Tag Archives: X-Men
It has been well documented that this summer I met one of the greatest minds in comic book history. Stan Lee created some of the greatest fictional characters of the last one hundred years. Spider-Man, Hulk, The Fantastic Four and the Avengers were all created or co-created by him. One of his few missteps from that era was the Uncanny X-Men. It ran 66 issues before they stopped printing new issues. Compare that to the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four both of which have never had a hiatus of any notable length.
Five years from the last issue of their regular series, they got a major reboot in the form of Giant Size X-Men #1. This issue was written by Len Wein, and made the X-Men cool again by jettisoning just about everything that came before. Instead of a bunch of privileged white Americans pretending life is hard ‘cause they can turn to ice, or have wings, this issue introduced a new international team. An African woman, a Native American man, a weird German demon thingy, and a hairy little Canadian were some of the big additions. It was a popular enough issue that they started the series up again with this new team.
For whatever reason, Len Wein didn’t continue as the writer of the series. And now, we get to what I originally wanted to write about. Chris Claremont took the reigns as the writer of the X-Men and didn’t let them go for about 16 years. He wrote issues 94-279. That’s almost 200 hundred straight issues, and that doesn’t even count the various spin-offs, annuals, and specials that he did during that time. He also came back a few more times in the 90s and 2000s for some shorter runs. Pretty much everything you know about the X-Men comes from this guy’s head.
He wrote the Dark Phoenix Saga, God Loves Man Kills, and Days of Future Past – from which the new X-Men movie takes its title (if nothing else). These are the groundwork for everything that has come since. Magneto going from a straight up villain to a sometimes member of the team? Claremont. Wolverine going from a generic dick, to a complicated samurai warrior? Claremont. Gambit, Rogue, and Mystique? All Claremont creations or co-creations.
He was in Toronto this weekend to sign comics at a smaller store called Dr. Comics in Kensington Market. I went down, asked him about adding Longshot to the team, and got my copy of Excalibur #1 signed. All in all a pretty good day, and a nice bookend to my meeting Stan Lee. From the creator of the X-Men, to the savior of the X-Men.
Incidentally, Excalibur was a great spinoff series that Claremont did with the artist Alan Davis. The X-Men were thought dead, and three of the survivors (Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and the Rachel Summers Phoenix) ended up in England. They team up with Captain Britain and otherworldy, fairy-thingy girlfriend Megan, and become the defenders of the U.K. For whatever reason, this series always captured my imagination. It was a little offbeat, and a little out there, but still had the feel of an X-Men book.
Graham Becksted continues to meet his comic book idols. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 90th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
#349: The jealous girlfriend/boyfriend
Super powers and jealousy are bound to be an incredibly toxic combination. Any superhero with mind reading powers, invisibility, shapeshifting, or X-Ray vision are likely to creep their significant others. If a superpower couple are having relationship issues, one of them will likely abuse their powers to spy on their significant other. And they might just find out stuff that will destroy their relationship. Maybe there is a forgotten storyline where Invisible Woman finds out that her husband has been watching gay porn. Think about that.
Here are some superheroes that I think are leading candidates for becoming the ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife from hell:
I have one final post for Fan Expo 2013 and it’s my traditional “what I ended up buying” piece. This year, I didn’t go quite as hog wild as I have in the past. Perhaps it was ‘cause I was wrapped up in the Stan Lee of it all, or maybe I’m just running out of stuff to buy. Or, maybe the deals just aren’t as good. My understanding from speaking with some dealers is that it is prohibitively expensive to get a table there. Because of that, it doesn’t make much sense to sell stuff at huge discounts.
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. On to the fun stuff:
Best Deal Of The Con:
Star Wars Return Of The Jedi Infinities
Years ago (specifically 2002-2004), Dark Horse released some Star Wars mini-series that were essentially What Ifs? They called them Infinities and they were stories like, ‘What if the first Death Star hadn’t been destroyed?’ I always thought it was a cool concept, but I’ve never really hunted for the series. Sunday afternoon, I happened past a table that was selling a bunch of Star Wars trades in so-so condition for two bucks each. Amongst them were the A New Hope and Return of the Jedi Infinities. For four bucks, how could I say no? Now I just need to find the Empire Strikes Back one – without paying an arm and a leg for it.
Catch Up Time:
I love comic books. But, for a while, I was pretty much just an X-Men fan. I’d read just about anything that I could get my hands on, but I cherished anything with an X on the cover. Wolverine helped, but was not strictly necessary. After years of that, I branched out to Vertigo, Avengers, some Justice League – basically anything good. Sometime after Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, the X-Books stopped counting as good for me. In the last year or so, though, Brian Michael Bendis took hold of the franchise and has elevated it again. However, now I feel like I’m missing some pieces.
