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Old 2011-10-09, 04:53 AM   #1
Dead Man Wade
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Default The state of the X-men

I've been kind of out of the game, comics-wise for a while, but I've spent the last couple months getting caught up with what's been going on.

X-men Schism - So, the big split has finally begun, and Wolverine's reaction struck me as a little odd. First off, this isn't the first time a bunch of mutant teenagers have been asked to fight a Sentinel. Where was Logan's righteous indignation when Hellion lost his hands fighting wave after wave of them during Second Coming? Or when Cyclops drafted Laura into X-Force, against his wishes, depriving her of her chance at a normal life? Or any of the myriad other times Cyclops has had to make the tough calls since naming himself Supreme Overlord of the Mutants?

"Event" comics - These are sort of part and parcel of the industry at this point, I know. But, is it just me, or are the X-books doing way more of these than normal? Necrosha, Utopia, Messiah Complex, Messiah War, Second Coming, Schism, Age of X, X-Infernus, Curse of the Mutants. And that's in addition to the Big Summer Events like Siege and so on. You know what would be great? A single ****ing year without a cross-over. Just one, after which they could go right back to pumping out crossovers and Alphas. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Twelve issues of Uncanny X-men or X-men Legacy where you didn't have to have read every other series on the stands.

Chris Claremont - Marvel needs to lose his number. He's like Simon Furman, as everything he works on becomes a litany of "Remember that one issue of...". Can anyone name a single new idea he's come up with in the last decade of working on X-books?

Age of X - My original thoughts on this were going to be summed up as, "**** you, Mike Carey". Having thought about it some more, I've decided that's not quite accurate. To be fair, there were one or two interesting ideas here, but certainly not enough to fill, what was it, eight or nine issues? Legacy was a nice take on Rogue, and....that's pretty much it. And the title was, what, supposed to remind me of other, better storylines? Mission accomplished, as I got bored halfway through and went off to read Age of Apocalypse. The whole thing could have worked as a "What If...?"-style one shot or even a prestige format. Instead, we get a threadbare plot with only a couple of lingering effects. So, yeah: **** you, Mike Carey.

Chamber - Speaking of Age of X, Chamber was my favorite character from GenX (when they dialed back the "woe is me" schtick), so there's a part of me that's mildly stoked to see him back the way he was. Then the other parts shiv that part and bury it in an unmarked grave by the train tracks, as it completely undoes everything that's been done with him for the past six years. Chamber was in a better place, as a character, than he had been at any point since his creation, and now that's gone.

New Mutants - Doug Ramsey was killed, and stayed dead as long as he did, for a reason. While I do not mind the character himself (quite the opposite), he has no reason being part of a field team, hence why he took a bullet. You can sit there and prattle on about "The Language of Violence" all you want, Cypher is a support character. He belongs back on Utopia, not fighting demons in Limbo.

Uncanny X-men - Given Marvel's tendency to end a series, then bring it back with a new number one, then resume the original numbering, what's the point of ending anything in the first place? A couple years from now, they'll be putting out Uncanny X-men #600, so why even interrupt the numbering in the first place?

Curse of the Mutants - Were there issues that I missed, or did this straight up fizzle? Vampire politics aside, not a whole lot really happened. Though, it is nice to see Jubilee doing something again, and the ploy with Wolverine was fun, if a bit obvious.

Rogue - Nice of them to finally do something about her powers. The whole "Ah cain't touch somewhun without absorbing their powers and memories. Ah'm so alone." thing worked for a while, but has been wearing thin for the better part of a decade.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 05:02 AM   #2
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I lost interest completely just after Grant Morrison left X-Men (more coincidence rather than ardent following of him) after it became clear the titles were going to fall to the then-prevalent (and for all I know still prevalent) Marvel habit of getting in a new writer who spent most of their time retconning and/or comtradicting the previous writer's run. I wouldn't mind so much if this had meant good stories - IIRC I bailed when Claremont returned to one title (surprise, surprise, his first issue featured the X-Men playing baseball, complete with Rachel Summers returning for the only reason Rachel Summers ever shows up in Claremont comics - an editorial diktat preventing him from using Jean) and a second Xorn who was totally Xorn turned up in Chucky Austen's title.

