Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's an X-Men Vs. X-Men Rumble! (issue #100)

August 1976
JUDGE THE COVER!

In the immortal words of Dave Matthews: So much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say!

1 - How did I not notice that the UPC symbol started showing up on the cover? And I call myself a UPC fan?! (If you must know, I checked and its first appearance on an X-Men book was just last issue (#99). Go ahead and wheel that fact out to amaze your friends, when there is a lull in dinner conversation!)

2 - This cover made me, for some reason, really aware of the X-Men's feet. It's kinda interesting how each costume is so unique that one might be able to tell which X-Man one were looking at, solely by looking at their feet ... if one were a foot fetishist.

2a - It also made me think about how gross it is that Beast has to be barefoot all the time, to make use of his prehensile toes. They often visit New York City, people! How was this not a bigger plot-point in many of these comics?! "Have fun in the Danger Room, guys ... I'm off to scour my feet with bleach ... again!"

3 - To say "AT LAST -- The spectacular 100th issue" is a BIT misleading. Remember how the series was originally cancelled, after issue #66? Well, after that, they continued to run a bunch of reprints until the series came back - but they kept numbering them consecutively! (So, there was an issue #67, but it was just a reprint of issue #13!) Therefore, this is REALLY issue #74, but "AT LAST! ISSUE 74!" doesn't have the same ring.

Suck it up. Suck it up. Suck it up.


Monday, November 18, 2013

X-Menauts (Issue #99)

June 1976
JUDGE THE COVER!

"Deathstar Rising"?! As this was published in June of 1976 - almost a full year before Star Wars hit theaters, I sure hope (a NEW hope?!) that they sued the pants off of old man Lucas!

In other cover news: It's issue 99! And that means that not only can I not stop saying "ninety nine!" in the way that Get Smart would, but that next issue is the big one-oh-oh!

Though, poor issue 99 (NINETY NINE!) must feel like it's an also-ran. Merely a prelude to a better issue 100! Parents are told that every child must shine on their own, and not feel under the shadow of a better sibling.

That's totally wrong. Boring, stupid, or just worse children should be shamed and compared to their betters. Therefore: Let's get this over quickly, 99 (NINETY NINE!) so I can read #100!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Breakin' Through Walls (Issue #98)

April 1976
JUDGE THE COVER!

Still only 25 cents?! Don't undervalue yourself, X-Men. No one else will value you, until YOU do.

Also, a quick update in pricing: What cost $0.25 in 1976 would cost $0.99 in 2012. Who KNOWS how much it'd cost today?!

I wish comics still cost 25 cents! "OK! You have two wishes left, Mr. Somogyi." Crap. This is worse than a monkey's paw.

Yet comics cost $3.99 today. How did they make it work, back then, for a fraction of the cost?

This cover is depressing me.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

S v. N v. P - PART II! (The Amazing Spider-Man #162) [Read After Spider-Man #161]

JUDGE THE COVER!

If you can't read the bubble, Punisher is saying:

"Only ONE of us is coming down from here ALIVE!"

Which is not exactly what the car full of INNOCENT BYSTANDERS was hoping he'd say.



SUMMARY!

After a slight fight based around a 3-way misunderstanding over who is a sniper, the real shady sniper (wouldja please stand up, please stand up, please ... I'm so sorry...) starts sniping up the cable car. So everyone now knows it's not everyone else who is sniping, only the sniper - who is not one of our heroes. Even if that sentence was poorly constructed, it means: TEAM UP!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Spidey v. Nightcrawley v. Punishey (The Amazing Spider-Man #161) [Read After X-Men #97]

JUDGE THE COVER!

Well well well, this is interesting! The X-Men doing a little moonlighting in another super-person's magazine? Though I guess they did do an Avengers crossover, back in the silver age, so, never mind. Nothing is new under the sun! RIP OFF!

Except ... wait ... is this just Nightcrawler? Couldn't get the big names to show up, huh? They demanded too much money.

Though, right off the bat, I did take a-kindly to Nightcrawler. Dunno why. Is it the "bamf"? I think it's the "bamf".

Also: Why is he named after an earthworm? C'mon with the origin story, already!  (So I can roll my eyes and say, on this very blog, how lame it is that they dedicated so many pages of my comic to a stupid origin story, when there could have been more fighting. I'm never happy!)

So ... Spider-Man?


SUMMARY!

We open on Kurt "Nightcrawlies" Wagner reading the paper ... in the DANGER ROOM. Enter Wolverine, who snikts by, causing the paper to tear.

I guess this is why Wolverine never smiles in family photos?
(Because when he does, he looks like a nightmare. Cripes!)

When an apology is not forthcoming from the be-clawed one, Nightey storms out. We are supposed to be on Kurts side, I think, but I'm on Wolvie's: Why are you reading a paper in the Danger Room?! That's ... um ... dangerous. A missile could come out of the wall and separate you from your living-ness.

Meanwhile, in filthy Coney Island, Peter "Spidey-Pants" Parker is busy threatening domestic violence on a VERY of-the-time-ly dressed M.J.:

The rollercoaster clearly broke her spine. Seek medical help.

