Month: January 2011

X-Men in Video Games: Part 2

Sticking with the Nintendo Entertainment System, we’ll be jumping ahead to 1991 at LJN’s second attempt to get the X-Men right with the first solo adventure of Wolverine.

The plot on the box sums up the plot perfectly – it’s Wolverine in a mega-battle with arch-nemesis SABRETOOTH.  But being that this is a 1991 NES game, there’s no way the game could simply get by without a silly plot, so for that we head to the game’s instruction manual.

The plot is simple.  Wolverine (decked out, fittingly, in a Wolverine suit) has washed up on a mystery beach and walks inland, finding a massive structure with the word WELCOME on the door.  Wolverine enters and we have ourselves a game.

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New comic day hangover

Welcome back, friends.  With the brand new X-Men event launching this week, I would feel just terrible if I slacked another week, so we’ll play catchup.  For this edition, we’ll be looking at…

  • Age of X: Alpha in which we get a new present in which there were never X-Men…except for the X-Men gathered.
  • Justice League: Generation Lost #17 & 18 in which a new threat shows up to replace the threat just beaten.
  • New Mutants #21 in which Zeb Wells’ run on the title ends well.
  • Uncanny X-Men #532 in which the X-Men still have the sniffles.
  • X-Factor #213 & 214 in which a member quits the team, but not the book.
  • X-Men #7 in which the X-Men become heroes.
  • X-Men Legacy #244 in which we get a Blindfold adventure.  How fun.

There will be a jump, and then there will be SPOILERS.  I’ll even tell you which member of the Fantastic Four died.  Let’s do this.

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Wizard ceases publication

After nearly two decades, Wizard magazine is no more.  Also gone is its companion publication ToyFare.

Launched in 1991 as “The Guide to Comics” Wizard was known for its comics pricing guide and its hot list of books, writers and artists.  It eventually changed itself from a guide to a magazine format, often bashed by comic fans across the Internet.  The magazine took a huge hit in readership with the growth of the Internet, with countless comic news sites providing the same information free of charge as soon as it breaks.

Though no longer publishing the magazine, the company Wizard Entertainment will focus on its Wizard World website, relaunching it in February.

Though I cannot recall the last time I personally bought an issue, I recall its pricing guides being an important part of my early comic days back in its first issues, even though I never sold any of my comics.  I believe I still have several issues I pilfered from Casey over the years.

Colossus and Kitty Pryde: the rocky road of love

Some couples simply can’t catch a break.  Wolverine has this habit of leading his significant others to their deaths.  Cyclops and Jean Grey ran into the pitfall of not only both of them seemingly dying, but also two clones of her whom he had proposed to dying as well. 

But few couples run into quite as many problems as do Piotr Rasputin and Kitty Pryde: the X-Men’s Colossus and Shadowcat.  For nearly the entire existence of both characters, they have been either trying to hook up or trying to pretend that they weren’t wanting to.  Everything from villain attacks to romantic rivals to even editorial mandates have done their best to keep the two apart, yet somehow they’ve managed to persevere. 

With the announcement that April will see begin the solo-writing stint of Kieron Gillen on Uncanny X-Men came the announcement that his first arc would star the two troubled lovers in their first real story together since Kitty returned from her Space Bullet just before Second Coming kicked off.  And with that ahead of us, let’s take a moment to look back at where the two have been and just what has stood in their way these last decades.

Get comfortable.  This might take a little while.

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More wacky Marvel numbering antics

Marvel has a new Thor movie coming out in May and to go with it they’re going to be screwing around with the comic-end of the Norse hero.

A short while ago, Marvel pulled one of its numbering tricks to bump the currently ongoing Thor to #600, pulling in all of the various volumes of Thor’s book as well as the old Journey Into Mystery, in which the Marvel Thor originally debuted.  To coincide with the movie, however, the book’s current writer Matt Fraction will be joined by artist Oliver Coipel on a relaunched Mighty Thor #1.  Same storyline for those readers of the current title, just new place.

