The Marvel 52, Part Three: The X-Men

One of the frustrating things about the X-Men titles has always been the over-abundance of them. This is a problem with superhero comics in general. If people really like one series, they’ll certainly buy three more series with the same character. And while that’s apparently true economically, it’s something I’d stay away from in my who-cares-if-they-make-money Marvel 52. There will be no Spider-Man line, no multiple titles for Thor or Captain America just because they have movies coming out this year. That’s one of the advantages of not having to worry about things like actual sales.

The X-Men are a little different though.There’s certainly enough going on in their corner of the Marvel Universe to warrant ten titles, but even so I tried to be sparing about the number of team books, giving the bulk of my spots to solo titles and a couple of two-character team-ups.

32. X-Statix by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred

I’m ashamed to say that I missed this the first time around, but I can blame that completely on the number of other X-Men series I was buying at the time. This weird, highly critically acclaimed series got lost in the madness for me, but it’s exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for now and I’d like another shot at it.

31. Namora and Marrina by Jeff Parker and Aaron Renier

I always loved team-up books as a kid. Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-in-OneBrave and the Bold. What I don’t think I’ve ever seen though was an ongoing series featuring the same two characters teamed up every month. I’m not counting two-person teams that were created to go together like Hawk and Dove or Cloak and Dagger. I’m talking about characters who were created independently of each other, but could share a title for thematic reasons. There’ve been plenty of mini-series like The Vision and the Scarlet Witch or Hawkeye and Mockingbird, but no ongoings and I’m not sure why. I’d love to give it a try.

Namora and Marrina seem like a really cool pairing. Both are underwater characters and outsiders to the Marvel Universe. Namora was missing for 50 or 60 years and is still reacquainting herself with current events. Marrina’s been out of action for not quite that long, but her alien nature and tragic history makes her even more remote from other Marvel characters. I’d love to see a series in which these two women rely on each other, with Namora perhaps acting as a mentor for younger Marrina. And since they’ve both been romantically involved with Sub-Mariner at some point, there’s some built-in drama already waiting to be exploited.

Jeff Parker knows Namora better than anyone else and I can think of no one else outside of Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak whom I’d rather see write the modern version of Marrina. If you’ve read The Unsinkable Walker Bean, you know that Aaron Renier’s the perfect guy for an ocean adventure series.

I may need to defend why I’m calling this an X-Men book. Namora’s related (genetically and thematically) to Namor, who’s Marvel’s “first mutant” and whose most recent series was nominally an X-title; Marrina is a member of Alpha Flight, an X-Men spin-off. Which brings me to…

30. Sasquatch and Puck by John Rozum and Jason Copland


These two characters have worked well together since Alpha Flight #1. They’re bickering opposites (Sasquatch is the educated strongman; Puck is the rough-edged acrobat) so this would be a fantastic buddy-series. John Rozum (Midnight Mass, Xombi) knows a thing or eighteen about writing banter while keeping the action moving and I need to see Jason Copland (Kill All Monsters) draw some Alpha Flight characters on a regular basis.

29. Alpha Flight by Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, and John Byrne

Absolutely no offense intended to Dale Eaglesham, who’s doing a fine job on the current Alpha Flight, but it was John Byrne and Alpha Flight that pushed me from casual comics reader to bona fide comics nerd. His representations of those characters are definitive and I’d love to see him draw them again.

28. Kitty Pryde by Jen Wang and Kate Beaton

This replaces all the New Mutants and Young X-Men Academy Whatnot books for me. It’s a YA series about a young Kitty Pryde in her early days at Xavier’s. Because it’s for younger readers, damn the continuity and fill Xavier’s with other classmates for her to interact with. But it doesn’t have to be just high school drama. She could also go on adventures with various X-Men (preferably one-on-one) to keep things interesting.

Jen Wang (Koko Be Good) and Kate Beaton would keep this light and fun.

27. Jean Grey by G Willow Wilson and Ryan Kelly

I’m not a huge fan of Jean Grey, but I could be. She’s got a rich history and interesting powers; she just gets killed off and sidelined so much that I’ve never had a chance to grow as fond of her as I think she probably deserves. So I’d love to bring her back from the dead again (she’s still dead, right?), get her away from Scott, and see what makes her tick. Since it’s a character study, I’d just turn Wilson (Air, Mystic) loose and see where she went. And Ryan Kelly‘s incredibly grounded, yet exciting art would be perfect for it.

