X-Men Forever #18
First of all, I should admit that I'm biased, because X-Men Forever is my favorite book on the stands right now. It's not that I think it's so much better than other books, because there are others that are just as good, but for me personally it is very important. The X-Men, after all, and specifically Chris Claremont's 80s X-Men are what got me into comic books. Like a drug addict chasing the ghost of that first great high, it's rare that I can find the kind of wonder and enjoyment in comics that I had back then, when each new issue of Uncanny X-Men was the coolest thing in the world to me.
In the early nineties, around the time Chris Claremont left Uncanny X-Men, I took a decade long break from comics, and didn't come back until Morrison's X-Men run at the beginning of the century. As a result of this odd mix of circumstances, this book picks up where I left off with the X-Men all those years ago as a reader just as it picks up where Claremont left off as a writer. It's more than just nostalgia - it's the chance to go back and relive what might have been.
There's a lot to be said about Claremont's writing style, but what defines it for me is his ability to make each issue feel special while still advancing a great many plotlines in each issue. In that respect, this issue perfectly illustrates Claremont's strength as a writer, because though we get a complete story on several levels. On one, there is the obvious story of Nathan being kidnapped and Scott, Alex, and Lorna getting him back. On top of that there is the story of Scott struggling with his desire to give up super-heroics and be a proper father to his son, and the circumstances that keep calling him back to the X-Men. Finally, we get a lot of exposition in the background about Corsair, Alex, and Lorna, and we get some advancement on the Consortium plot.
The beauty of Claremont's work is that the longer it runs, due to the nature of his plotting, the more intricate the story gets, and the better the payoff becomes. I enjoyed this book when it first started, but now that we're nearing the end of "season 1," I am simply enthralled in it. The next issue, which looks to feature Sabretooth, Nick Fury, and Daisy Dugan, should be incredible.
The art in this particular issue is an improvement on some weeks. I won't pretend that the art on this series can't sometimes hurt the book, as Grummett is forced to keep up a very quick pace on this bi-weekly book, and scheduled fill-in artists hurt the consistency. As I said though, the art on this issue was fantastic, and I hope Grummett can continue to deliver on this level in the future.
I wish I could give it more than a perfect rating. Best book on the stands today. Claremont at his best, hitting all his classic notes. A rare chance to get second helpings on the greatest comic book run of all time.
I LOVE BLUD BLOOD! - Rob Liefeld