Category Archives: Underrated

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Underrated: The Witcher Omnibus

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  The Witcher Omnibus.


I often wonder how to start a column when the focus is an adaptation of other media – especially when the other media is an adaptation of something else. Such as it is with Dark Horse’s The Witcher Omnibus. The book collects four five issue miniseries mostly written by Paul Tobin, with two being based on the books and two seemingly based on the video games that were also based on the books judging by Geralt’s armour and the appearance of certain characters in the final story.

As someone who has grown to love the The Witcher over the last 18 months, getting a chance to experience the stories in a different format was an exciting opportunity. I loved the books, and thoroughly enjoyed The Witcher III: Wild Hunt on PlayStation 4. The eight episodes of the Netflix adaptation wasn’t even close to being enough for me, and I can’t wait to experience more when the second season hits. For some reason, despite being a comic guy, I had never actually read the comics until my parents sent me the omnibus for my birthday (it hasn’t happened yet – I just have no patience when it comes to opening gifts for my birthday), and I read the 200 odd pages in two sittings interrupted only by an exhausted sleep.

The book was a fantastic read, and I really enjoyed seeing how the a short story from one of the first two books translated to comic book form (I’d be more specific which book it was from, but I read them back to back and often get which short stories are in which book mixed up), just as it was fun to see a story set after the events of one of the game’s endings. Thankfully, it was the ending I had gotten when playing through, so it could be confusing if you only went through the game once and got a different outcome.

That’s honestly the only downside I can think of to the omnibus. That you may need to know pieces from the other adaptations to enjoy one of the stories within (even though the game isn’t specifically referenced so the story won’t spoil your enjoyment of Wild Hunt), but if you’re somebody like me who has gone all in of Andrej Sapkowski’s creation then you’ll not notice it. Or if you’re willing to accept that certain things have happened that don’t impact the story then you’ll still be able to enjoy the final story.

All in all, it’s a minor complaint.

The art is varied within the omnibus, with the first two tales taking on a more Hellboy-esque look and feel which suits the world of Geralt just fine, and the latter two taking inspiration from the imagery gamers are more familiar with. Either way, I had absolutely no complaints with how the book looked, how it read nor how Tobin and the rest of the creative team handled Geralt of Rivia.

The book will set you back between roughly $25-30 depending which side of the Canadian border you’re on, and it was worth each and every penny for me. If you’re curious about who Geralt is beyond the events in the Netflix show and you haven’t read the books yet, then this is a great introduction. The nature of his long life and many adventures lend themselves well to short pointed stories within a five issue miniseries, which is what makes this book stand out so well; there isn’t an epic story told over hundred of pages, but rather a selection of Geralt’s contracts, his adventures and his stories. So toss a coin to you witcher comic shop and grab this book. You won’t be disappointed


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Comic Book Video Games

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Comic book videogames.


It’s been a long time since I wrote any kind of list for this column, and after finishing up my first playthrough of Spider-Man: Miles Morales yesterday (and my subsequent return to the original PS4 Spider-Man‘s DLC), I wanted to take a trip down memory lane with some games that aren’t as fondly remembered as perhaps they should be amongst the greats like the aforementioned Spider-Man games and Batman: Arkham Asylum/City/Knight. Games that were fun, but may not have been as critically acclaimed or rated as high as others released around the same time; often, super hero games are either overlooked as cheap movie cash-ins (for good reason, honestly), or they’re overlooked in favour of games that have generated more of a buzz. It wasn’t really until the Arkham games cam about that superhero based videogames really gathered any traction; the combat system from that game has inspired countless others over the years – and for good reason.

So, here’s a few gems from yesteryear that are worth circling back to if you’re looking for a bout of nostalgia fueled superhero action.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PS3/Xbox 360)
A videogame adaptation that was far better than the movie, this game was a blast to play from start to finish. It’s certainly not the best action game around, but it is one of the best superhero movie tie-in games around, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun watching Wolverine getting sliced to pieces and then watching as his healing factor starts to kick back in and rebuild his flesh over his skeleton. Despite it being a very linear game, there’s a hell of a lot to enjoy even today (I’m not holding out hope for a sequel or remake any time soon, but I am very fond of the game even now).

