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30 Years: My First-Ever Collected Volume/Graphic Novel

I don’t think it was Christmas day exactly, but it was for Christmas that a childhood friend gave me The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told; as much from him as his parents, I believe.

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That was Christmas 1989, as I recall–I do not believe it was the FIRST Christmas I was interested in comics, but the second–after Mom had bought me some comics throughout 1989, with my having "gotten by" on comics Grandpa had brought for me in 1988.

30 years later, I still have this book. Even though somewhere I have a newer copy in better condition, I’ve opted to keep my original copy on the shelf in my main collection.

Some of the key Superman stories were in this book and this was how I first read them. From the original Action Comics #1 story, to For the Man Who Has Everything and loads in-between…even up to Superman #2 in the Byrne "reboot era." That one stuck out as an odd piece to me at the time, not really fitting with the other stories, and in retrospect I would have thought perhaps something else like the Man of Steel #3 (One Night in Gotham City) might have fit better, to have "representation" from the then-young reboot. (With a 1987 copyright date, I believe this volume predates the Return to Krypton in Superman #18, as well as the Supergirl Saga and so on…likely even Action Comics #600).

This was ALSO my first-ever collected volume, first-ever "graphic novel," first-ever comic BOOK. Despite the hundreds of volumes in my library now this one holds a special place as THE first in my collection, going back to my earliest days being into comics (and pre-dating my first "lapse" from comics).

As it was a Christmas gift…I felt it an appropriate thing to share today, Christmas Day 2019…as my earliest days into comics are in a cascading 30-year-anniversary going forward.

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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 28, 2017 (part one)

This is an interesting ‘week’ for me for comics. I mis-timed a couple things, and had weekend plans for multiple weekends crossed-up, so (to make a long story short) I have stuff to pick up this weekend, but still managed to find stuff for Wednesday!

weeklyhaul_06282017a

I don’t know what it is about this A.D. After Death book that so fascinates me! Maybe it’s the format, that it’s like a hybrid of comics, prose, and story-book all in one. The price doesn’t hurt much, either…when each issue would’ve been probably $9.99 if not $12.99 or $14.99 from Marvel, and a book this large and thick would easily be a $49.99 (at minimum) book from Marvel. But it’s half that price, from Image.

Again keying off pricing…the Nights of Dominion volume grabbed my attention visually, but as I picked it up and saw it was Oni and not Image, I started to put it right back–I was not gonna be paying $19.99 for an unknown book like this! But I confirmed the price…which to my surprise was half that, at only $9.99…a $10 vol. 1, a la Image. So I grabbed it.

Then there was the bargain-priced X-Men: Phoenix Rising volume. $4.50. Hardly more than a single-issue from contemporary Marvel…and cheaper than most Marvel #1s these days, or one-shots or annuals from either Marvel or DC. I’d’ve sworn I had the book, but a look at my inventory did not show it present, so even if it somehow is a duplicate…I can live with it for that price!

And finally, Violent Love vol. 1…saw a stack of these by the register, a flash/one-day sale…$5. Same logic as above…for "only" $5, yeah, I’ll try it! Don’t know when I’ll actually get around to it and reading it, but it’ll fit into the Image vol. 1s library and be something to read randomly at some point!

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I’d semi-forgotten about a couple of Amazon pre-orders, and about the time I was thinking I "should" go in and cancel them, I had an email saying stuff had shipped. So for roughly 50% off, I have possession of the oversized 30th Anniversary Predator volume. This is a massive hardcover, much like the two Aliens volumes and the Prometheus/Predator/Aliens/AvP collection from a couple years back.

Size-wise, the Predator volume puts Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes to absolute shame. Far larger, looks like a similar issue-count, but the two are the same price.

Not knowing when I’ll get around to actually reading it, I’m actually quite disappointed with the "package" of the Superboy volume. It’s just a standard-trim hardcover of about 9 issues…old ones, at that. NOT a good "value" in my eyes, for its $50 cover price!

I also do not like the generic text "logo"…maybe it fits the image used, better, but that skinny/non-blocky/non-bombastic text is far too "modern" as a "logo" for comics of this period.

With DC cancelling a bunch of stuff either before release or after a first volume is out for what should be a series, I’ve half a mind to return this volume. I’m collecting Superman stuff, but not so much on Superboy or the Legion…and this is not a deluxe, oversized hardcover nor anything special/deserving of a hardcover offhand like this…better to be out in paperback and slash the price!

