Thursday, January 14, 2016

I want a Claremont / Byrne X - Men movie

If you are reading this you already know that the birthday post about Traci Bingham didn´t go up as planned - which might not be a bad thing - since this gives me the opportunity to do a more comic oriented post about the Chris Claremont / John Byrne / Terry Austin period of UNCANNY X - MEN.

There are few things all comics fans can agree to so this alone should tell you what a high quality the stories and the art of these stories have since they are collectively considered the gold standard all other creative art teams on the title strive to achieve ever since - successfully or not.

And if you have watched Comic Book Girl 19´s fantastic X - MEN : EPIC HISTORY videos ( and at this point I assume everybody who has only the slightest interest in X - Men has ) you know that one of the reasons why she started this series ( which will hopefully be continued so please go and support her channel ) is that while there have been a lot of X - Men movies in the last years that are really good - and another one coming with X - MEN : APOCALYPSE - up to this point there hasn´t been an adequate representation of the Chris Claremont / John Byrne X - Men.

I know there are some changes you have to make when you adapt a comic from the printed page to the silver screen and I applaud the efforts they have done to stay true to the characters but I still miss the version that I became a fan of when I read my first issues in the spanish translations.

Which - as was the norm back then even with spanish comics - was not at the start of the Chris Claremont / John Byrne X - Men run but rather in the middle of The Dark Phoenix Saga. Luckily I was able to find a few older issues so that I managed to get as far back as The Proteus Saga.

Which in my opinion doesn´t get nearly enough credit as it deserves.

Being overshadowed by The Dark Phoenix Saga this four part story from issues 125 to 128 of UNCANNY X - MEN was a first step into the dark and realistic stories that were to follow during Chris Claremont´s and John Byrne´s tenure on the book. It also filled in a lot of back story with Professor Charles Xavier and Moira McTaggert and gave Chris Claremont a chance to explore the characters as they really went through the ringer in this one. Especially Cyclops showed why he was such a great leader and it is because of these issues that he became my favorite character in the book. This was before he was transformed into a giant dick, mind you.

Yep, Wolverine was still human back then and could be rattled by the experience of going up against Proteus who could bend reality to his will.

Which was a perfect opportunity for artist John Byrne to really let loose.

To back up on the story a little - and this is the part with the spoilers for those who still haven´t read the Chris Claremont / John Byrne run - when we open in issue 125 the X - Men have split into two factions and each of them thinks the other part is dead. Which is the result of a fight against Magneto in his base in Antarctica which was engulfed by lava and in the ensuing chaos the team was separated. Jean Grey and the Beast escaped into the antarctic wilderness where they were rescued by a helicopter. The rest of the team was trapped underground and ultimately landed in the Savage Land. Which is one of the stories I would have adapted as a X - Men movie and not only because Storm has a nice outfit in that one. 

You have the whole prehistoric world backdrop of a lost civilization at the earth´s core which has inspired stories from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle´s LOST WORLD ( which is adapted ad infinitum ) to Mike Grell´s WARLORD.

Ever since JURASSIC PARK dinosaurs in movies are doable and much more exciting than the go - motion puppets or lizards with prosthetics that were used in movies when I was a kid. So in this story you have the jungle backdrop, you have dinosaurs, you have topless tribeswomen even if John Byrne could not do full frontal nudity because of the Comics Code 

and you have Storm taking a bath which is sadly cut short by Karl Lykos, a mutant who transforms into a half human half pterodactyl creature. Who calls himself Sauron, so nice Tolkien reference there Mister Claremont.

Here is the color version of this gorgeous splash page from issue 115 :

Back then the art team combo of penciler John Byrne and inker Terry Austin were really knocking it out of the ballpark on that book with each issue. Here´s another awesome double page spread fron that issue :

Once again - to compare - here´s the original art of that splash page.

I know that I posted some of the art in my Days of Future Past long gone by post but then I only had the colored versions and I wanted to add the black and white art. Okay, back to missed opportunities in X - Men movies I would have probably given my right arm to see Janet Jackson in that role but I guess I´m the only one who would had cast her for that role.

The same goes for Traci Bingham, who was my other default casting for Storm before Halle Berry got the role. It really shows how business savy Pamela Anderson is because from all the babes that were on BAYWATCH she is the only one who was able to garner that attention into a long lived career. Even if she too did some questionable movies. And it´s not that Traci Bingham was less attractive but she somehow only ended up making bad movies and even worse reality tv after BAYWATCH ( which I covered a bit more in detail in her birthday post which I will hopefully get posted ).

Staying a bit on the topic of missed opportunities in the X - Men movies I have to say that even if I´m a big fan of Halle Berry ( I own CATWOMAN on DVD ) I was a bit disappointed that she didn´t get to wear the classic " swimsuit with leather boots " outfit. Halle would have totally rocked that.

Another costume that would have looked good on Halle Berry is the big 90s anime shoulder leather costume Storm had during the Blue Team / Gold Team era but I guess it was too new wave / punk for Hollywood.

Speaking of punk, there is also Storm´s punk outfit with the mohawk when she returned from SECRET WARS and lost her powers. She was totally bad ass, fought Cyclops for leadership of the X - Men and won. 

