The Dream X-Men Team

Man, I love me some X-Men. I grabbed my first issue back in 1994 and was hooked from there: indulging myself in the world of X ever since. I’ve watched many teams break up, reform, or take turns becoming “Uncanny” in various ways. I’ve seen X-Men both die and come back to life, join other non-X-related teams like the Avengers, or became enemies against their friends. It’s been a wild ride.

Author Kelly Thompson recently retweeted a link from Comics Alliance which featured an X-Men Fantasy Draft. While some of the teams are great (like Katie’s and Aaron’s choices), I thought I should probably showcase my own.

While there’s well-over 300 X-Men to choose from, I’m going to limit myself to ten. I know the folks over at CA capped it at 8, but I’m making my own rules. And now, in no particular order:

moonstar1. Mirage (Danielle Moonstar)
Part of me hates that I have to explain why I’ve chosen Moonstar when I know she speaks for herself. Not only is she a quality leader, she’s still a complete bad ass even without her powers. On more than one occasion has Moonstar been the voice of reason, keeping her calm and head in the game when things get rough around her. She seems to always be there for someone even when her own life seems to be in shambles. Empathetic, compassionate, and yet still tough as nails, easily proven when she took on Hela herself. A natural, gifted, and talented member – an obvious choice to be on the team.

2. Archangel (Warren Worthington III)
For the record, I’m referring to the original Worthington, not the new one brought up through time travel (like I said, it’s been a wild ride). I’ve always had a soft spot for Worthington as he’s not only an emotional basketcase that I have sympathy for, but also still clear in mind to help his friends when needed. Despite turning against his friends time and time again, his heart (and fortune) is always in the right place.

warren_worthington_iii_earth-616_0033

One of the original five X-Men, Archangel has always been a background character of sorts. While his powers of flight aren’t as aggressive as Cyclops’ optic blasts or Wolverine’s claws, they keep him cautious and clear headed in action. That is, unless the Archangel takes over. . .

monet3. M (Monet St. Croix)
I’m always a big fan of confidence. M oozes it. Her confidence is backed by her mutant powers of strength, flight, healing powers, and telepathy – essentially “perfection.” She’s a super-smart one-woman show who, as I once reviewed, doesn’t take crap from anyone. Originally with the Generation X team, she later grouped with X-Factor to showcase her investigative side and how she works in more intimate, adult groups. My only beef with having her on the team is that a lot of the other members would have a hard time putting up with her attitude. While it’s not usually warranted, it makes for some great stories.

4. Chamber (Jonothon Starsmore)chamber

Another character originating from Generation X, Chamber has always struck me as a tortured soul – unable to eat, breathe, and speak like a normal human, Chamber’s lower jaw was destroyed by his mutant powers when they first manifested. The energy that flows within his jaw can be controlled, giving him immense power and making him a formidable X-Man.

I first really understood Chamber when picking up Uncanny X-Men #395 (which also features a great X-Men roster) and reading his development as a character. I grew attached to him from there and been a big fan of his ever since.

5. Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox)mm

If I am ever given the chance to write an X-book (Marvel, are you there?), I would NOT use Jamie Madrox. This is simply because I believe he is author Peter David’s character. David’s work on the Multiple Man over his long run of X-Factor showcases character development and dedication to both a story and character arc. Multiple Man always struck me as Joss Whedon’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly before Firefly was even a thing. Madrox’s humour, strength, tenacity, and struggle with leadership makes him the most human person on the team. But, oh man, his powers would be so freakin’ useful. (And once upon a time I went as Multiple Man for Halloween).

6. Domino (Neena Thurman)

dominoFor the uninitiated, Domino may seem like the mutant version of Black Widow – but with a luck on her side. Quite literally. Domino’s powers of shifting the odds in her favour not only make her a terrifying force to be reckoned with, but a incredible asset to any team. Originating in X-Force, and then later in a new X-Force, only to be put into another X-Force after that, Domino knows a thing or two about sneaking around, combat, and making stealth a priority.

While some of her snarky attitude and over-confidence may mirror M’s, Domino knows when to duck out if things get too dicey. She’s experienced, tough, and yet will stick to her guns (literally, too) if something doesn’t seem right. It also helps that she’s also worked with my next pick!