Their date is about to get all "hot dog-y" (not a euphemism! They're going to eat Nathan's! (NOT a euphemism!)), when a sniper snipes a guy riding on the "Tornado" (guess they couldn't clear a license to call it "Cyclone"?) Hilariously, Nightcrawler thinks it's Spider-Man and Spider-Man thinks it's Nightcrawler! You got YOUR suspicion in MY suspicion! (Reese's Misunderstanding Cups?)

So they misunderstandingly fight, until Nightcrawler is all "maybe I vase wronk!" (Because he is German and that is how they talk [I should know, I'm a quarter German and I talk like that 1/4 of the time.] Schnell?)

Meanwhile, The Punisher is mad because ... well, does The Punisher ever need a reason?

Thankfully, he brought along his English-to-Gangster translating GUN!
"Um, let's see... 'rat-a-tat'?" "Pow Boom Bang" "Is that so?!"

But this time he has a reason and it's because someone is going around sniping people and making it look like it was he, The Punisher, who is doing it. (Well, except for Spider-Man and Nightcrawler, I guess, who never took the "What Do Sniper Murders Committed By The Punisher Look Like?" extension course at Hudson University [home of the Fighting Corpses!].)...

Back in scuzzy, depraved Coney Island (I really loathe that place), Bill Nighy-crawler is all, "I have to destroy some pictures that Spider-Man took!", ostensibly because they would "out" the all-new, all-different X-Men ... and the world is just not ready for that! But, honestly, when WILL we be ready for spandex-clad, super-fit people parading around? If Not Now, WHEN?!

So, Spidey and Crawley fight ... again and this time Nightcrawler pulls a Gwen Stacy, right off the top of a cable car tower. (FYI, this places them at Roosevelt Island. Facts NYC!)

"I punched him, but I didn't mean to hurt him!" --the core flaw with most of these comics.

But: Bamf. And now NC Crawl-a-lot is behind Spider-Man ... and he has fists!

HEY! What the hell happened to Nightcrawler being all "conservation of matter" and "I'll come out of a Bamf at the same velocity as I went in"? Surely he would have been moving when he reappeared?! That's right, retcon'd already! I TOLD YOU that they'd ditch that rule! And it only took SIX ISSUES?! Sad.

But along comes a cable car, interrupting their fight. Inside that cable car is ... The Punisher.

"Living on Roosevelt Island is great ... except for all the
superhero fights during rush hour!" --Commuter

Cliff-hanger-steaks, rare!


I can be followed on Twitter @sommerjam or on Google+. Your choice!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Eric & Havok & Lorna & ? (Issue #97)

February 1976
JUDGE THE COVER!

In case you can't read it, Storm is shouting:

"Stay back, my fellow X-Men! This is one battle that CYCLOPS must fight ALONE!"
To which Scott says, "Wait WHAT?! No, it's cool. I don't have that much pride! I'd really rather live with your help than die without it!"

So, I guess this issue is like the Civil War of X-Men. Like, you know, as in "brother v. brother" not like THE Civil War Marvel storyline from a few years back. Look, I probably just shouldn't have said anything....

Doesn't Brother V. Brother sound like a good assassin name?


SUMMARY!
Xavier is having space nightmares.

Comfort Sleep Shirts by Xavier - Won't wrinkle, even in the buggiest of nightmares.
(Available wherever fine X-Manswear is sold.)
In these dreams he sees giant fleets of giant alien spaceships fighting in giant alien space. A shift takes place, now he's inside one of the ships and a bug-eyed alien is reaching for him. Also: It's the first day of school, it's the day of the big test, he's not wearing pants, his teeth are falling out, he's covered in spiders, his teacher is a clown, and he's falling off a cliff. Naturally, he wakes, screaming.

Elsewhere, Lorna "no superhero name" Dane is falling in love with Alex "Havok" Summers. Then she gets zapped in the tummy by a bad guy:

"Ow, my abdominals!"
Who is this mysterious bad guy?! Someone she recognizes! Possibly from the line, the other day at the post office. Or maybe he just looks like someone she knew at school and she only thinks she recognizes him! Speculate on THAT!

Ok ... THEN, in the notes that I took while originally reading this issue, almost a year ago, I had written:
Note to Future Self: Please spend a few moments talking about the ad on page 10.
OK, Past Self, here we go:



BOY! Am I glad I left myself that note, because I surely would have skimmed right by that when reviewing the issue for to get my screen-grabs. Wow! Let's all just take a moment to soak in the fact that P.A.C.K. stands for "Professional Agents / Crime Killers"! CRIME. KILLERS. Nothing about politely stopping crime, here. No, they KILL IT.

But who ARE these Crime Killers?!

WARPATH: He sends coded messages! Does he give them the way to decode it? No! Why is he the only one sending coded messages? Shouldn't they all be doing this? Why is no one else concerned about message security?! I'll bet it frustrates Warpath to NO END when they send him un-coded birthday greetings!

DR. STEEL: Doctorate in kicking ass. Also: Botany. Exactly how does his steel hand "...make sure the last thing they see is my dragon tattoo!"? Because he uses that hand to press bad guys' faces into his chest, where they smother to a sweaty death.

