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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

X-aminations in July

It's New Mutants time (sort of)! This month will see the first expansion of X-aminations as we begin coverage of the very first (and most definitely not the last) X-Men spinoff.

However, after the initial four issue arc, it will be a couple months before we start covering New Mutants regularly (by my rough estimate, sometime in October). My plan for covering the two series is to examine both issues of each series from the same month each week (with X-Men on its usual Wednesdays followed by New Mutants on Thursdays) just like how you would have bought the issues back in the day. So we'll cover the November issues of both series one week, then the December issues the next week, and so on. The goal is to keep X-Men on its once-a-week schedule, so when there's annuals, limited series or special one-shots featuring the X-Men that don't have a corresponding New Mutants issue, those X-Men-centric issues will be given their own week and New Mutants will be skipped, in order to keep the two main titles in synch.

However, I'm breaking that rule right out of the gate. The first New Mutants story arc (their first appearance in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 and the first three issues of their regular series) fits so neatly and obviously before Uncanny X-Men #167 even though the issues were published after #167. Thus, I will cover those issues of New Mutants alongside the finale of the Brood story, so that New Mutants #3 leads right into X-Men #167.

As a result, we'll then end up with a significant break from New Mutants after that, as we cover the X-Men issues published in the same months as New Mutants 1-3, as well as a ton of outside-the-regular-series issues like the sixth annual, the Teen Titans crossover, and God Loves Man Kills.

But all of that is still a ways away. In the meantime, here's what we'll be covering in the near future:

July 4th: Uncanny X-Men #161

July 11th: Uncanny X-Men #162

July 18th: Uncanny X-Men #163
July 19th: Marvel Graphic Novel #4

July 25th: Uncanny X-Men #164
July 26th: New Mutants #1   

19 comments:

  1. Exciting!

    Was the New Mutants graphic novel published after UXM #167 also? I've always assumed it was before, because I can't imagine #167 being the characters' first appearance ever...

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  2. @Matt: Was the New Mutants graphic novel published after UXM #167 also?

    That one I'm pretty sure was published before. New Mutants #1 was published the same month as issue #167, and there's a subplot setting up New Mutants in #165, so I think the graphic novel must have been published right around there.

    PS - love the avatar pic. :)

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  3. You can't always backtrack from cover dates.

    Per Mike's Amazing World: The New Mutants GN (Marvel Graphic Novel #4) was on sale the same day as Uncanny X-Men #164 — Sept. 4th, 1982. X-Men #166 and New Mutants #1 came out in early and late November, respectively, cover-dated February and March. Then X-Men #167 and New Mutants #2 came out in early and very late December, cover-dated March and April. So while the storylines of the New Mutants forming and the X-Men returning from space still don't sync up perfectly well in their respective titles, based on these publication dates the launch of New Mutants, at least, did work out narratively.

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  4. I should've said "You can't always backtrack from cover dates and expect to know what happened," of course. Nothing can stop you (the general "you") from making assumptions. The oddness of cover-dating — beyond the simple fact that it used to be done ridiculously far in advance, as the above samples show — was reinforced for me when looking up the debuts of Spider-Man, Thor, and Ant-Man (who'd appeared once earlier as just Henry Pym) for their 50th anniversaries; all three issues in question went on sale on or about June 5th, 1962, yet Tales to Astonish #35 was cover-dated Sept. 1962 while Journey into Mystery #83 was dated Aug. 1962 and Amazing Fantasy #15 (the last issue of the bimonthly series formerly known as Amazing Adult Fantasy) was dated Aug-Sept. 1962.

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  5. @Blam: You can't always backtrack from cover dates.

    Despite the extra you created for me, I'm really glad you pointed this out. :)

    Because while I was aware (in a vague intellectual sense) that cover dates and on sale dates between two titles didn't necessarily always lineup, I hadn't given it much practical thought for these posts, and was fully prepared to go with a cover date:cover date comparison for the two series moving forward.

