Mirror Mirror

This movie is definitely an acquired taste. It’s what I call a ridiculous fantasy, and more often than not, films like this miss the mark, like Ella Enchanted. (they butchered my favourite book in the entire world) Having said that, I really enjoy Mirror Mirror, while it was a ridiculous fantasy, I found it enjoyable. In my opinion the comedy was good, the characters likable, and the costumes and sets lavish and colourful, a tad over the top but in a way that works.

The film is by Tarsem Singh who has made a name for himself directing movies that are visually very colourful and detailed, and fairly surreal. He directed The Cell, with Jennifer Lopez, The Fall, which I plan to watch, but it looks amazing, and The Immortals, which as I have said is remiss to 300 and people died in it in a beautiful explosively gory way.

Mirror Mirror is a loose interpretation of the Snow White fairy tale, which I like. It doesn’t follow the typical Snow White story arc, which means you can’t exactly predict where the story is going to go, and gives the story a uniqueness.

As Snow Whites go Lily Collins was nothing special, in fact I think she’s pretty much the Disney version come to life, albeit a less squeaky version. When they announced Lily Collins as Snow White I looked her up and didn’t find her looks very memorable. Interesting how dying her hair darker made her look beautiful! Now I find her stunning! Oh wait there she goes back to her normal hair colour, never mind.

(I am so mean, she’s the daughter of Phil Collins, I should be a bit nicer.)

The love interest was hot, very dashing, very nice teeth. He was so funny as a love sick puppy.

The highlight of this film was Julia Roberts, she was hilarious, she looked gorgeous in all those beautiful over-the-top frilly dresses and she was just so cute when she was evil! The Evil Queen’s magic and her mirror were also an interesting take on magic.

And let’s not forget Nathan Lane. It was enjoyable to watch him suffer at the hands of the Evil Queen especially his misadventures as a cockroach. (no that is not a spoiler, it was in the trailer!)

Finally the dwarves. Firstly, they didn’t have the Disney names, YAY! They were an enjoyable group, they had a natural lively friendly dynamic with each other, and they were so sweet around Snow White. The worst Seven Dwarves cast were the ones in Kristin Kreuk’s Snow White: The Fairest of Them All. Ok they weren’t great, but they were bumbling, and I can’t stand bumbling when done badly. I found these dwarves to have the most personality ever in a Snow White film that I have seen.

I really loved the prologue in the film, it’s 3D animation of porcelain puppets, I just love the style. It like the prologue in Hellboy 2, with the wooden puppets; or the Deathly Hallows tale that was done with shadow puppet styled animation. It has this eerie disturbed quality to it that I just love.

I think my friends enjoyed Mirror Mirror, it wasn’t great but it was fun, unfortunately that all ended when they began singing at the end of the film! My one friend put her head in her hands and began to moan over and over again ‘No, no, no’, and the other exclaimed that the film had suddenly become a Bollywood film. I think audiences would have enjoyed the film more, of thought more kindly towards the film had the director not put that Bollywood number in. It was just plain WRONG!

Unfortunately I suspect I was the only person who really enjoyed this film, but then I like ridiculous colourful fantasy films like this. I mean I love Speed Racer, and I have yet to meet a person who saw it, let alone liked it. I can’t even begin to think why I love Speed Racer so much and watch it so often, although I suspect it’s the colourful ridiculousness of it. Mirror Mirror is a fun, colourful, ridiculous movie.

Dark Shadows

When this movie was first announced, I thought it sounded like some really warped, twisted horror film. It’s the title. When the first trailer came out I was pleasantly surprised, and giggled all the way through it.

I enjoyed the film, however I did feel it lacked something. Maybe it needed a little more character development, I don’t know. What’s sad is that the trailer is fantastic, and the movie just misses the mark, maybe because the scenes in the trailer, when taken out of context are hysterical, but in the movie they fizzled a bit.

I did love that it was set in the 70’s, it gave the film a marvellous flavour and vibrant aesthetic. I also loved the Collinwood Mansion, it was an incredibly detailed set, over the top ornate carvings that so easily could have been gaudy and over the top, but managed not to be. I mean seriously, giant Seahorse statues on the outside of the mansion, can easily make it look kitschy but for some reason didn’t.

