One thing about Marvel that I’ve grown accustomed to is that they occasionally try to return to their “glory days” when it comes to certain characters or teams. Not every one, mind you, but ones that have sold well in the past.
Well, with the return of Uncanny X-Men to their roster, the House of Ideas is revisiting the best-loved days of the mutants as part of their Marvel Milestones series.
I’ve got mixed feelings about this, so let me share them with you.
THE OFFICIAL WORD
Here are the salient points from a recent Marvel news release:
“They are the tales of triumph and tragedy that changed Marvel’s mutants forever…and now, fans everywhere can relive these stories in a new series of trade paperbacks designed to form one complete library of X-Men events!…
“With this new collection, relive the X-Men’s best and the biggest storylines as their adventures remind you why the X-Men have been a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe for decades!”
The first three will be:
X-MEN MILESTONES: DARK PHOENIX SAGA
By Chris Claremont and John Byrne
X-MEN MILESTONES: FALL OF THE MUTANTS
By Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, Marc Silvestri, Bret Blevins and Walter Simonson
X-MEN MILESTONES: MUTANT MASSACRE
By Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson, Ann Nocenti, John Romita Jr., Blevins, Rick Leonardi, Alan Davis, Barry Windsor-Smith, Terry Shoemaker, Butch Guice, Sal Buscema and Jon Bogdanove!
There’s no word, at least not yet, on release dates, cost or even paper stock for these editions. I’m sure we’ll find out more along those lines soon, especially as we get into 2019.
IT’S A GOOD IDEA
One of the basic concepts behind the production of comics for quite a while is that there’s a substantial turnover in terms of fans after a three-year period or so. The idea fostering this is that, when kids hit their early teens, they want something more action-oriented, so they turn to comics. When they get to be full-fledged teenagers, their attention turns to, well, other things, so they leave the comics behind.
That whole notion hasn’t quite held up over time, but there are always people moving in and out of comics fandom. Some of us have been in it for quite some time—decades, in fact. Others are brand new to reading “the books,” as some people call them.
The X-Men, once the bread and butter of Marvel’s business, have fallen on hard times in recent years. The Avengers have risen to take their place, but the House of Ideas is always trying to bring them back or perhaps find the “new” Mutants in such things as the Inhumans, for example.
That hasn’t worked out… at least, not so far.
And several X-stories are classics. Starting out with the Dark Phoenix Saga is a good one because it is likely the one X-fans will point to as their very best.
I was in school when the final chapter of that story came out, and my brother made me drive through a snowstorm to pick it up for him. He was depressed for days after seeing Jean Grey’s passing. It had that kind of impact on many X-fans over the years.
If you haven’t read it yet, this will be the perfect time.
IT’S A BAD IDEA
Granted, the story of Dark Phoenix has been watered down over the years, and many X-fans felt that this was the pinnacle of their storytelling. While the other tales were good, they just weren’t as great as that one, I keep hearing them say. (I haven’t read them all, so I defer to those who have.)
Of course, the paper in many previously printed volumes is likely to have yellowed over the years, so a new one will appeal to some. But you’re likely to experience that again before too long. That’s why paper stock matters. The better the paper, the longer the volume will last.
It’s also something that’s going to eat up a LOT of your income if you decide to collect what they refer to as a “complete library” of them. I used to say that it would take thousands of dollars to “catch up” on previous X-Men stories, and you really need to have read them ALL in order to REALLY understand what’s happening in the current issues, friends used to tell me.
Yikes. Again I say, Yikes.
Then, too, I wonder just how many volumes there will be in this series. There have been a lot of X-Men titles and issues over the years, including the recent Red, Blue, Yellow and Black versions. Are all of these going to be in the trades? If so, you may need a huge room in your home in which to store them all. Frankly, I don’t have that kind of space. Again, the paper stock will matter because the higher-quality paper takes up much more room than newsprint.
COMPROMISE MIGHT THE WISEST COURSE
Naturally, Marvel would prefer you buy each and every one of them as well as the new releases each month. That’s money in their bank account especially since many creators get none of the income from trades and other collected editions. Hopefully, the House of Ideas has worked out something with these folks so they benefit from these new printings.
Then you must decide which ones to get. If Marvel holds true to their past behavior, they’re likely to print the most popular first, then slowly get into the lesser-selling stories as they go along. I’m not saying that the quality is less because some folks love those tales even more than Dark Phoenix. It depends on what you enjoy.
I’ve read some folks online already calling this yet another “gimmick” from Marvel just trying to get fans’ money. I hasten to point out that if they aren’t making money on their books, it’s entirely possible they won’t make many more of them. If you want more Marvel comics, you really should buy what they’re releasing now… at least, what you can afford!
And there are some stories worth having in collected editions. If I get some free time, I love to pull out a favorite story in hardcover or trade and dive into it for a nice, long escape into the comics reality. Maybe you do, too!