Sometimes when life is too busy, I don’t have the bandwidth for entertainment that engages too deeply with me emotionally or intellectually. It seems like all of 2019 has been like that. Earlier in the year, I talked about rereading the first hundred and twenty issues of Marvel’s The Defenders. Last month my brain needed another break, so I started rereading the original X-Men. It was fun and full of nostalgic feelings.
The problem is, I can’t just do 500 words on the X-Men. They were certainly a second-string title in the 1960s that, publication and profit-wise, was on a slow train to moth-balling by 1970, despite a brief renewal under Roy Thomas and Neal Adams. But five years later, the Claremont-Cockrum-Byrne team modernized the X-Men mythos for the Bronze and modern age and by the late 1980s, the soap operatic X-Men had become an economic juggernaut (sorry).
I lost touch with the X-Men in the 1990s when I left comics, and found the mythos so ornate as to be impenetrable once I came back to comics in 2007. It was too vast.
In 2016, DC launched a new imprint called Young Animal, an offshoot of its Vertigo stuff, led by Gerard Way and editors Jamie Rich and Mark Doyle. Young Animal’s goal is to relaunch some DC characters for mature audiences. I hadn’t been paying attention, but got drawn in by Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye.
In 1968, around the time that 2001: A Space Odyssey was in theaters, booksellers had Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, by Erich Von Daniken. It was such a big seller that I had no trouble acquiring a second-hand copy for 25 cents in the mid-1980s, and even as a thirteen-year old, I couldn’t make it more than a few pages into its soft-headed nonsense.
Von Daniken’s thesis of course was that the pyramids, Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines, and so on were beyond the abilities of previous civilizations, and required visiting space visitors to explain their existence.
Part of Von Daniken’s “evidence” is that the artistic styles we see in previous civilizations are better explained as ancient peoples depicting the space suits of their alien visitors. Big toke time.