Something else that I missed in that time was Kieron Gillen. I discovered him thanks to Young Avengers, which, I may have mentioned before, is fantastic. Just before Bendis’ run started, Gillen took the Uncanny title for a spin and I figured I’d give it a shot. He also did a series about the first new mutants in about ten years (refresher – “House of M”, Scarlet Witch wipes out most mutants by saying, “No More Mutants,” mutants stop being born, except for a girl named Hope who Cable raises in the future, *deep breath*) called Generation Hope.
I’ve been reading Unwritten for a few years now, but I’ve fallen behind. The upside of that is that I now have two trades worth of stories to read! The downside is, I don’t really remember all the pertinent details I probably should. This will either solidify my love for this series, or kill it.
I also picked up the first of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run. It’s received nothing but praise, so I’m keen to check it out. I also got a few more Archie Comics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for my collection. I now have a straight run from 1-36, and about 14 other random issues from the rest of the run. I think I need around 20 more to complete the set. The Mrs. and I also got a new addition to our Wonder Woman sketch collection. This time, it was from Yanick Paquette who will be doing a Wonder Woman graphic novel with Grant Morrison soon.
So, all in all, not a bad haul. That being said, I was looking for quite a bit more and it either wasn’t there or it was too expensive. Oh well – there’s always Boxing Day.
Graham Becksted has an addiction. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 88th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Because Professor X needs to use a wheelchair, he would face a lot of barriers that may not be that obvious to somebody like me who has never had to use a wheelchair. For example, his School for Gifted Youngsters is generally depicted as a mansion with lots of stairs and steps.
- He has a magical wheelchair that hovers. The problem with this is that he’d be a douchebag for not sharing the hovering wheelchair technology with the world. Also, other wheelchair users cannot get into the mansion.
- There is some kind of accessible entrance in the back. (Though it would make more sense to have the accessible entrance in the front.) He has to take a long detour to the back just to get in. In the first picture, he’d have to go over grass to get into the back. That’s a problem. It does not look like a building that has been retrofitted for accessibility because there is no paved path to the back. In the second picture, there should be curb-cuts/ramps in the curb. Again, it does not look like an accessible environment either.
But let’s suppose he gets into his mansion. There are other barriers and annoyances:
- There better be an elevator to get to the other floors. (Ideally there should be two in case one breaks.)
- Are the doors wide enough to fit a wheelchair through?
- Does he want to cook? Counters, sinks, and stove tops should be at a lower height.
- Does he want to pee? Sinks in the washroom have to be a lower height and other features of the washroom need to be designed to be accessible.
And what if he wants to go out with friends or to visit a friend’s house? Many buildings, even new ones, have features that are inaccessible. If he goes to a restaurant, the staff might think that the building is accessible only to realize that you need to take stairs to the only washroom in the basement. It can be difficult to find a restaurant that is fully accessible. If Charles Xavier had to look for an office job, many would be unavailable to him simply because many workplaces are inaccessible. Discrimination and transportation (especially on public transportation and paratransit) are also challenges that he would face. For every interview, he’d have to figure out if the building is accessible. And if he used paratransit, travel takes significantly longer than public transit. Charles Xavier looking for a job wouldn’t make a good comic but there would be a lot of battles.
The real world
We can tell from the art in X-Men that the artists didn’t really think about accessibility. I don’t have a problem with that. But it just shows that our understanding of accessibility could be a lot better. The reality is that disabled people continue to face many challenges and annoyances that aren’t obvious. It’s easy to think that these problems have been solved or that they will be solved in the near future. There are handicapped signs everywhere. Here in Toronto, local newspapers often mention that the city’s new accessible streetcars will replace the old inaccessible streetcars.
The reality is quite different. The accessibility of our environments is often overstated by well-meaning people. In the case of Toronto’s public transit, the accessibility of the new streetcars is mostly a lie. Both the old and the new streetcars are similar in terms of inaccessibility. Both sets of streetcars require specific platforms if wheelchair users are to board them. Building these platforms will take a small amount of money and will eliminate a lane of traffic, which will make traffic congestion worse. It is likely that it will take several years or more (e.g. until 2025) for Toronto’s streetcar network to become fully accessible. What’s crazy is that the politicians which control the Toronto Transit Commission could have saved a lot of money by simply switching to accessible buses (see comments by the former general manager of the TTC). Normally greater accessibility costs more money. Weirdly enough, the TTC is spending more money to go with the mostly inaccessible solution.
