Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Cosmic Treadmill Presents... Comix Tawk, Episode 7: "Green Lantern"

Three Comix Tawks in a row?  Wha--?

Yes, in order to try and keep a semblance of "order" in releases... today I'll be sharing the other episode of Comix Tawk that was already added to our regular feed nearly a year ago.  Episode 7 had a bit of a different tone and feel to it... and was a direction we were very excited to explore.

Rather than us curmudgeonly kvetching about everything going on in "current year comics", we decided to go a different direction, and actually talk about things we like!  Imagine that, right?

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We wanted to use our Comix Tawk "forum" to, not only discuss the industry... but the properties, franchises, creators, and characters we love so much.  Green Lantern is one of those properties, and we figured it was as good a place to begin as any.  We had a massive list of topics for this type of Comix Tawk... however, only got around to covering two.  In a few weeks, I'll release the episode featuring the other franchise we examined... the Teen Titans.

I've got so many partially done scripts of this type in my Google Drive right now.  We were really looking forward to just chatting about our favorites in an "off-the-cuff" yet chronological/linear fashion.  I did get to use my Doom Patrol timeline for a different program... but, most of 'em are probably just gonna sit.

Anyway... if you decide to give this a listen, I hope you enjoy.  I'd love to hear your thoughts... and maybe hear about some of your favorite/least favorite eras/stories in Green Lantern history.

Episode 8 of Comix Tawk will release as scheduled this Sunday morning.

If you decide to listen, I hope you enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Cosmic Treadmill Presents... Comix Tawk, Episode 6: "The Four Kinds of Fans"

Two Comix Tawks in a row?

Well, yeah... but not because I'm uploading them two days in a row.  This episode of Comix Tawk was released to the main feed well over a year ago (March 17, 2019), as both a way to buy us a week while Reggie was dealing with illness, and to let the listeners know what sort of content we were providing as Patreon Exclusives.

This episode's topic is one I was very excited about... and, had honestly been looking for any way of shoehorning it into the conversation.  This is an examination of the fandom... of all fandoms, I guess... and the lengths purveyors of consumable entertainment go to serve as many of them as possible (sometimes/often "robbing Peter to pay Paul").

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The inspiration for this sort of episode, wherein we analyze the "four kinds of fans", came from an interview conducted with professional wrestling personality, Jim Cornette probably sometime during the mid-2000's.  I had stumbled across it was back then, and had even written a piece about it on a long-defunct blog I used to maintain.

When asked about ways to "improve business", Cornette explained how he viewed potential recipients of professional wrestling by breaking them down into four groups... which, if you stop and think about it (which I did), are pretty universal to any sort of media.

  • Group 1: Fans.  These are the people who will watch/read/buy your product regardless of its quality, simply because they are fans of... comics, movies, music, pro-wrestling, tv shows... etc.
  • Group 2: Fans of the Good Stuff.  These fans are "aware" of your product, but will only buy/read/watch/attend when there's a "buzz"... when they hear good things about it.
  • Group 3: Bandwagoners.  They know you're out there, but will only pop in for the biggest events, and multi-media tie-ins.
  • Group 4: Non-Fans.  These are people who don't care about your product... and never will.
His stance was... you'll always have Group 1.  You'll get Group 2 when you're good.  You'll get Group 3 when you're lucky.  And, most importantly for this episode... you'll never get Group 4, because they just don't care.

So why is it that media, comics included, are always trying to lure those Group 4'ers into the club when it's obvious they don't wanna be there?  Well, the clear answer is, as it normally is, "money".  But what is the cost of largely unsuccessfully luring these folks?  What happens to those folks in the other three groups... who it's possible to get... when you stop caring about what they want?

It's a pretty fun conversation, if you care to listen.  This was an episode like 12-13 years in the making for me... a topic I really wanted to discuss, and I'm so glad  we found the opportunity to do so.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Cosmic Treadmill Presents... Comix Tawk, Episode 5: "Decompression & Writing For the Trade"

In this new-to-most former Patreon Exclusive episode, we discuss the not-so-secret phenomenon of writing "for the trade".  When did it begin to take over the mainstream comics industry... and, after all years since, is it still just something the fandom "imagined up"?
It's a lean and mean episode discussing excessively padded pablum... you won't wanna miss it!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

ReMarvel, Episode 2: X-Men (vol.2) #8 (1992)

To go along with yesterday's piece regarding Uncanny X-Men #287 and the X-Traitor, I figured today I should probably share the "sister piece" to that episode.

ReMarvel was (and I suppose technically still is) a solo show I did/do, whose purpose was to help me to reengage with Marvel Comics.  It'd been a long time since I bothered reading any Marvel... new or old.  Ya see, I've got this weird thing where, if I hate what a company is doing in "current year", it kind of sours me on everything from them.  I hated current-year Marvel, and so... I could no longer enjoy the very books that made me a rabid fan in the first place.

I only put out a handful of these episodes, though there are several "in progress" at various points of done-ness.  Just don't know if it's necessarily worth my time and effort to get 'em done.  I'm trying to work on my "self-awareness", and beginning to realize that very few people actually care to listen to my stories and anecdotes.

