We were at the library last night so I could pick up an inter-library loan of a Fables collection (I love I.L.L.!) and so that Gwenda could pick up sixty pounds of young adult novels. On a whim, I pulled down Essential X-Men Volume 2. These Marvel "essential books" collect huge runs of comics on the cheap by reprinting them on pulpy paper sans color. Works well enough, for plot driven stuff drawn all clean and John Byrney, anyway.
I had my second nostalgia attack of the week when I flipped through and realized I was reading a reprint of the very first X-men comic I ever saw. I must have bought it on a Thursday afternoon right at the end of fourth grade, almost thirty years ago. It had to be a Thursday, because Thursdays were the day that my grandmother had a rinse and set at the Glamorette (still does, I believe) and I got to hit the library and the little convenience stores that sold comics.
Man, this issue is something else. Just 17 pages of story, but 25 named characters and settings that jump from Westchester to the "Imperial Center" planet of the Shi'ar Empire to the Outer Hebrides to Harlem to a private jet above London. Heroin addicts, alien princesses, Soviet mutants and guys with really big helmets speaking comic book versions of at least a half dozen accents.
I can't remember what my nine year old self thought about Luke Cage busting down a door to prevent Storm from being stabbed by a punk named "Bluie," but in that time and place, his dialogue must have been as alien to me as the outer space lady with the crazy eyebrows: "What's a righteous lady like you doin' in a dump like this?"
It's funny, I think of myself as a "DC guy," but the stories in the hundred or so issues of X-men that followed this one are the ones I remember best.
Okay, 'nuff o' that, true believers. Here's a little bit of writing news. Both "Another Word For Map is Faith" and "The League of Last Girls" are listed among the short stories on Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading List for 2006, where they're keeping some pretty heady company.