7. Boom-Boom (Tabitha Smith)boomboom

If your idea of Jubilee comes from any of the X-Men cartoons or movies, think of her near-opposite and you have Boom-Boom. While Jubilee was the hip teenager who wanted to go to the arcade and chew bubblegum, Boom-Boom was out hunting for boys and blowing stuff up. Her mutant power – creating ticking time bombs made out of plasma energy – can explode with great force. While working with both X-Force and X-Factor, she has never really been written as a fully-matured character. While that may be a turn off for some folks putting together a team, Boom-Boom still has it where it counts and her light-hearted attitude and spirit would make for easing tension and energizing the group.

8. Fantomex (Jean-Phillipe/Charlie Cluster-7)

fantomexOne-part James Bond, one-part Wolverine. One-part three brains. What.

Fantomex is a creative secret agent out of the Weapon Plus program that uses his powers for confusion and escape more than anything. If there’s one thing that Fantomex does do, however, is make himself look good to others by getting the job done. Whether it be him single-handedly saving Uncanny X-Force from the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or managing to make The World work in his favour, Fantomex’s bag of tricks seem to be limitless as he (and trusty E.V.A.) are a tag-team of terror. Fantomex’s only real challenge being on the team is my next choice. . .

9. Psylocke (Elizabeth Braddock)psylocke

Psylocke is a character which many authors struggled to understand (and even more artists struggle to draw properly). Explaining her origin would take longer than what you’ve read here so far, so let me leave you with who she is: a psychic ninja assassin with more baggage than most people. One would think that being on another team with two men she has dated (Archangel and Fantomex) would mean trouble – and you know, it probably would. But she doesn’t let things linger or bother her for long – pushing emotions aside to finish the mission. Psylocke has been a tremendous force in the X-Men for many years – her devotion to the team and making things right is part of her moral code. The soft-spoken ninja never needs to prove herself because she lets her actions do the talking.

10. Banshee (Sean Cassidy)

At the end of my list, we have the leader of Generation X and the only (currently?) dead X-Man. While the movies (or failed TV pilot) don’t give Cassidy any justice, he is totally on my list because he is probably one of – if not the most – experienced character in the roster. He’s seen his fair share of action as he’s been in the X-books since the 60’s. He’s lost his powers by damaging his vocal chords when saving Japan from tremendous waves (caused by a villain). He founded X-Corps: a short-lived mutant police force. He’s been a detective with Interpol. He’s a father. The list just goes on. Noble, honest, and self-sacrificial (I mentioned he’s dead, right?), Banshee would be the most likely to lead my fantasy group of X-Men.

My honorable mentions go to: Captain Britain, Juggernaut, Polaris, Rogue, and Nightcrawler.

So that’s my list! Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think there would be too much drama or that everyone would be mature enough to get over it all?

And what about you?! Who is on your X-Men dream team? Heck, who is your dream team of superheroes? Sound off below!

And keep on Space Truckin’!

Bizarre Comic Book News

“Derek, where have you been?”

I know, I know! I’ve been busy, damn it! Luckily, I have a pretty decent-sized update to share with ya’ll.

But first, if you haven’t already, add me to Twitter!

With the Avengers movie just rearing its head this weekend and already posed to make over $500 million world-wide in just over a week, methinks it’s pretty safe to say that Marvel will be pumping out tons and tons of movies very soon.

A New X-Movie in the Works?

I digress. I was running around on the internet during the past week and came across some ridiculous movie news that I’m not entirely sure about.

There’s a pretty heavy rumour at Collider suggesting that there will be a New Mutants movie in the works.

While sure, those are some low-tiered superheroes to be dealing with, the last thing I’d want 20th Century Fox to screw up is one of my favourite “family” books. By “family” I mean that New Mutants aren’t like the traditional X-Books where there’s always fighting and planning. These folks are youngin’s who just try to enjoy life and are also just mutants.

While sure, you could argue they’re fighters (because superhero books involve fighting), I just know if Fox did fire out a New Mutants flick, it wouldn’t captivate anything that the New Mutants were – or are – for that matter. Albeit, seeing a CGI Warlock would be pretty exciting.

Who Hates the Watchmen Prequels More than this Guy?

Now I’m no doctor, but not bringing in comics because “you’re going to lose money” seems like a pretty hefty gamble.

In Brooklyn, Bergen Street Comics manager Tucker Stone revealed that he won’t be bringing in the new Watchmen prequels.