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Speaking of stories and anecdotes, this episode (like most of my solo-output) is full of them!  X-Men (vol.2) #8 has the distinction of being my very first "white whale"... a book, despite not being a "key" issue, that I just couldn't track down.  It took me a couple of years, and I talk all about it during the episode's overlong pre-ramble.

If anyone wants to share their thoughts and/or earliest memories of "comic book white whales", I'd love to hear 'em!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 144: Uncanny X-Men #287 (1992)

Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill, Episode #144

Uncanny X-Men #287 (April, 1992)
"Bishop to King's Five!"
Story - Jim Lee & Scott Lobdell
Pencils - John Romita, Jr.
Inks - Chris Ivy, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bob Wiacek, Scott Williams, & Dan Panosian
Colors - Gina Going & Joe Rosas
Letters - Tom Orzechowski
Edits - Bob Harras
Chief - Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.25
Marvel Comics

Today we're going to revisit a(nother) very special episode of Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill.  This was the second installment of, what I'd planned to be, our "X-Men Mysteries" box-set.  Here we give Uncanny X-Men #287 from 1992 the full "Treadmill treatment"... as well as go down the rabbit hole for the X-Mystery that was born in this very issue: Who is... the X-Traitor?!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Reggie and Me - Real Comics History

Today I'm going to shine a bit of a light on a series of episodes that I feel like most of our listeners aren't even aware of.

Real Comics History sort of started out of necessity.  This was around the time where Reggie and I were contributing the Young Animal Segment for the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast... which I spoke a little bit about a few weeks back.  Now, here's the thing... the DC Comics' Young Animal imprint was (and is) curated by a buffoon who didn't prioritize getting his comics out on time.  The sort of fella who was more interested in getting the Young Animal logo onto t-shirts to be sold at Hot Topic than actually getting words down on the page.  That said... there were many weeks where we didn't have a Young Animal book to discuss on the show.

So, what could we do to fill our segment?  Well... I suppose we could've just sat out those weeks.  I know many a Weird Science listener probably would have preferred that we did... but, no.  We still wanted to contribute... something.  But, what?

Reggie and I talked a lot about "theories of fandom"... which is probably apparent.  One of our "go-to" concepts was a well-trodden theory that pop-culture (well, everything... but "pop-culture" for our purposes) is at its best when you're twelve years old.

From there, I thought it might be cool for us to actually evaluate that theory on a person-by-person basis... starting with myself.  Now, for me... I was twelve in 1992, so I'm pretty sure as far as comics are concerned... I win.  I mean, the Image launch, Death of Superman... how couldja beat that?  Well, I'm guessing if you were twelve during a different year... you might feel differently.  And that is what we wanted to find out.

And so, playing off our Weird Comics History series... we decided to call this one Real Comics History, as it sought to analyze and evaluate the "real world" around comics.  A fan's perspective.  And, again... we started with 1992.


You might note that this is listed as "Episode 2" of the series... but, that's only because it was the second episode to be moved to the Chris and Reggie feed.  The first one we shifted over was an episode discussing 1985, so we could slot it in during our six-part Crisis on Infinite Earths series of shows.

Not only did I feel like this could lead to some decent discussion... I also saw Real Comics History as an opportunity or us (well, me) to show a little bit more personality.  Up until this point, my contributions to both Weird Science and our own feed were... I dunno, maybe a little bit "dry".  Maybe notsomuch "dry", but... impersonal?  Impersonal is probably a better word to use.  Listeners wouldn't actually know a lot about me from my output... and I wanted to change that a bit.  Give folks (those who were interested, anyway) a little bit of insight about me, my life, my preferences... just sorta flesh myself out a little bit as a content creator.

I think Real Comics History was where I sorta found myself... being myself.  These shows weren't heavily scripted... and were, just fun discussions that we just so happened to be recording.  These felt less like we were lecturing... and more like we were sharing.

Real Comics History was slated for a return this Summer, as Reggie and I both agreed it would be a topic we could slide into pretty easily... without Reggie having to read a whole lot from a script.  We figured I could "pitch", he could "bat"... and we'd get some good stuff.  The more "off the cuff" nature of this program would have made it a lot easier for him... and would have brought more fun content to the channel.

The show didn't run all that long... and we dropped the "when you were twelve" trappings pretty much right away.  There were a lot of "Comics Years" we wanted to discuss... even if we didn't personally know anyone who was twelve during them.  I do still feel like the "When You Were Twelve" concept is a darn good one, and one I'd love to further explore with folks.  Maybe one of these days I'll actually get around to doing it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

X-Men: Blue #1 (2017)

X-Men: Blue #1 (June, 2017)
Writer - Cullen Bunn
Art - Jorge Molina & Matteo Buffagni
Colors - Matt Milla
Letters - VC's Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editor - Christina Harrington
Editor - Mark Paniccia
Editor in Chief - Axel Alonso
Cover Price: $4.99

Something a little bit different today.  Still got the Blogger-image woes, and am not really in the right head space to reflect on some Chris and Reggie stuff at the moment... so, we're dipping back over into the From Claremont to Claremont project... where I had the intentions of writing semi-regular "capsule" reviews of some of the X-Books from around the time that I decided to drop the property.  I didn't get all that far... guess that might've been the step too far that made me realize I'm not just a blogging machine, or whatever.  Anyhoo... I started with X-Men: Blue #1 from 2017, and here is what I had to say about it.