We’ll see, I guess…

Next week I’ll likely show off stuff I pick up this weekend if I get down to Kenmore as planned…and I missed this week’s X-Men Series I cards post. C’est la vie!

Crisis 30th Anniversary Edition: Acquired

When I first got into comics, it was via Grandpa’s old Silver Age stuff. When Mom bought me my first few brand-new comics, I knew there was a LOT of stuff between Grandpa’s comics and what I had in-hand (if only the 3-400-some difference in issue numbers!). It would be several years before I learned of the existence of the major story that “split” the continuities…for much of my time as a comics person, DC could be referenced as “Pre” and “Post” Crisis.

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It was at least another decade before I ever actually READ the story myself, getting it first-hand…and that came sometime after reading Wolfman‘s novelization of the thing.

I think it was another couple years before I finally acquired a copy of my own…of course, I was happy at the time with the edition I got–with the Perez/Ross cover.

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Then, just last week I happened across a 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. I recal seeing something about it, so its existence was not a surprise…but seeing it for myself, it was just this beautiful volume, and though I’d intended to hold off at least a couple weeks, I opted not to put off ordering it (justifying it as a birthday present to myself).

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This new edition is an oversized hardcover, and dwarfs its earlier paperback edition…length, width, thickness.

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The physical size is accounted for with the price…this weighs in at a hefty $49.99 cover price (to the paperback’s $29.99 most of a decade ago).  This certainly makes the paperback the better value solely for the story…but I am quite happy with my purchase (I was able to order the volume for 45%-off that cover price).

This is a volume that definitely illustrates where I feel DC is by FAR Marvel‘s superior when it comes to pricing stuff. Where DC‘s far physically-smaller paperback is a whopping $20 (60%) cheaper than its massive, oversized hardcover counterpart…I can’t help but remember my shock at seeing the similarly-paired editions of the Planet Hulk volumes. The hardcover was $39.99…while the paperback was a mere $5 cheaper at $34.99. If $5–barely more than a SINGLE-ISSUE COMIC–is all the difference, then for me it’s a no-brainer: I’ll pay that slight bit more for the superior edition. (While generally speaking, such a $20 difference would certainly prompt me to stick with paperback).

I suppose the next thing is for DC to publish several oversized hardcovers collecting the Crisis on Multiple Earths series…which would certainly have my interest!

TMNT at 30

While it’s just as likely that I’ve simply MISSED any such stuff already out there, it’s occurred to me that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Of course, half a decade ago at the 25th anniversary it was a huge deal for Mirage. Now just a handful of years into Viacom/Nickleodeon‘s tenure as the owners of the property, it may not seem a huge deal.

But to this fan of 25+ years…it is!tmntat30_02

I recall the 30th anniversary stuff for Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, etc. 35th Anniversary stuff, 40th, etc… but while those are significant milestones for THOSE characters…

The TMNT are a property created AFTER I was born. That I actually CAN reasonably fill in every last gap of the official comics and such, to have the entirety of the run (maybe not FIRST PRINTS, but I’m not concerned about which printing if I have the issue).

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So, while I’ve had plans in the past to do more specific TMNT coverage in this blog, I’d like to think I’ll get into the swing of things with more this year, outside of spotting TMNT Toys in the WIld (Squirrelanoids, Kirby Bat and Casey Joines, etc) and get to more coverage of the various comics and such…and my own “history” with the characters through the years.

As always, time will tell.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: Excalibur #71

Crossing Swords

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: Ken Lashley, Darick Robertson, Matthew Ryan
Inkers: Cam Smith, Randy Elliot, Randy Emberlin, Mark Nelson
Letterers: Bill Oakley, Pat Brosseau, Dave Sharpe
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Cover: Joe Madureira and Joe Bennett
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: November, 1993
Cover Price: 3.95

After Nightcrawler confronts one of the Acolytes and–thanks to Kitty–narrowly avoids killing him, the X-Men burst into things, “recruiting” the remanants of Excalibur’s help in a particular task: they want to “fix” Colossus. After an injury he’d suffered, he was unable to revert to human form, and they figure that’s the cause of his ‘defecting’ to Magneto’s camp. If they can heal him, surely that’ll fix him and any brain issue, and he’ll return to them.