THE WHIP: Part of me thinks that a "weapons specialist" would choose things other than a bullwhip, bolos, and multiple boomerangs. Maybe, dunno ... a gun?

BIG JIM: His catch phrase of "I can't promise anyone will come out of this mission alive!" was quite a downer, really. I wonder how many kids felt obligated to ensure at least one of the P.A.C.K. dudes died during the mission, based on that suggestion. So much blood is on your hands, Big Jim! (And it won't wash off as easily as it will off of Dr. Steel's steel hand. Though, there is no mention of it being stainless steel, so it could rust...? GOD, there is so much to wonder about about these guys, guys!)

A quick Googling turned up this page that has more real images of the dolls ... I mean, ACTION dolls, if you're interested. Man, I almost don't want to go back to the X-Men after this.... Sigh.

Anyway!

Havok hears a scream and comes running, but whatever zapped her in the stomach also scrambled her mind (are the X-Men's brains in their stomachs?), because Lorna, in turns, zaps Havok in his tummy. Zot!

Polaris?! Ok, it's nice that she finally chose a mutant name, but does
she realize that that is a star? Was she going for "polar", as in magnetism?

Meanwhile, all the NON-zapped-in-tummy X-Men are at the airport to see off Professor X, who is going on some trip or something. Shortly after the be-wheelchaired baldie boards the aircraft, Polaris and Havok are like, "HI! We're here, too! ZAP ZAP ZAP! Let's fight!"

Fight fight fight.

In the process they destroy an entire plane (don't worry, Xavier wasn't on that one! Fwew! Oh, who was? Who cares?! NO CONSEQUENCES!) Then, the mysterious, tummy-shooting villain makes his appearance. It's ...

He's BIG BIG BIG and he's RED RED RED!
Eric The Red?! Well that's just stupid and weird, because Cyclops masqueraded as Eric The Red to get close to Magneto, but there is no real villain called Erik The Red. Well, I guess there is NOW! Shows you what I know!

I have a theory about who is under that red horned mask, but I won't share it here, lest I'm wrong. Plus, by not telling you, when his true identity IS revealed, I'll be able to say "I knew it!", no matter what. I desire feeling correct just that much, yes!

So then we know, for a fact, that people didn't start
mis-quoting it as "thing coming" until after 1976?!

Fight fight fight.

And then Wolverine and Banshee (who were elsewhere) show up in a silly flying car and Eric is all, "Whoa! We're outnumbered! Time to go, gang!", even though he and his team were already way outnumbered when they originally started this fight. Maybe Mr. Red is bad at math?

Anyway. The last shot is great, because it's an image of someone watching that guy who is creating new sentinels as HE, in turn, watches the X-Men. Who Watches the X-Men? These guys:

"There's never anything good on the 'There's Never Anything Good On Channel' channel"
(Also known as "Fox"! BOOM!)

It's, like, showing duality ...?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

DEMONstrably Thin Plot (Issue #96)

December 1975
JUDGE THE COVER!

Is that monster busting through a wall? He must be, otherwise why else would there be rock / wall bits flying around? But, if he is busting through a wall, why is it such a large wall and why is it painted yellow?

Had it been clearer that that was a wall, I could have been confident in making an "OH YEAH!" joke ... but I just can't take the chance.

Other than that, I have nothing to say about this cover.


SUMMARY!

We open on Cyclops crying in the woods. Not over Jean, not over his un-turn-off-able eyes, but over Thunderbird, the mutant who died in the last issue. Sure, Thunderbird died while simultaneously killing someone else, making him a cold blooded murderer, but yes, please Cyclops, cry over him.

Crying turns to zappy anger and Scott unleashes an eye-bolt that destroys a nearby mysterious obelisk.

Back in the 70s, everyone had a weird,
rune-covered obelisk in their yard. Kitch.

Cyclops doesn't even seem to notice it's there or that he destroyed it, proving that outside of his force-beams, there is nothing impressive about Scott's eyesight. 20/20. But because swirling pink smoke starts to emanate from the Scott-caused hole, I'm thinking it's an important obelisk. 20/20 foresight.

Meanwhile, the other X-Men are training in the Danger Room. Apparently, Scott, as team leader, doesn't need to be there to lead the team.

FunGame, X-Men Style!
OP! OP! OP! OP! OP!
FunGame, X-Men Style!
(Too-old-to-be-topical, too-soon-to-be-retro Gangnam joke!)

Nothing is really revealed in the Danger Room scene, other than these guys are mutants who have powers. It's probably just there to catch all the new readers up on who's who ... OR, because the main story-plot of this comic-book was way too thin and they needed a couple extra pages to fill it out. I wish that when I came up short, at work, that I could just fill in with a Danger Room scene. "SOMOGYI! You are five pieces short of your quota, again!" "Um... Danger Room?" "SOMOGYI! You're ... PROMOTED! Now get in that Danger Room and clean up!" *Gulp*! <END SCENE>

Professor X says he's "going away" for a while, but he hired a babysitter  to look after the X-Kids. Her name is Moira MacTaggart, and she has Banshee besotted.

