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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
Comics I Read Last Week:
The Best Comic I Read Last Week Was The Powers of X#6
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: R B Silva & Pepe Larraz
Now that the epic roll out for the new status quo for the X-Men told over 12 issues of House of X and Powers of X respectively, is complete, I feel I can begin to try to comment and comprehend.
Commenting will be easy. Comprehending? That’s something else.
I am thrilled to read Jonathan Hickman playing in this corner of the Marvel Universe. His last opus on Avengers a few years back was gripping and awe-inspiring and I expected much the same from his take on X-Men. As it turns out, i should have expected more. I did not anticipate his playing with the form in the manner he has, both in the inclusion of intricate text pages pulling together (and, sometimes, ripping apart) threads of X-Men history while adapting it to the story he is telling and in the triptych narrative of three timelines converging into a cohesive story.
Both are risky approaches. Both pay off.
Hickman has made erased the idea that there are heroes and villains in the X-Men universe. He’s erased the idea that there are rules. He’s erased the tropes of comic book story telling. He’s erased the X-Men.
This is no “hey, here’s a new angle on old characters” take. This is a recreation of the entire concept of the X-Men.
It works in these two series and he’s aided and abetted by Pepe Larraz (primary artist on both series) turning in career defining work. The art is terrific and pops and supports the story, but the story here is king.
Whether this approach can be sustained over the long term and under the pressures of the multimedia approach that Marvel is taking to its properties remains to be seen. Whether I ever fully understand the story that’s being told does as well.
But, for now, X-Men is the most fascinating niche of the mainstream comic book world going.