I enjoyed Johnny Depp as Barnabus Collins, you couldn’t see any Captain Jack Sparrow in his mannerisms. However I did find him a bit lacking. Maybe because they didn’t deal with Barnabus’s self hatred of what he is, and his inner turmoil with feeding on humans to live. In this regard I have seen these problems dealt with better in the Twilight Saga and Vampire Diaries, plus the golden oldies, Angel, Blade and Interview with a Vampire. Now these films and shows knew how to deal with the vampire with a conscience. Dark Shadows dealt lightly with the issue, and Barnabus fed too easily, and with not enough self loathing and remorse. Edward and Angel had it in spades.

I enjoyed Eva Green as the evil witch who Barnabus spurned. She was a fun villain. She also had great clothes. The way her immortality was dealt with reminded me of Death Becomes Her (1992) starring Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis with hair, and Goldie Hawn. Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn’s bodies become similar to that of a doll, their movements rigid and spastic, the same kind of movements Eva Green starts to make in the final battle.

I also enjoyed Chloe Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard, she was fantastically monotone with lots of lip. Sometimes I wondered if the character was high or not. She had spunk and sarcasm galore.

This was an enjoyable movie; it also aroused my curiosity about the original series made in 1966. What’s interesting is that this series is credited as the first day time soap show to have supernatural elements. The first supernatural element was the appearance of ghosts, six months into the shows airing and Barnabus Collins only made an appearance in the show a full season in. What I find very interesting is that during its five year run, Dark Shadows managed to produce 1,225 episodes, since it was a daily show; the series has the most episodes in a sc-fi / fantasy series produced for television, surpassing Doctor Who and the entire Star Trek franchise! (And there’s a lot of Star Trek) The series has it all, vampires, ghosts, witches, werewolves, zombies, a Frankenstein named Adam, drama, mystery, long lost loves, flashbacks, time-travel, parallel universes –  it sounds like the 60’s version of my favourite shows Buffy, Angel and Supernatural. This series sounds like a fun watch, but it would be a daunting undertaking to first locate the series and then sit down and watch it!

The Avengers

Only the most anticipated movie EVER! Fans everywhere have been waiting since 2008, when at the end of Iron Man not only did we get Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, but the hint of an Avengers movie! Iron Man was Marvels first movie that was written and produced by them, so fans accepted that if they were going to make such a promise they would try their hardest to ensure that it would happen. Four years later and an Iron Man sequel another Hulk movie, a Thor and a Captain America film with a sneak peak of the Avengers film later, The Avengers was finally released a week earlier world wide than its American release. I don’t know why this appeals to me, it just does.

So we have a star studded cast, an amazing director and the assurance of stellar special effects. So the question is does Avengers do justice to the hype that surrounds it? My answer is: HELL YES AND A BAG OF CHIPS!! It’s been a long time since I went to a film that not only lived up to its hype, but surpassed it! The Avengers hit the spot, with equal blends of action, comedy, suspense and gob-smacking special effects. I guess that’s the only thing that has really been holding back the superheroes movie genre, the special effects, but Iron Man, Thor and X-men movies have proved that they can been done.

I was really worried that the Avengers wasn’t going to live up to the mass amounts of hype started for it until Joss Whedon was brought on board. Then I didn’t have a single worry, why because: JOSS WHEDON IS GOD. Now not only was I getting and Avengers movie I was getting an Avengers movie scripted and directed by Joss Whedon. We know his genius from Buffy, Firefly and Dollhouse, and I’ve read his run on Astonishing X-men and the Buffy Season 8 comic series, so I know that this guy will know how to deal with superheroes.

One thing that really irritated me was the advertising campaign for the Avengers. Ok so here in SA we didn’t really get much of it, but the internet was lit up lit a Christmas tree with all the trailers for America, Russia, Japan, all the TV spots, there was just too much. I didn’t watch any of it, well maybe 4 no 5 of the earlier trailers, but you have to stop at some point before you spoil the movie for yourself. Like I tried very hard not to watch trailers with the alien enemy in them because I wanted to be surprised, I still haven’t managed to figure out who they are. Obviously alien villains I haven’t read. Oh well. BUT I have finally figured out who the villain is that was shown during the credits! Would you like to know?

