There is nothing like perusing the shelves of your favorite comic store searching for the latest issue of your favorite title. Avengers are fighting X-Men. The dead are still walking. Batgirl is a redhead again. Exciting indeed.
Might I suggest to you, however, that after you’ve picked out your latest faves, venture to the back issues. I know, it’s intimidating and a bit tedious to search through these tightly filled cardboard boxes. You could literally spend six hours flipping through them.
But that’s where I can help. This column is designed to help you find some of the gems hidden among the sands of time. You might be surprised to find some pretty cool stories and some groovy artwork.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest that you drop $350 on Hulk #181. I said the cardboard boxes, not the glass cases. Instead, expect that my suggestions in this column will have something directly to do with those shiny new comics you’ve just left at the counter while you search the back issues. In other words, it’s my intention to suggest back issues that are relevant today.
So here’s my first suggestion:
Journey back with me to the days of VHS, NES, and Laser Tag. Our nation’s biggest threat was the Commies of the Soviet Union. Michael Jackson’s “Bad” was a hit. Leonard Nimoy directed Three Men and a Baby. Gas was 95 cents. Comics were $0.75. The year is 1987, and it marks the first showdown between The Avengers and The X-Men.
You’ll probably recognize good ol’ Cap, The Black Knight, and She-Hulk. But the rest of the Avengers consist of a Thor with a goofy helmet, an African American female as Captain Marvel, and the Druid (who is basically a bald, lamo version of Fantomex).
Maybe I’m just nostalgic, but I love the 80s X-men. They’re punk. I love Rogue’s off the shoulder green tank and bulky belt, Wolverine’s brown and yellow costume, and Storm’s killer Mohawk. Aside from Magneto, who looks like a Richard Gere version of Doctor Strange, the X-men were definitely the sexier superhero team. Penciler Marc Silvestri exploits this early on by having the X-women go swimming in tiny bathing suits.
I’m not here to retell the plot of the miniseries (that’s why you read it yourself), suffice to say that the Avengers and the Russians want to bring a reformed Magneto to justice for his crimes. Apparently the X-Men have a “mutants before hoes” philosophy despite their newest member being a mass murderer. The weaknesses are a cheesy version of the Avengers, stereotypical portrayal of the Russian commies, and the typical anticlimactic ending we’ve come to expect from Marvel. There’s a rumor that Stern’s original ending for the miniseries was cut and rewritten. I can only guess that he had Magneto return to his rightful place as Mutant Enemy #1. That would have made a much better ending.
The strengths, besides the cool 80s art, are that some of the Russian characters struggle with their loyalty to the Motherland versus their empathy for fellow mutants. Magneto struggles with the ideas that he is truly reformed or that returning to his more violent and drastic ways would be more effective. The biggest surprise in this series is that a young girl is killed by a mutant hate group.
Although this version doesn’t have as many knock-down, drag-out fights as its contemporary storyline, it is worth the $5.95 I paid for the entire four part series. I give it three out of five Nerdskulls.
If you like Avengers vs. X-Men then ask your resident “comic book guy” where you can find The X-Men vs. The Avengers. If the entire series is less than $10 then it’s worth the buy.