Welcome back to the blog/site/whatever this thing is called.
In the last part of this series of posts I wrapped up what I feel is my origin story of buying, reading, collecting, and selling comics. There are other stories to tell, like when I stopped buying everything and only bought DC Comics’ “core” universe of titles from IDENTITY CRISIS through INFINITE CRISIS. One of these days I’ll get around to going into detail about that experience, but it’s an example of how I look at the comic industry and how I buy/read/collect comics. There are comic readers who buy comics because a certain comic creator is working on a book, or they’re favorite character appears in that issue, or their favorite publisher produces that comic. There are a lot of reason why people buy and read comics, and (as long as it’s legal) there’s nothing wrong with those reasons.
My reasons shift from time to time, but not in sweeping contrast to what I’m doing at the time (other than that DC Comics’s thing). I have enjoyed focusing on a publisher or group of similar comics since the early 1990s. When Image Comics launched there were “houses” under the umbrella of Image Comics. Most notable of those “houses” was Wildstorm and Extreme Studios led by Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, respectfully. Top Cow would be one as well, but Top Cow kept their titles to a manageable number of 3-5 books at a time, and not all of those books tied into the overall Cyber Force universe. Wildstorm and Extreme built their titles on the backs of WILDC.A.T.S and YOUNGBLOOD, and produced a lot of titles. I would eventually lean more heavy into Wildstorm because Jim Lee was my favorite artist at the time and to see his vision of a universe of characters hooked me. I’d follow and collect Wildstorm titles until the move to DC Comics, and even then I’d buy the books, but it was different.
There’s a part of me that enjoys reading about these larger universes of characters because I like that they live on behind the scenes. I like the idea that while they don’t appear in every title and every issue that they still exist in the background and the next time they pop up in an issue, I’ll be buying it and I’ll get to see what they’re up to and how their life fits into the existing story of the other characters. This starts to get into the realm of liking and/or needing continuity in what I’m reading. I do to a point. At the end of the day, I want to enjoy the story that’s being laid out in the issue. If that story ties into another story, or a character that’s not directly involved in that story crossovers over with the events or ramifications of that story I find myself enjoying that part just a little more. More than what? That’s a deeper psychological issue that I’m not qualified to figure out.
The X-Men books were probably my first group of titles that had characters crossing over from title to title that hooked me. You could argue that reading MILLENNIUM tie-ins was my real first attempt at reading books like this, but X-Men books were a smaller scaled version of a publishing line that was connected. MILLENNIUM was a miniseries that had tie-in issues and after that miniseries/event was completed each of the titles went on their separate ways. X-Men titles didn’t do that. There’s no surprise that when Image Comics launched the guys working on X-Men titles created these larger universes and connected titles. That’s what they loved as they were reading comics and what they worked as they became big names in comics.
The X-Men Universe hooked me in at an early age, and collecting every book helped that curiosity I had of when was Banshee, or Destiny, or Arcade going to show up again? What would they be like after being away from the pages of any X-Men book? I “needed” to buy all of the books to answer those questions, and because I enjoyed what I was reading. The reasons will always be distilled to “I enjoyed what I was reading”. There would be a time I didn’t enjoy what I was reading and instead of waiting to see how it would develop, I stopped reading X-Men comics as a whole. That moment would happen with NEW X-MEN #114.
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s run on NEW X-MEN is probably one of my favorite runs. While Quitely didn’t draw every issue of Morrison’s run, his influence was there. I didn’t always enjoy this run. I didn’t ever read it when it was released. Nope. When I finished reading NEW X-MEN #114, Morrison and Quitely’s first issue – I quit. There was nothing in that issue that spoke to me the way X-Men comics had been speaking to me prior. Quitely’s art was something I had seen before, not his work specifically but the style. I didn’t like it. So, instead of waiting and seeing what would happen I dropped it from my pull list. I would soon drop UNCANNY X-MEN from my pull list as well, and this time period in 2001 would be the beginning of my X-Men drought. I would come back to X-Men titles off and on over the years when a new UNCANNY X-MEN or a new X-MEN series would launch. Some I would enjoy and others I’d barely give it the first issue before I wrote it off. In hindsight I find my decision a bit rash and harsh, but it happened. I am happy to say I’ve gone back and read all of those issue, and as stated before it is one of my favorite runs now.