So what’s the solution? I don’t have an easy answer. Certainly I think that poor journalism and bad politicians are a problem. But honestly, I really have no idea on how to change that.
We’re heading towards the end of August which means just one thing for geeks in Toronto. Back to school!
Wait, no, scratch that. Fan Expo! The 3rd biggest nerdfest in North America if you believe the hype. (Although, some of that cred has to have dissipated now that they’ve started inviting sports people. I mean, this was the place in Toronto where you could dress up like some weird Anime thingy and the bare minimum of people would mock/wedgie you. Now that Hulk Hogan is going, I have to imagine cosplayers are going to feel a little more self-conscious going around the aisles. I certainly will be, and I’ll just be wearing some obscure comic book t-shirt. I feel like I should have my parents on speed dial so they can yell over speakerphone at the bullies I’ll inevitably attract. But I digress.)
In honour of Fan Expo and the sweet, sweet comic book deals that are to be had there, I thought I should put together a list of suggestions for books you should check out if you aren’t already.
Young Avengers: I know I’ve talked about it on here before, but I honestly feel like it’s the best superhero comic I’m buying right now. It’s got a charming cast of young characters with relatively little history – a pretty decent starting point for people who are curious about superhero comics but are a little intimidated. The art is absolutely gorgeous, and incredibly consistent. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about heart to be able to give you a better description than that. (Can an actual artist please look at this book and tell me how to describe it? Thanks.) The writing is fantastic, and the combination of the two is absolutely innovative. It’s sharp as a tack and – and – and, now I’m just gushing. But seriously, this thing is called Graham’s Grumbles. If a guy who self-identifies as grumbly can get this excited about a book that has to be worth something, doesn’t it?
Unwritten – It wasn’t too long ago that almost everything with the Vertigo logo stamped on it was worth buying. Unfortunately, the imprint has lost some of its luster recently. But, this book is the exception. A great high concept piece about how fiction interacts with the real world, it’s a fun adventure with a lot going on underneath the surface. I pick it up in trades, and I’ve fallen a little behind. I’m kind of excited about that, though. It’s the sort of book that benefits from reading a lot in a row. There are 7 trades out right now, so it’s a pretty good time to buy a bunch and dive in.
X-Men – In the world of X-Men comics it can be pretty hard to pin down which title you mean. No, with this recommendation I am not referring to All New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine & The X-Men, Ultimate X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-Men Legacy, or even the forthcoming Amazing X-Men. This is the book that unfortunately has to go by Adjectiveless X-Men. But, based on the cast of characters, they could have called it X-Women to try and set it apart (but that would probably come off as a little patronizing.) The cast is Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, and Rachel Grey. The art is by Olivier Coipel at the top of his game. And the writer is Brian Wood doing some pretty decent work. The first story-arc was a quick three issues, so you should be able to grab it in single issues on the convention floor and give it a shot. If you’re a fan of late 80s-early 90s X-Men stuff, I think you’ll enjoy it!
That’s it for this week. If you go to Fan Expo, let me know if you pick up anything cool.
Graham Becksted is meeting Stan Lee in two days. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 85th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Well, we did it. We made it to the 100th Graham’s Grumbles. Thank you for reading my silly little rantings from day one. And, if you haven’t been reading from day one, go back to the beginning and see what you’ve missed. We’ll wait for you.
All right, now that they’re gone, allow me to continue. Thank you to Shaggy and David Hall for giving me this opportunity. Thank you to Glenn and Matt and all the other Uberfriends for their hard work. And, thank you to my wife who loses me in a rabbit hole of self-inflicted nonsense every Tuesday as I scramble to put one of these together.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the show.
I’m a recent convert to the cult of Doctor Who (not Dr., something I was recently made aware of) so I have to comment on the recent casting of a new Doctor. You see, if the Doctor gets injured, or bored or whatever, he can regenerate his body so that it looks completely different. With that change, he also thinks and acts a little differently too. It’s a convenient way change the lead actor while maintaining the same continuity and character. So, the current Doctor is going to meet his end in December and they’ve just announced the fellow who will be replacing him. Instead of continuing the trend of younger and better looking actors, this will be one of the oldest men to ever play the character. This has put off some of the younger fans, but I think it should make for some interesting storytelling possibilities.
