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.

Advertisements

X-men First Class

I’m a bit behind on my movie reviews, so I’m working backwards from most recent to oldest.

As I said earlier, I wasn’t very excited about this movie.  I really can’t understand why, usually any remote mention of X-men has me frothing at the mouth.  All I can say is that I got snobbish, which was something I never wanted to happen when it came to movies based on comics.  It’s a common problem with comic fans considering how difficult it is to translate comics to film and make it appear plausible.  In the old days comics just did not translate well to the screen.  It is movies like Iron Man and Thor and the earlier X-men movies that show that we are now capable of creating a realistic environment for our rather ridiculous comic book worlds.

Onto the movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  I had to condition my mind a bit before going to see it, I had to remind myself that the X-men movies were creating their own lore and were not directly representing my beloved comics.  With that out of the way I was happy to accept that Mystique was raised by Xavier, that Beast had a crush on Mystique and that Havok, the younger of the Summers brothers would appear in a movie which is set in the Kennedy era and thus making him older than Cyclops in this X-men reality.  Brian Singer is again involved with the X-men franchise, helping to write the script.  While Singer claims that First Class should be viewed as a prequel to X-men, there are some problems with the continuity of First Class other than the whole Summers debacle that makes it difficult to believe.  My major problem is that if Mystique was like a sister to Xavier, especially with the kind of relationship they had in the movie, then there is no way she would have poisoned Cerebro in order to hurt Xavier in the first movie.  In fact Mystique of the movies is warm and cuddly compared to the comics.  My only other qualm with First Class was Emma Frost.  The chick had no curves!  She had no hips and no boobs, what’s the point of having Emma Frost prance around in her underwear if there’s nothing to admire? She was also fairly bland, the Emma Frost I know and love would imbed disturbing images in your head for just thinking that word in her presence!

When I first heard that James McAvoy was going to play a young Charles Xavier I just could not picture it, same with Michael Fassbender playing a young Magneto.  Actually I think it’s difficult for most avid X-Men fans to imagine either character as young, of Xavier with hair for that matter.  I really enjoyed the two, there was good character development although I feel that the relationship between Xavier and Erik (Magneto) needed to be over a couple of years, they have a solid bond in the movie, but it’s too solid for the short time frame the movie is set in (also Xavier and Magneto knew each other for years before they had their big fight in the comics).  The only thing that bothered me (and I wasn’t the only one to notice this), and I really don’t want to mention it because then other people won’t be able to look at the film the same way, was the ‘bromance’ between the two.  Now I may have only noticed this because I’ve read manga that have weird intimate relationship between men.  It bothered me, at one point I wanted to yell at the screen ‘Just kiss already!!’  It was worse than the bromance in Lord of the Rings.

All in all X-men First Class was a brilliant movie; it had a complex and engaging storyline which kept the plot moving forward.  The special effect in this film were brilliant, it seems that filmmakers have finally figured out how to pull off a proper super powered battle.  This film alone gives me great hope for next year’s Avengers movie (even though both films are produced by different companies).  I absolutely loved X-men First Class, especially the guest appearance of Wolverine (the hunky Hugh Jackman), that little scene made me howl with laughter, and even now still brings a naughty giggle (I’m sure someone had been sitting on that idea for years).

I suck and the X-men

Ok I seriously suck, it’s been a VERY long time since I posted. I apologise, it was a mixture of laziness and other activities.

So first up:

The X-Men: First Class trailer has just been released, and I must say, it looks cool.  BUT I’m pissed with this movie, and here’s why:

THIS IS NOT THE FIRST CLASS OF X-MEN!!!!!!!!  Firstly, the original X-men were Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and Angel (Warren Worthington).  This movie has Xavier (sporting hair) and Magneto with Beast, Emma Frost (who was only introduced as a villain when Uncanny X-men debuted in 1963), Angel Salvadore (who has only existed for the last 10 year,s and was by no means a pleasant character) and a mish-mash of other characters, villain and hero alike, which just don’t mix.  Just looking at the character line-up leaves me speechless.  What the hell are they up to?  One of my peeves is that they’re introducing Havoc, aka Alex Summers, little brother of Scott Summers aka Cyclops, the problem is that this movie time wise predates Wolverine Origins where we get a young Cyclops.  This movie seems to be set in the time of Kennedy, which is I don’t know when!?

Just looking at the characters I feel this movie could be a possible disaster, I don’t know how it will work, but the trailer looks damn cool.

AND some more X-men. This time its X-men the anime!!!!!!!!  KAAAAAAYYYYY SO COOL.  This year a lot of the Marvel stuff has been turned into anime.  Iron Man was the first, it looks pretty good but I haven’t found the time to watch it; now there’s Wolverine.  The preview trailer made me shriek in horror and I can’t bring myself to watch further than the first 5 min of the first episode. Wolverine looks too pretty, it’s just not natural.  The X-men anime looks awesome.  I was worried that they would take the idea of the X-men and totally deviate from what it is, but it looks like X-men, smells like X-men, hey maybe it will even taste like X-men.  I can’t wait to see Storm’s look, she’s got her modern punk hairdo, from Ultimate X-men.

X-men the anime teaser

Iron Man Teaser

I think this was just a demonstration of what they could do, what their style would look like.

