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View Full Version : X Men where to start? Too much input...


Wildrider
2010-03-27, 10:46 PM
I've always dipped in and out of comic buying, limiting myself to TPBs of stuff mostly bought on a wave of nostalgia and reccomendation. Over the years I'v built up an eclectic collection of odd volumes from everything from Hellboy and Captain Britain to The Authority, (With TFs being a given naturally)

But...

I've always had a deep and for the most part, unfulfilled love affair with the X-Men, stemmed from a 'Superheroes Omnibus' annual that I got one year a s a kid which had amongst other stories an extract from an X-Men comic. The bit where Wolverine and Sabretooth go toe to toe after Psylocke fights a valiant rear guard action. I later found that in a TPB 'Mutant Massacre'.

Also have read and loved the whole 'Age of Apocalypse' saga and am tempted by so many other stories, but aside from 'X-Force/X-Statix' I've been reluctant to dip in to the universe any further.

It's just so sprawling and overwhelming, 'House of M'? 'Civil War? Where do I start? I;v read Ultimate X-Men and after the first collection didn't really like it. I think it was Iceman's banadana.

Long story short is I like the huge epic encounters, with a high casualty quota and giant roster. Not much to ask for right?

So true believers, any reccomendations on a suitable starting point for some adventure in the X-Men universe would be appreciated, I have my encyclopedia to hand and 'I Love Phat' t-shirt all I need now is some knowledge.

PSSSST Also have a secret love for Ant -Man, anywhere to start in Avengers town would also be helpful.

Hound
2010-03-27, 11:11 PM
I really like the current Uncanny X-Men stuff being written by Matt Fraction but nothing really epic with people dying there though. The current X-Force series is awesome for superviolence with a crossover with Cable being the only bad point in a great comic.

If you've not read the Inferno crossover from back in the 80s you should.

As for Avengers just read New Avengers by Bendis. No Ant-Man but you won't miss him.

DrSpengler
2010-03-28, 12:58 AM
If its the recent stuff, I'm afraid I can't really help you out so much. I kinda dropped out after Onslaught.

But much of the X-Men's biggest and best story arcs have been collected in affordable trades so its rather easy to start at "the beginning" (or whatever arbitrary point you decide should be "the beginning") and move forward from there with minimal gaps that can't be skipped.

You could start with the Claremont era. The guy couldn't write dialogue for shit, but he was a great idea man. And hey! John Byrne. Dude could draw.

Marvel's been releasing the run in affordable paperbacks under the Marvel Milestone imprint, "Uncanny X-Men" (the ones titled just "X-Men" cover the Lee/Kirby years).

To get into the big, sprawling arcs you *do* kind of have to read things in a chronological fashion, as every major "event" arc feeds into the next, eventually culminating in the nigh-impenetrable "Inferno" arc (which is great if you've read the stuff leading up to it...not so great if you're just jumping in).

But to give you some trade ideas, perhaps try this order:

Proteus (prologue to the Dark Phoenix Saga)
Dark Phoenix Saga (a bit too highly revered for my taste, but still enjoyable)
Days of Future Past (my favorite of Claremont's "classic" arcs and hooray for Kitty!)
From the Ashes (trade is out of print but introduces Madelyn Prior and transitions into the next roster of X-Men)
Phoenix Rising (after this arc, you'll understand why nobody like Cyclops and why they're totally justified in their hate. Also, birth of X-Factor)
Mutant Massacre (Marauders slaughter the Morlocks and a lead-in to Fall of the Mutants, but I think you said you read this one)
X-Men vs. the Fantastic Four (mostly a FF story but a good epilogue to Mutant Massacre and very Kitty-centric)
Fall of the Mutants (just...just read the X-Factor part; first major conflict with Apocalyse and birth of Archangel. The X-Men and New Mutants portions are pretty bad and all three segments are entirely unrelated, plot-wise)
Inferno (the big culmination of everything that'd been happening since Phoenix split off into Jean Grey and Madelyn Prior. Fun if you've done your homework, though)

Then you get into the 90s stuff, which is my guilty pleasure. It's the X-Men roster I grew up on and I have a genetic affinity for the damn stories, no matter ho shitty Liefeld's art may be. Some of them are pretty good, though.