So I can’t really speak about the film because most of my favourite bits are kind of spoilery. One of my absolute favourite little moments is during the epic battle at the end of the film, between Thor and Hulk, in Grand Central Station. Let me just say, it was taken straight out of the Avengers cartoon series. Which by the way is a fantastic series, brilliant stories and character development, I can’t wait to watch the second season. I also loved the Shield Base. Was such an epic scene to see in live action!

I loved this film; I cannot wait to see what they have planned next! What would really make my day is if Luke Cage and his wife Jessica Drew, Spiderman and Wolverine were on the cast for the next film. This won’t happen because Marvel doesn’t have the film rights for Wolverine. Wolverine and Spiderman on the Avenger’s roster are such fun. Spiderman is such a fan boy, and brings a lot of witty one liner’s that eases the tension. Wolverine is just awesome, and can be quite funny in his own dark and brooding way. Well one can hope and dream.

 

The Hunger Games

Warning, I will be mentioning a few spoilers, just little things that were in the book but never made it into the film.

Believe the hype.  Well when it comes to the books, The Hunger Games Trilogy is the most amazing series I have read.  It actually has a plot, and proper angst, and action, a love triangle that doesn’t dominate the storyline, and horror that actually affects your characters and a definite lack of sparkling vampires and messiah wizards.  Hunger Games was an amazing read, I have never had a character so thoroughly abused, I loved reading as my character suffered multiple horrors and tried to pick up the pieces of their lives afterwards.  It’s not often that young adult fiction authors traumatise their characters so thoroughly, and then let the reader witness their characters put themselves back together as Suzanne Collins does.

Yes, since reviewing the trailer I was given the trilogy as a present and devoured them.  Hmmmm they tasted good.

Now here’s the problem:  I know the story therefore I can’t watch the film unbiased, and I have more information on the story than the viewer who hasn’t read the book, so I can’t say whether the film is good from their point of view.

Katniss Girl on Fire

This film is the most faithful book adaptation I have seen yet.  I know I said that about Twilight, but then Twilight has so little in it that when adapting it to film very little gets left out.  The Harry Potters (to my mind) are the worst adaptations, there was just too much left out.  Yes I know adapting them to film would have been incredibly difficult since they are so detailed, and it would have been especially since each film had a different director who wanted to do something different.

Peeta The Boy with the Bread

Ok so there were some minor alterations, and little bits and bobs that had to be left out.  Yet the biggest change to the story, yet it feels so right, was seeing the audience’s reactions and activities happening outside the Hunger Games when the tributes are in the arena.  Considering that Suzanne Collins took the idea for the Hunger Games from reality TV, the live commentary in the film felt right, even though it wasn’t present in the book, although it was needed.  In the book Katniss gave the reader information on things that she came up against in the Hunger Games like the killer wasps and the rules of the games, whereas in the film, the presenters gave us that information because as we all know, internal monologues don’t really work well in film.

My biggest gripe with this movie is:  THE FRIKKIN MOVING CAMERA TECHNIQUE.  I loathe it with the passion of a thousand suns.  I want to be able to SEE all the effort put into the film, not miss it all because all I see is motion blur.  Can you imagine what Lord of the Rings would have been like if they had used a moving camera for all its action?  That being said, it was a very useful technique to use during the Cornucopia scene, where we have the bloodbath.  It allows the film maker to somewhat shield the viewer from the brutality of 24 children trying to kill each other in order to survive.  Trust me, as violent and bloody as that scene was in the film, it tame compared to the book.  In fact a lot of the brutality and violence is dialled down for the film, I’m not saying the books are explicitly violent, but it was bloodier.  For instance the end, where Katniss and Peeta fight first the mutts and then Caito, those two get heavily injured, by the time they get to swallowing the berries, Peeta’s already received another serious injury to his leg, he’s gushing blood, practically at deaths door already, and Katniss hadn’t gone unscathed either.  In fact Peeta loses his leg, and receives a prosthetic limb.

