I'd always felt the appeal of comic books long before I ever picked one up. I loved reading and drawing. I searched for fantastic stories about super powers and magic. The allure to comic books came naturally because comics had all these things in common. But outside the occasional run-in at the public library, I couldn't find a way to get into them. Too many characters, too much back story, and never enough time or money. My interest waned.
That all changed in the early 90's when "X-Men: The Animated Series" came out on television. Of all the comics I was interested in, the X-Men were the most fascinating to me, and with the release of their own TV show, I finally got an introduction to the core characters and some of the lore of the comic. Within a few weeks of watching the show, I'd found a local comic shop and made my first purchase. Over the next few years, I read and collected probably close to 200 books, most of which were X-Titles. Those years were great for me, but around the time high school was ending, some of my favorite artists and writers were leaving their books, and suddenly, I gave up comics.
Well, I didn't completely give them up. They followed me around over the years in their plastic bins. Every now and then I would remember The Phalanx Covenant or The Age of Apocalypse stories and dive in again, but I couldn't bring myself to pick up a new title and see what was going on with the X-Men. If I got really curious I'd look them up on the internet like a creeper ex-boyfriend on Facebook, but between relaunches and then finding out all but 100 mutants lost their powers in The House of M storyline, I couldn't bring myself to go back.
Times change though, and with a new blog to maintain, I decided this would give me a chance to reignite my interest in the X-Men. Not since late 1997 have I made a dedicated effort to read comics, so I reached out to the Reddit community for some recommendations. With their input, I decided on Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men. To prevent myself from being overwhelmed (or worse, draining my savings on back issues) I decided on a year subscription to both books. Like television shows or music albums, sometimes one issue isn't enough to get into an entire series.
So, I'll try to make this short and sweet. My review of Uncanny X-Men #4:
My reintroduction to X-Men society came with a rather welcome surprise. One of the first series of comics I picked up was Generation X, so I was pretty excited to learn that Chris Bachalo was still penciling for Marvel. He continues to be one of my favorite artists, and it's nice to see how his skills have evolved since the early 90's.
I was also happy to see Tim Townsend in the credits as an inker. When he teamed up with Joe Madureira on Uncanny X-Men, they provided an excellent source of inspiration for me.
I know next to nothing about Brian Michael Bendis as a writer, but his storytelling was certainly engaging. I think it's a little too early in the relationship to start nitpicking. Nothing from the artwork to the writing made me want to put the book down.
Of course, I did have reservations.
The last time I read an X-Men comic was in the middle of Operation: ZERO TOLERANCE. The X-Men were split up after the events caused by Onslaught, but for the most part, all the main characters I’d known over the years were there. But after one issue of the new Uncanny X-Men, I've realized some pretty serious stuff has happened. Jean Grey and Charles Xavier are dead. Cyclops has teamed up with Emma Frost and Magneto to form a new team (one that doesn't exactly adhere to Charles Xavier’s dream). And the original team of X-Men has somehow been brought to the present in a way that makes my head hurt.
This was not an easy transition for me to make, but I'm adapting. As I mentioned before, times have changed, and so too have the books I grew up on. More than anything, I’m dying to know what’s happened over the last decade (which is exactly why I’m not going to the comic shops yet). Most of the same characters are there, but they’re twisted around in one way or another. Iceman looks like he just stepped out of the Age of Apocalypse, Kitty Pryde is all grown up and a teacher at the school, and Beast appears to have mutated even further...AND don’t get me started on Magneto’s and Cyclops’ new costumes (even if they are kind of cool).
Though it’s confusing, I really like the addition of the original X-Men. I’m not sure how it’s working, but I’m willing to let that slide for the time being. It’s interesting to see them in the present, reacting to their future and making choices that were never made before. The fact that they’re there at all reminds me that this isn't some altered timeline. The original X-Men I've always loved are still there.
By far the most difficult adjustment I’m trying to come to grips with is the sudden reappearance of Illyana Rasputin, or Magik. Last I read, she'd died of the Legacy Virus. A quick search on the internet gained me no new information on how she returned, so I’m putting that one on the back burner for now. It’s fun to see her back on the team though. Inferno was one of the first graphic novels I picked up, and so I’m more than a little familiar with Illyana’s backstory.
All in all, Uncanny X-Men was an entertaining read. Like the original X-Men, I’ve been brought from the past into an uncertain future, but the possibilities of that future will definitely keep me reading.
Video Games, Comics, Movies, and Books. I'll talk about it all, and I'll tell you why it's so awesome!