The various characters react to stuff–some for, some against. While they do, Cable shows up for Colossus, and winds up confronting Phoenix (Rachel Grey) in a less than pleasant battle. Once Colossus arrives (thinking Kitty wants to return to Avalon with him), the “trap” is sprung and the plan revealed. Though Colossus declares he does not want the help of the X-Men, they “help” anyway, and his ability to shift back and forth between human and metal forms is restored. Though he has a touching moment with Kitty, he still opts to return to Avalon with the Acolytes.

Finally, as all of this has been going on, an idea has been building for Nightcrawler, and he decides that with the “old team” basically no more, he’ll have a “new team,” a new Excalibur, that will operate at Muir Isle with Moira.

After rereading X-Men 25 and Wolverine 75, this issue was a bit of a letdown. I’m probably least-aware of ’90s Excalibur of all the X-teams of the time, at least prior to Age of Apocalypse. Reading this, I had a vague sense of deja vu, that I’d read this before. Yet I can’t honestly say with certainty that I’d read the issue any time before reading it for this posting. I know t was at least a few years after the fact that I even acquired the issue for the first time (whether before or after college I don’t even know at this point). For quite awhile, Fatal Attractions (for me) ended with Wolverine 75.

Story-wise, this is a transition issue–we go from whatever recent stuff’s gone down with Excalibur to the end of the issue setting the stage for a whole new team. And in the middle of it we have Cyclops, Jean, and Professor X thrown in–familiar faces that made this issue seem much more an X-Men issue than it would have otherwise, which also ties it into the events of Fatal Attractions in general. It’s also kind of odd having the sense of continuity that there is here–but then, this was back when such things were important to stories and “families” of titles and not some loose option seen as detrimental to the nature of “the story.”

Visually, the issue is a bit uneven with multiple artists–though it’s not terribly detrimental to the issue. It seems like the various scenes had an artist, so there’s some internal consistency that way. I really like the look of Colossus costume in this issue–one page has a nearly full image of him, and it’s one of the best depictions of the character I can recall ever seeing.

It seems the two main things to come out of this issue are the “new” Excalibur team and Colossus is no longer confined to his metallic form. If you didn’t know he’d been injured, that’s probably not a huge plot point (before this read-through, I never would’ve been able to tell you where or when that little problem was dealt with–I’d once been aware that he was so injured, but never really thought about it much or cared to find out its resolution). That this is the beginning of a new Excalibur team has me interested in seeing that team; if this were a new issue, I’d definitely be back for the next. As-is looking at this nearly twenty years after it came out…I could simply track down the next few issues to read.

This is probably the “simplest” of the covers…it’s bright and colorful, but somehow not exactly my cup of tea, so to speak. The hologram of Nightcrawler is–like the others in this series–not bad, though at least on the copy I read, felt like I have to look at it somewhat from an angle to really get the best 3D effect.

So ended the official 30th Anniversary “event” for the X-Men. I loosely followed the X-books here and there over the next year-plus; it wasn’t until the end of 1994 with Legion Quest and then the Age of Apocalypse that I began a run of following the entire X-Universe.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: Wolverine #75

Nightmares Persist

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mark Farmer, Dan Green, Mark Pennington
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Cover: Adam Kubert, Mark Farmer
Editor:
Bob Harras
Published by:
Marvel Comics
Cover Date:
November 1993
Cover Price:
$3.95

Bishop arrives in the blackbird (having been called by Colossus) to take the X-Men home. Wolverine’s obviously gravely injured from losing the adamantium. Xavier, weakened from the exertion of the exo-suit and shutting Magneto down gets Jean’s help to go into Wolverine’s mind, to try to deal with the psychological trauma of what’s happened. They see bits of his past–as he remembers it–but it’s not much help. They’re ripped out of his mind when the Blackbird hits turbulence and Jean winds up having to hold the plan together with her telekinesis, leaving Xavier alone to keep Wolverine alive. As things get particularly bad, Jean is taxed to her limit and about to lose it–while on the ground, Moira, Cyclops, Jubilee, and the others are horrified by what they’re hearing. Just as Jean does lose the plane, she’s caught by a bandaged arm–Wolverine. They share a moment, as they realize that while he was basically dead, some part of him was aware of her situation and he came back–for her.

