Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jason Powell's Top 20 Claremont X-Men Comics, part 2 (of 5)

[Super-villains monologue. Jason Powell epilogues.]

PART TWO: 1982-1983

5

Uncanny X-Men #161 –1982

This is the best of the post-Byrne collaborations between Claremont and Cockrum, as they reveal the “secret origin” of Xavier and Magneto’s first meeting. Excerpt from my original blog entry: ‘That Magneto is two steps ahead of Xavier already speaks volumes about both of them – ingenious characterization on Claremont’s part – but just as clever is the contrast in their differing reactions to meeting a fellow mutant. For Magneto, it is not necessary to be commented upon; to Xavier, it is “fantastic!” That single image and its accompanying text -- Page 15, panel three – is one of my personal favorites in the entire Claremont X-Men canon. That one panel alone tells you almost everything you need to know about those two characters and their relationship. Absolutely brilliant.’
6-7

Uncanny X-Men #172-173, 1983

Wolverine and Rogue team up in Japan. Issue 172 is the standout of these two issues, but they are both fantastic, my favorite of the Claremont-Smith collaborations. Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote about issue 172: “So, “Scarlet in Glory” brims with cross-connections, right from the start: Logan catches up on what has been happening in X-Men in continuity (his enemy, Rogue, is now a team member; Kitty has a pet dragon, etc.). Meanwhile Yukio, from the Wolverine miniseries, fights the Silver Samurai, etc. Also in the mix is the slow-burning “Phoenix resurrection” bit. There is a lot going on in this issue, but – buoyed by penciller Paul Smith’s ingenuity -- Claremont handles the disparate components gracefully, weaving them into a clockwork plot that still stands as one of the most elegant and precise that the series has ever seen. So meticulously thought-out is the story that Claremont and Smith are able to execute no less than five surprises/reveals over the course of Pages 12-18, each one perfectly set-up and brilliantly executed.”

8

Uncanny X-Men #179, 1983

Kitty is kidnapped by the Morlocks. What I said originally: “With its dark tone, its powerful (and powerfully arranged) sequences of both terror and tragedy, and its genuinely hard look at the skewed politics that comprise the series’ foundation, Uncanny X-Men #179 is a watershed issue for the canon, and an overlooked gem.”

10 comments:

Chris said...

The brilliance of those Paul Smith issues from back in the Olden Days makes all the more painful (and perplexing) his recent return on X-Men Forever. Seriously, is there another guy named "Paul Smith" running around who's never drawn a comic book before?

And, Jason, thanks for making me revise my opinion of the JRJR segment of the run, which I never warmed up to originally. #179 is indeed way better than I remembered, and a rare instance of a would-have-been-dropped little plot thread picked up and completed brilliantly. (I mean rare in general for serialized genre fiction, not a knock on Claremont.)

Ken Dynamo said...

all nice choices, though Caliban did make me groan with his farewell speech to Kitty in 179.

Ken Dynamo said...

@chris - i was also very dissapointed by the paul smith/terry austin x-men forever issues. barely recognizable. maybe they should see if bob wiacek is available to ink.

Jason said...

"Seriously, is there another guy named "Paul Smith" running around who's never drawn a comic book before?"

***Statistically speaking, there would almost have to be. :)

"And, Jason, thanks for making me revise my opinion of the JRJR segment of the run, which I never warmed up to originally. #179 is indeed way better than I remembered, and a rare instance of a would-have-been-dropped little plot thread picked up and completed brilliantly."

***That's great to hear! Definitely one of the goals of the blog was to shed light on some of the forgotten gems, so it's always great to see that it happened now and then.

(Next step is to somehow get a Claremont interview, so I can get some recollections from HIM on these old stories, assuming he remembers. I'm sure even he's gotta be a little tired of rehashing the same anecdotes about the death of Phoenix ...)

Anonymous said...

Judging by X-men Forever & New Mutants Forever, I would not make the assumption that Claremont remembers anything about these issues or the characters.

Jason, thanks for these posts. The perfect Nicotine gum to ease me off your blog series. (although i do hold out hope for a look at the New Mutants run)

-wolf

Jason said...

"Judging by X-men Forever & New Mutants Forever, I would not make the assumption that Claremont remembers anything about these issues or the characters. "

***Indeed. It's interesting to hear people talk about how Smith's work on "Forever" was disappointing considering how good he was back in 1982. I personally didn't find it at all surprising. The Smith of "X-Men Forever" bears about as much resemblance to his 1982 counterpart as the Claremont of "X-Men Forever" does to his. Which is disheartening, in both cases, but not so surprising.

Teebore said...

Great choices! Uncanny 172-173 is one of my favorite X-Men stories (and, frankly, one of my favorite comic book stories, period).

X-Men Forever is somewhat disheartening; I guess sometimes you just can't go home again...

Jack Norris said...

"Wolverine and Rogue team up in Japan."

Talk about a sentence designed to make me want to avoid a Claremont-written X-Men comic, Paul Smith or no Paul Smith.

Jason said...

Exactly the effect I was going for, Jack. Thanks for posting.

Robyrt said...

#172-173 continues the trend of vulnerability making issues better. Wolverine and Rogue spend most of the issue dodging, getting shot, and worrying about their safety, which adds the dramatic tension that invulnerable super heroes usually lack. Probably Frank Miller's influence.