26. Nightcrawler by Paul Tobin and Ted Naifeh

Total, genre-crossing swashbuckler. Let Paul Tobin go nuts. Why this hasn’t happened already, I don’t know. And Ted Naifeh‘s perfect for putting a demonic-looking hero into all sorts of thrilling settings.

25. Rogue by Vera Brosgol and Chris Bachalo

Though I’m not at all current on what she’s been up to the last couple of years, Rogue’s been my favorite X-Man for a long, long time. She’s pretty angsty and melancholy, and Brosgol’s (Anya’s Ghost) good at balancing that with humor so that it doesn’t become depressing. And no one draws Rogue like Chris Bachalo.

24. Wolverine by Peter Milligan and Kody Chamberlain

Honestly, there are a few series that made my 52 just because it wouldn’t be Marvel Comics without them. I’m so over-exposed on Wolverine that it’s hard to think of an approach that would make me excited about him. I bet Milligan could though, if he was turned loose. He’s got a strange approach to comics and Wolverine can use something different. Kody‘s (Shang ChiSweets) got a great, loose style that’ll keep the comic interesting and exciting to look at.

23. The X-Men by Rich Koslowski and Art Adams

I always like the X-Men best when there’s a thick slather of serious melodrama over the trips into space and evil mutant fights. I’m not being sarcastic; that dark tone is right there in their charter: Sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them. But it also needs to know when to have some fun and that’s where Rich Koslowski (Three Fingers, The King, BB Wolf and Three LPs) comes in. All of his work takes fun, goofy concepts (Mickey Mouse’s tell-all story about his early career at Disney, an Elvis impersonator who may not be impersonating, a jazz-age retelling of The Three Little Pigs) and throws a dark veil over them that makes you think without weighting the whole thing down. As for Art Adams…well, he’s Art Freaking Adams.

If I were really doing this, I’d have some long discussions with Rich about which characters we wanted to include, but since this is fantasy, my dream line-up would be Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Beast, and Emma Frost. With frequent appearances by Kitty, because she’s totally in love with Colossus.

I’m taking a break from this tomorrow and Thursday to focus on Westerns and cephalopods, but I’ll be back to in on Friday with Marvel Knights.

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Western Wednesday: Comics in August

Western Wednesday is a weekly tribute to six-guns, steampunk, and sasquatch. Here are some comics coming out next month that celebrate one or more of those themes.

Jonah Hex #70 (DC)
Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti; Art by Ryan Sook and Mick Gray
August 3; $2.99

For a man like Jonah Hex, death is a constant presence – always looming, always ready to strike. But how and when will it come for Hex?

Moriarty #4 (Image)
Written by Daniel Corey; Art by Anthony Diecidue
August 3; $2.99

“The Dark Chamber” story comes to a climax in this installment, which sees Professor Moriarty finally confronting Tartarus in an epic battle that will change his destiny and decide the fate of London and the world.

Reed Gunther #3 (Image)
Written by Shane Houghton; Art by Chris Houghton
August 10; $2.99

Reed and his best bear buddy Sterling are separated when the legendary steel-driving man, John Henry, returns from the dead while the sneaky Mr. Picks escapes to the East Coast with the mysterious monster-creating Idol.

Deadlands: Death Was Silent (Image)
Written by Ron Marz; Art by Bart Sears
August 17; $2.99

Visionary Comics and Pinnacle Entertainment present the third one-shot of the weird Western world of Deadlands. A silent bounty hunter rides into a remote town, but the town holds dark secrets that may turn the hunter into the hunted.

Alpha Flight #3 (Marvel)
Written by Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak; Art by Dale Eaglesham
$2.99

Heroes on the lam! Having escaped imprisonment at the hands of the corrupt Unity Party, Alpha Flight find themselves hunted by the government they’d sworn to protect. Outmanned and outgunned, the Flight decide to go guerilla, but what will they do once the government raises the stakes by revealing their leverage against the team, including Northstar’s boyfriend and the child of Guardian and Vindicator held hostage?

[What? It’s got Sasquatch in it. – mm]

Alpha Flight 0.1 preview pages

I don’t run press releases as a rule, but I’ll make an exception for Alpha Flight. Marvel sent me a preview of Alpha Flight #0.1 with the following information:

Marvel is pleased to present your first look at Alpha Flight #0.1, from New York Times bestselling writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente and acclaimed artist Ben Oliver! As Fear Itself approaches, the fan-favorite super hero team returns in this special POINT ONE issue, a great starting point for new readers! Meet the founding members that made Alpha Flight great! Super-powered terrorists attack as the nation goes to the polls on Election Day and the country’s greatest heroes rise to stop them — but are they on the right side?

