A Look Back at X-Men #2 (1991)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

There is so much said about X-Men #1 of 1991 which was launched to major success by Marvel Comics selling at least eight million copies worldwide. That launch issue, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee, had multiple covers and a version with gatefold covers and high-quality paper which made it an instant hit with collectors chasing profit. In 2011, Marvel even released the so-called 20th anniversary edition of X-Men #1 which was digitally recolored.

In terms of substance, X-Men #1 marked the new era of the X-Men. Charles Xavier returned to his mansion to lead the X-Men which was so large as a group, it had to be divided into two team with Cyclops leading the Blue Team and Storm heading the Gold Team. In terms of publishing, Marvel published tales of the Gold Team in the Uncanny X-Men monthly series while the Blue Team’s stories were published in the adjective-less X-Men monthly series.

With all the attention paid to X-Men #1, I noticed that not too many people cared to talk about what happened after the end of that comic book. Without spoiling plot details, the massive seller of 1991 had its story end in a cliffhanger. To find out what followed and determine the quality of the creative team’s work, here is a look back at X-Men #2 published in 1991 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the fictional island nation of Genosha which has a legacy of mutant slavery. Having fought with the Acolytes (led by Fabian Cortez), the X-Men now face Magneto who arrived and tells them that he will not abandon the Acolytes.

“They acted in an excess of zeal. If so…I..and I alone..shall determine their appropriate punishment,” Magneto tells the team of Cyclops, Gambit, Beast, Wolverine, Psylocke and Rogue. Near them are other Acolytes members down on the ground.

After words spoken by Gambit, Rogue and Cyclops, Magneto referred to the devastation of the city hospital as fitting for punishing a state (Genosha) whose prosperity was built on the backs of mutant slaves. Beast answered back saying that the Genoshans have accepted responsibility for what they have done and resolved to make amends.

While Magneto replies to Beast, a military Genoshan helicopter gunship fires missiles at them from above which the X-Men’s archvillain intercepts. Using his magnetic power, Magneto lifts steal beams and destroys the helicopter with them. He then turns against the X-Men restarting the chaos in the city…

Quality

Magneto, Psylocke and Rogue in the middle of the chaos.

Being the middle of a 3-part story, this comic book pushes the entire X-Men group to the edge thanks to strong writing by Chris Claremont. I’m not simply referring to the traditional good-versus-evil formula of superhero storytelling as the story here emphasized themes about sanity, loyalty, legacy, idolatry and even diplomacy. It just so happens that there is a lot of superhero spectacle to enjoy here and there.

The stakes have been raised significantly in this story as Magneto is shown leading the Acolytes who in turn went ahead with their first mission which explains the chaos in Genosha. Magneto’s condition also deteriorates and gets himself healed by Fabian Cortez who is more sinister than what he seems. For his part, Charles Xavier of the X-Men gets to interact with his long-time friend Dr. Moira MacTaggert who is struggling with guilt from something she committed in the past. Through Magneto, Xavier and MacTaggert, there is this solid build-up of tension that led to a very powerful revelation in the 2nd half of the story which, ironically, put the X-Men on the sideline temporarily. There is high drama, deep tension and high intensity involving Magneto and MacTaggert, and their scene together is the highlight of the story.  

Conclusion

The face-off!

To put it straight, as much as I loved X-Men #1 (1991), I find X-Men #2 (1991) more compelling to read. For one thing, it rewards X-Men fans who dedicatedly followed the events of not only the X-Men but also of that of the life of Magneto. It’s really great that Chris Claremont literally dug up the past for details that proved to be useful in this comic book. It also nicely sets up anticipation of the next issue by involving the X-Men’s Gold Team. Unsurprisingly, with the combined talents of Claremont and Jim Lee, this is an excellent read that really looks great.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #2 (1991), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4 while the near-mint copies of the Chris Claremont-signed regular edition, the Chris Claremont-signed newsstand edition and the newsstand edition cost $9, $19 and $13 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #2 (1991) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Before he became the co-publisher of DC Comics, the great Jim Lee made his debut in the comic book industry as an illustrator for Marvel Comics. Just a few short years after that, he became a fan-favorite of X-Men fans and was a major factor in the massive sales success of 1991’s X-Men #1 (Volume 2). Not only did that particular comic book established a long-lasting sales record for all comic books, Lee’s designs and visual concepts for the X-Men were adapted by the producers and creators of the fan-favorite X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997).

