One of the most striking aspects of Chris Claremont‘s early run on X-Menis the characterization of Cyclops. I want to focus on the first three issues after Giant-Size X-Men and the insight it gives us into the mind of Cyclops. The defining character trait of Cyclops in those early issues is his sense of duty and his commitment to the life of a hero above all else.
In X-Men #94, the members of the pre-Giant Sized team leave. Angel, Iceman, Havok, Polaris, and Jean Grey decide they have outgrown their role as X-Men and that it’s time to finally graduate from Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters. Cyclops decides to stay with the team, he feels an obligation to the life of a hero, a sense that if he doesn’t lead the X-Men what would happen? What is the cost of failure?
Cyclops drives the new team hard and himself harder. He puts them through rigorous training to shape them into a well-oiled machine. However, he butts heads with fellow X-Man Thunderbird. Thunderbird is hot-headed and has a desire to prove himself. While the two are arguing they are called away on a mission to stop Count Nefaria from unleashing a nuclear holocaust on the world. During the ensuing events in X-Men #95 Thunderbird dies taking down Nefaria. The X-Men are devastated but no one more than Cyclops.
Cyclops personally blames himself for Thunderbird’s death. As the X-Men’s leader, he holds himself accountable for the loss. He tortures himself and goes over the events again and again in his head. He holds himself to an unrealistic moral ideal and when he fails he takes it personally. For as hard as he is on the X-Men ultimately he does it because he cares deeply for them.
It’s become somewhat of a joke in the current Krakoa era of X-Men that Cyclops has a plan for every contingency. Here a similar obsessiveness is present but played much more seriously. He prepares because if the X-Men fail it means death, and the consequences of failure are dire. Cyclops has something almost akin to Catholic guilt. He holds himself up to an unrealistic moral ideal and beats himself up when he inevitably fails to maintain it. But even when he fails Scott Summers doesn’t stop, he needs to still be Cyclops, and he needs to still be a X-Man. Because if not him, who else? Because Cyclops is the X-Men.
The year is half over, and 2022 will be here before you know it! That’s why Diamond Select Toys is opening pre-orders on a variety of products that will ship beginning in January, including items based on The Crow, G.I. Joe, Lord of the Rings, Marvel Comics, and Star Wars!
Crow Movie Premier Collection Resin Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! Eric Draven returns as an all-new 1/7 scale Premier Collection Statue! Based on the movie The Crow and measuring approximately 11 inches tall, this statue depicts Eric atop a flaming crow-design base, with his guitar slung across his back and the titular crow alighting on one arm. Limited to only 3,000 pieces, it comes packaged in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella! SRP: $175.00
GI Joe Gallery Snake Eyes PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! G.I. Joe’s silent ninja, Snake Eyes, leaps from a snowy ledge in this all-new PVC diorama from DST! Flanked by his wolf companion Timber, Snake Eyes wields his trademark sword as he launches his sneak attack. Measuring approximately 11 inches tall, this diorama features detailed sculpting and pain tapplications, and comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Mark Wong and Tony Simione, sculpted by Jorge Santos Souza! SRP: $49.99
Lord of the Rings Gollum Deluxe Action Figure
A Diamond Select Toys release! Gollum gets the deluxe treatment in this new action figure release! Based on his appearance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Gollum comes packaged with three interchangeable heads, interchangeable hands, a rock formation to climb and perch on, plus other bonus character accessories, including a fish, an axe for Gimli, and knives for Legolas and Aragorn! Gollum features 16 points of articulation, detailed sculpting and paint, and comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Eamon O’Donoghue, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios! SRP: $39.99
Marvel Animated Doctor Octopus 1/7 Scale Mini-Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! The Doctor is in! One of Spider-Man’s greatest foes has arrived in the 1/7 scale bust line, based on his appearance in Spider-Man: The Animated Series! Dr. Otto Octavius rocks four mechanical arms and a bowl cut in this new animated-style bust, featuring culptign and paint applications that leap right off the TV screen. Measuring approximately 6 inches tall, this bust is limited to 2000 pieces and comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Paul Harding! SRP: $69.99
Marvel Comic Gallery Classic Thor PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! This diorama be worthy! Thor makes his classically-styled debut in the Marvel Gallery line of PVC dioramas with this all-new sculpt! Posed swinging his hammer on a rubble-strewn base, this sculpture of the God of Thunder is part of a new series of battle-inspired scenes. This piece stands approximately 9 inches tall, features detailed sculpting and paint applications and comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Nelson X. Asencio, hand-sculpted by Jean St. Jean! SRP: $49.99
Marvel Comic Premier Collection Cyclops Resin Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! Don’t fire until you see the reds of their eyes! The first-ever Marvel Premier Collection statue of the X-Men’s stalwart Cyclops, it shows Scott Summers in his classic costume, unleashing a crimson optic blast. Measuring approximately 11 inches tall and featuring detailed sculpting and paint applications, it is limited to only 2000 pieces and comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed by Clayburn Moore, sculpted by Alejandro Pereira Ezcurra! SRP: $175.00
Marvel Select Venom Action Figure
A Diamond Select Toys release! Taste the Venom! One of the Marvel Select line’s best-selling action figures, Venom returns to the line just in time for the next installment of the Venom film franchise! Measuring 8 inches tall, Venom comes with interchangeable heads and hands, as well as an add-on piece to simulate his look from Venom: Madness! Featuring 16 points of articulation, it comes packaged in Select action figure packaging with side-panel artwork for shelf reference. Designed and hand-sculpted by Jean St. Jean! SRP: $29.99