X-Tinction Agenda (not all that great, some bad Liefeld art, too much ****ing Jubilee for measure, but if you've ever been interested in what Genosha as a mutant slave labor island was all about in the comics, this is it)
X-Factor Visionaries: Peter David (the transition from the old X-Factor roster to the new guys and it totally rocks; some great stories in here so long as you ignore that awful Incredible Hulk crossover)
Mutant Genesis (the Jim Lee-penciled arc that made Magneto a villain again and probably the one anybody who adored the Saban cartoon will want to read, since it boasts that line-up plus villains like Omega Red and what-not)
X-Cutioner's Song (The big Cable vs. Strife vs. Apocalypse arc and one of my favorites of the 90s, God help me)
Fatal Attractions (I was alllll over this holofoil card cover bullshit back in the day. The chapters don't connect well at all, but the stories in Uncanny, X-Men and Wolverine are all enjoyable and feature events such as Wolverine getting his adamantium torn out and Professor X stupidly setting Onslaught into motion)

At this point, things kinda move away from "story arcs that can fit in a single ****ing trade" and toward "story arcs that are milked into the ****ing ground and take four trades to cover thanks to all the pointless filler but holy shit the epic!"

Age of Apocalypse (you can get all four super thick trades and the book is great for its key moments, but its so ridiculously decompressed that you're sort of in agony when getting to them. I'd almost say just stick to the Alpha, Omega, Amazing and Astonishing portions of the line, but it's up to you)
Onslaught (another four trader. The entire "o noes teh Sentinals!1!" thing in the middle is wretched, but when this arc is good, it's GOOD. "Behold my Mighty Hand" is epic and I did love the final showdown at the end)


And that's about where my X-Men collection ends. There's other stuff, like the Asgard Wars, X-Men vs. the Avengers and New Mutants Classic trades that might qualify as major "events" or "turning points", but I thought they were kinda skippable (well, I personally loved the New Mutants, but I don't expect everyone else to).

If you want to go pre-Claremont, though, then I'd totally recommend getting your hands on the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams run from toward the end of the "original five" era. The costumes were kind fugly, but Adams' art was great and Thomas has always been one of my favorite writers. There's some really cool stuff in there, though you might have to wait until the trade paperback collections of Marvel Milestone "X-Men" reprints get to that point (around the #50s or so).

LKW
2010-03-28, 07:45 AM
Well, I significantly disagree with Mr. DrSpengler on a few of his points above, though he does give a good overview of what's out there. The point which actually made me go "OMFG" was "The guy couldn't write dialogue for shit" - unless he meant that Claremont's dialogue wasn't as great early as it would become, with which I would concur.

I also completely disagree with the characterization of X-Men's "Fall of the Mutants" as bad - it was one of the first things I thought of to recommend to you when I read this topic. (I do agree that the X-Factor is good, and the New Mutants skipable.)

If you want to see what Mystique was like before other writers began completely ****ing her up, read Uncanny #177 - probably in some Essential trade, or could be found in a "Classic X-Men/X-Men Classic" reprint likely on the cheap.

If you find Claremont to be to your liking, Mutant Genesis may be essential, as it reprints, I believe, the final three issues he wrote in his original run - the newly-launched adjective-less X-Men #1-3, and the launching point for the new "Claremont-verse". With the current X-Men Forever series, Claremont has created a splinter continuity, carrying on as though he'd never left, ignoring the work other authors (and, eventually, Claremont himself) tacked on to the X-Men universe after he'd ended his fifteen yearish run. This casts out both the good and the bad of most of the 90s and 00s and creates a new dilemma for mutantkind in a bi-weekly series. (I still collect the current X-Factor, still helmed by Peter David, but personally like the reset X-Universe in X-Men Forever quite a bit. Other opinions may vary.)

Also - is Hound actually recommending New Avengers? I did read that for a couple of years, as "junk food" reading - and had to drop it, as I couldn't continue to tacitly endorse it by buying it any longer. Now there's one I personally might say has some good ideas but can't actually write for shit. So turned off by Bendis from New Avengers that I won't even touch Siege. (FWIW, the new Ant-Man is in Thunderbolts at the moment - while it's not what it was under Busiek/Nicieza, it's currently all right.)

ETA: Though there have now been three distinct Ant-Men. Do you mean the original, Hank Pym? Or there's Scott Lang, father of new hero Stature; or the current, kinda-comical guy.