For the newcomers reading this, Jim Lee’s tenure with Marvel Comics ended in December 1991 when he, Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane met with the publisher and expressed that Marvel’s policies toward them were unfair and they were not rewarded well for their work. To put things in perspective, Jim Lee’s X-Men #1, Rob Liefeld’s X-Force #1 and Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1 were respectively million-sellers. As such, Lee, Liefeld, McFarlane plus some more creators left Marvel and went on to establish Image Comics (which involved a production and distribution deal with Malibu Comics).

In 1992, Jim Lee’s dream project – with concepts first created in 1986 – came through free from the constraints he endured from Marvel’s editorial team and strict policies. That’s dream project was WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1, which is the feature of this retro comic book review.

But before we start the review, here’s a quick look back at the conceptual history of WildC.A.T.s as written by Jim Lee himself.

“I created my first ‘professional’ comic book submission in the summer of 1986 entitled The Wild Boys involving an espionage agency called International Operations. The co-writer of that sublime piece of work was coincidentally enough – Brandon Choi – who at the time was still in college getting a double major in history and politics,” Lee wrote in the comic book’s intro.

Now that we’re done with the history, here is a look back at WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1, published in 1992 through Image Comics with a story co-written by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi. Lee illustrated the comic book with ink work done by Scott Williams.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Antarctica in 1986. There, two men braved the cold weather searching for something with information they learned from IO (International Operations). Suddenly an orb rises from the snow and then an image of a lady wearing silver tights and wielding energy appears in front of them. After demanding them to let her have the orb, she and the energy field fade away.

In 1992, at the crisis control facility of IO in Virginia, IO’s executives carefully view video footage of Georgetown which was hit by an explosion. They suspect rogue C.A.T.s (covert action teams) could have been involved. Suddenly, the same energy field from six years earlier forms in their presence with the same lady appearing for a few moments. The energy field fades away.

In the present day, a dwarf named Jacob Marlowe wakes up in the middle of garbage in an alley. After getting hurt by two troublemakers, the same silver lady from the past appears and uses her energetic power to save Jacob. She introduces her to him as Void, claiming he came for him and she knows he was once a lord named Emp. She tells him the Cabal is a threat to humans on Earth…

Quality

Clearly Jim Lee took inspiration from John Woo’s action movies.

When it comes to the presentation of the story, the comic book starts in a deliberately cryptic way. It’s like having very short prologues back to back and, fortunately, it works well to capture attention while building up slowly its concept. The story really begins when Jacob Marlowe arrives at his headquarters with Void as his enduring advisor and executor. The introductions of each of the team’s members – Spartan, Warblade, Maul, Grifter, Zealot and Voodoo – were decently done and never felt rushed as Jim Lee and Brandon Choi carefully paced the storytelling and really tried to balance exposition and spectacle. That being said, similar results happened with regards to the comic book’s spotlight on the Cabal and its evil leader.

With regards to the presentation of the classic conflict between good and evil, Lee and Choi came up with the concept of planet Earth being slowly infiltrated by Daemonites (who originated in outer space) with the Cabal serving like an anchor with an organized set-up for domination. Over at the WildC.A.T.s, Marlowe formed a team to fight and stop the Cabal since the lives of the people of Earth are at stake. This is a really nice concept serving as the foundation, and the irony is that, in this comic book specifically, IO was on the sideline.

When it comes to the visuals, Jim Lee must have enjoyed the liberty he had in illustrating this comic book…free from the editorial interference from Marvel and free too from the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority (CCA). The result here is a visual presentation showing more Lee’s creativity and a style different somewhat from his final works on X-Men. He clearly took more inspiration from action movies and the violence is somewhat more mature to look at. It should be noted that Scott Williams helped Lee’s art shine.

Conclusion

These two pages remind me somewhat of the X-Men, their jet and the Danger Room.

