For my birthday this year, my family was kind enough to take me to a couple hotspots in Hampton, Virginia. First, the relatively new Oozlefinch Craft Brewery; then longtime comic store Benders Books. Benders is one of those good old-fashioned stuff-on-top-of-stuff-on-top-of-stuff comic stores, the kind that have quite rightfully gone out of fashion in favor of clean, slick design; welcoming, clear aisles; few-if-any store cats; and an organizational system that makes sense to people who just kinda want to buy a book or something. It is a delightful throwback to the comic stores of my youth, where it seemed like any book could maybe be uncovered if you just knew which six longboxes to shift over.
Because we hit the brewery first, it seemed like a really good idea to go longbox diving for random things I vaguely remember that are not available digitally, not least because I could then write posts about them here. This is one of them.
I was originally going to start somewhere else, but then Graeme randomly posted about this series of Marvel event books over on the tumblr, so I decided to swerve to keep up.
THE BOOK: According to the cover, it’s Marvels Comics Group Codename: X-Men #1. According to the indicia, it’s Marvels Comics: X-Men #1.
THE CREATORS: Written by Mark Millar, art by Sean Phillips & Duncan Fegredo (?!?!), colors by Kevin Somers.
THE CONCEPT: In 2000, Marvel decided it might be a fun idea to publish six one-shots that were comics from within the Marvel Universe. I have no idea why they decided this, but I kinda have a suspicion that it’s in some way a dry-run for the Ultimate line, which it predates on the shelves by about half a year. (That’s for Ultimate Spider-Man. The Ultimate X-Men book, which Millar would also write, is still almost a year away.) There’s that same vibe of probing to find a way to make a concept new and old, of trying to put fierce hats on childish heads, and so on.
Anyway, this is an especially weird book because, theoretically, everyone in-universe at Marvel hates and/or fears the X-Men. (Grant Morrison’s hip-subculture take is also still in the future when this hits shelves.) So there are a few ways that the real-world creators working on it could play this. One is as a sympathetic look from the point of view of an oppressed minority–maybe something in a mock counter-culture alt-comix style. Another is to write it carefully, subtly, as a critique of prejudice under the guise of propaganda.
OR you could hand it to Mark Millar.