Star Wars Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker Milestones 1/6 Scale Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! Luke Skywalker is back in Black, and he’s the newest Milestones statue! Measuring approximately 12 inches tall, Luke wears his famous all-black outfit from Return of the Jedi, including one black glove, and holds his green-bladed lightsaber. This statue is limited to only 2000 pieces, features detailed sculpting and paint applications, and comes packaged in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Designed by the Silva Bros. and sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios! SRP: $250.00
Star Wars The Force Awakens First Order Stormtrooper Legends in 3D ½ Scale Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! The troopers are coming, and now the foot soldier of the First Order is the latest Legend in 3D! Measuring approximately 10 inches tall, this half-scale bust of a First Order Stormtrooper is limited to only 1000 pieces, and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios! SRP: $175.00
Star Wars Revenge of the Sith Count Dooku 1/6 Scale Mini-Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! You may know him as Darth Tyranus, but Count Dooku is a true Dark Lord of the Sith, and now he’s the newest 1/6 scale mini-bust from Gentle Giant Ltd.! Holding his red-bladed lightsaber upright, Dooku is the essence of Sith nobility in this approximately 7-inch mini-bust. Limited to only 2000 pieces, it comes packaged in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Designed by the Silva Bros. and hand-sculpted by Jean St. Jean! SRP: $120.00
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: Assault On Weapon Plus
I’ve been collecting X-Men comics for the last year and a half, and while I’ve been focusing mainly on the Uncanny X-Men, I’ve also been picking up issues of X-Men (and later New X-Men), which is how I stumbled across Assault On Weapon Plus. The four issue arc originally appeared in New X-Men #142-145, and was written by Grant Morrison, penciled by Chris Bachalo, inked by Tim Townsend, coloured by Chris Chuckry and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos. The story has been collected in the last two decades, but I’ve no idea how hard those collections are, and given the price and availability of the single issues right now, it’s easy enough to pick up the floppies.
The plot picks up after Emma Frost has been shot, shattered and reassembled (though the only relevance to of that to this story is to explain why Cyclops is drowning his sorrows because Jean caught him in a psychic affair and this is sounding more like a soap opera than I thought it would). There’s a little more to it, but the recap in #142 will catch you up for what is effectively a Wolverine, Cyclops and Fantomex story. Wolverine frequently reminds Cyclops, and by extension the audience, that this isn’t an X-Men mission.
It may seem strange that I’ highlighting a Grant Morrison story, but of the man’s often incredible body of work, this four-parter isn’t one that you hear people talking about all that often (although the run in general does get praise), and the story is more accessible than some of the writer’s other work. Assault On Weapon Plus is more of a straight shooting story about a trio of mutants trying to break into the Weapon Plus program for reasons (Fantomex wants to burn everything to the ground, Wolverine wants to know who he was and Cyclops wants to watch Logan’s back).
It’s a fun story, and definitely one that spurs you from issue to issue.
The story does end on a cliffhanger though, and while the following issues aren’t expensive either, there’d probably be a bit of an annoyance if you only picked up the four issues then you’d be left a touch stranded at the end of New X-Men #145. Ultimately though, this story is so much more than it seems on the surface, as with any Grant Morrison story, but you can’t just read the four issues and stop because there’s no conclusion to the story – although it’s not a bad thing to want to keep reading into the five issue Planet X, which I’ll be doing now.
Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.
Greetings, mutants! This much is true: Jonathan Hickman and an army of collaborators totally reinvigorated the X-books with the twin House of X/Powers of Xminis and the subsequent wave of related X-titles. The overall storyline gave the subline a much-needed shot in the arm and propelled the X-Men back to the forefront of comics conversation. Anyone that even vaguely pays attention knew that the story would get represented in figure form sooner rather than later. The (first?) House of X Marvel Legends is in stores now. Let’s take a look.
Overview: The initial figure selections are totally sensible. Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Moira McTaggert are crucial to this particular story. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Wolverine are likewise pivotal and among the most important X-characters (in fact, those three, Xavier, and Magneto appear on the House of X #1 cover). The Omega Sentinel appears as an antagonist early on, and the Tri-Sentinel looks cool as hell. So, onward.
Moira McTaggert: It’s about time. Moira McTaggert is about as important as a supporting character in the history of X-Men that I can think of. She should have been made years ago in her classic yellow and purple costume. I thought it was excellent that Hickman’s story elevated her profile and gave her an amazing and surprising backstory. Hasbro cleverly expounded on Moira’s multi-faceted role by making the figure in such a way that in can have two distinct looks. One is jaunty, mod-ish look with the cap and scarf, and the other, which I prefer, is the scientist look with the lab coat. This is another good example of Hasbro creating maximum value with extra parts and accessories that can completely change a figure. Here you have an extra head, two extra arms, extra hands, the removable lab coat piece, and the scarf, as well as a science book. The design team obviously put a lot of thought and care into the look. Amid iconic mutants, they made Moira stand out.
