2 January 2009

Catching up with the X-Men

I am taking advantage of the Winter holiday to seriously tackle my comics backlog and may even get it down to something like manageable proportions before I have to make my regular pilgrimage to They Walk Among Us for my next fix.

Having caught up with Secret Invasion I am now addressing the various X-Men titles and have come across a couple of real gems.

Cable, a new title by Duane Swierczynski and Ken Lashley, tells the story of Cable's attempt to protect the new mutant baby from Bishop who wants to kill her to stop the future world that he comes from (where mutants are treated as slaves) from coming about. Dr Who fans will be familiar with such plots and such paradoxes!

The essence of the story is a chase through time between two very experienced soldiers who can set and detect complex traps.

Time travel is used very effectively in the story as Cable jumps forward in time to escape from Bishop and then spends years preparing for Bishop to catch up with him.

I am sure that I have not given the story justice but I hope that I have given you enough of a clue as to why I am enjoying this sage immensely.

But you do not have to rely on my words to explain the quality of the art work. This extract from King-Size Cable Spectacular #1 shows the fantastic futurescape and the dramatic use of layout to tell the story.

To be honest, I was not sure what to expect from Cable and was not initially impressed by the premise behind the story but it proved to be a compelling and very rewarding read.

The other title that has made its mark on me recently was Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes by Warren Ellis, Alan Davis and Adi Granov. This is a two part story spun off at a tangent from the ongoing Astonishing X-Men series.

The tangent takes us off to parallel worlds and explores alternative scenarios on four alternative Earths in four short and very different stories.

Again, the basic premise is simple, one alternative Earth wants to annex another (travel between the dimensions is achieved using the Ghost Boxes) and the X-Men stand in defence.

The stories have different styles, give us different perspectives on the same situation and have different outcomes. And being X-Men stories they are linked by familiar characters which means that we immediately understand, and believe, how they react to each situation.

Ghost Boxes gives the impression of being a collection of stories that Warren Ellis came up with but could not fit in to the main Astonishing X-Men storyline. There must be many many stories like that but most of them never get written. I am so glad that these were.

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