Well, if you’ve been waiting for my epic reread of the Uncanny X-Men to reach one of the most consequential and memorable stories in comic history, your waiting has paid off. It only took 26 blog posts, but we’ve arrived at the beginning of the Dark Phoenix Saga. This arc of the Dark Phoenix Saga, from issue #129 to #131 does some major things.
First, it introduces a mutant who will over the course of the coming decades become a very important X-Man and eventually one of the team leaders: Kitty Pryde. Second, it introduces a mutant who over than same time period will become an iconic X-Men rival and villain, and eventually an ally, teammate and leader herself: Emma Frost. Third, it deepens the corruption of Phoenix’ soul by Jason Wyngarde and Emma Frost.
I started collecting comics in 1981. I was lucky that a friend had been collecting for a while and didn’t care much for X-Men. I ended up trading comics with him and ending up with X-Men, which was my favourite. Because of that, for the longest time, the earliest X-Men issues I had were #112, #116 and #118. Occasional trips to the comic shops in Toronto and my many visits to my town’s lone second-hand book store helped me fill in many gaps, although it wasn’t until the 1986 reprint series Classic X-Men that I got to read issue #111.
That experience of just trying to collect all the stories of your favourite characters seems alien to my son, who has trade and omnibus editions, can read digitally for a pittance and so on. My reading experience growing up was not knowing what was in the missing issues which felt like standing on an island and looking across the way to another island I couldn’t reach, but could imagine.
Welcome to my 21st post in my ongoing blog series of my reread of the X-Men starting in 1963. We’ve reached 1978, just three years before I started collecting, and we’re into issues now that form part of my biographical comics playlist. These were among the stories that shaped the outline of my creativity. The art and story and emotion still leave me in a bit of awe.
So put on your bell bottoms, check your medallions and pull up a chair to 1978. If you need help getting into the mood, the radio was playing Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty, September by Earth, Wind and Fire, Just What I Needed by The Cars and Abba asked us to Take a Chance on Me.
This Quixotic blog series of my reread of the Uncanny X-Men has gotten to twenty posts! When I started in December, I wasn’t sure how long I could do this, but it’s been a lot of fun! In this post, I’m going to go over two gems from 1977: the Canadian Invasion in Uncanny X-Men #109 and the dinner party gone bad in Iron Fist #15. Then I’m going to take a bit of a higher level look at a few swing-and-a-miss guest appearances and another issue where a fill-in art team mangled an issue.
You’ll recall that at the end of X-Men #108, the X-Men, along with Princess Lilandra, had just come home after Phoenix saved the universe. Except for their vacation-trap in issue #101 this is basically the first break the X-Men get since issue #98. #108 is the first issue in over a year that didn’t end with some kind of a cliffhanger!
Welcome to part 18 of my Quixotic reread of the X-Men, starting with issue #1 in 1963. We’re now in 1976 and I ended my last post partway through #101 because Phoenix’s introduction is the real climax of the last arc and it made sense to stop there.
After Phoenix’ appearance and the hospital reunions, a new story arc starts, insofar as one can ever say a story starts or ends in Claremont’s braided narrative. In this post, I’m going to cover the last half of Uncanny X-Men #101 to the end of issue #104 because it covers the new X-Men’s meeting with two hugely important and iconic villains: the Juggernaut and Magneto.
Personally, this set of stories fits into my life in that I read issue #101 in French in B&W as an 11 year old in 1982, and couldn’t afford to read issue #102-#104 until the summer of 1987 when they were reprinted in the Classic X-Men. So I’d been waiting 6 years for these stories. The Classic X-Men reprint series was great — it allowed me to fill out all the story gaps in my collection; by then, by trading with friends or buying from the comic shops in Toronto, I’d already gotten a complete run from #134 onward.
With Phoenix in the hospital in issue #101 (October, 1976) the X-Men, led by Banshee, go to Ireland on a forced vacation. Jean needs rest and support the Scott and Professor X can offer, and the new X-Men need to get out from underfoot.