Professor Charles Xavier: The helmeted Xavier was an instantly iconic look. Nevertheless, the figure also comes equipped with an extra regular head and an attachable psionic power effect. The figure’s slim build is evocative of the fact that Hasbro really has developed a broader array of body types to more accurately capture a character. Maybe I like it more because I like the story, but I appreciate that it’s sometimes more difficult to nail the simpler design. This is a solid piece.
Magneto: I’ve been waiting for a white-costumed Magneto for some time, and I was not disappointed. This is a figure with presence. Great head/helmet and cape sculpts pull this together, and the extra grasping hands are perfect for poses to would illustrate Magneto using his powers. The stark white next to the primarily black costume of Xavier is a great contrast, and they look really good next to one another.
Marvel Girl: There were those that were unhappy with Jean taking back the Marvel Girl name and costume in the House storyline, but it’s hard to argue with an iconic name and look. In figure terms, this is an excellent representation of Jean from the storyline, and a solid take if you want to get a second one for your classic-era display. The only negative for me is that the stiff vinyl of the skirt makes leg poseability a little bit difficult. Apart from that, it’s a good version.
Cyclops: As Cyclops is one of my all-time favorite characters, I’m always down for another version. I like the new blue-on-blue costume; it’s a deceptively simple, but cool, design. In terms of the sculpt, it’s a really good representation of Scott Summers. Like the previous Retro Cyclops in the X-Factor costume, this employs a second head and an attachable optic blast. This is another strong entry.
Wolverine: Let’s hear it for the fat claws! I vastly prefer the broader blades to the slimmer ones, and this figure gets that exactly right. And again, I’m happy that Hasbro makes a consistent effort to keep Wolverine shorter to be in proper scale with the other characters. While this costume is specific to the House/Powers story, this is actually a really strong Wolverine for those that collectors that just want a good version of each character.
Omega Sentinel: I’m always up for a previously unmade X-villain, so I was pleased to see this one added. The Omega Sentinel comes with two heads; the bald one reflects the House/Powers appearance, and the head with hair is an earlier look. Yes, the hair is a different color than the comics appearance, but the volume and detail of the hair sculpt is impressive. The interchangeable weaponized arms are great; they really make the figure pop and stand out from the other figures on the shelf. This is a dark horse favorite for me in this wave.
Tri-Sentinel: I’m going to be completely honest: getting the three heads into the body was a MASSIVE pain in the ass. I can’t recall the last time I had this much trouble fitting a BAF piece in, let alone three. I had to go the hot water route on the neck joints in order to finally get them to fit. By contrast, the arms and legs fit extremely easily. Difficulty aside, I think it’s a great-looking BAF. As a big Neon Genesis Evangelion fan, I like the subtle referencing here. I also like BAFs that are big, and this fits the bill. It’s also surprisingly poseable. This and the Omega Sentinel look great next to each other; when I get a chance to do some shelf adjusting, I’ll be putting them next to Nimrod, too.
This is another strong showing from the Marvel Legends team. I do hope that we get some more House/Powers figures; I’d like to see a Marauders Kate Pryde, more New Mutants, and some undone characters, like Quentin Quire, in particular. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. What about you, readers? What’s your take?
2020 definitely felt like a year where I embraced comics in all their different formats and genres from the convenient, satisfying graphic novella to the series of loosely connected and curated one shots and even the door stopper of an omnibus/hardcover or that charming webcomic that comes out one or twice a week on Instagram. This was partially due to the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down comics’ traditional direct market for a bit so I started reviewing webcomics, trade paperbacks, graphic novels and nonfiction even after this supply chain re-opened. I also co-hosted and edited two seasons of a podcast about indie comics where we basically read either a trade every week for discussion, and that definitely meant spending more time with that format. However, floppy fans should still be happy because I do have a traditional ongoing series on my list as well as some minis.
Without further ado, here are my favorite comics of 2020.
10. Marvels Snapshots (Marvel)
Curated by original Marvels writer Kurt Busiek and with cover art by original Marvels artist Alex Ross, Marvels Snapshots collects seven perspectives on on the “major” events of the Marvel Universe from the perspectives of ordinary people from The Golden Age of the 1940s to 2006’s Civil War. It’s cool to get a more character-driven and human POV on the ol’ corporate IP toy box from Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway exploring Namor the Submariner’s PTSD to Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Benjamin Dewey showing the real reason behind Johnny Storm’s airhead celebrity act. There’s also Mark Russell and Ramon Perez’s take on the classic Captain America “Madbomb” storyline, Barbara Kesel’s and Staz Johnson’s sweet, Bronze Age-era romance between two first responders as the Avengers battle a threat against the city, and Saladin Ahmed and Ryan Kelly add nuance to the superhuman Civil War by showing how the Registration Act affects a Cape-Killer agent as well as a young elemental protector of Toledo, Ohio, who just wants to help his community and do things like purify water. However, the main reason Marvels Snapshots made my “favorite” list was Jay Edidin and Tom Reilly‘s character-defining work showing the pre-X-Men life of Cyclops as he struggles with orphan life, is inspired by heroes like Reed Richards, and lays the groundwork for the strategist, leader, and even revolutionary that appears in later comics.
