A whole load of X-Men

I started this post as the Image Comics Expo was taking place, and found it impossible not to get distracted. Stunning creative teams developing unique high concepts for a publisher that is already releasing some of the best comics around. It felt like a real statement of intent from Image: we want to properly compete with Marvel and DC for your money, and we’re going to do that by bombarding the market with books you’re not going to be able to resist buying. What an excellent strategy!

Anyway, back to that massive haul of comicbooks I recently retrieved from the family home. There’s a fairly random mishmash of Uncanny X-Men and X-Men in the piles pictured above, running from the early 1990s (just after Chris Claremont left the books) to the early 2000s (including Claremont’s disastrous return to the line), most of which was purchased on eBay a few years back during a period when I was attempting to fill in gaps in my collection. There’s also a few Uncanny X-Men Annuals, a couple of Onslaught one-shots, and the New X-Men and X-Factor instalments of the Messiah Complex crossover.

Then there’s Gambit volume 3 #2-6, #8-9, and #12. Launched in 1999, Fabian Nicieza did a great job writing the character, and for the majority of its 25 issue run it was the best X-Men book around (which isn’t saying much given the quality of the other titles at the time, but still). Cancelled as of issue #25 (just a few short months before Grant Morrison redefined the X-Men concept), it remains the longest running Gambit series. Alas, volume 5 won’t be challenging it for that accolade, having been cancelled with #17.

Oh, and not forgetting X-Force volume 1 #1. Actually, maybe we will forget it. Which is fairly easy for me, given that I’ve never read it.

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What the Postman Bringeth! #2

So, what do we have this week? A heap of X-Men material. Let’s start with Uncanny X-Men. Seven titles altogether, all from different years. Issues #318 and #319 are from 1994, issue #351 is from 1998, and issue #379 is from 2000; I have very few gaps in my collection from #300 to #400, and completing that run is one of my first priorities. And I picked up issues #8-10 from the second volume of Uncanny X-Men, which was ultimately cut short by Avengers vs. X-Men/the Marvel NOW! relaunch. Having now read these three issues it’s a shame Kieron Gillen didn’t stick around for longer – he had a fantastic handle on the characters, and was inspired by the core X-Men concept without being beholden to the past.

Also helping fill in gaps are Wolverine and the X-Men #14, #16, and #17. This has divided X-Men fans – some find its sense of humour a little bit too bizarre for what is ostensibly one of the flagship titles, but I’m very much a fan. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and lord knows there’s enough angst in the X-Men’s history that a (mostly) comedy book such as this has a place.

Then there’s Essential X-Men volume 4. The Essentials line, for the uninitiated, reprints huge chunks of a title on low quality paper stock in black and white; this means that whilst they’re not the most attractive books you’ll ever own, they more than make up for it in page count. Essential X-Men volume 4 collects Uncanny X-Men #162-179, Uncanny X-Men Annual #6, and the X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills graphic novel.

Finally, the first volume of Marvel’s most recent attempt to get an ongoing series out of Gambit. Judging by the sales, it isn’t long for this world, but I’m a massive fan of the character, dating back to X-Men: The Animated Series. Somewhere in the family home I’ve got the entirety of the previous two Gambit ongoings, meaning I was always going to get around to this at some point. It should be interesting compare and contrast this with Hawkeye, both of which were launched in August 2012.