Friday, July 12, 2013

My Favorite Mutants....

I have said it before but it bears repeating for the purpose of this entry: the X-Men were my gateway drug. I had read random comics here and there, ones given to my by family just to keep me occupied for a couple minutes or found in garage sales.  Nothing stuck though until that fateful day in the Denver Airport when I picked up my very first X-Men comic (more on that in a minute) and it started a love affair that has lasted until this day albeit to varying degrees.

So while listening to Kevin Smith's "Fatman on Batman" podcast, specifically an edition where Kevin and one of his guests list their favorite Batman issues/stories, I was inspired to make a list of some of my favorite X-Men stories.  No real order, definitely not a complete list, but just a rundown of some of my favorite X-Centric issues & story arcs (oh yeah, and it is a purposeful thing that I don't dip into the sure things like Grant Morrison's run, "Dark Phoenix" or "God Loves, Man Kills"...just want to expose some other notables).

So what better place to start than with:

Uncanny X-Men #224

This was the issue that started it all and it was absolutely NOT the most first-timer friendly BUT a writer like Chris Claremont went out of his way to adhere to an old Stan Lee (so I've heard) axiom that every issue is somebody's first.  There wasn't yet an X-Men: Animated Series to lay the groundwork but he made it easy to understand who Wolverine, Havok, Rogue, and Dazzler were and what they were doing in San Francisco.  Marc Silvestri defined the visuals of all of these characters for me, particularly Wolverine, and for the longest time his was the look with which I associated these characters.  His version WAS Wolvie, it WAS Storm and Dazzler and Longshot...he & Dan Green WERE the X-Artists for me!

As for Claremont, he made the fact that I was jumping into a situation en media res completely tolerable given that the X-Books were on the verge of entering The Fall of Mutants, that the Registration Act and Freedom Force were things, that a powerless Storm was completely separate from the team for reasons unknown to me...

All of those things would, in the mindset of some in today's comic landscape (coughDCCOMICScough), be GIANT barriers to my signing on the the mutant bandwagon but because the writer made the effort to make his comic accessible, I was hooked and wanted to know not only where the story was going, but I wanted to know where it had come from.  This led to my 8 year old self finding a local comic shop which was thankfully right next door to the karate studio I was attending and spending several days a week there, not just new comic day.

This was in the age before EVERYTHING was traded so I dug deep into back issue bins, began following X-Factor and New Mutants, and reading Classic X-Men (later X-Men Classic) until my back issue endeavors collided with Classic around Uncanny issue #170.  Speaking of classic, that leads me to another couple of my favorites:

Classic X-Men #19

So just as with my first Uncanny issue, I also joined the classic adventures of my favorite mutants in the middle of a story! This time they were trapped in an arctic base, rendered powerless & child-like by Magneto, and at the motherly mercy of the android Nanny.  Claremont writing, John Byrne art, this was the stuff of dreams and a totally different visual than which I had become accustomed to with reading Uncanny & seeing Marc Silvestri's take.

And again, even though I was jumping into to a show already in progress, I was able to pretty much pick up on what was going on AND want to track down the issues that came before to see how my favorites got trapped in the first place!  Then, with the ending that split up the team, leaving Jean & Beast in Antarctica and the rest of the unit's fate in limbo, I had to know what happened!!!  This stuff was epic!

Plus, one of the bonuses of these Classic issues, there were additional pages (although at 8 years old I didn't know they were added at the time) added to the main story AND a total new back-up story!  This one fleshed out the character of Magneto in a way that I can look back on and safely say had never been done before.  It filled in gaps in his history and it was BEAUTIFULLY rendered by John Bolton.  These back-ups were a thing of wonder and the back-up alone is why this next issue is one of my favorite...

Classic X-Men #25

Wolverine solo...drawn by John Bolton...this back-up was a thing of beauty and probably one of the reasons that I fell in love with the character.  It does a great job of fleshing him out as more than just the crazy runt with claws, although in the Uncanny issues I was already seeing he was more than that, and it is just a wonder to look at.  Just thinking about it makes me want to either dig these issues out just to read the back-ups or go buy the Vignettes trades.