Hold up. Why? Stone said,

“‘We won’t have it on the wall,” said Stone. “It’s not useful for graphic novels, it’s not useful for small press. . . It’s only useful for the weekly stuff. We’re gonna lose money, we’ll probably lose customers. . . It was a decision that was made. When I heard that decision, I said that’s a bad idea. . . That’s an explanation that I’ll have to give over and over again. As time has gone on, as I’ve seen online response to that project. . . This is just gross, and we don’t want to be part of this one. We’ll participate with the grossness they did to Kirby on the Avengers books, but this one. . .'”

Interesting, ain’t it?

The kicker is I would probably pick them up if I saw them at my LCS (which I know I’ll see there). But imagine all of the other folk who’d step in to want the book? Maybe Stone will just have to take in more orders than usual? Or maybe he’s right and he just knows his comic buying audience than we’re led to believe? Regardless, it’s a pretty bold statement to make.

On the other hand, what about creators rights? Now the people who worked hard on these comics aren’t going to get paid appropriately. . . Hmm.

FanExpo Canada Brings in the Big Guns

As the yearly tradition goes in Toronto, FanExpo Canada will be providing another year filled with folks in the comic industry. You may remember last year when I attended and gave a massive recap about the con. Well this year, HobbyStar has announced some big names yet again!

Of course, I’m most excited about Stan Lee, and am thrilled to meet him again. See? I met him before.

But other attendees announced are:

Adi Granov (Artist)
Tony Moore (Artist – The Walking Dead, Venom)
Greg Capullo (Artist – Batman)
Tony Daniel (Writer – Detective Comics, Hawkman)
Steve Epting (Artist – Fantastic Four & many more)
Frank Quitely (Artist – Batman & Robin)
David Finch (Artist – Batman: The Dark Knight)
Carlos Pacheco (Artist – Uncanny X-Men)
Esad Ribic (Artist – Uncanny X-Force, Ultimates, X-O Manowar)
Dan Slott (Writer – Amazing Spider-Man)

And that’s just the preliminary list. Yeesh! There’s still tons to be announced!

Needless to say, it’s shaping up to be a pretty exciting Expo. Hooray!

Avengers Versus X-Men

And at last, we have the whole “AvX” fiasco. While I’m picking up the title issues of the series plus the battles, I have to say the issues involved in the crossover are just silly. While Secret Avengers has been alright, Uncanny X-Men, and Wolverine & The X-Men aren’t too necessary, I’m finding. I’m just glad X-Factor is staying out of the foray.

Although, I will say Avengers Versus X-Men #3 was pretty decent, making me think that there’s still hope for the series. (See what I did there?) Gah.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

It’s About Time!

It’s definitely been over a month since I last talked about comics on this site which is about – hey! Comics!

What have I been enjoying?

Legion Of Monsters was an excellent four-part mini series that was killed in sales. It was so disheartening to see such a good book falter in sales the way it did. Dennis Hopeless and Juan Doe rocked the entire story. It was funny, sad, action-packed, and most of all – it worked. When this comes out as a TPB, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you get it. It really was too good to pass-up. The best part is that you do not require any past knowledge of the characters to pick it up.

As of this week, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and the Lopez duo brought upon New Mutants #37:

This story stole my heart as being simply adorable. Not to mention it was great for Amara to finally get some page-time. In a nutshell, many issues back, Amara made a deal with Mephisto to go on a date with him in order to save her friends. In NM #37, the devil’s come to claim his due. The results are magnificent. Please pick this up. It’s well worth your $2.99.

Old News & New News

As I’m sure you’ve all heard, DC is planning the prequel to The Watchmen. My take on this is that I don’t really care. While I am definitely interested in what DC is going to do, I definitely am shocked that they are going to be tampering with such a classic story.

I don’t know how well they’ll sort it all out – or even if it will do that well in sales. The catch is this: Comics are still a dying medium. DC, in two years, have pumped the world up with excitement over comics. Their reboot with the New 52 put sales of comics from all publishers up. Interest in comics are back. Even at my LCS, I’ve seen that it’s been busier. This is incredible. With DC rebooting an already popular franchise, surely this can only mean more sales not just for them – but the reinvigoration of comics in general.

Keep it up DC! You’re helping the medium tremendously.

The other big comic news was just dropped today: Tony Moore is suing Robert Kirkman over The Walking Dead.

For those who do not know, Tony Moore drew the first six issues of the series and did quite a few covers until issue 24. Apparently when Moore left The Walking Dead contracts were signed for him to get finances for movies and what-not. However, this didn’t include television shows. In a nutshell, he wants his due.

