Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Today, I review a hundred issues...sort of.

Sometimes, eBay delivers a second chance. In 2007, a company called Graphic Imaging Technology, Inc. had the license for Marvel Comics, and released six DVD-ROM's collecting 100-issue runs of Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Avengers, Hulk, Ghost Rider, and today's selection, Uncanny X-Men.

I say second chance, since I remember seeing them in stores, but never bought one. I remember the price as being maybe fifteen bucks, but I'm not positive on that. The DVD-ROM's were one of those things I would see, mentally debate purchasing, but always put off: I had several of the issues in question, for one thing. Then one day they disappeared, possibly when Marvel took back their license, so they could sell the issues themselves at their Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited website. The GIT discs became either relics, or collector's items, depending: you can probably still get the Ghost Rider, FF, and maybe Hulk ones for a song. The others may cost you...

First up, GIT did a good job with the presentation: the menus are easy to use, and the issues are all scanned well. The issues are presented from cover to cover, including ads. The downside is...put bluntly, this run of issues isn't the best of Uncanny X-Men. It starts with #363 and runs to #474, plus four annuals.

#363 was from January 1999, written by Steve Seagle with art by Chris Bachalo...and was part three of the six-part storyline, "The Hunt for Xavier." Already we see a little problem with this collection: often, the X-Men books were interconnected. A story might start in the adjectiveless X-Men title, then alternate chapters with Uncanny. This DVD-ROM only gets two chapters of that particular six-parter, but that happens multiple times. I don't know if GIT is responsible for that error, or if they were only licensed for that stretch of books and did the best they could.

Putting aside the missing issues, what about the comics that are actually there? The first seventeen or so issues are from a strongly editorially-driven run of the book; and are entertaining if workmanlike. Alan Davis writes most of it, often with art by Adam Kubert. There's the X-Men's visit to Skrullworld right before Galactus eats it, Wolverine's "death" and transformation into a Horseman of Apocalypse, and the wrap-up of the eleven-year-old dangling plotline the Twelve. Then we get two chapters of the three-part High Evolutionary story, and then...Chris Claremont returns to the X-Men books.

Claremont took over on Uncanny X-Men #381, with Adam Kubert art, and a team consisting of Beast, Phoenix, Cable, Gambit, and Storm. But he would only stay on until #389, then Scott Lobdell would take a few before Joe Casey started his experimental, if not well-received run. (Casey discussed his Uncanny run recently, check it out.)

Then with #410, Chuck Austen took over, and would stay on the book until #443. Which means this DVD-ROM includes the seven-part Azazel storyline, "The Draco. Yay...if Casey's run wasn't "well-received," Austen's is somewhat reviled. Not entirely undeservedly.

Luckily, Claremont would return again with #444, and he brought Alan Davis with him. Yay! Davis seems to make everything better. This run isn't as...well, Claremonty as the second one; which makes it a bit more enjoyable. He would stay on until #473, but his last storyline would be wrapped up with Tony Bedard on script in #474, the last issue on the disc. (Ed Brubaker would take over on #475.)

Again, this 100-issue collection is by no means the best of Uncanny X-Men...but that pain is mitigated somewhat by the price. I paid about $27, which makes it about twenty-seven cents an issue. That forgives a lot of sins. You could read all those issues--and many, many, better ones--at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, but you would have to either subscribe for the month or the year, and you have to be online to access them. The DVD-ROM you can use whenever, and they are printable PDF's, so I suppose you could print off a copy of "The Draco" for someone in case they thought I was exaggerating about it. It may just come down to whether or not you can find a copy of the DVD-ROM on the cheap.

One more thing: in the Bullpen Bulletins in #363, in Stan's Soapbox, Stan Lee answers a question from me! There's your selling point right there!

1 comment:

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