I must admit my biggest gripe about the film, apart from movie reviewers who write terrible reviews because they don’t understand the complexity of the story and liken it to Twilight, was the Mutts and Caito.  Now with the Mutts they were described more as wolf-like, and I imagined them as werewolves, especially when they mentioned that they could balance on their hind legs and display human like intelligence, not to mention that the Mutts had the eyes of the deceased tributes, also their fur and colouring matched that of the tributes.  And then there’s Caito, a sadistic killer who has no qualms about killing children, and has this belief that he will win. He had no conscience and no problem that he was merely an object for the Capitol to use for entertainment.  So his little breakdown at the end of the film was just wrong.  It made Caito look somewhat human, suddenly realising he may actually die, and makes the viewer feel slightly sympathetic.  WRONG WRONG WRONG!  Caito has no humanity, up until the moment he dies in the book, he truly believes that he is going to win, he didn’t care that he was there for entertainment, he had spent his entire life training for the Hunger Games, and he loved every minute of it.  I think the only reason they put Caito’s little crises of faith in was to make him look more human and to remind the viewer that he too is a child.  But the thing about the Hunger Games is that it shows us how survival brings out the worst in humans, and how humans will kill for enjoyment.  Also studies have shown that children only stop mentally developing at the age of 25, and Caito has been trained all his life for killing, there’s no way he would have had that little meltdown.

The little monsters on break from killing each other. Aw their so sweet!

Another pet hate I had in the film was the way Katniss pulled her bow.  She would bring it right up to her check, mashing it against her lips, making her look idiotic.  I like archery, I’ve studied how people are posed in film, the use of composition in archery etc, I even took a couple of lessons, and there is no reason to mash the string of your bow to your face! In my opinion it looks amateurish, it’s bad for the composition of the scene and it lessens Katniss in the eyes of the viewer.  But that’s my only complaint about Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence was fantastic, she showed true terror in the scene where she and Cinna are waiting before the games begin.  It was amazing.  I haven’t seen someone that good at showing terror in some form since Jurassic Park (don’t laugh) and the blond girl who screams a lot, and spends most of the movie terrified, that kid was good, fantastic facial expressions.

My favourite part of the book is the Tribute Parade, and Katniss and Peeta’s flaming costumes.  I had been dying to see it since the moment I read it in the book.  It’s a powerful scene and I couldn’t wait to see how they translated it into film.  Admittedly I imagined the flames a bit more all consuming, but I loved the films interpretation of it, and I also loved Katniss’s hair, it was so elaborate.

The Hunger Games is a really detailed book with an incredible amount of back story that is needed to understand everything that’s even mentioned in the film.  I think the film is more fan friendly than anything else because those who have read the books will follow and understand more easily than those who will wonder about certain gaps in the explanations.  I found a blog that outlined some of the most gaping holes in the story, read it;  it doesn’t give spoilers for the next books and explains the logistics of the Hunger Games world a bit more:

http://thehungergames2012.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/16-things-the-hunger-games-movie-missed/#more-3331

I really love the books, and if someone likens them to Twilight I will hurt them.  Yes there’s a love triangle, but it’s not the central theme of the story, friendship, loyalty, freedom, rebellion, good and evil and the grey bits in-between are more integral parts of the story.

This is all the Tributes costumes, you dont get to see them in the film

It's such a brief scene for so much effort, it needs to be seen.

Shame they're such silly outfits, poor boys.

The Lorax AND Wrath of the Titans

Finally a decent film to go watch.

Now I wasn’t religiously raised on Dr Seuss so I don’t have many of his books, in fact I only remember one and it had something to do with fried green eggs and ham.  I find Dr Seuss books get turned into rather psychotic movies.  Such as The Cat in the Hat, which I haven’t watched, and How the Grinch stole Christmas, which I have watched and enjoyed, but there was something definitely unhinged about Jim Carey/ The Grinch. I enjoyed Horton Hears a Who tremendously, the animation and facial expressions were some of the best I had seen in 2008, it marked an immense improvement in digital animation showing the animators now had more freedom to explore expression in their 3d software.  Horton Hears a Who showed the animators were now able to “play” with their software.  I also enjoyed the narrative of Horton Hears a Who, what I didn’t like was Horton, again voiced by Jim Carey.  I can’t explain why I don’t like Horton, he was beautifully animated, I just found him slightly……. unhinged?  But then it’s Jim Carey, and he always plays unhinged so no surprise there.  What I really loved was that weird yellow creature Katie; she was so cute and slightly scary.  Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I find Dr Seuss movies are slightly weird, in a disturbed kind of way, which isn’t bad if you’re an adult, but they’re kids movies so one should feel slightly worried.

Now The Lorax looked fantastic, those little teddy bears were just too cute for words!  I loved the scene in the trailer where the Once-ler dropped his axe on the little bear, and it makes this cute little sound, recovers and then wiggles its tail, oblivious that it’s being blamed for chopping down a tree, while it is pinned down by the axe. It’s just so adorable, and strangely reminds me of my Yorkie Jellicoe, who even when she’s in trouble wags her tail.  I found The Lorax a visually stunning movie, it imitated the Dr Seuss art perfectly, but was translated well into a 3D animated style that had more rounded definite lines than Dr Seuss’s artwork.  It’s nice to see a children’s film with a definite message, that of respecting the environment, there hasn’t been one of those in a while.  What was also very interesting, and my friend pointed this out, is that its message is so current, dealing with an issue that must be dealt with today, and yet The Lorax is actually a very old book, published in 1971.  It shows that today’s issues of deforestation and pollution, capitalism and consumerism were issues that some people were aware of even in the 70’s.

Yes there is singing, like any typical children’s movie.  I didn’t mind the singing, I think there were actually only two numbers.  The opening song was brilliant, incredibly funny to watch, like the family who has a glowing kid, or the delivery guy who sings and does the splits at the end of the number and gets escorted down by the ankles (still in the splits) off O’Hare’s car.  I really enjoyed the song the Once-ler sung when he was becoming rich, I found it very bad-ass rock, and I enjoyed it choreography.  I loved Grammy Norma voiced by Golden Girl Betty White, she was so funny and cool, and sneaky like a ninja.  I totally loved her.  I also loved how the Lorax left the Once-ler, a beam of light from the heavens lifts the Lorax up and while he ascends he’s holding up his tail which raises his legs.  It’s hysterical, here we have this sort of biblical ascension reference, and the Lorax is lifting up his tail for support!  It’s so funny!

This film also had some very nice animation.  Nothing mind blowing, but it had some very unique facial expressions, totally fantastic and new.  Who knew you could manipulate the lips and jaw in that way?

I really enjoyed the Lorax, it had enjoyable characters, a good story, good comedy and those adorable little teddy bears.

Wrath of the Titans

Was there any hype for this movie?  When the first one was released we had spent a month being bombarded by the trailers.  I don’t recall seeing any trailers for Wrath in cinemas, but then truthfully I think I’ve only been to one, maybe two films since the beginning of the year, there seriously hasn’t been anything worth spending money to go see.  When my friends and I met up we realised that I was the only one in a group of four who had actually seen the trailer, and that was online and several months ago!  The only reason we went to see Wrath was because we all wanted a group outing, and it was Wrath of the Titans or 21 Jump Street, and no one wanted to see that!

It wasn’t a bad film.  We were looking for some mindless entertainment and we got it. Wrath didn’t tax the brain too much and its special effects were just so cool it entertained us nicely, and Liam Neeson was in it, and I am seriously in love with him.  I must admit the minute they said that they had to defeat Kronos, I flashed to Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian, epic ending to the first series, epic book.  Kronos in Wrath is the kind of enemy you look at and scream ‘AW SHIT’ and run for your life!  How the hell is one supposed to defeat a giant walking volcano?  Well apparently Perseus can, on a Pegasus.  Shame that poor thing you won’t believe how many times I was afraid the horse’s wings were going to catch alight and fall to the ground burning? My sister became bothered by all the sand in the film, there was just so much of it being flung around, I just felt sorry for the poor soul who had to sit in front of the computer to animate and render it!  The only thing that really bothered us was the way the action was filmed.  Now I know hand held cameras that follow the action is all the range, but it was handled really badly in this film.  We had trouble seeing what was actually happening because there was too much motion blur, people spent too much time getting flung all over the place and we couldn’t see what was going on. It was particularly bad in the Labyrinth, too much falling and movement that the eye couldn’t track so the viewer had no clue what was going on and what they were seeing.  The whole point of cinema is being able to ‘see’ what is happening on the screen, so I hate an loathe with a passion hand held cameras, like the Bourne Films, I don’t watch them because I can’t follow/ ‘see’ what’s happening.