It's formatted a little differently than how I usually do things... but, it was meant to be quite a bit "breezier" (if only I had the ability to make it breezy and concise!).  Enjoy... or, ya know... don't.


(Originally written March 29, 2020)

As the official launch of From Claremont to Claremont: An X-Men Podcast draws ever closer, I am trying my darnedest to "get into" the current batch of books.  While, for the most part, I've enjoyed everything I've read... I can't help but to feel a little bit (okay, a lot-bit) lost.  After being an X-Men fanatic for over 30 years, it's a very strange sensation to suddenly feel like you're a "new reader".

And so, I decided to try and catch myself up on everything I'd missed over the past few years... starting with the books that drove me away from the franchise in the first place!  Those crazy "color" books... X-Men: Blue, X-Men: Gold... eventually X-Men: Red and that series of X-Men: Black books as well!

When these books first launched, even still being an avid X-Men reader at the time... I swear, I barely recognized any of the characters!  I probably read the first six issues of both Blue and Gold before finally pulling the plug... well, I stopped reading them anyway... it took me quite a bit longer to drop them from my pull-list.  Old habits, and all'at.

These "reviews", if we can call them that, are going to be pretty short... and, so long as I can help it: concise.  This is basically a means to an end... where writing about these books gives me more of a reason to actually read them.


Before I get started, I want to preface with the fact that I'm going into this a little bit biased.  I know this probably isn't a popular opinion, but, I find the writer of this title to be... rather dull.  I can only think of one Cullen Bunn book that I enjoyed even a little bit, and that was a Green Lantern Corps miniseries before Rebirth over at DC.  I've read my fair share of his work... in fairness it couldn't really be avoided, for a while there he was writing about 80% of mainstream comics' output.  I'm sure he's a nice dude... and, I'm hoping in revisiting these issues, I'll come out of this with a more favorable opinion.

Now, X-Men: Blue features the time-displaced Original Five... ya know, the ones Bendis brought from the past... which, wasn't the actual past, but a different past... but, still they were the same people... or something?  Yeah, them.  There are some differences between these and the originals... Warren's got glowing wings, Hank's taken up mysticism, and Jean looks as though she's developed the secondary mutation to give herself really bad haircuts.

The team has been tracking a Cerebro ping all the way to a sea vessel in the Mediterranean.  Jean immediately picks up some frantic psychic hoodoo.  One thing that catches me right off the bat is the pretty incessant "sass" in this dialogue.  I get that these are kids... and kids these days be sassy, but this is actually making me root against them.

Also, the "Fraptions"... I was hoping we were done with them when Matt Fraction left the book.  You remember those, right?  Those silly little add-ons in the introductory captions for each character?  Here's one from this very issue for Jean.

Turns out the baddie they're tracking is Black Tom Cassidy... who, after a bit of a skirmish, introduces his partner in crime... duh, Juggernaut (with wacky "fraption"!).  Now, I appreciate the attempt at making this feel "old school" by using some classic X-Villains, just the way we remember them... but, this feels more like the bad guys have been "frozen in amber", like plucked out of a comic from the early 90's, rather than having lived an actual life in the interim.  I mean, Juggernaut was an X-Man for awhile... I'm pretty sure Black Tom was on X-Force for a bit!

Juggernaut actually manages to prove that he is from "current year" by pouncing toward Cyclops for killing Charles Xavier.  They fight... and, outside the sassy banter, this is pretty well done.  The Blue team comes out on top after Beast uses his mystic abilities to open a portal, which sends Juggs to Siberia.  This ticks off Cyclops, suggesting that there might be a rift in the ranks oncoming.

The main portion of the story ends with, what I'm guessing is supposed to be a suspenseful scene where the team is checking in with their "boss".  It's... Magneto.  Which, ya know... maybe a little bit underwhelming, considering Magneto's been playing the hokey-pokey with the X-Men for the better part of five decades at this point?

The issue actually manages to pick up a bit with an epilogue which introduces Jimmy Hudson from the Ultimate Universe (Ultimate Comics: X) into the mainstream post-Secret Wars (2015) Marvel Universe.  Jimmy whups him a Wendigo... and a lot of people wind up dead.


In revisiting this for the first time in like three years, I really can't figure out why this was the "straw that broke me", so to speak.  It's certainly not my favorite take on the X-Men (time-displaced or otherwise), but there's nothing quite so bad here that I would actually end my three-decade long obsession with the property, ya know?  Maybe it'll become more evident as we move forward... or, maybe I'll wind up realizing that I was just way overdue for a break from the franchise?  Stranger things have happened...

