Given that I won’t be here next week (nothing serious), I thought I’d capitalise off recent cinematic release again and give you a double feature by way of recompense.
This will probably be the most divisive blog entry I’ve made in this series; believe me, I’ve thought long and hard about this one. While Morrison and Quitely’s run is one of the best runs that the X-Men franchise had had in a long time (or since, really), it still doesn’t quite qualify for one of the “all-time greatest”, as much as I wish the opposite were true.
There’s no one thing that keeps me from recommending it outright, but the last couple of story arcs were a bit… off. Characters acting wildly out of character, plot resolutions that verge on deus ex machina, and Quitely’s art, while quite excellent for the most part, does occasionally get a little odd (see Cyclops and Wolverine making duckfaces above).
The Replacement… The Don Rosa Library Volume 4: The Last of The Clan McDuck
Back in the mid-90’s, Don Rosa wrote The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck, a 12-issue saga in long-running Disney comic Un¢le $crooge that not only gave a detailed biography of The Richest Duck in The World, but won an Eisner Award (back when that meant something) for Best Serialised Story to boot.
When I say detailed, I mean it; Rosa looked at Carl Barks‘ entire back catalogue and came up with a story that was completely logical, highly entertaining and at times very moving indeed. The fact that he did it about a talking duck somehow makes it work even better. Rosa’s sheer draftsmanship is just the icing on the cake.
I promised you a double feature, and that’s just what you’ll get!
Astonishing X-Men: Gifted
There is a voice in my head that has been whispering something for the past five minutes. It says “They only put this on the list because Joss Whedon wrote it.” I want that voice to be quiet, but it’s hard to prove it’s not wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I love Whedon’s work… but this isn’t the best thing he’s done. I’m not even sure it’s the best thing he’s done for comics.
Whedon wrote some really good moments for this comic, and Cassaday’s art is as good as ever… so why do I feel like I’m damning their work with faint praise. I wouldn’t say this is a bad comic – I know it’s not a bad comic – but once again I have to point out that it’s not one of the “all-time greats” either. You know what comic that John Cassady drew that was?
The Replacement… Planetary
Now we’re talking.
Planetary took about a decade to make, and nobody complained when it was finished. Why? Because it’s that damn good. Planetary is an organisation trying to protect the world against The Four, a twisted pastiches of The Fantastic Four. In fact, the sharper-eyed reader will be able to spot a pastiche of a beloved comic book or literary figure somewhere.
But don’t think this is some checklist of nerdy pop culture references in comic book form; Planetary has heart. Not unlike Rosa, Warren Ellis took all the knowledge he had accumulated from comics and distilled it into something wonderful. Entirely unlike Rosa, Ellis is in no way beholden to this history, and sees superheroes as they are, not how contemptible fanboys like me wish to see them.
And you know what? I wouldn’t have him any other way.