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Wednesday, May 28, 2014 

Graeme McMillan recommends bad stories to read after watching Days of Future Past movie

For the week on which the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie is released, the would-be expert Graeme McMillan gave 5 examples of X-Men comics he thinks everybody should check out after seeing the film. But only one is worth it, Alan Davis's work on Excalibur from 1993. The rest are all brand new bummers like Brian Bendis's take on X-Men. At the start, he says:
...There’s also the problem of variety. Put simply, there’s a lot of X-Men comic material out there. Marvel currently publishes no fewer than five series with X-Men in the title, to say nothing of spin-off series like Uncanny Avengers, Wolverine, X-Factor, Cyclops or the forthcoming Storm. For the last two decades, in fact, Marvel has published a mind-boggling amount of X-Men-related material (We chose some of the best last year), and the idea of simply jumping in justifiably seems more than a little terrifying.
It's more than just that - it's saddening. Why must Marvel publish so much material as ongoings, far more than miniseries? Indeed, that's a major problem with Marvel and DC today - far too many ideas are launched as monthly ongoing series and very little as miniseries, unless they happen to be the hubs of crossovers. They won't test the waters with a mini, as used to be the custom, to see what the audience might like as an ongoing later. But McMillan skims over all that without arguing whether Marvel's MO is doing them more harm than good, and it comes off more as an attempt to fleece buyers of their money.

Then, he says about All-New X-Men:
This series heralded the arrival of Brian Michael Bendis, former Avengers writer and member of the Marvel Studios Creative Committee, to the franchise, and he brought the original X-Men along in a series that offers a unique jumping-on point for readers. The set-up is that the original five X-Men have been brought forward in time to the present day to “fix” the broken status quo in some way even they don’t quite understand. Turning the Days of Future Past gimmick on its head, the series (illustrated by Stuart Immonen and others) is smart, fast-paced and fun stuff that explains the current status quo in a way just overwhelming enough that you want to hang on and find out what happens next.
Uh-uh. No way. I've already learned what this is like, an excuse to put Jean Grey in the crosshairs again for being the Phoenix. His description of the X-Men not understanding could easily describe what the audience will think. He then gives the following description of a series about Magneto:
[...] A series launched this year, by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, sends Magneto on a mission to kill those who seek to hurt mutants before they have a chance to do any damage, exploring some of the seeming contradictions of a man who constantly blurs the line between terrorist and freedom fighter in the process.
I'm guessing this particular tale goes by the notion that "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter", something I don't think they emphasized in past decades. Besides, I think they've long been putting too much emphasis on Magneto as an archnemesis, yet are uninterested in creating a different character who can serve the same goals. He says about a new Wolverine series:
There are hundreds of solo Wolverine stories to choose from if you’re eager to learn more about Hugh Jackman’s alter ego.
No, there's only a handful, like the miniseries from 1982, written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller. The first several years of the solo ongoing that began in 1988 is also pretty good (Larry Hama was one of the writers there too), but beyond that, it's disastrous and the 2003 miniseries called Origin, written by Paul Jenkins, was a pure ripoff.

The part about Excalibur is a bit better:
Writer/artist Alan Davis took his team of former X-Men and assorted associates into the future ruled by Sentinels to sort everything out, and the result was a two-part storyline that inserted a rare piece of optimism back into the traditionally dreary, dark world of mutant superheroics.
But how funny he hasn't argued whether all that pessimism destroyed the X-books years before. Because it did. In fact, why should the X-world be "traditionally" bleak? Has it occurred to him that might be the biggest error they ever made? Then, he says about the Rise of Apocalypse miniseries:
Potentially required reading if you want to be up to date on the character before 2016′s X-Men: Apocalypse movie.
I don't think so. That was still another weak "event" done at the time crossovers consumed their output as never before. But then, it's not something currently available in trades (Davis's work on Excalibur was at one time, but may be out of print now), so nobody need rush to find it. This too is just another of several dismal X-tales that don't speak well for the now bloated franchise.

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There are so many stories to pick, I'm not sure what I would recommend to anyone who saw the film. Most of my picks would be from the 80's, when I was reading.

Definitely agree on the original Wolverine Limited Series by Claremont and Miller, and on the Alan Davis Excalibur.

I would probably recommend the ORIGINAL Dark Phoenix Saga because, despite what they did to it later (and again and again and again in revisiting it), the original was very well done and had a heck of an emotional punch seeing Jean destroy herself and die a hero.

The original New Mutants were pretty good, and the issue where a boy kills himself because of a cruel joke about mutants and x-Factor (he could make light sculptures) was one of the best of that series, IMHO.

I'd almost say anything up to Uncanny #200, where Magneto takes over the school while Xavier goes off into space. Until then, you can see the story arcs still firing pretty well. After that, they started to falter and, again IMHO, really got bad when the X-men died and went "down under."

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