As an added bonus in the main story, you get Mariko Yashida making her first appearances in Wolvie's life (the previous issue being her first), you get Banshee losing his powers (a thing that stuck for well over 100 issues), and in the added pages, you get an Apocalypse appearance to tie him into Moses Magnum's origins!  Speaking of Apocalypse....

X-Factor #68
Okay this may seem an odd choice to some but this issue, with writing credited to Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee, and Chris Claremont with Portacio & Art Thibert getting the artistic nods, is the culmination of so many different plot threads PLUS the springboard into the next phase of the mutant world.

It brings to a head the Apocalypse story that has been building in some fashion since X-Factor #5, it brings to crescendo the saga of baby Nathan Christopher Charles Summers that has been on-going since his birth in Uncanny #201 and really kicked into high gear during Inferno & the subsequent Judgement War arc in X-Factor, and his Nathan's fate certainly added even more intrigue to the Cable/Stryfe mystery unfolding in the closing pages of the original New Mutants series & subsequently in the original X-Force it was set on the Blue Area of the Moon which harkens back to the original Dark Phoenix saga oh so many years prior.

The closing of this arc also catapults the original X-Men who made up X-Factor into the Muir Island Saga over in Uncanny that would ultimately lead us to the introduction of the Blue & Gold Teams in the UXM & & X-Men books.

But most importantly, and the reason why this issue resonates in my mind, is because of the heartbreaking scene when Scott Summers has to give up his child, has to send little Nathan off into the great unknown with a strong possibility that Cyke will never his son again, in hopes that this mysterious Asakani woman can save his life.  This is a man who, taking into account the sliding concept of time in comics, was without his son for 3 publishing years (so say like a year in comic book time maybe?). Now having only just gotten his son back, Cyclops was faced with the gut-wrenching choice of what to do, what to sacrifice, and...perhaps this is just me reading into it now...but giving is his son up to be saved is kind of making up for being a totally selfish douchebag since Jean Grey's not-so-dead body was found at the bottom of the ocean a few years prior.  That's a thought I'm just now thinking for the first time by the way...

Any way it was the emotional hook of Cyclops and Nate that puts this one in my mind more so than anything about the Apocalypse/Askani stuff...oh yeah, and this story arc would also be the hook upon which the next entry into my arc would hang its hat:

X-Cutioner's Song

So apparently, according to Wikipedia, this was a story arc not looked upon fondly despite its high sales numbers...well I don't give a damn!  I look back on this story as one of the highlights of my comic book reading youth.  Not only was it full of awesome art from the likes of Brandon Peterson, Jae Lee, Andy Kubert, and Greg Capullo but the story also brought together a ton of characters that had essentially been separate since the birth of X-Force, X-Men, and the overhaul of X-Factor that came about 15 months prior.

It took the "Cable & Stryfe have the same face" bomb that got dropped at the end of New Mutants #100 and used it for something major...if you call something like Stryfe, decked out in Cable-wear, shooting Professor Xavier in the face major.  The arc brought Apocalypse into the field as an ally rather than enemy which in turn played into the Archangel dynamic as well as the Cable/Cyclops drama.  It put X-Force, who were sans Cable at that moment, into the mix as a fugitive team.  Guido working with Gambit, Feral and Wolfsbane occupying the same space thereby proving there were in fact two different characters (bad joke), the moon, Stryfe versus Apocalypse, Stryfe's torture of Jean & Cyclops on THE BLUE AREA OF THE MOON, and Scott Summers' nagging questions: is Cable my son or is Stryfe my son?