"Moira In Charge"
(Of our days and our nights, etc.)


Her name rings a bell, but I can't place it. Probably some vague memory I have of a future issue, but I can't put my finger on it. Hmmm.

Elsewhere: Some dude named Dr. Lang is being told that the government is cancelling his "Project Armageddon". TIP ONE: Don't name your project "Project Armageddon" if you want continued government funding. Pretty hard for bureaucrats to look past the use of the word ARMAGEDDON. Also: When they tell you it's over, don't froth at the mouth, it makes you look batty-batty cray-cray:


This is the sane, calm face of Dr. Lang, the
man in charge of non-threatening-sounding
"Project Armageddon"


TIP TWO: Don't try to create new sentinels. (It's hinted that Project Affleck/Willis Vehicle Picture is about resurrecting those very mutant-killing robots. Ugh, great, now I have that Aerosmith power ballad stuck in my head ... AND I want to eat Animal Crackers.)

Back at the X-Mansions, Scott finally joins the rest of the team in the study ... when he is thrown through the wall by a demon.

Don't let my looks fool you, I'm way evil.


Fight fight fight.

Xavier tries to probe the demon's mind and gets a brain full of demon thoughts. Demon thoughts are never good for you. VERY high in trans fats. (Twenty three grams of trans fats per serving ... 23 PENTAgrams of trans fats per serving! [Yes, it was a long way to get there, but we did it, people!])

Storm has an idea, and goes off to finish destroying the obelisk - you know, the one that Scott partially destroyed with his beam-tears of cry-shame? That one. She gets magically pulled into the monument and we learn that she suffers from claustrophobia. Using her mutant power of super-freaking-out-over-tight-spaces, she busts free, destroying the obelisk in the process. Coincidentally, Kierrok disappears. Poof.

Who was he? What did he want? Why did he disappear? Why did he appear? Well, according to Prof X, we'll never know. So that's a huge steaming pile of cop-out ending!

Booooo! Boooo!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Death Comes To Mutant Town (Issue #95)

October 1975
JUDGE THE COVER!

It might be too small to read, but the "BURST" on the cover says:
NOT A HOAX !
NOT A DREAM!

THIS ISSUE

AN X-MAN

DIES!
Shall we place bets? Since I've seen all but ONE of these mutants in a movie, I know who I'd put MY money on. But no spoilers! (Until, you know, later, when I spoil it for you.)

The cover also says: "YOU MUST READ WARHUNT!"
Is this like when your friend tells you "You MUST listen to Mumford & Sons!"? Because I ain't buyin' it! And if I choose to read it, it's not because of anything YOU said, cover, but the fact that I have, somehow, dedicated my life to reading all of these comics, anyway. Fate vs determinism.


SUMMARY!

We pick up where we left off, last issue, with all the X-Mans plummeting to their certain death, after having their airplane shot out from under them by missiles launched by the evil Count Nefaria. Turns out, falling from a deadly height is not a good look for Cyclops:

To add insult to injury, Cyclops managed to,
somehow, slip on a banana, while falling.


Though, I doubt anyone looks their best, finding themselves suddenly in free-fall. They are so high up that there is time for them to have a conversation (despite the noise of the wind which is surely drowning out their words?!). In this mile-high chit-chat, we learn that Kurt Von Nightcrawler is a tragic victim of physics:

Speedy Thing Goes In, Speedy Thing Comes Out.
(There will be cake. BAMF cake.)

A) Let's see how long it takes this series to break / retcon that rule. 2) Physics is important in this instance ... except for the aforementioned wind noise that would prohibit a conversation?! III) Two of the other mutants can fly, so this is all moot. Moot-ant.

Storm and Banshee slow the descent of of the others ... except for Colossus, who just "Deep Impacts" himself! (Yes, that movie is now a verb.) Kaboom. "I'm ok!"

Regrouping, Cyclops tells Nightcrawler to teleport into Count Nefaria's base and we get our first-ever BAMF!

HISTORY IS MADE!
It's as exciting as seeing Ross and Rachel kiss for the first time!
Or, you know, something sports related and manly.

Seems to ME like Kurt just blindly BAMF'd into a place where he was not sure he could BAMF. I thought he couldn't do that? Is that something I know from the comics, or the movies? Ugh, I feel like Booker DeWitt, trying to keep so many timelines straight in my head. Is my nose bleeding?

Dissonance aside, Kurt DOES BAMF into the mountain fortress and pops the hatch, so the other X-Men can come pouring in - and just in time, because Count Nefaria's half-man, half-animal, all-fun henchmen, the Ani-Men, show up and are like, "You guys wanna fight?" (Except that they say it with their fists and it's not really a question.)

Futzer?! I love it!
I say we all adopt it and usher in a kinder,
gentler era of swearing!
"Frackin' Futzer!"

If you've been following my blog, you're probably anticipating the X-Men losing this fight and being captured. Yet, they actually WIN and head off to find Nefaria.

ADVERTISING ASIDE!

Here is an ad from the comic book:

Ummmm... this was inappropriate, even back in 1975, yes?
Simpler times!


