Friday, March 29, 2013

X-Statix Omnibus


Egad - this book is heavy! I don't know what insanity fell over my local Comic shop - but they have been marking Hardcovers down, and I just got another book for a great price. I got X-Statix, Marvel's quasi-independent X-Men book. You can actually find it, used, on Amazon for about the same price I found it. (This is my first time buying an Omnibus - and boy, is it heavy! This is probably why it was being discounted, even though it use to cost $125, marked down to around $30, -- it's a freaking heavy book! (If you order it online - expect extra shipping, because of the weight)


X-Statix, though, is a cool series -- and its entire run is collected in this volume. I mean EVERYTHING! All X-Force issues, all 26 X-Statix issues -- Short Stories, mini-series -- EVERYTHING!


This series was unique for Marvel, as it's really an independent title, masquerading as an X-Men book. Written by Peter Milligan, and drawn by Mike Allred - the title revolves around a group of mutants who, unlike Xavier's flock, want only to cash in their mutant powers and be famous. Social commentary, pop culture, and wacky-adventures collide in this series.


The title originally began as X-Force -- stealing and taking over the title with issue #116. I remember when that first happened -- it was strange, but the opening issue really convinced me to stick with the series. Allred's art simply popped off the page -- and from the very start, the series screamed "anything can happen", as they kill off the majority of the team in that first issue! A series of characters are added, subtracted, frequently, during the series -- with three characters standing out as central figures.

The Orphan


Aka Mr. Sensitive, Guy Smith, gave us the tortured, but super-cool mutant to lead the team. His powers, basically, is to be super sensitive -- like, he can feel a fly moving through the air, kind of sensitivity. He wears a suit which dampens these powers, to a livable degree. This first apperance tell us a lot about how messed up he is, as he frequently engages in a game of Russian Roulette. (Though, with his powers, I've always guessed that he would always be able to "feel" wether the chamber was empty or not, before pulling the trigger)


U-Go Girl


U-Go Girl acted as the group's teleporter. She basically symbolizes the trendy, self-destructive Hollywood model-type celebrity. She comes along with a built-in medical condition, as her powers make her extremely tired after teleporting; meaning she constantly looks sleep deprived, sometimes popping pills to stay awake. She became a fan favorite of the group.


U-Go Girl and Orphan are quickly tied together in a relationship. While it might be a Hollywood-style pairing, they both brought a lot to each others character.

Anarchist


Tike Alicar portrays the stereotypical black celebrity star, but challenges the mold behind the scenes - coming from an adopted white family, which has given him racial identity-issues, and obsessive compulsive issues. His power is the ability to generate acidic sweat, making him a powerful offense for the group.

Stealing the X-Force brand, this Hollywood-esq group of mutants became an entertaining and engaging soap opera, mixed with the sensibilities of a reality show. Even though it was stealing the title of an established X-Men franchise -- it nonetheless became a successes, probably due in part to getting fans like me to give it a try (even though it was co-opting a popular X-Men title).

Eventually the franchise was able to support it's own unique title, and became X-Statix! BUT - this came with a heavy cost, as fan-favorite U-Go Girl is killed, leading up to the new series.

Venus Dee Milo


Don't worry, though -- if X-Statix teaches you anything, it's that everyone is replaceable. Enter Venus Dee Milo - another mutant teleporter, who likewise begins a relationship with the grieving Guy Smith.


Her powers, though, initially preclude any kind of intimacy, as her powers require her to contain herself in an energy suit. Xavier eventually developed a better suit, though. She served as an adequate replacement for U-Go Girl -- but never fully took her place.

Dead Girl


Other cool characters included Dead Girl -- a zombie-fied mutant, who's power was coming back to life, regeneration, and talking to the dead. She even received a 5-Issue Mini-Series, which I've never actually read - which its inclusion in this book is what convinced me to buy it.

Doop


Doop - an odd floating green potato-shaped mutant, acts as mascot and camera man of the group.


He talks in a weird coded language "Doop-Speak", hangs out with Wolverine, and is (humorously) referred to by the team as possibly one of the most powerful and dangerous mutants of them all. You can decipher Doops language, to find out what the heck he's saying.


In addition to guest starring in an early X-Force issue, Doop and Wolverine shared a two issue mini-series together, as drawn by Darwyn Cooke.


Doop, in fact, even recently got a spot-light issue in Wolverine and the X-Men #17 (not collected here; this was more recent, probably still on comic shelves!) It was a hilarious re-visit to the X-Statix mentality, drawn by Allred, and showing a bit more of Doop and Wolverine's long lasting friendship.


This balling ball scene is probably one of my most favorite random moments in comics, EVER!

X-Statix, in examining society and popculture, the series delved into different areas of controversy. Two members of the group, Phat and Vivisector, announced that they are both gay - which originally didn't set too well with me (it was brought up rather suddenly, mid-story arc) - but has over time won me over, as simply not being a big deal.


I absolutely LOVED the second-to-last story arch, done by the series - which, I recall Peter Milligan said (I'm para-phrasing) "Next story arc, if we do our  jobs right - we'll all be fired!" Sure enough - the series was cancelled soon after -- probably in no small part to the Princess Diana storyline. Well... not Princess Diana -- the story was later changed to a fictional pop british celebrity -- but the original intent of the storyline was to have Princess Diana return from the dead (her mutant ability), and join X-Statix!!! It came as a surprise to no one when news came that the British Royals where shocked and appalled - leading to the re-write. (I later heard that the reported outrage, though, came from suspect tabloids -- so the story might not have been true.) Either way -- the fact X-Statix ended, after the next story arch, sort of fulfilled that original prediction!


For a send off, though -- X-Statix did it right; nothing less than an epic battle against the Avengers! Seeing the X-Statix group, usually considered off-continuity, matched up against the on-continuity Avengers was a strange sight, but offered up a lot of fun!


Each X-Statix member went up against a different Avenger. Anarchist went up against Captain America, and dealt with race relations. Vivisector went up against Hawkeye, Deadgirl fought the Scarlet Witch, and Antman fought against Venus Dee Milo.


Guy Smith and Iron Man both gave up their protective suits of armor and had a duel in the nude (very strange issue!)


Doop went up against none other than the Mighty Thor! Since Mike Allred's art is obviously very influenced by Jack Kirby, it was cool to see Allred depict Thor and Asgard.

The final issue, with X-Statix #26, connected back again with the opening issue, with most of the group being killed. You really have to respect both Marvel, Milligan and Allred, to be willing and able to kill off your own characters.


This is a wonderful series, and I'm happy to have run into this book for such a good price. The series definitely isn't for everyone - and will probably fly in the face of certain continuity-obsessed fans as well -- but, if you get hung up on something like that, you're missing the point of the series. This is a series about Fame, sex, lies, and death. This is X-Statix!

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