ESSENTIAL X-MEN, VOLUME 2
For my summer reading list, I’ve read almost everything in less than a month, excluding this: Essential Classic X-Men Volume 2, reprinting issues 25-53 with contributing writers Roy Thomas and Arnold Drake (Stan Lee long before). My dear, it was a hefty task, but I managed to get through the Silver Age kookiness of Stan Lee aphorisms and silly villains. The first couple of issues were agonizing as the Mimic, a mutant with all of the X-Men’s powers, joins the team. He really is a useless and annoying character that can be only be described as bipolar. Subsequent issues dealt with the mysterious (and stupefying) Factor Three’s plot to obliterate the world. Some of the villains were outrageous to take seriously like Mekano, Frankenstein, Cobalt Man, El Tigre, Maha Yogi, and Grotesk. I would tell you who they are, but they are irrelevant, really. There’s at least a fair balance of average villains like the Blob, Unus the Untouchable, Mastermind, and Mesmero with big appearance from the big guns like the Juggernaut and Magneto.
Towards the middle of the book, the stories became enjoyable. Some of the great highlights were the burgeoning relationship with loner Cyclops and girl-next-door Marvel Girl, the finale of the Factor Three storyline, Jim Steranko’s legendary two issue drawings, Xavier’s death leading to the X-Men‘s dissolution, and a fight with the Avengers. Future X-Men like the Banshee and Polaris also make their first appearances while a few issues have special guest stars like Doctor Strange, the Mole Man, and Spiderman. With the last half of the book, the readers are treated to the Origins of the X-Men. And while strange, they are charming with vignettes like Cyclops aiding the Living Diamond in a heist, Iceman fighting a mob, and the Beast’s dealings with a crazy lunatic adversary like the Conquistador.These tales are not for everyone and are really outdated with their 60s flavor. Thy have not received the mutant-hated pedigree they’ll receive in decades but the charm is still there with the original X-Men fighting sci-fi elements more than symbolisms of hate. It was a much simpler time in the X-Universe, so enjoy the ride; it’s pretty fun, especially when the gang hangs out at the hippie café, Coffee A Go-Go.
Best Quote EVER!:
“In the best traditions of western jurisprudence, you shall receive a fair trial, with all evidence duly weighed. And then you shall be destroyed.”
The trade paperback, Marvel Weddings, is a delight because it showcases the biggest weddings of the most famous couples in the Marvel Universe: Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl, The Wasp and Giant-Man, Bruce Banner and Betty Ross, Quiksilver and Crystal, Spiderman and Mary Jane. But really, it’s a great piece to read after completing the second volume of Essential Classic X-Men in which Cyclops and Jean Grey first start their relationship. They’ve come a long way, especially the couple’s dealings with the Phoenix force, Jean’s death and resurrection (and death again), Scott’s first wife and his own villainous possession, and Emma Frost. It’s great to see a wedding be only a wedding as the other issues are riddled with absurdity: all the villains fight during the wedding of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl, The Wasp marries the schizophrenic Hank Pym under a different alias, Bruce Banner (The Hulk) deals with an insane father-in-law, and the Avengers’ deal with a bizarre wedding with the Inhumans involved. Besides the X-Men, Spiderman deals with an average wedding with his model girlfriend, Mary Jane. Still, it’s good to see temporary bliss amongst the power couples of the Marvel universe, even though barely any of the couples are still together (only the Fantastic Four‘s).