Welcome to part 17 of my quixotic reread of the Uncanny X-Men, beginning in 1963. I’m seeing how far I can go. Issues #97 to #101 are special for me because they loom large in my personal experience of collecting the backstory. This post covers a special period for X-Men and Marvel history too.
The introduction of Phoenix as the new incarnation of original x-man Jean Grey was a gigantic development, with impacts on the Marvel Universe that continue to play out in comics in 2020. An argument could be made that the creation of Phoenix was as significant an event as the creation of characters like Wolverine or the Silver Surfer. Each character opened up new kinds of stories to be told in the Marvel Universe.
Issue #97 (February, 1976) was created by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum with Sam Grainger on inks, whom I personally find too rough to catch the finesse of Cockrum’s pencils. The issue opens with alien space ships and a huge space opera battle.
Welcome to the 16th installment of my reread of the X-Men, starting from issue #1 in 1963!
Today’s post is kind of a big deal, because Giant-Size X-Men #1 is the launch pad for the modern X-Men. This of course leads to the gigantic sales success in the early 90s, the cartoons, the movies and everything. In essence, after a five-year absence of new X-Men stories, Giant-Size X-Men #1 adds to the X-pantheon three previously-created, but little-known mutants (Sunfire, Wolverine and Banshee) and four brand new ones (Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Thunderbird).
Welcome to post 15 of my re-read of the X-Men, which began in the Silver Age with X-Men #1 in 1963. We’re now well into 1974. We’ve gone through pretty much every appearance and guest appearance of the X-Men and even some X-Men-adjacent characters and we’re only a year away from Len Wein and Dave Cockrum’s new take on the X-Men in Second Genesis. I’m going to talk about five issues in this post and note a few others for those who want to read in a really completist way.
The first set of issues is a two-part Magneto appearance in The Defenders #15-16. I glossed over Magneto’s Amazing Adventures appearance against the Inhumans in the last post because he was bringing a bit of a tired plot to the table (creating a bunch of mutants from scratch to command and send into battle).
This is a gigantic milestone! This is the 8th episode in my reread of the X-Men run. It covers from #59, the height of the Roy Thomas-Neal Adams run, to #66, the end of original X-Men stories, which hit the stands on March 10th, 1970. The end of the X-Men’s ongoing stories coincides with the end of the Silver Age and the beginning of the Bronze.
The Silver Age X-Men, as a distinctly 1960s phenomenon reached their peak with some of the Arnold Drake stories with some interesting experimentation under Steranko’s art. The arrival of Neal Adams feels much more like it belongs in the Bronze Age. Both the art and the story complexity (under Roy Thomas) feels like it’s breaking creative ground that the best of the 1970s will follow.
The merry mutants’ uneven momentum had carried them for 7 years, but even a spectacular finish couldn’t save the series from its failure to come into focus. We’re going to talk today about that end.
I think everyone’s to-be-read pile is always in danger of collapsing on them so that rescuers can only find cat-gnawed bones. For that reason, I listen via Audible and don’t have a cat.
But still, my to-be-read pile is huge and growing and I’d been wanting to read Fonda Lee’s Jade City for some time. It just won the Aurora and did quite well with Hugo and Nebula readers. Also how cool does a magical Asian Godfather story sound?
Lee has created the world of Janloon, what felt to me as a kind of magical Hong Kong, set sometime after cars, airplanes and phones, but before cell phones and computers. It’s a world of increasing modernity and one where ancient traditions (magical jade) come into conflict.
The Kaul family and the Ayt family are the two big mafia families that run Janloon through politicians and businesses. The people of Janloon are the only ones who can wear magical jade without having major toxicity/withdrawal/addiction problems. In the hands of a trained green-bone, jade can enhance perception, strength, speed, toughness, etc and the uneasy stalemate between the No Peak Clan (the Kauls) and the Mountain Clan (the Ayts) begins to unravel with the possibility of a drug called SN1 which allows foreigners to use jade.