And now for something completely different: a countdown! There's little doubt the X-Men are the greatest superhero team of all time. But which incarnation? This is my attempt to rank the absolute best, based on chemistry, character growth and story strength in a completely unscientific process. Here we go!
If you were to make up a list of the most influential comic writers of the 21st Century (so far,) Mark Millar would have to be on it. His depictions of Tony Stark and Nick Fury in "The Ultimates" and their influence on Robert Downey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson in their portrayals of those characters have left an indelible mark on how Marvel properties and ALL superheroes are received in popular culture. Part of the reason they exist so well in movie blockbusters is because the source material under Millar's watch is very much like one itself.
This double-shot is due to my completionist side getting the best of me. Originally purchasing "Generation X Classic" expecting it to collect the entirety of the Phalanx Covenant, it only covered the new team of teens' side of the story, leaving several gaps. "The Origin of Generation X: Tales of the Phalanx Covenant" fills those gaps, but omits a transition issue and Gen X numbers two through four.
Marvel's use of the "Captain Marvel" name has been hilarious at times. Seizing the trademark after DC lost it, they've had to sporadically produce a Captain Marvel comic every year or two in order to keep it. This became a problem when - in the early 80's - Jim Starlin had the company's first Captain Marvel (the Kree "Mar-Vell") die of cancer. So they created the light-powered Monica Rambeau, calling her the new Captain Marvel. As an Avenger, she didn't always have her own series, so they reprinted old Mar-Vell issues. Then Rambeau would have a one-shot every couple of years. From there it led to several sons, a Skrull Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell being plucked from a different point in time, Mar-Vell being cloned, Noh-Varr being called "Captain Marvel" on the Dark Avengers team, etc., etc.
Deadpool's popularity is an unlikely success story. Invented by Rob Liefeld (with patches galore and very few shots of his feet! Derp), Wade Wilson didn't hit his stride until Joe Kelly took the character over in his solo series. Constantly faced with the prospect of cancellation (which did happen,) Kelly really went for it, using the situation as a carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. Deadpool broke the fourth wall, had dueling description boxes and relentlessly mocked Marvel's own properties. Still waiting patiently for a Joe Kelly omnibus (which - announced last week - will be out in the new year,) I'd been a little reluctant to dip into the pool, pun intended. I picked up the Liefeld-drawn "Deadpool Corps" on a whim which was less than stellar and have been back to playing the waiting game ever since, except for the brief time I played "Hungry Hungry Hippos."
"Cable and X-Force" is a sleeper hit in the making. Crawling from the ashes of Avengers vs. X-Men, it has Cable leading a new team that - at the start - seems to have committed a terrorist act. With recent members of Cyclops' X-Men as part of the group, it's not a situation that bodes well and has the Havok-led Uncanny Avengers at their door. In a Tarantino out-of-sequence style, "Wanted" outlines why the "attack" actually happened and how the new X-Force came to be. As you might expect, Cable's motivations weren't what they seemed. Sounds like fun. Unfortunately, at first, a lot of people didn't think so.
For a while I was fully convinced that Geoff Johns was gradually being moved from series to series at DC to resuscitate all of its characters. He had a great run on Superman, he had what's considered the best run of the last 10 years on Green Lantern and - by all accounts - he's made Aquaman cool. Seriously! AQUAMAN! As the reigning king of DC, it's almost hard to believe that he worked at Marvel at all.