Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I've talked about this with people before, but I've been thinking a lot about it lately. The first comic book that I bought with my own money was this one, Uncanny X-Men #247. I'd been reading and talking comics with my cousin pretty much my whole life at that point. His comics go much farther back than mine. However, this one was one I got myself.
My friend Carl (whom I had a pretty big crush on for some reason I have never been able to figure out to this very day) and I walked from his house to the corner store. Circle K or 7-11 or one of those, I can't remember which. I bought this and a cherry 7-up (still one of my all time favorite drinks).
There were a few things that happened in this issue that were pretty formative for me:
1) Claremont's writing was at its very peak in those days--the drama of Carol Danvers and Rogue having to share a body, Carol visiting her brother's name on the war memorial, Longshot's feelings of self-doubt and Dazzler's speech about why teams work together, etc.
2) Silvestri's sketch-like art. To this day, that's the type of pencil work I like best--something about it suggested a rush to get the image on the paper, a type of creative frenzy. I didn't understand that on a cerebral level at the time, but I felt it.
3) The sacrifice at the end, before anyone knew what the Seige Perilous would actually do.
4) This period of time for the X-Men, the Outback period, is my period. For everyone who reads comics, there's a certain period that you tend to think of as "yours." Certain storylines or circumstances that define how you were introduced to comics. This one was mine--the ad hoc feel of the team during this time really was as Fingeroth comes to describe it: a thermo-nuclear family. This was not the X-Men sitting back in their mansion lead by some balding guy who could, if things got too hairy, simply stop the world. No, this was a rag-tag group of mutants living in a vast underground complex that they didn't even know how to use, trying to live in a world split between those who believed the X-Men dead, and those gunning for them 24/7.
The team at the time was really angsty, too, which I liked:
1) Storm: she'd recently had a long bout where she lost her powers, and this had caused her to do a lot of soul searching
2) Colossus: of all the characters, he was perhaps the most grounded because he had his art--silvestri and claremont liked to show him sketching a lot
3) Psylocke: the dimure british girl telepath who wanted to scrap like the big dogs because her brother was Captain Britain
4) Dazzler: the singer who never wanted to be a mutant or a superhero in the first place
5) Longshot: an alien from another dimension who could never trust people because he never knew if he were manipulating their reality or not, and lived with nearly terminal low self-esteem
6) Wolverine: he wasn't telling anyone at the time, but his healing factor was on the fritz in many ways, and he was worried about it.
7) Havok: Scott's (Cyclops) little brother, and always living in his brother's shadow as the less leader-like, the less likeable, the fuck-up of the Sommers family.
8) Rogue: After an incident in Genosha, she discovered that when she absorbed someone's powers, she took a bit of their soul with it. Since Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) had died during one transfer, she was the most "whole" in Rogue's head, so when Rogue checked out after nearly being raped, Carol took over the body--hence Rogue's invulnerability and flight and super-strength (things she never had before this period of time). So Rogue is struggling to get her body back, and Carol is struggling to be heroic but is also selfish because this is her only body.
9) Madeline Pryor: The first of the endless line of cloned Jean Greys. No powers, per se, but she was a pilot and had an innate sense of how technology worked. Eventually, though, she becomes the Goblin Queen and its Dark Phoenix all over again.
With that lineup, there's no way that the writing isn't going to be all soap-opera-y and good.
I still believe this to be probably one of the best written comics I've ever read still, to this day, because of the mixture of storylines. Those are always my favorite stories; masks off, and talking. When the heroes sit down to have coffee together. When Bendis writes an entire issue as an entry in Carol Danver's blog about her day. When the writer treats the characters as humans doing work, and not merely as costumes in endless battle scenes (though I won't front like I'm one of those people who like comics despite themselves; I like battle scenes, too).
If you're a comics reader, what was your first issue? What period of time is "yours" for your favorite comic?

1 comment:

G said...

Um...I think you know my answer. But I like the idea of reading comics. :)