X2: Wolverines Revenge (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube)
If you’re sensing a theme here, it’s probably not accidental. This game was, technically, a tie in to the second X-Men film, but it was also a compelling stealth adventure where the use of Wolverine’s powers were implemented in cel-shaded awesomeness. Fun, though maybe not the greatest game, it’s one that still holds fond memories for me.

Ultimate Spider-Man (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube)
The second time we got to play as Spider-Man in an open world. Visually, the game holds up fairly well because of the cel-shaded comic style art, though the gameplay may feel a touch dated to those who have become accustomed to the PS4 offerings. The story picks up after the Venom arc from the Ultimate universe’s version of the comics, and so we get to play as both Spider-Man and Venom across Manhattan and Queens (which may have been the last time we saw Queens in the games).

Spawn: In The Demon’s Hand (Dreamcast)
Think Dynasty Warriors meets Spawn. It’s fun, especially with friends, but don’t expect a super deep experience.

Batman Begins (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube)
Look, being completely honest, this isn’t as good as the Arkham games; not even close. But that’s not to say this is a terrible game – it’s just not the best, either. I enjoyed the game, enjoyed the terror mechanics where you’d have to hide from enemies and gradually terrify them into submission (you’ll see this in the Arkham games, but with a much more subtle excitation). Worth a play if you’re curious, but I wouldn’t rush for it.

There’s a lot of 2D games that I didn’t include on the list – games from the Sega Genesis era that were mainly action beat ’em ups – that are all fantastic (though admittedly harder than expected), but what I’d have to say would fall around the same thing: “a solid game that has a lot of vintage nostalgia value, but doesn’t hold up as well as you’d expect – which is the case for a lot of vintage games in many ways. The mechanics of yesteryear take some getting used to, but once you do there’s a lot to love.”


Unless the comics industry ceases to exist this week, Underrated will return next week.

Underrated: Havok and Wolverine: Meltdown

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown.


I don’t remember the first time I read this story, but it was likely in the UK reprint magazine Wolverine Unleashed in the mid to late 90’s. That was also the last time I read it, so when I saw the collected edition at my LCS for $15 I couldn’t pass it up – now because Wolverine is a little bit more marketable than Havok, the trade was just called Wolverine: Meltdown.

Originally published in the late 80’s, Meltdown was written by Walter and Louise Simonson, with illustrations by John J. Muth and Kent Williams. The story is set around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of the mid 80’s, and finds Havok and Wolverine caught up in the midst of a plot to end the world in nuclear war from the shadows. The art has a wonderful painted look to it at times, but the artists aren’t afraid to experiment with multiple forms of media throughout the book. It’s a choice that is divisive to some – I’ll freely admit when I was younger the art did nothing for me, but I enjoyed the story a fair bit, whereas now I find myself absorbed in the art more than the writing which is a strange twist on how I usually find myself feeling when coming back to stories I haven’t read in 20 some years.

It’s easy to imagine the way this story would have felt when initially released as it presents another possibility behind the Chernobyl disaster as an intentional act to snare the X-Men. Looking back now, it’s a great premise to a story, and one that still holds up despite the very specific time setting. Admittedly, I’ve no idea or memory as to how in continuity/canon this story is within the X-Universe but the story is entertaining enough to allow you to just enjoy it as is, and seeing Wolverine and Havok team up together is still a relatively rare event even today – and while I’m probably in the minority here, I’d love to see more chances for these two mutants to come together on the page.

The main reason I wanted to talk about this book today is solely because it’s a story that I’d completely forgotten about. This isn’t one of the classic Wolverine or X-Men stories that people will talk about, and honestly nor should it be, but it’s still an enjoyable tale that still stands the test of time; admittedly it’s the artwork that will pull you in more than the story, because this is a book that just looks utterly fantastic. The art is at times risky and pushes the envelope of what comics would typically feature 30 years ago (and yet is far more common today). Do yourself a favour and check this story out if you can – it’s a four issue mini series that shouldn’t break the bank if you hunt the individual issues.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: Five 90’s Comic Book Movies

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Comic Book Movies From The 90’s


With the cinematic landscape jam packed with comic book inspired movies these days, I had to wonder what the 90’s looked like, and whether any of those movies held up today. So I asked myself, I said “self, are there any movies that you feel are, for whatever reason, somewhat underrated?”

