Collecting comics was fun at first. Reading Uncanny X-Men was a treat every month and I still look back on those days fondly. Over the years, more and more mutant titles were added, but I didn’t mind. Then came the crossovers. I kept up for as long as I could. Eventually, I was overwhelmed and worn out by it all. Recently, I have gotten back into reading comics, if only a little. I have also had the chance to go back and read some of the stuff I missed. Here are three takeaways from X-Men: Onslaught Aftermath.
The art is as ’90s as it gets
There are some standouts — Joe Madureira has some particularly good moments — but much of the art is what you would expect from a comic book from the 1990s. The art is rarely bad, but it is just so over the top. Females are depicted in poses that show off their bodies. The male counterparts seem to be in constant pain. (Their veiny physiques are impressive though.)
Every once in a while there will be some very detailed panels. You can see the emotion in the characters. Of course, in the ’90s the only emotion that mattered was self-loathing, so many times faces are dull and lifeless. Oversexualization and ridiculous action poses run rampant, but it rarely gets deeper.
The issues seem to lack focus
I already know what people are going to say: I am picking up at random points in various series. This is absolutely correct. Still, it seems weird to start a trade with chapter two of a story that goes nowhere else in the book.
I have read plenty of trades and at times they can be difficult to follow. The good thing is, as you read along things start to come together or you notice how it ties into a theme. If the writing is really good, you can tell if it’s part of a long term build. The stories in Onslaught Aftermath are different. The issues here almost seem random. Everything is happening around the same time, but little of it seems related. The X-Men Unlimited issues are especially guilty of this. Each story seems like filler that serves no purpose at all.
At least there are guest stars
What works in television works in comic books. If the story is faltering, spice up the action with a load of guest stars. Onslaught Aftermath does just that in order to cover for its all-over-the-place story. Having X-Factor appear is not that big of a departure. As for Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man…?
While it may be obvious why the guest stars are there, it doesn’t change the fact that the stories are still aimless. Sure, it’s cool to see Spider-Man, but it would be even better if the story felt important. Silver Surfer tends to add a sense of gravity to any story he is in. Here, he just comes off as another character in some random story.
On the plus side, there is some good art. The cover for X-Factor #130 may be the highlight of the entire book. Though Spider-Man and Silver Surfer are not in the most memorable stories, they at least look good. It is a shame the same cannot be said for Doctor Strange.
For a lapsed fan, it is kind of neat to go back and see what you missed. Unfortunately, it can also a reminder of why you quit collecting comics to begin with.
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