This was originally going to be a nice short little post, on my facebook wall. Ooops...
In the last year or so I've been bingeing on comic trades, and thankful for it, along with the fact I have a s/o that enjoys them as much as I do. While doing so, I have discovered that there are some characters out there, that I really have come to enjoy. Most of them have been older characters that I've just recently given some attention to, and others are honestly newer characters.
Also, as a good little Canadian I would like to apologize in advance that this is totally Marvel. Even though I also read Batman (Andria's favourite) and Walking Dead (Because it's just so damn good).
Before I really get going there are some terms I should clarify first, for those that don't know, or those that may get confused. When I say single issue, I mean that cute little magazine that comes out every month. A trade is generally 1 story collected into a thinner book, from the single issues. Think the size of an issue of National Geographic, but with a thicker cover. Then there are volumes, which is a collection of trades put together into a thick book. That specific term can cause confusion in some cases, because when a specific title is stopped and restarted it then is listed by volumes. Uncanny X-Force I recently discovered has begun a volume 2, which I did not know until I went to check what I needed to complete the collection I was currently working on.
Now moving on to what I really want to get into.
Let me start by saying that I have not bought a single issue comic since the summer of 1995, and even that was a set of 5 single issues pre packaged, Wolverine 51-55, right after he had his adamantium ripped out by Magneto. Granted these were bought a while after the story line had happened, and when I think about it, might have been the last comics I outright bought until recent years. But, I digress.
Flash forward back to present time and I've now picked up a fair amount of trades and large volumes for my viewing pleasure. Most of what I've read has been mainly centered around the X-Men side of the universe, with the exception of major event collections. For example Secret Wars and Infinity Gauntlet were among some of my early grabs, when I started reading again. After all you have to read the classics. You also need to have Civil War and Secrect Invasion if you want to be even somewhat relevant in the modern Marvel age, and Planet Hulk followed by World War Hulk, if you love the green guy. But, if you ask me the most important story to follow in modern years that sums them all up for your enjoyment is Avengers Disassembled, then House Of M, and finish off with Avengers vs. X-Men (AvX). Then even after that you are still a couple of years behind, but have a half ass idea about what's been going on.
Some of the series I got into were Exiles, X-Factor and Uncanny X-Force. In the case of the latter I just completed picking up the entire series, and will most likely be done reading it by the time you read this.
Now before I really get going let me start with some friendly advice. Always get to know your comic book guy. Learn what their likes and dislikes are. If they are the same as yours, ask their advice about what to pick up, and they will never steer you wrong. Exiles was recommended to me and X-Factor, I believe was suggested to Andria, because he's taken the time to pay attention to our tastes. Those two series are the reason why I have no problem throwing a shout out to Shawn Cousineau at Rogue's Gallery, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who is a client of the shop knows he is the man.
Shawn best described Exiles to me as Sliders meets X-Men. Pretty much the perfect description and enough to get me hooked to pick up the first volume of a six volume set. That first volume instantly had me itching to read the rest. I would love to get into those characters, but it would require an article of it's own, which I will eventually get to. I had plans for writing a detailed essay about that series months ago. Well theories about plans, but I'm getting off topic.
I will mention Longshot and Psylocke which were both characters I've now gotten to follow a fair amount. These are the classic characters we know, not alternate dimension versions, and both are important in this write up for multiple reasons. Just bare with me as I'm going to take you the long way around to these characters, which do have linear reasons if you study the time lines.
Let me start with the fact that I love Mojo and the Mojoverse, and I have since I was a kid. I think he is one of the greatest villians of all time (that isn't a cosmic being), because he is completely honest about what he does, and why he does it. How can you not love a psychopath that's driven by achieving huge Mojovision (t.v.) ratings. Did I mention he's a yellow spineless blob that crawls around on a mechanical platform with spider-like legs. Oh yeah, and he literally designs his characters for his shows. Has them genetically created to take all the abuse and death he can cause to achieve his goal. That included creating Longshot.
Now with Mojo you have to use him carefully as a villian or he loses his charm. You don't want another case of, "Oh, look. Mojo kidnapped the X-Men again to show for sweeps week." On the other hand, you can take what I would start off thinking is a completely stupid story line, then show it's the spineless one behind it and all of a sudden everything makes much more sense. I would say more but it kind of ruins the surprise twist if I told you which comic I was referring to.
Longshot, on the other hand, I've gotten to experience in excess you might think, and it really has been fun. But the basic info you need to know to begin with is he's got a few special abilities, but the core one is luck, oh and the ability to bed just about anything without trying. Seriously, all he pretty much needs to do is say "Hi." He's clearly not human either, since he was produced in another dimension, the Mojoverse.
Let me start by saying he's Shawn's favourite character, so of course he recommends pretty much anything the four fingered, mullet man is in. Like there's Longshot, his self titled debut to start, followed by Exiles, then X-Factor and Longshot Saves The Marvel Universe. And the last three on that list pretty much covers a huge chunk of what that character has been up to from 2006ish to almost present day. Also, I didn't read those in that order. I did everything all wibbley wobbley, timey whimey. I read the middle on both ends and the ends in the middle.
Here's three things I will say about Longshot, don't bring him to a casino if you want to keep a low profile, he may have met you, but most likely wouldn't remember because he tends to get his mind wiped, and don't let him near your girlfriend. Bonus point, he also had a Mullet right up until he saved the Marvel Universe.