It was an epic tale that told a self-contained story AND built for the future!  What a novel concept in this day & age where so many crossovers end up feeling to me like they exist ONLY to set-up the future and don't tell a complete story on their own.  This was throwing everything out there and making it all work!  History also tells us that Magneto ALMOST ended up a part of the story too AND a joke by Peter David is what ultimately led to Wolvie getting his adamantium ripped out in Fatal Attractions (more on that later)!

Plus the fallout from this arc also directly led to two of my favorite X-issues of all time!  First up:

X-Force #19

"The Open Hand - The Closed Fist"...the name of the story and representing the two sides of the coin when it comes to "the dream" from the perspectives of Charles Xavier (the former) and Cable (the latter).  In the fallout of "X-Cutioner's Song" the X-Force squad is essentially being held prisoner while Xavier & Storm question Cannonball's decisions.

The beauty of this issue, along with being a great showcase for how far Capullo has come as an artist, is in its layers.  For one it reconnects the former students of Xavier (Sunspot and Cannonball) with their former home, obviously via Sam's interactions with Charles & Ororo, but also thru Roberto's interaction with Stevie Hunter.  Then it points out how distant the rest of the squad (Warpath, Siryn, Shatterstar, Feral, Boomer, Rictor) are from that touchstone.  Sure some of them (Boomer, Rictor, Siryn) have a degree of affiliation but none of them were ever under the tutelage of Xavier directly and neither Warpath, Shatterstar, nor Feral spent one second under the wing of anyone but Cable.  There are so many degrees of removal from "the dream" looking at say Beast to Feral...

This issue also provides set-up for the future but no in a way that intrudes on the main story...just enough to tease you and leave you curious for what's to come.

But the highlight, the absolute crucial part of this issue though, the thing that really defined Cannonball for the future (or at least should have), is the "open hand, closed fist" debate he has with Xavier using, of all things, a mouse.  The crux of Guthrie's argument is that the supposedly safe and welcoming open hand can be used to slap you across the face (yeah...he nearly slaps Xavier across the face) while the supposedly violent & threatening closed fist can be used to protect and comfort (that's where the mouse comes in).  THAT is my Cannonball, the guy who was taking the best from his three teachers (Xavier, Magneto, & Cable) and looking to mold them into an entirely new ideal for this new generation of mutants.  It was furthered in the Counter-X Ellis run with his tutelage under Pete Wisdom AND it was why I was furious when Cannonball was reverted to the country bumpkin when he officially became an X-Man post-Age of Apocalypse..that's a whole other rant though.

This issue gave X-Force an identity, a STRONG identity, for the first time since the series began after a bunch of meandering issues about Externals and Cannonball dying and Gideon and Tolliver and lackluster Mark Pacella/Dan Panosian art. Also, and I am totally putting meaning in where there probably isn't any, it says something to me that this article on here from 7/11/13 uses an image from this issue!

As for that other favorite issue that spawned out of "X-Cutioner's Song":

Uncanny X-Men #303

So "Song" spawned the Legacy Virus which was a pretty clear AIDS virus for the mutant community.  It had claimed the lives of some minor characters like Infectia and Burke as well as some major ones like Jamie Madrox (later revealed to be a dupe), Moira MacTaggert (the only human), and Revanche (Psylocke's....whatever).

But the saddest moment, the one that ripped my heart out, was the death of Illyana Rasputin in UXM #303. UNFORTUNATELY her death was spoiled beyond belief when UXM #304 was released BEFORE #303.  See #304 was part of the big "Fatal Attractions" crossover and I guess delaying it would have fucked up the schedule of the rest of the x-over...that's all assumption by the way.

So Illyana's story is sad enough on its own...the little sister of Colossus, as a little girl she was kidnapped from Russia to be used as a pawn by the villain Arcade, ultimately stolen away into Limbo while the X-Men were on some island where the barriers between dimensions were weak, and although it was only minutes on Earth in which she was lost in Limbo, with the way time moves there she reemerged from the hellish dimension as a teenager.  She joined the New Mutants, struggled with her demonic side for years, was used by the demons S'ym & N'astirh to bring Limbo to Earth during "Inferno", and returned to her proper age during the closing chapters of that story.

