Sunday, January 20, 2013

The X-Men Awards

A couple months ago I read and/or caught up the the present day in all the X-Men titles (except X-Force and the Wolverine solo titles, which I will read eventually, but not until I get a little more variety in my comic book diet). Because I've taken in a metric tonne of X-Men comics, I thought it might be a good idea to hand out a few awards to my favorite storylines, favorite artists, favorite writers, and a few things I didn't like. So here they are, probably the only X-Men awards I'll ever do.

Greatest X-Men Series

Winner: Uncanny X-men

This was really a no-brainer. I just love the original. The first 20 years of the series were simply beyond reproach. Many would argue that the series has had some major ups and downs since its beginnings, but it started great, is currently great, and had a whole of great in between.

Runners Up:

1. X-Men Legacy (aka X-Men, aka New X-Men) - It's hard to not love the title that shared the main X-Men storyline beginning in the 1990s.

2. X-Men (aka X-Men Volume 3) - Although it's a fairly new title, I'm loving it. The artwork is fantastic, and the series feels fresh and interesting.

3. Astonishing X-Men - Joss Whedon is king of the nerds, and his great X-Men series only affirms that fact. The artwork took a dive after Whedon and his artist John Cassaday left, but Warren Ellis is a great writer, and his stories succeed in spite of the sometimes less than stellar artwork.

4. Wolverine and the X-Men - Another very new series which has shown a lot of promise. The fact that it's named after the animated series that got me started reading comic books in the first place is also helpful.

5. X-Men Forever - I wanted to like this one more than I actually did. Chris Claremont pulls some series weight in the world of X-Men, and I thought letting him have his own X-Men series and do whatever he wanted with it would be better than it actually was. This series was a little disappointing.

6. X-Men Unlimited - X-Men Unlimited was conceived as a series which would tell the stories that happen between the issues of the other X-Men titles. As such, it's somewhat less important than the other X-Men series. There are a few interesting things that happen in the series, but they're too few and far between.

7. Ultimate X-Men - The Marvel Ultimate universe re-imagines and updates some of the more notable Marvel heroes. I really didn't like this series because I found that it tried way too hard to be hip and with it.

8. Xtreme X-Men - Nope. Also, this.

Greatest Storyline

Winner: Giant Size X-Men #1

The X-Men were floundering on the verge of cancellation before Giant-Size X-men came out. No, really. In the 1970's Marvel began running old issues from the 1960's because X-Men wasn't a very popular series at the time. Giant-Size X-Men was a last-ditch bid to revive the series and it totally worked. 

Most importantly, Giant-Size X-Men brought in Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Thunderbird, and Wolverine. The addition of all these new heroes really shook up the X-Men as a group, and provided a major shot in the arm to the team as well as the series as a whole.

The story of how all the new X-Men were brought in and how they learned to mesh and fight alongside the existing X-Men is one of the best and most intriguing things that ever happened in the world of mutants. Sure, there have been more shocking storylines, there have been more involved storylines, but the events that took place in Giant Size X-Men and the issues immediately following are hands down the best and most important things to ever happen in the world of the X-Men. 

Runners Up:

1. The Dark Phoenix Saga - Jean Grey's turn as an unstoppable force which unknowingly destroys a planet and billions of people is a mind-blowing tale.

2. Onslaught - Professor X turned evil, giant, and unstoppable? Yes, please.

3. House of M - House of M was a major shakeup in the world of mutants that left some of them powerless, and others dead. It's the Marvel equivalent of the DC Crises.

4. Days of Future Past - Mind-bending and a whole lot of fun.

Best Artist

Winner: Jack Kirby

Yes, there have been more complex and flashy artists in the history of X-Men, but I still can't get over the original. Part of it is the fact that I just really love the simplicity and fun of the Marvel comics from the 1960's. Jack Kirby's artwork perfectly complimented Stan Lee's stellar writing. Jack Kirby gave the X-Men their look, and set the tone for the series.

Runners Up: 

1. John Byrne - This is another subjective pick. John Byrne was a phenomenon. For Alpha Flight he did both the stories and the artwork. For the X-Men, he kept the spirit of Jack Kirby's original artwork alive while bridging the gap for the future of X-Men.

2. Jim Lee - Jim Lee is an X-Men artist that everyone seems to agree on. Many feel he is the very best artist to ever draw the X-Men. I can see that argument, but I have my own preferences.

3. John Cassaday - Half of the reason why the first 24 issues of Astonishing X-Men were so astonishing. Seriously, go look at the series, it looks amazing.

4. Marc Silvestri - Marc Silvestri kept the X-Men looking good through the 80's and early 90's when there were a number of aesthetic crimes being committed throughout the comic book world.

Worst Artist

Winner: Kaare Andrews

Just look a this image. Look at what he did to Storm and Emma Frost. Has Kaare Andrews ever seen a woman in real life? Is he aware of the fact that other artists, including the amateurs on Deviantart, actually make the female X-Men look attractive? This cover is bad and Kaare Andrews should feel bad.

Runners  Up:

1. Frank Quitely

What happened here? Does Frank Quitely know that Emma Frost is not asian? Also, does he know that she is not a tranny?

2. Kia Asamiya

The X-Men don't all have the same pointy manga nose. I don't read anime as a personal choice, and I hated it when Marvel forced me to.

Best Writer

Winner: Stan Lee - Could it be anyone else? Yes, I know I've been picking all the old timers over the new schoolers, but that's just the way I feel. I don't know that I would have gotten very far in my comic book reading if it weren't for Stan's signature style. His writing actively mentored me, and drew me into the comics. It's why I love Marvel's 60's output so much.

Runners Up:

1. Grant Morrison - I'm getting tired of writing blurbs. Just as tired as you're getting of reading them, provided anyone ever decided to read this.

2. Scott Lobdell

3. Joss Whedon

4. Matt Fraction

Most Perplexing Writer

Winner: Chris Claremont - Once again, could it be anyone else? Chris Claremont is sometimes one of the best things to ever happen to the X-Men and at other times one of the worst. He gave us The Dark Phoenix Saga, but he also gave us the X-Babies. Like I said, he's the most perplexing writer in the world of X-Men.

Anyway, I was going to give a bunch of awards for things like worst teamup (Power Pack, with X-Babies following close behind), best relationship (Cyclops and Jean Grey with Colossus and Kitty Pryde following close behind), relationship that you seem to be okay with but secretly hate (Cyclops and Emma Frost), but I am getting bored with my own awards. Let's just wrap this up.

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