Fangs is cartoonist Sarah Andersen’s entry into the Gothic romance genre and was a light, funny, and occasionally sexy series that got me through a difficult year. Simply put, it follows the relationship of a vampire named Elsie and a werewolf named Jimmy, both how they met and their life together. Andersen plays with vampire and werewolf fiction tropes and sets up humorous situations like a date night featuring a bloody rare steak and a glass of blood instead of wine, Jimmy having an unspoken animosity against mail carriers, and just generally working around things like lycanthropy every 28 days and an aversion to sunlight. As well as being hilarious and cute, Fangs shows Sarah Andersen leveling up as an artist as she works with deep blacks, different eye shapes and textures, and more detailed backgrounds to match the tone of her story while not skimping on the relatable content that made Sarah’s Scribbles an online phenomenon.
I really got into Vault Comics this year. (I retroactively make These Savage Shores my favorite comic of 2019.) As far as prose, I mainly read SF, and Vault nicely fills that niche in the comics landscape and features talented, idiosyncratic creative teams. Heavy is no exception as Max Bemis, Eryk Donovan, and Cris Peter tell the story of Bill, who was gunned down by some mobsters, and now is separated from his wife in a place called “The Wait” where he has to set right enough multiversal wrongs via violence to be reunited with her in Heaven. This series is a glorious grab bag of hyperviolence, psychological examinations of toxic masculinity, and moral philosophy. Heavy also has a filthy and non-heteronormative sense of humor. Donovan and Peter bring a high level of chaotic energy to the book’s visuals and are game for both tenderhearted flashbacks as well as brawls with literal cum monsters. In addition to all this, Bemis and Donovan aren’t afraid to play with and deconstruct their series’ premise, which is what makes Heavy my ongoing monthly comic.
Writer/artist Katie Skelly puts her own spin on the true crime genre inMaids, a highly stylized account of Christine and Lea Papin murdering their employers in France during the 1930s. Skelly’s linework and eye popping colors expertly convey the trauma and isolation that the Papins go through as they are at the beck and call of the family they work almost 24/7. Flashbacks add depth and context to Christine and Lea’s characters and provide fuel to the fire of the class warfare that they end up engaging in. Skelly’s simple, yet iconic approach character design really allowed me to connect with the Papins and empathize with them during the build-up from a new job to murder and mayhem. Maids is truly a showcase for a gifted cartoonist and not just a summary of historical events.
In her webcomic Grind Like A Girl, cartoonist Veronica Casson tells the story of growing up trans in 1990s New Jersey. The memoir recently came to a beautiful conclusion with Casson showing her first forays into New York, meeting other trans women, and finding a sense of community with them that was almost the polar opposite of her experiences in high school. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the evolution of Veronica Casson’s art style during different periods of her life from an almost Peanuts vibe for her childhood to using more flowing lines, bright colors, and ambitious panel layouts as an older teen and finally an adult. She also does a good job using the Instagram platform to give readers a true “guided view” experience and point out certain details before putting it all together in a single page so one can appreciate the comic at both a macro/micro levels. All in all, Grind Like A Girl is a personal and stylish coming of age memoir from Veronica Casson, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.
Thai/Italian cartoonist Elisa Macellari tells an unconventional World War II story in Papaya Salad, a recently translated history comic about her great uncle Sompong, who just wanted to see the world. However, he ended up serving with the Thai diplomatic corps in Italy, Germany, and Austria during World War II. Macellari uses a recipe for her great uncle’s favorite dish, papaya salad, to structure the comic, and her work has a warm, dreamlike quality to go with the reality of the places that Sampong visits and works at. Also, it’s very refreshing to get a non-American or British perspective on this time in history as Sampong grapples with the shifting status of Thailand during the war as well as the racism of American soldiers, who celebrate the atomic bomb and lump him and his colleagues with the Japanese officers, and are not shown in a very positive light. However, deep down, Papaya Salad is a love story filled with small human moments that make life worth living, like appetizing meals, jokes during dark times, and faith in something beyond ourselves. It’s a real showcase of the comics medium’s ability to tell stories from a unique point of view.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (with colorist Jacob Phillips) are two creators whose work has graced my “favorite comics” list many times. And this time they really outdid themselves with the graphic novella Pulpabout the final days of Max Winters, a gunslinger-turned-Western dime novelist. It’s a character study peppered with flashbacks as Phillips and Phillips use changes in body posture and color palette to show Max getting older while his passion for resisting those who would exploit others is still intact. Basically, he can shoot and rob fascists just like he shot and robbed cattle barons back in the day. Brubaker and Phillips understand that genre fiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is informed by the historical context around it, which is what makes Pulp such a compelling read. If you like your explorations of the banality of evil and creeping specter of fascism with heists, gun battles, and plenty of introspection, then this is the comic for you.
