M is for Madrox, Jamie
First appearing in Giant Size Fantastic Four #4, Jamie ‘Multiple Man’ Madrox is one of the few X-related characters who didn’t debut in one of the main X-titles, he shares the distinction with Tabitha ‘Boom Boom’ Smith and James ‘Wolverine’ Howlett although Jamie was introduced in a story by Chris Claremont, the godfather of X-Men continuity.
Born with the ability to replicate himself clothes and all upon impact ( a snap of his fingers and there’s two of them, whack to the head there’s four, that sort of thing) he was a minor background character, often used as supporting cast in X-Men and a second tier cast member in the mini series Fallen Angels, he spent much of the 1970’s and 1980’s very much in the background. Then came Peter David. In the 90’s the X-titles had a restructuring, with new creative teams, new directions and new teams and books. Most of the cast of X-Factor were now X-Men again and that left the name up for grabs and Peter David populated it with several second string characters. Multiple Man was now part of a super hero team with Havok, Polaris, Guido (an even more obscure X-Character) Wolfsbane and Quicksilver. With none of these characters being particularly high profile, Peter David had free reign to write the kind of comic he wanted. What we got was funny, at times irreverent but often compelling and one of my favourite comics of the era. Jamie became something of a joker, having fun being part of the team, which was now a government led response team. No longer in the background David started to explore what the duplicates were. When one was killed, Jamie tried to absorb it, realising that each one was in itself an individual, with their own lives and view points. After his apparent death, he wasn’t particularly missed. Then he came back, explained by it being a dupe who was dead, not the original, opening a door to ret-con city.
After the events of the House of M event, Peter David restarted X-Factor, this time as a detective series with again 2nd tier characters such as M, Guido again, Wolfsbane again, Rictor, Siryn, Longshot, Shatterstar and Darwin. But this was in no uncertain terms, Jamie Madrox’s book. David played with Madrox’s origins and how his powers worked, so that each dupe was a different aspect of original Jamie, there was no way of knowing what personality traits would be on display. Also there was a new use of Madrox’s powers. Since all knowledge was reabsorbed when the dupe was, Jamie sent dupes all over the world to learn all sorts of things from gynmastics, to investigative techniques, to tibetan buddhism and christian seminary school. One of them even joined S.H.I.E.L.D. This newer version of Jamie had a plethora of skills and outlooks and was plagued by indecision and an obsession with film noir tropes. A mind boggling power, a flawed character and a veteran comics writer at his best at the helm, it’s not hard to guess why this character stays up there as one of my favourites. Currently in continuity he was killed during some crossover or another, sad after he got something of a happy ending. But then again, this is Jamie Madrox, if you haven’t got all of him, there’s nothing that can stop him coming back.
M is for Micronauts
I read about the first issue of this series in this post
The series itself carried on from this basic set up. It had a very Star Wars/Buck Rogers/Battlestar Galactica feel to it, with the added plus of the Marvel Universe added in. Mantlo and Golden created a whole universe here that made as little or as much sense at it needed to and sits on it’s own place amongst comics as titles like Warlord, Elfquest and Conan, comics that aren’t the same genre as other, but can happily sit alongside them. Whilst, Image, Devil’s Due and finally IDW have owned the license at one time or another, it was the work of Marvel’s series that turned this from a novelty Japanese toy to an ongoing comics property that can still shift books.
M is for Movies
Nothing is sacred in Hollywood. That isn’t a judgement, or pejorative or owt like that, it’s just a fact. There’s no beloved film that can’t be remade, no TV series you once loved that can’t be turned into a movie, for f**ks save the game Battleships, received a big budget movie. So it really only makes sense with books, cartoons and even amusement park rides getting mined for movies, comics wouldn’t be left alone.
So begins the dark and bleak history..
Only kidding. First it was the serials, Captain America, the Phantom Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman and others all got their own Flash Gordon style serialised adventures and Superman got the amazing Fleischer cartoons. So none of this is recent. In the 1960’s, we got the Batman TV series, which led to the Batman ’66 movie. (Sidebar, watched that with my 6 year old boy last weekend and y’know it still holds up). There was also a lot of 70’s adaptations, the Nicholas Hammon starring Spider-Man series, or the Japanese Tokusatsu series of Spider-Man, there was the Wonder Woman TV series, the Captain America TV movies and then just at the end we got the 1978 Superman movie. Big budget and taken seriously, this is many people’s definitive Superman story and newcomer Christopher Reeve turned in solid performances as Clark Kent and as Superman, playing each role visually different, so then without changing his clothes, when he was being one, you could tell. Then there was the early 1980’s and the Incredible Hulk series with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferigno, so many good stories there. Then eighties brought more Hulk, with Thor and Daredevil guest starring and at the end we got the Batman ’89 movie with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I saw that in the pictures with my dad, a nice memory and again, still sort of holds up.
There is a common thread to all of these series and films, they’re loose adaptations. They take liberties with the properties in order to decrease use of special effects and make more sense to non-fans. The comic-book movies still occurred, but beyond the Batmans and the odd less than successful movie, there weren’t that many. Then X-Men happened.
Since then, it’s been hard to name a comics property that hasn’t made it to screen in one form or another. A touch of success with something and the floodgates just open. It only got more intense when Marvel Studios happened and what was a film every few years became two or three per year. Remember the first Marvel movie in cinemas? Howard the Duck. Now they’re all over the place. Whether you want a page to screen transformation (Sin City and Watchmen) something that just uses the name (Looking at you Wanted) or something true to the spirit, but doing it’s own thing (Marvel Cinematic Universe) there’s something for everyone. Comics into movies is a big thing, it won’t be a big lasting thing, but that’s ok, when it’s done and we comic fans are back to being ignored, we’ll have thousands of hours of entertaining movies to look back on.
M is for Mogo