“Alpha Flight Fans rejoice! One of comics’ greatest teams is back in their own book! Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak have crafted a perfect jumping-on point for the new reader and AF loyalists alike,” said Marvel Senior Editor Mark Paniccia. “In just a few pages, the two scribes get you caught up with your favorite heroes, get them right into the action and seed a major plot point for the new maxi-series debuting in June with fan-favorite artist extraordinaire, Dale Eaglesham. Get on the horn, the message boards, communication devices of all types and tell your friends that Alpha Flight is back!”

Get in on the ground floor for one of this year’s hottest new series before they head into the fight of their lives during Fear Itself! Do you fear your country turning on you? Watch as the team gets drawn into a civil war all its own this May, only in Alpha Flight #0.1!

ALPHA FLIGHT #0.1 (MAR110629)
Written by GREG PAK & FRED VAN LENTE
Penciled by BEN OLIVER
Cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
Rated T+; $2.99
Final Order Cutoff – 4/25/11.
On Sale – 5/18/11

Island Intelligence: Aquawar

I’m abandoning the “Awesome List” title for news round-ups. Sometimes stuff isn’t awesome, but I want to talk about it anyway (see: the way DC’s handling its Aquawar storyline).

Comics

*A collection of Aquaman “splash” pages (get it?) by Jim Aparo. [Diversions of the Groovy Kind]

*DC teases some of its Aquawar storyline coming up in Brightest Day. I’ve been easing back into periodical comics after abandoning them for a year and I’d love for Aquaman’s story to be one of the ones I can read as it comes out. Unfortunately, since it’s part of Brightest Day, the only way I can read it is to endure the stories of a bunch of other characters I don’t care anything about. That’s not something I’m willing to do. I’ll have to continue to keep up via The Aquaman Shrine’s excellent summaries. [The Source]

*Greg McElhatton reviews Marineman #s 1 and 2. [Read About Comics]

Movies

*Marvel’s working on a Black Panther movie. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Miscellaneous

*An undersea hunter in Indonesia is able to hold his breath for five minutes and stalk his prey on the ocean floor. It would be unbelievable, except that there’s footage. [Awesome Robot!]

*If the T-shirt he wears on stage is any indication, the lead singer of The Kickback is an Alpha Flight fan. The band also has a song called “Alpha Filght.” I need to listen to some Kickback, I’m thinking. [You Ain’t No Picasso]

*Project: Rooftop, Warren Ellis, Superhero Cocoa, and Superhero of the Month are banding together to ask artists to redesign Aquaman. [Project: Rooftop]

Art Show: All in a day’s crimefighting

The Fugitives

By NC Wyeth. [Golden Age Comic Book Stories]

The Teamster

By James Bama. [Golden Age Comic Book Stories]

007

By

By George. [Art Jumble]

After the break: Batman, Black Canary, Black Widow, and Puck.


The Batman

By Nuno Plati.

Black Canary

By Dean T Fraser.

By Rory.

By Victor Santos.

By J Bone and Darwyn Cooke.

By Lan Medina. [Comic Art Community]

Black Widow (and Scarlet Witch, I guess)

By Eric Basaldua and Penichet. [Pink of the Ink]

Puck

By George O’Connor.

By Brett Wood.

Art Show: Strange Visitor from Another Planet

Superman

By Evan Shaner. I occasionally have a hard time remembering what I like about Superman, but this picture brings it all back. I love the determination on his face mixed with the little smile. He’s about to save a life or lives, but he’s having fun doing it. Not because he’s careless about the responsibility, but because he truly enjoys his job. This is so much more meaningful to me than images that show him off in the distance, detached from humanity. [ComicTwart]

Northstar

By Ted Naifeh.

Alpha Flight’s Night Out

By Ryan Alexander-Tanner. I love Sasquatch’s expression as he’s not sure what to do with a depressed Puck. Meanwhile, Mac earns his name. [Drawbridge]

Sasquatch

By Gavin Spence. I’ve been looking through some old files recently and found this by my pal Gav who’s also one of the artists on Cownt Tales.

Joy-Rider Spider

By Caanan Grall.

Discover the Thrill of Space and Time

By Justin White. [Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs: Click the link to find out also what happens to T-Rexes who play with finger traps.]

Western Robot

Artist Unknown. [Brother Cal has found several great robot paintings.]