(PS these reviews are a tad old, I wrote them, and then forgot to post them)

Dark Shadows

Oh my. This…is….just…… words fail me. THIS LOOKS RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME!!!!!! Ok now Tim Burton is living up to my expectations of the weird and macabre, his last few films either didn’t interest me and I haven’t watched them, or they weren’t as amazing as the hype surrounding them suggested. I truly wasn’t expecting a comedy; I thought this was going to be some grisly, bloody horror film. Woof, was I mistaken.

X-men My Beginnings

I’m constantly being told that should write about the comics a read, put my opinions on them on my blog. Which I will do, I just feel I need to do an introductory piece on how I got into comics, especially since a lot of people out there want to get into comics but don’t know where to start. My foray into the comic world was slow, but it was destiny that I would find comics. I blame my mother.

But more on that later. Ever since I was little I was primed to become a fan of the super hero genre and then X-men. When I was little every Sunday morning I would sit with my dad and little sister and we would watch Superman, Batman and Spiderman together. But it was the X-men animated series I craved to watch. Back then we didn’t have satellite TV, and X-men was aired on K-TV which was a satellite channel. But twice a year, for a week, my family would go on holiday to Plettenberg Bay, and we would stay at the Beacon Island hotel, which had satellite TV for its hotel guests. One week, and in that week, K-TV would air an episode of the X-men. I was pretty young so the logic of trying to find out what time and X-men played at Plett was beyond me, but I knew the channel, and I roughly guessed Friday or Saturday morning. It went on for years, my desperation to watch x-men. If memory serves, I don’t think I ever caught a full episode, what with either leaving or arriving on the day it aired, or doing outdoor activities and coming back to the hotel during an episode. I think I saw little bits of at least 5 episodes, out of I think 5 seasons. And when my family finally got satellite TV, K-TV had stopped airing it! But that was the start of my love for the X-men.

My foray into comics began with Archie. My parents were just happy that I was reading. The book store I used to buy Archie from would sometime have a two rand bin, where old stock or overprints of comics from overseas where put on sale. My mom found the R2 bin and brought home a pile of Archies for me, and a couple of other comics that caught her eye. A lot of it was Superman, and they were weird story arcs, they also had gaps, but I never really liked Superman, he was just too wooden a character. While I never got any R2 X-men comics, I did get a couple of other Marvel series, my favourite among them was a Fantastic Four issue 12 1998. I loved the artwork; I loved the story of that issue. The Fantastic Four were on Genosha, and The Invisible Woman, The Thing, and the Torch had all had their bodies switched with terrorists. It was written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Salvador Larroca. It was a brilliant issue, I loved the comic to death, the cover eventually fell off and I cello taped it back on. Many years later I finally got a hold of the other issues before and after that one so I could get the full story.

