Monday, September 8, 2008
Old school X-Men -- Neal Adams is the man!
Riding the bus home from work this afternoon, I finally got around to reading a comic I got at Comic-Con in about 2006 or 2007. It was a reprint collection of X-Men 59-61, cover-dated August 1969 and subsequent. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
A lot of folks opine that the first great era of the X-Men came in the original Chris Claremont run, specifically from about issues 100-215 (interestingly, Claremont got his first X-Men credit with a "plot assist" in issue 59). But I think that the first really good X-Men run was the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams teaming 50 issues earlier. In this collection we had a couple decent, straight-forward Thomas plots chock full of action. The stories are a bit simplistic in places (Cyclops fooling a group of Sentinels into attacking the sun because -- as the greatest source of radiation in the solar system -- it causes mutation), but it's action-packed classic 1960s Thomas. A neat trivial point: Thomas not only displayed his well-known love of literature, but also confirmed in-story a long suspicion of mine that the mutated pterosaur Karl Lykos was indeed named "Sauron" after the Lord of the Rings character.
But the real revelation was the art of Neal Adams. I had previously seen his classic covers from the era (example: X-Men 58 below), but didn't know he had such a good storytelling style. The action flows smoothly, even with Adams' creative layouts. Great linework. I was really excited. It was work up there with the best of late 1960s Marvel.