Turns out, there is.

A few things before we start; firstly, these comic book movies may have been well received when released, but may never have garnered as much attention as they deserved. Secondly, some of these movies I’m probably viewing with the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

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The Phantom (1996)
This is probably one of the only comic book movie on this list with an actual spandex bodysuit in it, and Billy Zane does admirably well in the roll. I haven’t seen this movie since the 90’s, but not for lack of trying – it is very tough to track down for a reasonable price. The Phantom is a hugely enjoyable movie, so long as you take it for what it is (Guardians of the Galaxy, it is not), you can’t fail to not enjoy it. But do yourself a favour and skip the two part mini series released in 2010.

Batman Forever (1995)
Joel Shumacker ruined the Batman movie franchise with Batman and Robin, that’s no lie, but before he did that he made Batman Forever. I still enjoy this flick to this day. It echoes the Adam West TV show of the 1960’s, updating the camp foolishness of that time into a slightly more modern and darker time, bridging the gap expertly between Tim Burton’s films and the TV show. The movie stars because of its villains; Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face and Jim Carry’s excellent portrayal of the Riddler.  No, the film isn’t the best batman movie out there, but it isn’t as bad as Shumacker’s other offering.

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The Crow (1994)
The Crow is a certified cult classic at this point, and with a new adaptation of the source material coming in the near future, I thought it would be worth familiarizing myself with one of my favourite movies (and was the genesis of this column). Brandon Lee is a revelation in this film, and the tragedy of his untimely death during filming only adds to the overwhelming sense of sadness and the themes of love that are woven through the movie. The film is a love story at heart, with just shy of half a dozen characters’ fates being intertwined through their actions; you’ll also notice some of the cinematography and visuals having an influence on some of the darker comic book movies that would follow.

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The Rocketeer (1991)
A film in the vein of Indiana Jones and the adventure films of the 80’s, The Rocketeer is an entertaining romp set during the late 30’s as war brews in Europe. A stunt pilot finds a secret weapon, the jetpack, and struggles to win back his girl and stop the weapon from falling into the wrong hands. A genuinely entertaining film that you can watch with your kids (assuming you watch the adventures of Dr. Jones with them), The Rocketeer has long held a special place in my heart.

The Mask (1994)
Jim Carry’s rubber face is on full display in this outrageously fun and completely stupid offering. You can’t watch this without either laughing or rolling your eyes because The Mask is a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and nor should you take it seriously. Just watch it and enjoy the fun.


That’s all we have for this week, folks. Come back next time  when there’s something else Underrated to talk about.

Underrated: Black Hammer: Secret Origins

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Black Hammer: Secret Origins


A lot has been said about Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire’s homage to the classic hero comics of yesteryear, and much of that praise can be found on the back of this very collection. Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Cullen Bunn, Dan Jurgens and more are all effusive in their praise for a comic that Mark Millar called “the most brilliant comic I’ve read in years.”

I would agree with everything said on the back of the book, honestly. Jeff Lemire is one of the dozen or so writers whose work I will read without caring what it is because I know the quality of writing will always be very high (of course there are some things that just don’t do it for me, but not because they’re bad – but because it’s not entirely my cup of tea). Black Hammer is one of those things that is both really good (better, honestly, than I expected), and entirely my thing.

In short, it’s one of the best things that I have ever read from Jeff Lemire.

So what exactly is the book about? I’ll use the blurb from the back of the book to explain:

Wiped out of their superhero universe by a multiversal crisis, the forgotten heroes of Spiral City now live as a dysfunctional family on a mysterious farm in a small town from which they have no escape.

If it sounds intriguing, well you’ll be happy to know that’s only the very tip of the iceberg. The premise is good, and promises an interesting look at what life looks like after (forced) retirement, but it’s the way that the characters come to life on the page that’s truly gripping. Some have accepted their new lot in life, and are even making the best of what cards they’ve been dealt as they adjust to life after superheroics.

And some, well, some have never given up trying to get home.