    But thanks to you, I now see that in all their infinite wisdom, Marvel shipped New Mutants in the same month as X-Men with a cover date a month ahead of the X-Men issue (at least through the launch of X-Factor, which is as far out as I currently have things roughly planned). So I've updated my schedule accordingly.

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  6. "PS - love the avatar pic. :)"

    Thanks; that's the avatar I use pretty much anyplace I post, so I figured it was time to add it here, too.

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  7. @Teebore: I now see that in all their infinite wisdom, Marvel shipped New Mutants in the same month as X-Men with a cover date a month ahead of the X-Men issue

    While I'm sorry it's more work for you, better now than later if you do want the reading to roughly match the publishing order. And you do, except for a couple of things like Marvel Fanfare #1-4 and the New Mutants GN — which I appreciate. (I wonder if anyone breaks to read all four issues of Magik during X-Men #160.)

    I'm glad that X-Men came out before New Mutants each month, although there were rarely out-and-out crossovers at this point and the storylines didn't exactly sync up. Later it would really begin to bug me not so much when Robin came out before Batman but when, say, Batman: Gotham Knights came out before Batman or Superman: The Man of Steel would come out before Superman, especially when there was a multi-part story running through all of a character's titles.

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  8. While I'm sorry it's more work for you, better now than later if you do want the reading to roughly match the publishing order.

    Exactly. And it wasn't really that much extra work.

    Annuals, limited series, one-shots, etc. I'm still planning on slotting in at something closer to story order rather than publication order, though I'll usually try to stick as close to pub order as I can, when I can (the Wolverine mini, for example, will be covered between #171 and #172, even though it was on sale during the end of the Brood story).

    I wonder if anyone breaks to read all four issues of Magik during X-Men #160.

    I sure don't. That's one I have slotted in closer to publication date, around New Mutants #14, I believe.

    ...especially when there was a multi-part story running through all of a character's titles

    That drives me NUTS! How ridiculous is it to get part 4 of a story before part 3?!?

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  9. Gah! I am SO excited for this. Despite having collected, read and re-read every issue of Uncanny X-Men -- with the earliest stuff in "Masterworks" form -- I am slightly ashamed to admit that I've never read "New Mutants" outside of the crossovers and some random bits here and there. (My spin-off of choice was X-Factor, having collected the bulk of that series.)

    Time to buy some TPBs and read alongside "X-aminations" as a first-timer.

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  10. @Michael: Time to buy some TPBs and read alongside "X-aminations" as a first-timer.

    I'm glad you're excited. I am too; we're coming up on what I consider "my" era of X-Men, the issues where I really got hooked on X-Men back in the day (though mainly as reprints/back issues), including my favorite run. It'll be good stuff.

    Incidentally, I've heard nothing but great things about the New Mutants Classic trades, fwiw. And I'm a big X-Factor fan too (it was my spinoff of choice as well). I debated for about a second if I was going to cover it, before I said "of course I'm going to write about X-Factor...

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  11. @Teebore:That drives me NUTS! How ridiculous is it to get part 4 of a story before part 3?!?

    Ha! That's just stupid, of course. But I was actually talking about the inelegance of Batman or Superman not being the first of the "family" titles that came out in any given month, especially when it involved a crossover — like, Part 1 in Batman: Shadow of the Bat, Part 2 in Batman, Part 3 in Detective Comics, and Part 4 in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. That is merely a crime of style rather than of reading order, but a real bugaboo of mine nonetheless.

    I'm really excited to get into stuff that I've barely re-read and haven't read at all — as much so in its own way as I have been to get into stuff one more time that I re-read and have loved from differing perspectives since first getting it off the racks. Just yesterday I was looking for something in my collection and glad to find that I still have the 'M' and 'N' boxes accessible, so Magik and the first few years' worth of New Mutants I'll be able to re-read. Once we get past Uncanny X-Men #205, however, I'm largely in uncharted waters; I have the first year or so of X-Factor still, plus the Inferno issues and the start of Peter David's first run and some much later issues of various X-titles, but really after #205 I'm reliant on the X-Men CD-ROM — and I'll only be getting half the story, since it's limited to Uncanny rather than inclusive of the "new" adjectiveless X-Men.