The clincher to the whole story is that Moore and Kirkman have been best friends since they were children. It’s heartbreaking to see something like this happen. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the results pan-out.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

About These New X-Men. . .

With the releases of X-Men #20, New Mutants #33 and Uncanny X-Men #1, tied-in with Wolverine & The X-Men #1, I’d have to say that Marvel’s “Regenesis” project is now in full-swing.

What greatly surprises me though is how much I am loving it.

I was very timid about seeing the X-Men “start over” with the events of Schism. However, now four books in, I have to say that it’s great to witness it happening. Here’s why:

Unused characters are finally getting some voices of their own. For example, Karma in New Mutants, Magik is actually “normal” in Uncanny X-Men, and Storm, Warpath and Domino finally get some air in X-Men. In Wolverine & The X-Men, the roster is much larger, but Husk seems like she’ll be a major player, while I’m sure something is lingering behind Toad. Those are just a few examples, but you get the idea.

New readers – jump on! If you have no idea about the X-Men universe at all, here is where you can join in. While the continuing titles will be a bit of a learning curve, the both Jason Aaron for Wolverine & The X-Men and Kieron Gillen for Uncanny X-Men have made their stories pretty comic-friendly. That’s not to say that some readers may still have a hard time wrapping their heads around some of the character – but for the most part, it’s easy reading. Not to mention, Marvel has created some simple character guides at the end of their Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & The X-Men books for you to gather the who’s who.

It’s still exciting – and I don’t mean it’s action-packed. I read New Mutants this week and couldn’t help but feel like I was a part of a family. I’ve been reading the New Mutants since forever, and to watch these characters grow and mature – my goodness, Dani Moonstar’s grown to be a tremendous force to be reckoned with. It’s really astounding to see how these characters have evolved and yet still remain grounded. This is exciting for someone who has read about these characters years ago and watches them grow up. I couldn’t imagine what real parenting is even like. . . Until then, I’ll live it vicariously through comics.

X-Club 1

With X-Factor, Uncanny X-Force, Generation Hope, Astonishing X-Men and the new X-Club (just-annouced and coming in December by Simon Spurrier and Paul Davidson), who knows where this Regenesis will be taking us!

P.S. – Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning need to permanently stay on an X-book. I love their story-telling.

P.P.S. – Isn’t it weird no one has seen Cyclops cry over this Schism yet?

P.P.P.S. – If you’ve read Uncanny X-Men #1 already, what do you think is going to happen to Miss “Perfect” Frost?

P.P.P.P.S. – War Machine is gonna lose, I’m sure.

P.P.P.P.P.S. – When you hear X-Club, how many of you start singing, “Ain’t no party like an X-Club party” like how I do?

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. – I am absolutely in love with Jason Pearson’s cover for New Mutants #33.

New Mutants

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Quick Reviews of Wedneday’s Comics – 10/27/11

This weeks pull-list for me was just filled with awesome comics. Two by Jason Aaron, two by Abnett & Lanning – other stories by Warren Ellis, Nick Spencer, James Asmus, Jonathan Hickman – art by Emma Rios, Chris Bachalo, Marc Silvestri – Gah! It’s an excellent overload! I don’t have time to fully review every single issue, so let me just tell you what was so awesome about each one!

Wolverine and the X-Men #1
Jason Aaron (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils, colours, cover), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey (inks), Rob Steen (letters). $3.99
Wolverine and the X-Men

Who wasn’t looking forward to this? The over-sized first-issue delivers an exciting look at how the new school is ran and the who’s-who with faculty. Aaron sets up this book with extreme care as readers get not only an idea about the school, but who the villains will be throughout the series. Making things even better is Chris Bachalo’s glorious art and inking team. Over-exaggerated bodies really only work in Bachalo’s world because he does them so. . . right. The story is stuffed with extra goodies too. An enrollment chart to see all of the characters in the story along with a Class List breakdown makes this the perfect jumping on book for any comic fan. I mean, who gives you a character guide to a first issue? So quickly grab Wolverine and the X-Men now, and join us at the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning.
Grade: 9/10