She returned to Russia, her & Colossus' parent were murdered, she contracted the Legacy Virus, and that brought us to this story where, while the rest of the team was away, it all came to a head with Shadowcat (visiting from Excalibur), Jubilee, Jean Grey, and Charles Xavier in residence at the mansion and Moira MacTaggert there via video screen.

I'm honestly tearing up writing about this and reading the recaps...I think this was the first comic in the, at that point, 6 years I had been reading that had this kind of effect on me and it says something for my memories of it that it still does.  Jubilee bonding to Illyana in these last moments of her life, the history of Kitty Pryde & Illyana coming into play, the reaction of Colossus when he returns home to the tragic news, the reading of Hans Christian Andersons' "Little Matchgirl", the BAMF doll, it's all so...heartbreaking.  As Jubilee puts it in the end, since she has been hanging with the X-Men, she has mixed it up with Brood-things, Sentinels, Acolytes and everything. ‘So how is it ya can save the world every morning pre-wheaties…but when it comes to saving one little girl…zip?’ 

I'm crying....

That could be a good time to end it but I've got two more specific issues I want to point out and one run in particular that, for me, is probably my favorite.  First up, and kind of spiraling out of the earlier mention of "Fatal Attractions" and the Jubilee stuff in #303:

Wolverine #75
In X-Men #25, thanks to a joke from Peter David, Magneto ripped the adamantium free from the skeleton of Wolverine which, in turn, prompted Xavier to mindwipe Magneto which, in turn, led to the creation on Onslaught which, in turn, led to the Heroes Reborn story which, in turn....see how it all goes with comics?

The ramifications of Xavier's mindwipe aren't the point here though.  The point is Wolverine #75, for its fancy hologram and horror-flick image cover, is one of the most touching issues of a comic you will read.  The race to save Wolverine's life while simultaneously returning to Earth from space is pulse-pounding, Xavier's willingness to risk his own life to get inside Wolvie's mind and help him is noble, the moment of Illyana's spirit shoving Wolverine's away from the light was touching as was the fact that is was Jean Grey's voice that pulled Logan back from the brink so he could save their lives.

Seeing Wolverine weakened from his ordeal yet forcing himself into a Danger Room scenario is, in it's own way, as heartbreaking as Illyana's death because he just can't cut it anymore.  Add to that the revelation that Logan's infamous claws are in fact bone and you have a true moment in X-Lore.  The real kicker to this story though, the one that makes it linger in my memory, is the letter (and his hat) that Wolvie leaves Jubilee when he departs from the team.  It is heartfelt, it is a look at the core of the man, and can bring tears to your eyes just as well as the words of UXM #303.

Sadly, and maybe this is why they linger so, the next story that comes to mind is also one of death and tragedy in the life of Logan:

Wolverine #57
Love has been a difficult thing for Wolverine to come by and for those of us who had followed his journey from his introduction to the X-Men pining after Jean Grey up to his first meeting with Mariko Yashida, you could see it was not something he gave freely.  

Time has taught us that Logan has certainly gotten around in his century-plus on Earth but the number of women that our beloved Canuck has deeply and truly loved has been few: Jean, Rose, Silver Fox, and Mariko.  Of those four men, only Mariko ever stood at an altar waiting to be Logan's bride only to have the machinations of Mastermind dash all those dreams to hell.  It was a manipulation that put Mariko into what I can only call a shame-spiral as, in the aftermath, she attempted to clean up her families criminal ties in order to make herself worthy of Logan's love.

The truly tragic thing was that those attempts to clean up the family were what ultimately cost Mariko her life, or rather, put her in a situation in which Logan had to choose: did he leave her to die a painful poisoned death OR use his claws to end her pain?  The failed samurai chose the latter, the mercy kill, and broke his own heart in the process when he "snikted" the claws into his my mind the last woman he truly loved.

