This week, while working on a blog post about Scottish politics (not kidding—just got back from Scotland and was fascinated by some comments made by an excellent tour guide),
I decided to take a detour into nostalgia. I quaffed down a Slurpee and inhaled a couple cans of Pringles and re-read a favorite comic book. Okay, I read a comic book. The other stuff will stay a pleasant memory, because, while 11-year-old me had the metabolism of a blast furnace, 57-year-old me gains eight ounces just by typing the words “Cheese Waffles.”
I’ve read this issue probably a hundred times—99 of them, sadly, before I was 15, and the last this week. From the depths of a long box in my office, it’s been calling to me, “Please read me again!” Finally, I did. Why that particular comic called out to me, I’ll get into at the end.
I like both of these series. It’s been a long road for the X-Men. Created in 1963, they were canceled six years later and consigned to reprints and occasional guest appearances. One of their number, Hank McCoy, The Beast, achieved solo status for a little while, during which he mutated from an intellectual with the strength and agility of an ape to a furry blue (or gray) creature worthy of the name. But his series didn’t last, and he wound up in the Avengers. In 1974, Marvel restarted the series with a (mostly) new cast, and this time they struck gold. The All-New All-Different X-Men revolutionized the field of superhero comics, and one of their members, the Wolverine, became a Marvel icon on par with the Hulk and Spider-Man.
Jean Grey, founding member of the X-Men way long ago, has been kidnapped out of time as a teenager and brought forward to an era where her adult self is long dead, and remembered primarily for becoming the all-powerful, all-corrupt entity known as the Phoenix. Now the leader of her teenage cohorts, Jean is on a quest to learn how she can avoid following in her older counterpart’s footsteps.
In the latest issues of her solo series, Jean has been meeting up with a different denizen of the Marvel Universe each month–all the other Phoenix hosts, Namor, Thor, Psylocke, Doctor Strange–all with the goal of learning how not to become the Phoenix. She’s also being stalked by the ghost of her older self.
This issue, she meets up with the Scarlet Witch. There’s a bond between these two 1960s-born heroines, one which author Jeff Parker clearly recognized when he wrote a humorous series of adventures for the two, as teens, in the back pages of X-Men First Class several years ago. Both are mutants. Both were the only women on their teams, Wanda first in The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and later in The Avengers.
I promised to share what I’ve been reading, watching and listening to. Here’s the first entry. Going for daily. Will post them under “I Just Finished…” Please jump in with your thoughts.
Cyclops loses it! Well, he doesn’t lose that.
Champions has strayed occasionally into the preachy, just a little. When the story opened with the team getting a call to handle a riot in Denver, I cringed a bit. Fortunately, the riot was not caused by the orange rays emanating from the President, but by a classic supervillain from a more innocent time–Psychoman.
Slim Summers takes a point blank shot of Psychoman’s emotional manipulation force, and spends the issue running the gamut of extreme emotions in a very fun way. A fun story about a fun team. Hopefully a new trend after the deadly dull tie-ins with Secret Empire these past couple issues. Marvel’s marketing arm still did everything they could to try and tie this standalone tale into Secret Empire. Their hype for this issue? “SECRET EMPIRE AFTERMATH! The Champions team was born from a fracture inside the Avengers. Now the events of SECRET EMPIRE have divided the Champions — and which ones are still with the team may surprise you!”
The Champions / Avengers War storyline starting next issue looks promising, with hints that Mark Waid is in control and free of Summer Tie-In restraints. I look forward to his tribute to the original “Summer Tie-In,” the Avengers / Defenders War of 45 years ago.
This volume includes issues 32 – 42 of the original run of X-Men, published between July, 1967 and March, 1968. This span marks a transition from the X-Men as they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby—Students in matching yellow and black (or was it blue? It’s hard to tell in comics of that era) uniforms—to the four-color team made famous on down the line by Roy Thomas, Neal Adams and Tom Palmer.