Hardcover, 2009. Collects 1985's X-MEN AND ALPHA FLIGHT #1 - 2, NEW MUTANTS SPECIAL EDITION, and X-MEN ANNUAL #9.
Aside from Smith's artwork, I was never much of a fan of this story as a kid. The Asgardian stuff seems an odd choice to mix with the X-Men (and this is coming from someone who loves when they go into space now and then). Plus the story was created during one of my least-favorite periods for the X-Men, the mid-eighties era when Cyclops was not a regular member, when Rachel Summers was a regular member, and when Storm sported her dumb mohawk and leathers.
So given my distaste for both the premise and status quo, it's not really surprising I consider this story skippable. The fact that Smith only gets to draw his brilliant rendition of Cyclops in costume for a couple pages at the very end only adds to my dissatisfaction.
Somehow, due to bizarre scheduling, X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT was set some time before it was actually published. Its sequel was released at just about the same exact time it was, in the pages of 1985's NEW MUTANTS SPECIAL EDITION and X-MEN ANNUAL. Written by Claremont with artwork from Art Adams and Terry Austin, this duology saw the X-Men and their junior counterparts transported to Asgard for more hijinks.
Again, aside from the artwork, I'm not a fan. Strangely, while I read X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT as a teen around the same time I picked up back issues of the rest of Chris Claremont's run, I somehow never read the sequel until I grabbed this very volume as an adult. I generally find it just as disappointing. It's not exactly more of the same, and Claremont does some fun stuff in the first chapter, with the New Mutants as "fish out of water" in Asgard, but overall I feel the story could've been told in one single annual or a pair of standard-length stories. It's too long and meandering.
Add to that that Terry Austin had changed his art style by the mid-eighties, employing unattractive light, scratchy inks, and this one's not nearly as fun to look at as X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT, either. I love Adams' work; it's great, but it's really marred by Austin's style.
Following the four issues, this volume includes twenty-four pages of bonus material, though almost all of it is original pencil pages by Adams -- which would be great, except that they're reprinted at quarter-size, four pages to a page, which kind of defeats the purpose for me. If anything, if I'm going to look at original artwork -- especially this much of it and especially if I'd like to compare the pencils with Austin's lackluster inks -- I'd like to see them bigger than original publication size!
The only other bonus items are a few character design sketched from Adams and the covers of previous printings of this material (including one by Dave Cockrum from 1998!?).
So for me, at least, this book is kind of a let-down. But if you're a fan of these stories, then by all means -- pick up the book! It's nicely restored and the oversize hardcover format is wonderful for Paul Smith's and Art Adams' artwork. The hardcover is out of print but can still be found online for excellent prices, as can the 2014 trade paperback edition.
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