By today’s standards, WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 is surprisingly still a good superhero team comic book to read. It’s not a literary classic but it proved to be compelling and fun enough to read from start to finish. It has a decent amount of action here and there which is understandable since Choi and Lee had to build up the concepts and the plot. If there were any weak spots, this comic book is almost devoid of character development and the clear lack of a lead character (which is still needed even for a superhero team comic book).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $5 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $16. The near-mint copy of the 3D edition costs $9 while the near-mint copy of the gold cover edition is priced at $42.

Overall, WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At X-Men #1 (1991)

When I was in high school, Marvel Comics launched the comic book X-Men #1 (Volume 2, 1991) which sold an estimated eight million copies worldwide. The times back then were very exciting as the comic book had great art by Jim Lee (inked by Scott Williams and colored by Joe Rosas) combined with the writing of Chris Claremont.

For this retro review, I have the gatefold cover edition of X-Men #1 which has the complete set of covers and a cover price of $3.95. The comic book used high-quality paper (or glossy paper) for its content. To put things in perspective, X-Men #1 was released with multiple editions. The comic books carrying cover prices of $1.50 had individual covers and lower quality paper.

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The front cover.

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The back cover.

So what was X-Men #1 all about? Was it deserving of the tremendous sales success it achieved for Marvel? Did the combined talents of Claremont and Lee create something super special?

To begin with, X-Men #1 marked the beginning of a new chapter of the X-Men. In the events that happened prior to this comic book, the X-Men founder Charles Xavier had been away for many years and along the way the team went through several changes with its members. At one point, the classic villain Magneto even became the head of the X-Men. The pioneering X-Men members of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman and Beast meanwhile found their temporary place outside by forming X-Factor. Eventually the Muir Island saga which incidentally reunited Xavier with his mutants.

So in this comic book, the X-Men got reformed and Xavier returned to his mansion for the first time in many years. The stakes are much higher this time because Xavier needs to adjust to the dynamics of the X-Men whose membership has grown so much two teams (Gold and Blue) had to be used. As if that was not challenging enough, the world, as Xavier noticed, is more hostile towards mutants than ever before.

In out space, two groups of people engaged in a spaceships chase which triggered Magneto (now living in a new headquarters orbiting Earth) to take action. He tells them he is no longer interested in their cause and simply wanted to be left alone.

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Magneto’s presence and energy signature alerts authorities on Earth.

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Charles Xavier shares to Jean Grey his observations as he tries to adjust with his return to his mansion. He was away for so many years and so was Jean Grey and her pioneering teammates.

Because he made his presence felt (his energy signature was detected and so was his floating headquarters), authorities on Earth had no choice but to launch the first stage of the Magneto Protocols.

In Washington DC, Col. Nick Fury meets with the President of the United States who expressed his concern about the incident in outer space which involved American shuttles that got destroyed.

US President: It’s my understanding, in fact, that the terrorists who hijacked our vehicle look to him (Magneto) as their inspiration. Suppose he makes their cause his own?

Nick Fury: If the Soviets act like hotheads, Mister President, they could make things worse.

US President: You have an alternative?

Meanwhile at the Xavier mansion, the X-Men participate in an training session with Cyclops (blue team leader) and Storm (gold team leader) watching and coordinating from the control room. Charles Xavier, who is still adjusting upon returning, closely watches the large team.

SCN_0043
Sarcasm by Cyclops annoyed Xavier who preferred him to keep focus on the exercise.

Of course, with the team so large, conflicting personalities and problems with bonding with each other was inevitable. Clearly the newly revamped X-Men had a long way to go before achieving true solidarity.

And then Nick Fury contacted the X-Men with the Magneto situation…

For a comic book released in 1991, this one was quite a grand product. Sure it did not have a gimmick cover of foil nor hologram nor chromium but having a gatefold cover with art of the X-Men and Magneto drawn by the great Jim Lee was itself a big luxury at the time.

Very clearly, Jim Lee and Scott Williams did their best ensuring great art for the comic book. The X-Men all look very fit (as if they all regularly spent time in the gym), their redesigned costumes were meant to look cool (although the many pouches and “suspender” of Cyclops’ costume look really silly), Magneto looks ageless and the Acolytes were designed to be the new nemesis of the X-Men.