New Mutants #32
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), David Lafuente & Robi Rodriguez (pencils, inks) Val Staples & SotoColor (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Jason Pearson (cover). $2.99
Unlike the parent title “Fear Itself,” we actually get to see the New Mutants fight with enchanted armor! Seeing Warlock run amok in Hel was a blast. To top it all off, Nate Grey saves the day in one of the most coolest ideas I’ve seen in recent New Mutant storylines. For $2.99, Abnett and Lanning shake up the status of the New Mutants pretty deeply. I’m really excited to see what will happen with Magma. . .
Grade: 7/10

Cloak & Dagger – Spider Island #3 of 3
Nick Spencer (writer), Emma Rios (pencils, inks) Alvaro Lopez (inks), Javier Rodriguez (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Emma Rios & Jose Villarrubia (cover). $2.99
Cloak and Dagger

Two words: Emma Rios. What an exciting end to Cloak & Dagger’s mini with Rios at the helm. Can this woman do no wrong? Her creative team working with her are too – flawless. To top it all off, Spencer threw readers for a loop with an incredible ending to the crime fighting duo. My main beef with is was that even from the get-go, I wasn’t entirely sure what Mr. Negative’s motives were. Maybe I had to pick up the rest of Spider Island to understand it. Regardless, one should not have to go out and buy five other books to understand a mini series (if that is even the case). However, I beg that Cloak & Dagger turns into a monthly series. Rios, of course, must be on board. Now go out and BUY THIS BOOK!
Grade: 8.5/10

FF #11
Jonathan Hickman (writer), Barry Kitson (pencils, inks) Paul Mounts (colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Steve Epting (cover). $2.99
So comes the Kree armies upon Earth! What’s most exciting is that the FF are not alone in fighting them. Yes, the Avengers are with them to save the day. The Kree army, led by Ronan the Accuser, also brings back a particular Kree whom I haven’t seen alive in quite some time (And no, it’s not Mar-Vel). While Kitson kicks butt in the art department, I cannot feel bored with his backgrounds. The man has talent – I just wished he used a ton more of it! Oh, and this story will continue in Fantastic Four #600.
Grade: 6/10

Astonishing X-Men #43
James Asmus (writer), David Yardin, Normal Lee & Rachelle Rosenberg (art), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (digital art), Joe Caramanga (letters), Arthur Adams & Jim Charalampidis (cover). $3.99
As a one-shot story featuring Emma Frost and Danger, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Turns out the story is just as interesting as the concept of the duo. Danger wants to feel human and finds something calling for her on the Secret Avengers Quincarrier. Naturally, stuff goes wrong. Fortunately, Beast shows up and while things go wrong, Emma and Beast shoot one-liners throughout the rest of the story to help pick things up from interesting to a little bit better.
Grade: 5/10

Secret Avengers #18
Warren Ellis (writer), David Aja & Raul Allen (artists), David Lanphear (letters), John Cassaday & Paul Mounts (cover). $3.99
Secret Avengers

These one-shot issues by Ellis are an absolute blast. Featuring Steve Rodgers, Sharon Carter and Shang-Chi, we get three spies in a world full of trouble. Aja & Allen’s work recreates a stair-world like M. C. Escher and fully makes our heroes utilize the complexity of it. Needless to say, it makes the story that much more fun to read. As always, Ellis’ conclusion has me in stitches. If Secret Avengers keeps up like this, I hope the rest of the comic world would catch on. These are so much fun to read! (All aside, the cover for the issue is the worst one of the week. For the longest time, I thought that was Elektra).
Grade: 9/10

Annihilators: Earthfall #2 of 4
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Tan Eng Huat (pencils), Andrew Hennessy (inks), Wil Quintana (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), John Tyler Christopher (cover). $3.99
What’s more exciting that the Universes’ Mightiest Heroes in an all-out war? How about the Universes’ Mightiest Heroes versus Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Yes, The Annihilators versus The Avengers happens in this issue – and it doesn’t disappoint. Little quibbles from Ronan to Ms. Marvel, “You are a disgrace to the name Mar-Vel,” and Beta Ray Bill versus Red Hulk make this an excellent story to read. Pacing is tremendously good, while the story itself is mostly just fighting. Like I said, the book delivers exactly what it said it would. My beef is with Eng Huat’s faces, where sometimes they’re spot on. Other times, not-so-much. On the first splash page, how old does Captain America look? And what is Thing “feeling?” Case-in-point. Rocket Raccoon and Groot get their second story too – exciting pacing with Mojo acting as a villain? I’m down.
Grade: 8/10