Some possible episode titles – Doctor Who and The Perils Of Incontinence. What Was That, Dalek? Eh? Speak Up. The Cybermen Get Frustrated Trying to Teach the Doctor How to Use the Internet.
Now, here’s something completely different. Longshot is one of the weirder X-Men characters. He’s not really a mutant and wasn’t originally created with the X-Men in mind. He’s from a dimension that is entirely based around TV and he’s the biggest star. Unfortunately, he’s basically a slave to the guy who runs the show. He uses his good luck powers to rebel, and eventually joins the X-Men. Whenever I’ve read a comic with him in it, he’s always been played mainly for laughs.
So I guess it’s fitting that at Comic Con this year, they announced that the creator of the webcomic Dr. McNinja (http://drmcninja.com/) will be writing a Longshot mini-series for Marvel. Coincidentally, I was at a small comic shop this weekend and I found a cheap collection of the mini-series the character first appeared in. I hadn’t realized that Art Adams, one of the best comic book artists of all time, was the co-creator of the character. I also hadn’t realized how many important X-Men characters and concepts were also created for that mini-series. Mojo, the Mojoverse, and Spiral being the big three.
Mojo and the Mojoverse are basically jokes meant to satirize TV and the TV business, but Spiral is pretty cool. She has six arms. She fights with swords. She can travel between dimensions. She is integral to the messed up history of Psylocke. She’s even a current member of X-Force.
So, long story short, this weekend I learned about the future of one of my favorite characters (Doctor Who), and the past of a couple of others (Longshot and Spiral.) I’m not sure if it’s typical of 100th columns, but it’s pretty typical of my column.
Graham Becksted is 100 columns old. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 81st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
While I was away I saw some news from the San Diego Comic Con that truly blew my mind. No, it wasn’t the dancing Batman action figure, or that Avengers 2 is going to be called Age of Ultron. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is cool and definitely got my attention. But, it was all in the general ballpark of the expected. What I was totally unprepared for though was the revelation that Bishop is in the new X-Men movie.
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this sent me into a fan boy tizzy. I literally never expected or even conceived of Bishop making it into a film. They also announced that there’s going to be an X-Force spinoff movie, but there aren’t too many details for that as of yet. Considering how many characters there already are in the new X-Men movie, I think it makes sense to give Bishop a more prominent role in X-Force. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself, though. (Oh, and for the non-X-fan, Bishop is a time traveling mutant who is trying to prevent his dark future from coming to pass. He can absorb energy and shoot it out again in energy blasts. I think that’s about all you need to know.)
This got me thinking. Over the years, and in the 90s in particular, there have been a ton of X-Men spinoffs. It’s a pretty rich little universe that is somewhat separate from the rest of the Marvel U. Allow me to suggest some other spinoffs:
Excalibur – This was one of my favorite series when I was growing up. Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler think the rest of the X-Men are dead, so they assemble a new team in England. The rest of the team initially consists of Captain Britain, his sprite girlfriend Megan, and Jean and Cyclops’ daughter from an alternate future who controls the Phoenix force. Sure, some of that might require more explaining than a two hour movie could handle, but I think the idea of a more international team would be appealing in these global market times. Movie studios are always trying to appeal to the whole world now. Besides, some of the best pop culture of the last decade has come from the UK – James Bond, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, etc.
New Mutants/New X-Men – This could get the movies closer to what the comics were originally about – a group of teenagers learning to use their powers. They could pick some of the iconic young characters from the comics like Cannonball, Sunspot, Pixie and X-23 and combine it with the high school vibe that is so popular today. Love triangles, teen angst, and super-violence. Smells like bofo box office to me.
Starjammers – What’s more popular these days than Star Wars? Well, the X-Men comics have their own in to that sort of concept. Cyclops’ father, Corsair (it’s complicated), is the leader of a group of space bandits who fly around messing with the Shi’ar empire. If you want to have an easier in, you could use Cyclops’ brother Havok. He was the leader of the Starjammers for a little while in the comics, and it would explain why he isn’t around in the present-day set movies. It would also be a nice answer to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
All right, so there are my ideas. What do you think?
Graham Becksted will claim that his idea was stolen if any of these are actually made. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 82nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
I have to confess that I made a grievous error in my list of upcoming summer blockbusters. I did not include World War Z on the list of big movies that I was excited about. It wasn’t that I forgot it – I legitimately did not think it looked good. There were a lot of behind the scenes reports that were troubling; the trailers didn’t do it any favours; Brad Pitt is the only star, and the director is has more misses than hits on his resume. But, I was convinced to see it and it completely won me over.
