This is a post I’ve considered for a while, but it kept slipping in and out of my thoughts. Then hannagivens of Things Matter posted her own story, finally inspiring me to do this.
While comics are a relatively new passion of mine, I’ve had a passing interest in superheroes for as long as I can remember. My first real love was for Batman, thanks to the Game Gear game my one brother had. However, my mom didn’t like me watching the Batman Animated Series on TV, thinking it too violent. Now look at me, laughing while watching horror movies and writing stories that open with people getting their heads torn off by monsters who proceed to drink the blood as it pours out the neck. Also, there’s a funny story about my first R rated movie I might share one day.
Anyway, my first superhero movie was Batman Forever, brought over by a babysitter one night. Being a kid no older than 9 with little taste, of course I enjoyed it. It would be years until I saw my next superhero movie, after my youngest brother received Spider-Man for his birthday. Again I loved it, but I enjoy the Sam Raimi movies less with each viewing.
About a year later, I had my first experience with what is now my favourite comic franchise, the X-men. I was helping out with an all-weekend kid’s event. At night, the kids tended to get rowdy and would keep us awake. We probably deserved it considering we did the same to our leaders when we were kids. But then we had the brilliant idea of playing a movie, which helped calm them down. It happened to be X2: X-Men United. Even though the movie started at 11:30 and we had to be up by 7, I stayed awake for the whole thing, captivated by the characters, the world they lived in and the metaphors for tolerance.
That week, I bought the first two movies in a 2-pack, and made an effort to watch as many other superhero movies as possible. Even as a teenager though, I found Fantastic Four boring and the Daredevil Director’s Cut mediocre. Meanwhile I enjoyed the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, including the fourth – Nuclear Man is awesomely stupid. I even enjoyed the Supergirl movie – a guilty pleasure of mine. The original Batman movie with Michael Keaton is also good, as were a few others.
X-Men: The Last Stand released during my first year in college for computer programming, and I skipped class one day to watch a cafeteria showing. That wasn’t wise, because not only was I already falling behind (I later dropped out due to losing interest), but the movie was terrible. Even not knowing much about the comics, I found the excessive deaths, rushed story and glossed over characters offensive. Wolverine Origins was even worse since it failed on nearly every aspect of action movie making, but still.
Then I started my excessive video game years, where I’d play through an average of at least one video game for the first time every week. Among those where a few Superhero games including Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. By the time I started Journalism in College, I had worn myself out on video games.
That’s when Marvel vs. Capcom 3 released. Despite being somewhat tired of games, I picked it up. The game introduced me to a character named X-23, a female clone of Wolverine. I can’t really explain it, but I’ve always been interested in child soldier characters. It’s always interested me to see a character fight through their violent upbringing or conditioning to become a hero, or fighting against the same kind of people they used to be. It’s to the point where I’ve created several myself. You could say X-23 is among the ultimate examples of that kind of character, being literally bread to be an emotionless killer.
I just had to look up more about her character, so I watched her X-Men Evolutions episodes at Marvel.com. With her only appearing in two episodes, my thirst wasn’t exactly quenched. A few weeks later in February, 2011, I cracked and downloaded her origin stories: X-23 Innocence Lost and X-23 Target X, reading both mini series’ in one night. They’re both very well written and possibly among the best origin stories in the X-Men franchise. They showed me that comics can tell a deeply emotional story, and can touch on subject matters that 21st Century Fox seems terrified of.
From there, I read her ongoing series (at the time, 6 issues had been released), looked at X-Force volume 3 and downloaded All Star Superman. I then bought X-23’s origin paperbacks along with All Star Superman. X-Force and the Messiah trilogy soon followed, then Cable volume 2 (where he raises Hope in the future), and then my first single issue purchase, X-23 8. At that point, I was hooked.
These days, I still read more X-Men than anything else, and more than half of my paperbacks are X-Men related. While I’m no longer sure who my favorite Marvel character is, X-23 remains my favourite X-Men character. Also among my favourites are Cable, Kitty Pryde, Magneto and the more I read of Cyclops, the more I like him. Batman is my favourite DC character, followed closely by Batgirl (Barbara) and Supergirl. I haven’t read much of DC outside of the New 52 and while a lot of the older stuff seems better, I don’t see the point since they’re basically ignoring the former universe now.
Generally speaking, I prefer legacy characters over the originals since writers seem to have more freedom with them, and character development is usually more likely to stick. They’re also rarely over exposed, unlike Spider-Man, Batman and of course, the recently deceased Wolverine who is still appearing in comic titles.