I did not like the "sassy" dialogue, however, when he was able to rein that in, I thought Bunn did some great work here.  The post-fight argument between Scott and Hank was especially strong... and actually makes me want to read further, just to see if this does lead to an actual schism.

The Magneto reveal... as mentioned, was underwhelming.  Not that this issue was touted as having a "big reveal" or anything, but the way it was presented I get the feeling like I was supposed to have to pick my jaw up off the floor after seeing it.

Now, the epilogue... that was a lot fun.  I was never really a fan of bringing the Ultimate characters over... but, I can totally see why they did it.  The Ultimate books had been on life-support for years... no matter what sort of stunt Marvel pulled, it just never got back to the level of those exciting first few years of the line.  Seeing Jimmy Hudson here... it worked, and honestly... if not for the contrived nature of Marvel cramming all the notable characters from the Ultimate Universe into the 616 at once, may have actually resulted in my having to pick my jaw up off the floor!

The art here, and I feel like artists these days (maybe especially at Marvel?) don't get near enough credit, is really good.  Outside of Jean's very ugly haircut, I really dug the way this book looked.  The Art Adams cover, well... it should go without saying, but it's really very nice.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Reggie and Me - Patreon

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about the Cosmic Treadmill... After Dark series of podcasts, which were (and I suppose still sorta are... at least for the next few weeks) exclusive to our Patreon page.  It started making me think of how and when we put together our little "exclusive" slice of the internet.

Also, yesterday... I decided I'm going to withdraw from most social media platforms.  It's not a healthy relationship for me... and, it hasn't been in quite some time.  Before switching off the lights on my Twitter for now (or forever, who knows... not like anyone'll notice either way), I figured I should probably officially shut down the @cosmictmill account as well.

Truth is, neither Reggie nor myself have had access to that account in like a year (again, not that anyone noticed).  We weren't great at keeping passwords where we could find 'em.  Also, we made Weird Comics History accounts wayyy back in the long ago... then, instead of changing them to Cosmic Treadmill accounts... we just made new accounts (probably because we lost the passwords to the originals!).  So, anytime I'd try and reset these passwords, it'd always seem to be for the wrong account.  A real mess... which, might tell you why I became so anxious to consolidate all of the output under one umbrella.

I get that this is very dry and boring... and not much of a story, but... I also get that I'm probably the only one who's still paying attention.  Anyhoo... yesterday I finally cracked the code.  I was able to access the @cosmictmill account, and decided to scroll a bit... just a little walk down memory lane, I guess.  Not like I necessarily needed to "sign-in" in order to read our old timeline... but, whattayagonnado?

I found myself scrolling down to our announcement of the Patreon launch... and a flood of memories came rushing to my head.  Ya see, this was a topic Reggie and I didn't quite see eye to eye on.  Reggie was for it, and very excited to "test the waters"... I was a bit more conflicted.

First, I honestly didn't think anyone would care.  I've seen enough Patreon pages go up with high hopes and good intentions... only to just flop.  I figure, I've got low enough self-esteem already... didn't need any others reasons to doubt my worth round here, right?

Second, being raised Catholic... I feel like if there's a situation wherein I'm profiting in any way, that I'm automatically "getting away" with something.  I felt guilty asking people to pay us for our content.  Like, who am I to do that?  Ya know?

Third, and perhaps most important... I've seen shows change drastically after launching a Patreon.  Shows/content lose their intrinsic feel... and it becomes clear it's become all about the money, and making as much of it as possible.  I've listened to half-hour long podcasts where they plugged their Patreon a half-dozen times.  That's too much, folks.  That's not every show, mind you... but enough of them to really sour me on the concept.

I do have a ton of respect for folks who can go the Patreon route... and actually make it work.  Putting out exclusives with regularity... even (and especially) when their following is small.  That tells me how serious they are.  I've literally seen Patreon pages loaded with exclusive audio and video... with one Patron.  That says a lot about the character and commitment of the creator(s).

But... don't get me started on shows who launch their pay-tiers before even recording a single second of audio.  I get 3-4 follows a week on social media from "coming soon" comics podcasts... zero minutes of audio recorded, zero words written... but, you can already give them all your monies!  Ya know, those popular comics covers they went to Google Images and "right-click-saved" to post on their Twitter are probably worth your five-bucks a month!.  That's probably another reason why I'm leaving social media for a spell.

So yeah... I was conflicted when it came to launching a Patreon.  Despite the fact that we had thousands of hours of audio, millions of words of text, tens of thousands of hours of research... and a regular schedule, I still felt like we (or I) hadn't "earned it".

Reggie really wanted to try... and figured if not then, when?  And so, we did.  I must say I was shocked at the reception.  I literally lost sleep the night before it went "live", fearing some sort of backlash (I'm a bit of a narcissist to even assume anyone would care... much less put forth the effort to "lash back")... or, just the idea that we "sold out".  But... here's the thing, people were excited to join!  I was gobsmacked... and loved the idea that we were starting this little "community".  I'd have probably preferred it without any exchange of money... but, still... it was really cool, knowing that there were folks who believed in us, and our "product" enough to "back" us.

