Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wow....Just Wow

This is probably one of the most unintentionally funny videos I have seen in my life. Everybody has been talking about this video since it's been up. This just goes to show that I need to watch the news a little more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Graphic Novels: Essential X-Men Volume 1

Essential X-Men Volume 1

Writers: Chris Claremont and Len Wein
Artists: Dave Cockrum , John Byrne, and others

So what can I say about this?


.......Okay, that's too much enthusiasm, even for me.

I guess I'll start out by saying that I'm a huge X-Men fan. I still remember the animated series on Fox, which is still cool, and that X-Men arcade game. I still remember getting this thing in Orlando in 2002 (band trip, ya'll!!!). I was with a friend in one of those stores at one of the Universal Studios theme parks, and I had the money so I got it. I read it when I got home, and wanted to get the second volume, which I also have.

To give you a brief rundown on how the TPB lists the issues, it's like this:
Giant Sized X-Men #1, Uncanny X-Men #94-119.

I would give a history on the team that wrote and drew these issues, but you can go to Wikipedia for that. Instead, I'll say a little something about these guys:

Chris Claremont - Here's the guy who pretty much made the X-Men into what they are today. Claremont stayed on Uncanny X-Men the late seventies to the early nineties, and is still writing stuff today for Marvel.

Len Wein - a long-time writer. He wrote the Giant-Sized issue and that's about it.

Dave Cockrum - Cockrum is pretty much remembered for his work on DC's Legion of Superheroes in the seventies and here for his artwork on UXM (Uncanny X-men for short). I don't what else he had done, but he's probably done more. Unfortunately, Cockrum passed away on November 26, 2006.

John Byrne - Byrne has done a lot of stuff in terms of artwork and writing for the last few decades. Probably what he's known for is his work with Marvel and his rebooting of Superman in 1986.

Giving a description on what happens in this TPB would be long and tedious, so I'm just going to list my highlights on what is so cool this era and this TPB:

Pretty much happens in the beginning is that the old team of X-Men is trapped on some "evil" island (No, not Hawaii.). So Patrick Stewart, I mean Professor Charles Xavier, makes a trip around the world and finds new mutants who will go and see what the heck happened on this island. We have:
  • Nightcrawler - Cool

  • Colossus - Also cool

  • Banshee - Ok

  • Sunfire - Meh and leaves the next issue, jerk

  • Thunderbird - Also meh

  • Storm - Way, way cool

  • and everybody's favorite Canadian.....William Shatner! (No no, Wolverine.)
They are led by Cyclops (aka Mr. Eye Beams), who escaped from the island, go back to the island, save the old team, kick the island's butt, and go home. After all that fun, the old team believe they have learned all they can from Xavier and decide to leave the mansion and the team. The only one who doesn't leave is Cyclops, who decides to stay and lead the new team.

2. An X-Man Dies
That's right! In the second issue, an X-Man dies. Who it is I won't say, but considering you don't see him afterwards with the team on missions should give you a clue. Anyway, this is a highlight of mine for a couple of reasons. It shows that anything, and I mean anything, can happen to this team. Also, it shows how risky and tough the life of a superhero is.

3. The X-Men vs. (gasp!) The X-Men!
In the next few issues, Sentinels (big mutant-hunting robots) kidnap a few of the X-Men and take them to a big space station (yep.) and the rest of the team has to go get them. Stuff happens, and when the new recruits(without Cyclops) meet up with the rest of the captives, they run into the old X-Men team(Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast, Iceman, Havok, Polaris, and Xavier)! And this old team is not happy. In the next issue, there is a showdown and you find out that things aren't making sense. First, Beast is here and not hairy (long story). Second, Cyclops is in an older uniform. And finally, Xavier's walking! Luckily, Wolverine, everybody's favorite jerk, figures out that something's up and attacks Marvel Girl:

only to find out that she and the rest are mini versions of Sentinels. Having learned that, the new team unleash hell and high water on the fakes and dispatch them easily. After they and the villain of the issue, the literal nut job Stephan Lang, are defeated, they escape on a shuttle and head for Earth. One problem though: sun flares (I think). Anyway, Jean Grey, one of the captives and Cyclops' woman, decides to risk it all and pilot the shuttle through the flare and to Earth. The rest of the team tells her that it's risky, but she wants to do it anyway. While the team is in some sort of shield-thing, Jean pilots the ship through the storm and the issue ends
with a shriek. This leads us to...