The way that Lemire frames the opening parts of Black Hammer (as I write this I have the following three volumes on my read pile, but I’m just looking at volume one today) is that escape is hopeless, and anything other than acceptance is foolishness. But if that were you, would you accept what you’ve been given or do your damnedest to get back to the home you knew, even if it may not be as peaceful as where you are?

The answer, ultimately, would depend on a couple key differences; whether you were at least content with the new life you had or if it was driving you to insanity. Within the pages of Black Hammer, there are characters nearing their breaking point (or in some cases may have already gone beyond the breaking point), and it’s fascinating watching them all struggle to navigate the normal that they now find themselves in.

Black Hammer has spoken to my love of modern takes on distinctly Golden Age heroes. With a Justice League like group of characters locked in mysterious pocket dimension where they’re forced to live normal lives on a farm, we get to explore what happens to a hero on a forced retirement. Not everybody I know is a fan of where this comic is going, and how it’s been getting there, but every issue has been a win for me – which is another reason this appears in this issue of Underrated. But the tinges of something lingering just beneath the surface give a genuine sense of unease to the comic. Black Hammer is very much a slow burn, but it’s going to be incandescent when we get the pay off at the end…


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: X-O Manowar: Birth

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: X-O Manowar: Birth


The Vine are replaced with the Spider-Aliens, although aside from the name there is little that distinguishes them from the first few comics in the 2012 run. Where as the Vine become one of the more interesting and complex plot points in the VEI stories, the Spider-Aliens show little of the same qualities at this point (yes, there are signs that there is more to the Vine within the first three issues of the VEI run), but then that really just makes it easier to enjoy the battle carnage as Aric tears his way through the soldiers and corporate representatives of the Spider-Aliens.

Although you can enjoy the book without any prior knowledge, for a Valiant fan of the old or new school (or both) this beautifully presented book is a must read. And most of us will seek the story out if we can, but for those not entrenched in Valiant lore, this standalone story here represents an Underrated gem from comics history.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: X-Men Origins: Wolverine.


This week on Underrated, I wanted to take a look at one of the most reviled movies in the X-Men Franchise, not because I’m going to convince you it’s secretly a great movie that has been unfairly shat on for nearly ten years, but because I want to highlight some of the things that it actually did right. Do they out weight the bad to redeem the movie? Personally, I think so. Although X-Men Origins: Wolverine will never be thought of as a shining example of the character in cinema, and nor should it be, it isn’t the catastrophic mess that we remember it being.

Before you start raging at me (and you’re more than welcome to do so on twitter @karcossa) ask yourself when was the last time you saw this movie? I watched it on the 21st of March this year with the intention of tearing it to pieces in an article, but I actually kind of enjoyed it, so I wrote this instead [note, this article was written on March 23rd, so the movie was quite fresh in my mind]. So before you fire up those angry fingers, give the movie a quick watch and remember I’m not claiming it’s great, just that it isn’t bad.

  • The Opening Sequence
    Honestly, you give me a movie with Wolverine and Sabretooth fighting their way through history based on this opening credit montage and I will throw my money at you. This is a prime example of a movie blowing it’s load too early, if you’ll pardon the expression. We get one of the best opening sequences in the franchise before one of the worst movies. No wonder it got flattened by fans.
  • Liev Schreiber And Hugh Jackman
    Say what you want about the script, plot choices, and pointless cameos, but I will not hear a bad word said about either Schreiber or Jackman’s performances in this movie. It remains a great tragedy that we only got one movie with Liev Schreiber playing Sabretooth opposite Hugh Jackman, and that it was this one. Having watched the movie recently, the two men are almost able to save the movie with their acting chops alone – without them it wouldn’t be worth watching past the title sequence.
  • Most Action Sequences
    Strangely enough, the action sequences in the movie are actually pretty good; Logan and Creed fighting in the bar is awesome, and even the final battle is pretty entertaining (despite the character mutilation of Deadpool). The only downside to the sequence where Team X attacks a compound is that the individual use of the soldier’s abilities makes little sense as a tactical strike, but as a showcase of the individual powers at play it’s pretty good. As is the helicopter fight – right up until the cliched walking away from the explosion end point.
  • The One Liners
    X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn’t a comedy, but there’s quite a few one liners that will at the very least elicit a chuckle from you. Plus, you can also laugh at the so-bad-it’s-good moments.
  • Wolverine Uses All His Powers
    Funnily enough, one of the things this movie gets right is how many other abilities Logan has. At different points in the movie you see him use his enhanced senses of smell, vision and hearing to locate Creed, Zero and Kayla. You don’t see him using his other powers as often as you do his healing and claws (for obvious reasons, I’m sure).

