This year is the 50th anniversary of the X-Men franchise. Battle of the Atom was part of the anniversary celebration, and included X-Men from three different eras and visited a number of famous X-Men locations. Personally I kind of liked it, but there are others who really didn’t. Either way, it felt kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things, and it didn’t really change anything that a normal story couldn’t have changed.
But today saw another release as part of the celebration, X-Men Gold 1. It’s a collection of stories from famous X-men writers from different eras. The main story is written by who is easily the most famous X-Men writer, Chris Claremont. Stan Lee, the original creator, has another little story. Roy Thomas, the second person to ever write the X-Men, also has a little story. The last two writers are Fabien Nicieza, probably one of the few truly good 90’s X-Men writers, and Len Wein, who restarted the franchise with Giant-Sized X-men 1.
Chris Claremont’s story alone is worth the cover price. It takes place shortly after Rogue first joined the X-Men. More specifically, Mariko had just left Wolverine at the altar. The writing style feels like a classic Claremont issue, yet it’s much less wordy than he used to be. The exposition does a great job at helping new readers figure out the team dynamics from the day, and then it heads straight for the action scene. They fight a giant sentinel and a bunch of smaller sentinels. Included in the fight are some great character moments, solid art and some brilliant team work. Every member of the team proves their worth, and their characterization is perfect. It’s classic X-Men action at its best.
The rest of the stories are all good in their own way, but not as good as Claremont’s story. Stan Lee’s story is an enjoyable yet goofy scene with the X-men fighting for Jean Greys’ affection. The art feels like a classic X-Men comic, but there’s more detail and colour to it. My only real here is that there’s a grammar mistake in one of the caption boxes. “See how we sneakily we gotcha hooked…” Good way to use “we” twice around one verb. Another story is a conversation between Banshee and Sunfire that, while not great, is solid enough. There’s a quick story during Giant-Sized X-Men with Wolverine strategizing – such a great Wolverine moment. Fabien’s story takes place while Xavier is wiping Magneto’s mind during Fatal Attractions, and it’s alright.
To top it off, the comic ends with an extended preview for both last week’s Amazing X-Men 1 and this week’s All New X-Men 18. It’s a good way to round out this huge comic, and at least it was from the decent Amazing X-Men and not some of the more recent crap from Wolverine and the X-men. It would have been nice to see a preview from Brian Wood’s brilliant series, but you only have so much room in one comic.
This is a good read for X-men fans of any decade. It’s full of references from pretty much every era of the X-Men’s’ history, all well either telling new stories or adding new perspectives to existing ones. The only thing missing was a quick story from either Grant Morrison or Joss Whedon, but you have to save something for X-Men Gold 2 in case it ever happens.
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At only $6, this was pretty amazing. Claremont’s story felt like it came from 1986, slipping into continuity perfectly. Lee’s story was gloriously cheesy ’60s fun. Thomas’ was good. Wein’s was good. Nicieza’s was good. I always preferred Lobdell back then, but Nicieza did a lot of good stories, too. He didn’t do the amazing and powerful done-in-ones that Lobdell could do (UXM #303!), but he definitely delivered a really touching and tragic story here.