Later, Wolverine’s determined to prove himself, to see if he still has what it takes to call himself an X-Man, and takes on a Danger Room scenario. Others watch, and while he’s holding his own, he’s having trouble. Instinctively, he finally pops his claws, to everyone’s horror–not only does he still HAVE the claws, but they’re BONE…and his healing factor so taxed, the punctures of them ripping out of the back of his hands are not closing easily, leaving him literally a bloody mess. A couple weeks later, Wolverine spends some time with Jubilee, catching up a bit, before offering some “final advice” that makes her suspicious. Finally, we close with a letter he leaves for her as he’s made the decision to leave the school and strike out on his own–to find himself, and deal with what’s happened and how it affects things moving forward.

This is the only “solo” title of Fatal Attractions-all the other issues are team-books: X-Factor, X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, Excalibur. As such, the hologram on this cover is the most appropriate–Wolverine himself. While it’s a cool hologram, it’s not my favorite–I think that distinction goes to the Havok or Magneto ones. The cover takes a different perspective than X-Men #25, showing Wolverine with all these curvy spikes sticking out of his body, apparently representing the adamantium; rather than him just injured with metal/bone showing through.

As I’ve been saying over the past several posts, this issue and X-Men 25 are my favorites of the 6, and form the “heart” of the story. X-Men 25 climaxes with Wolverine losing the adamantium; this issue picks up the pieces, and ultimately results in Wolverine leaving the team for a time. Also as I’ve said, this issue is such a core part of my childhood with comics that it’s not an issue I see particularly objectively. It’s an iconic, key issue in things–and began nearly six years of Wolverine NOT having the adamantium (a long enough time and becoming a part of the character that the depiction even made it out into licensed products at the time). From #75, Wolverine was without the adamantium until #146, 71 issues later; nearly half the entire run of his series to that point.

I remember this issue being a tense read–the situation the characters were in, and their not knowing what was actually gonna happen. I like the way it shows the characters working together–a team–and the sense of family sprinkled in. There are a lot of great moments that are truly enhanced by knowing about the characters and continuity; maybe even moreso now, with the knowledge of where many of the characters wind up. Xavier’s sense of responsibility to Wolverine–bringing him into the X-men to begin with, involving him in the mission to Avalon, his inability to help Wolverine break through the memory implants, but the help he has provided the man through the years. Stuff with Jean–her past with the Phoenix, and that other horrific return-journey to earth.

The art is a pretty definitive take on the characters–everyone’s familiar, and the visuals are very similar to X-Men 25, further placing both issues at the heart of the story. It also definitely helps that it’s one art team rather than an entire group, and thus a singular consistency throughout the issue.

Probably the roughest part of the issue for me is Wolverine’s letter at the end–the font is hard on the eyes after the lettering of the rest of the issue. I appreciate the representation of a hand-written note, but for just reading the issue, it’s a bit jarring.

On the whole, though…this is one of THE most memorable issues of Wolverine for me, in all the series/incarnations. It’s certainly my favorite, particularly for the time. And for awhile, this was the end of my experience with Fatal Attractions. I originally missed the Excalibur issue as these were coming out, and I’m not even 100% sure if I’d even read the issue until I read a copy for this series of ‘Fatal Attractions Revisited’ posts.

This issue is definitely well worth picking up–particularly if you come across it in a bargain bin. In the years since it originally came out, I’ve paid up to cover price for it–but know I’ve snagged at least one copy from a quarter-bin and one from a dollar bin, another as part of a 3-for-$10 purchase.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Men #25

Dreams Fade

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Cover: Andy Kubert and Matt Ryan
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1993

The UN decides that they have to protect the world against Magneto, so they initiate “The Magneto Protocols.” Basically, this is an energy grid formed from a bunch of satellites, keyed to Magneto and his powers specifically. If Magneto enters Earth’s atmosphere, he will be rendered powerless. Effectively–this bans him from Earth. Of course, he doesn’t take it lightly–and generates a global EMP wave that causes untold death and destruction as Earth’s electronics are knocked out, if only (in this case) temporarily.

