Monday, May 14, 2018

X-Men Visionaries - Neal Adams!

I knew of Neal Adams before. I'd run across his work at DC on a few issue of Strange Adventures starring Deadman and in some issues of The Brave and the Bold with Batman and his co-stars. But it was when he jaunted across the avenues to become (briefly) a Marvel artist that I really came under the spell of this most important artist of his generation. It was when Neal Adams joined Roy Thomas on a little project already headed for cancellation, a little project dubbed The X-Men. It always seems it's when books are doomed that sometimes real creativity can be tried and characters revived. Of course as long as a formula sells, there's little incentive to change the status quo, but that can be a problem too. The X-Men under the lush art of Neal Adams and inker extraordinaire Tom Palmer became a compelling commodity, at least for critics and fanboys. Sadly the sales of the title didn't save it, but as we all know that would change in a few years when another artist, Dave Cockrum in league with writer Len Wein, revived the title yet again.

In the Adams run we were treated to the menace of the Living Monolith, the return of the Sentinels, the revenge of Magneto with his Savage Land mutants in tow, and the debuts of Havok and Sauron. Not shabby, and then there was the resurrection of Professor X and a full-scale alien invasion to boot. I traded away my X-Men comics some years ago. I recently picked all these issues up again in the tome from 1996 called X-Men Visionaries 2 - The Neal Adams Collection. The coloring is a bit wonky, but it's juicy to have these grand stories in color once again.

Below are the covers of the issues involved. All feature Adams work save the last which is graced with a Marie Severin illustration.

Here is the cover to the second printing of this volume.

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  1. Curiosity Question Dept: So, then with issue #66 (?) – the reprints of the older X-Men stories started (ending with #94 debuting the new X-Men by Wein & Cockrum)…It is interesting that these solid-looking Thomas/Adams stories couldn’t keep the series afloat…Yet, for many months the book apparently sold well enough to stay published as a reprint title. How is this? Was it just that Martin Goodman was saving money not having to pay Thomas, Adams & the rest of the production staff? Or was there more to this decision?

    1. Marvel had a very robust reprint program in the Bronze Age (great for those of us who caught on at the time). The last new issue was dated January 1970 and the first regular reprint was September 1970. In between there had been a nifty annual during the summer. Why they used the old numbering and didn't put the reprints in a new title might simply be that the heroes were indolent. Clearly the production was cheaper and the margins must've still been quite small. The steadiness of the reprint sales certainly motivated the slow and steady use of the X-Men in MTU and Captain America and other venues. We got an Angel trilogy and we got the new Beast series as part of the monster push.

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