I see a lot of people wanting to get into X-Men comics but have no clue where to start because they are intimidated by all the continuity and back story (this is an issue with a lot of Marvel properties). Right now is a great time to start reading since Marvel just recently relaunched most of their books with the Now initiative, including the X-Men ones, but there are a few crucial major events that will bring potential readers up to speed on the current state of the X-Men, and more importantly, Cyclops, who really has been the driving force behind much of what’s happened.
This was the catalyst for much of the X-Men landscape currently. Scarlet Witch has gotten increasingly unstable and creates an alternate reality where everyone seemingly has what they most desire. Once that’s figured out and they get Scarlet Witch to change it back, she does but with one caveat: no more mutants. While she is not completely successful, the world is stripped of all but about 200 mutants.
At this point, some mutants have found a way to get powers back, but the mutant population is still around 200 and no new mutants have been born. This book has the first new mutant birth (with powers already active), and everyone scrambles to get the baby, including anti mutant terrorists, Mr. Sinister, and the X-Men. But out of nowhere, Cable appears from the future and snatches her while combating everyone else. He ends up taking her with him back to the future in order to protect her. Oh, and they name her Hope Summers.
Cable brings Hope back from the future and battles his way to the X-Men’s new home base, Utopia. He’s successful, but it costs him his life. Also, Hope reveals that she can channel the Phoenix Force (we all know what that is, right? I hope so, at least from the amazing Saturday morning cartoon).
In the midst of an attack by the all new Hellfire Club, now composed of a bunch of child evil geniuses, Cyclops and Wolverine have a philosophical disagreement on how to treat mutant youth in this new era of near extinction and escalated hostility towards mutants. Cyclops wants to train soldiers, but Wolverine doesn’t want them to live through what he did. So he takes half the mutants and returns to the ruined Xavier school to rebuild and start anew.
This is where all of the previous big events come to a head. The Phoenix force is coming for Hope. The Avengers want to take her out but the X-Men have no intention of letting that happen. Since this is still fairly recent, I won’t spoil the plot but epic battles ensue and this sets up the status quo that we see in the current X-Men books. From here you can jump right into the #1’s of All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, and just recently launched X-Men.
Obviously (I think), these are the bare essentials to get up to speed but there are other storylines that are great reads as well.
The previously mentioned Dark Phoenix Saga was really the first major X-Men event and its outcome still lingers over everything X-Men. The version that a lot of us know from the 90’s X-Men cartoon was pretty great but the original is definitely worth reading.
Grant Morrison’s New X-Men redefined the X-Men for the modern era and is widely hailed as one of the best runs of all time. This is essential X-Men reading.
The next big run was when they gave Joss Whedon the reins. His Astonishing X-Men was a bit of a spiritual extension of Morrison’s run but added some classical X-Men elements back in and kept the team small and focused.
There are also some minor storylines between the five big events that I listed that fill in some more of the extended story. Avengers Disassembled tells the events leading up to Scarlet Witch’s mental decline before House of M. Civil War was last decade’s huge Marvel event, taking place between House of M and Messiah Complex. The government started enforcing powers registration with Tony Stark backing it, conflicts ensue. Utopiadetails the forming of the X-Men’s new home after Messiah Complex, coming out of the conflict with Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. Before Second Coming takes place, X-Force is sent to the future to check up on Hope and Cable in Messiah War. And finally, the fallout from Avengers vs. X-Men can be found in Avengers vs. X-Men: Consequences.
For the past couple years, I usually write up a huge post detailing my top 10 films, music, songs, etc. and write about each thing. It takes a long time, not many people read the whole thing, and since I was on a break I missed the prime time to post something like that. This year, I’m just going to write about my favorite thing in each category and then list the runner(s) up in no particular order. Quick and easy… maybe.
Favorite Film: The Cabin in the Woods
This was a real pleasant surprise. It didn’t get a whole lot of marketing so so I wrote it off as just another horror movie. Then months after it was already out on video I saw that Joss Whedon was involved, mandating that I check it out. It was one of the most fun a movie I have seen has been. It tears down cliche horror tropes while still employing them and making it interesting. I don’t really want to talk about the plot because that would ruin some of the fun. Runners up: Chronicle, The Avengers, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty.
Favorite Film Moment/Scene: The raid in Zero Dark Thirty
I knew what was going to happen, I read multiple accounts after it went down, but this whole section of the film kept me on the edge of my seat and blood pumping for the entirety of it. Add to that, the last shot of Jessica Chastain at the end which perfectly communicates the moral questions of the whole film. Runners up: Javier Bardem’s single shot introduction inSkyfall, the nonchalant conversation at the end of The Cabin in the Woods, Bilbo and Gollum’s first meeting.
