22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Essential X-Men Volume 8, as you can tell by reading other reviews, is a mixed bag of goods: apparently some fans hate the art, while others hate the stories. Personally, I like them both, but that's because I understand the major complications facing the creative staff at the time, factors which I'll try to simply explain.
First, "Inferno," which is [somewhat] collected in this edition, was NOT an X-book/mutant-specific crossover; it was a storyline which ran through every major Marvel comic, so, like it or not, the writers had to try and make it fit in to what they were doing monthly, and for the most part I feel they succeeded (I seem to be in the majority - "Inferno" reprints only deal with the X-universe elements of the story, ignoring all the other Marvel Universe events).
Additionally, the writers were also struggling to find a way to deal with the resurrection of Jean Grey aka Marvel Girl, who was haphazardly re-introduced back into continuity with the debut of the X-Factor series. Initially - as seen in Essential X-Men Volume 2 (which EVERYONE should own, period, its that good) - Jean's story was resolved, and Chris Claremont went on characterizing Cyclops and the other X-Men accordingly. So, the sudden reappearance of Marvel Girl kind of threw an unwanted kink into the series that wouldn't truly be resolved to satisfaction until the conclusion of Grant Morrison's run on the book. In fact, this Jean Grey "situation" has become a part of general comic book lore, and [...] of innumerable jokes. Bearing this in mind, the stories collected in Volume 8 are an attempt to tie up some embarrassing loose-ends that the decidedly less-sophisticated though deliciously soap opera X-Factor books had already been addressing, and if the results weren't perfect, at least they weren't BAD (like we see later on in the 90's).
Please note: IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE ART IN BLACK AND WHITE, DON'T BUY MARVEL ESSENTIAL VOLUMES AND PLEASE DON'T WRITE REVIEWS COMPLAINING ABOUT IT. These books are deliberately printed in black and white to further reduce production costs, increase Marvel's profit margin, and still provide the consumer a good deal in the age of $3+ individual comic books. Now, with that out of the way, a few words about the art.
If you haven't heard of Mark Silvestri, I don't really know what I can say, other than google some of his work or check out Wikipedia. Anyway, this run he did on X-Men is where he developed his distinctive style and gained national attention. His women are gorgeous, his heroes are ripped, and if you compare his work to other "hot" artists, IMO he's the most competent draftsman out of all of them (Jim Lee included). Dan Green's raw, gritty inking is probably what turns many people off to this particular run, but if you really appreciate comic art then seeing it in black and white serves to better show off its strengths, and make no mistake: Silvestri is strong. His version of Colossus is the undeniable evolutionary next step from Byrne's rendition, and the Goblin Queen...well, she's worth the whole price of admission.
The X-Factor issues here showcase what inking does (or doesn't) do for the penciled art: compare issue 39 - inked by Al Milgrom - with the other issues inked by Wiacek, and you'll see what I mean. Overall, I like Simonson's style, especially his version of the Beast, and have no problem with these issues apart from the Milgrom thing. Anyway, if you left them out the overall story in this collection would be unreadable.
I'm sure this review sounds like a defense of this volume, and in some ways it is intended to be. You can't judge these stories, which were editorially managed and comic-code approved, based on the standards of the truly modern, more mature books of today - you're gonna be disappointed. But if you look at the overall tapestry of the history of the X-Men, taken with X-Factor, New Mutants, and even Power Pack, and compare it with the other books coming out at the time, you see the charm and heart of these stories and characters had. It'll also make you feel the same sadness I did as you watch it come to an end. Because, unfortunately, this group of issues signals the beginning of the end of the X-Men as we knew them; Claremont might still have been writing for a while, but after Inferno, it was just never the same - continue reading past this point and you'll see what I mean. And then of course there was the 90's. Ha, you complain about Inferno? Just wait till they try and "Essential" X-Men #1 and Uncanny 281...or Gene Nation...ugh.
To close, its safe to say that if by the 8th volume you aren't a fan, this isn't for you. Everyone else, just watch the train wreck that is the X-Men at this point and beyond, enjoy the nice art, and take if for what it is - a collection of well-drawn comics. Lee and Kirby it aint, but its still got its moments.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
After the transitional period of Mutant Massacre and Fall of the Mutants, which saw a huge shake-up in the team members, the X-Men team in this collection has settled down into a "stable" period -- and the stories really begin to hit their stride again. For my money, this might be the best collection since From The Ashes (in Essential X-Men Vol. 4).
Vol 8 includes 4 story arcs: The Reavers (and the X-Men's move to Australia), the return of the Brood, Genosha, and Inferno.
It's highly recommended that you first read The Dark Phoenix Saga and the first Brood Saga, before reading Inferno and the return of the Brood.
(Note that Inferno in this collection is shortened -- it does not include the New Mutants or X-Terminators issues.)
You can read Inferno in full color in shortened trade paperback or complete hardcover. You can read the Genosha story arc in color in the X-Tinction Agenda hardcover. The other issues in this collection, as far as I know, are not available in a color collection.
The art by Marc Silvestri is great. Probably my favorite X-Men art up to that point.
Goblin Queen underboob. 'Nuff said.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Vincent A. Clark
- Published on Amazon.com
I have enjoyed collecting the essential series of the X-men, and finally volume 8 has arrived. A great set--the only complaint that I have is that they included 3 issues of X-factor (Inferno) in this collection. Sadly, you really see the contrast in the quality of story and art when you put Louise Simonson in the same volume as Chris Claremont. To be honest, there really is no comparison, Chris Claremont's work far outshines anything that Ms. Simonson can come up with.
I look forward to the next volume--I just hope it doesn't take as long to come out as this one did :)
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Definitely my least favorite of the Essential X-Men series. Chris Claremont is writing and the majority of the pencils here are by Marc Silvestri, so there is quality talent at work here, but the influx of new and not so new characters is fairly uneventful.
The villains for the first half of the book are The Reavers, and The Brood with references to the Marauders and it's just kind of a blah, blah, blah, paint by numbers, kind of affair, with the antagonists seemingly interchangeable. This is my main complaint with the book. The mystical, Australian Aborigine, Gateway is a prominent character in these stories and his presence is welcome and notable.
The second half of the book is dedicated the The Inferno story line and it is decent, but it just doesn't live up to the hype they tried to make these major cross over "events" appear to be.
Furthermore, the mutants Dazzler and Longshot are the WORST characters in X-Men history and they are prominent members of the team at this point.
I guess this is worth reading if you want to keep up with X-Men continuity, but I sold this back after one reading with little hesitation.