It's always struck me as a shame that the Marvel Universe, while a bit outdated, hung together pretty well for 30-40 years and then the concept was basically killed off by Joe Quesada's desire to court edgy DC writers (who typically spent 12 months destroying a title and then ****ed back off to writing the Green Arrow).

I don't think I maintain any interest in any Marvel titles since Millar was replaced by that nonce Loeb on The Ultimates (where he proceeded to retcon and contradict, blah blah - how the **** did that **** Loeb get to be Marvel's golden boy? I remember when he was writing shit Cable comics). Reading all that I'm pretty glad about that.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 05:05 AM   #3
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The Furman/Claremont comparison, incidentally, is spot on. Claremont from his late-1990s return onwards is IDW Furman - he knows all the words, but he just can't get the tune right.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 05:27 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
It's always struck me as a shame that the Marvel Universe, while a bit outdated, hung together pretty well for 30-40 years and then the concept was basically killed off by Joe Quesada's desire to court edgy DC writers (who typically spent 12 months destroying a title and then ****ed back off to writing the Green Arrow).
Pretty much.

I'm sure, from a business standpoint, Joe Quesada was a godsend. But looking at the output, I don't think one would be accused of hyperbole if they said that he was the worst thing to happen to comics since Seduction of the Innocent, or that he should be drawn and quartered for Brand New Day alone.

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how the **** did that **** Loeb get to be Marvel's golden boy? I remember when he was writing shit Cable comics
He managed to turn out a few good years' worth of comics, which are looking more and more like a fluke, and has since proceeded to turn the Ultimate universe into an orgy of death and destruction for no other reason than because he ****ing well can.

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The Furman/Claremont comparison, incidentally, is spot on. Claremont from his late-1990s return onwards is IDW Furman - he knows all the words, but he just can't get the tune right.
Yeah, it's really rather depressing. The man's clearly past his prime. Yet every time the Marvel editors get stuck for a new direction, he gets work. And every time geeks see his name on the cover, they buy it, because comic shops are apparently patronized exclusively by Alzheimer's patients.

Edit: Have you seen anything about X-men Forever? That's positively mind-boggling.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 05:46 AM   #5
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I'm sure, from a business standpoint, Joe Quesada was a godsend. But looking at the output, I don't think one would be accused of hyperbole if they said that he was the worst thing to happen to comics since Seduction of the Innocent, or that he should be drawn and quartered for Brand New Day alone.
Yeh, I mean that's the problem with criticising Quesada - the sales tell a different story. The problem seems to be that Marvel didn't know where to stop - it wasn't just the big names that were given carte blanche to mess with continuity, and I think the approach is going to have (already having?) long-term problems. Many books gained short-term fair weather readers and lost ardent fanboys.

Don't get me wrong, there was lots of stupid shit and brainless retcons before Quesada, but it never felt like every title was being turned upside-down every 12 months just to generate a short-lived burst of hype. It might create jumping-on points, but it also creates jumping-off points.

The other thing about the editorial direction that bothered me was that there never seemed to be any long-term planning with writers, probably because they were only meant to last 12 issues.

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He managed to turn out a few good years' worth of comics, which are looking more and more like a fluke, and has since proceeded to turn the Ultimate universe into an orgy of death and destruction for no other reason than because he ****ing well can.
I do love the way it's only taken about a decade to completely **** over the Ultimate universe.

The other thing I really hated with X-Men was Austen's character stock-piling... I found his stories to be pretty average and occasionally good, and a couple of really stupid moments (Paige and Warren having sex in front of the Guthries, the Nightcrawler's dad thing - the latter should be given for shitting all over one of Claremont's more brainless ideas, though) have made it out to be worse than it was. However, it felt like every couple of issues were adding a new character to the roster - Husk, Northstar, Juggernaut, Havok, Polaris - who would then stand in the background doing nothing. I mean, shouldn't someone, somewhere have been saying "Okay, Chuck. Juggernaut joining the X-Men, I like it, it's got potential. But what are you going to do with it?".