BACK TO THE SUMMARY!

Did I mention that Nefaria has set the base to self destruct? And did I mention that his plan was to launch all of our nuclear missiles unless every country pays him a ransom? Hmmm. Probably should have mentioned that earlier. Whoops!

But, those facts are also moot-ant, because a giant floating head of Xavier shows up to tell Cyclops that they broke the doomsday device while they were fighting with the Ani-Men.

"Thank you for yelling at me about something I
had no idea happened! You continue to
be a kind father figure to me, a poor
orphan who craves fatherly love."

The last loose-end is to find and capture Count Nefaria. The team catches up to him JUST as he jumps in his get-away jet. Thunderbird - whose power seems to be super pig headedness - jumps onto the jet just before take-off and starts tearing it apart with his bare hands!

It sounds like a good idea until the jet explodes, killing Count Nefaria and John Proudstar. Grim.

A bleak and all-too-real sentiment. It truly is a more adult comic, now.
Not, like, an ADULT comic, with the porn and nude ... but, oh you know what I mean.

FIN.

Is it just me, or does it seem like less seems to happen in each of the issues of the new series? I guess that means more action, so there's less for me to describe? I can appreciate the amount of story in the silver age comics, but I certainly like this "second genesis" more. Faster-paced and full of psudo-cursing and death! Futzin-A!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nefarious Off-Screen Beasts (Issue #94)

August 1975
JUDGE THE COVER!

If you're wondering how we went from issue #66, back in the 60s through Giant Sized X-Men #1 in 1975, then on to issue #94 to resume the franchise, it's because, for the intervening years, Marvel was reprinting old issues with new issue numbers.  Fact. A kid picking up issue #65 was greeted with a story they'd already read. It was like reruns, but for comics.

So this first, non-supersized issue, hits us right in the kisser with ... Count Nefario?! After coming off the awesome Giant Sized in which we get a new team and island-fighting fun, they go with the guy who brought back all the old, dumb, super villains from before any of us were born and had the "awesome" plan to cover Washington DC in a dome? That guy?!

You know who else had the "awesome" idea to cover a town in a dome? Stephen King.


JUDGE THE CREDITS PAGE!
This issue starts Chris Claremont's 100-year run on the X-Men. From what I've heard from people more nerdy than I, things are supposed to get real good. I am rubbing my hands in anticipation. MOSTLY because of this comic, but also because I have a french bread pizza in the oven and I'm hungry.

Anyway, Chris Claremont is supposed to be my reward for slogging through all those Silver Age books. This is my x-dessert! Bring it on!


SUMMARY!

So, all the original X-Men - who the new X-Men rescued from Krakoa Island (who tried to eat them) - leave. They just pack up and go. Well, except for Cyclops. He's true blue and would never do anything as exciting as leave the X-Men. What a pill.

So, poof! They're all gone. Just like that. Where are they going? No idea. Maybe they're going off to wherever it was that The Beast went? Where did he go? No idea, they didn't care to show us. Also: Why do they all go off together? Are they just forming another super group, on their own? I hope they are all getting an apartment together. The weird landlord downstairs thinks Angel is gay. Hilarity ensues.

Count Nefaria (One! One Nefaria! ahahah!) pops up and, this time around, he is employing Ani-Men.

They're all listening to Q95.7 FM for the phrase that pays.

Ani-Men are men which Nefaria turned into animals ... or vice versa. It's hard to tell. Apparently, his plan is to take over NORAD. I assume it's so he can dismantle the Santa Tracker, leaving dozens of nerdy kids slightly disappointed next X-Mas eve. Dastardly!

But how do we know about any of this? Why, The Beast placed a video call to relay the deets:

Hey Beast, why so blue?!
Guffaw.
Uh. What happened to the X-Men?! What happened to YOU, Beast?!

I mean, I knew that at some point he got all blue, but I thought I'd get to see it! Off-screen blue-turing is so disappointing. I feel cheated! My entire life, I've always wanted to know this story - even avoiding reading the Wikipedia page, in the hopes of one day discovering it on my own - and it happened elsewhere?! Plus, The Beast says he's an Avenger now?! Ugh.

I'm not sure I'm conveying my absolute disappointment and annoyance at this. Honestly. Admittedly, it's greater than it should be, given that we're talking about how a man became a blue fuzzy beast in a comic book, but still ... it rankles me. Rankles!

Ok. I'm going to track down the relevant issues and read them. Please hold ...

...

...

Uh, ok... let's see if I can do this quickly and painlessly.
The story of beastly Beast is covered in Amazing Adventures #11 and it goes a little something like this:
Hank McCoy leaves Xavier's school and gets a job at a genetics lab, where he discovers an enzyme that will, for an hour, turn a normal man into a mutant. A coworker is going to steal his secret recipe, so Hank, instead of calling the cops or buying a disguise, decides to drink his discovery because it'll hide his identity, so that he can stop the crime, himself, without anyone figuring out that Hank is a mutant. It changes him into a GREY beast and as he is foiling the robbery, he loses track of time. Since that "for one hour" time-limit wasn't one of those "automatically turn back" Cinderella-type limits, but a "you're stuck forever looking like a grey hairy freak" type, now Beast is a real beast.