Xavier realizes that he cannot simply wait for peace…and after such a devastating global attack from Magneto, he organizes a special strike team of his X-Men to invade Avalon, to finally put an end to him. He leads this team himself, using a previously-unknown exo-armor powered by his psychic abilities, but which necessitates he take Jean along so they can stop Magneto together. He also takes Wolverine, Gambit, Rogue, and Quicksilver; leaving everyone else behind to carry on the dream. Once on Avalon (unknowingly assisted by Colossus), the group faces Magneto’s Acolytes until they’re teleported away–leaving things just the X-Men vs. Magneto. His back against the figurative wall, Magneto deals a horrific blow to Wolverine, which seals the deal for Xavier, who lashes out with his own powers to take away Magneto’s mind, leaving him in a vegetative state.

I’m pretty sure I got this issue the same evening I got Wolverine #75…and I vaguely recall stopping at KFC with my dad to get dinner on the way home. Probably what makes a memory like that stick while I can’t remember the first time I read earlier chapters of this story…this issue was one of the most definitive, key comics of my youth. I do not recall if I truly knew what was going to happen to Wolverine or not–though I have a vague recollection of a mail-order comics catalog giving something about it away.

At least at the time, this issue was extremely important, and from what I recall, really set the stage for the next few years of X-Men comics; from Magneto to the genesis of Onslaught, and through that to the subsequent years of things that came about from Onslaught and Heroes Reborn.

This issue–the “final battle” between Xavier and Magneto, was along with Magneto’s character in Age of Apocalypse and the 1990s animated series a crucial part of my understanding of Magneto. It’s actually kind of fascinating to me to consider that the Magneto in contemporary X-Men comics is the same character that appears here. Of course, we’re talking nearly two full decades of character development between this and now–but it goes to show what can be done with these characters and time. (While I’ve yet to really read any of the classic Rogue issues, I’m also interested in the fact that the Rogue I grew up reading was herself once a villain in the Marvel Universe. If her character can be handled as it has, it’s not too far fetched to think the same can be done with Magneto.)

I also recall thinking it sort of odd that such a huge thing would happen to Wolverine here rather than in his own title…but then, Wolverine wouldn’t even have a title of his own without the X-men. It also would not have made sense or allowed the conclusion of this issue if such a thing had happened off-panel or they tried to “hide” it to unveil in his own title. And here I am dancing around it as if an event from 19 years ago that was “resolved” 13 years ago is “spoiler territory.”

Magneto destabilizing and forcibly removing the Adamantium from Wolverine’s body was shocking, devastating…and hard to believe it hadn’t much been dealt with before: man of magnetism vs. man of metal bones.

The story itself in this issue is hard to look at critically, because this was such an impactful issue on me as a kid. I suppose that’s one way of suggesting that the story’s not bad. Some stuff I notice now, though seem petty quibbles–such as Xavier’s exo-suit (where’d it come from and why hadn’t it ever come up before–the characters seemed surprised he had it!), and I was reminded of Pryde of the X-Men the way the characters kinda peeled apart to fight smaller battles as the main group moved on. But this issue’s story gave a sense of urgency and finality for Xavier and his strike team, and perhaps it’s hindsight, but it just gave the whole issue an epic feel. Nicieza‘s narration and bits of dialogue also have stuck with me through the years, on the same level as Bane breaking Batman’s back in Batman #497 and Superman’s death in Superman #75.

And it begins with a small tug–an almost gentle pull–a harder yank–then a wrenching tear–

“We are all but bit players in a tragedy far larger than any of us…a tragedy called LIFE, Logan. But today, for you, perhaps for me–the curtain falls…and the play is FINISHED!”

The art is equally hard to look at critically–much as I’ve loved Jim Lee‘s X-Men art, this issue probably subconsciously became my standard of “good” X-Men art vs. “not-so-good” X-Men art in the ’90s. It’s also great to see a single art team rather than a whole mess of folks being involved; the consistency helps things flow, and I’m never taken out of the story, jarred by an art change or such.

This issue’s cover is one of the simpler ones, unlike the clutter on the X-Factor and Uncanny X-Men issues. This one, you see Magneto blasting Wolverine, and of course the excellent Gambit hologram. Of course, I like to think the Magneto hologram from UXM 304 would have been more fitting here, but it was appropriate for the X-Men’s oldest foe to be spotlighted on the anniversary issue of the series that counted back to the beginning. Even taking a look at the entire wraparound cover, things are pretty simple, so to speak…and very indicative of what happens in the issue, without giving it away in and of itself–we see Xavier and the rest of his strike team reacting to Magneto mid-attack on Wolverine who’s obviously in some trouble here.

