchase separately were two VHS tapes, each with two episodes of the still-new Animated Series (Night of the Sentinels parts 1 and 2 OR Enter: Magneto and Deadly Reunions); both of which contained a brief roundtable interview with then-current creatives on Marvel‘s X-Men and Uncanny X-Men titles and such.

Where it would have surely been simple to just slap a new art piece and title logo onto something with a reprint of X-Men #1 or X-Men Adventures #1 or such, new cover, new art, and a new story was produced across essentially a 4-issue mini-series; an all-new original adventure exclusively for Pizza Hut.

We open on the X-Men in the Danger Room as Professor Xavier calls them to his meeting room. He explains that something’s happened with Cerebro (the computer that allows the X-Men to make first contact with new mutants before the villains can recruit them) that endangers the machine’s continued functionality. To repair it, various things are needed…which results in the X-Men being broken off into several teams to each get or accomplish something necessary to the whole of repairing Cerebro. Starting off, as X-Men Rogue and Gambit attend to dealing with in-house wiring, the Danger Room is activated with sentinels from "a dark future" (that many readers will recognize to be intended as the future revealed in Days of Future Past). After the two eventually overcome a trio of these killer giant robots (the scene powers down), we get a brief glimpse at a shadowy figure watching all the X-Men in their current endeavor…suggesting some secretive, behind-the-scenes operator working against the mutants!

The art for this issue is what I would consider typical 1990s fare. It’s not bad, but it’s not wonderful. The X-Men are all in their "Jim Lee costumes," the familiar outfits they were in (I believe) as of late-1991’s X-Men #1, also the looks used for the Fox animated series. Everyone is very recognizable as who they are, though the details of the art aren’t my favorite take. This definitely goes on the notion of a "house style" (as opposed to the artist of whatever book simply giving us "their take" on characters). Like a number of "fringe" titles/issues, this both looks like an actual Marvel issue while carrying a sort of generic feel that sorta/kinda/mostly fits with what was being published at that time without being entirely beholden to it nor affecting/impacting any of the "real" stuff.

Story-wise, this is pretty basic, simple stuff. Open on the X-Men in action. Show off one-liners and two-dimensional "character beats" to remind us of attitudes or such, "establishing" these as the characters that were being showcased in the animate series. Split the characters into separate groups to pad out several issues’ worth of content while allowing for "extended spotlights" on characters in manageable chunks. Showcase "key" expected stuff associated with the franchise/highlight all the characters and "locations" of the franchise.

So we get that–from Cyclops vs. Wolverine, to Wolverine’s random outburst, Jubilee’s snarkiness, Xavier having this dire situation but disappearing "to let" Cyclops and Storm handle stuff, to (particularly for this issue’s focus) Rogue and Gambit flirting, etc. The "characterization" in the issue seems generic and surfacey…but I don’t think it’s meant to be anything else. As something that would be reaching (primarily) kids for whom this might be their first/only experience with actual comics, it was important to give them stuff they recognized, both in the characters’ appearance and their behaviors. So the "character shorthand" stuff is prevalent; showing this mini time-capsule of stuff about them at the time, but not really building, changing, or directing anything new about them.

I fondly remember this period of the X-Men; and this promotion (I still have the VHS tapes and recall really enjoying the round table interviews, and those four episodes are particularly ingrained in my memory from this time). I even have one of the large promotional pieces that someone got ahold of for me some years back.

In and of itself, though, there’s nothing special about this issue, or this mini-series; it’s generic, surfacey stuff that doesn’t particularly draw from any deep continuity (despite the "references" to Days of Future Past), and it certainly doesn’t add anything TO the continuity. I certainly appreciated some of Gambit and Rogue’s flirting in this issue, and was surprised at one comment that certainly was "over my head" in 1993 that got a "Wow, they went there?? They said that ON PANEL?" reaction from me in 2018.

This is a fun novelty thing…hardly essential, but fun to have. I have the original copies I got from Pizza Hut in 1993, and I’m pretty sure I’ve come across these just a couple times over the years in bargain bins (maybe twice or so); the copy I read for this post came from a convention dollar-bin, I believe. So you’re not missing out on anything whatsoever in this issue or any of the other three, and I would not consider them to be "worth" anything much except for nostalgia. For that, they’re certainly worth $1-$2ish each. I don’t feel these are typical quarter-bin fare, not seeing them often…but they’re by no means anything high-ticket or worth $5+ an issue idly.

The cover states these are "A $1.50 value," representing the then-standard cover price of Marvel single issues. With a double-gatefold cover and interior cover, being full-sized issues both in dimensions and page count, written by one of the actual regular writers…this is a fun issue to have, and worth getting; though definitely most satisfying as part of a full set of all 4 issues.

xmen_collectors_edition_0001_full_front

The cover is a double-gatefold; four "panels" including the front cover. When unfolded completely, this is the full image.

xmen_collectors_edition_0001_full_inside

And the flipside of the double-gatefold, viewed from the inside is this image, spotlighting Rogue and Gambit.

xmen_collectors_edition_0001_blogtrailer

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Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Amazing X-Men #1

aoa_revisited_logo

amazingxmen001The Crossing Guards

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Color Art: Kevin Somers
Separation: Digital Chameleon
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Cover: Andy Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date:
March 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

With this issue, we’re back to the X-Men "proper," as Storm and Quicksilver lead a squad of X-Men to assist with getting humans out of North America. In order to do so, however, they have to "hack" the High Council’s sentinels’ programming so they can be seen as friendlies and not just more mutants to be attacked on detection. Though they seek to help, their help’s not asked for. As the group preps, the distrust for the man called Bishop runs high as Magneto seems to be the only one who trusts him and believes that he might truly represent a chance to change the world before it ever went wrong.

It’s not really evident to me with this issue why I’ve long held this title to be my favorite of the Age of Apocalypse books–it might be the later issues that brought that to the fore and the way they lead into the end of things…but that’s something to be gotten to when I get to ’em.

This issue is another solid read with plenty of forward development in things as a whole if not overly so with any individual characters. Of course, it’s a team book so I wouldn’t necessarily expect a lot of individual character development. I certainly appreciate the Magneto/Bishop stuff, and rereading all these first issues has reminded me of why I’m such a fan of Magneto, as it WAS this saga 20 years ago that fully introduced me to the character, my prior experience having almost exclusively been Fatal Attractions and the animated series (which itself in its second season gave plenty to like with the character).

The story here is good, as is the art. I can be quite repetitive in talking about art with comics as I’m more a story guy, but with that–this issue’s art didn’t blow me away but it definitely provided strong visuals that certainly had played a part in defining this era of X-Men comics for me.

All in all, this was another enjoyable issue in the dawn of the Age of Apocalypse…keeping the "train" rolling and my interest high in continuing to relearn and revisit the entirety of the AoA epic.

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