Cliffjumper
2010-03-28, 12:08 PM
Get a big, fat wodge of vintage Claremont. It's kinda bad, but in a really fun way. UK-wise the pocket collections that collected his first 30 or so issues were filling shelves in Works outlets at around 1.99 a few months ago. While it looks a bit primitive now, the 70s/80s stuff looks much better than anything American of the era and is still good fun.

X-Men works best when you immerse yourself and let the fanboy out a bit. At the risk of receiving a staff-delivered nutkick, the best thing to do is find the big blocks of issues on P2P/torrent/fileshare sites and just download and read. It's not that there aren't stand-out arcs, it's just that they work that much better if they're in context.

EDIT: Oh, and if you like Captain Britain, don't read Excalibur as it's 60-odd issues of Alan Davis turning the character into a laughing stock.

DrSpengler
2010-03-29, 01:48 AM
Well, I significantly disagree with Mr. DrSpengler on a few of his points above, though he does give a good overview of what's out there. The point which actually made me go "OMFG" was "The guy couldn't write dialogue for shit" - unless he meant that Claremont's dialogue wasn't as great early as it would become, with which I would concur.

I also completely disagree with the characterization of X-Men's "Fall of the Mutants" as bad - it was one of the first things I thought of to recommend to you when I read this topic. (I do agree that the X-Factor is good, and the New Mutants skipable.)

I dunno, all the "tovarisch"es and "Mein freund"s started to take their toll after a while. His dialogue for the "Ethnic X-Men" was a bit too over the top for my tastes.

He did improve over the course of the 80s, I'll give him that, it's just that the way he wrote comics was just too out of time for the era in which he was writing them.

Lots of purple prose and unnecessary narrative caps and expositionary dialogue that felt straight out of the Silver Age when most other writers at the time had moved on past that style and begun streamlining the amount of redundant text in their scripts.

It just got a tad exhausting and difficult to overlook since he didn't have that "It was the Silver Age; EVERYONE wrote like that!" excuse to get him off the hook.


His storylines were great though, and I'll admit, once you acclimate yourself to his expositionary and redundant style, you sort of stop noticing it after a while.

Cliffjumper
2010-03-29, 07:15 AM
To me Claremont just never seemed to develop - his first couple of years on the book are a lot... slicker than most other late 1970s/early 1980s Marvel, but he just doesn't change his style and by the mid-1980s most others had caught up, an by the end of the decade they overtook him. His late-1990s run was terrible, really really bad stuff, and what I've read of his work since wasn't much better.

That said, the repetition of lines is strangely comforting sometimes - the way you know you're only ever three pages away from Cannonball mentioning he's invulnerable when he's blastin', or Rogue noting that she can't touch anyone else.

Narrative-wise, though, there's some good stuff in there, and some pretty groundbreaking ideas too. I mean, for about thirty-odd issues there isn't an X-Men team in the comics, just a bunch of stragglers trying to work out what the Hell is happening.

inflatable dalek
2010-03-29, 03:11 PM
At the risk of receiving a staff-delivered nutkick.

Shall we form an orderly line?

I've got the big chunky B&W books from the start of Clearmont's run through to the (I think) end of the 80's, it's been a while since I read any but IIRC they're pretty much as said, good cheesy fun with some great ideas.

DrSpengler
2010-03-29, 03:42 PM
Ya know, somehow I forgot that I've actually read some post Onslaught stuff. Is that a bad sign?

I've read the first two volumes of Morrison's run ("E for Extinction" and "Imperial"). Morrison is Morrison, so it's full of really out there, surreal, wacky stuff. Most of its good, some of it isn't (flashback to Cassandra Nova and Xavier as fetuses, battling it out in the womb, for instance).

I never finished Morrison's run since what I'd read sort of bugged me (Xorn/Magneto/Xorn), but I intend to get around to it one of these days.

I'd still recommend what I've read (volumes 1 and 2). Yeah, they bring in the Movie-inspired black leather body suits to replace the costumes, but even without the goofy outfits it still feels like X-Men. I'm not a huge fan of Frank Quitely's style. I recognize his better skills, but it's his facial designs that irk the hell out of me. Everyone looks like they're made from melting clay. His interior work isn't as bad as his covers (probably due to the interior panels not being so grotesquely detailed as the covers).


Then there's Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men series.

