I’ve been having a bit of bad luck when revisiting some of my favourite series from the 80’s as of late. Back in the summer I picked up the uber-large hardcover Inferno collection, featuring the X-Men, New Mutants, X-Factor, and the X-Terminators. While I had all of the issues save the later in single magazine format, I was quite psyched to have the entire storyline of Manhattan going to hell in one nicely put together package. The only problem was, that upon rereading Inferno, it wasn’t quite as cool as I remembered it. Sure, the X-Men stuff still worked for me, but the other mutant stories – they just didn’t hold up. It was a pretty disappointing revelation. Gone was a beloved childhood memory, and I didn’t even have George Lucas to blame.
With that in mind, one of my new year’s resolutions was to no longer purchase hardcover compilations of comic material that I already own. Seems reasonable, right? Well that resolution lasted all of one trip to Amazon.ca, when I saw that the X-Men Asgardian Wars was being collected into a brand new hardcover. Ah, The Asgardian Wars. One of my favourite storylines, consisting of the X-Men/Alpha Fight miniseries, the first New Mutants Special, and X-Men Annual 9. In the former, trickster god Loki pledges to bring peace to Earth by bestowing the gift of super powers on mortals. It doesn’t go as planned and the following issues deal with his vengeance on our favourite mutants. I read and reread those comics to death 25 years ago. And to have them on nice, glossy paper? How could I resist?
I will admit to some fear when the book arrived in the mail. Would it be another Inferno? Or even worse, would it be another Secret Wars II collection (yes, I agree, I should have seen that one coming). Thankfully, the answer is a resounding no.
The Asgardian Wars has held up amazingly well all these years after it was first published. I think the main credit has got to go to Chris Claremont, the X-Men architect who handled all the scripting for The Asgardian Wars (unlike Inferno, where there were other writers in the mix). At the time (and possibly even today), there was nobody who knew Marvel’s mutants better than Claremont, and his writing style perfectly suits the epic storyline. And it’s no exaggeration to say epic – we’re talking Gods and mortals and warriors death and deep philosophical debates about power. And there’s also Snow Giants.
And that’s just in the X-Men/Alpha Flight miniseries, which features more than it’s fair usage of the word “eh”. And while Claremont’s voice stays strong into the New Mutants Special and X-Men Annual 9, it’s matched by the amazing artwork of Art Adams (credited as Arthur but I grew up thinking of him as Art), whose distinct style seems tailor-made for the mythological setting of Asgard.
It took me about two hours or so to reread The Asgardian Wars and I must admit, I breathed a sigh of relief when I was finished. The story was every bit as good as I remember it. And as cheesy as it may sound, it was quite possibly even better. The stuff I loved about the X-Men (the conflict Cyclops had wanting to be part of the team while still being devoted to his wife, the chemistry between Wolverine and Kitty Pryde) still shined brightly throughout the pages. Pages that I’m sure I’ll be returning to again and again.
So much for new year’s resolutions. Whatever. It was worth the trip to Asgard.