As a small boy I knew very little regarding comic books. I didn’t have the pocket money to collect them nor did I know about them to have the interest. A few I had received as gifts over the years kept them on my radar though. X-cutioners Song changed that though.
I was a freshman, sophomore at the latest, and I forget the circumstances but the very copy of the trade collection for X-Cutioners Song came into my possession. I read it, devoured it may be a more apt term, and my view of comics changed. These weren’t for kids and they could be just as engrossing as any novel. This was an epic story start to finish.
That is not to say it was an easy read the first time through. I had no sense of who many of the characters were, as the only exposure I had to the X-Men at the time was the animated series. Plot lines that had been in place for characters swept past me unknowing. There was a visceral enjoyment to the whole thing though, and in time I gained enough knowledge to make my experience richer.
So look no further than X-cutioners Song to learn the birthplace of this geek’s love of comic books. My trail started here and I invite you to follow me down it.
I will be the first to admit that I’ve been a fan of the X-men since I was a kid watching the cartoon an Saturday mornings. Now, I didn’t start reading the comics until recently and this was released about 20 years ago so I doubt I would have had any real experience with this at all even if I was trying hard to get into comics. This book has the flaws that most comic storylines have, which are you have no idea of the character interactions and history at the time so it makes it very difficult to jump in, it’s like a cold swimming pool and you have to ease yourself in. This also applies to the “shocking reveals” which lose some kick to them, the most notable of these being Cable killing Professor Xavier, which while I normally treat Cable as a good guy, there could have been a time when he was a villain, almost anything is on the table here.
The story had a pretty grand scope which makes for some fun reading. I like that there is a powerful villain who is almost literally a laughing evil man. I grew up watching ridiculous cartoons and this rekindled my love of those things (I’m considering going back and watching Dragon Ball Z and Fist of the North Star). There were some elements that I found cheesy, like Apocalypse teaming up with the X-men to fight Stryfe which I don’t know about too much. Now that I’ve brought up Apocalypse I think it’s important to talk about him and the interaction with Archangel, this is one of the hardest parts to read unless you know the backstory, there are some ways to glean their past so as to understand why they are interacting like they are. There are some general issues with the story most of all the oddest was having Sinister being a sort of side villain, he doesn’t play much of a role in the story and it feels like it was an odd addition or story choice to have him play a small role. This story isn’t great and even my enjoyment was informed quite a bit by nastolgia. The story is pretty standard fare for an action story.
The best of this book for me was the art. I know people give the 1990s a lot of shit about how comics used to look, I have to say, this looks so much cooler than the more (and still only vaguely) realistic look that we have now. Stryfe has such an insane costume and Sinister looks so much cooler (admittedly, this is the look I remember from childhood) than he does now with his Victoria garb. Character design isn’t the only thing that is significantly different. There is a more drawn look here that works so well for thinks like hair and faces. In particular the use of color is great in X-Factor in particular. I almost wish I had made some scans with the copy Diego gave me because the backgrounds which are often just bright colors are amazing and really pop. If you have read some stuff then you know how much I love interesting use of color.
All told, I liked this book but I don’t think I would suggest or recommend this to anyone who isn’t already a fan of comic book. Even though Diego started with this I don’t think it’s a good place. Honestly I don’t think I would recommend most superhero comics to people who are not comic fans or don’t want to be fans of comics.