My heart broke for him then, my heart still breaks for him now thinking about it and reading over the recaps, and what makes it even worse...if that's that it was not the last time Wolverine would have to make that choice.  Whether intentional or not (and since Grant Morrison was writing it I assume it was intentional), Wolverine has to unleash his claws on Jean Grey in New X-Men #148 in hopes that it would unleash The Phoenix and save their lives.  If it didn't work, well then he would have two dead loves on his claws.

This story in Wolvie #57 was a picture perfect depiction of the tragic figure that Wolverine truly was at that point...

Uncanny X-Men #205, X-Factor #87, X-Men #30, X-Force (Vol. 2) #26/UXM #524, X-Men #100, UXM #143, X-Men #110....just off the top of my head those are some great single issue stories for various reasons, most of them tragic probably, but I want to close it out with a mention of one of my favorite runs. 

Uncanny X-Men #269
Uncanny X-Men #229

From Uncanny X-Men #229 until UXM #269, the lives of the various members of the team were in total upheaval.  It all started when, in the aftermath of "Fall of the Mutants", the team elected to fake their deaths in order to (a) protect their loved ones while (b) striking at their enemies.  It was an idea first floated out by Chris Claremont maybe two years prior in the aftermath of the "Mutant Massacre" but, in typical Claremont fashion, took years to come to fruition.

These forty issues saw the team set-up shop in Australia after deposing The Reavers from their very unique home, it saw the return of The Brood, the introduction of Genosha, Inferno, the team crumble in the absence of Wolverine & the "death" of Storm, the Siege Perilous, the Mandarin, Captain American, it saw a newer & stranger team born on Muir Island under the leadership of the repowered Banshee, it saw Jim Lee come to the fold as an artist, saw Gambit and Jubilee make their first appearances, did some crazy shit to Jean Grey in the Morlock tunnels, and eventually came full circle right before the "X-Tinction Agenda" by bringing Rogue back to Australia.

It was a crazy, experimental, unique time frame in X-history in which...for a long time...the traditional idea of what the X-Men team were did not exist.  There was no mansion, no Blackbird or Cerebro, no Xavier, it was an adventure unlike any that came before it or any that has followed it.  I think it is safe to say that, aside from Morrison's run, this is the most original section in the long history of the x-books and it was all guided by the words of Chris Claremont with the pens of men like Mark Silvestri, Jim Lee, Rick Leonardi, and Kieron Dwyer to bring those words to life.

If there is one issue though that I find a must-read over all the others it is this:

Uncanny X-Men #251
There are dozens upon dozens of stories in the 50 year publishing history of the X-Men that are worth your time.  These are only a tiny handful of those that have sprung to my mind in the process of writing this up.  Be it in trade form, in back issue hunting, or by downloading at Comixology or whatever website does stuff like that, these are well worth the read. 

In fact, the only X-Men stuff I would tell you to avoid is any crap written by Chuck Austen or Frank Tieri.  The worst....

Now bring on The Battle Of The Atom!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Man of Steel and X-Love! (SPOILERS CONTAINED)

So last night I saw Man of Steel for the second time...wanted to make sure I did before I commented on it primarily because I feel, as a former film professor of mine at MSU passed on to his students, it can be a difficult thing to watch a movie critically the first time you see it. I mean I definitely formulated an opinion after my first viewing but I do like to watch a movie twice when possible before rambling on about it.

My first time around was an opening weekend Saturday afternoon show with a barely half-full IMAX theater (no 3D) and I sat on the edge of my seat the vast majority of the 2 1/2 hours.  From the chaos on Krypton to the "Superman:Birthright" inspired transition to Earth, I was hooked into this new Superman world. I thought Henry Cavill did a great job as Clark/Superman, he certainly looks the part, and I enjoyed Amy Adams take on Lois Lane. I highly enjoyed Michael Shannon's take on Zod and his facials, his eyes, they showed the slow descent into madness, especially when he realizes, after the disaster-porn battle, that the job he was born for is no longer relevant.

