Columnists Joe and Kevin take you through the experience of learning to read comic books. Each week they alternate as Joe (the teacher) explains why he picked a specific book, and Kevin (the student) gives his impressions.
Previously on CBL
If Superman is the Hemmingway of comics (sparse and true), then The X Men of the 80’s and 90’s was Tolstoy. By the mid-90’s the X Men were a cultural phenomenon. They had cartoons, trading cards, a toy line, video games, and multiple comics each produced by the hottest writers and the hottest artists Marvel had to offer.
There was Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Force, X-Factor, Excalibur, and Wolverine, not to mention recently defunct at the time New Mutants, and the yet-to-debut Cable, Generation X, and X-Man. Each one featuring a unique team of mutants, each with their own backstory and strange mutant power. In fact there was almost a point in Marvel Comics continuity where there were more mutants than superheroes.
So why were the mutants such a hit? In my honest opinion, there are three reasons. The first, as mentioned above, was that the X-Men titles featured the new hotness in artists and writers. This of course included six of the seven writer/artists that eventually went on to found Image Comics (which we will get into with the next book Kevin has to read). The second reason for the popularity explosion of the X-Men was that the book had been building steam since the mid 80’s with some truly epic storylines including “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, “Days of Future Past”, and “X-Tinction Agenda”. However, I myself believe that the popularity of the X-Men will always come down to that fuzzy little Canuckle head, Wolverine.
Wolvie was the perfect example of what Marvel had been moving to in the 80’s, and his popularity rise can be charted right alongside The Punisher and Ghost Rider. It was the gritty style of character that helped define the Chromium Age of comics. Every kid who read comics read X-Men, and every kid wanted to be Wolverine.
X-Men: Fatal Attractions was one of those “epic storylines” I mentioned earlier. For myself, I actually started reading towards the end of the storyline in X-Men #25. I was on my way to scout camp, and I stopped into Hart’s Grocery to pick up some provisions, when I saw the glossy hologram of Gambit peeking above the spinner rack at the checkout. Of course I picked up the issue, and read it numerous times over that weekend, not quite understanding what was going on, but having one of my earliest “Holy Shit!” moments when *spoiler* Magneto rips the mythical adamantium right off Wolverine’s bones. Of course that week I was in the middle of the woods, and had no idea what happened to Wolverine next. All I knew was that Magneto was lobotomized by Professor X and the unbeatable Wolverine was without his razor sharp claws. When I got back, I immediately ran to the comic book store, and thanks to a helpful clerk found all the issues of the storyline. And guess what? They made zero sense.
That’s the main reason I chose this book, as part of getting into comics is not knowing what you’re getting yourself into most of the time. Books like Fatal Attractions force youth to try and understand what’s going on around you. Granted I had a lot of background knowledge on the X Men thanks to the cartoons and video games, but this was unreal, and I think every comic book reader needs to feels little overwhelmed at some point. It’s the point where you say,”alright, I can handle this.”
Next week: Kevin’s take on “X-Men: Fatal Attractions”
You can also hear Joe and Kevin on their podcast
Read along with Joe and Kevin
Next up- Spawn vol.1 and Gen 13 vol.1
X-Men: Age of Apocalypse Vol. 2-4