This is the opening intro for the anime:

Wolverine:

Waaaaaaay too pretty, this is the opening intro to the anime, which is a hell of a lot better than the teaser, which still makes me cringe.

I honestly don’t know what they were trying to do with the character here.

RIGHT onto more goodies from Marvel:

Next up the second Thor Trailer:

HooooWeeee this looks AWESOME!!!!!  I especially loved the bit with the taser, that was hysterical. As I’ve said before, I had serious doubts about a Thor movie, but this looks INSANE.

And now……THE CAPTAIN AMERICA TRAILER!!!!!!!

Well actually it’s just a TV Spot, not a full on trailer. 🙂  This looks good, but I have a small problem with them using Chris Evans.  Firstly he’s already in a Marvel franchise; he plays the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four.  Secondly he’s too funny an actor to play such a straight laced Boy Scout.  It’s like taking a comedian (can’t think of a good example) and making him Batman!!!!  Or Superman!!! These particular characters are so straight laced and up-tight do-gooders, comedy just isn’t their strong point. That’s why they have sidekicks.

Still I can practically taste the future Avengers movie.  That had better be epic.  What am I saying – it’s Joss Whedon on the script and directing, it’s going to be AWESOMLY EPIC!!!!!

Full Metal Alchemist

A really sad thing happened this week: the first manga series I ever read ended. *Sniff*

Ed is eating the donut, Al is the suit of armour

In my first year of animation I was a total newbie to anime and manga. I was the comic book, sci-fi, Disney girl. One of the first things my new friends did was hook me up with some anime and manga. Its sound like they were my “dealers” and I was doing “drugs”, but in a way reading comic books and watching anime, or TV series you love and are obsessed about, is very addictive.  I always joke that when I go get my latest shipment of comics it’s like my “fix”.

So the first manga I ever read was Full Metal Alchemist. A friend lent me what he had of the series, and I started following it online once I had finished what he had. It’s an awesome series.

Bear with me my thoughts are going to bounce around on this one.

FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST MINI SUMMARY WITHOUT GIVING AWAY THE WHOLE PLOT!!!!!!

Is set in a world styled after the European Industrial Revolution. This series qualifies as ‘steampunk’ (one day I’ll figure out what the hell that actually involves). It is written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa, the series started in 2001 and ended this month *sniff* * hiccup* 2010. It consist of 25 volumes and has two anime series chronicling it.

TWO BROTHERS………

A DEAD MOTHER………

ALCHAMEY………..

Very messy and tragic consequences.

Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric learn alchemy in order to raise their mother from the dead. Unfortunately things don’t go quite how they expected and Ed ends up losing his leg and Alphonse loses his body! Ed sacrifices his rights arm to fix Al’s soul in a suit of armour! Thus the series follows the trials of the two brothers as they try to figure out how to regain their original bodies.

The story is far bigger than this, with discoveries made with far reaching implications and consequences. That’s the beauty of this series is that its equal blends or horror, intrigue, tragedy and humour. Actually I find the manga extremely hysterical sometimes considering some of the situations the brothers get themselves into. There’s human experimentation, murder, massacres, innocence, broken hearts, determination, iron will, and awesome displays of alchemy. Actually Full Metal Alchemist is one of the most popular anime/ manga’s out there.

There’s this huge gaping hole between comics (or more so X-men) and manga and it is this:

Comics can’t be serious and funny, the mix doesn’t work for them because of the style of art they employ.

(manga you read left to right – perfect for those who are dyslexic *ahem*)

Certain comic series (ahem X-men, Avengers, Superman, Batman and comic series still running that was created in the late 30’s) have had so many writers on them that there seems to be no clear direction anymore. What one person writes, get changed or altered by the next because the new writer didn’t like what the old writer wrote! For example the whole weird thing with magneto a couple of years ago, first he was dead, then he was pretending to be someone else in the X-men, who then turned out to be using drugs to amp up his powers so he could destroy New York and then kill Jean Grey (YAY about the only thing they didn’t change from that story run) and then being killed by Wolverine while Proff. X declares him as obsolete. Then suddenly it turns out that THIS Magneto wasn’t the real Magneto! And that Magneto was still alive and would never dream of killing Jean Grey! Phew exhausting right?

In manga, if they kill a character gets killed off, its extremely heroic, heartbreaking, unexpected (most of the time), and when their dead, their dead. Unless they come back from the dead and then its totally unexpected and epic.

Basically manga series end! Yes some series like Naruto and Bleach have been running forever, but there still being written by the same author, there is a main goal that all these series work towards.  True they spin it out a bit, but look at American comic series, Superman and Batman have been running since 1939! The X-men franchise has been running since 1963, and it will never end because they still have stories to tell BUT as each new writer gets his or her hands on the series (and now I’m talking about all long running series) and make changes and rewrites, and sometimes their ‘changes’ damage the series more than help.

So back to FMA. I love it, its a really good read, with wonderfully fleshed out main cast and a wide variety of supporting characters all of them individuals. But the best part of the series is the dynamic of the main characters Ed and Al. In my mind they are like the main version of my relationship with my sister, right down to the older sibling being the shorter of the two (and the height complex that goes along with it!)

Don’t mess with someone who has a hight complex!