image by Walt Simonson
I read a lot of Marvel Comics back in the day. The Hulk, Spider Man, The X-Men…it was actually the ORIGINAL X-Men I really loved (which I read in reprints). Right around the time I was discovering those old Stan Lee/Jack Kirby X-Men stories, the team actually reunited as “X-Factor”. Great timing for me as a reader!
The series was okay. I liked the five characters a lot. But where it really came together was when Louise Simonson and then her husband Walt Simonson took over the writing and art, respectively.
The artwork in particular appealed to me. I already knew Walt Simonson's work from THOR. I didn't collect that series, but had picked up a few issues here and there. The artwork suited THOR perfectly. It had an…I don't know, an “epic”, “mythological” feel to it (I'm not sure what that even means, but I dug it). It always seemed to stand apart from the rest of the Marvel Universe. The jagged-edged characters gave it a certain gravity.
Every time I picked up an issue, it was thrilling. Wish I'd read it more regularly, but there was only so much comic money available!
There were powerful, powerful moments in those comics. I still remember reading about Balder the Brave, Thor's friend, the greatest warrior of Asgard, who was in Hel and encountered everyone he'd ever killed in battle - and to escape, had to slay them again.
Then there was the battle where Loki actually joined forces with Thor and their father Odin. I didn't even collect the series, but the images (and writing) are still with me. They made a huge impact.
And of course, Walt Simonson also created the story about Thor being turned into a frog! Great stuff…though unlikely to be the plot of the next Thor movie, I'm guessing…
In any case, I enjoyed his half dozen issues of X-Factor (too short!) and his work on THOR is deservedly considered one of the most legendary runs in comics. I just read it's available in a big, 1000 page collection. I think I may treat myself!
…So, why do I bring up Walt Simonson? Well, he's a fantastic artist, who happened to have his 69th birthday yesterday! So kudos and best wishes to one of the greats!
Banes at 12:00AM, Sept. 3, 2015
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