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner where decent in their roles as Jonathan and Martha Kent.  In particular I loved the scene with Martha and young Clark when his powers kick in during class and the barn scene with Jonathan, Clark, and the "You are my son" line that legit brought a tear to me eye.  The different take on Jonathan did not bother me, perhaps because I am not a "Superman guy", but I understood it as a parent doing everything he can to protect his child for the harsh realities of the real world.  The "maybe you should have let them die" bit after the school bus incident...that was a bit awkward BUT it was Jonathan basically saying he did not know what the best thing to do was.  Yes saving the kids was the right thing to do but what kind of risk did Clark put himself at in doing so?  Jonathan's fears seem to be that someone will come take his child away and he will do anything he can to prevent that from happening, even if that includes keeping Clark from being the hero that's in his heart.

I hated the tornado moment but I do see Jonathan holding up his hand in that "stop, no" gesture and Clark actually doing it as an odd moment of mutual understanding.  Clark sees his dad being a hero, saving a child, saving the dog, and sacrificing himself to keep Clark's secret.  It's motivation and regret, inspiration and loss, and it drives Clark.

As for the ending, the killing of Zod....well the arguments of "Superman doesn't kill" do not hold any water as there is plenty of evidence to the contrary in both comic and film. He has killed.  He is not a killer, he does not wantonly execute a villain, but Superman has been responsible for the death of others before and I'm sure will be again. The Zod "death by cop" scene (as I have read it being called around the 'net) was done about as well as it could possible have been done.  It was a moment of few options for a very inexperienced Superman who, in his first outing in the tights, saw no other option.  It wasn't JUST about saving the family in immediate peril, it was also about saving everyone else on Earth that Zod would execute should he continue to live.  Can't lock him up in prison, the Phantom Zone option is off the table, Kryptonite doesn't exist (yet) to depower him, so what would you do?  I cringed...I felt the agony of the decision...and I felt for Clark when he let out that post-homicide howl.

Sure there was some disaster-porn aspects of the big fight BUT what would you expect from two god-like beings fighting in Metropolis; that fight scene is arguably the best & most comic booky of the super hero movies.  Funny thing though, after I saw it the second time with friends who were seeing it for the first time (my first time was solo), there wasn't much thought given to the whole "millions of people had to have died in the fight" idea.  Their opinions were that every time you saw the interiors of a building it was empty and that you don't actually see anyone is really just the viewer putting the bodies in there themselves.  Yes logically it makes sense there are people in these buildings BUT, with film, if you don't see them are they there?  Just a thought...

Oh yeah, and Avengers does its fair share of destroying the city with little/no consequence.  Hell, between the end of the big fight and the scene of Thor taking Loki back to Asgard (which logic would tell me happens pretty immediately, the next day at best) New York City is basically all fixed up and back to normal.  At least in Man of Steel there isn't a real sense of how much time has elapsed between the fight and Clark walking into the Daily Planet....could have been weeks, months, or just a day...

I do understand a lot of the complaints, and I find some of them have merit....I like the movie BUT it can be a bit joyless and isn't all that hopeful for a character whose symbol represents the concept. It is a Bruckheimer-level disaster movie, it is a sci-fi movie as much as a super hero movie, and maybe that kiss was kind of rushed.

Still, it's action-packed and features a Superman who actually hits things, it doesn't rely on Kryptonite or Lex Luthor or dumbing down Supes power-set. He is both human and not human, he is in his infancy as a hero, and hopefully the sequels play out some repercussions from this movie.  Although I think I could be happy without having Lex in another movie, the fallout from Man of Steel could very easily parlay into his introduction, particularly if it's a xenophobic Lex who sees the financial toll it takes on Metropolis & the world in having a Superman around: "Sure he saved us but he cost the city a billion dollars!".  My fantasy booking of Lex Luthor would have him in the role of puppet master, controlling/manipulating someone else who can go toe-to-toe with Superman because otherwise you have to dumb Clark down with Kryptonite. Either that or you upgrade Lex with his Kryptonian Warsuit.