Yes, the movie has its problems, especially with how it fits (or used to fit depending on who you’re talking to) into the X-Men movie franchise, or how it treats certain characters, but if you look at it as a standalone movie that just happens to feature Wolverine… it’s actually not that bad; truth be told, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and that’s why it’s the subject of this week’s Underrated.

Underrated: Wolverine: Save The tiger

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Wolverine: Save The Tiger.


Originally printed in the first ten issues of Marvel Comics Presents from late September ’88 to early January ’99 (MCP started out as a bi-weekly anthology series), Save The Tiger tells the story of Tyger Tiger’s origin in Madripoor.

The story was written by Chris Claremont with art by John Buscema (though the image featured today is of a comic collecting just the ten parts of Save The Tiger with Sam Keith’s artwork on the cover), and leads into Wolverine’s first ongoing solo series (also by Claremont and Buscema initially). Depending on how you read it, whether it’s in the comic pictured to the right or Wolverine Epic Collection: Madripoor Nights or through Marvel Unlimited, you’re going to find a story that still holds up more than thirty years later.

Save The Tiger introduces a lot of what we now associate as standard parts of Wolverine’s life; the Princess Bar, Madripoor, and the characters who make the island a living breathing place. It’s set during the time that the X-Men are thought dead, and so you don’t see Wolverine popping his claws as often as you’d expect when engaging in brawls. It’s an added layer to the story where Claremont is writing the X-Man as avoiding using his claws in order to maintain his cover of being dead. That makes this one of the few stories I’ve read recently where events in another book actually play a larger role behind the scenes than they would otherwise. Given that this is a 30 year old story written by the same person who was also writing the main X-book at the time, it’s not surprising to me that the two books influence each other.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll happily say it again, but I’ve noticed that the older the comic the more story you get in it. That Save The Tiger is told over the course of about 80 pages (the asterisk here is that’s what the floppy book clocks in at, and I’m not sure if there’s ads in there because I read it via the Epic Collection method), but it feels so much longer than that (in a good way) because of the amount of story that Claremont packs into each issue.

Because Claremont also wrote the main X-book for a long time, you’ll find some consequences to the X-Men’s actions here that still isn’t that common today – that it’s tied to Uncanny X-Men wasn’t an issue for me, because even though I’ve long forgotten those events, Claremont still adds enough context within the comic for the reader to understand the poignancy of the moment.

I’m always a sucker for older comics from the 80’s and 90’s, so obviously I’ll be a little more biased toward this one, but Save The Tiger surprised me in how much I actually enjoyed it. It’s not a defining Wolverine story, and consequently won’t be high on the Must Read Wolverine list, but it’s one that’s well worth checking out.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: A System to Organize your comics

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  A system to organize your comics.


Okay, bear with me. A lot of the comic readers I chat with at my LCS fall into one of three categories; those using an app to track their comics, those with an eidetic memory or those who just do the best to remember what they have generally but buy based on a specific want list. I tend to fall into the latter category; I’ve a list of the books I’m hunting on my phone, but when it comes to the books I already have, I’m less prepared. I tend to rely on what isn’t on my list and memory… which is fine when I’m looking at comic runs that I know I’ve finished, but less ideal when I come across a book I’m not sure if I have and am not actively collecting.

So what are my options to help me file and organize my books?

An excel or google doc spreadsheet is one of the simpler and less flashy methods, but also one of the most effective if you’re just listing which issues you do and don’t have. The more comfortable with spreadsheets then the more you’ll be able to customize how much information about each comic you want to put in, but at the end of the day it’s all reliant on what you put in.

