It’s time for another visit down memory lane with some classic X-Men comics. The Marvel Masterworks series has definitely been an excellent way to look at some of Marvel’s original all stars. I don’t believe that I’ve read any that I disliked. The X-Men collection is even better than most as the comics were really interesting and about on par with those of Spiderman and Thor. It’s fun to see Cyclops and how much of noble leader he was in contrast with his current personality. This is a collection that you don’t want to miss!
The collection brings 10 comics and since each one is about 20 pages, we get around a 200 page collection. That’s a decent size and it allows the graphic novel to churn out quite a few stories. The collection starts off with an action packed two parter where Count Nefaria assembles a group of super villains to take down the X-Men. Their members are all rather weak and unknown, but they prove that teamwork can make any villain a legitimate threat. Can the X-Men put aside their differences and defeat them or will they be crushed?
This was a great way to start off the collection. I had quite a bit of fun with this two part story as it was fun to see the heroes actually losing against some of the weakest villains that I’ve seen in a while. This certainly wasn’t there day, but at least Cyclops put up a decent fight. When you think about it, the X-Men really aren’t that tough so a sneak attack can work quite well against them.
Next up was a one shot issue with the Locust. This comic was fun to read as the guy got a sucker punch in on Cyclops, which was hilarious to read. There’s not a whole lot more to say about it because the Locust is just another villain who wants to terrorize the world. His goals and motivations are essentially cardboard, but he still makes for an interesting antagonist. I never considered him to be much of a threat though.
After that, was the two part comic with El Tigre. El Tigre was just your average criminal until he found a pendant, which allowed him to gain great powers. Once he had both pieces, he claimed to be a god and the X-Men realized that this villain would be no pushover. In fact, it may take everything that the X-Men had and more to defeat this guy. Thor is mentioned as the X-Men admit that he could have beaten El Tigre, but what can mere mortals do? El Tigre was a bit of a boring villain. Decently likable, but there was nothing to him and I can see why he never became popular. His telepathic abilities were certainly good though.
The Mimic returned for the next 3 issues. He decided to join the team and help them out, but he was unwilling to alter his personality. Mimic essentially bullied his way into being the team’s leader. He is the most powerful member of the group to be sure, but he’s not a very nice guy. He helped the team against the Banshee and the Super Adaptoid though. Without him, the team would not have lasted very long against those threats. They were certainly lucky that the Mimic was in town.
It was fun to see the Super Adaptoid. He’s like a retro Ultron and made for a very imposing villain. He probably should have beaten The X-Men, but I suppose that having the Mimic along gave the team some extra muscle power. It’s sad that nobody believed Iceman when he saw the android though. The Cobalt Man still doesn’t make that much sense into how suddenly he turned evil, but he was a fun adversary as well. He’s essentially an evil Iron Man and it’s impressive that someone was able to replicate the suit. The Mimic wasn’t a very likable guy. He comes across as really arrogant, but not in a cool way. He can barely back up his tough talk and didn’t last too long when the stakes were high. He has a sad ending to his story, but it’s likely just temporary and I expect him to be in fighting shape before long.
Finally, the comic ended on a bit of a quiet note with two stand alone stories. Warlock decided to attack in one issue, but it wasn’t the cool Adam Warlock. This was Merlin and the man had merely changed his name. It was a decent issue, but nothing to write home about…just to write the blog about. In the last issue, the dreaded Cobalt Man made his debut. He used to be an all right guy, but putting on the costume turned him into a super villain. It’s interesting because there’s no reason why this should have happened to him. I suppose that it’s just like how putting on a mask makes some people turn into super heroes, it has the opposite effect on others.
There are naturally a few subplots, which continue in the background during the issues and will likely stick around for future volumes as well. There’s an evil organization that keeps being mentioned and you can bet that they are about to make their move. Jean Grey also quit the team to enter into college, but still ends up helping out in just about every issue. Professor Xavier is also keeping a big secret. There are probably even more plots going on if I really focused and that’s one of the reasons why the collection is so much fun. Being able to juggle many different plots is the sign of a good writer.
Also, the comic is a blast to read through and through. In the end, that’s why you read a comic after all and few succeed more than this one. The writing is on the dot and it’s great to hear the characters exchanging one liners. The characters even acknowledge this as it leads to a loss for the heroes several times and the villains rub it in. “While you’re posturing, I’ll take this.” is an example of something that a villain will say before stealing something or maybe even beating up on the heroes. It’s something that modern comics don’t really do anymore as the heroes don’t indulge in puns and their quick burns. I certainly miss that as it was really classic and fun to witness.
The roster is a pretty good one although the team is a little weak at this point. Cyclops is still the commanding leader who is always ready for action. He hasn’t come to terms with his optic blasts yet, but he’s certainly on the way to recovery at this point. He’s easily the strongest member of the team and the most likable one. Angel is Cyclop’s rival and the guy is decently heroic, but certainly not as likable. He puts Cyclops in a bad position when the Angel accuses him of attempted murder and the guy is constantly flirting. That’s definitely not cool. Iceman is pretty great as he gets the most burns and can fight on his own better than most of the others. He doesn’t get a very unique role compared to the others, but he’s always helping out. Professor X doesn’t act as the leader very often anymore, but he starts to act a little shady in this volume. It’ll be interesting to see what he’s hiding. He has a device that allows him to walk a little, which is interesting. I wonder why he ultimately ends up ditching it and will be interested in seeing how it is broken. You would expect him to simply rebuild it, but I suppose that there are extenuating circumstances.
Jean Grey gets a bigger role than the rest of the team since she has her own major subplot where she joins College. She’s definitely a good character and helps out the team in many circumstances. If she had more mental energy, she would easily be the power house of the team. As it stands, her powers have not developed enough to make her a big threat. The Beast is still my least favorite member of the team. He always uses big words to impress the others, but I just don’t see him as much of a fighter. Having a little extra agility isn’t very lethal. Of course, none of the characters are downright bad and they’re all written well. So, even the most unlikable members (Beast and Angel) still end up being good characters when compared to the average bad one.
As expected, the art in the comics is really good. This retro style is a lot of fun and the action scenes definitely roll by smoothly. I was glad that the X-Men altered their costumes a little as Jean was right that the old ones simply had too much yellow. They were rather bland and didn’t scream “Super Hero” to those who saw them. The Avengers all had unique attire after all. If the X-Men had to share the same ones, it would need to be a good costume that you could never forget.
Overall, This was a really fun collection to read through. The X-Men never disappoint whether it is this roster, The Uncanny X-Men or one of the various mixes throughout the years. Back in the day, The X-Men were certainly a fun bunch and could hold their own against the Avengers. (In style, not power) They probably passed The Avengers for a time when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes lost Iron Man and Thor. I highly recommend checking this collection out when you have a chance and I will be reading volume 4 in the very near future so keep your eyes peeled for that. It’s going to be an epic ride and I’m nearly through my comic backlog now.