Upside? The money he'll save on Halloween costumes will be substantial.
"Hank came as The Beast AGAIN this year, I see. Surprise, surprise!"

I hope this origin gets retconned, because I feel Hank is too smart to have made this decision. Also: I think that last sentence reveals how invested I've become in these comics. Yay?!

Anyway, back to the story at hand:
Tempers flare between John "Thunderbird" Proudstar and Scott "Crooked-I" Summers (that's a malt liquor joke) because T-Bird was injured by a laser during training and Cyke doesn't want him to come along on this mission ... for his own good.

I titter every time he calls Scott "one eye". I am 13 years old.

Prof X overrules Scott and allows Proudstar to join the mission. Which is just irresponsible, if you ask me. "Oh, he's injured, but he's yelling? Ugh, just let him go to shut him up!" That's good leadership, right there! If Professor X was a mom, he would never get out of the supermarket without a cart-full of Pop Tarts and Crunchberries, having caved to every tantrum his x-kids threw.

Before the Internet, cats watched humans do silly things on TV.

After flying around a bit, the X-Men's Blackbird is destroyed by Nefaria-fired missiles. Artisanal missiles from our nefaria-fired ovens? (That's an "artisanal wood-fired pizza" joke.) Luckily, the X-Dudes had a tinier craft hidden within their Blackbird that they can escape in.

Until that one is destroyed by a ray beam. Artisanal ray beams, locally sourced. (THAT is a call-back to the previous "artisanal" joke that I'm SURE was super funny, the first time around.) Too bad they didn't have a THIRD, even smaller aircraft inside that smaller craft ... no no no, that would have been silly.

Now our heros are plummeting through - sorry, "thru" (to use the comic spelling that would have gotten me a "see me after class" in grade school (grade schu?)) - empty air towards certain ... Cliffhanger!!!


Almost NOTHING happened in this issue, huh?

Monday, August 5, 2013

SUPERSIZE MEN! (Giant Size X-Men #1 / Classic X-Men #1) [Read After Issue #66]

May 1975
JUDGE THE COVER!

Giant Size X-Men?! Towering over the city, crushing those they wanted only to save! "Curse our giant sizes!" they wail as ... oh, I see, it's the issue that is giant size, not the X-Men. Look like the team was defeated by Dangling Modifier Man! (It was either this or a fat joke.)

So, I guess the cover idea, here, is that these new X-Men are bustin' up and out of the old team. Yet, look closely: Cyclops appears in both places. I particularly like how the top version of himself looks downright disgusted that the bottom version of himself is breaking through. "What?! They let ME into the new group?!"

OK, if the cover is to be believed, this is going to be extra long, so let's just get to it...


BUT FIRST AN ASIDE!

I know that the X-Men showed up here and there in other comic titles over the years between the end of the original series and this one ... but I just don't care enough to read it all.


ACTUAL SUMMARY STARTS!

Kurt Wagner, chased by villagers, is almost burned alive when he decides to show all the ignorant villagers that he's not a monster ... by attacking them.

And the new X-Men already has more social commentary than the entire last run.

Professor X shows up and does that time-stoppy thing that we've seen him do in the movies. I certainly didn't know that was canonical. I thought it was just something that Sir Patrick Stewart could do. The actor, I mean. That man is AMAZING.

But, wait, isn't ProX dead? Gosh, I read the silver age stuff so long ago, I've forgotten. (Yeah, behind the scenes type stuff: I finished reading the silver age stuff over a year ago; even worse? I read this comic almost a year ago, to the day!) OH, right, now I remember, they got some wake-up juice form The Hulk, right?

Anyway, Kurt joins up. Next on the recruitment list: Wolverine. But the evil Canadian military doesn't want to let him go... so our "hero" assaults an officer:

Logan's career as a tailor was brief and bloody.

The Prof seems to be fine with this, which is weird. Doesn't he see the potential irony of Wolverine rebelling against HIS authority, in the future? "It's not irony, bub, it's Adamaniumony!"

Also revealed during this Wolverine-gathering is that his code name is Weapon X. Personally, I had no idea that the "Weapon X" thing was part of his backstory all along; I thought it was something the writers came up with in the early 90s to sell me more "limited series" comic books. Gosh, imagine being a comic book nerd in the 70s and wondering about Weapon X's origins?! You'd have to wait 20 years for more information!

Next up: Banshee! Two panels. Only two panels dedicated to recruiting Banshee. And it goes down while he's at the Grand Ole Opry, to boot!

"SHHH! Would y'all hush up? I'm tryin' to hear me some pickin' and singin'!"

So, um, is Prof X like Ash, Pokemaster? Travelling the world, trying to "catch 'em all"? I choose YOU Wolverineachu! "*Snikt* does not work against stone Pokemon!"

Next up: An African princess named Ororo AKA "Storm". Typing Ororo is more difficult than you think it's going to be / want it to be. You never want to stop, once you start. Anyway, She's topless. (That's all I got from her recruitment segment.)

