Modern superhero books are often maligned as inferior when compared to Golden or Silver Age stories. Too much violence, too many tie-ins, aimless storytelling, poor understanding of the characters… the list of criticisms seem endless.
In the interest of fairness, here’s a list of 5 runs from 1980 to the present that do pretty much everything right.
5. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 2 #1-24 & Astonishing X-Men Giant Size (Joss Whedon & John Cassaday)
He may be famous for creating Buffy The Vampire Slayer (or more recently, directing the blockbuster The Avengers movie) but in 2004 Joss Whedon proved he could write comics when he and artist John Cassaday took on this new-at-the-time flagship X-Men title. While there’s no denying the characters are written by Whedon (i.e. quippy) his take on most of these characters is beyond reproach. He writes Cyclops the way we’ve always wanted him to be, explains Emma Frost‘s position within the team, forces Kitty Pryde to confront her feelings about her history at Xavier’s and Colossus being alive… hell, he even gave the oh-so-dull Professor Xavier an exciting action sequence and some interesting character development.
In addition to his understanding of existing characters, Whedon also managed to create some of the most solid X-characters of the past 20 years in Armor, Kavita Rao and Blindfold. Everybody sings the praises of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men but how many of his creations or concepts are still in use? The writers who followed Whedon on the title tried their best but none of them had the same magic. Cassaday’s art on this book is some of the best of his career, with the characters on display in surprisingly realistic physical proportions. Just look at the picture above; that pretty much says it all. Marvel Knights even released the entire run in motion comic format. Get it for your lazy friend who won’t read a comic but goes to see all of those horrible X-Men movies. They might learn something.
This article was first posted on May 26, 2013