    Maybe I'll see what I can get through interlibrary loan when the time comes, as Tony Isabella has long rhapsodized over that method of sampling TPBs.

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  12. @Teebore Incidentally, I've heard nothing but great things about the New Mutants Classic trades, fwiw.

    I hope so -- I just bought the first three editions on Amazon :-)

    And I'm a big X-Factor fan too (it was my spinoff of choice as well). I debated for about a second if I was going to cover it, before I said "of course I'm going to write about X-Factor...

    So, we'll be getting three X-Aminations a week by the end of the year? I may never leave the site...

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  13. @Teebore — Just a quick note to say that I was (most likely obviously) rather kidding with the idea of reading Magik during #160. While I had forgotten that the panel during which the miniseries takes place was a wah-wah-*wahhhhh* kicker at the very, very end of the story, if I recall right there is a framing sequence or something like it in Magik to at least explain why we're only getting the backstory "now".

    Speaking of which, purely out of curiosity: Where (if at all) does the Marvel Chronology from which you're working place the "And... You're cured, Lykos!" epilogue in Marvel Fanfare #4? I kind-of feel like it's roughly where we are in the reading of the main series, since this is about when those issues were published, but since they're at the mansion it's either not quite yet or it happened before Corsair arrived and the mansion went boom.

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  14. I have all of the New Mutants Classic trades to date, and I like them. Excellent production values, all annuals included, and they include issues of other titles where necessary to complete the story, such as UXM #167, and the X-Men part of the "Asgardian Wars" story.

    Strangely, even though Cyclops is my favorite X-Man, I've never really checked out the old X-Factor issues. When I got into X-Men, Cyclops was back with the main team, while X-Factor was in the hands of Havok. When I collected back issues, I really only bought the X-Men stuff, skipping both X-Factor and New Mutants unless they had an issue needed for a crossover.

    I did have X-Factor #1 to complete the return of Phoenix, but it did not impress me. I like Bob Layton as an inker and even a co-plotter (as on Iron Man), but as a solo writer he didn't really do it for me.

    Beyond that, I had the X-Factor parts of "Inferno", but that was it.

    In recent years, I've read some of the Simonsons' issues of X-Factor in the various comprehensive hardcover collections Marvel has assembled for "Mutant Massacre" and "Fall of the Mutants", and I've read New Mutants up to around issue #50 in the "Classics" trades, but these are both recent developments.

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  15. @Blam: like, Part 1 in Batman: Shadow of the Bat, Part 2 in Batman, Part 3 in Detective Comics, and Part 4 in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. That is merely a crime of style rather than of reading order, but a real bugaboo of mine nonetheless.

    Yeah, that's what I was talking about. I specifically remember some instances during Batman's "No Man's Land" crossover, when each month was more or less a self contained story told across the four Bat titles, when the second chapter in Batman would hit the stands before the first chapter in Detective Comics or what have you. Drove me nuts.

    I'm really excited to get into stuff that I've barely re-read and haven't read at all

    And I'm really excited to get your perspective on that stuff!

    ...and I'll only be getting half the story, since it's limited to Uncanny rather than inclusive of the "new" adjectiveless X-Men.

    Maybe I'll see what I can get through interlibrary loan when the time comes...


    Another option, in the event the library comes up short (I'd think the New Mutants Classics and Essential X-Factor trades, at least, would be available) and assuming you've got/can ever get a decent internet connection, I'd also recommend Marvel's Digital Unlimited service. It's biggest failing (aside from it's inability to be used on mobile devices) is the somewhat scattershot assortment of some issues, with some issues available and others not, but the X-Men titles are some of the most comprehensive, especially once we get into the second volume era.

    Of course, that's still a little ways off, or so I tell myself to stay sane. :)

    Where (if at all) does the Marvel Chronology from which you're working place the "And... You're cured, Lykos!" epilogue in Marvel Fanfare #4?