The Incredible Hulk #1
Jason Aaron (writer), Marc Silvestri (pencils) Michael Broussard (pencil assists), Joe Weems, Rick Basaldua & Sal Regla (inks), Sunny Gho (colours), Ed Dukeshire (letters), Marc Silvestri, Joe Weems & Sunny Gho (cover). $3.99
Incredible Hulk

I wasn’t looking forward for another Hulk reboot. I loved Pak’s run. Who could take Pak’s place? Enter Jason Aaron. What an wonderful thrill ride with an awesome twist-ending. To make things even better, Silvestri is absolutely, brilliantly, astounding. This book is gorgeous from cover to back. The amount of time and detail put into this issue is anything less than astonishing. It’s like, jaw-droppingly good. After being skeptical picking up a rebooted first issue, I’m definitely on-board for the rest of the ride.
Grade: 10/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Massive FanExpo ReCap!

Wow! What an incredible weekend! FanExpo was so much fun this year. Great improvements were made with spacing and positioning of booths, that I never felt too overcrowded when I was there. This is the first time I went to FanExpo and could not think of how they could improve for next year. It was that good.

But on to comics! (And as a warning, all the pictures were taking by my phone)

Thursday:

For the short time I was there, I talked to TONS of artists and writers. To top it all off, I met the legendary Chris Claremont!

Upon going into the Expo at 4:00pm, I immediately wanted to meet Chris Claremont. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend on the Thursday, so I had to make my way to the second people on my list: Matt Fraction (Iron Man, Thor, Uncanny X-Men, Fear Itself) and Kelly Sue DeConnick (Osborn, Supergirl, Castle). As it turned out, meeting them was the entire highlight of the convention.

I only brought stuff up for Kelly Sue to sign on Thursday, while the Friday was for Fraction. Upon meeting Kelly Sue, I tossed down my Osborn series for her to sign and asked her a few questions. While answering, she paused and asked my name to sign.

I said, “Derek.”
“How do you spell that?”
“D-e-r-e-k.”
“Is this, ‘Uncanny Derek?'”
I smiled and replied, “Maybe.”

Needless to say, it instantly became the highlight of the convention. Then she personalized Osborn #1 for me.

Osborn Signed

I asked her if I could get a picture of her with Fraction, as he just freed up from signing. But Kelly Sue asked if I wanted to be in the picture. How could I say no?

DeConnick Fraction UncannyDerek

After telling Matt Fraction that I’d return for him tomorrow, I ran into Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and VP of Creative Development, C.B. Cebulski. After chatting for a few moments, this happened:

Alonso Cebulski UncannyDerek

Needless to say, I was at the convention for literally a half hour and was completely enthused about how everything was going so far. I could peruse through comics, toys, booths and the-like without any issues of cramming or bumping into anyone. I managed to nick a few more Uncanny X-Men’s off of my pull-list for dirt-cheap (and in great quality) too. I picked up Uncanny X-Men #95, #120, (both which Claremont signed later) #132, #135, and #266 – the (arguably) first appearance of Gambit.

I walked down Artist’s Alley – a place designated for artists and writers to hang out and chat with fans. The first person I ran into was Marko Djurdjevic. He was quite the outgoing person – very laid back and care-free, but with a hint of elitism. I soon figured out why. I had quite a few of comics for him to sign – and I asked him what’s next on his plate. He told me he just quit Marvel about two months ago and that he was going back to video game concept art. Albeit shocked, I congratulated him and asked why. He simply told me his contract was up and he did not want to have to deal with higher-ups anymore. Fair enough.

One of the comics he signed was my copy of New Mutants #27. I told him that it was my favourite cover I’ve seen in awhile, and he began to laugh. He absolutely hated it and thought it was the worst “piece of shit” he ever created, and that he “has it buried” in files so he can never see it again. Admittedly, I found that hilarious too, but I congratulated him and went on my way.

It wasn’t until the next morning did I find out what was REALLY going on with him. I was anything less-than shocked.

I went on to find a very modest artist, Jimmy Cheung, who revealed to me that he has been working on Avengers: The Children’s Crusade for the past TWO years. He also clarified that it takes about two and a half months for him to finish one book of The Children’s Crusade. No wonder why it looks so breath-taking. He also said that the last few issues will probably be delayed because there is still much work for him to finish with. But he was a great, genuine guy.