This issue and Wolverine #75 are the heart of this event, for me; when I think of this story, it’s these two issues–Magneto vs. Wolverine, and then of the X-Men’s return-journey to Earth and Wolverine dealing with the aftermath of stuff. You can take away the previous three chapters and skip the sixth chapter without really losing anything of what I’ve thought of as Fatal Attractions. Offhand, next to the likes of X-Men #41 (the finale of Legion Quest) I can’t think of another single X-Men issue that’s had more impact on me and my X-Men reading.

If you find this in a bargain bin, I highly recommend it–you’ll do well with context and/or nostalgia driving you, but I daresay that even coming in cold but with a basic/generic understanding of X-Men, one can appreciate the enormity of what unfolds in this issue.

X-Men #25 Wraparound

Fatal Attractions Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #304

…For What I Have Done

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: John Romita Jr., Jae Lee, Chris Sprouse, Brandon Peterson, Paul Smith
Inkers: Dan Green, Dan Panosian, Terry Austin, Tom Palmer, Keith Williams
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: John Romita Jr., Dan Panosian
Assistant Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: September, 1993

After a couple of the X-Books that were not the actual X-Men themselves, this issue finally pulls the X-Men I was familiar with into this story. Granted, I wasn’t extremely familiar with them–but I knew who most of them were thanks to the cartoon series. Wolverine, Bishop, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast, Professor Xavier, even Colossus…and of course, Magneto.

I recall reading the death of Illyana–Colossus’ sister–in the previous issue (sucked in by the image of Jean Grey and Jubilee with the blurb “If you read only ONE X-title this month–this issue MUST be it!”). This issue has the funeral as we see the various characters reacting to the death of the young girl. We also get some backstory on Magneto and the losses he’s suffered, which have been driving factors in his methods of trying to “save” the “mutant race.” There are some quieter moments between various characters; I especially like the Kitty Pryde/Storm and Banshee/Bishop scenes. I’m still amazed in retrospect at how very new some of these characters were in the summer of 1993 (particularly Bishop), and how much more all the characters have grown, changed, or otherwise [been] developed in the decades since this story.

As Illyana’s funeral draws to a close, Magneto crashes the party, which is almost immediately further crashed by Exodus and the rest of the Acolytes, who have come to grips with the revelation of Cortez’ part in Magneto’s near-death. The X-Men and Magneto and his Acolytes clash, as the ship Avalon is brought into Earth’s atmosphere above them, causing world-wide issues and fear. The battle quickly becomes one with catastrophic consequences should the X-Men fail, but ultimately it falls to Xavier to pull a new trick out of his figurative hat to save the day, using his power in a way I don’t recall seeing him do prior to this (though it wouldn’t seem all that out of place nowadays).

This issue felt a bit more like being dropped into the middle of a story, the way it opened–the Acolytes already trying to tear Cortez apart for his deception. I honestly don’t recall if this continues directly from Uncanny X-Men #303 or from some other issue of the X-books. While I vaguely remembered that it was shortly after Illyana’s funeral that Colossus left the X-Men, I’d forgotten that the funeral itself was in this issue, and the way Magneto and Co. crashed the funeral. I’d also completely forgotten the way Xavier ended this particular battle, which seemed both absurd and epic at the same time, to me.

The issue’s art is a bit fractured–there are five pencilers on the issue, and I noticed it while reading–particularly with Magneto’s flashback. Fortunately, other than Jae Lee‘s art, the rest fits relatively well together and isn’t glaring. Of course, that’s something I notice now but if I noticed back in ’93, I don’t recall it being a conscious thing of recognizing different artists’ work, or knowing about “fill in artists” or any such stuff. All that said…this is another issue that I don’t mind the art on the whole, and which seems to fit the story.

Including a few ads, this issue has 62 pages for only a $3.95 cover price. I like the cover–most of the characters shown on the front are the ones I would have been most familiar with, though in this sense are rather generic. But once opened up, we see that there are a lot more characters involved in the image, all angrily looking toward a huge foreground closeup of Magneto. And yet again, I like the hologram on this cover. While the hologram itself is pretty cool, its image strikes me as rather iconic for the time–I’m sure I’ve seen that several image of Magneto with the swirl of debris outside the context of this story. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve snagged a copy of this from a bargain bin since buying my original copy at full cover price in 1993, but the copy I have onhand right now for this rereading and such was part of a 3/$10 deal, which while not as satisfying on principle as getting the issue for under or around $1, is still quite worthwhile for being less than cover price.