Music is my next favorite interest after comics so My Riot was an easy pick for my favorite comics list. The book is a coming of age story filtered through 1990s riot girl music from writer Rick Spears and artist Emmett Helen. It follows the life of Valerie, who goes from doing ballet and living a fairly conservative suburban life to being the frontwoman and songwriter for a cult riot girl band. Much of this transformation happens through Helen’s art and colors as his palette comes to life just as Valerie does when she successfully calls out some audience members/her boyfriend for being sexist and patronizing. The comic itself also takes on a much more DIY quality with its layouts and storytelling design as well as how the characters look and act. My Riot is about the power of music to find one’s identify and true self and build a community like The Proper Ladies do throughout the book. Valerie’s arc is definitely empowering and relatable for any queer kid, who was forced to conform to way of life and thinking that wasn’t their own.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: slice of life is my all-time favorite comic book genre. So, I was overjoyed when writers Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, artist Jenny D. Fine, and colorist Mx. Struble announced that they were doing a monthly slice of life comic about a brother, sister, and their best friend/ex-boyfriend (respectively) set in San Francisco that also touched on the gay and indie music scene. And Getting It Together definitely has lifted up to my pre-release hype as Grace and Spahi have fleshed out a complex web of relationships and drama with gorgeous and occasionally hilarious art by Fine and Struble. There are gay and bisexual characters all over the book with different personalities and approaches to life, dating, and relationships, which is refreshing too. Grace, Spahi, and Fine also take some time away from the drama to let us know about the ensemble cast’s passions and struggles like indie musician Lauren’s lifelong love for songwriting even if her band has a joke name (Nipslip), or her ex-boyfriend Sam’s issues with mental health. I would definitely love to spend more than four issues with these folks.
My favorite comic of 2020 was The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott , a debut graphic novel by cartoonist Zoe Thorogood.The premise of the comic is that Billie is an artist who is going blind in two weeks, and she must come up with some paintings for her debut gallery show during that time period. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott boasts an adorably idiosyncratic cast of characters that Thorogood lovingly brings to life with warm visuals and naturalistic dialogue as Billie goes from making art alone in her room to making connections with the people around her, especially Rachel, a passionate folk punk musician. The book also acts as a powerful advocate for the inspirational quality of art and the act of creation. Zoe Thorogood even creates “art within the art” and concludes the story with the different portraits that Billie painted throughout her travels. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott was the hopeful comic that I needed in a dark year and one I will cherish for quite some time as I ooh and aah over Thorogood’s skill with everything from drawing different hair styles to crafting horrific dream sequences featuring eyeballs.
Greetings and welcome back! Today we’re looking at the Marvel Legends Retro X-Men assortment, which is in-stores now. I’ve also seen this referred to as the Vintage X-Men wave, but HasbroPulse lists the figures as Retro, so we’re going with that. We’d like to thank Hasbro for providing these figures free for the purposes of review. Let’s get started.
Dazzler: When the announcements came down, this was the figure in the group that made me the most excited. You’ve probably seen people refer to this one as “Outback Dazzler.” If you didn’t know, that’s in reference to the ‘80s storyline just after “Fall of the Mutants.” The world believes that the X-Men died fighting the Adversary, but they’re really operating out of the former Reaver base in the Australian Outback. This ran from Uncanny X-Men #229 to, more or less, issue #253 (most of the X-Men finish going through the Siege Perilous in #251, the same issue where Wolverine is crucified by the Reavers; Jubilee rescues him, and we start seeing where the X-Men are popping up around the world in #253. Got that? It’s good stuff, and it also includes costumes for Rogue (black and green) and Psylocke (the armor) that would made cool figures, too). Dazzler also sported this costume in the X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men animated pilot and the awesome stand-up arcade game by Konami.
AND . . . I am NOT disappointed. This is a great figure.
It’s one of those cases where it feels like the character was peeled right off
the page. Marc Silvestri drew the bulk of that run, and they did him proud
here. The only possible improvement, in my opinion, would have been the
inclusion of an extra “finger-gun” hand. But man, did they get the little
details right. The red band on the leg, the star on the other leg, the separate
belt, the jacket, the headband, the fit of the gloves . . . those bits are all
outstanding. I’ve also been increasingly happy with the hair work that the ML
team is doing; their rendition of Dazzler’s do is no exception. This is
superior work, and I can’t believe that we’ve gotten both classic renditions of
Dazzler in such a short time.
Storm: Honesty time. I was bummed that this wasn’t First Appearance/Dave Cockrum-costume Storm. The line needs that figure. However, I understand this iteration of Storm was in big demand, and they did a bang-up job on her. The hair and face sculpts are the stand-outs, here. The cape is good; it can be a little difficult to pose the figure with the cape, considering the shoulder pieces, but those pieces are a necessary (and nice-looking) inclusion. The lightning effects are an obvious, but welcome, inclusion. This figure is a fine piece of work, but I was not its target audience.
Wolverine: Marvel Legends: Keeping Wolverine short! Yes! I love the continued emphasis on Wolverine’s diminutive stature. This is also a figure that’s been long-awaited by big portions of the fandom. It reflects that costume that Wolverine wore in his first ongoing solo series, right from the cover of the first issue. The angry/berserker face is inspired by that cover as well. It’s a nice-sculpt and definitely poseable, and it comes with extra non-clawed fists and a samurai sword. It’s also appropriate that we get this version in an assortment with . . .