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Edit: Have you seen anything about X-men Forever? That's positively mind-boggling.
I vaguely remember the late-1990s one which was an attempt to mimic Avengers Forever but was nowhere near as good (AF is pretty damn nerdy, but Busiek's good at nerdy and kept the story moving nicely). I'm guessing this is a new one, though?
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 06:49 AM   #6
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Don't get me wrong, there was lots of stupid shit and brainless retcons before Quesada, but it never felt like every title was being turned upside-down every 12 months just to generate a short-lived burst of hype. It might create jumping-on points, but it also creates jumping-off points.[/i]
Which is why I love guys like Mark Waid. Back when he was doing the Fantastic Four, there was the 9-cent issue. I picked it up on a whim, and it managed to perfectly encapsulate everything the FF was about, while still being a good read (probably one of the absolute best single issues of the book I've ever read). After that, I read every issue of his I could get hold of. He was constantly taking risks and trying new things, but it didn't have the same "blow everything up and pick through the rubble for the bits that are worth keeping" feel that a lot of other writers tend to have.

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The other thing about the editorial direction that bothered me was that there never seemed to be any long-term planning with writers, probably because they were only meant to last 12 issues.
Not that there's any payoff when people are allowed to go for years at a time. Bendis has pretty much had the run of the Marvel U for the better part of a decade, and it's amounted to approximately jack squat. Hardly anything's really changed, as most of the things that have occurred have been set back to right.

Marvel has made it abundantly clear that the most important thing is servicing the status quo. You can do whatever you want, as long as you put your toys back where you found them when you're done.

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I do love the way it's only taken about a decade to completely **** over the Ultimate universe.
The worst thing about it all is the fact that, while there were a few false starts in the Ultimate universe, Loeb managed to pretty well destroy the whole thing in just eleven issues.

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However, it felt like every couple of issues were adding a new character to the roster - Husk, Northstar, Juggernaut, Havok, Polaris - who would then stand in the background doing nothing. I mean, shouldn't someone, somewhere have been saying "Okay, Chuck. Juggernaut joining the X-Men, I like it, it's got potential. But what are you going to do with it?".
Austen's run was really hit or miss, certainly. Northstar's introduction into the book was pretty decent, as I recall, but the Draco nearly made me drop the book I'd been reading since I was child. Juggernaut's arc was interesting, but was characterized by the same "Will He/Won't He" crap that's haunted him since he first started becoming a hero. It's almost a blessing that he's gone back to being a villain again, if only so that we won't have to sit through that crap anymore.

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I vaguely remember the late-1990s one which was an attempt to mimic Avengers Forever but was nowhere near as good (AF is pretty damn nerdy, but Busiek's good at nerdy and kept the story moving nicely). I'm guessing this is a new one, though?
Volume 2 of X-men Forever (and volume three, for some reason named X-men Forever 2) is basically Marvel telling Claremont, "Yeah, you left X-men back in the 90s under fairly bad circumstances, so do whatever you want."

The storyline picks up after the end of X-men #3, Fabian Cortez's attempted murder of Magneto, and the destruction of Asteroid M. Claremont is then given free reign to create what amounts to an alternate timeline. The first issue ends with Storm killing Wolverine.

Several characters say some variation of "This guy took down Magneto, so he's not to be take lightly". In a page and a half.

I've not read past that yet. Sabretooth shows up in issue two, apparently, and he's Wolverine's father, which was CC's intent all along. The Sabretooth that the X-men had so many dealings with is, I guess, revealed to be a clone created by Sinister for....the sorts of reasons Sinister does such things.

It's a magical train wreck.
 

Last edited by Dead Man Wade; 2011-10-09 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 2011-10-09, 07:11 PM   #7
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I've never felt X-Men something that's easy to get into. Since the 1990s the X-books have largely been impentrable. That said, i really enjoyed Mystique's short lived series, the two limited series X-23 had (I bought #1 of her ongoing and found it a massive turn off as it invloved required knowledge of latest set of X-bun fights) were good, if unspectacular. I started reading Peter David's X-Factor (the modern series) and have found that enjoyable as it seems to stand somewhat apart from the other X books. These have been the exception rather than the rule. Marvel's incestuous approach to the X-books makes me wonder why they just don't run one title as a weekly anthology. They might as well do, given how things have turned out.