Of course there’s comic book collecting apps designed to help you organize your books such as CLZ that for $14.99 a year allows you to track your books with a barcode scanner or the Comic Book Collector’s Database. I can’t honestly give you much information about the apps because I don’t use them (and never have), but they’re an excellent option for those who want a little more of a user experience than a basic list or spreadsheet.

You could also probably pay someone to catalogue your books but why waste the money on that when you can buy more comics?

Ultimately how you track your books is entirely up to you; but if you’re new to the comic collecting and reading community then eventually you’re going to want to track your collection somehow because unless you’re really good at remembering what you have (I’m not) then you’ll probably end up with a couple doubles of books you probably don’t need doubles of (I’m looking at you Wolverine #36).


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: X-Cutioner’s Song

The cover of the trade I don’t own.

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the multi-part crossover event X-Cutioner’s Song.


The first chapter of X-Cutioner’s Song was published in November 1992 in Uncanny X-Men #294, with subsequent eleven parts coming in issues of X-Factor, X-Men, X-Force and Uncanny X-Men. With the series being billed as revealing the origin of Cable (it didn’t – that came in 1994), there was significant hype and buzz around the comics when they were hitting the shelves nearly thirty years ago, but because I wasn’t into comics at the time, I never heard any of it.

Instead, I noticed a cover when restocking the boxes at my LCS and decided to pick up the arc after the shop owner gave it a quick recommendation. Fortunately, we had a full set (or seven) in stock, so I grabbed the individual issues rather than hunting down a collected edition (partly because I am also building an X-Men and Uncanny X-Men collection, but also because I wanted to read it as it was originally presented in comic form. Complete with the polybags still sealed for some off the comics (I won’t lie, I was tempted to leave them sealed, but at only a couple bucks a comic it didn’t seem worth it.

Plus, I wanted the feeling of cracking those bags and getting to be the first person reading these comics.

I forget sometimes how much dialogue and text there used to be on pages in comics.

Without question, comics from this era were technically published before I started buying single issues, but that doesn’t mean that these issues didn’t kickstart a sense of nostalgia for the old UK reprint magazines that I first came across this arc in. The first issue felt oddly familiar, but beyond that…? It was pure 90’s joy.

After all, 90’s comics aren’t bad. There’s just a huge number of them in longboxes across the country because so many were printed. That just makes them worth less than the comics from the 70’s and 80’s, but it doesn’t mean they’re not worth reading.

“If mankind waited for the ‘right time’ to address the winds of change it’s unlikely we’d ever have crawled from the primordial ooze.”

Scott Lobdell, Uncanny X-Men #294

I don’t know if I had forgotten about the amount of times characters within X-Men comics in the 90’s spouted pearls of wisdom, but I was less than halfway through this first part of X-Cutioners Song and I already had enough one liners to make me sound like I a semi professional couch philosopher thanks entirely to the less than subtle messaging. Messaging that seems just as relevant today as it ever did (and I’m sure we’d all hoped that would be different).

The main plot of X-Cutioner’s Song isn’t fully revealed in the first issue, but there is more than enough information here to reel you in hook line and sinker. The crossover cost me less than $20 to put together, and it was worth every penny to do so – not only because of the nostalgia factor, but primarily because this is a damn good story that holds up today (even the funky fashion choices for the street clothes the X-Men wear don’t detract too much).

With any story crossing over four series, the creative team is, as expected, pretty hefty. There are names that at the time were relatively new faces to the X-Men, but now… well now we consider them as creators who have made significant contributions to the comicsphere, frequently drawing large crowds at conventions;

  • Writers: Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza and Peter David.
  • Pencillers: Brandon Peterson, Andy Kubert, Jae Lee and Greg Capullo
  • Inkers: Terry Austin, Mark Pennington, Al Milgrom and Harry Candelario
  • Colorists: Mike Thomas, Marie Javins, Glynis Oliver, Joe Rosas and Steve Buccellato.

But despite the big names, the characters and import associated with the story, it’s an arc that can easily get overlooked when when you’re looking in the longboxes because the story came in the early 90’s, before the big bust in the comics market. Despite having heard a little about it over the years, largely through comments in UK reprints, I had never actually read the book before. Something I was more than happy to do with a story that is far more Underrated than I ever expected.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Almost American
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