I don't use my digital memberships for these articles as much as I should. In the past couple of weeks, I've been taking advantage of my DC Universe and Marvel Unlimited subscriptions. I have been on the lookout for issues to review here. It was the latest episode of the Legion of Substitute Heroes podcast that I was reminded of Paul Smith's great run on Uncanny X-Men. Some might view this time as a period where the title began to drop in story quality, but I think that part came shortly afterwards. Here we saw the development of the team after Cyclops leaves for good, but still get to see his path twist back around into his old team's lives. We also got the introduction to the Morlocks, the addition of Rogue, and huge developments for Wolverine. These are some great issues and I chose to review the issue that has one of the best splash pages in X-Men history.
Matthew Rosenberg's writing works on a level that I find relatable. Based on coverage I see, I'm not the only one. He's also demonstrated that he's not afraid to throw in those "Oh, Damn," moments. Of course, he's also getting known for picking up dropped plot threads and making them work. His X-Men team is practically a collection of mutants left behind from the big event, and he works it extremely well. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself.
In the 1980s, Marvel Comics published a comic that was entirely filled with puzzle and games for younger readers. It was appropriately titled Fun And Games. There would be mazes, puzzles, word searches, pretty much all of the things your parents now do after they retire. Kids developing their cognitive skills also get a thrill out of these, as I'm discovering again with my youngest daughter.
Every once in a while, you just find yourself reading a book that's trying to be silly. In the late 1980s, that comic was often Excalibur. While Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants and X-Factor were playing up the drama very heavy, Chris Claremont and Alan Davis were playing up the humor of a mutant team in the U.K.. There were some serious parts, but the book found its niche in the fact that it was just fun. For comparison with this week's book, Excalibur #14, let's look at the other mutant titles on the stands. Uncanny X-Men had three issues that featured the aftermath of a devastated team, now missing. Wolverine was tortured by the Reavers, but escaped with the aid of Jubilee. In Wolverine, he had fought vampires in Madripoor. X-Factor is involved in the "Judgement War" on another planet with the Celestials. In New Mutants, the team was journeying through the Asgardian underworld. Excalibur was hopping from one weird dimension to another, and this one was a doozy.
I'm bound and determined to get the most out of my Marvel Unlimited membership. When looking for something to review, I looked at the 1980s Defenders that got rid of the "non-team" status of the membership. I also looked at the Marvel magazines of the early 1980s. I took a look at the full list of Marvel titles available on Marvel Unlimited and saw Legion of Monsters catch my eye. That's where I got to here. I didn't know that there was a Legion of Monsters comic. The only memory that I have of the "group" was in a single issue of Marvel Premiere. Actually, it was Marvel Premiere #28 that featured the Legion of Monsters. That sparked me to try and give some of the horror characters that the title gave tryouts. It turns out that aside from the Legion of Monsters, Satana was the only original horror-themed character that got a chance in Marvel Premiere. However, looking at the issues available, the first couple featuring Adam Warlock came to my attention, due to the cover obviously by Gil Kane.
I'm trying something new for wrapping up 2018. Rather than try to cram in one article near the end of the year, I'm going to put them out little by little over the next few weeks. Some of these will not surprise you, especially if you've been following along. Some of these may be a huge surprise because they may cover things I haven't had the opportunity to write about. Nevertheless, in an effort to give the best of 2018 the attention that they truly deserve, each will get it's own article and attention, rather than a bullet point in a longer article that will be lost in a few months.
I can't believe that I haven't reviewed this book before. I remember first getting this comic, and being amazed at the way the acetate cover was used to give a gorgeous, full-bleed cover free of the cover elements. This wasn't my first painted comic, Books of Magic probably came first for me, but this was the one that changed something for me. This one had the feel of a traditional comic book, and felt like a big deal. Books of Magic felt like a story, and introduction at the most. It was also split between four artists, and this was one artist who seemed to make the characters in the comics feel real.
I decided to try and use my Marvel Unlimited Plus membership again for this column about an issue of New Mutants. I thought back to my (early) teenage years and the comics that I loved then. I already mentioned how important the mid-1980s were in comics, so I went to that era for this week's Review of Old Comics. Legion has gone from his first appearance to a minor supporting character in the X-Men titles, to the catalyst for a major X-Men event. From there he's gotten his own comic book series and a Fox television series now in its second season. Legion has become an important character, especially as an entry point for new readers drawn in by the television show. Legion first appeared in New Mutants #25, but his story first started in the very next issue. This is why we're reviewing New Mutants #26.
Marvel Comics has made real efforts to reflect the popularity of certain aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it continues with Shuri, sister to the Black Panther. Hawkeye's costume adapted to reflect the character's appearance in the films. Jessica Jones' appearance began to resemble Kristen Ritter a little more. Thanos became more and more prominent in the comics. Now, Black Panther's little sister, a runaway favorite in the films, has gotten her own series by award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor. Check out the preview pages, because this looks like it just might be a fun ride.
When I was a teenager, especially a young teenager, Uncanny X-Men was the most popular comic among my peers. From looking back at comics journalism, we were not unique. This was also the same year I've been covering in my run of the Legion. It turns out that 1984 is a very important year for comics. This saw DC Comics make an investment in the direct market with its Baxter series. It also saw an explosion of independent publishers, including Mirage Studios with the breakout phenomenom Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Antarctic Press, NBM Publishing, and Continuity Studios also debuted in 1984. Alan Moore took over Saga of the Swamp Thing. Marvel debuted the event series with Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars. Fantastic comics were being produced in 1984. Uncanny X-Men was one of them, going in new directions, especially with this issue.
Matthew Rosenberg is the one writer that would get me to pick up a comic that's drawn by Greg Land. I've been a fan of his from the moment I got a review copy of We Can Never Go Home #1. His new X-Men series features characters that have either never been the epitome of the team or are at a place where they just don't fit in with the core team. However, can a comic drawn by Greg Land still be good?
It's really sad when I want to review an old Marvel comic like The Eternals and I can't use my Marvel Unlimited membership. I wanted to review this from the first time I read it and saw that it drew inspiration from Erich von Däniken's book Chariots of the Gods. I don't buy the "ancient astronauts" theory. It is a little entertaining to watch how proponents work evidence to meet their theory. I watch them ignore basic elements of artistic representation to make ancient works of art literal interpretations rather than rich, symbolic visual poetry. I find the thought that a lack of modern scientific discoveries made ancient man less intelligent almost offensive.