Taking a cue from a previous panel of the day when we featured a comic book ad we bring you 1987’s The Fall Of The Mutants.
After the unexpected success of the Mutant Massacre crossover the year before featuring (the then current X-Titles) Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor and New Mutants Marvel demanded more. For better or worse going forward we’d now more or less get a company mandated X crossover yearly. Some were ok and some were pretty fucking far from ok (X-Cutioner’s Song I’m looking in your direction). However with this particular crossover the events of each title don’t intersect or dovetail like the previous Mutant Massacre. Here the idea for the crossover is more thematic where each team undergoes a very big and relatively dark change. This is where in the pages of X-Factor Angel first became Archangel, a horseman of Apocalypse spinning out of the events of the last crossover. The X-Men die in an epic battle in Dallas only to be resurrected of course but the world at large watches them die on the news. They are given the Siege Perilous which will come into play a little further down the line and change X-Men history forever. The New Mutants well…they did New Mutant type things but it did result in the death of member Doug Ramsey.
It’s a pretty dark period for Marvel’s Merry Mutants and this in house comic ad by then X-Men artist Alan Davis perfectly showcases that perfectly.
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Greetings, listener(s?). Today’s podcast is something all-new and all-different. Martian Luthor Kang, Biff Tannen, Rex Mason, and newcomer Dutch Essex sit on the finely upholstered fainting couches in the study of the Evil Lair for the first of a series of discussions centered around classic X-Men storylines. We read the stories so YOU DON’T HAVE TO!! Pull up a wingback, snap your fingers to summon a snifter of brandy, and put up your feet as we showcase the Hellfire Book Club. Today’s topic will be:
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While metahumans, mutants, and demigods certainly outperform actual police officers in terms of apocalypse prevention and supervillain apprehension, they are more often than not sorely lacking in another important aspect of crime fighting; Undercover work.
Take a guy like Daredevil, for instance. Daredevil can sit on a rooftop enjoying a cup of coffee (if someone who can taste each and every individual fecal coliform can ever truly enjoy anything) and listen to entire blocks of the city at a time, pinpointing crimes and swooping in to save the day. And all without the use of his eyes! However, when it comes to getting his hands dirty and doing some deep cover reconnaissance, he sticks out like a sore thumb.
I mean, maybe he doesn’t know that wearing sunglasses indoors is a fairly uncommon? He’s sitting in a bar in Manhattan in the early 1980s, I’d say we’re probably talking about a dimly lit joint. The gang here at Josie’s Bar know that this stranger is either a blind person or a serious douchebag. Like a Guy Fieri level douchebag. He has to let them know that he’s just a tough customer! A rough and tumble street smart fella who doesn’t take any guff from any tuff, and what better way to demonstrate than to toss a few guys through a window.
Hey, “Shades”…. you know who throws people through that window all of the time? Daredevil. If you want to hide the fact that you’re Daredevil, try acting a bit less like Daredevil.
It’s no secret that Robert Kirkman is a fan of 1980s-90s Marvel comics. Any reader of Invincible (and if you aren’t one, I recommend you rectify that tout de suite) can tell you that the fantastic series from Image is more or less a love song to books from that period and it would fit right in with those titles were it on the rack in 1989, save for its R rating.
However, while the comparisons between Invincible and Spider-Man are right at the surface, it’s a bit more difficult (and certain conjectural) to point out the similarities between the X-Men comics of yesteryear and the multi-media juggernaut that is The Walking Dead. Naturally the subject matter of the two series never overlap, the Walking Dead is a survival horror story set in a world only slightly different from our own and the classic X-Men stories are adventure tales in a wildly fantastic universe. But the characters, and the relationships between those characters are often so similar that I just can’t goddamn ignore it any longer.
I’ve ranted before about Marvel’s strange and erratic trade publishing methods and schedule, especially for older material. The newly minted Epic Collection is seemingly trying to correct that a bit and focus on publishing material that is either hard to come by or hasn’t ever been traded before. Each volume associated with a character or team is numbered but not being put out in chronological order. So for instance (at the time of writing) Daredevil only has one volume published, which is 18. This covers the Fall From Grace storyline from the early 90’s. The X-Men have one volume of the Epic Collection released thus far and it’s Volume 1 which contains the first 23 issues of the 1960’s Stan Lee era.
So what’s my gripe?
You know what’s missing from Marvel comics these days? It’s not just the feeling of permanence in the storytelling or the overall quality in the product they put out on a monthly basis. The notion that the creators are putting their best feet forward and not just taking monthly work to pay the bills while they publish their best stories as creator-owned works? Sure, that’s gone with the wind but there’s something else that used to be a staple of the industry, but seems to be gone for good.
The corner box illustration.