Strategically-placed hair: The bane of adolescent comic readers, everywhere.

Next up: Sunfire. Remember him? The guy who hates western culture, or something? Honestly, I don't really remember being wowed by his character. So much so, that I'm not even going to screen-cap him!

Next stop on our tour: Evil, evil SIBERIA! Where Pinkos live. Here the Professor picks up a farmer named Peter AKA Piotr AKA Colossus who can turn himself into living metal. He's a one-man IRON CURTAIN! (Two! Two metal puns in one recap!)

FINALLY, we end up in Arizona, where we meet an Apache man named John Proudstar. I fear this is going to get racially insensitive real soon. (More than a german devil, Canadian madman, Irish banshee, African princess, Japanese warrior, and Russian farmer have already been?! Impossible you say?! Let's find out!)


Off to a good start, we've already seen him wrestle a buffalo. They then have him say things like "white man" and "white eyes" ... I feel his hatred is justified. I'll allow it!

But WHY is the prof even recruiting this rag-tag bunch of upstarts?! Certainly all the X-Men we know and love are safe? "Not so fast", says Cyclops! "They're all missing." This is why we don't buy you nice X-Men, Professor! Until you learn to take care of the ones we get you ...

Cyke tells the tale:

FLASHBACK!
SO! Back when all the original X-Men were still around, Cerebro warned them of a powerful mutant that defies classification. Sigh! I thought we left that trope behind us in the 60s? This is 1975, dammit! Have we not evolved?! Evolved into smarter bell-bottom and flared-collar wearers?!

Like good little soldiers of X, our gang goes off to meet this threat, head on:

"Its travelling time" never really caught on as a catch phrase like
The Thing's "It's clobberin time!" did ... but an E for effort, Scott!

But y'know who is NOT on this mission? The Beast! Why? Because he graduated. Really?! I thought the "school" part of "Xavier's School For The Mutated" was a sham; just a cover story. I didn't think people could actually graduate out of Xavier's private army. Huh!

OK! The mission runs like this:
"We've landed!"
"What's that light?!"
Then cyke wakes up on the plane, alone, and it's on autopilot for home.

End of flashback.

Sunfire is like, "Yeah ... I'm out!" So the new X-Men leave for the mysterious Krakoa island without him. Literally three panels later, Sunfire is chasing the X-Men's jet, asking to come along. Not much story tension there. Then someone refers to Sunfire as "the jap" and I made a "yeeesh" noise out loud, in my living room.

Upon reaching the island, these new mutants split up into four teams of two. Each team battles something (trees, lobsters, birds, rocks - YES, ROCKS!) and they meet back up at a weird temple at the center of the island. Inside the weird temple are all the missing X-Men. If you learn nothing else from these stories, please learn that one should always START a mission at the creepy temple at the center of the island. Who says you don't learn nothin' from reading comic books?

Tone change! Not "Holy Hannah", but "Oh my dear god!"
Guess these new X-Men also have super blaspheming powers.

That was easy! Roll credits!
Nope, turns out it was a trap: The island is alive and wanted to lure more mutants to itself to feed on. The X-Men don't fancy themselves as snacks, therefore ... BIG FIGHT:

Snacks fight back.

This fight of super-human vs. an island reminds me of that Superman Returns movie. Remember? When the climactic battle was him fighting an island? It happened! It's now part of Superman's cinematic legacy! Canonical.

Anyway: Battle, battle, battle, etc. Lorna gets supercharged by Ororororo and then uses her magnetism to negate gravity and launch krakoa into SPACE!

In space, no one can hear you be awestruck.

Victorious, the team heads home. And now that there are 13 X-Men, there's a whole lot of opportunities for early 70s racism!


ANCILLARY MATERIALS!

The rest of the book is made up of reprints those dull "powers of the X-Men" featurettes. Don't remember those? You're not missing anything.


CONCLUSION!
Overall, this issue had a lot of setup, but fighting an island was cool .. in exactly the way it wasn't in Superman Returns.


SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED!

A couple years later, they would reprint this series of X-Men as "Classic X-Men". Essentially, they're all the exact same story, just reprinted, but with a couple pages added and a new short story tacked on at the end. The added-in pages were written by Chris Claremont, which is supposed to be a big deal. However, for time and sanity's sake, I'm not going to re-read each issue nor cover the additional pages on this blog. Aren't I already doing enough of a Herculean task for you, by reading them all ONCE?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hulkamania! (Issue #66)

March 1970
JUDGE THE COVER!  

And, here we are! The last issue of the first run of X-Men, before the series is cancelled and all the artists and writers are sent off to the gulag and their houses burned and their children sold to the richest land holder. Probably.

Do they go out with a bang or a whimper? Did they know this was coming, or did they find out the next morning, when they came to the office, ready to work on issue #67, only to find pink slips and a picture of a hobo clown with a crude arrow labeled "you, now" and then, in smaller writing, "because you're fired and you're like this hobo" because the message, after a second look by the one who left it was deemed too unclear and that's what you get when you fire the writers: Unclear messaging.

