Sunday, June 1, 2014


Hardcover, 2014. Collects 1980-1982's UNCANNY X-MEN #132 - 153, UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #4 & 5, AVENGERS ANNUAL #10, MARVEL FANFARE #1 - 4, material from MARVEL TREASURY EDITION #26 & 27, MARVEL TEAM-UP #100, BIZARRE ADVENTURES #27, and PHOENIX: THE UNTOLD STORY #1

A while back, when I listed by Top Twelve Comic Book Runs of All Time, UNCANNY X-MEN #94 - 176 made the number one slot. And since this book contains issues 132 - 153, I can't complain about what's between the covers... much. The inclusion of annuals and bonus content like AVENGERS ANNUAL #10, MARVEL FANFARE #1 - 4, and various short stories from BIZARRE ADVENTURES, MARVEL TREASURY EDITION, and MARVEL TEAM-UP are much appreciated -- in particular the Nightcrawler story from BIZARRE and the Storm/Black Panther adventure from TEAM-UP -- neither of which, to my knowledge, have been collected before (outside of the ESSENTIALS format for the latter, at least). The book also contains the letter columns from all included issues, which is always a nice touch.

However there is one glaring absence among these supplementary tales. I don't clamor for every little guest appearance to be included in these books. I don't like the flow of the main narrative to be interrupted that much. But I would argue that the X-Men's appearance in SPIDER-WOMAN issues 37 and 38 are integral to the group's continuity and would fit nicely among the issues presented here. That two-parter is written by Chris Claremont, the X-Men's regular writer, and is a direct lead-in to UNCANNY X-MEN #148, presented herein. It features X-villains Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy, and introduces Banshee's daughter, Siryn, to whom Banshee is introduced in 148. The story's exclusion from this book is an utter, inexcusable shame.

But, the above nit picked, what we have here is a tremendously satisfying volume. The previous UNCANNY X-MEN OMNIBUS, published way back in 2006, ended in the middle of the seminal "Dark Phoenix Saga", due to the practice of the time of simply collecting a few Marvel Masterworks volumes into an Omnibus and calling it a day. The Omnibus program has evolved since then, and these books are no longer beholden to collecting the exact contents of the Masterworks. So instead we have a natural cut-off point of UNCANNY X-MEN #153, "Kitty's Fairy Tale", rather than cramming a few more issues into the book and ending on yet another cliffhanger, which this time would be in the middle of the long-running Brood storyline.

The early issues in this book are some of the best in the X-Men's history: the tail end of artist/co-plotter John Byrne's run, containing both the final issues of the afore-mentioned "Dark Phoenix Saga" -- plus the equally classic "Days of Future Past" and the Kitty Pryde spotlight "Demon", stories comprising Byrne's final three issues on the title. And in between these venerable tales is a two-part team-up with Byrne's Alpha Flight characters, spotlighting Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Say what you will about Byrne's personality and even his work as a solo creator (though I like much of it), but to me, there can be no argument that his influence and more traditional approach to superheroes helped temper Chris Claremont's more extreme tendencies, resulting in the best work of Claremont's career.

After a Cyclops solo story with fill-in artwork from Brent Anderson, the new X-Men's co-creator, Dave Cockrum returns to the fold. There are those who view Cockrum's second run with less reverence than his first, but I believe it mainly suffers simply from following the epic, ground-breaking issues illustrated by John Byrne. There is nothing wrong with the Cockrum issues here; they're simply standard superhero fare; good guys vs. bad guys. If anything, it is Claremont whose efforts have declined some following Byrne's departure. After working for a few years with the strong-willed and opinionated Byrne, and forging a series of outstanding stories through that somewhat antagonistic partnership, Claremont now finds himself with no one with whom to butt heads, and it seems that he begins coasting. We have a Dr. Doom/Arcade trilogy which, while wonderfully illustrated by Cockrum, is uninspired and even intentionally derivative of "Dark Phoenix" by the time it reaches its conclusion. This is followed by a one-off team-up with Dazzler, an unnecessary rematch with Garokk the Petrified Man from the previous Byrne run, and then the comparatively much stronger return of Magneto.