Silver Samurai: I honestly can’t believe it’s taken this long to get to Silver Samurai in the Legends vertical, but I’ll take it. This guy’s got insanely detailed armor, a perfect in-character expression, and solid work on all the details from the helmet on down. I like that he’s big, but not excessive; he’s not Cull Obsidian-sized, after all. Silver Samurai first appeared in 1974, and for a few years he battled the likes of Spider-Man, Daredevil, Black Widow, and Shang-Chi. He and Viper ran up against the New Mutants in issue #5 and 6 or their original series before heading into the classic battle with Wolverine and Rogue in Uncanny X-Men #172-174. For that reason, I took some extra pics with Viper (Madame Hydra) and the appropriately-costumed Wolverine. This one looks good, kids. He’s a great addition to your gallery of X-villains.
Iceman: I think this Iceman is (don’t say it, don’t say it) pretty cool. I like the crystallization effects in the paint op, and the separation on the belt is nice. The ice-sled stand is a good piece. I’m not sure how much demand there was for Iceman after the recent previous version, but I suspect that there were a fair number of people that missed that one that now get a chance to own this one, and increased availability or repeat offerings are never a bad thing. I’m marking this one for display with my X-Factor subsection, which is also going to include . . .
Cyclops: In the land of awesome head sculpts, the new Cyke is royalty. Let’s roll back to the history a minute: this costume debuted on the cover of the original X-Factor #1, and it was also the costume used for the very first Cyclops figure from the original Toy Biz line of X-Men figures in the ‘90s. There was a previous ML variant of this outfit, but this new figure is The Stuff. Aside from just generally great sculpting and the classic “two-finger trigger gesture” on the left hand, it’s a strong representation. The best part, for me, would have to be the two heads and the optic blast accessory. The first head has a terrific “energy leak” feature, demonstrating the smolder that artists frequently depict as emanating from Cyke’s visor, post-blast. The second head is made to accommodate the insertion of the optic blast accessory into the visor, and it’s just great. Hasbro has really upped the game on power accessories in the past couple of years (Psylocke’s butterfly, the frequent magic/light/energy attachments, the lightning, etc.), but this is a champ. It literally looks like a Walt Simonson-drawn optic blast. As a big fan of Scott Summers, this figure is DEFINITELY made for me, and it is most welcome.
There you go, mutant-lovers. How do you feel about this wave? What’s your favorite? Tune in next week when we take a look at the X-Force wave that features the Wendigo Build-A-Figure. Thanks for reading!
This week, take a trip to your local comic shop to check out the new releases from Diamond Select Toys! Two new Gallery Dioramas, a Select action figure, a Vinimate vinyl figure, and two Gentle Giant Ltd. statues are now available, including characters from DC Comics, Marvel Comics and Godzilla himself!
DC Comic Gallery Deluxe Dark Knight Returns Batman & Robin PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! The Dark Knight returns! As seen in the classic Frank Miller mini-series, an older Batman teaches the finer arts of slingshot usage to his newest Robin, Carrie Kelly. This 9-inch-scale Deluxe PVC Diorama measures approximately 8 inches tall, is made of high-grade plastic, and features detailed sculpting and paint details. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Shawn Knapp, sculpted by Alterton! (Item #MAR192441, SRP: $69.99)
Godzilla Vinimates Vinyl Figures Series 1 – Godzilla 1954
A Diamond Select Toys release! The King of All Monsters is now the King of All Vinimates! Godzilla and Mechagodzilla headline the first series of 4” vinyl figures based on the classic Godzilla films! The black-and-white Godzilla of 1954 is the first to arrive, and it has an articulated neck and tail to customize its pose. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Barry Bradfield! (Item #MAR192451, SRP: $9.99) COMING SOON: Godzilla 1999 (Item #MAR192452, SRP: $9.99), Mechagodzilla (Item #MAR192453, SRP: $9.99)
Marvel Comic Gallery Dazzler PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! Disco never dies! The mutant Dazzler has had a number of looks over the years, but her most famous look is still her disco outfit from 1980. In her silver jumpsuit, the pop starlet has a microphone in one hand and her trademark light effect emanating from the other. And who can forget her roller skates and disco ball necklace? Measuring approximately 9 inches tall, this PVC diorama was sculpted by Alejandro Pereira based on a design by Uriel Caton. Packaged in a full-color window box. (Item #FEB192445, SRP: $49.99)
Marvel Select Psylocke Action Figure
A Diamond Select Toys release! You don’t have to be psychic to know that Marvel Select have been requesting a Psylocke action figure for a long time, and now DST has delivered! Joining the legion of X-Men Select figures, Psylocke measures approximately 7 inches tall and comes packaged in the display-ready Select packaging, with side-panel artwork for shelf reference. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios! (Item #FEB192448, SRP: $29.99)
FROM GENTLE GIANT LTD.
