Each week, you pick two comics for me to review. On New Comic Book Day, I grab the winners and pit them against each other in a no-holds-barred grudge match to see who I’d read again. Two comics enter! One comic leaves!
Welcome to the inaugural Four-Color Face-Off. And thanks to all seven of you who voted in the poll. Made it a lot easier to rig the results so that I got the comics I wanted. On with the show!
X-Treme X-Men #1
I had totally forgotten that this book was coming out. It’a relaunch of Exiles, a clever alternate-reality X-team that saw a rotating cast of mutants stamping out threats to the multi-verse. Like Quantum Leap, but with alt-reality X-Men. Except they decided to resurrect it using the worst X-title in the history of X-titles. Except…cowboy Wolverine? Hoo boy. Let’s do this.
We start out strong with a network of 100 disembodied heads of Charles Xavier teleporting the sentient life (and technology and culture) from one planet to another. What shouldn’t surprise anyone is, they break stuff. A lot of stuff. And there’s alt-versions of Wolvie, Emma Frost, and Nightcrawler in the fray (who doesn’t look anywhere as twee as he does on the cover…that’s almost disappointing). Switch to good ol’ 616 and we’re trucking around with…Dazzler? Holy crap, Dazzler was “big” on the scene when I was…12…13? Let’s just say her uniform was of the “let’s unzip this all the way” type and I’m pretty sure you can understand why she’s an old-time favorite. Things happen pretty fast, as is wont to happen in X-books, and Dazzler goes from kicking street-performers to the curb to being captured by an intra-reality Xavier-squid (whilst getting in a good one about Cyclops’ “performance issues”). A couple of plot points later, and we’re off to the races to save the universe from the evil Xaviers. Complete with a nice set-up for the next issue (can you say Greco-Roman-Men…GrRoX-Men…?).
Apparently we’ve met these alt-Xers in previous X-Men comics, so there’s not much in the way of a who’s who; but hopefully that will come with time. I like the “more professional, less angsty” Howlett/Wolverine and a return to bitchy Emma is always nice. Nightcrawler seems like “generic kid with powers” but I’m sure they’ll round him out with a good sacrifice or two (though just once I’d like the “kid” to be an asshole, because he totally would be, having to hang out w/ Gruff and Bitchy all the time). Things moved a little fast and I hope they’ll slow the pace in future issues. This really felt like a two-issue arc that got slammed into one by an editor.
Superman Family Adventures #3
Aw yeah Supes! I’m not going to lie, I am a Franco/Baltazar fanboy. As soon as I possibly could, I got my son hooked on their Tiny Titans series so that I could devour every graphic novel as soon as it came out. I’d heard that their new Superman title was just as good. Then again, I still hold a grudge for the cancellation of Tiny Titans. Let’s see if this will alleviate my ire.
The story-telling follows the same dynamic as Tiny Titans: quick, episodic shorts, usually with a mix-up of some sort and a jokey resolution. And if this wasn’t Franco and Baltazar at the helm, I’d say that this wasn’t nearly enough to hang a series on.
But they are. And it is. The in-jokes are fast and furious (does anyone remember Fuzzy the Mouse? Anyone?) and are really very satisfying for adult Superfans. The artwork is engaging and give the book a distinctive style that makes you smile. These are the best superhero drawings that you always wanted to make when you were a kid; what they looked like in your head before you tried to translate them (poorly) to paper. The story is actually nicely done in that they play with secret identities and actually set things up so that they can pull some twists later in the series (though I’m sure Olsen and Lois will take everything in stride). Most of all, it’s a fun comic. One that will engage kids and encourage them to create stories of their own.
And the Winner is…
X-Treme X-Men! This was probably a shoe-in from the start, as I absolutely geek out over alternate-reality ANYTHING. I suppose it’s the writer in me, but I’m constantly toying with the idea of “What would happen to X if Y wasn’t around or Z happened instead of A?” I would have liked to have spent more time with these Alt X-ers so that I could scratch that “What If?” itch. But a disembodied Xavier-head telekinetic network? Xavier Squid? Greco-Romo-X…Mon (still working on it). I can’t wait to see who shows up next!
Superman Family Adventures will likely get picked up in my house again; my son and daughter both loved it, but there just wasn’t enough there to make me seek it out like I did with Tiny Titans. Maybe if I was more of a Superman nut.
So Marvel comes out on top this week. Keep your eyes peeled for the next survey and send me off to the dank recesses of my comic book store to find my next victims!