Friday, October 22, 2010

An Introduction to the Retrospective Reviews of Chris Claremont

Before I start, I need to make it very clear that I am not a Chris Claremont fan. Like most kids who grew up on comics in the late eighties and early nineties, I was very aware of his contributions; not having direct access to his body of work at the time, I still found his broad plot outlines very appealing. His more notable stories were written before I was born, or before I was old enough to know what a comic book was. All I had to go on were Marvel cards and articles from various magazines depicting how great his various stories were. At best all I have ever been is a theoretical fan of Chris Claremont.

Eventually, I was finally old enough to go out into the world to collect my own comics. With a limited budget, I bought comics that I knew I would like based on the only indicator I had, which was dependent on the superhero featured in the comic. I ended up pretty much sticking to Spider-Man comics. It wasn't until I entered my late pre-teen years that I was finally able to pick up a copy of "The Dark Phoenix Saga". Everything that I had ever known about it made me feel like it was the story to beat all stories, and after reading it I was pumped. Watching as the X-men take on the Imperial Guard, for the fate of their friend and the universe--it was powerful stuff, and I wanted to read more, but I found that as I read more and more of his work, I was less and less impressed. By the time I got to his “Asgardian Wars” storyline, all I could think was, This is stupid.

Since then, I have opened myself up to more comics; from mainstream publishers like Marvel and DC, to the more alternative imprints such as Vertigo. After a decade away from reading Claremont comics, and having given myself some time to mature, I have come back to Chris Claremont to see whether my opinion has changed at all.

The time away from his comics has been a good thing because they have given me a chance to re-read his stories, and hopefully approach them with a blank slate. I won't lie to you when I say that there is some bias there, especially since my last impression of a work by Christopher Claremont was a negative one. I hope now, as I read these stories as an adult, that I can do one of two things: rediscover something about these classic stories that have endeared them to so many comics fans; or solidify my opinion of these stories and articulate what it is about these stories that bother me so much.

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