The reception was, honestly, wonderful... and my doubts started to fade away.  My guilt, however?  Well, that ain't goin' nowhere.  We got to work on creating "exclusive" programs... and, overall... the entire experience was a lot of fun.  For awhile there, we were just cranking out content... on both feeds.

Each month we were looking at:

  • 4-5 episodes of Cosmic Treadmill
  • 1-2 episode of Weird Comics History
  • 2 episodes of Comix Tawk
  • 1 episode Cosmic Treadmill... After Dark
  • 2-3 episodes of Chris is on Infinite Earths
  • 2-3 episodes of Reggie's Comics Stories
  • 4-5 episodes of the Young Animal Gatherum
That's a lot of audio... and as a content creator, I don't think I ever felt better.  I just love "the work".  My goal was to release audio of some sort 4 times a week, between the two feeds.  I'd start a solo Marvel show for the main feed... a show called NOTCMX on the Patreon, discussing things that, ya know... aren't comics, and "Catching up with Chris", also on the Patreon... where I'd take a look at a new/recent comics arc and share my thoughts.  All the while, blogging here every single day.

Don't know where I/we found the time or energy... I can hardly bring myself to belly up to the mic more than a couple times a month anymore.  I guess a fella needs to know when they're beat... and gain a bit of self-awareness about how far their voice is actually going.  Maybe that's just where I'm at now.

Anyhoo... the Patreon was another site that I'd lost the password for, and so... I recently had to jump through a bunch of hoops to regain access... just so I could shut it all down.  It was very sad... it was literally the dissolution of a community.  With one click of the mouse... it was all gone.  Because, despite all of the challenges we faced over the past year and change... we didn't lose the support of the group.  They were patient... and wonderful.  They believed in us, and understood everything that was going on... they didn't hold anything against us.  I doubt I'll ever be surrounded by such a supportive group of folks ever again (at least in the comics commentary sense).

Oh well... rather than leave off there... I want to share with you all some of the silly advertisements we put together to promote our Patreon.  They're kind of what jogged my little memory flood in the first place!  So, I'll end with some funny pictures!  Thank you all for reading.

An advertisement for our Chris and Reggie's Enamel Pins (which I still have like fifty of)!

Some of those pins in the hands of our wonderful Patrons and friends!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 138: Action #37 (1976)

Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill, Episode #138

Action #37 (October 23, 1976)
By Pat Mills, John Wagner, & Steve McManus
IPC Media
Cover Price: 7p

The mornings around here have become this strange game of me opening a blank blog post and trying to "batch upload" pictures... just to see if any of my Blogger-worries have been assuaged.  Welp... it's one'a those good news, bad news situations.  I can, in fact, batch-upload... it's just that the images don't exactly stay uploaded.  As soon as I set one image where I want it... the rest of them disappear completely.  I know I must sound like a broken-record after a week of these "updates", but... this is Google, right?  I mean, they are a pretty big company, no?

Oh well... I suppose this just gives me another excuse to reminisce.  And so, today I'll share the story of Cosmic Treadmill... After Dark.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Cosmic Treadmill Presents... Comix Tawk, Episode 4: "Collecting, Completionism, & Addiction"

Looking back, there were so many "evergreen" discussions I would have with Reggie.  Topics that could (and would) come up many times that we'd talk.  It was always like, when these topics would come up, that we were building on/continuing everything we said before.  I mean, that's not unique to us... that's just how friends communicate.  What is (somewhat) unique to us, is... sometimes, we'd be talking into live-mics when we did.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

X-Factor #71 (1991)

X-Factor #71 (October, 1991)
"Cutting the Mustard"
Writer - Peter David
Pencils - Larry Stroman
Inks - Al Milgrom
Letters - Michael Heisler
Colors - Glynis Oliver
Editor - Bob Harras
Chief - Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.00

Blogger's still being precious... don't worry though, Blogger support doesn't care a bit, so it's probably all in my head!

"Leave Feedback" they say (they being the "lookitme, lookitme" white-knights in the support forums - they really need that pat on the head from Daddy Google!)... I'd get further asking my dog for programming help.  Hell, at least that way, I'd get a response of some sort.

If I wasn't so scared of losing the million-plus words I've written here over the past four and a half years, I'd be jumping ship PDQ.

Anyhoo... let's meet the all-new, all-different (as of 1991) X-Factor.


We open with Lila Cheney's bodyguard, Guido Carosella asking Lorna Dane if she happens to have any Grey Poupon.  Now, that's kind of a dated reference... so, a teeny bit of context.  Ya see, back in the early 90's, there were these commercials for Grey Poupon Mustard... featuring very classy individuals in fancy cars eating, ya know, things that go well with mustard.  One would pull up to another, roll down their window and inquire whether or not the other had any.  The answer would always come back, "but of course".  Here, have a look for yourself:

Lorna too replies "of course", because ya see... X-Factor has everything... including some of the tallest ceilings you'll ever hope to find anywhere.  Guido gets the mustard and positively slathers it all over a split loaf of Italian bread.  At the end of the table, Jamie Madrox struggles getting the lid off a jar of mayonnaise... lotsa condiment humor here.