Favorite Album: Every Time I Die, Ex-Lives
I can think of two things that had a major change on Every Time I Die’s sound: Keith doing a stint with his side project The Damned Things, and a new drummer. This new album managed to be both more melodic and more brutal than any of their past releases. This was the only rock album last year that absolutely blew me away, and it showed because I spent much of last year listening to other genres outside of my normal musical taste. Runners up: Frank Ocean Channel Orange,Good Old War Come Back as Rain, Circa Survive Violent Waves, Fiona Apple Idler Wheel…, Anberlin VItal.
Favorite Song: The Weeknd, “Wicked Games”
This is kind of cheating since technically the song came out in 2011, but he didn’t release it as a single until 2012 and I didn’t discover these albums until the end of 2011. If this is where R&B is headed in the future, count me in. Between him, Frank Ocean, and Subtrkt, new style R&B dominated my playlists in 2012, and this song is the epitome of it. I can’t even describe the awesomeness of this song, you just have to listen. I just wish he would perform it regularly instead of the acoustic version whenever it’s played live. Runners up: Further Seems Forever “Rescue Trained”, Every Time I Die “Revival Mode”, Usher “Climax”, Good Old War “Better Weather”, Fiona Apple “Werewolf”, The Darkness “Concrete”, Kid Cudi “Pursuit of Happiness (Steve Aoki Remix)”.
Favorite Book (that I read, not that was released): Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
No one can even come close to reading all the books released in a given year so this is my favorite book that I read for the first time, and it happens to be timely with Star Wars getting new movies in a few years. This is the start of what most people hoped the sequel trilogy would be and I definitely failed as a nerd by not reading it before now.
Favorite Comic: Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
I finally got a tablet this year and with that was my inevitable fall into comic book addiction. I now have around 30 titles that I read monthly. I like all of them (obviously) but none of them has the same effect as reading Batman. It’s the only one that I wait up until midnight the day of its release to read it digitally. In the future, Snyder’s storylines will definitely be referenced alongside books like The Dark Knight Returns, Year One, The Long Halloween, and Death in the Family.
I finally got to see Cabin in the Woods (which was amazing), so I went back to the Reddit AMA that director Drew Goddard did and this was one of his responses. Hilarious.
I was actually writing up a post on a wish list for the cast of a future Justice League film, but then I realized that I had some general wishes for the any of the future DC films. Here are some of those random thoughts.
Do not attempt an Avengers. Marvel had an endgame in place when Iron Man first debuted. DC has demonstrated that they have a little harder time coordinating like that, and I doubt they have something in place currently for Man of Steel. But cross-film continuity is not necessary right now. Everyone knows these characters, we don’t need a reboot and origin story each time. DC’s animated division is making great movies from single, contained storylines and I think films could work like that as well, kind of like the James Bond series.
When the Justice League movie happens, don’t get greedy with characters. Marvel had already put in place backstories for four of the six main characters, and a semi backstory for Black Widow. And even then, there are few people besides Whedon who can handle an ensemble storyline like that. I would limit a Justice League film to four or five main heroes To me, there are six main players: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Flash. In my opinion, the only one that needs to be in it is Superman, arguments can be made for any of the others to be left out.
Leave Batman alone for a while. Nothing anyone makes in the near future will get even close to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, don’t taint that. I’m okay with Batman having a role in a Justice League film as long as he isn’t the main focus.
Use Kyle Rayner for Green Lantern. Everyone who is at least familiar with DC Comics and/or the Justice League knows Hal Jordan. Jon Stewart had many seasons worth of the animated series, and I don’t think is even that interesting of a character in general. The only other Earth Lantern is Guy Gardner and he’s just a dick and no one likes him. Rayner’s Lantern is much more interesting because he needs to figure out the power on his own without a corps to back him up. Also, there is no need to waste time establishing the rest of the corps and Oa.
Be careful with Wonder Woman. Personally, I would just wait until Joss Whedon is done with his Marvel responsibilities and let him do what he originally wanted to. All of the articles about Justice League casts I read just went straight to a hot actress that had been in previous action films a la Gina Carano, but this is the absolute wrong way to go. Anyone else remember Catwoman? A female superhero needs to be written and performed smartly to be successful. Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2 vs. The Avengers is a perfect example. We first see her as eye candy, but she becomes a compelling character with someone better behind the script.
Pay attention to the fans. I don’t feel like DC has paid any attention to their key demographic when it comes to making decisions and it has been to their detriment, besides Nolan’s Batman (he can do what he wants at this point because he had previously established that he knows what he’s doing).
Again, I will use Marvel as the example. These are the ones I thought of off the top of my head:
A cool graphic, from an awesome article by GQ on Joss Whedon.