And then there was the action…..

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Action between the X-Men and Magneto.

Jim Lee has a great vision for high-octane action designed to show impact while at the same time give readers something great to look at. In my view, Lee was influenced by action movies and he developed ways to not only make comic book action flow nicely but also deliver impact.

This comic book has a lot of action and Jim Lee cleverly visualized the capabilities of the X-Men with striking visuals. The way Wolverine looked striking at an enemy was pretty intense. Cyclops’ use of his Optic Blast to separate Magneto from Wolverine showed a lot of power. Psylocke’s physical strike against Magneto reminds me hard action scenes from Hollywood flicks.

With regards to the writing, Chris Claremont managed to redefine the X-Men for the new age while at the same time did his best to balance the story, establish the threat and build up the tension for the inevitable conflict with Magneto. In this particular comic book, it is the blue team taking on the classic villain.

Apart from the main story, X-Men #1 also came with extra stuff like behind-the-scenes sketches by Jim Lee, a preview of things to come (notably the post-Claremont concepts), a 2-page image of the X-Men enjoying the pool side of the mansion, and a villains gallery! All these extras were drawn by Jim Lee!

Overall, X-Men #1 is still a compelling comic book to read even by today’s standards. The comic book speculator boom has long been over but if you are looking for the modernizing of the X-Men for the 1990s, this one really is a milestone. Clearly, X-Men #1 was made to start the new age of the mutants with the 1990s in mind while at the same time it took the bold move of gathering Xavier and the pioneering X-Men members and putting them back into Xavier’s mansion forming a much larger team than ever. This move of mixing classic X-Men members with newer ones resulted a nice variety of personalities.

When it comes to getting this for your collection focused on Marvel’s mutants, X-Men #1 is highly recommended. Remember, you should look at this comic book as a piece of X-Men history and don’t focus on making a profit with it. Just enjoy it for what it is.

By the way, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is opening very soon in cinemas. You bought a ticket already?


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Comic Book Review: Detective Comics #1000

Before reviewing this landmark comic book from DC Comics, let me state that I’m not a fan of Batman. Even so, I still admire and respect Batman’s iconic status not only in superhero comic books but also on global pop culture. There is also no denying that Batman is the definitive crime fighter and detective-type superhero.

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Detective Comics #1000 is almost a hundred pages long.

Way back in 1939, DC Comics (then called National Comics) published the comic book Detective Comics #27 which marked the first-ever appearance of Batman. Batman went on to entertain multiple fans, helped DC Comics and the comic book industry in general grow and made his mark in pop culture entertainment through TV, movies and video games to say some.

This year, DC Comics published the landmark comic book Detective Comics #1000 which, for $9.99, carried almost one hundred pages of content, had variant covers and ultimately highlighted Batman and his part of the DC Comics universe.

Without spoiling the stories, Detective Comics #1000 is essentially a showcase of the Caped Crusader with the combined talents of Jim Lee (who illustrated the cover of this particular comic book), Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen, Denny O’Neil, Steve Epting and more.

There are some standalone stories about Batman in this premium comic book. Readers will get to see what happened in Gotham City, some insights into Batman’s past and his mindset, and his encounters with other DC Comics figures like Catwoman, the Joker, Bane, Poison Ivy, Penguin, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze and more. As expected, the Batman supporting characters like Robin, Commissioner Gordon, butler Alfred plus a few more characters from the DC Comics universe also are here.

What surprised me most in this collection is that one of the stories was illustrated by the legendary comic book veteran Neal Adams who long ago made his mark in Batman comic books. I personally saw Neal Adams at the 2018 edition of the Toycon here in the Philippines. It was nice to see that Adams was given a short story to work on instead of just a pin-up.

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The cover illustrated by Jim Lee and inked by Scott Williams.

Overall, Detective Comics #1000 is a great contemporary comic book and worthy of being called a landmark comic book. Numbering aside, this one has a very high production value and more importantly it is the creative stuff and showcase of comic book talents that justified its cover price.

I can say that Detective Comics #1000 is highly recommended to both Batman fans and anyone who likes superhero comics in general. It’s a must-buy!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com