Over here at GeekCLE we’re aware that it can be hard to dive in to some of the more time honored pursuits. Sometimes you’ll ask “Where do I start?” and a booming voice from the ether will remind you that the most logical place is at the beginning. At some point in the recent past we decided it would be a good idea to read the X-Men comics from #1 and to share our experience with you. We’ll be reading a couple issues a week and updating you on our progress as we go. We have varying relationships with Marvel’s merry mutants which we think is a good place to start before we dive in to the books.
So…my background with the X-men. It’s really a tale of love and loss. Me and my brother used to spend a lot of time reading the comics when I was kid, right around when the whole Phoenix Rising storyline was a thing. Like most girls, I kind of had a crush on Gambit (it was the Louisiana drawl) and there were times, especially when I was grumpy, that I wanted to be Rogue and use her powers for evil. I also thought her hair was really cool.Oh, and she was in love with Gambit, so we totally had something in common. Things were never easy for the X-men and there was often no clear-cut line between good and evil, right or wrong; good guys would team up with the bad guys, bad guys would become good guys, etc. etc. Sadly, I had to get a job, graduate from high school, then college and keeping up with the X-men fell by the wayside. I’ve thought of them often though, occasionally checking up on them, and after years of missing them I’ve decided to come back. Starting with Issue #1 it’s time to get to know them all over again. It will be interesting to see what I remember and how my views of things have changed since me and my brother first started saving up our allowance for those weekly trips to the comic shop.
One day, during the winter of my 3rd grade year there were quite a few students absent, including a few regulars in the recess group who would pretend to be the X-Men. Even though I was super shy and had only seen a couple of episodes, once asked to play the part of Storm, I was 100% on board. I thought I was so cool because what I did know about X-Men was I thought Storm was the coolest character. Once i realized i need to participate in bringing down the evil forces that plagued my elementary friends, I maybe panicked in my ignorance and decided that the best way to play it off was to pretend that I lost my powers due to some unknown force. It was ultimately fairly embarrassing and I avoided being asked back.
I now confess (nerd shame) that I did not go on to have read a single issue of Xmen or a related comic book. I am one of those people that are reluctant to read comics centered on superheroes which is very much to the dismay of my comic reading comrades who believe if i were only to read _____, I could enjoy it. And trust me I have a pile of borrowed comics waiting for me to just take the plunge already.
As a reader of Alan Moore, Warren Eliis, Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman, Ben Templesmith and many indie/small press comic titles and one who thoroughly enjoys the medium, I have been wanting to explore the Marvel Universe to see if i connect to it. So… I’m on board. Let’s do this.
Being the resident X-Men fan this is going to be a bit longer and ramblier (that’s a word now)
When I was a kid I identified with the X-men as an outsider not only as a nerd or geek but as an person of color. I could relate to their struggles, their desire to simply be accepted. I literally prayed to have mutant powers. Not so I could use them to punish those who had wronged me but so that hopefully other mutants would appear and we could start our own academy and I could finally feel like I belonged somewhere. It didn’t happen and I gave up on religion shortly after but I still had comic books!
Like a fair amount of fans in our generation, I came to the X-men via X-Men: The Animated Series. Having already been a fan of comics but at my young age only ones based on cartoons (Muppet Babies, Simpsons, Transformers, Ren and Stimpy) I was delighted to discover a whole universe with a rich history. The Marvel Universe sucked me in and I have identified as a “Marvel Zombie” since childhood. I hung around with Spider-Man for a while (jokes!) but Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was my home. I appreciated how they could go between having crazy adventures, fighting for their lives, and just hanging out at the mansion like one big happy family. I remember how great a day it was when I got all of the action figures of the main team of X-Men featured on the cartoon. It was a Sunday, my mom’s car overheated at the mall earlier that day. I watched Rookie of the Year on cable that afternoon and proudly lined all of the figures up on the coffee table. My collection only grew from there.
My mom would allow me to get one comic book a week back when they were still sold in grocery stores and book stores were more common; more often than not it was some variation of the X-Men. The Age of Apocalypse started around my eleventh birthday, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. She let me get two comics that week. I chose Amazing X-Men #1 and Astonishing X-Men #1. Not being able to keep up with everything, I pieced most of my X-Men knowledge together from whatever comics I read, the cartoon, novelizations, trading cards and action figure packaging. I can go on and on with other X-knowledge and related memories or tell you about how I used to hate Cyclops who is now my favorite character but I won’t. Over the years I was never able to keep up properly but between the library and spending what little money I had I was able to stay aware. Up until I became an adult and got a big boy job as soon as I paid off my car I did the responsible thing with my increased disposable income and set up a pull at my local comic shop. It should be unsurprising that at some point in my life I would attempt to read the entire series from #1. So, here we go.
And with that we’re off, feel free to read along.
What’s your history with the X-men? Have you attempted to read a long running series from the beginning? Tell us in the comments.