Lorna and Guido discuss the possibility of Alex Summers joining up with this All-New, All-Different X-Factor... with the former having a bit of dilemma considering her personal history with Havok.  Meanwhile, Madrox continues to fiddle with the mayo jar.  He can't open the thing... even with the help of a dupe.  Guido and Lorna are also unsuccessful in their attempts.

We shift scenes over to Genosha, where Alex is acting as a sort of foreman for the post-X-Tinction Agenda rebuild.  Government liaison, Val Cooper is trying to convince him to sign on with X-Factor... but, Al ain't feelin' it.

Suddenly an I-Beam snaps from its supports and plummets toward Val and Al.  Alex plows the thing with an energy blast, just as Rahne Sinclair leaps onto the scene pushing the other Summers out of the way.  Val doesn't even flinch... she wasn't scared in the slightest, knowing Alex would protect her.

Back in Washington, D.C. Quicksilver arrives, with the only Inhuman anyone ever cared about, Lockjaw in tow.  He's there to meet with X-Factor, but finds himself in the middle of an anti-Roxxon demonstration.  One of the protesters proclaims that Roxxon is "raping the environment".  Not used to seeing that word in an early-90's superhero comic!

Quicksilver is informed that there's a bomb about to go off... and so, he rushes into action to take care of it.  He uses his speed to find and deactivate the boom-box.

Back in Genosha, Alex, Rahne, and Val are chatting about what X-Factor can offer.  Alex is steadfast in his refusal... which prompts the arrival of Professor X and Cyclops to try and convince him.  Wonder if Charlie's gonna use the ol' Mind-Wipe?  Nah, they're just going to tell him that Lorna's already signed on.

Speaking of Lorna, back in D.C. she answers a knock at the door.  It's Quicksilver, who's finally found his way over... looking much worse for wear.  Once inside the high-ceilinged room, he faints straight away.  Guido carries him over to the couch.

Some time passes, and we get a gag about the Inhumans convincing Ben Grimm that Lockjaw was a humanoid that became a dog instead've just being a dog.  Ehh, even with their jokes, the Inhumans are a complete bore.  We also learn here that something has happened to Pietro's powers... every time he uses them, his metabolism accelerates his aging.  So, in essence, his powers are killing him.

We rejoin the Genoshan contingent as they're flying back toward the States.  On board, we learn that Val Cooper has a brother who's in the F.B.I.  At present, he's working on a case regarding a girl who was found... dead, wrapped in plastic.  Hmm... I'm sure the first time I read this, I totally missed the Twin Peaks reference.

Quicksilver continues his tale of woe... he learned via a postcard that somebody in the Washington, D.C. area is responsible for his accelerated aging.  Just then, Havok and Wolfsbane arrive and announce that they're joining the team.  Alex and Lorna have a nice little reunion... much to Rahne's dismay.  Ya see, Rahne's recently gone through some stuff... and found herself emotionally attached to Alex.  We'll be dealing with that until issue #100.

Alex also gives opening the mayo jar a shot... and is just as unsuccessful as the rest.  Finally, Val gives it a wap on the edge of the table and easily unscrews the lid.  The mayo, it's worth noting, looks pretty disgusting.

That night, we learn that Jamie Madrox's mayo jar was a gimmick he invented back on Muir Island.  Why?  Who knows.  Anyhoo, as he's in the middle of congratulating himself, there's a knocking at his door.  He answers it... and is positively riddled with bullets!

Jamie is blown back by the shots... and crashes through a window!  He falls a few floors, and our issue ends with him laying lifeless and smoking.


It's weird... X-Factor was definitely something of an outlier back in the long ago.  It didn't feel like the other (three main) X-Books... it also didn't look much like 'em!  I remember thinking there was "too much talking" in this issue... as well as hating the art back in the day.  Strange that, near thirty-years later, it feels like this one might've "aged" the best!

I'd come around to Peter David pretty quick... in fact, by the time X-Cutioner's Song was over, he was one of my favorite writers.  Heck, he was one of the first writers (not named Pini) I bothered to actually make a mental note of.  After that switch flipped, returning to these early new-look X-Factor issues was a treat.

Stroman, however, took me a bit longer to really glom onto.  I compare his place in the X-Books to Jon Bogdanove on the Superman books.  It's a bit abstract, looks nothing like it's cohort-books, and might initially stand out as being, I dunno, maybe "off-putting"?  But... all these years removed, it stands out as being more timeless, than anything... ya know?  This doesn't "scream" 1991 like a Lee, Liefeld, or Portacio... at least it doesn't to me.  I think that really helped this run feel "fresher" than the rest.  Not that I don't love the contemporary X-Books... because, I do.  But, this one's... just a little bit different.  It's that one main-line X-Book from the 90's that folks online won't give you a judgy eyebrow-raise for reading.

As far as this issue is concerned... it was pretty good.  I don't think it hits its stride for a few issues, but we gotta start somewhere.  The mayonnaise jar running gag... ehhh.  Probably not my favorite thing in the world.  I enjoyed seeing Alex and Lorna reconnect... though, that'll become more of a "thing" as we move along.