Judging from the cover, they wanted this issues to be a "bang" no matter if they knew it or not. Look: The Hulk! Singing Las Vegas! Nothing says "big" like The Hulk! Nothing says "bang" like Vegas (Hey! Not that way! This is a family blog!) And nothing says "big bang" like [a Big Bang Theory joke here] (I don't watch that show.)


SUMMARY!  

Having used his mind-powers (the literal kind, like those that can move objects - not the figurative ones your grade-school teachers always told you you had) to turn back an invading force of angry aliens [see last ish. -Ed] Professor Eccs has collapsed. The question on everyone's lips: Is he going to die AGAIN?! (Even though, technically, he didn't really die the first time....)

Morissette-ian Irony, or the real kind?
It's like rain. On a rainy day...


Since the X-Men have no idea how to cure the old fool, they decide to ask someone who might have a clue: Professor X himself! Wheeling up a mind-probe (that they just so happen to have on-hand), all they get from the unconscious Prof's mind is a mumbled "The Hulk".

Having "failed" (even though he was MOST emphatic about finding The Hulk) at mind-probing him, they ask Jean to use her powers to mind probe him again. Repetition makes things more interesting to read! Repetition makes things more interesting to read! But, delving into his mind-grapes, Jean only picks up images of ... The Hulk. I think it can be assumed, at this point, that the Prof wants you to find The Hulk. (Or that he's a huge Mark Ruffalo fan ... or Edward Norton fan ... or Bill Bixby fan ... or Lou Ferrigno fan. OK, I'm tapped out.)

Meanwhile OR WWF WRESTLING HULKAMANIAC! (that's the last one, I swear), tensions heat up in the love triangle of Iceman, Havok, and Lorna (who still hasn't picked a super hero name! Seriously?!)

His career as an insult comic would be brief and terrible.


Flying to Las Vegas [lit trans: The Vegan] to intercept The Hulk (who they know is there because of a handy broadcast on the TV that mentioned he was in Vegas) the X-Men fight the guest star and - for once in seven years and 66 issues - do NOT lose! In fact they beat The Hulk pretty easily (thanks to a mind-blast from Jean Grey) and he turns back into Dr. Bruce Banner. When asked if he knows anything about Charles Xavier, Dr. Banner is all, "Yeah! We worked on gamma ray stuff, back in the day! He and I were O.G.! And the 'G' stands for 'Gamma!'" To their credit, the X-Men don't pants this dweeb, because they need his help.

But before he can lead the X-Men to the gamma ray device they need, the army shows up to enforce the very strict law of "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" and tries to arrest everyone. Banner "hulks up" and leaps away (making a "thoom" noise) and while the army men are watching him fade into the distance, the X-Men sneak off back to their airplane. Seriously.

Scouring the desert for the hulk, they easily spot him using a clever plot device called "luck".

This panel is filled with terrible writing.
"Thoomed"? Not a word!


Even worse than writing in a shovel-full of luck and onomatapoeia? While they are re-fighting The Hulk, the entrance to one of Dr. Banner's secret labs is uncovered! What luck! Oh! AND it's the very secret lab which houses the device the X-Men need to save Professor X!

How to write comics: The marvel way!

While the others keep the Bulk occupied, Angel flies into the lab/cavern and finds the device they need. Once he nabs it, off they all go, back to the mansion:

So it WASN'T terrible writing all along! ... OR WAS IT!
This will go down in history as an unsolved mystery to rival Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and the Crystal Skull.
(Though, the mystery about the Crystal Skull is how it was ever greenlit as a sequel to "Raiders", not anything about the crystal skulls themselves.)


Hurrying this along, they activate the device and...

Yes, Beast, dead people are know for OPENING THEIR EYES!
(And he's the SMART one!)


He lives! They did it! And all is right with the world!

What?!


Then, hidden among the letters from fans, is this:

tl;dr


To sum up: They're dropping the hammer. This is how kids found out that their beloved book was dying?! Think of the poor kiddies who were crushed! Further: Think of the kids who never read the letters column, unaware that their book was dead, checking newsstands week after week for years, until they grew old and died of sadness. Though, maybe kids of the 70s weren't the delicate, overly-emotional blubbering blobs we are today, where everything we love has to be defended and fought for, upon its cancellation, with an online campaign, hashtag, and Kickstarter. MAYBE, they used to just let things go?!

This is getting way too close to real social commentary, so ...


SILVER AGE SUMMARY!  

Well, that wraps this original series up. Overall, this was fun. Sure, there were many, many, many times that I wish I had stayed in school and made something more of myself, but I wonder if that had anything to do with the comics themselves. If you were to ask me if anyone should follow in my footsteps, I'd probably say, "those footprints are where I carried you" then smile, knowingly, and then run away. But, seriously, I'm glad I did this, if only to show all the haters that I CAN finish something that


RECORD KEEPING!  
For your own record, and to show what kind of lag-time I have on reading / blogging, the day I read this issue was May 4th, 2012 ... and the day I wrote this blog post was April 8, 2013!

Further, it took me almost exactly ONE YEAR to read and blog this entire series. To think of what I could have done in that time...

EXCELSIOR!