Nostalgia ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, Part I of II
By David Young
[An introduction from David here to the major essay covering his main theme next week...]
Let’s talk about classic stories. Let’s talk about the X-Men. Looking back, the Joseph storyline was rather ridiculous. Magneto's space station collapses and then Rogue just happens to find a guy that looks just like Magneto, only considerably younger. So, the X-Men just let him join because Prof. X has apparently went nuts, and then he takes off because a member of the Israeli secret service says she may know the truth about his origin, only to get killed by the real Magneto.
At the time, it was semi-decent going though. Was he really Magneto? Was he trying to infiltrate the X-Men? Did he have a genuine need to do good? If he was good, then who was that in Magneto's base? The Gambit / Rogue / Joseph thing seems so trite now, but people forget that this was four years ago, this was before Gambit was overused and back when he was still one of the most popular X-Men. Fans wanted him and Rogue to be together and they've been hoping for such since the early (adjectiveless) X-Men issues and Joseph was just a really big complication. Fans knew Rogue and Gambit would get together eventually, but this made the storyline less clear cut.
My big problem with the circa 100-250 X-Men is that they're not old enough to become charming again. I've been reading those old Defenders and I loved them. Yeah, by today’s standards they're pretty bad (how many issues did Hulk, Namor, and Val get together to save Dr. Strange from a relatively powerless mystic who somehow gains the means to attack him?) but they've got everything from huge lapses in judgement:
"What? A giant robot that will bring devastation to the world unless we stop it from saying it's own name? Then we must hit it with everything we've got! But Val, don't attack it."
"Bah! I hate men but I will do nothing to disobey your wishes"
"Oh no! Our plan to attack it with everything we've got, except for Val, has failed!"
"Then I will hit it with my sword!"
Next panel, Val has chopped the robot's head off and even though the robot had 20 pages to say it's own name, it's only half way done when Val FINALLY chops its head off
to dated slang (especially my poor lovely Hellcat) to stupid plot devices (Val goes to college to learn more of this world, makes friends with a guy named Dollar Bill and the Defenders, even Dr. Strange, decide to let him follow them around with a video recorder) but it's so dated it's charming.
I think those X-Men issues just need a few more years to age and then they'll be fine. Meanwhile, might I recommend a 1987 Avengers? It's a fine vintage.
[Next, in Part II - Future Classics and Soap Operas]
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