29 January 2008

X-Men - things just keep getting better

About the only benefit of a 12 hour flight in economy class is that it is an opportunjity to catch-up on some reading and on the flight to Sao Paulo on Sunday I read X-Men: Messiah Complex, a story crossing 13 comics and 3 titles. It was stunning! The stories are very well structured, written and drawn. These are thirteen very good comics. Stories like this remind me why I still read comics and why I tend to prefer Marvel over DC. Let me try and explain why.

Messiah Complex is a self-contained story that is momentous in scope. In the 70s when a comic front cover said "in this issue a hero dies" you knew that it was a trick and nothing major would actually happen. Now it does and heroes do die and the world they live in changes as a result. Here there are several significant changes to characters including deaths, new powers, new relationships and new purposes. Several very thick lines are drawn under the previous history of the X-Men.

Messiah Complex adds to the rich history of the Marvel Universe. It builds directly on a previous storyline, Endangered Species, which, in turn, built on House of M. It also builds on thirty years of plots and characterization of the X-Men. It swims and plays in this history rather than drowning in it or fighting it as attempts by DC to do something similar tend to do.

Messiah Complex also sets the stage for the next part of the story of the X-Men which is just starting with new books, new directions and new possibilities. That is going to be fun too.

And the really good news is that this extensive X-Men saga comes at the same time as similar momentous stories in the lives of the Hulk (Planet Hulk, World War Hulk and now Aftersmash) and the Avengers (House of M, Civil War, Initiative and Secret Invasion). This really is a good time to be reading Marvel comics.

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