Keeping with X-Factor I have to mention Jamie Maddrox, Darwin, Rictor and Shatterstar. Jamie is the more important one of the bunch, so I'll save him for last. Darwin I only mention because (SPOILER) the guy evolves into Death. His mutant ability is to adapt to anything to survive. In the X-Men First Class movie they chose to make him a joke in comparison to his comic book self. The guy literally evolves into an avatar of Death so he could not be killed by Hela the Asgardian Godess of Death.
I mention Rictor and Shatterstar because they are the first gay couple I have read about in comics, and they are normal. Not some stupid cliche, they are two guys, one from the same world as Longshot (Shatterstar), and the other for quite a while was a former mutant stripped of his abilities after M Day (Rictor). They are tastefully written secondary characters. Okay, the characters aren't secondary. Well, Rictor isn't secondary, in fact he's a bit complex. Shatterstar is a bit more secondary, because every X group should have a sword swinging teleporter that's not quite the same as everyone else.
Jamie Maddrox on the other hand is totally my kind of character. Let's start with his nick name Multiple Man. A moniker given because of his ability to create replicas of himself through impact to his body. So you punch him in the face, and there's two of him. Punch him really hard and you may get three. On the other hand he could just as easily stomp his foot on the ground, and get a whole battalion. I'm not over exaggerating either. Also for reasons that, so far as I've read, no one can explain, he also duplicates what he's wearing and if he's holding anything. And I won't even get into the re-absorbtion of material objects.
Now the first time I ever read anything about Maddrox was back during the second line up of X-Factor in the early '90's. Back then I remember him having an issue because he had two dupes (what he calls his duplicates) that he couldn't seem to re-absorb. Now jump ahead a decade and a half, give or take a year, and Jamie has started sending dupes all over the world to learn different skills and then bring them back, because he doesn't just take them back into his being. He also gets everything they know. Seriously, he was a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent, a priest, studied in a buddhist monistary, and the list goes on.
The down side is it caused personality side effects when he started spawning dupes later, some of them had some real personality issues, or character flaws. This also allowed him to do some very nice things, or cool things you would make jokes about. (Spoiler) Like his wedding night. It was Maddrox and the girl who knows things, and Maddrox. Or early on in the series when he tries to kill himself, and it was homocide, not suicide.
At the moment I've read up to X-Factor's 19th trade. Once I finish the series I'll most likely write something about it, sadly I need to get my hands on the 20th trade first. I don't want to read 21, which is the last story for that version of X-Factor, until I've read the one before it. You know it's something cool, based on what happens in the 19th.
Now moving back to Psylocke, but later after her time with the Exiles, we are looking at Uncanny X-Force and Uncanny X-men in some cases. Both of which she's a part of, and Betsy is pretty damn cool. And the more Uncanny X-Force I read, the more I like her, but I don't know if it's out of pity. But, I'll take her X-Force team mate Fantomex any day.
Now when you are on a team with Wolverine (which of course is my favourite X-Men, because I am so typical that way) and you also have Archangel (who is probably my second favourite, and I like even more now a days) and Deadpool, there's a lot of stiff competition for fair panel time. However, any comic book character that references Danzig songs is pretty damn cool in my books. It was Deadpool referencing Frank Zappa that won me over with him.
Jean Paul (Fantomex) is pretty cool in his own right, though. He's a Sentinel that rebelled against his programming, and is tricked out with one hell of an odd background story from what I've gathered so far, which involves him having three brains, which later becomes huge spoiler material, which you need to read about. But it's the other things about him that make him cool. For starters one of his skills is to make illusions, distractions, or temporary mass hypnosis is another way I like to look at it. His ship is linked direct to his nervous system and E.V.A. kind of has a quirky personality of her own. Also he's a mecernary, which means he's fine with killing. That's pretty much what the entire Uncanny X-Force is all about, at least during the first volume.
Some other funny moments with Fantomex include a conversation with Gambit from the Age Of Apocalypse Universe in which they mock each others French accents, and I do really enjoy the play between Jean Paul and Deadpool.
Since I have mentioned Age Of Apocalypse I feel I should mention Creed (Sabertooth). He's a major character in Exiles, and even shows up in Uncanny X-Force later on, where Psylocke vouches for him, based on their past team up. He's not one of my favourite characters, but I do really love what they've done with him, and the elements he brings to the table. He's kind of like the mature Wolverine, but still Sabertooth. I haven't read enough of the full Age Of Apocalypse story to know him very well yet (slowly working on it, due to printing errors). That will be yet another article at a later point. But watching him and Logan talk to each other through out the Uncanny X-Force is rather funny. Especially since in the later trades the Sabertooth we all know and love is running around. Yeah, to the best of both worlds.
I also have discovered that the Richards children (Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman's kids) are interesting as well. I've gotten to read about Franklin in a couple different spots through out the universe, mainly in X-Factor, and AvX. I think it was AvX, might have been Uncanny X-Men, would need to double check. Either way, I'd be pretty interested in reading a collection that followed him pretty much exclusively. I was never overly interested in the Original Fantastic Four line up as main characters, but the kids might be another story.
There are many more I could and will eventually get into, but for now that will cover it. I'm not sure when I'll get to the next opinionated essay that reflects my views on graphic novels and the stories and characters that lie within, but there will be one coming in the near future. In fact I'm just about to start writing it, as I rough out some other ideas.