Friday, January 9, 2015

X-Men by Jim Lee issue #11 (1992)

The X-Men stories from the 90's run I have read so far for this month alone are absolutely absurd in scope and execution. They were verbosely written by Chris Claremont and gorgeously drawn by Jim Lee, and tend to be unforgettable for being the best and the worst things I've ever encountered in comic book pages. However, I can confidently say that it has been a pleasant trip overall because I found myself enjoying the general texture and tonality of the storylines and characterizations more than I'm shaking my head in derision and confusion over a select few moments. The greatest thing about this title are the awesome moments shared among characters I've grown up with. For that alone, the eleven-issued run of X-Men has been spectacular and fulfilling. The Annual issue after this is the last thing I'll review before I go ahead with X-Men Forever.

This is the last installment to artist Jim Lee's quirky take on Wizard of Oz and the X-Men's confrontation with the Blob of Mojo World, an alternate reality somewhere in Marvelverse whose citizens are consuming dangerous amounts of reality television shows with cast members that are forced to perform and kill each other on camera. I'm pleased that instead of milking that angle for what it's worth to the very end, he decided to come up with a decent follow-up that has some emotional weight to stay invested in. I'm speaking of Dazzler's struggle to save her boyfriend Longshot while the rest of the X-Men once again showcase that teamwork overcomes anything. 

That is the most consistent thing about the eleven issues for this run. It's about people gifted with powers and burdened with their responsibility coming together to support each other as they stand united against any adversity thrown at them. They function well as a unit despite that they are also individuals with different set of values and inadequacies. I guess you can say the X-Men are a family in the most universal definition. What binds them is their empathy for each other's struggles even if there are times they don't always see eye to eye on some matters. That's what family is all about.

But let's not get unnecessarily deep and poignant all of a sudden here. Still, I just want to say that this is my main reason why the X-Men are my favorite superhero team and why I'm reading them for this year. I think they're admirable not just because of their super-powered mutations and the fact that there are prejudices they had to fight each day--they're my heroes because they choose to achieve so many grander things like racial tolerance and radical change as a community more so than when they could just as easily choose to be  alone and secluded from the rest of the world. Mutation is the mark of evolution. People can and must thrive and grow stronger and it's best accomplished when we all do it together. That's an uplifting, positive message for me.

This issue entitled The X-men Vs. the X-Men (Again) serves as a satirical commentary for the title's own running gags and tropes just as the title suggests. Some self-aware humor can be very healthy for comics like this one. It's nice of the staff to have the ability to make fun of themselves which was why there are genuinely amusing and light-hearted moments in this issue that do more service to the entire structure of the narrative because Jim Lee doesn't make everything too seriously. He knows that readers are not expecting that anyway so we might as well remember to enjoy ourselves. This story arc in general for me is beautifully absurd, a piece that makes commentary on itself for being outlandish and campy while still managing to be a captivating and well-paced action-adventure story. Watching Professor X work with Psylocke, Cyclops and Rogue work together shows that they trust one another which their foes always tend to underestimate during critical moments. When you read an X-Men story, you just know that what ultimately makes the heroes succeed is when they got each other's back no matter what especially when they're not even absolutely sure how the chips will fall.

Longshot is the Dorothy who defeats Blob as the oppressive Wizard which also allowed the citizens of Mojo world to finally take matters into their own hands and strike back against their vicious tyrant. It's an overall fairy-tale ending. Longshot and Dazzler were reunited. Mojo World gets a new ruler who will hopefully not repeat history. And the X-Men get to pose contemplatively in a two-page spread that ends the issue. It's certainly cheesy and dramatic but Jim Lee's illustration is breathtaking anyway.

There's a sidestory about Maverick at the end of Jim Lee's arc that I didn't exactly read that much but it certainly looks interesting. I might go back and read it fully again but for now I'm blessedly content that this is how Claremont's X-Men ended. IT'S WORTH NOTING, however, that the Magneto arc is actually the finale of this series.


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