Marvel Wolverine ’74 Collector’s Gallery Statue
Gentle Giant Ltd. celebrates almost 45 years of Wolverine with the fourth statue in our popular Wolverine Collector’s Gallery series. The 1:8 scale Wolverine ‘74 Collector’s Gallery statue comes with real metal claws, an attitude of “being the best at what he does” and is inspired by the cover art for Old Man Logan Vol. 2 #21. This Collector’s Gallery statue comes on a black, hexagon base with the Wolverine logo, and can fit together alongside the other releases in the Wolverine statue line. The Wolverine ‘74 Collector’s Gallery Statue has been digitally sculpted and hand-painted by the amazing artisans of Gentle Giant Studios and each one comes hand-numbered with a certificate of authenticity. (Item #AUG182642, SRP: $159.99)
Marvel Cyclops Animated Statue
Cyclops is the 19th release in our popular Marvel animated statues and is based on the art from the variant comic book cover of Giant Size Little Marvel AvX issue #1. Cyclops is decked out in his blue and gold X-Men uniform with a cool reflective visor. This adorable X-man is ready to take on your Magneto Marvel Animated Statue (sold separately) in a battle of cuteness! Each animated statue is hand-cast, hand-painted, and hand-numbered with a limited-edition Certificate of Authenticity. (Item #NOV182385, SRP: $64.99)
San Diego Comic-Con 2019 is upon us, and Diamond Select Toys has lots of new items out for display. Check out some of what has been revealed at this year’s show below.
Bruce Lee Gallery Smoke PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! Bruce Lee is the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times in this new gallery PVC Diorama from DST! Wearing his famous yellow tracksuit, launching a blistering kick with its very own smoke trail, this approximately 10-inch diorama is made of high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Nelson X. Asencio, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #JUL192658, SRP: $49.99)
DC Comic Gallery Wonder Woman PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! This Wonder Woman has us tongue-tied! The Amazonian warrior breaks out her golden lasso and a sword in this all-new PVC diorama from the DC Gallery line. Based on her comic-book appearance, this approximately 9-inch diorama is made of high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #JUL192663, SRP: $49.99)
DC TV Gallery Teen Titans Go Beast Boy PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! The wise guy of the Teen Titans team is the newest PVC diorama in the DC Gallery line! Based on his appearance in Teen Titans Go!, this approximately 9-inch diorama is made of high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box Designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Varner Studios. (Item #JUL192662, SRP: $49.99)
Godzilla Gallery King Ghidorah 1991 PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! From the distant future, a new line of Gallery PVC Dioramas rises! Starring Godzilla, his allies and his enemies, each diorama features exacting sculptural and paint detail. The second offering features King Ghidorah in his 1991 appearance, from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, and measures approximately 10 inches tall. Connect it with Godzilla to form a larger diorama! Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Jorge Santos Souza. (Item JUL192661, SRP: $69.99)
Marvel Animated X-Men Cyclops Resin Mini-Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! Scott Summers kicks of a new line of busts based on the classic X-Men animated series! Depicting Cyclops with a gleam in his visor and his fists at the ready, this approximately 6-inch resin bust is limited to only 3,000 pieces and comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Joe Menna. (Item # JUL192665, SRP: $59.99)
Marvel Comic Gallery Beast PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! Welcome to the Danger Room! The bouncing blue Beast artfully dodges projectiles launched by the X-Men’s training facility in this dynamic new diorama in the Marvel Gallery line! This 10-inch diorama is made of high-quality PVC with detailed sculpting and paint applications, and comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Sam Greenwell. (Item #JUL192666, SRP: $49.99
Marvel Comic Milestones Ghost Rider Resin Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! Gaze into his penance stare! The original Spirit of Vengeance pulls off stunt worthy of the daredevil he is in this dynamic new statue from the Marvel Milestones collection! Seen as he swings a chain from the handlebars of his motorcycle, this approximately 15-inch resin statue is limited to only 1,000 numbered pieces and comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed by Nelson X. Asencio, sculpted by Mat Brouillard. (Item #JUL192672, SRP: $299.99)
Marvel Movie Gallery Avengers: Endgame War Machine PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! From the ashes of Endgame, rises an all-new PVC Diorama for the Marvel Gallery line! James Rhodes in his War Machine armor levels an arm cannon at the forces of Thanos in this sculpture crafted in high-quality PVC, with detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Item #JUL192668, SRP: $49.99)
Marvel Movie Gallery Avengers: Endgame Rescue PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! With the Endgame behind us, here comes an all-new PVC Diorama for the Marvel Gallery line! Pepper Potts in her Rescue armor soars into action against the armies of Thanos in this sculpture crafted in high-quality PVC, with detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Item # JUL192667, SRP: $49.99)
Marvel Movie Gallery Avengers: Endgame Captain America PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! From the Ashes of Endgame, rises an all-new PVC Diorama for the Marvel Gallery line! A very worthy Captain America holds aloft Mjolnir in this sculpture crafted in high-quality PVC, with detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box. Sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #JUL192669, SRP: $49.99)