Putting the positives, negatives, and the stuff in-between aside...the movie certainly accomplished what SHOULD be a goal of every comic book based movie, it sent me to the Barnes & Noble in my mall to finally pick up a copy of "Superman: Birthright" in trade.  Between the moments borrowed and adapted to the movie from that Mark Waid/Lenil Francis Yu masterpiece to the straight-up usage of this from Grant Morrison's "All Star Superman": can certainly see the influence of the comics on the movie beyond just using a comic book character in an action movie.  If you haven't seen the movie, please check it out...there is nothing worse than damning, or praising, something you haven't even given a chance.  If you hate or love it after you see it, at least your opinion is based on your own viewing and not on reading reviews. Oh yeah, and if you like/dislike the movie...or anything really...and all you have to say is "If you like/dislike this you're dumb" then please just do the world a favor and don't bother commenting....and yes that is based off something I saw on CBR.

So as I've said before in this blog, the X-Men family was my introduction to comics and the line that I followed the closest for the longest time.  Uncanny X-Men, Classic X-Men, Wolverine, New Mutants, X-Factor, sadly no Excalibur though because 6 books in one month was too much money when I was a pre-teen.  It continued on into X-Force, the 90s X-Men book, Cable, the glut of mini's featuring Deadpool, Storm, Rogue, & Gambit just to name a few, X-Man, Generation X, if it had an X in the title there was a very likely chance I bought it.  I even had (maybe still have) bagged copies of the X-Cutioner's Song issues with their little card, if Wolverine was in the book then I probably picked it up, I could tell you exactly what happened in every issue, but at some point along the line I stopped being quite so invested in the mutant clan.

I never stopped collecting but I know my interest waned (nearly died actually) when Chuck Austin was on the main book but I think what really hurt my love was Marvel's retcon of Grant Morrison's saga, or at least the Magneto part of it.  Grant's take on X-Men was what made me fall in love with his writing.  I was totally infatuated with his JLA but X-Men is what made me a devoted follower of Grant to the point that I now own pretty much every trade that I can conceivably get INCLUDING the Zenith HC that 2000AD just released earlier today (happy dance).  So when this big master stroke of Wolverine killing Magneto and having to kill Jean (the second time he has had to put one of his loves out of her misery) was retconned away, it upset me to no end.

I continued to read of course but books fell by the wayside.  I didn't bother with the new Excalibur books, didn't bother with Exiles, lost X-Statix after a bit, didn't stay with Wolverine after their first renumbering (a landmark decision in my collecting career), nor did I gravitate to the X-Factor relaunch.  Part of that was due to my tastes expanding outside of the Marvel U, part of it was due to a general lack of interest...even Uncanny I just kind of read but nothing stuck for a long time. It wasn't until Matt Fraction got a few months under his belt that my interest began to swing back again...then Uncanny X-Force hit...and now I must say it is a great time to be an X-Fan!

All New X-Men, X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine & The X-Men...those four books alone are amazing, top of the list every month.  I disliked Legacy at first, even dropped it from my pull, but its extremely unique take on Legion has finally begun to intrigue me (even if I'm not a fan of the art). Uncanny X-Force is a fun ride that plays off the legacy of the previous Rick Remender X-Force book, the first arc on Savage Wolverine was cheesecakey fun and seeing Joe Madureira art on the new arc is awesome.  Wolverine under Paul Cornell and Alan Davis is reminiscent of the old Wolvie series that I fell in love with under Claremont/Hama...and Killable sounds like it could be a very interesting arc.

All in all, it is a good time to be an X-Fan and I just want to put that out there.  If you're not into reading these books yet, seriously go pick up All New X-Men, X-Men, and/or Uncanny X-Men at the very least.  You won't regret it...great writing, great art, a great time!