Friday, July 21

X-Men (Kinda) Daily Art: 217 and 218

 X-Men 217 and 218 see the new team fight Juggernaut in Scotland. Dazzler runs headlong into battle to prove herself and collapses from exhaustion. Juggernaut, who turns out to be a big fan, buries her on a hillside. The team rescues her, and they all race into battle. They defeat him before learning he was the diversion while Black Tom robs a bank. A bank robbery! In an X-Men comic! Also this is Marc Silvestri's debut as penciller, and his camera placement and linework are eye-popping.

Thursday, July 13

X-Men Daily Art: X-Men 216


Forty issues ago, Storm was challenged to a duel to free her fellow X-Men from the Morlocks. It was to the death. Storm was the dignified outsider in the group, presented as an alien to American culture and morals. She commanded the weather and flew among the clouds. She literally had an air about her.
She won that duel by stabbing the Morlock leader in the heart. Callisto didn't die, but the fight was won. A few issues later, Storm went punk in a moment that polarized comic fans. The character was fighting to define herself and decided to live beyond her habitual emotional filters to feel more human. She needed to change.
The world grew darker around the team, and she became its field leader by default when Cyclops left to be a husband to Maddy Pryor. Then she lost her powers via a gizmo invented by a man she fell in love with. A robot from the future was now in their timeline to wipe them all out. Rachel stole her spirit in an effort to kill the Beyonder. Then Wolverine tried to kill Rachel, who later vanished. Then mercenaries slaughtered the Morlocks, whom she was not around to protect. In fighting them, the gentle giant Colossus killed one of them. Storm directed Wolverine to kill as many of the Marauders as he needed to. Colossus and two other teammates were left near death. 
And now Storm is chased by three older, powered folk disillusioned with a world grown cold. They capture the amoral and hunt them to the death, unless they can somehow escape. But Storm can't escape them. She must stop them. And one by one she defeats the trio until she is again in a duel to the death with a knife in her hand. 
Comics had gotten dark. There were always violent peripheral titles. Conan, for instance. But now superheroes in colorful costumes were killing and giving in their anger. The world was less simple. Harder. Lethal. X-Men as a comic reflected that, and it left longtime readers with the same choice as the heroes: What kind of people are we rooting for? What do we hope to see them do? Is the hero just the last character standing? This is Storm's Macbeth moment, for her and us and the title.
She doesn't kill the hunter. She chooses to be better than those she fights. And as team leader, her heroes will do the same. An X-Man has a standard. They were created by Xavier to make the world better. You don't do that simply by being the last man standing. 
Also Wolverine, lost in his confused grief over discovering Jean is alive, was unable to save two people killed by one of those hooligans hunted by the trio. He failed as a hero because he couldn't pull himself together. That's also an important lesson for a team driven so often by angst. 
And this is what the issue leaves us with: Get off your ass and be better then the world around you. For the heroes in the comics and the readers following along, that's a pretty good mindset to have.

Daily X-Men Art Catch-Up

Here are my takes on moments from my 1980s X-Men reread as I try to make come comic work every day. These are from X-Men 199 - X-Men 215.