Thee Comic Column #107: Drinking with Yost and Kyle’s New X-men in the Midwest!

86871-18078-105907-1-new-x-menNo, unfortunately this isn’t going to be a post about how I was able to film some segments of Drinking with Comics in Chicago and Dayton, the way I had planned to on my recent trip. However, just because I forgot to bring the proper sound equipment with me and thus didn’t get any usable footage doesn’t mean that I wasn’t drinking good beer and talking comics a large percentage of the time I was there. Chicago especially is where the idea for the show came from – late night parties with my friends where we’d inevitably end up clustered in the kitchen (why always the kitchen?) talking about Teenagers from Mars, Preacher, Sandman and of course debating the value of the superhero franchises at any given moment. It was a long trip – a great trip but seeing as it put me back down in LALAland this past Monday at the tip of an eleven day in-a-row work stretch it has also been an exhausting one. I spent eleven days in Chicago – mostly in the forested south suburbs – and then hitched a Greyhound bus to Dayton, Ohio where I crammed eleven songs with four friends – most of us having never played with each other before – and then did a gig on November 1st – el dia de los muertos. It was a great ride, lots of fun but…

But what about the comics? I’m getting there. But first,  if you’re a beer connoisseur and you’re ever in Dayton you HAVE to check out Belmont Party Supply. You have to. Check this out:

Belmont 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belmont 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believe me, I could go on. This store is LOADED with amazing, eclectic, independent and oddball beers. It’s a hard place for me to go to simply because it’s so damn hard to extricate myself from it once entrenched in its cooler-charger air and subtle tobacco smell. This is how a craft beer store should be run – and they’ve been doing it a lot longer than the current trend has been in fashion. That’s not a knock – I’m glad people are drinking good beer. It makes all of us smarter.

Glarus1Now, the comic shops in town – I did not get to them. With an hour drive both ways to the practice spot each of the three days leading up to the show and a ton of people to see (many of whom I was barely able to say hello to – sorry guys! Especially you Quinn!) I just didn’t have the time. HOWEVER – my good friends Ali and Tom – both avid comic book fans – recommended Bell, Book & Comic and  I really wanted to pass that recommendation along to anyone reading this that might find themselves near it. Here’s the website – looks great and again, Ali and Thomas know their stuff, so the next time I can get to Dayton I’m going to have them take me and spend the day.

Okay, now, what was I reading? Well, a late-night comics discussion fueled by New Glarus’ mighty Staghorn Octoberfest Beer led my good friend John to loan me the first (and only?) four trades of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost’s New X-Men:1052968-nimrod Childhood’s End. This was something I never had any intention of reading (nothing personal to the writers, who before this I was completely unfamiliar with), despite both John and several other friends’ rabid recommendations. John though had had enough and one night he showed up and put these books in my hands; a few days later when I stayed in all day nursing a hangover from mixing one too many different beers (don’t do that – never a good idea) I tore through three of the four trades in short order and found I was hooked. WOW!

Childhood’s End – also the name of a great Arthur C. Clarke novel by the way – takes place in an era of the Marvel U I have no real experience in – post House of M – and Kyle and Yost really set a dire stage for the classes of young mutants housed by Xavier’s Mansion. This plays directly off Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, as he was the first to really give 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center a high school-like set-up, with tons of kids of all young adult ages walking around, changing classes during passing period, lockers, etc. Kyle and Yost keep this but really down-size the already weakened mutant population post the Scarlett Witch’s “No More Mutants” spell that rocked the MU back in 2006. I can’t say reading these books has made me want to go back and read House of M, but it at least makes me interested in its aftermath, as the writers do a fantastic job of really getting into the physical, emotional and spiritual ramifications that this purging had on the mutant community, in a way not often seen in mainstream comics. Deep and psychological. And, as you’ll see from the image I chose, they also get points for drawing extensively from Claremont’s later era was well – bringing back Nimrod and heavily involving one of my favorite X-characters, the criminally underused Forge! What’s more – and I never thought I’d say this one – they really make X-23 a great character. Well, maybe not great in comparison to other characters in other books, but within the chemistry they set up here, with this team of young mutants fighting not for the future so much as their lives at any given moment, X-23 adds an irreplaceable element of severity that would otherwise leave the other personalities in the book feeling less potent. They have to deal with her and she with them – it’s a love/hate relationship that really makes for some great arcs. Of special note is headmistress Emma Frost’s methods for handling the girl she feels will ultimately lead to her teenage charges deaths.

Death – there is A LOT of it in this book, and it’s not bandied about without ramifications. Some kids in the school lose their powers as a result of Wanda Maximoff, some lose their lives. Some lose both.

Kyle and Yost’s New X-Men: Childhood’s End wasn’t the only book I read while I was in the Midwest but I’ll save Karen Traviss’ new GIJOE book for next week, as I am off to see Blade Runner in a cemetery. How’s that for a return to LA?

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Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

 

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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