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Daily Archives: January 10th, 2012

Top 12 X-Men Collections of 2011 – New Material

Uncanny X-Men issue #534.1, from Uncanny X-Men: Breaking Point

Today I bring you a list of the best collections of new X-Men material released in 2011, which collect stories originally published over the last 18 months of comics.

Occasionally I wonder if comic collecting as an adult is merely a shameless attempt at recapturing our youth now that we have the budget to appreciate it properly – especially as I and many other fans (let’s be honest) fetishize premiere format reprints of the comics we coveted as a kids. (Last week’s post covered the best of those from 2011.)

Is there anything to this hobby other than rewarding our inner teenage geeks?

If there’s an answer to be found in X-Men comics, it must be on this list. These are the twelve new X-Men stories that captured my imagination like those old issues I still obsess over, and I categorize “the wonder of feeling like a kid again” separately from “trying to recapture youthful feelings with a dose of well-preserved nostalgia.” Read more…

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5. Uncanny X-Force: Apocalypse Solution
Collects Uncanny X-Force #1-4 & material from Wolverine: The Road to Hell

A team of 90s-popular hyper-killers plus a parody of a 90s hyper-killer sounds very … 90s. Right?

Wrong, when they are in the hands of breakout star writer of 2011, Rick Remender. Wolverine is deadly and deadpan, Psylocke and Archangel are both believably in love and reluctant to pull a trigger, Deadpool is simultaneously hilarious and murderous, and Fantomex is like Robert Downey Jr. playing James Bond playing Deadpool as a Frenchman. This opening arc fires on all cylinders and Jerome Opena’s art is beyond gorgeous. (Read my original review.)

Also available in paperback. If you like this, pick up the following arc, Deathlok Nation.

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4. Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine
Collects the six-issue limited series. 

Even more Wolverine? And how did this book get on here when I claim to dislike Jason Aaron?

As it turns out, Aaron is at his best when he’s at his most zany, which is maybe why I don’t enjoy him on straight Wolverine books. With Peter Parker as his narrator, a nonsensical cross-time caper as his backdrop, and the best-ever take on a classic scenery-chewing X-villain from artist Adam Kubert, he finds sure success. This book is madcap, requires little or no prior knowledge, and is repeatedly worthy of an actual LOL.

Also available in paperback. If you like this, you need to pre-order Aaron’s forthcoming Wolverine & The X-Men, Vol. 1 ASAP.

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3. X-Men: Age of X & X-Men Legacy: Aftermath
Collects Age of X: Alpha, New Mutants #22-24,  X-Men Legacy #245-247, and Age of X: Universe 1-2 & #242-244 and #248-249

Early previews of Age of X left fans a little cold – another alternate reality with twisted versions of our heroes? Leave it to Mike Carey, departing this month after a 70+ issue run on X-Men Legacy, to surprise us all by turning in a subtle, slow-burning alternate reality tale. Age of X is a quality mystery story that gets deep into the psychology of all of our favorite X-Men, plus features delectable art from rising star Clay Mann.

To fully appreciate the deft, self-contained world of Age of X, you also need the strong Aftermath, which bookends Age of X with a pair of significant stories that both benefit from and add depth to to the mysteriously twisted alternative world. Throughout, Rogue (and, to a lesser extent, Magneto) is star of the show. (Read my original AOX and Aftermath reviews.)

Both Age of X and Aftermath are available for pre-order in paperback. If you like the actual-reality of Aftermath, try X-Men Legacy: Emplate (HC or TPB). If you like the alternate-reality of Age of X, pre-order the massive forthcoming Age of Apocalypse Omnibus.

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2. New Mutants: Fall of the New Mutants
Collects New Mutants #15-21.

Since it’s 2009 debut New Mutants has been a fun read, but its first year of issues read like an overflow pan for plots too periphery for Uncanny X-Men to deal with. Here the book not only gets its own unique story, but it is a gripping, daunting action-adventure with high stakes that stretch all the way back the Inferno saga of the 1980s!

Spider-Man writer Zeb Wells nails the characterization of the entire team (even oft-ignored Karma!) and Leonard Kirk draws engaging comic art without the fussy overly-detailed photo-reference of his peers. Together, they plunge the team into one of their most desperate positions (and that is saying a lot for this group of characters!), which makes the shocking resolution even more satisfying! (Read my original review.)

This directly precedes Age of X (above), and should absolutely be read beforehand if you plan to pick up both. Also available in paperback. If you like this, try X-Infernus (HC or TPB) or New Mutants: The Return of Legion (HC or TPB) – both of which are key setup for this arc.

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1. Uncanny X-Force: The Dark Angel Saga: Book 1 (& 2!)
Collects Uncanny X-Force #8-13 (& 14-18 or 19)

Do not be surprised when every year-end X-Men list names this as the storyline of the year. Or decade. Or “ever, since Dark Phoenix.” Writer Rick Remender finds layers in his kill-squad of Deadpool, Psylocke, and Fantomex that never existed before and somehow finds a way to make Wolverine not the main character, all while crafting Angel into the best villain the X-Men have faced in years (decades?) (since Dark Phoenix?).

Yet, this Saga isn’t all endless piles of over-dramatic continuity porn – it starts off with two killer one-shot issues before beginning its sickening ascent up a rollercoaster of plot that pays off with insane loop-to-loops in the forthcoming Book 2. Together they form the story named by a vast majority of X-Men fans – including your author – as the best of 2011.

Plus: the original Dark X-Man, Jean Grey … but not how you might have expected. 

Just trust me on this one. Both Book 1 and Book 2 are available for pre-order in paperback. If you like this, read The Dark Phoenix Saga (duh).

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Whew! That’s a lot of X-Men comics! For my fellow fans – do you agree? What 2011 new releases have I left off that no true X-Fan should be without? Leave a comment with your reasoning!

I’ll get back to my collections-of-the-week series soon, but first I’ll be back next week with a preview of the best upcoming collections announced for 2012 in both new and reprinted material.

tuesday morning brain

Scene: 8 o’clock in the morning, I am rounding my neighbor’s inordinantly large front yard in my business clothes and running sneakers, en route to my trolley.

Thoughts as follows:

This walk is boring.

Their yard is too big. It adds at least a tenth of a mile to my walk to work. That’s, like, a minute. I wish I could cut through their yard instead of going around it.

This is taking forever. I wonder if they would mind if I cut across their yard. That seems like the sort of thing you should maybe ask permission before doing. I could just try once, to see if they say anything.

Who would want a front yard this big, anyhow? It’s not good for anything. It’s not as if you would have a picnic out here for all of the neighborhood to see.

Do you know what would make this better? Music. I could listen to a third of a song while walking around this yard. Or, I could sing a song. It’s a little early for that.

It would be great if I had some way of playing a song right now. Like, if I had a device with me that did that – a portable music player of some kind. And headphones. That would be ideal.

Finally, the damned yard is over.

Oh, shit, I left my iPod on the hall table.

(I glance back over my shoulder at the expanse of the neighbor’s yard.)

Their yard is too big.

In case you ever wondered, this is how my brain actually works.