Elsewhere in the Marvel U, I've only been reading Invincible Iron Man which has been excellent up until this Serpent nonsense and Ghost Rider (probably my favourite Marvel character - and the Ketch one at that). GR is a constant source of frustration for me. I'm not particularly fond of Blaze, and the last sustained run spent far too much time squaring away a very muddled continuity from the 1990s. They rebbot the character and introduce a new host only to f**k it all up by doing this as part of Fear Itself and keeping Blaze on board as a sop to those whiny aging fanboys who can't live without Blaze being GR. Boo. Plus, the book still needs to be more like The Crow and less like Scooby Doo.

And don't even get me started on the perpetual fecking around with numbering....
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 07:15 PM   #8
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It might create jumping-on points, but it also creates jumping-off points.
This is what I don't get about current comics, particularly DC. The money, whilst dwindling, seems to be in the existing readership... but there aren't many "normal" stories between events now, it's almost all events. Hype burn out has to set in after a while.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 07:29 PM   #9
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This is what I don't get about current comics, particularly DC. The money, whilst dwindling, seems to be in the existing readership... but there aren't many "normal" stories between events now, it's almost all events. Hype burn out has to set in after a while.
Comic companies seem unable to accept that the days of million-sellers that make a genuine cross-cultural impact are long gone. They're forever tinkering with the format to find this elusive, non-existant "impulse" market (IDW being a case in point) rather than maintaining the readership they have. I think the problem is that BIG storylines and/or reboots only provide a brief spike to sales; the commercial answer is to make as many of these as possible. This will not work in the long term.

I mean, how many people can actually name who's in the X-Men now?
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 08:51 PM   #10
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I'm going to guess at;

Wolverine
Cyclops
Beast
Colossus
Iceman
Storm
Shadowcat

Because regardless of whether writer A develops them outside of a particular group configuration, writer B wants everything back to how it was when he was wanking over leotards (which could be any time from decades ago to yesterday.)

I'm still game for the occasional well-written standalone story or short run, but DC have generally been better at it so far. And I'm well aware that I'm not the audience they can afford to target at the expense of others... except I don't think it would be.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 08:59 PM   #11
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I have no clue of what's currently going on in any X-men title. I tried getting back into them a few times, but got so confused that I passed.
 


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Old 2011-10-09, 09:31 PM   #12
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The last post-Morrisson X-Men story I followed was Astonishing X-Men, mostly because it was entirely self-contained (it had to be, considering how late each issue was). Once that was through, though, I stopped.

It's funny; the X-Men titles I read as a kid weren't any less impenetrable than the stuff out now. I mean, what was going on in the early 90s? X-Tinction Agenda? X-Cutioner's Song? Fatal Attractions? Phalanx Sanction? Mother ****ing Age of Apocalypse and Onslaught!?

And all that was built off stuff like Inferno and Mutant Massacre and Fall of the Mutants, which in turn were built off twenty years of whatever Claremont had been up to.

When I was 8 I never read the complete storylines and was perfectly content with my Chapter 5 here and my Chapter 2 there. But now? That crap's a dealbreaker. I guess I'm pickier now than when I was 8.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 09:49 PM   #13
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I think X-Men is one of those things that when you're into it, you're into it, but once you're out, it's very difficult to re-envelope yourself in. That said, I always felt the number of books you 'needed' to read in the 1990s was greatly exaggerated - aside from the odd crossover, get Uncanny and Adjectiveless and you were fine; things like Gen X and Wolverine didn't have much impact on what else was going on; you'd get the odd thing like Colossus or someone going "No, we can't get Logan to help, he's in Madripoor*" [*= See Wolverine #88], and that was about it.