From there, I headed to the panel, “Breaking into Comics: The Marvel Way.” As an aspiring writer, I would love to know some tricks of the trade. The panel shed some light on how writers can break into the medium and definitely raised some good pointers on how important it is to not just love comics. There’s a lot more to the trade than it seems.

Breaking Into Comics

From left to right: Matt Fraction, Axel Alonso, C.B. Cebulski, Mark Brooks (Uncanny X-Force), and Arune Singh (Marvel Communications).

My last guest of the evening was Fred Van Lente (Taskmaster, Incredible Hercules, Chaos War, Alpha Flight). Like Cheung, Van Lente was a truly genuine person, and I was really looking forward to speaking with him. Wearing a dress shirt and suspenders, he was really excited and involved when chatting with me. He also gave a few writing pointers. I then asked him how him and writer Greg Pak got to co-writing everything. Turns out Pak had too much on his plate during Incredible Hercules as Pak was busy with World War Hulk at the time. Marvel tossed over Van Lente for help – and the rest became history. The duo worked well together. Van Lente said that Pak would initially start writing and left Van Lente to really finish the stories – and essentially, that is still how they write to this day.

Van Lente also mentioned that he received his humour in comics as a defense mechanism for being picked on all the time through grade and high school. Turns out we have a ton in common, too.

Friday:

The busier of the two days, Friday was my day to see Claremont, as well as wrap things up with Fraction and hopefully run into a few other wonderful people.

Arriving around 2:00pm, I met Matt Fraction again. I asked him a few questions about writing comics – how he is able to separate all of the voices from one another (ie. How Pixie uses magic but doesn’t come off as Asgardian). But he also said that some voices he couldn’t get, so he didn’t use them – which is his reason to why Storm hardly ever spoke during his run on Uncanny X-Men.

I then asked him some general writing questions and re-mentioned I was an aspiring writer. There, Fraction looked me in the eyes and gave me incredible advice for literally, the next five minutes. He was very involved in telling me the “do’s and don’ts” as well as touching base with his own past experiences – struggling to get started and now working with a wife, mortgage and two children. But the way he spoke to me, it was if he was teaching me how to write. He was very emotive about how his writing process works and what I could do to succeed. It absolutely floored me. I stood there, absorbing every word he said as it was so profound to my ears. And no, I will not repeat it. 🙂 When he was done, I had nothing else but great thanks and appreciation his way.

After I shook his hand, I walked away from the table and pulled out my notebook to write down everything he just said to me. Yes, it was that important to me.

Since it was now Friday, new creators were down Artists Alley to meet. Artist Alex Maleev (Moon Knight, Scarlet, Daredevil) was consistently doing commission work at his table – and always surrounded by an audience. I walked by his table about four times, and each time he was doing something different. Here is Maleev working on an Elektra:

Elektra Maleev

Passing Maleev, I met Stuart Immonen (Fear Itself, New Avengers, Superman). As if Cheung and Van Lente weren’t enough, Immonen was intense and graciously happy to be doing what he is doing. I cannot remember what I asked him unfortunately, however, the panel I saw him at shortly after was pretty darn fun.

When 3:00pm rolled around, I got in line for Chris Claremont which was already about thirty people long. His signing was at 3:30pm. Next to him were artists Kalman Andrasofszky (X-23, NYX) and Dale Keown (Incredible Hulk). I spoke with Dale very briefly and thanked him for being an inspiration to my drawing. I told him how I re-created a cover of his and how it got me back into drawing again and he was beyond-happy to hear that. Then came Chris Claremont.

Claremont Keown Andrasofszky

From left to right: Claremont, Keown, and Andrasofszky.

Meeting Chris was pretty exciting. I heard stories that he was a bit rude at times, but I was giving him the benefit of the doubt today. He signed my copies of Uncanny X-Men #95, #107, #109, #120, #137, #141 and #142. I asked him how he came up with the ending of the Dark Phoenix Saga and what made him decide that Jean Grey should die (as killing off a main character was unheard of back then). He gave me quite the long answer which left me satisfied. After he was done, I asked if I could get a picture with him. He said, “Sure” and I stood beside him. As I did, he grabbed the next person in lines stack of books (the ENTIRE run of X-Men Forever) and started signing them. I posed and saw in my peripherals that he hadn’t looked up. Maybe he hadn’t heard me? I asked again if I could get a photo with him. He said, “Sure,” and so I stood beside him waiting. Alas, he didn’t look up. My result:

Claremont UncannyDerek

I suppose I should have expected that.

