Last time I decided to catch up on X-Men comic books only to discover that nowhere on the entire internet existed a definitive guide to collecting X-Men as trade paperbacks.
I decided to write it myself.
I am not exaggerating when I say the undertaking was harder than my Senior Project in college. No reference books, just sparse ISBN numbers and internet hearsay.
Finding a starting point was like grabbing a toe-hold in quicksand – there have been dozens of X-Men titles accounting for thousands of issues, and my intimate knowledge of them ended almost fifteen years ago.
I started chipping away every night. First I plotted out Uncanny X-Men from issue #1 to present, puzzling together the different means of buying it in book form. Black and white Essentials, premium color Masterworks, dozens of crossover collections, and more regular volumes of the post-2000 books (but, mostly out of print!)
Then I moved to adjectiveless X-Men. Excalibur. X-Factor. X-Force. Oh god, was I really going to try to summarize Wolverine?
As I made progress on my guide I started to get excited about stories I had missed out on. How did Wolverine get his adamantium back? How did Emma Frost wind up as Cyclop’s lover? Where had Rogue been all this time, and how come she can touch people now? Who were X-23 and Daken?
I had resolved to E that I would get something delivered to the new house every day for the first few weeks we lived there – even if it was something small. I just wanted to relish living somewhere where I could get packages delivered for the first time in my life.
So I hatched a plan. A schedule. Through assembling my guide I had my own library of links to all of the TPBs ever printed with the word X-Men on them. Not only that, but now I knew where on the internet they were the cheapest. I could get through entire runs in book form for under $1.65 an issue … sometimes way under.
Two hundred dollar would buy me into years of missed comics continuity. A few months hiatus from going out to lunch and buying new CDs could catch me up on over a decade of X-Men.
Well, as we learned from my dalliance with City of Heroes, restraint has never been my strong suit. Three months after my first trio of books were delivered to my new doorstep I have every X-TPB – both in and out of print, from 1996 forward, with barely an exception.
Four months into our new house and I’ve gone from responsible adult all the way back to my teenage levels of geeky obsession. MikeyIl even convinced me to buy Starcraft II, but it was boring – I hate spending time in someone else’s sandbox.
The comics are different than both City of Heroes and Starcraft. I’m not writing fan-fic or putting time into someone else’s universe. I got something I love – the world of comic book continuity – and I found an outlet for it I can own – my best-on-the-net guide to collecting X-Men comic books as trade paperbacks.
How do I know it’s the best on the net? Because I used it to buy every damn book there is, will be, or was before, and no one else’s guide helped me do that.
That’s the difference between high school geek me and present day regression to geekdom: with my own house and CK, now I have my own set of sandboxes to play in.
I like it this way.