Whedon's like the anti-Claremont; he's a poor idea-man (at least in regards to his X-Men work), but he writers some really brisk and snappy dialogue.

His storylines hit on mostly familiar X-Men conflicts (A cure for mutants!? Oh no the Danger Room is alive! The Hellfire Club! Gasp! Aliens are in trouble and need our help! Hey look! Kitty and Colossus are together!) but he manages to get a lot out of them through some great character-driven moments and lots and lots of well-executed humor.

The downside is, you can breeze through an issue in two minutes flat and a full trade in under twenty. The dialogue is almost all witty rejoinders and the bulk of the actual story is told strictly through the art.

It's fun, though, and being almost entirely self-contained it's very accessible even if you only have vague understandings of the X-Men from outside media.

inflatable dalek
2010-03-29, 03:48 PM
It might work better read as a trade but the protracted publishing schedule and the fact nothing seemed to happen for months at a time succesfully put me off any other comics Wheddon has done. The fact the last issue has just about every other Marvel super hero show up only for 95% of them to contribute exactly nothing sums it up pretty well.

Plus:

When did Kitty become able to phase for longer than she can hold her breath?

DrSpengler
2010-03-29, 03:58 PM
Yeah, it's one of those titles that was agony to read while it was being published, but is far more enjoyable in trade form.

You know, like The Ultimates.

Cliffjumper
2010-03-29, 05:16 PM
Astonishing never quite clicked with me, but then with Marvel stuff I'm firmly into familiarity. It felt a little bit too arch and self-knowing a lot of the time - I don't actually rate Whedon as a comic writer, those sharp lines benefit from an actor bringing them to life. On the page it tends to come across as people spouting one-liners at each other. John Cassaday makes it worth reading, but you get that in Planetary. It's a pretty hollow comic, an X-Men book for people who don't like X-Men.

Got Morrison's as it came out. Never quite lived up to the early promise IMO - the Magneto arc is Morrison at his worst, smug and brattish, and that future one was no better. Xorn was a great character until he was messed with. That Quentin self-insertion guy not so much. "E is for Extinction" and the Cassandra Nova storyline are excellent stuff, though. Mind, I have to be in just the right mood for Morrison, sometimes he's just a **** and sometimes he's a genius. Mind, I still think Zenith shits all over The Invisibles, so what do I know?

Regarding Quitely, I sort-of agree. Everyone looks bloated, rippling and a bit inflated. However, his layouts and the dynamism of the art is just incredible - the fight scene between the X-Men and Cassandra in the last bit of "E is for..." is just something else. He was the same on The Authority - everyone looked incredibly ugly, but the kinetics of the fight scenes (e.g, Singapore) are mind-blowing.

Also regarding newer X-Men stuff, Chuck Austen's first couple of arcs really aren't that bad - good character work, some neat dialogue and passable plots. Quite why he went so utterly mental after about a year of doing a Lobdell-esque competent unspectacular job I don't know...

DrSpengler
2010-03-29, 07:40 PM
The only Chuck Austin I've read was the arc he did with Kia Asamiya. I was curious on a visual level so I checked it out. I... just don't think that Asamiya's manga style translates well to Western comics. Or maybe it was just the coloring. I dunno. I like him well enough in black and white format, but his X-Men just looked bad.

As for the writing, it was really up and down. I couldn't get into all that stuff with Maximus Lobo (really? You named him *that*?) or Stacy X or...I dunno, that nurse and her crazy kid.

But I loved what he did with Juggernaut and I actually enjoyed seeing him as a hero (I never read the story where he sleeps with She-Hulk, which everyone seems to bring up whenever Chuck Austin's name is mentioned). First time I'd actually given a damn about Juggernaut in ages and it felt kind of natural.

I've only read one arc of Austin's run and it was very, very polarizing in quality. People are always holding it up as the worst run of X-Men storytelling ever published; but you can only put so much stock in internet drama. It's not very high on my to-read list, so I may never get around to seeing if it's "not that bad" or what, though what I have read, again, was a pretty mixed bag.

Cliffjumper
2010-03-29, 08:14 PM
The Maximus Lobo bit was the first wobble - I don't think it was very far in... "Hope" was quite good in a simple, straightforward, slightly obvious way and very welcome after Casey... And there was a great, great, great one-shot with Northstar. I liked the Juggernaut thing too - even the She Hulk bit really wasn't that scandalous, and I seem to recall Jen even lampshaded how out of character it was for her. Was the first X-Corps arc his or Casey's? I seem to remember it was Casey's, and it wasn't actually bad.