Over the years I’ve made attempts to get back into X-Men comics, but nothing really hooked me. I would read an arc and think, “this seems familiar” and just not pick up anymore issues. I’d try another X-Men book and have the same feeling. The reason I left X-Men comics was because Marvel threw something “way out of character” for me with Morrison and as I tried to get back into the X-Men, everything I was familiar with didn’t resonate with me anymore. Weird. I blame Image Comics primarily. I say that mostly as a joke, but there’s some truth to that. As I focused more on buying Image titles in the 2000s and into 2010s and podcasting about them I became more appreciative to the writers and artists that did something that wasn’t familiar for me. Superhero type stories didn’t resonate with me as they did when I was younger and so I stayed away from them despite dipping my toe in from time to time.
As stated in Part 3 of this series of posts, I found myself at a point in my life in late 2018 that maybe it was time for me to stop reading comics. There are a lot of reasons for this decision to come to my mind, but there it was and so I decided I’d sell my comics starting in January 2019. In March 2019, Marvel Comics announced Jonathan Hickman would be given the reigns of the X-Men Universe and would be launching two miniseries, HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X in July 2019. I had already told people I was out of comics and selling my collection. I was ready to leave. Seriously. But then I gave this announcement some thought. I had enjoyed Hickman’s career from his first book, THE NIGHTLY NEWS, and I’ve probably read a majority of his creator-owned books. He’s responsible for getting me back into reading FANTASTIC FOUR with his run. I loved SECRET WARRIORS. I even picked up all of his Avengers titles, but I never stuck with them for very long. There’s something about the Avengers that’s tough for me to read. I’m sure I’ll figure it out one of these days because I continually buy Avengers team books.
I decided that HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X would be my last ditch effort to get into X-Men comics again, and to possibly stick with reading comics in general. No pressure.
After the first issue of HOUSE OF X I was hooked. There was a very familiar feel to the characters, but the story was something I’d not read before. There was that mixture that I had been looking for over the last decade of more but couldn’t find. Hickman had provided it for me in HOUSE OF X and I wanted more. POWERS OF X took a few issues for me to enjoy, but by the time both miniseries were over I was hooked and ready for more. Hickman had done it – got me to enjoy X-Men comics again. I’ll admit, after the first three issues of all of the new X-Men titles were out I did waver a bit to the point I dropped all of the books from my pull list and decided I needed to just stop reading comics. I was feeling I was making excuses to not stop reading comics, but in reality I was looking for reasons to quit. So, I quit for about one week and immediately dove back in.
So, why dive into the back catalog of X-Men titles? Why be at the point of quitting comics all together and now buying back issues? I can’t really put it into words. I’m not one who makes decisions based on emotions. I think things through and weigh as many of the options and outcomes as I can imagine. I prepare for worst case scenarios in almost any big decision I make because I want to at least be somewhat prepared for the outcome if it goes bad. I’ve been this way for a long time, but it doesn’t mean I never lead with emotions. Comics connected with me at a young age because they brought me enjoyment and happiness. When characters were killed I was emotionally invested in the death and the way the characters reacted to that death. I don’t get this way with television, movies, or any other form of entertainment. Comics are the only ones that do this to me, and I felt that buy not reading a lot of the X-Men books over the last two decades I missed out on a lot of those moments to connect with these characters. I wanted to make up for that, and collecting back issues is like looking over old home movies and remembering the good (and bad) times and being introduced to events in these characters’ lives that I might have missed out on. That’s the reason for hunting down these back issues, to reconnect and build back those ties. I’m about a year into this adventure and enjoying every moment.
That’s it. That’s the reason for the hunt.
My next post I’ll talk about the mission statement of this site, the direction I’m planning on going in with it, and what you can expect moving forward. As always you can contact me over on Twitter at @ChrisPartin.