Pick of the Week

January 5, 2006 – X-Men: The End, Book 3: Men & X-Men #1

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Story by Chris Claremont
Art by Sean Chen
Inks by Sanou Florea
Colors by Avalon’s Ian Hannin
Letters by Dave Sharpe

Published by Marvel Comics | $2.99

Sometimes it’s really just like they say, when it rains it pours. Conversely, when it doesn’t rain, well it doesn’t really pour, does it? Last week, Conor had it easy – it was a huge week. I think I spent around $45 on comics last week and would have had a hard time picking the best one. This week is the yin to that yang. I spent $16 on five books, one of which wasn’t even really a comic book when you think about it.

Usually I don’t like to make a big deal about all the books I purchased, it’s not really important. But this week we’ll make an exception. I bought X-Men: The End, Book 3: Men & X-Men #1, Marvel Team-Up #16, New Excalibur #3, Mythos: X-Men #1 and X-Men: The 198 Files. I know what you’re thinking: could I be any more the mutant fanboy? Look, it was a dead week. Nothing that I normally read from DC (I know, I know Gotham Central and Jonah Hex came out this week. I said nothing I normally read) and nothing from Image or the indies. And I was going out tonite, so I was kinda relieved not to be spending more than 20 bucks.

As I sat on a Metro North train into NYC, I started to read my books, hoping they would last the entire train ride. They didn’t. I did get to read each book twice though, which hopefully will enrich my analysis here. As I started on my pile, I started with what I thought would be the Pick of the Week, Marvel Team-Up #16. I’ve been getting this book for a few months now, handily throwing my lot in with Mr. Kirkman and his fine storytelling. Plus it features Darkhawk! Sadly though, the book just didn’t deliver. Sure it was fun. It was a romp through the Marvel Universe and not only had Darkhawk but Speedball too, but it also had Sleepwalker and a really weak time-travel story which seems to be heading into 2099 territory, which is nowhere anyone wants to be.

With the only non-X-Men themed book out of the way, I dived headlong in. New Excalibur ‘ain’t quite there yet, although I have high hopes for one of my favorite titles. Mythos: X-Men #1 was good, but I liked it better the last time Joe Casey and Steve Rude did it. X-Men: The 198 Files doesn’t count, because it’s just a “Secret Files/Sourcebook” style book with “government” files on the remaining mutants left in the Marvel Universe, which while interesting and puzzling at times, isn’t really a book. So all I was left with was X-Men: The End Book 3: Men & X-Men #1, written by Chris Claremont, drawn excellently by Sean Chen.

For those of you not keeping track, this is the third mini series depicting the “last” X-Men story. This was a gimmick they launched three, maybe four years ago, with The Punisher: The End and The Hulk: The End. They are Elseworlds-like stories set in the future telling the “last story” of these characters. Almost a low-rent Kingdom Come if you will, without the painted art. Well, leave it to Chris Claremont to not be able to wrap up the X-Men in one issue. Nope, it takes him THREE MINI SERIES.

I’ve been off and on with these mini series. At times, they’re meandering and confusing in the way that only Claremont can write – where you read, re-read and re-read again each issue trying to figure out what’s going on. But there have been moments, and this book is 22 pages of one big moment. Other the unexplained confusion on the first page, I’m hard pressed to find anything wrong with this book. The story is told eloquently and ties up the repercussions of the last mini series, and immediately launches us into the story for this mini series. The many characters are clearly identifiable and involved in the story and I’m actually excited for the rest of the series. I know by issue #3, I’m going to looking back and laughing because it won’t make any sense, but for tonite. It does, and I can dig it.

I do find it amusing though, that within this epic saga of a last story, Claremont has introduced the side plot of Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat running for Mayor of Chicago. The “can a mutant lead humans?” type story is developing and has been the highlight, at least for me, of all these books. I find it interesting, because deep within this “final” story, Claremont could possibly hit upon a goldmine for an ongoing series. A political based book, a la Ex Machina, but with Kitty Pryde in the leader role, set in the Marvel Universe? Done correctly (meaning they don’t break out the tights and have a big fight in every issue) and I’d be totally buying that book. I wonder if anyone at Marvel realizes this or feels the same way as I do. It would be nice to see something intriguing come out of the Claremont induced madness. They did give me Madrox and now X-Factor, so you never know.

Ron Richards
Train reading makes your neck hurt
ron@ifanboy.com

Did you read X-Men: The End Book 3: Men & X-Men #1? Add a comment and tell everyone what you think about this week’s comics!

Comments

  1. So that’s an X book every single week since the podcast started.

    Hunh…

  2. I’m surprised this wasn’t in your stack:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0785119345/qid=1136532656/sr=8-2/ref=pd_bbs_2/103-6401441-2912653?n=507846&s=books&v=glance

    It was black and white, but I saw it on the shelf today, even though Amazon says it’s not out until January 18.