But yeh, the nurse and her son was the beginning of it falling apart... Austen was kinda like IDW Furman - he can't resist throwing more and more plotlines and characters in there, but he never took it anywhere. Within an arc of joining the team Northstar was reduced to being the token gay - really bizarre stuff as his "re-intro" was "Hey, there's loads more to Northstar than him being gay", and when he's a regular it's "Look, there's Northstar, he's gay". And then after that he just seemed to be intentionally trying to piss people off with endless arcs about how Kurt's the devil's kid or Warren's a flying Wolverine or all the Guthries are voyeuristic weirdos... The bad stuff is every bit as bad as you've heard, though not so bad it's good (it's more often boring), but the guy's been demonised to such a ridiculous extent the fairly promising start's been forgotten.

I think his big mistake was looking at what Morrison was doing at the same time and going "Hey, secondary mutations? Radical character reinventions? I can do that!", when he might have been a bit better off writing something a bit more conventional and straightforward

Wildrider
2010-03-31, 09:36 PM
Is there another catastrophe multi-verse crossover in the pipeline this year, Marvel wise?

Thanks for the great replies my knowledgeable friends, I'm considering the Onslaught Saga as it implies it's self contained in terms of story and condensed into digestible TPBs, much like the Age of Apocalypse which I adore.

In answer to the 'Ant Man' question, I actually like all incarnations from Pym to the the modern guy who was originally just after chicks when he got the suit. Recently picked up a Marvel one off from Secret Invasion with a poignant look at Ant Man and Wasp, Yellow Jacket et all, it appears to be a lead into The Mighty Avengers and prelude to a 'new' Wasp.

But I like it, I blame is absolutely batty appearance in X-Statix Dead Girl for my love affair with him, I just love him, not sure why. Maybe it's because he always gets offed or re-incarnated in one form or another.

Perhaps an investigation into Secret Invasion may be on the cards, although that appears to be a massive cross over, as opposed to a solely X-Men or Avengers affair.

Also researching some Claremont TPBs, seems to be an overlap of material in smaller and slightly larger TPBS. Just deciding which ones to order from Amazon as we speak.

Also I used to pick up a load of old comics from an online store reccomended by someone here, I'm out of touch and often resort to buying TF comics from oneshallstand, which I'm happy to patronise. But for other things, what's a decent UK based online retailer? Preferably one where I can peruse a decent library of surplus back issues.

Springer85
2010-03-31, 10:44 PM
Well, the Dark Reign saga is being wrapped up now in the Siege mini series, but it isn't really a catastrophe multi-verse crossover. Don't know if there's going to be one within the next 12 months. I know that there's "The Age of Heroes" coming up now and that it's a good time to be an Avenger fan, with 3 new titles coming out. :)

Thanos is coming back from the dead in April I believe, so that might spill over to Earth, but I'm sure the story will be restricted to the Outer Space titles only.

Savannahtron
2010-04-03, 11:11 PM
I completely understand feeling a bit lost when approaching the any line in today's comic book market.

I read a lot of the X-Men from 93 and up to about 400 and in and out since.

What I have noticed is a couple of things over the last several years.

1) Continuing books are killed off and brought back.
2) Characters die a lot more often.
3) There are a lot more #1s and $1 cheap books
4) Lots of One-shots.
5) Special-purpose mini-series that are being called titles instead of mini-series.
6) Price of books $3 a pop for junk adds up quickly to a bunch of rubbish.

Story lines are generic at best, many of the characters are over-played, much like Batman, Spiderman and Superman in the 1990s.

Wolverine used to be a really interesting character to me, but I am tired of seeing him on 20 titles when I go to the comic shop every couple of months or so (although I went yesterday and hadn't realized it had been over a year since I was last there) and nothing much had changed.

The only character that I really don't get sick of seeing is Batman, simply because they have corrupted the Caped Crusader so much that he is not much more than the flip side of the Joker. It is much like watching a trainwreck. I hate that it happened, but I cannot turn my head from it.

People can argue endlessly about what is a good story or not. Bottom line is if you like it, then read it. :up: