My comic book binge continues!
The Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past
My partner and I are big fans of superhero movies, and really enjoyed the most recent X-Men reboot. When the previews for this summer’s sequel came out, though, I couldn’t make head or tails of the storyline, and Tom recommended that I read the comic books that it is based on. The storyline was originally published over two issues of The Uncanny X-Men in 1981 and released as a trade paperback in 2011.
I have repeatedly mentioned that artwork is very important to me, and I found the 80s aesthetic a little trying, but the dystopian future and desperate intervention from the past plotline was quite engaging. (Also, the dystopian future is set in 2013, and I wonder if they originally aimed for a release date last year.) Ultimately, though, I don’t know that reading the book helped with my initial issue, since I believe the movie is taking a lot of freedoms from the source material. The primary one being that now Wolverine is the pivotal character instead of Kitty Pryde. The comic book fan in me is attempting to argue that this change is just due to Wolverine being very popular, but the feminist in me isn’t totally buying it (not least because both sides of me suspect that Wolverine is starting to be played out).
The All-New X-Men: Yesterday’s X-Men
Released just this year, the “Yesterday’s X-Men” trade paperback is pretty much the mirror image of “Days of Future Past.” My X-Men reading heyday was many years ago, so a lot has happened since I stopped checking in monthly. Comic books are similar to soap operas in a lot of ways: a set roster of characters rotates through years of marriages, breakups, feuds, and deaths. This book actually builds on all of that, and references the past craziness in very nice and often humorous ways, without overwhelming the reader with past references.
The basic premise is that so much craziness has happened and the X-Men have gotten so fractured that Beast decides that he needs to bring the teenage X-Men from the 60s forward in time so that the current X-Men can face their past selves and recognize where they have gone wrong. This does not work ideally, of course, and the play between the two sets of X-Men is very interesting and entertaining. (And the illustration is some of the best I’ve seen recently in the big superhero comics—everyone is of course in peak physical condition but no one is ridiculously stacked in either musculature or T&A.)
Hawkeye: Little Hits
Rebecca previously reviewed Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, and I wasn’t quite sure what to think about it. It is so different from any other superhero comic I’ve read: Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) is just trying to get by in life when he isn’t with the Avengers, and is only somewhat successful at it. I was initially taken aback by the bleak and almost noir-ish world, but I think it is quickly becoming a favorite. Life is not easy for Clint Barton, partly due to circumstance and partly due to personal poor decision-making, but he perseveres, and I enjoy reading about it. (Oh, and not to harp too much on disappointing girl-power comics, but Hawkeye’s female protégé is so casually tough and independent that there’s no need to make a big deal out of it in the writing.)
“Little Hits” is the second volume, released just last year, and does some very interesting things with the comic book medium, including an issue entirely from the point of view of Clint’s dog, using a series of pictograms to communicate thoughts. The back of the book also includes several pages from the artist’s sketchbook, along with a description of his very minimalist approach toward color and it was fascinating, as well.
Yesterday’s X-Men does sound interesting, although also kind of appalling, given their lives. The combination of “I have to explain my life decisions to my 16-year-old self?” and “I grow up to do what?” just make me want to curl up in a corner.
I really liked the art in Hawkeye: Little Hits and I hadn’t thought about it, but yeah, I love how casually tough his female protege is. The stories themselves make me kind of uncomfortable though, just for the amount of damage he takes. At some point, multiple concussions lead to permanent brain damage.