Friday, June 1, 2012
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
issues starring the comic strip character created by V.T. Hamlin.
Alley Oop comics had previously been published by Dell and Standard
in the 1940s and Argo in the 1950s. The caveman hero’s adventures
took place in prehistoric times, in modern times, and thanks to a
time machine, throughout history.
The Grand Comics Database doesn’t yet have credit or story info on
this issue, but Alley Oop #1 [December 1962-February 1963] has an
“All New Stories” blurb on its cover with stories and art credited
to “Matt(?) Fox.” However, the Who’s Who of American Comic Books
1928-1999 lists Dave Graue as the cover artist of these Dell comics
and Jack Mendelsohn as their writer.
For the time being, I’m going to be alternating my opening comments
between comic books published in my birth month of December 1951,
and comics published in July 1963, the month when I first realized
I wanted to make comic books for a living. Lots of good stuff or,
at least, interesting stuff in those months.
My catch-up reading of X-Men titles has reached issues dated 2012,
so I’m almost there. After that, the plan is to take a month off
from such large comics reading projects and read a bunch of other
titles. Maybe even some you recommend.
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD
Uncanny X-Men is the flagship title of the X-Men Universe and not
without reason. Writers Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen have done
some good work there.
The earliest 2011 issues had the X-Men laid low by a mutants-only
flu while a nasty corporation used X-Men DNA to give its customers
mutant powers. It was a good story arc with possibilities for some
Magneto’s presence on Utopia is a major public-relations problem.
That was addressed in the done-in-one Uncanny X-Men #534.1. Yes,
the X-Men have hired a PR firm to improve their image. That makes
great sense to me.
Breakworld, first introduced by Joss Whedon in Astonishing X-Men,
made a comeback in issues #535-538. It wasn’t a spectacular arc,
but it was solid and entertaining.
Wolverine doesn’t trust mutant messiah Hope, fearing she might be
a new recipient of the supremely powerful and destructive Phoenix.
That seems like a logical concern to me and it’s addressed in the
done-in-one #539. One of the things I like about the X-titles I’m
reading is that the conflicts don’t come out of thin air. They are
logical, realistic, serious conflicts.
Uncanny X-Men #540-543 are “Fear Itself” issues and they are just
as awful as most of the several hundred comic books devoted to that
awful idea. Among the dumb things: Colossus is now apparently the
new Juggernaut. Bitch.
That brings us to X-Men: Prelude to Schism and Schism. The former
was an attempt to look at four key mutant shakers and movers in the
X-Men Universe prior to their having to make some tough decisions.
I can’t fault the attempt, but the execution was less dramatic than
I’d hoped it would be.
My quick summary of Schism:
Cyclops addresses the United Nations requesting that the Sentinels
they have been hiding for future use be dismantled. His logic is,
well, logical. The Sentinels practically outnumber the surviving
mutants, they are expense and they are undependable. The address
is undone when teen mutant anarchist Quentin Quire forces the UN
representatives to voice their dirty little personal secrets. With
their reputations defiled, the countries of these representatives
activate their Sentinels. Also included in the mix are the schemes
of a new pre-puberty Hellfire Club, murderous middle-schoolers that
are more scary than silly.
When Utopia is threatened with extinction, most of the experienced
X-Men are scattered around the world dealing with Sentinels going
berserk. Wolverine wants to evacuate the island. Cyclops wants to
call on young mutants to defend it. It’s an emotional disagreement
between the two, which only gets dumb when they start slugging it
out as doom approaches.
When the threat is over, Wolverine decides to quit Utopia and take
as many of the mutants with him as are willing to go. He plans to
restart Professor Xavier’s school. Cyclops tries to convince the
mutants to stay. Many characters have to make tough decisions in
the aftermath of Schism and I was pleased to see that their reasons
made pretty good sense to me. The X-Men titles show more thinking
behind the stories than many super-hero comics.
Cyclops has become an incredibly complex character. He strikes me
as always being on the line and in danger of crossing it. I have
some sympathy for his positions, given that the mutant population
doesn’t even number 200.
Wolverine is a mess in most of his appearances. But if the bloody
nonsense of those appearances have led him more into the role of a
thoughtful protector, it would be excellent character development
for him. Alas, it likely won’t be reflected in too many stories on
account of the fans like all that slashing and the maiming and the
killing that have become associated with Logan.
Wolverine and the X-Men #1, one of the few “Regenesis” issues
I’ve read to date, was great fun. When I've read more of these
post-Schism X-titles, I’ll write more about this issue. Keep
watching future bloggy things..
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella