This was the second of three tradepaperbacks designed to show off the work of one particular contributor to The Uncanny X-Men. (There are other books in the Visionaries line for other titles, too.) Read on to learn about the days before the X-Men titles was cancelled in 1970.
Title: X-Men Visionaries: Neal Adams
Authors: Roy Thomas (eight issues) and Dennis O’Neil (one issue)
Illustrator: Neal Adams
Original Publication Date: 1996 reprint of material first published in 1969 and 1970.
Cover Price: $24.95US, $37.95 Can
Issues Reprinted: Uncanny X-Men #56-63, 65
Buy from: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca
This collects the issues of The Uncanny X-Men with Neal Adams pencilling. This includes part of the first Havok storyline (but not all of it), the first appearance of Sauron (who was named after the Tolkien character), a visit to the Savage Land, and the return of Professor X, 23 issues after the X-Men buried the
Sauron is actually interesting. I’ve read some issues with his return, and he’s never shown any depth.
This is the last time I’ll buy a trade paperback designed to showcase an artist. I should have looked more closely at the contents before purchasing this book. It starts in the middle of a story-arc, because that’s where this artist took over. (It opens in the last issue of the Living Pharoh arc, and then moves to the return of the Sentinels, the introduction of Sauron, a visit to the Savage Land, the return of Magneto, and the return of Professor X.) It skips issue 64, because that was a fill-in artist. Issue 66 was also a fill-in. It would have been nice to see issue 64 here, since there’s a noticable gap in events between two of these issues. Issue 66 would also have been nice, as that’s the last issue that was published before the title was cancelled, and later brought back as reprints from issue 67 to issue 93. I hope the Essential Uncanny X-Men line reaches Volume 3 so I can actually read everything that goes in the gaps.
When it comes to originality, this was unimpressive. Most of the book was spent bringing people back from the dead. Issue 65 seemed extremely kludgy, as the artist looked for a way to bring Professor X back from the dead. The Sauron arc was a nice break, since that was actually something new. Seven of these nine issues were all things I’d read before. I read most of it in later issues, though, so I won’t be too hard on this now. (At least, not until I read more of the early stuff.) I give it 3 out of 6.
The artwork is a mixed bag. The pencilling and inking look great, which is nice to see in a collection dedicated to an artist. The colouring is uneven. Some pages have great colour with gradients and such like you’ll find in modern comics. Others look terrible, with choppy colours that are made of patterns of other colours. If I had this much trouble colouring inside the lines, I’d still be in elementary school, too. The colouring is really detracting. If they really wanted to show off the penciller, they should have left it in black and white. I give it 4 out of 6.
The story is also mixed. The plot is there for most of the book, even if it’s often the cheesy “must stop the alien invasion” types of plots that were common in the day. The dialogue is frequently poor, and almost invariably redundant, if not downright insulting to the intelligence of the reader. There was a lot of unwarranted exposition in this book. I give the story 4 out of 6.
The characterization was well done. Every character has a distinct personality that makes him or her stand out quickly. Motivations are clear, and there is natural conflict within the team. The only parts that seemed really out of character was how and why Professor X came back from the dead, and Cyclops forgetting which door led to the Danger Room. They both seemed far too forced. I give it 5 out of 6.
This inspired a strong emotional response in a few places, but frustration and disappointment were probably not the emotions the authors were aiming for. I was too busy feeling insulted by the story that was here, wondering where the rest of it was, to really get drawn into the book. I give it 2 out of 6, because some Sauron and Havok moments worked.
The flow is worse than the old Spider-Man comics. Beast is far too locquacious in battle. If Iceman had time to say “YEEEOW! Move it, people! I can’t set up an ice shield in time…” when he was just walking around, why wouldn’t he have time to set up the shield? (By the way, the rocks that were falling were about 20 feet off the ground, and they were in motion when he started talking. It would only take the rocks about 1.1 seconds to reach the ground. They should have been crushed before he stopped talking.) I give the flow 2 out of 6.
Overall, this is a collection that is only really good at showing off Neal Adams’ art. If you want to read the first Sauron issue, or part of the introduction of Havok, it’s in here. If you want complete stories, this isn’t for you. If I knew what this was like before picking it up, I’d have held off in hopes of Essential X-Men Vol. 3. It would be cheaper, more complete, and wouldn’t detract from the great pencilling with bad colouring. I give it 3 out
In total, X-Men Visionaries: Neal Adams receives 23 out of 42.