Reading this again after many, many years... I was delighted to catch the Twin Peaks reference.  Asamattafact, as I'm writing this... we were supposed to be taking our annual trip up to the Salish (Great Northern) Lodge in Snoqualmie, Washington for our Anniversary.  If the world hadn't come screeching to a halt a few months back, I'd be having my annual "girly drink" by the waterfall tonight.  Oh well.  We'll get back up there eventually.

Think that's all for today.  Sorry if my analysis was less "on-point"... just alt-tabbing between windows wrestling with damned (non-existent) Blogger support... and these ridiculous "Notice Me, Senpai" Google fanatics, relentlessly trying to shift the blame to the user.


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Friday, June 19, 2020

X-Force #1 (1991)

X-Force #1 (August, 1991)
"A Force to be Reckoned With"
By Rob Liefeld, except for...
Words - Fabian Nicieza
Letters - Chris Elipoulos
Colors - Brad Vancata
Editor - Bob Harras
Chief - Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.50

Alrighty, two things before we start today.  First, Blogger still sucks... but, I suppose that's not really "news".  Second, and most important, as of yesterday we're officially back in the studio putting together the third episode of From Claremont to Claremont: An X-Men Podcast.

From the feel of it, this episode could easily be fifteen-hours long... lots of conversation, a few "side books" are part of this go-round, and I think I've come up with a pretty fun "hook" for the co-hosts to have a good time with.  I'm hoping to have it done by the first Saturday of July... but, really, it won't be the end of the world if it doesn't quite hit that target.

That said, since a) Blogger sucks and won't let me upload images, and b) I'm in an FCTC kind of mood... I'm going to revisit something I put together for the first episode of the show... a look into the first issue of X-Force.

You're welcome... and I'm sorry.


We open in Antarctica, where our new team is in hot pursuit of the Mutant Liberation Front.  Upon realization that the MLF base is right underfoot, the New Teen Titans X-Force bursts in to proactively take the fight to the baddies.  Ya see, that's what X-Force is all about: being proactive... at least this early on.  The team has a real "take no prisoners" approach, and we look on while Cable, Cannonball, Warpath, Boom Boom, Domino, Shatterstar, and Feral beat up some generic bad guys.  Before long, some... er, "name" (or, at the very least "named") villains show up.  It's Forearm, Kamikaze, Wildside, and Reaper.  Woof.

It's established pretty quickly here that X-Force ain't nothin' to mess around with.  Shatterstar squares off with Reaper... and, get this... cuts his left-hand clean off!

Cable (somehow) gets attacked from behind by Forearm.  I thought X-Force were being attacked from the front... but, whattayagonnado?  Maybe the characters in the book were just as bamboozled by the bad perspective and anatomy as the readers are?  Whatever the case, Forearm's got Cable in a bear-hug, which gives Warpath the opportunity to make the save.

As all this is going on, we check in with Cable's target... the man called Stryfe.  We also have to turn the book sideways to fully appreciate this two-page spread.  Stryfe informs... Thumbelina that it's time for them to bug out, and instructs his diminutive assistant to contact the one called Zero.

Back at the battle, Feral faces off with Wildside... probably because they have the same hairstylist.  I mean, seriously, they have the exact same haircut... even down to the weird curly bang-whisps!  Feral reaches into Wildside's mouth and snaps his jaw.  Ya see?  Ya see?  X-Force doesn't screw around!

Cable calls Feral off before she can kill the MLFer (X-Forcers can only kill in self-defense... not for sport!)... to which, she suggests... if they let him get away, he might just be the one who nails them in the end.  Ya know, that's not the worst argument.

Just then, Zero pops onto the scene... soon joined by Stryfe.  Cable empties his laser blaster pistol thingie in the bad guy's direction... which makes me wonder why (and when) he put down his over-sized Liefeldian super-rifle.  Zero opens a portal and Stryfe slips through... however, not before setting the entire joint to self-destruct.

Cable orders a "Bodyslide by Six", which blinks the the X-Forcers out to their escape craft.  On the flight home, they discuss the skirmish they had just survived... Tabitha seems more preoccupied with how fashionable their outfits are.

We shift scenes to some office building... probably in New York City.  Here, Sunspot and friggin' Gideon are "training" for their next corporate raid.  I don't think they fully grasp how corporate raids go, but whatever.  Gideon appears to have taken a mentor role in Roberto's life... hopefully, that doesn't include hairstyling tips, because... yeesh, Gideon's hair has mystified me for thirty-years now!  It never looks the same!  Sometimes there's this weird mullet below his weird ponytail... sometimes it's gone... it's just all-around unpleasant to look at.  Which, I suppose, makes it a pretty good fit for this book!  Anyhoo, they've got a meeting at the World Trade Center... which we'll be getting to in a bit.