    According to the most recent Official Marvel Index, the epilogue falls between issues #153 and 154, presumably because it occurs at the mansion before it's utterly destroyed by the Sidri.

    @Michael: So, we'll be getting three X-Aminations a week by the end of the year? I may never leave the site...

    According to my (loosely) mapped out schedule, X-Factor will come into play in roughly a year, July 2013. But I also haven't researched/scheduled all the extra stuff outside the main book too far past Secret Wars (I still need to slot in the X-Men/Alpha Flight limited series, for example), so that July/13 date for X-Factor might get pushed back a bit further.

    But long story short (too late) yes, eventually I plan to cover X-Factor alongside X-Men and New Mutants, and I will never leave the site either...

    (I'd also like to do something for Excalibur and Wolverine when that time comes, if for no other reason than I've never read them in full, but they might have to be handled in a slightly different way, for that reason and for time concerns, unless I've since struck it rich and can live the dream of doing nothing but writing about the X-Men for the rest of my life. We shall see).

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  16. @Matt: When I collected back issues, I really only bought the X-Men stuff, skipping both X-Factor and New Mutants unless they had an issue needed for a crossover.

    When I first started going after back issues, I ended up filling in my X-Factor and New Mutants issues a lot faster than the X-Men ones, since they were a lot cheaper (with a few exceptions; I still remember the pride with which my thirteen-year-old self bartered down the price of the first appearance of Archangel at a small convention), so I developed a lot of affection for those series just from having more of them to read (over and over). And, of course, the Cyclops factor. :)

    I like Bob Layton as an inker and even a co-plotter (as on Iron Man), but as a solo writer he didn't really do it for me.

    Those early Layton penned issues are rough. Nothing against him (like you, I enjoy some of his other work) but he didn't quite seem to know what to do with the book. It doesn't really get cracking until after Weezie started writing it and moved past the stuff Layton had set up, right around "Mutant Massacre".

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  17. @Teebore: I specifically remember some instances during Batman's "No Man's Land" crossover, when each month was more or less a self contained story told across the four Bat titles, when the second chapter in Batman would hit the stands before the first chapter in Detective Comics or what have you. Drove me nuts.

    All that is true but you're still not understanding me. 8^) I'm talking about — and forget whether DC got the release schedule screwed up — when a story, like part of "No Man's Land" (and this is now an actual example), had Part 1 in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #116 then went through Batman: Shadow of the Bat #84 for Part 2 and ended up with Part 3 in Batman #564. My point is that if you must do a round-robin (no pun intended) across the titles, which itself I never much liked, you goldang start with Batman.

    @Teebore: and I will never leave the site either...

    Ha!

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  18. Blam -- "My point is that if you must do a round-robin (no pun intended) across the titles, which itself I never much liked, you goldang start with Batman."

    I was usually a fan of the "round robin" style, when it was well-coordinated. I know DC did it a lot more than Marvel, and I never really read DC Comics much, but at the very least I can recall during Spider-Man's Clone Saga, when the four main titles, plus Spider-Man Unlimited, followed that model, with part one of a story in Amazing, part two in Spectacular, etc. As long as all the creators were on the same page, I liked it.

    That said, doing individual stories in the individual titles does give the creators more freedom, so I'm sure they probably prefer it that way. But knowing exactly where to file each issue of a title in my long boxes was a huge point for me when I was a teenager, and the Spider-comics, for a year or two, were much easier to file than the X-comics.

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  19. @Blam: My point is that if you must do a round-robin (no pun intended) across the titles, which itself I never much liked, you goldang start with Batman.

    Ah, gotcha. It's all clear now. :)

    @Matt: But knowing exactly where to file each issue of a title in my long boxes was a huge point for me when I was a teenager, and the Spider-comics, for a year or two, were much easier to file than the X-comics.

    While I always appreciated the ease that serialized stories across multiple titles made in determining the correct reading order of titles, I was always far too anal rententive to file them that way, instead always keeping titles grouped together in numerical sequence (so all my X-Men were together, all my X-Factor, etc., even when they crossed over directly).

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