Let’s take a moment and congratulate the X-Men on moving their base of operations after nearly 35 years of letting their mansion get blown up time and time again. Man, last year it was like a sport! For a secret school for ‘gifted children’, they weren’t so secret nor nearly as gifted as they wanted to be. Sure, they changed it over the years, shucked that school image, tried ‘Institute’ or ‘Corporation’ on for size but still the effect was the same. Xavier’s cash kept that place rebuilt and Forge and the Shi’ar tried to give it a decent defense system, but apparently that only worked on maybe the paper boy because the last few years have been hard on the place. Once Sentinels park on your lawn, consider this a good time to move and leave no forwarding address.
And it is a good time to move; there are so many big events happening just down the road in the Marvel Universe and yet the X-Men tie-ins have seemed more like afterthoughts. They’ve never really jibed well with their fellow hero brethren, that whole ‘world that fears and hates you’ losing a little of the impact when you’re pals with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel’s First Family. Moving to the west coast is a particularly brilliant move for the X-Men, getting them away from the rest of the heroes in a more physical fashion, changing their address, their outlook on life, and hey… why not their style?
Greg Land: a name that either causes great joy or great ire amongst the comic reading public. I’m going to go out on a limb here and note that the latter is the larger of reactions considering just a google of his name alone brings the hate on strong. Even his wikipedia entry has an note on ‘controversy’ of his use of photo reference in his work. Heck, I’ve even gotten into the act with my own curiousity over some backgrounds in Ultimate Power (can you tell what Arcana is supposed to be doing in this picture? NSFW). So, it’s a given that his artwork is going to look like that shot from a movie or that ad in that magazine and yes, he will repeat that image until you’re not really sure who is who from panel to panel but in the latest issue of Uncanny X-Men (#501 for those of you playing at home), I actually found this to be an asset.
Angel and Cyclops are tooling down the road to reinact the opening credits of Full House, driving in a hip little yellow convertable and the moment I saw this panel, I understood.
I saw those guys on the road yesterday! Look at those two ‘dudes’! They’re on their way to Starbucks to tap out their latest screenplay on their Mac Air books while listening to Jack Johnson but yet won’t shut up on their cell phones! Living in California, I could show this picture to anyone and get the same response: the nod of familiarity. No offense to my home state or anything, but we attract a certain sort of look, especially in high areas of wealth and culture. Go to Los Angeles, go San Fransisco, you’re going to see the bleached blonde and her incredibly tan boyfriend wearing flipflops in December. And you’ll be cut off by two very stylish, white smiling guys in a convertible on the freeway.
Greg Land’s women don’t look real, they look like fantasy. There is an entire plastic surgery industry catering to just that very thing, making women look like fantasy, that’s practically based in California. Emma frost is simply one of the girls by wearing her underwear outside her clothes. In San Fransisco, she could start a trend. And sure, they all look a little similar after awhile, but in California, that ‘inclusive difference’ (‘Let’s all look like that one girl who’s really unique!’) is commonplace. Possibly without even knowing it, he is mimicing a part of California culture by just keeping his rather magazine and movie star art style. In fact, the X-Men have always been a little cutting edge, whether they’re listening to beatniks at a coffee house or hanging with fashion models or being one themselves, we’re actually returning more the style conscious days of those who wear the X.
There is no huddled masses in a building, no wide-eyed wonder at the outside world from a bunch of students, Marvel’s merry mutants have been through a lot and all of them have apparently come off a little smarter, a little sassier and heck of a lot more stylish. Scott Summers has even let his hair grow a little long! There’s been talk of having no real ‘teams’ but a community of the mutants that are left, all living in San Fran and banding together as needed. This truly is an all new, all different X-Men, a little more laid back and relaxed in their new digs by the beach. They should have moved to the west coast a long time ago as the change of scenery seems to be opening up some new stories and, at the very least, a fresh and interesting look at a staple of the Marvel Universe. And, despite what you may think of his particular practices, Greg Land is the man to depict it all. You have to give him credit where credit is due, he has a great eye for page layout and story flow that is very cinematic, even if the characters aren’t terribly inspired (or perhaps a little too inspired).
Here’s to living the California Dream, X-Men.