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X-Men: The Hidden Years - Volume 2 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
I'm reviewing both volumes together in one entry since I read them back-to-back. I applaud Byrne's efforts to fill in the "missing years" of the X-Men, stories set during the time when their monthly title was in reprint-only mode.That time, leading from the last story featuring the original X-Men into the debut of the All-New X-Men (Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and company) years later, as a reader has always had me curious. Byrne, having co-authored and drawn some of the best, most-lasting X-Men stories of the 80s, should have been the right pick for this project. I ended up being a bit disappointed when I finally got to read the run in these two collected volumes (especially after the favorable reviews from several friends). Byrne's art is as open and airy as ever, a nice change from the ever-darker current comics art market (which I also like, but a breather is nice occasionally). But his story pacing suffers from what I perceive to be two problems. First, there's the modern penchant for "decompressed" storytelling, which is sometimes a boon and sometimes a curse. In Byrne's hands here, storylines drag out interminably before any conclusions are reached -- at one point in volume two I think there were 5 different major plots all going on at once. I'm fine with small character moments hinting at the next storyline to come (as with Candy Southern's appearance at the X-Mansion to deliver important news to The Angel), but when the author is juggling major plot action for 4 different groups of characters at once (Havok, Lorna, Iceman & Ka-Zar in the Savage Land; Cyclops, Candy, Angel and Marvel Girl in the hands of The Promise; Xavier and Beast with the Girl Who Controls Sentinels; and then the Fantastic Four vs. Magneto & Namor retelling from FF 102-104), something really has to give. Anyone one of these four storylines, or the ones that preceded, could have been shortened/compressed and still would have had room for character growth and Byrne's all-out fight scenes. The second problem, which rolls of of the first, is that it seems like this series came along during that time when Editors still felt like they could leave Byrne to his own devices and not lend some constructive criticism. At this point in the X-Men's history, the team had 5 regular members (Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl) plus Prof. Xavier and probationary members Havok and Lorna Dane. A small enough roster that should/could have been shown working together as the tight unite they'd become, dealing with the addition of two new members. And yet, in these two volumes representing 22 monthly comics, the team spends far more time apart than they do together, starting in the very first issue. I think a firmer editorial hand would have convinced Byrne to keep the team together, and still tell the stories he tells -- which might have helped make the stories feel less drawn-out and bloated. There are some great characterization moments, and I'm glad I read the book simply for the early Cyclops-Havok sibling dynamic, for the look at Beast's concerns that he would "go wild," and especially the way Byrne uses Iceman as the youngest member / hothead of the group. I also liked Byrne's appropriation of mutants from early 1960s Marvel comics, linking the company's pre-FF past to its present. I liked these stories, but felt they could have been so much better.
Apparently shipped four weeks ago, a Christmas gift for my X-Man fan son, will it arrive in the next two weeks or is the $8.00 shipping fee I paid lost as well?