I can see why the Blue/Gold team division never worked, though - the idea of these guys who live in the same house and have been friends and team-mates operating as two seperate teams regardless of suitability was a bit silly... This tends to be the problem whenever they try to split the books up.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 10:14 PM   #14
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I think X-Men is one of those things that when you're into it, you're into it, but once you're out, it's very difficult to re-envelope yourself in. That said, I always felt the number of books you 'needed' to read in the 1990s was greatly exaggerated - aside from the odd crossover, get Uncanny and Adjectiveless and you were fine; things like Gen X and Wolverine didn't have much impact on what else was going on; you'd get the odd thing like Colossus or someone going "No, we can't get Logan to help, he's in Madripoor*" [*= See Wolverine #88], and that was about it.
Yeah, it probably seemed more daunting to me when I was a kid because I had to be so frugal with my meager allowance so the thought of owning a, gasp, 4 issue story arc seemed impossible.

X-Tinction Agenda crossed only, what, 3 titles, right? And even when arcs like X-Cutioner's Song and Fatal Attractions had a chapter in each Mutant book, it was only 1 issue a piece, I think.

At a $1 a week allowance I was able to eventually complete my whole Fatal Attractions set, which felt like such a huge accomplishment back in the day. I think my copy of X-Men #25 is the only thing I've stroked more than my youknowwhat. And of course its worthless because it was a comic published between the years of 1990 and 1999, but it has sentimental value!

One of the reasons I bought so many trading cards in lieu of comics as a kid. Int he pre-internet days, they were the best way to keep up with the rest of the Marvel Universe in all the titles I didn't follow; it was the only way I ever knew what was going on with Spider-Man. Also helpful in getting issue numbers of what to look for in the quarter bin.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 10:25 PM   #15
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I think X-Cutioner's Song was three issues each of Uncanny, Adjectiveless, X-Factor and X-Force. IIRC the X-Factor ones had batshit insane Jae Lee art at the time and mainly consisted of Peter David's usual banter with the overall storyline being sidetracked. Which was awesome.

I mainly remember that the storyline appeared around the same time as a D-list villain called the X-Cutioner was doing the rounds, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with him.

Fatal Attractions I always thought was pretty clever in the way the issues were connected but all pretty self-contained. X-Men #25 was dynamite, however, really epic little comic. I'm a bit of a Scott Lobdell fanboy, truth be told (did he write that one? Or just a lot of the other stuff in that era?) - he was a tidy writer, kept things moving forwards without much wholesale scrapping. He actually did a little fill-in run between Claremont V2 and Morrison that's one of my favourite little storylines.

Onslaught I loved, just because it did actually shake things up big-time for a year or so, but in a fairly logical fashion that didn't shit over everything else.
 
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Old 2011-10-09, 10:59 PM   #16
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Fatal Attractions I always thought was pretty clever in the way the issues were connected but all pretty self-contained. X-Men #25 was dynamite, however, really epic little comic. I'm a bit of a Scott Lobdell fanboy, truth be told (did he write that one? Or just a lot of the other stuff in that era?) - he was a tidy writer, kept things moving forwards without much wholesale scrapping. He actually did a little fill-in run between Claremont V2 and Morrison that's one of my favourite little storylines.
It seemed the bulk of the story was confined to the chapters in Uncanny, Adjectiveless and Wolverine, and it was a very tight and exciting arc. Except that part where Wolverine slashes Magneto and someone forgot to tell the colorist to include blood, so it looks like Magneto is flipping out because Wolverine tore his shirt; "You have exposed my abs for the last time!"

I was the only child on the face of the planet without a copy of X-Men #1, meaning that "Fatal Attractions" was my quintessential Magneto story growing up.

It bugs me that it hasn't been collected since the 90s, since my floppies are falling apart from excess stroking.

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Onslaught I loved, just because it did actually shake things up big-time for a year or so, but in a fairly logical fashion that didn't shit over everything else.
It's a lot of tedious stuff (much of the Sentinal crossovers in non-Mutant titles) with some great single moment payoffs. And not filled with nearly as much fluff as Age of Apocalypse, to be sure. Even if the shake-up didn't stick, such things rarely do in the long run in comics anyway. At least it didn't hit a reset button like AoA did.

Lobdell is a bit fire and ice with me, these days. He's been getting a LOT of flack for his (admittedly awful) DC work right now. And his run on IDW's Ghostbusters was the worst kind of Donald Glut-style phoning it in for a quick check. But I generally loved his X-Men stuff back in the day, and it's hard to describe just what it was that I liked so much. He didn't try to get so outrageously "high concept" as writers like Morrisson and he didn't try to completely deconstruct everything in an vain effort to leave a mark with his name on it. But he didn't "play it safe" either and hiw work isn't some forgettable borefest. He was "just right", I think.
 