Back in Antarctica we meet... oh boy, G.W. Bridge.  He's a S.H.I.E.L.D. guy (or at least S.H.I.E.L.D.-adjacent) and he's trying to track down... and bring down Cable.  He looks kind of like when you twist an action-figure at it's torso, so it's butt is in the front?  I mean, he's just a complete mess of a visual.  He informs an underdressed-underling to contact Nick Fury about the Cable sitch.

Speaking of Cable, we rejoin him at X-Force's base in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York.  He's performing some maintenance on their jet when he's approached by Cannonball.  Sam chats him up a bit, trying to pry out any information about his past.  Cable is a bit hesitant, but shares the story of a friend he'd lost to Stryfe and the Mutant Liberation Front.  A man called Tyler... who was almost like a son to our man.  Artwise, we get a very weird visual of Cable sitting on air while shooting his over-sized gun.  The chat is interrupted by Domino, who informs Sam that he's late for some training.

Once Sam's out of sight, Cable starts using his telekinesis to quickly grab some tools and complete the repairs on the jet.  Domino questions how much longer Nate's going to keep his powers a secret.  Cable basically tells her not to worry about it.

We next shift scenes to the World Trade Center, where Sunspot and friggin' Gideon are about to pop in for a meeting.  Once seated, they're introduced to another interested party in the corporate hoo-ha, a man by the name of Black Tom Cassidy!  Lemme tell ya, Cassidy knows how to dress for success!  Anyhoo, Berto instantly recognizes Tom as Banshee's evil cousin.

Tom sits at the conference table and informs everyone present that they are now his hostages.  Hmm... maybe it's me that doesn't understand how corporate raids are done?

We wrap up back with ol' front-butt, who just cleared his Cable-quest with Colonel Nick Fury.  After being given the "a-okay", Bridge suggests that it's time to call in... Weapon X!


Sometimes you just want a popcorn movie, right?  I mean, this is a book that gets a lot of flack for being among the vaunted "worst comics evaaaaar", but... I gotta say, it's really not that bad.  When I think of "worst ever" comics, those are stories I would never want to read no matter what my mood.  Things like Superman: Grounded or Heroes in Crisis.  There isn't a frame of mind I could possibly be in to make me want to read that garbage again.

But, this?  Yeah... I could totally see myself sitting down and having a good time with it.  I read the first few issues of Youngblood every year (which, I suppose might say more about me than anything), so I can definitely appreciate "extreme" early 90's comics cheese.  I think there are a lot of people who can... whether they'd actually admit to it online or not (gotta keep up appearances as a "comics scholar" on the Twitter, right?), is another story altogether.

So, whatta we got here?  It's sorta like the "Patient Zero" of Marvel Mutantdom in the 1990's.  We've got angst, we've got violence, we've got horrendous hairstyles, weird armor, and odd articulation, we've got secrets... and a whole bunch of threats coming from all angles.

Now some of the things that stand out to me from this issue (not including the New Teen Titans swipe that opened the issue) were the mysteries surrounding Cable, and the "mission statement" of X-Force (as compared to the rest of the X-Family).

Cable being shrouded in mystery from... well, just about every angle... really spoke to me as a fan of 90's comics.  We didn't know Cable's origin, where he came from, who he was... heck, we didn't even know his powers at this point.  This was like the "bread and butter" of 90's comics.  These mysteries would bubble along, dropping a breadcrumb here and there to keep the readers interested and motivated to continue following along.

Sure, this sort of thing quickly became overdone and incredibly "tropey".  There were only so many times we could meet a brand-new character, who somehow had this elaborate history hanging out with all the coolest mutants.  It's like, in order to legitimize the new characters, the writers had to slide in this bit about "Yeah, [new character] and Wolverine went on such-and-such a mission together that had a profound impact on both of their lives... only Wolverine never bothered to mention it to anybody yet."  Still though, in small doses, I really dig it.

Might be a case of "rose-colored glasses"... I dunno.  The sort of speculation that would surround new characters was so much "richer" before the internet was mainstream.  There were some crazy theories about new characters... I mean, Cable himself was assumed to be connected to Magneto, due to a) his hair color, and b) the fact that he TKed a wrench in this issue.  Today, if there were any questions (well, if there were any new non-derivative characters introduced in mainstream comics anymore), some goofball would just relentlessly "tweet" at the writer... who would then give some chuckleheaded reply ruining the mystery for everyone.

The X-Force "mission statement" was... nice while it lasted, I guess?  Their whole gimmick was that they'd be the "proactive" X-Team... they wouldn't wait around for the bad guys to strike, and instead hit 'em head on.  This doesn't last long... not far into the run, X-Force is rendered into "just another X-Team", reacting to the bad guys (usually while lamenting the fact that they're supposed to be the proactive team).

Overall... this issue, well... it is what it is.  You probably already know whether or not you like this one... it's Rob Liefeld at his Rob Liefeldiest, which for some might be a pro or con.  It also might be a "private pro" and "public con"... remember, we gotta keep up appearances as sophisticated fans of serialized sequential art!

I'd say, if it's been awhile since you last looked at this... maybe give it a peek... and, while it's cool to poke fun at it, maybe don't try so hard to hate it.
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