  3. hehe – I almost bought it.

  4. Books that were good this week:

    – JONAH HEX #3
    – GOTHAM CENTRAL #39
    – DETECTIVE COMICS #815
    – BATMAN & THE MONSTER MEN #3
    – AQUAMAN #38

    Books that were so-so this week:

    – SEVEN SOLDIERS: FRANKENSTEIN #2
    – SUPERMAN #225
    – TEEN TITANS #31

    Books that are teetering on the edge of being dropped this week:

    – THE OUTSIDERS #32

  5. hehe – all DC.

  6. Once Marvel brings back some quality writers…

    😉

  7. Thank you for replying to my email and I want to say that I too have been a comic fan for many years. Im 32 now and ive been reading comics since I was 8. I think that alot of us older fanboys get to caught up in our selves with want every comic to be different,fresh and new but when youve been reading comics over 15 or more Its impossible to do that. Stories do repeat themselves every few years with some changes here and there. There is only so much you can do to a superhero book to make it fresh or new unless you do a Bendis and suck out all the superhero fun out of the book like he did Daredevil and ultimate spiderman. I think Ed Brubaker is a much better writer because he knows how to pace a story and give you the same quality dialogue as Bendis. And on the current Batman run by Winnick and I forget the artist but hes very good. His current run has all the emotion,drama,and action that makes up a good batman book. I think you guys are too quick to write off stories especially if they dont have 15 issues of people just standing around talking for 6 issues long.

  8. I think what you’re reacting to is the switch from shortform stories to long form stories, that are more geared towards trade paperbacks. I for one, like this trend, as it lets you really enjoy a story that spreads out over time. But as a reader of comics issue to issue, I could understand why you’d think you were getting the shaft. Three bucks is a lot of money per issue, if you feel like not much happened.

    As far as there being only so much you can do with a superhero comic, that’s not an excuse for producing stale work. I don’t mind the way they’ve taken the way of exploring the ordinary in the extraordinary in the life of a superhero work. But that’s my taste. Your taste might, be and likely is different. The thing is, you vote with your wallet. If you don’t like it, don’t buy Bendis’ work. I love that kind of work. I think USM and Daredevil are some of the best books being published today. If you want me to like traditional superhero books, there better be some stuff out there better than Morrison’s JLA, because that’s my standard. But I swear that 9 times out of 10, I see a regular old superhero comic, I get such a sense of been there/done that, that I don’t want to keep buying them. But I’m hardly the typical fan. If you think we’re bad, you should have seen the Warren Ellis forum back when it was around. We just don’t like boring superhero work. They hated them outright.

    But really, the comments here are the place for you to tell others what you liked, and what you read that we didn’t talk about.

  9. I really liked the Day of Vengance Special. I kinda figured that a certain superhero was going to have to take themselves out of it for the good of the magical commuinty. I loved the DoV mini, as I did all of the Countdown minis and arcs, but the DoV special really impacted the DCU even more than the mini.

    (Oh, BTW, I’m a huge DC fanboy. And I am really enjoying Crisis)

    I also picked up the 198 files book by Marvel. I was kinda disappointed with the House of M stuff, but I still have a soft spot for the Marvel crew (they were my first) and I wanted to see who was still a mutant. I’d like to see a listing of former mutants, and what they are going to do now as well.

    I’m aslo a big fan of Teen Titans — and I love the fact that the revelations about life and death in the DCU occured in this book.

    Upcoming book I’m looking forward to — the Alan Moore DCU collection.

  10. Hey Michael – you should check out this week’s books, because it looks like we’re getting a mini series based of the 198 mutants left and it starts this week. I too am extremely curious about that from a story point.

  11. Yeah, I’m thinking, at least from what I’ve gleaned from the few sites I browse regularly, that the 198 series has the potential to be really interesting. But, I have a feeling all it’s really going to do is help set the mutants and the mutant hunter/watchers up for this big Civil War thing going on this summer.

  12. BATMAN – Judd Winick has done a good job with the book (it’s probably the best of the main Batman books). From a strict craft stand point, the writing has been quite good. And I can’t say enough about Doug Mahnke’s art. I love it. My problem is that I hate the whole “Jason Todd is back!” thing so much that I can’t get past the detrimental effect on the good writing and art.

    ED BRUBAKER – He might be my favorite writer going. I loved his DETECTIVE COMICS, CATWOMAN, and GOTHAM CENTRAL (obviously) and I love his CAPTAIN AMERICA. SLEEPER is one of the best books of the last five years. I am really looking forward to his DAREDEVIL and I like him so much that I am considering picking up the X-book that he is supposed to write.

    TEEN TITANS – I used to really like, but have not been so enthusiastic on lately. I miss Robin. I do like that they are addressing the whole “everyone is back from the dead” angle and that it might all be tied into Superman’s death.

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