But what about that big number they just spent the effort jumping up to?  No worries!  That will continue on with Journey Into Mystery, which will launch with the new movie.  Nevermind that the last attempt to launch a second Thor book, Thor: The Mighty Avenger was just cancelled after eight issues.

The reasoning is simple.  In theory, casual fans who see the movie might be interested enough in Thor to buy the comic, and thus a new #1 is an inviting jumping-on point.  And once the movie hype is gone and the sales slump, the two books will be combined once again and the numbers adjusted accordingly.

I would like to mention that Uncanny X-Men made it into #500+ without having to fake it.

X-Men in Video Games: Part 1

As we kick off our new Special Feature on Comicdom Wrecks, we go back to the very first appearance of the X-Men on console video games.  I’m not sure, but Mayhem in Murderworld for the PC may have come out earlier in the year, but we’re going to be starting with this one, if nothing else than to get it out of the way.

In this edition, we will be looking at The Uncanny X-Men for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Before I get started, I would like to mention that this game holds the Nintendo Seal of Approval.  You can see it right there on the box.  You might also notice that neither Cyclops nor Colossus seem to have any kind of lower body, but that’s what you get when you piece a picture together for a game featuring a hodgepodge of characters.  This game was released in 1989 – that means the X-Men, in the comics, had closed down the Austrailan era of the team and were in the “floating around aimlessly” era before 1991’s Blue/Gold relaunch.  Wolverine and Colossus?  You are both fine.  Storm would be too if she wasn’t sporting that god-awful mohawk.  Cyclops had been with X-Factor for a few years at that point.  If you look in the top corner of the box art, you can see his X-Factor stripe on his mask.  And Iceman?  He had been gone from the X-Men for well over a decade by that point.  WTF, LJN?

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Oh, these forgotten villains

It’s hard to believe for those of us who were raised on the comics boom period of the early 1990’s, but there was a time when Uncanny X-Men was the only X-Men book that Marvel published.  But under the watchful eye of writer Chris Claremont and artists Dave Cockrum and John Byrne, the book became so popular that demand was strong enough to warrant a spin-off.  The X-Men had long since abandoned its original premise of young mutants being students at a “school” for “gifted youngsters”, so the obvious goal was to introduce a young crop of new mutants quite unoriginally dubbed the “New Mutants”.  And thus five new characters – Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Psyche (later Mirage), Sunspot and Karma – came together in the 1982 Marvel Graphic Novel #4, back when there was a difference between comic books and graphic novels.

New Mutants was the first of its kind for Marvel, though DC had long since featured the younger version of the team in Teen Titans, which had launched in 1964, just one year after the original team of X-Men.  But unlike the Titans, the New Mutants weren’t simply the sidekicks of existing heroes (basically younger versions of the franchise characters), but heroes themselves.  And by 1982, Marv Wolfman and George Perez had turned the Titans into their own genre of heroes (and the most popular franchise DC had at the time, hard as that is to believe), so New Mutants really was in a class of its own.

But the premise itself ran into a problem of its own as it searched for an identity of its own.  In its founding, Professor X plainly stated that the New Mutants were not intended to be X-Men, and thus would not be doing the super-hero schtick which he had sent the original kids on immediately, though he still made them wear the skintight outfits.  That raised the question of just what the title would be about.  And the first couple of issues dealt with things like bullying and the dangers of the Danger Room, but those could only go on for so long.

Soon it came time to allow the kids to stumble into villains of their own to fight, which presented an entirely new problem.  To milk off of their association with the bigger franchise (which is the entire point of a spin-off), in theory they would need to deal with some of the rogues gallery of the X-Men.  But to keep the villains remaining a viable threat should they reappear in the main title, they couldn’t exactly lose to these rookie mutants.  After all, the Hellfire Club were just a weak floor and a freak storm away from defeating the X-Men during the Dark Phoenix Saga.  How could you have them lose to these kids?  Would you need to have the kids either lose or be bailed out every storyline?

The answer would be to introduce new villains to be associated with the established ones in the same way the New Mutants were associated to the X-Men.  And with issue #7, did writer Chris Claremont ever throw us a whopper.

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