I thought I'd tell you about some reading I’ve done over the last few months.
Let me start by saying that I haven’t followed any comic books in about 20 years. Maybe more. Except for maybe an occasional short-term story arc that sounded especially good. Unfortunately, most of those usually ended up being a disappointment. (Which is why I write my own stories now—just can’t trust others to write the things that I want to read.)
Anyway, there was a lot of nerdly talk online about a new rebirth of the X-Men books. When I was in middle school and high school, the X-men were my comic book heroes. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and The Incredible Hulk got me into superheroes on Saturday mornings, but the The Uncanny X-Men got me reading about them.
So when the Internet was all abuzz about the new redo of the X-Men, I decided to get interested. I figured it’d be fun.
Plus, there was just this little bit of Ebay-style excitement about tracking down the issues I’d already missed by that time. Driving around town to various shops, hunting down the books and scoring them before someone else snatched the last ones away. Kind of like when you’re bidding on items on Ebay—it’s not even that you need that damn little piece of junk on there, in the end it’s more about beating everyone else bidding at the last second!
I won’t tell the whole story, but I will say that there really wasn’t much conflict involved. It was mostly setting up a new situation for the forth-coming, regular X-books to run on.
The story was written by Johnathan Hickman, who’s has been hit and miss for me. His Avengers Infinity series several years back hopped around so much and seemed to skip scenes so that, as far as I could tell, there was no coherent story. The Secret Wars reboot a few years ago was pretty cool, mostly because it had amazing art and was an alternate reality for familiar characters (I love those things). His East of West sci-fi series seemed really cool when it first started several years ago, but again... It starred the Four Horseman in a sci-fi Western setting, and claimed to be inching toward the end of the world. Therefore, I assumed the story would move along toward that obvious end at a quick pace. I was wrong. Much like this X-men run, it quickly got watered down and stretched out like cheap saltwater taffy on a spindle and after several issues where nothing really happened... I gave up on it.
I remember, back in college, likening comic books to soap operas and it’s still damn true today: They give you just enough per episode to make you come back for maybe just one more to see if it’ll be good. Just a hint of the good stuff yet to come. But that good stuff keeps getting delayed, and delayed... Just to keep you coming back for mostly empty promises.
(Note that I didn’t watch soap operas! But all my roommates did, including the other male. That’s how I know that... Honest!)
Anyway, that’s pretty much what happened on this X-men run, too, but stubbornly stuck it out. The story arc had three main plot points:
So, as ever, in the end, the whole thing turned out to be rather disappointing. The best thing about it was all the alternate cover art on every issue. The story started out kind of cool, it was nice to see my old friends again, but the damn thing could easily have been told in 6 or 8 issues instead of 12. Each also featured wasted pages that were just blatant stalling for time so they could stretch this whole thing out. Would it have been so hard to come up with 2 or 3 pages of colorful, action-packed frames, instead of just text filler and info-graphics?
The whole arc was 12 issues long and they charged $4.99 an issue. (The first and last, I think, were even a dollar more.) I prefer not to add that up for my own sake, but you can do the math pretty easily yourself. Imagine paying 5 bucks per chapter for a book and finding that, in half of them, nothing worthwhile even happened. (And some people complain about paying that much for a whole damn novel!)
So why did I go on? I guess I hoped it would turn around and been worth it by the end.
Ultimately, the experience reinforced two things that I’d already known:
Also, not to continue being a downer, but in case you were wondering, the X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie was as bad as you expected too. (Which is why I only paid for a Red Box visit on that one.)
Okay, that was pretty cynical. So what’s not disappointing?
Trying out a Halloween wig. Can you say, Dark-Haired Fabio??? ;)