4. The Phoenix Rises
After they crash into the Hudson River in New York, the X-Men get to the surface and start yelling for Jean. Then, all of the sudden, this happens:

She's alive. Yay . Jean now is inhabited by the Phoenix Force. Here begins a big change in Jean's life. While being Phoenix, Jean does some awesome things with her new, extraordinary power. She also does some bad things with these powers, and that I'll talk about next time. But for now, she's one of the good guys.

5. New X-Men vs. Magneto: Round 1!
Now here's something that was inevitable: a showdown between Magneto and the new X-Men. After a little vacation/adventure at Sean Cassidy's (Banshee) home in Ireland, the team (without Cyclops, again) is then brought to Muir Island by "The Power of Magnetism!!" There, they face Magneto, who's back and more powerful than before, and get their butts kicked from here to there. Fortunately, Cyclops shows up, gets the X-Men to retreat, and Magneto wins.

6. X-Men in Space!!!
After a series of events involving an alien princess named Lilandra and some sort of all-powerful crystal, the X-Men (Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Banshee, Wolverine, and Phoenix) end up being transported to another galaxy. There, they end up facing the Legion of Superher....I mean, the Imperial Guard of the Sh'iar Empire. For real though, the Imperial Guard is pretty much a copy of the Legion of Superheroes from the seventies. Both titles had the same artist, Dave Cockrum.
After getting their butts kicked, they get saved by the Starjammers, who are led by a human who's revealed to be Scott's father. The X-Men end up needing to save the universe from the effects of the crystal (woo hoo!!), and it's actually Jean who does it. After all of this.....they go home.

7. Wolverine Actually Gets Likable
This is something that happens over the course of the book. When Logan first joined the X-Men, he was somewhat of a jerk to everyone on the team, except Jean. But over time, the jerkiness subsided, and the only person he ticked off was Scott. He also gets cooler, gets some back-story, and gets a new romantic interest named Mariko when the X-men are in Japan.

8. New X-Men vs. Magneto: Round 2!
After another series of unfortunate events (dang, they have a lot of these), they end up facing Magneto again in his "Volcano Fortress"(Don't worry, Cyclops is here). This time, Jean is here, as well as a former X-Man Beast. They still get their butts handed to them, even Jean, whose Phoenix powers give up on her. They all get locked up and Magneto leaves them as he was once left: locked up and trapped.

9. New X-Men vs. Magneto: Final Round!! (For now...)
Fortunately, the X-Men are able to un-trap themselves thanks to Storm and her skills. They then do something to Magneto they haven't done before: Fight him as a team instead of individuals. They beat him so bad his "Volcano Fortress" begins to fall apart, Magneto retreats, and Jean and Beast are the only ones who make it to the surface. Are the new X-Men dead?

10. LOST
Answer: Of course not! Duh!

But for real, they don't die. Somehow the X-men (Cyclops, Storm, Logan, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Banshee) fight to get out of their predicament. Their eventual destination? The Savage Land, a jungle located beneath the Arctic Circle populated by dinosaurs and primitives. Once they get their bearings, mourned a bit for their dead friends (who aren't dead, by the way), and help the good people of the Savage Land out with some baddies, they build a crappy raft and make their way home to America. They run into some storm trouble and get help from a Japanese freighter. When they get to Japan, they find it after the shock of a bad earthquake. Here, they run into the jerky former X-Man, Sunfire. Logan also meets his new romantic interest, Mariko. They then find out that Japan is under attack by the villain, Moses Magnum (cool name), and of course they stop him. The only casualty is Banshee, who loses his ability to yell real loud. The book ends with them celebrating Christmas and eventually leaving Japan.

11. Xavier's Origin (Last highlight)
When Jean and Beast arrive at the mansion, they tell Xavier that the new X-men are dead (they're not, of course.). He doesn't take it well. He then decides to leave Earth with his new "honey-bunch," Lilandra. We then get a story of Xavier's first encounter with an evil mutant. When he was young, Xavier traveled the world. While in Cairo, Egypt, he gets pick-pocketed by a girl, who's revealed to be a young Storm. Xavier then feels "a disturbance in the Force", or something like that, and finds that there is a mutant that's just like him. Amahl Farouk, also known as the Shadow King, isn't a good guy and decides to mentally challenge Xavier. Their battlefield is the Astral Plane.

They fight and Xavier is the victor. At that moment, he realizes how truly deadly mutant powers could be in the wrong hands. His new goal led him to creating the X-Men, to protect mankind from evil mutants and creatures like Farouk.

And that ends my highlights for this TPB. Is it good? Yeah. If you're a fan of these X-Men and want to read about their early adventures, you should give it a shot.