Chad Bowers/ Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish/Matt Milla
So here we are in the middle of All New Marvel leaks week. There’s been 3 new X-men books announced so far, and Dennis Hopeless aside, I’m really not feeling them. Aside from some questionable character designs and artists, none of the rosters nor directions do much for me. It’s going to be weird to not be buying an X-book come this fall, but I’ll live, as there’s no shortage of great comics to buy at the moment. Case in point X-Men ’92, the digital first book from Marvel that’s based on one of the most lucrative and iconic eras of the team’s existence.
The 1990s were a weird period for comics. It was decade that brought us the rise and fall of the collector market, nearly saw the end of Marvel, the creation of Image and a brief love affair with the extreme. Comic Book Scholars (aka older nerds) have varying opinions of the decade, but one thing can be agreed on: No one franchise ruled the decade more than the X-men. The Uncanny X-men (mostly Wolverine) were everywhere: over a dozen books which crossed over every other months, TV, video games, chain pizza restaurants, Mall kiosks, and toy shops. It was a complete 360 from now, where Marvel merchandising partners are allegedly attempting to get the general public from forgetting the character.
At first glance, X-men ’92 would appear to be Marvel’s answer to DC’s Batman 66. But it’s more than that. Writers Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and artist Scott Koblish celebrate everything the decade brought to Marvel’s mutants, while using the iconic animated series roster. Don’t get me wrong, the comic is definitely faithful to the cartoon in terms of character behavior: Gambit is a peak scumbag, Cyclops has a stick up his butt, Jean Grey falls down a ton, etc. But it brings it a ton of things from the comics of the same time, as well as a character slightly newer to the X-lore. X-Men ’92 collects the first two digital installment of the series, in which the X-men throw down in a game of laser tag and investigate a rehabilitation center which reportedly cures villainous mutants of their evil ways. There’s some mention of Secret Wars related nonsense, but for the most part the crossover has minimal impact on the story, letting the creators tell their story.
Sims and Bowers, making their Marvel debut, tell a story that’s incredibly faithful to the way the characters were portrayed in that era, and one that’s quite hilarious. The writing duo make a ton of inside jokes, ranging from references to Pizza Hut tie-in comics, to cameos from internet famous X-Men podcasters, and some more accessibly ones, like setting the bulk of the first issue in a mall. The book is incredibly fun and clever, never punching down when it comes to the source material, but always embracing it. Artist Scott Koblish is also on point, channeling everyone from Jim Lee to Rob Liefield, making this book look like a product of the 90s. He and colorist Matt Milla are just dedicated to making this book look like the X-men 90’s animated series and slip in some deep cuts, like constantly miss-coloring Jean Grey’s gloves, changing the length of Cyclops’ neck, and never putting Rogue’s white hair streak in the same location. The duo absolutely nail the look and the feel of the show, to the point where I could here the animated series actors saying the dialogue in my head. And luckily for us, we don’t have to worry about the budget getting slashed at any given time.
X-Men ’92 is everything I would want from a book based on one of my gateways into the Marvel Universe as a kid. The source material may not be the best incarnation of the X-men, but it felt larger than life, something the creators of this book obviously felt as well. It’s tells a story that you may not like if you’re here for Secret War related content or aren’t familiar with the 90s era of the team, BUT I’m not here for Doom and am VERY familiar with the 1990s! I’m here to see the X-men fight Free Ranged Sentinels and protect the X-treme. Er Extreme. I’m not sure if Adam X, the X-Treme will be showing up in this book. I mean it would make sense, but I can’t promise it. Either way, pick this book up, in print or digitally if you like the stranger side of the X-men, or just like chili fries. It’s higher price point is well worth the trip down memory lane bub. #killme