How MySpace and Astonishing X-Men got me into Comics
It is 2007. I walk into the local Walden Books in the town mall (a phrase that immediately dates this column). I am on a mission. I walk to the corner of the store that I often ignored on my way to the sci-fi paperbacks. In this corner, I find a spinner rack full of comics. With no friends or family into comics, what made this kid from rural Tennessee to seek out funny books? Was it a movie? Was it nostalgia? Nope. The reason I was here was MySpace (This REALLY dates this column).
Specifically, MySpace role playing. That is a story for another column, but I was roleplaying Cyclops on MySpace at the time. I wanted to be good. Scratch that, I wanted to be the best. Turns out the best way to know your character— besides raiding wiki pages and comic vine—was to buy the comics.
It didn’t hurt either if you had a scanner and you could get special unique pictures that you couldn’t find online. I wanted to do my research and I asked around online about what comics had Cyclops in it. I read comics before in the 90’s, but it was only a stack of about 50 books and not one was X-Men. I was lost when trying to parse through what comics I should read. Especially in the X-line at the time. This was the time following House of M and Civil War. X-Men were firmly moved to the backburner.
The line was starting its long decline into irrelevance like the Post-Lee/Kirby era the mutants found themselves in before Claremont picked them up from the ashes. It wasn’t obvious at the moment, but Avengers was stealing the throne and Iron Man’s release in 2008 would seal it.
I wanted to read comics with Cyclops and I didn’t know where to being. Thanks to my real dad, the internet, I was told Cyclops was only really in one X-Men comic at the time—Astonishing X-Men.
So, I am browsing this spinner rack looking for Astonishing X-men. I didn’t know how fortunate I was at the time, but I managed to find issues #19-21 all on the spinner rack. This was fortunate because as I would come to find out Astonishing X-men tended to release whenever the moon was in the correct alignment with the constellations. The fact there were comics cover dated for February still sitting on the rack in May was amazing. Speaks volumes about Walden Books, I guess.
I took the issues home and devoured them. I read them multiple times. I marveled at Cassady’s minimalistic art and the general pacing worked. I may have been jumping into the final arc of the run, but darn, I loved those comics. Astonishing X-men #19-21 were the first comics I’ve read in 10 years. Last time I read comics, heroes were just reborn and Superman was blue. I had to have more.
I remember sitting down and deciding I can budget my money from the random chores and birthdays to buy a comic once a month. Which was great because Astonishing X-men was “Monthly”. As I said before this was not true. It would come out sporadically for the next 18 months. I needed more comics though. I really enjoyed the medium and I loved superheroes. While nostalgia did not drive me to pick up these comics, it kept me interested in checking out more. I was big into the Marvel hype machine and started buying up comics left and right. My finances were spared though because I would only buy from Walden books or a small game shop in town that had a modest comic section. Little did I know about the dedicated comic shop just a street over. When I discovered the shop. Well, my wallet took one heckuva hit (Still never financially recovered from Blackest Night).
Eighteen months ago, I lost my entire singles comic collection (outside of a few random books I kept) in a flood. This unfortunately included my copies of Astonishing X-men #19-24 and Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1. I already lost my trades of the remainder of the series to a friend. Sure, I could read them on Marvel Unlimited (and I did, several times), but I missed those single issues. A couple months ago, on a lark, I begin to browse eBay for Astonishing X-Men runs. Mainly looking for the issues I had. What I found were complete runs at affordable prices. I pounced and bought up the entire Whedon and Cassaday run. The nostalgic joy I felt from getting and flipping through those books was hard to describe. As much as nostalgia leads me to check out new things or to revisit things from the past, it doesn’t usually bring me joy like that. I was and still am overly excited to have this run. I am not a completionist or a collector. I don’t have a desire to buy up the remaining issues of Astonishing X-Men that followed. It has inspired me to check into buying other single issue runs of arcs I love. I will post thoughts on the arcs of Astonishing X-Men in the future. Just a preview, I am nostalgic for it, but it is flawed especially staked next Morrison’s top notch run.
With this recent acquirement of Astonishing X-Men and deep diving on Jay and Miles X-plain the X-Men, my love of X-Men was rekindled. I think it is time for me to revisit the Merry Mutants that I largely left behind after numerous resets and directions (Lemire was my last attempt to read the X-Men). Hickman has been one of my favorite writers of the last decade of comics and I really love Lenil Yu. I think its time for me to read the X-Men.
-Goes to read House of X/ Powers of X-
I…need to write about this. So next time (maybe? This column has the release schedule of a 90’s Image series) I will try to explain my love of HoX/PoX.
This has been Extremely Uncanny. See you next time.