So from all of Storm´s long and interesting history almost nothing of that made it into the movie adaptions and somehow Halle Berry ended up with the worst of all the costumes from the comics even though they had such a variety to choose from. It´s a real shame that they couldn´t find more to do for such an award winning actress who still looks fantastic at 49. 

But back to The Proteus Saga ( which is what I was talking about before going completely on a tangent ) at the start of the story the x - Men think that Jean Grey and the Beast are dead while they think the rest of the X - Men are dead. The remaining X - Men have their adventure in the Savage Land in issues 114 to 116 and Jean and Hank have their own stuff to deal with so like in every good soap opera they keep missing each other until Nightcrawler has a run in with Beast. Finally the X - Men team is reunited.

Just in time to go up against Moira´s parasitic offspring Proteus who has left a trail of dead bodies in his wake and resides in Moira´s abusive ex.

Because of his reality warping powers the X - Men have a hard time but in the end it´s Colossus who manages to vanquish the villain thanks to his vulnerability to metal. It´s a really character defining moment for Piotr.

To read more about The Proteus Saga Duy Tano at THE COMICS CUBE has a post that covers all this, BRONZE AGE BABIES has single posts on all the issues ( 125 , 126 , 127 , 128 ) and SCANS DAILY has a post on Shreds of Humanity, a back up story by Ann Nocenti and John Bolton in issue 32 of CLASSIC X - MEN, which is the series where I could finally read all the issues by Chris Claremont that were missing in my collection in their original version. This was long before Marvel Comics had so many trades.

Coming back to the UNCANNY X - MEN run by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, one of the reasons why I got hooked so easily by the series was that John Byrne really knew how to draw hot babes ( remember this shot of Jean Grey ? ). It was just at the time when I became interested in girls but was too young to buy the PLAYBOY so comic massitas were my porn.

Especially the issues with the Hellfire Club although I wasn´t so sure at that time what the whole deal with Jean Grey´s outfit was since you could see more of her when she was wearing a bikini. Yes, the full appreciation for the Emma Peel inspired corsage and leather boots came years later.

But more than that these were really great stories and it´s a shame that most of it never made it into the movies. Now I could say that there are millions of poor movie goers out there who will never get to experience the greatness that was the new X - Men in its full effect because while some may actually set foot in a comic shop to get The Dark Phoenix Saga most of them don´t realize that there are also preceding stories like The Phoenix Saga or The Proteus Saga which are also part of that big opus.

Yes, I said " I could say " because I think that if you are too lazy to read the comics it´s your own fault with all the different versions like digital comics or the hefty omnibuses in which all these stories are available.

And this is all I´m going to say about this topic Today but I´m sure there will be more posts about the Chris Claremont / John Byrne run on X - Men in the future. When I have finished with this post I will try to finally get the Traci Bingham post online although I will probably change some of the pictures as I have used some of them for this post and I try to avoid posting the same pictures over and over again if possible. Next here will probably be my post about how Power Man and Iron Fist met Doctor Who.

As usual there are many websites to give thanks to and mention which were helpful during the making of this post or I found them while looking for something completely different and they still have something which might interest my readers. The impromptu outdoor danger room session from UNCANNY X - MEN 127 is the topic of two posts, one at SCANS DAILY and one at COMIC BOOK RESOURCES which also has posts on The Top Five " Bang ! You Dead ! " moments in X - Men comics , The Many Dead Loves of Wolverine , That Time Wolverine " Fought " a Little Lisping Girl Robot Bomb and the anniversary 50th issue of WOLVERINE by Marc Silvestri.

For a bit more background info SUPER MEGA MONKEY`S MARVEL COMICS CHRONOLOGY has a post on UNCANNY X - MEN issues 111 to 117 and iFANBOY has the famous page from UNCANNY X - MEN 142 where a sentinel kills Wolverine. Many thanks and kudos go out to all you guys.

We start Today´s video section with the first issue of The Proteus Saga and you can find the other issues ( as well as many more ) on YouTube.

I talked a lot about Chris Claremont so here he is on Comic Culture.

Another video with Amy Dallen about ... well, it says in the title that it´s about WOLVERINE & THE X - MEN ( which was one of the few good series left at Marvel before they relaunched it ) but the biggest part is about Amy going to the zoo to look for new students for the mutant school.

Since most of the videos from the X - MEN cartoon are of a questionable quality due to their restrictions Today´s cartoon related video is the Nostalgia Critic´s examination of the first episodes of the cartoon. And I have to agree, without the rapping wannabe juvenile delinquents from the german version the title song is totally Airwolf. By the way, not only was The Proteus Saga adapted in the cartoon - although in a much diluted version - one of the characters was Morph who was on EXILES and met another version of Proteus in one of the alternate realities they visited.

This is from an episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon I just watched and it´s the best musical impressions ever. Ariana is not " grande " where her height is concerned but her voice is " grande ".

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Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

Ah,comics instead of a Babe? You ARE getting old!! I loved Byrne's X-men run and one day I'll sit down and read them again....after The Avengers reading of course!

SUBZERO said...

Well, the Traci Bingham post should have been posted automatically but of course it didn´t work out like planned. At least I could shorten it a bit and include some new pictures.