All stories are well-drawn by Cockrum, but -- as noted above -- are just run-of-the-mill superhero stuff. The real meat of Cockrum's second tenure with the X-Men will appear in the third UNCANNY X-MEN OMNIBUS, as Cockrum's affinity for science fiction is tickled by Claremont's plots featuring Cockrum's pet characters, the Starjammers, as well as the alien Shi'ar and Brood. But that's for another day. In the meantime, besides the main run of issues listed, this volume also contains two UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUALS, one spotlighting Nightcrawler and the other featuring a return of a previous Annual's antagonist, Arkon. We also have AVENGERS ANNUAL #10 by Claremont and Michael Golden, featuring the debut of future X-Man Rogue, and a four-part storyline from MARVEL FANFARE which co-stars Spider-Man and sees the X-Men return to their occasional stomping ground, the Savage Land, and spotlights some remarkable artwork from Golden, Cockrum, and upcoming X-Artist Paul Smith.

Lastly, there are the supplemental items. MARVEL TEAM-UP #100 featured a back-up story by Claremont and Byrne in which Storm teams up with the Black Panther and a shared history between the couple is revealed. This story would serve as the seed for Marvel's ill-conceived marriage between Storm and the Panther in the 2000s, but here it is simply a quick, fun little adventure which has not seen a color reprint in recent years -- until now. Strangely, it didn't even show up in the SPIDER-MAN: MARVEL TEAM-UP paperback released a few years ago, which otherwise contained all of Claremont's and Byrne's work together on that title (true, Spider-Man does not appear in the story -- but still).

In addition to the MARVEL TEAM-UP tale, we also have two short stories from MARVEL TREASURY EDITION -- one of which features an entertaining barroom brawl between Wolverine and Hercules, while the other is a much less inspired solo story starring the Angel. The book also contains BIZARRE ADVENTURES #27, an X-Men spotlight issue of Marvel's black-and-white magazine. Three stories feature in the issue -- a Phoenix adventure by Claremont and John Buscema, a look at the underutilized Iceman by Mary Jo Duffy and George Perez, and a Nightcrawler story, which -- to my knowledge -- has never before been reprinted, written by Duffy and Bob Layton and drawn by Nightcrawler's creator, Dave Cockrum.

Rounding out the book is PHOENIX: THE UNTOLD STORY, the one-shot published by Marvel in the early eighties, showcasing the originally conceived ending to "Dark Phoenix" and featuring a round table interview with the creators and editors involved in that momentous story. Following THE UNTOLD STORY, the book contains a few pages of Byrne's original artwork, as well as house ads and the covers of various past reprints which collected the material presented in the Omnibus.

As for the book itself -- the paper is thinner than my first printing of volume 1, which had this beautiful, slightly yellow, very thick stock that smelled (and still smells) like one heck of a classy book -- so it doesn't quite match the quality of the previous installment. This book has more pages than volume 1, but is actually much thinner due to the paper used. And while I appreciate the extra shelf space gained by the slim package, I feel that the book is a dip in quality from its predecessor. However for those who would like to have a matching set and/or don't want to track down either of the first volume's previous two printings, Marvel recently issued a second edition of volume one which should match this first printing of volume two.

But regardless of the quality of the book, its content cannot be disputed. These are the stories that turned the X-Men into THE X-MEN. 'Nuff said!

Now I sit back and wait for volume three, which should most likely collect issues 154 - 175 (and I'll cross my fingers for 176 too), thus completing my definitive run of X-Men stories in Omnibus format. Hopefully it won't take another eight years!

Available now at


  1. Just finished reading through this myself and your assessments are spot-on. That Nightcrawler and Vanisher story is b-a-n-a-n-a-s bananas, though

    1. Yeah, it's kinda crazy. But I loved discovering a "new" Cockrum-illustrated Nightcrawler story!

  2. Dear friend,

    Are you sure about the release of the third volume? I wish it happened soon.

    Greetings from


    1. I don't think anyone knows when the third volume will come out, though since this one was just released I'm sure it will be a few years -- but Marvel collection editor Cory Sedlmeier has at least just recently confirmed that he has the next few volumes completely planned out.