In the last few months there were reports that they completely reshot the ending, and stories about Pitt and the director not getting along. Things like that are usually a good sign that the movie is going to be bad. When there are reshoots it tends to mean that the movie that they shot based on the script that everyone approved and agreed on didn’t work when it was shown to an audience. In order to salvage their investment, they hastily prepare new scenes and cram them into the existing material. That isn’t usually a recipe for success. But, I guess when you have Brad Pitt money you should be able to make just about anything work.
The new ending follows Pitt and a couple of buddies he picked up in his globetrotting as they hunt through a zombie infested building for an important thingy (trying to avoid spoilers here). Despite seeming like something out of half a dozen video games, it manages to be quite suspenseful. There are some close calls, and some bashed in zombie heads. Who would have guessed a movie about a UN investigator would be so much fun?
Probably not the people who read the novel. That’s not to say that the novel isn’t fun or exciting. Just not the parts involving the UN investigator, since he literally just interviews other people. But, the movie is drastically different from the book. It takes the barest of cues from its namesake, but quickly becomes its own thing. I would highly suggest fans of the original keep that in mind when watching. Otherwise, you’re just going to spend the whole thing thinking, “Hey, that wasn’t in the book.”
I know there’s an argument to be made along the lines of why bother buying the rights to a book if the movie is going to be so completely different. But, I don’t think that’s such a big deal if they keep the spirit of the book intact. That’s why I think the first X-Men movie works (different costumes, different origins, different relationships, but the same message of tolerance) and the Man Of Steel doesn’t (similar costume, similar origin, similar relationships but Superman isn’t about saving as many people as possible so much as saving the bare minimum number of people at the last possible moment.) Both the book and the movie are about how humanity would survive in different parts of the world given a truly global catastrophe. Given that, I think it’s a successful adaptation.
But, even without it being an adaptation, I think it works as a really cool movie.
Graham Becksted just rambled a lot. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 81st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
The last time we saw Professor Xavier and his motley crew of merry mutants on the big screen, they were just getting together for the first time. Hence the title, X-Men: First Class. The sequel involves time travel and the cast from the last movie as well as the majority of the cast from the original trilogy. On top of that, they keep adding new characters to the mix like the recently announced Blink and Peter Dinklage in an as yet unannounced role. This thing is getting so crowded they should change the title to X-Men: Economy Class.
And, while I am concerned that it too is getting overstuffed, I’m not as worried as I am with Amazing Spider-Man 2. Here’s why:
- Bryan Singer: He made the first two X-Men movies. I’ve seen them each at least a dozen times, and I think they’re some of the best superhero movies ever made. Prior to that, he made The Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil – both pretty solid movies. Since then, it’s mainly been duds. But, I think getting back to these characters who helped make iconic will help get him back on the right track.
- Mark Millar: Due to the deals that they made prior to making movies themselves, there is a chunk of the Marvel universe that is housed over at Fox. After some, let’s say, less than successful efforts (Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Fantastic Four 2, etc.) they have hired Mark Millar to be their Marvel Movie Guru. (I don’t think that’s his official title, but it’ll do for my purposes.) He’s a real love him or hate him sort of writer, but I think we can all agree that his balls-to-the-wall, constant action, widescreen storytelling style will work well on the big screen. I mean, imagine what the brain behind Kick-Ass could do with a Wolverine or Deadpool movie? And he’s had a hand in the creative process of this film, so I’m excited to see just how nuts it will get.
- It’s A Team Movie: A team movie is going to have a huge cast out of necessity. Each character doesn’t need their own storyline for the movie to work. The team needs a threat to bring them together. We need a villain with some sort of interesting agenda. And, maybe one or two characters with an emotional arc that we can follow and get invested in. Whereas, in Amazing Spider-Man 2 they’re going to need to introduce us to, and make us care for, Mary Jane, Rhino, Electro, Norman Osborn and Harry Osborn. That’s a lot to cover in one movie.
So, based on all of that, I’m cautiously optimistic. I have to admit, I’m most curious about who Peter Dinklage will play. The obvious answer for comic fans is Puck, Wolverine’s Canadian dwarf buddy from Alpha Flight.
But, that would be kind of weird. Unless, they do the scene like the one from Giant Size X-Men 1 where Prof. X goes to Canada to recruit Wolverine to the team but Puck is there and tries to convince him to stay in Canada. That would be awesome. Unlikely, but awesome.
Graham Becksted will is still waiting for a rim shot for that classic Economy Class line. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 76th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.