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Old 2011-10-10, 01:17 AM   #17
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I currently buy Uncanny and Legacy and also read Wolverine, X-Men, New Mutants and X-Factor. I like all of them and they actually aren't crossing over hardly at all. The last couple crossovers have been small and have only involved 2 or 3 titles out of, what, like 9 or 10. I'm really enjoying X-Factor and Uncanny. Peter David is almost always solid and I'm pleasantly surprised to find that I like this Gillen guy quite a lot.

I stay away from almost all of Marvel nowadays. I read the Avengers books and Iron Man and ignore the rest. I might read Fear Itself eventually but so far I'm getting the gist of the story from the comics I already buy and I'm not actually all that interested.

I was going to read Schism and I even had the issues on my computer to read them and then decided I had enough other stuff to read and said forget it. I might get back to it someday but I read so much. There is only so much time in a day...
 
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Old 2011-10-10, 05:23 AM   #18
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Fatal Attractions I always thought was pretty clever in the way the issues were connected but all pretty self-contained. X-Men #25 was dynamite, however, really epic little comic.[/i]
The panel in Wolverine #75 still stands out in my mind. It was a huge deal back then: Wolverine on his knees, blood everywhere, heretofore unknown bone claws jutting from his hands.

And the fact that the whole thing started with an off-hand comment from Peter David is just cake.

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Onslaught I loved, just because it did actually shake things up big-time for a year or so, but in a fairly logical fashion that didn't shit over everything else.
Onslaught and Zero Tolerance were really the last of the great X-Crossovers. The seeds were laid for months before, and even when the final reveal of Onslaught's identity came, that was only the beginning.

That's really the issue that I have with a lot of the big event comics now. They spring up, basically out of nowhere, and everyone acts like it's the end of the world. Six months later, it might as well have never happened.

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I mean, how many people can actually name who's in the X-Men now?
Pretty much every mutant in existence is an X-man now, as even the holdouts (like Sebastian Shaw) are supposed to be joining up.

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The last couple crossovers have been small and have only involved 2 or 3 titles out of, what, like 9 or 10.[/i]
Yeah, but when there's six of them in two years, it adds up. Make no mistake, a crossover that spans two books (and a host of one-shots) is preferable to something as unwieldy as Civil War. But that doesn't change the fact that they've become kind of rapid fire in the X-books of late. There've been more "events" (which I've come to define as anything involving a separate miniseries or an "Alpha" issue) in the last three years than in any decade prior to 2000.

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I read the Avengers books
Okay, seriously. How many Avengers books are there at this point? Five?

Looking back at the first post in the thread, I do feel kind of bad that I didn't really bring up very much of the stuff I've liked, but the crap does tend to stick out more.
 
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Old 2011-10-10, 08:42 AM   #19
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I must admit with Onslaught that I have a paired-down version for reading (handily, in the UK it was reprinted as part of the four-weekly Essential X-Men series, which necessarily focused on the main bits rather than Iron Man fighting sentinels). The last one-shot especially is still pretty damn epic. But then I have more time for Heroes Reborn than most people - good idea, middling execution. But as you say, I liked the way the influence was felt for a year or so afterwards - the Thunderbolts (still one of the best ideas Marvel have ever had, such a shame they did the reveal so early), the rise in anti-mutant stuff... Plus the Heroes Return bit saw all four Reborn titles come back in really solid style.

Avengers I got put off by Johns followed by Austen, six years of epic Busiek work undone by two morons completely ill-suited to the title.
 
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Old 2011-10-10, 08:54 AM   #20
Dead Man Wade
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Thunderbolts was, for quite some time, my favorite non-mutant book. Pity it's been jerked around by several new directions, all of which miss the point in spectacular fashion. Most frustrating, by far, was the team that cropped up during Dark Reign. Haven't bothered to check it out since then, as I'm afraid of what I'll find.
 
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