  3. I find you immensely fascinating whoever you are.Since my last post I took the time to read a few more of your reviews and I found you to be so similar but so different at the same time. It's an X-MEN Review paradox! I started reading X-MEN as a child in 1993 and from what I gather from your started around 95, 96. Your review of Onslaught on OZT says you have nostalgia for these because you were reading them as they came out..and this was your first exposure to the x-men world?? So basically I am off by 2 years compared to you...but wow we have very similar ideas just..have them on very different storylines lol. (1.) Let's start with this..I liked you have read everything X-MEN from 1977 but just like you I am a 90's kid. So like you, I read much of this in back issues or trades.And of course I read much of it in one shot not over 20 years or wtv. One difference is; you stopped in 00 and I stopped reading in 10..not out of annoyance; (I thought the post 00 books were good) but just like you..I found the formula was not working as well as before. Again we can talk about that formula another day. (2.) You said in this x-tinction agenda crossover that you already knew the story when you got around to it and basically read it..going through the paces. This is EXACTLY how I felt about dark phoniex saga. by the time I got around to it I had seen it all in the 92 X-MEN cartoon. And they did such a good job of covering it...I didn't get much out of the Dark phoenix saga anymore. Not only that but the dark phoenix saga is such a well known storyline, even with out the cartoon show, I think everyone is familiar with the premise. In fact going into the cartoon show I knew what was about to go down :)but the cartoon definitely impressed me and had an impact on me. When I got around to the DP comic story..I had heard of so much hype around it and I suppose that ruined my read. DP and gwen stacy's death are like the two biggest milestones in early spider-man/x-men comics. But this didn't live up to what I thought it would be like. are taking to a huge claremount fan (even though like you I am not from the clareount era.(3.)I adored giant sized x-men some of the early stuff especially the bryne run with the savage land and proteus saga was excellent. Everything seemed to get better and better, But then dark phoniex started and my expectations were not met..same with days future past and god love man kills. I know...I commited X-Men Blasphemy..right?? Don't get me wrong I enjoyed DP saga and DOFP (Especially the first issue) I just found it a bit over hyped. God Love Man Kills I thought was awful (my first real x-men letdown I thought it was overly preachy, can't really remember my problem with it) but it had beautiful art.

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    1. (4.) Enough looking down on claremount...My favorite claremount stuff came after; I own all the issues but they are covered in a trade called (from ashes to ashes). It is the paul smith/claremount era (I saw these stories the way ppl see bryne). I loved the madylne pryor/mastermind stuff and the first time wolverine goes to japan story. Within this trade you also get the first barry winsor smith x-men art with the love story of storm and forge..where storm loses her powers...I found this to be such a humanizing story. You also get rogues joining the x-men the first time and her alter ego storyline with ms. marvel. To me madyline story was my dark phoniex story that I love, rouge was my kitty pryde joins the x-men, wolverine in japan was my frank miller wolverine (though that was fantastic book on it's own, and
      forge/storm barry winsor smith was my god love man kills). All in one trade. That era blew me away. Art wise john bryne is a superstar a+ artist..but he had left and then came back cockrun than my paul smith/BWSmith followed by JRJ. Now don't get me wrong I found JRJ and Cockrum to be good artists, high above average, especially for their time...but Paul Smith and BW Smith I find are also supertstar's almost close to John Bryne's level. But there run were very short...and overall these paul smith issues are underrated especially compared to Byrne Dark Phoniex saga..which I found to be so overrated. Again it was really an opposite reading experience...I found so much surprise reading ashes to ashes era compared to DP era where I knew what was going down. Another weird thing is I find claremound had a different style that ends after the bryne era and it was a more of a modernized style of writing that he picks up post bryne era. Than he keeps writing in that modern style from that era but once more...somewhere in the mark silvestri maybe jim lee era...he starts writing in what became a third new style the 90's style...With the "bang your dead" liners etc. I liked ALL of it but there is three slightly different claremount writing styles from giantsize/DP to the Punk Era style to the Jim Lee 90's (at least I found.After 1991 claremount only really writes the same way now...kind of re-hash of both the 90's and 80's punk era style. A lot of ppl later complained that when the book hits the 90's claremont/jim lee era..the x-men got stuck in that one mode until Morrison took over in 2001. I am not sure about that, but yeah there are theories that claremount really set into motion a 90's style of writing from his very brief jim lee run that stuck through out the 1990's in various marvel/dc titles...that tried to emulate it. Plenty of cloned x-men books, even the avengers/jla tried something similar with their titles for a little while. Anyways point is: I found post bryne claremouns started writing in a way I really enjoyed. And Madlyne pryor being seduced by mastermind to me...was a rehash of DP...but slightly more interesting and in a style of writing I preferred. After reading it I was like I love chris claremount (but now I finally get what this was all about and how he changed the landscape) but when I read DP..I found it to be a bit more stale and outdated and slightly boring since I knew what was going down. Now putting all the x-men blasphemy aside..I can sum it up with this: the bryne art was still ahead of it's time, had I read this back then I would have been blown away..and many of the concepts from jammers, hellfire club all brilliant stuff. Definitely a great X-Title, one of my personal bests. I just found it a bit overrated and outdated. I didn't fell that when I read Ashes to Ashes. We can talk about the 90's x-storylines next.