My initial attempt to pick up with X-Men right where I had left off was ill-advised; it's been a really long time and I needed a refresher course, and anyway the difficulty of collecting all four titles it had split into by that point made me start wandering even before I fully surrendered, so I can't really tell where I left off. So I decided to start with the first Secret Wars miniseries, since I never obtained it to read the first time, and after going through everything since then in order, I'm getting into the new-for-me stuff right about now.
It's the late eighties, and the original team has been divided by various cataclysmic events, and gathered new characters to form teams of their own, with little contact between each one. The four titles in question are as follows.
Uncanny X-Men: This doesn't have my favorite combination of characters, even though there are a lot of them to go around. Rogue is a high point and so is Longshot (alien origin, genetically engineered, still counts as a mutant, hollow bones, super cute, lucky, not widely known outside of 616). Storm is by far a better team leader than Cyclops, and we got to keep Wolverine and Colossus. The Australia setting is pretty great and I like it that they're all believed dead and rendered undetectable, but there's also the downside of the worst era of superhero hair and costuming in history.
New Mutants: Even more than the original series, this is the one that really captured my heart and earned my devotion. Unfortunately, it's also how I discovered that the Marvel Unlimited collection isn't exhaustive. Even more frustrating, I know I own a lot of the issues that are missing, but my ex up in Vermont borrowed them like a hundred years ago. WHAT NOW? At least I've already read most of them once, so I more or less know what's going on. But I know the team changes a lot before they graduate to X-Force and I better as hell not miss what happens to Wolfsbane or Mirage.
X-Factor: I guess when you're in the moment, it really does seem like a good idea to reassemble the original X-Men from your youth and pose as mutant hunters so you can rescue and train young mutants and get paid for it at the same time. The nice thing about this series is that not only does it all fall apart, but the characters see it falling apart and understand where they went wrong. Except for Cyclops, who's a basketcase and should be put down like a dog. Marvel Unlimited doesn't have most of this one either, but in a stroke of good luck, I actually do, in those Essential collections I said I'd never cracked.
Seriously Scott is such a dick.
Excalibur: So excited to finally be reading this. I think I'm gonna love it. Nightcrawler is my man, Shadowcat's one of my favorites too, Meggan is exactly my kind of manic pixie dreamgirl, Captain Britain is a big drunk mutant in a lighthouse, and it's set in England! And then there's Rachel. I...I hate Rachel. The mullet, the Dark Phoenix footy pajamas trading off with the S&M getup, the nonstop litany of how she has suffered...whose idea was this character? I don't think I've heard anything about her being in modern series, so hopefully she'll die.
So that's keeping me busy. I'm using this reading order, which isn't perfect but more than sufficient, and also includes the sage advice to not try reading every issue on it. They're right, and I'm going to start dropping series that don't keep me interested, but so far I haven't found one. Well, except for Wolverine - I like him as a character, but this is about the place where he starts riding his gritty popularity wave and loses some shine in the process, and I've decided I prefer teams to solo titles.
I've also poked around to see what kind of recent series they're stocking. Trouble is, that obsessive need for completion I have keeps making me feel like I'm missing something if it's part of 616 but the characters were introduced at some point in the massive collective history. I know they (generally) write them to be accessible to all readers, but I also know how rewarding it is to catch a subtle reference or witness the return of a legacy character you used to love. So I'm asking myself to, what, read fifty thousand comics to prep for the new releases? I don't know. I just want to keep browsing for a while and then pick something and really get invested in it, which probably means waiting until I've narrowed down my X-titles to two or three.
That said, remember how I don't know how to not love something that includes Star-Lord on a motorcycle etc. etc.? I've got one of those for Guardians of the Galaxy and it's not even about Star-Lord - Cosmo the Soviet Space Dog. He is exactly what it says on the tin. And yes, he showed up in the movie, but the comics version of him talks...psionically...in the third person...with a Russian accent. And he's Head of Security on Knowhere. Come on, people!
(While we're on the subject, I should mention that I read an article on Jurassic World, and it looks like Pratt doesn't actually have a psychic link to the raptors. He just trained them. I'm just as happy about that, honestly, especially since one of them is his special favorite buddy. I don't have the article on hand, but I think I retweeted it, and you should check it out because guess who's back? That's right, Phil "You had one job" Tippett! They demoted him to "Dinosaur Consultant", apparently.)
So yeah uh also Daredevil? Didn't read much Daredevil yet. A few good stand-alones and the famous arc where Matt Murdock is hired to sue Daredevil. I really hope Spider-Man shows up in the Netflix side of the MCU in addition to the movies; I would love to see Peter and Matt helping each other out on the screen. Or, okay, I guess we could also have that by Daredevil being in movies, but the close-up and realistic view of NYC that Netflix gave us would suit Spider-Man too, and remove him a few steps from all those tired blockbusters in the character's cinematic past. Where was I? Daredevil. Okay. Holding off on him a little longer.
If you've got recs, go ahead and throw them at me, but I'm pretty much set for now. More rambling to come, probably with a tighter focus.