Fantastic Four issue 12 1998, Salvador Larocca

I started properly collecting X-men comics in 2001, a year after the movie came out. The X-men was fully planted in my brain, I wanted to know more, but where the hell to start? Especially with the X-men, who have like 10 spin-off titles running at any given time. Which do you choose; where in the story do you start. Just accept that when you pick up a title like X-men, Spiderman, The Avengers, Batman, Superman or any of the long running series, the first little while you are going to be thoroughly confused. With me I actually had a fairly good background knowledge of X-men by the time I started following religiously. First my mom found me a Dorling Kindersley book on the X-men, with individual bios on the most important characters, their histories, powers, back story on all the teams, it was a fascinating read, I wanted more. Second my dad went to England around the same time, and I asked him to buy me some X-men comics, since I didn’t know where to buy them here, and my local comic shop only moved to my area a few years later. I said anything would do; just find me some comics and I’ll start from there. When I think about my dad’s marching orders I realise they couldn’t have been vaguer. My dad was magic, he went to England, and he got me X-men comics, no clue where, but he did more than that, he bought me classic X-men. Essential Uncanny X-men, an omnibus book in black and white of all the original Uncanny X-men issues. These volumes had 24 issues a volume, on thin paper in black and white. They were absolutely magic, I loved reading them, and they were fun, but serious. My characters suffered, sacrificed and died, but they also had fun wacky adventures. My favourite story arcs where the one’s where the X-men were in space, and how Kitty got Lockheed her alien dragon. I also loved the issue where Kitty tells a bedtime story to Illyana and it’s a fantasy adventure featuring all her team mates. It was such fun. These four volumes gave me such a firm grounding on the X-men, those four volumes are continually referred to, and made me comfortable with the series and characters. After I finished those volumes I was ready. I went out and bought my first singe Uncanny X-men issue 394, 2001. I was stupidly lucky I had picked up an issue from the beginning of a story arc, and I knew all the characters, although I couldn’t understand why Angel was blue, he was blond in my comics.

My First Issue, Uncanny X-men issue 394, 2001

Essential X-men Vol 1, most iconic image ever

Here’s my next tip, if you have no clue what precedes your current story arc, research. I used the official marvel site for a while, but it was too download heavy for my computer, and the information was poor. Ergo, fan sites, I found a really good one that gave seriously in-depth histories and issue appearances for characters, which further solidified my knowledge base. Uncannyx-men.net was incredibly useful. The best site to use is Comicvine.com. The character bios are fan written, so they are far more reliable than the Marvel site ones, where they selectively exclude info from the early days or the more ridiculous and improbable story arcs, to give the characters more plausible and more realistic origin stories. Comicvine also has a huge database of images for characters, and it lists every series and issue a character has been in. They also have synopses for most issues, plus who it’s written by, illustrated, edited, inked plus all the characters featured. It is a great way to find out what missing issues are needed to fill in empty holes in your collection. Don’t use Wikipedia, it has far too many spoilers.

http://www.uncannyxmen.net/

http://www.comicvine.com/

Nowadays the way I choose my comics is by the artwork. I’ve dropped titles because I didn’t like the artwork. And don’t be fooled by the cover art, the artist who does the covers isn’t necessarily the one who illustrates the issue.

Ultimate Spiderman 118

Currently all the comics I collect on an issue basis are X-men, I also collect Fathom, but that’s by Aspen Comics, and it doesn’t release very often. I collect X-men Legacy, Wolverine and the X-men, Uncanny X-men and Generation Hope. I do collect other Marvel titles, but I usually wait for the graphic novel format. I’m pretty sporadic in that regard. I used to collect Ultimate X-men in graphic novel format, and then dropped it when I didn’t like the artist. The same goes for Ultimate Spiderman, which I only started collecting 12 volumes in because it got an artist I liked. I will discuss these series and artists at a later date.

Wolverine and the X-men #4

Currently the X-men are going through this big shake-up, with the X-men splitting into two factions. The Uncanny X-men title/ team lead by Cyclops believing every mutant, including children are now soldier in the fight for their races survival living on the mutant island of Utopia, and Wolverine and the X-men title/ team lead by Wolverine who believes the children should be given a chance to grow, to maintain their innocents, so he becomes head master of his own school. Big drama. In light of this momentous occasion, Marvel decided to take the Uncanny X-men title, and start it at 1 again. I hate it when they do that. Marvel has done this often over the years, and then they go back to the status quo and change the numbering back to what it originally was, so issue 12 is actually issue 556, and it just makes your comic collecting difficult. I had this problem with Fantastic Four so I had no clue what number the issue I wanted was, took a lot of research to figure it out. Thankfully nowadays there are incredibly detailed databases on comics so it makes comic collecting easier.

Now I would consider myself very well read on matters relating to X-men, other series I follow in graphic novel format are The Runaways, X-23, Young Avengers, the Ultimate storylines, and New Avengers, I keep an eye on the other series. Now I’m not that clued up on DC, I monitor it, felt disdain with the huge revamping that DC did to their major titles, I take an interest when I see art I like. I also look at upcoming titles from other comic companies, so I’m pretty up to date with the comic world.