During my line up for Claremont, a panel with Matt Fraction, Kelly DeConnick, and Stuart and Kathryn Immonen had started called “Couples in Comics.” I arrived about twenty minutes late, so I unfortunately missed who the other folk were (I can’t know EVERYONE in the comic business). The room was partly filled – which is a shame because the panel was great. Not only did everyone speak about how they work in the business together, but Fraction and Stuart both spoke about how it was to be partners. There, Stuart said how he usually doesn’t read the dialogue to what is said in the scripts – but rather, draws the actions instead. Kelly Sue was blown away by the statement, while Fraction seemed a bit shocked over it. However, Kathryn stepped in and said that Stuart was being a bit overzealous in that statement, leaving the room with a ton of laughs. It was a really fun and exciting panel to be at. I wish I had just seen the whole thing though.

Fraction DeConnick Immonen

From left to right: Fraction, DeConnick, Stuart and Kathryn Immonen.

After the panel, I decided to see the final artist I would meet for the day: Leonard Kirk (New Mutants, Sigil). He was busy working on commissions too, and unfortunately had very little time to talk. I wished to get a commission out of him, but he was backed up and I was on my last day there. Boo-urns. However, it is still great to see a local resident here work for Marvel. It’s still pretty neat.

FanExpo was one excellent adventure this year. For only going for two days, I accomplished quite a bit. I did miss out on Mark Brooks and Dale Eaglesham – who were on my “to see” list, and I missed out on a few panels. However, the information and encouragement I left with made all the difference.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Comics!

X-Men 95 Signed Claremont

FanExpo Tomorrow!

Tomorrow I am off to FanExpo Canada. In a nutshell, it’s Canada’s equivalent to the San Diego Comic Con. Admittedly, it’s not nearly as large, nor does it draw a huge slush of big Hollywood celebrities – but it’s definitely a place I look forward going to every year.

Last year, as if you hadn’t known already, I met the legendary Stan Lee. This year, while Stan Lee will not be there, a huge group of comic artists and writers will be. I’m looking very forward to meeting and talking to a bunch of them. Most importantly, a brilliant writer: Chris Claremont.

But for this year, I’m only going up for two days – Thursday and Friday – due to work obligations and finances. However, that will not stop me from having a ton of fun. Expect tons of pictures when I come back.

In fact, let’s see my schedule for the Con:

People to See/Get Signed:
Chris Claremont #743 (Uncanny X-Men)
Leonard Kirk #P055 (New Mutants)
Mark Brooks #P045 (Uncanny X-Force)
Dale Eaglesham #P066 (Alpha Flight, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulks)
Fred Van Lente #P065 (Taskmaster, Chaos War)
C.B. Cebulski Booth #743 (Marvel VP)
Kelly Sue DeConnick #P002 (Osborn) (Friday)
Jimmy Cheung (Avengers: Children’s Crusade)
Axl Alonso (Marvel Editor-in-Chief)

Panels & Signings:
Thursday:
5pm, Room 714 – Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way
7pm, Room 717 – Redefining the FF – Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting & Marko Djurdjevic

Friday:
11:30am, Room 716 – Sketching Duel: Marko Djurdjevic & Tony Daniel
1pm, Room 717 – Fred Van Lente & Dale Eaglesham on Alpha Flight
2:30pm, Room 714 – Marvel: Fear Itself
Auto CC 3:30pm – Signing Session: Marko Djurdjevic (NM, SA)

As you can see, there are some major names on that schedule of mine. I’m very excited to talk to Fred Van Lente on how incredible his Taskmaster series was. I also am looking forward to meeting Kelly Sue to express my appreciation for her work on Osborn.

I’m probably going to get some commission work done as well. Leonard Kirk is on the top of my list, while, if at all possible, I’d like to see how much Djurdjevic charges – if he’s doing any at all.

When I’m not in line for, or in the panels and signing sessions, I will be scouring the immense showroom floor; checking out costumes, booths, and other artists. I’m still on the hunt to complete the entire run of Uncanny X-Men, so we’ll see how that goes!

I did say I wasn’t staying the whole weekend for financial reasons, right?

As a side note, isn’t it crazy that Mike Carey is finishing his six-year run on X-Men Legacy?

X-Men Legacy

I’ll see you all when I get back!

Keep on Space Truckin’!