This issue seems to set the stage for the next couple chapters, which to me are the heart of this story, and what I MOST think of with the title Fatal Attractions.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Force #25

Back to Front

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Art: Greg Capullo
Inkers: Wiacek, Green, Ryan, Palmiotti, Hanna, Conrad, Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: George Roussos
Editors: Bob Harras, Tom DeFalco
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: August, 1993

Twenty-five issues…big number, huh? Well…maybe not. I’ve seen this title repurposed for awhile, then renamed X-Statix and that ran for a couple years. Then post-Messiah-CompleX another X-Force ran for a couple years, and the current Uncanny X-Force has run about 30 issues. But y’know, back in the day, this was a common anniversary–a whopping 25 issues.

As with X-Factor #92, I re-read this and much of it was like I was reading it for the first time…certainly the first time with much comprehension of who these characters were. This was even before Cable first got his own series, which ran for over 100 issues (followed by Cable & Deadpool that ran about 50 and the more recent Cable series with Hope than ran about 25).

This issue seems to be the introduction of Exodus. A sticker on the bag this copy of the issue was in when I bought it stated “Exodus 1st App.” Back in the day, I didn’t pick up on that, and just thought he was another one of these “Acolytes” and didn’t dig or think any deeper. It’s also the “return” of Cable, apparently the first he’d shown up since the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover few months earlier.

The new mutants–the X-Force–return home from a mission. However, someone else is there–and the battle is quickly joined…though it turns out their mentor–Cable–has returned. Some are glad to see the man, others not so happy–but all listen as Cable explains a bit of where he’s been and what he’s learned since the events that seperated him from his pupils. Exodus arrives, inviting Cannonball and Sunspot to Heaven, but pre-emptively attacks the group for thinking of attacking him. Cannonball eventually agrees, but the team follows, and all find themselves aboard what apparently used to be Cable’s base, known as Graymalkin, with a sentient computer program called “The Professor.” After more fighting, Cable gets his young charges off the ship, and seeks to “rescue” the computer program that’s apparently been a father figure to him–and finds himself confronting an enemy all thought dead. This fight is much shorter, all but disassembling Cable before he escapes (nearly as a corpse) to rejoin X-Force.

As said above, I didn’t really “get” this issue when I first read it, when it came out. I recall (with a bit of deja vu) the ending with Cable, but not much else. I certainly lacked the context of Cannonball and Sunspot being part of the New Mutants prior to Cable’s 1st appearance and that title ending to be replaced with this one. I had not yet read X-Cutioner’s Song–or at least, not more than maybe a couple chapters (it was only about 6 or 7 years ago that I finally tracked the story down and read it all the way through) so I didn’t even have that context of what had happened to Cable, though from what trading card or another or Marvel Handbook/profile special (Stryfe’s Strike Files?) or Wizard or some such, I knew of Stryfe as being Cable’s clone from the future.

I hadn’t realized either, at the time, that Magneto had “died,” though from in-story context I picked up on the characters having thought him dead…but his death/etc was more of a “meta” thing than I was aware of as a 12-year old at the time.

This issue’s story is another that stands alone well enough, though it continues to build foundation for what I consider the “heart” of Fatal Attractions in X-Men #25 and Wolverine #75. The art is good, and somehow extremely familiar to me. This visual rendition of X-Force just is what it is, and I like it.

I’m a bit less impressed with the overall cover of this issue than I was with the X-Factor issue; but in a way the fairly close-up image of Cable with one of those HUUUUGE guns he carried is rather iconic, which makes this a more full cover from the front for me than the X-Factor issue. Of course, this cover (and the hologram) also totally gives away from the get-go that Cable is back, but especially near 20 years later, I’m not bothered by that at all.

I’ve snagged this issue from bargain bins–turns out I actually wound up with 2 copies of this issue for roughly $.75 total in the past month. Well worth getting, if only for the hologram, particularly if you can snag it from a bargain bin. Cover price was $3.50, which again is 50 cents cheaper than cover price of a standard Marvel comic nowadays, and this has a cardstock cover, hologram, and 48-ish pages (some of them ads).

Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Factor #92

xfactor092The Man Who Wasn’t There

Co-Plotter: Scott Lobdell
Penciler/Co-Plotter: Joe Quesada
Script: J.M. DeMatteis
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Starkings
Background Assist: Cliff Van Meter
Colorist: Oliver
Assistant Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: July, 1993

This issue kicks off the Fatal Attractions story/crossover/event, and carries the cover title “Out of the Light and into thy father’s shadow,” which is an apt declaration of the interior.

After an attack on a bunch of humans in hospice, X-Factor is investigating the slaughter. Though they lose the last survivor from the attack, the team has a prisoner–one of the Acolytes–who doesn’t seem inclined to give them any information until Quicksilver shows up. As the Acolytes worship Magneto, they place great importance on The Son, which allows some answers to be coaxed from the captured Spoor. Despite orders to remain behind, the rest of the team follows Quicksilver and government liaison Valerie Cooper, and what they find at an apparently quiet military base shocks the team and creating a rift between them and Cooper. Lead Acolyte Fabian Cortez does the usual villain thing of spouting off about his plan to Quicksilver, and is angered when his offer to install the Son of Magneto as leader of the Acoyltes is rejected. After X-Factor’s battle with the Acolytes ends, the team is left to deal with Cooper, who has had a revelation of her own explaining her recent actions and attitude.

I know I read this issue when it first came out 19-some years ago, but this time through much of the issue read as “new” to me. I remembered the Acolytes’ attack on the hospital, and the woman crying at the end, but the in-between stuff hadn’t stuck, nor did I have any great grasp on who all these characters were or their context.

It’s quite interesting looking back from 20 years later, knowing where certain characters wind up, and knowing in general what I do today about them that I did not know then. For one thing, I feel like I truly appreciate the enormity of this story now, where back then it was just an extra-length issue with a sturdy cover, fancy “hologram,” and a nearly triple-sized price tag ($3.50, but I think an issue like this published today would–knowing Marvel–be at least $7.99 if not $9.99).

Story-wise, I’m not entirely impressed–though this issue seems to set stuff in motion for the rest of the Fatal Attractions series, there’s something to it that just doesn’t feel like it “matters” as much–perhaps because this is just kicking stuff off, and so the nature of the crossover isn’t yet apparent by this issue’s conclusion, so it winds up feeling like more of a prologue or tangential piece of things. While the Acolytes are present here and their slaughter of the humans will have other consequences later in the arc, this issue is very much an X-Factor issue, and seems very much like the “random” issue plucked from continuity and read out of context. Knowing what I do now about Quicksilver’s relationship with Magneto, this issue holds more meaning for me–all the familial relationships of Marvel characters were still mostly abstract to me in 1993.

I definitely like the art for the issue, and in the first few pages I found myself thinking there was something familiar about it–and had a momentary “ah-ha!” when I saw the credits box and realized this was Quesada‘s work–I’d totally forgotten that he was the penciler on this series back then. I don’t recall being at all put off by the art back in ’93, and at present, find that it holds up well, as the characters are distinct, the action’s easy to follow, and I even actually like the very-90s character designs.

I’m most used to seeing the front half of this cover, so I’m that much more impressed opening the issue and looking at the whole of the image. The trade dress for this series is the darkened overlay on the right-hand side with the Fatal Attractions logo, cover blurb/title, and of course the hologram. This overlay takes up nearly half of the front cover and for me has always been the dominant factor. The hologram image itself is about the size of a trading card, and even now remains quite impressive to me–I recall noticing how “deep” the image was, and in the right light I can still stare at it for a bit, marveling at the detail and depth. (Even with contemporary 3-D films, I’m far more impressed by the depth of purported 3-D than I am stuff popping out at me).

All in all, a strong issue that I definitely like. Though I paid full price for a copy back in the day, I’ve since snagged this issue from 25-cent and 50-cent bins, though considering its cover price is still cheaper than a contemporary 20ish-paged single issue from Marvel today, it’s well worth its full price. Heck, the hologram alone is worth the 25/50 cents to $1 price if you come across it in a bargain bin. Though this is part of a larger story, it stands alone well enough.

xfactor092wraparound_large

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