Marvel Movie Collector Black Panther Resin Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! The Black Panther strikes! Perched on a tree branch and prepared to pounce, this resin statue of the King of Wakanda is based on his film appearance. Packaged with a certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed and sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Item #JUL192671, SRP: $124.99)
Marvel Select Avengers Endgame Hulk Action Figure
A Diamond Select Toys release! Because you demanded it! The first Marvel Select action figure based on Avengers Endgame is none other than the heroic Hulk! Wearing his new outfit from the blockbuster film, this approximately 9-inch action figure features 16 points of articulation and interchangeable hands and fists. Packaged in display-ready Select action figure packaging with side-panel artwork for shelf reference. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Item # JUL192664, SRP: $29.99)
Legends in 3D Marvel Movie Thor Ragnarok Hulk 1/2 Scale Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! This bust burns like raging fire! Based on his appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, this resin bust of the Hulk is in 1/2 scale, and measures approximately 10 inches tall atop a movie-inspired base. Limited to only 1,000 pieces, it comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #JUL192670, SRP: $174.99)
Rocketeer Premier Collection Resin Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! The Rocketeer returns! The retro, rocket-fueled superhero strikes a pose atop a building in this new Premier Collection resin statue! Based on his appearance in the classic Disney film, this approximately 11-inch statue is limited to only 3,000 numbered pieces and comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item # JUL192660, SRP: $150.00)
IT Chapter 2 D-Formz Pennywise Mini-Figures 2-Pack
A Diamond Select Toys release! Because two clowns are better than one! This two-pack of D-Formz mini-figures based on the new IT movie shows Pennywise the clown in his muddy human form as well as his monstrous demon form. The pair of mini-figures comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #JUL192659, SRP: $15.99)
Cartoonist Ed Piskor wraps up the 1980s era of X-Men comics in the first chapter in the final installment of mutant magnum opus, X-Men: Grand Design – X-Tinction #1. On the first page, he picks a narrative through-line (The fate of baby Cable and his parent Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor) and a Big Bad (Mr. Sinister) and then runs with it to an optic blasting, dimension hopping, ginger psychic battle finale. Along the way, he writes one badass Storm and synthesizes complicated X-Men concepts like the Siege Perilous, Roma, the Outback years, and the deal with Forge and the Goblin Queen into one action-packed, entertaining narrative.
X-Men Grand Design: X-Tinction #1 has all kinds of interdimensional and psychic events in it, and this gives Piskor an opportunity to diverge from his underground comics meets Paul Smith, early John Romita Jr, and Marc Silvestri (Any time the Reavers appear.) style and use cool techniques like “ghosting” his figures against a black ground. He first uses this when Kitty Pryde is stuck in her phase state, or when Storm is on a physical journey with Forge’s ally Naze to get her abilities back. It transports the reader to a world beyond the melodrama of superhero comics and uses the mutant powers to further the story or tell something about Storm, Cyclops, and Madelyne Pryor instead of just making the punching look cooler.
Speaking of punching, Ed Piskor does not neglect one of X-Men comics’ usual strengths: well-choreographed team fight sequences. And he uses those fights in an economical way pulling off a three panel sequence that some writers and artists would pad for half an issue. Other than his retelling of the classic hand to hand fight between Storm and Cyclops for the X-Men leadership, my favorite fight in X-Tinction is a three panel old school/new school fight when Archangel flies Iceman up to freeze some of the Goblin Queen’s goons and Colossus and Rogue punch them out. In a single panel and thanks to some big Jack Kirby poses, you know that Colossus and Rogue are the team powerhouses while Archangel and Iceman rely more on strategy and subterfuge in a callback to the fights in the first volume of Grand Design.
The only real weakness I could find in X-Men: Grand Design – X-Tinction #1 is toward the end of the issue. Up to this point, Piskor is easily juggling the Storm and Madelyne Pryor/baby Cable subplots and crafting a downward spiral for the X-Men as their team’s strength is diminished by the Marauders and the Mutant Massacre. This leads into the Outback years, the big Madelyne Pryor reveal, and after some psychic foreshadowing: the return of Jean Grey. However, Piskor immediately throws the original five X-Men into the narrative without mentioning X-Factor or establishing their return. It makes for a cool team-up sequence, but muddies the narrative a little bit.
However, Piskor does redeem himself with a funny final couple pages where the different X-Men basically ask each other, “What the hell is going on?” Like Arcade, Ed Piskor has set up a death trap of continuity mimicking the increasing density of the X-Books with multiple titles and crossovers in the late 1980s, and it looks like he will use X-Tinction #2 to get our heroes, er, readers out of it. Even if the different characters’ backstories are a little opaque and it’s hard to keep track of a growing cast of characters, Piskor’s storytelling is always smooth with clear narration and bright eyed artwork.
Ed Piskor’s X-Men: Grand Design – X-Tinction #1 is an achievement in focus as he chooses not one, but two characters with convoluted backstories (Cable, Madelyne Pryor) to be the anchor point of his exploration into late 1980s X-Men comics. For all the cool digressions and sizzling subplots, Piskor rides the momentum of this mother/father/child/ex-girlfriend/creepy scientist guy melodrama from page 1 to page 40 and even plays telekinetic baby keep away along the way. Like Renaissance painters who would find their own story out of a complex tapestry of Biblical stories and classical mythology, Ed Piskor turns the “X-Overs” of the late 80s into a powerful family drama that happens to involve eye beams and psychic powers.