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Marvel Masterworks: Uncanny X-Men Volume 4

Reprints: X-Men #122-131, Annual #3

(Vol. 37 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)


  • Annual #3 unused cover art by Frank Miller

Current In-Print Edition: First Print
Original Release Date: 10/27/04

REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1630-3 • List Price: $49.99
VARIANT EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1631-1 • List Price: $54.99

224 Pages

Scripted by Chris Claremont
Pencilled by John Byrne and George Perez
Foreword by Chris Claremont

Buy From:

The calm before the storm.

This is the penultimate volume of Uncanny X-Men Masterworks before the classic "Dark Phoenix Saga"comes to full flower. While the comics that make up the core issues of that storyline- reprinted in Uncanny X-MenMasterworks Vol. 5- are rightly consideredas some of the best comics ever published, these stories are ones to savor as well. Uncanny X-Men MasterworksVol. 4 carries the reader through the year before the bombast of the Dark Phoenix, when there was the creeping paranoia and dread that readers latched onto surrounding Jean Grey.The cast of the X-Men sensed something different about her...something not quite right.

Jean's slow immersion into the all-consuming power of the Phoenix Force is the main subplot of the stories reprintedin this book, but on top, there are some legendary storylines readers can sink their teeth into. Chris Claremont, John Byrneand the rest of the team were humming on all cylinders, and X-Men was becoming firmly entrenched as the most popularcomic of the day. And...it still is!

The X-Men's long and arduous "Odyssey" waswrapped up in X-Men #121, so this Masterworks volume starts fresh with the team getting back to life as normal atXavier's school. Of course, "life as normal" means constant conflict for this team of mutants, and they no sooner haveenjoyed the time off of a "day in the life issue" (X-Men #122), than the madcap assassin Arcade consumes them inside a plotso insane it involves a deadly amusement park filled with giant pinball machines, bumper cars with big teeth, and robotsin the form of the Hulk and Magneto!

Their next big battle is against Proteus, erstwhile Mutant X, and mad mutant son of Moira MacTaggert. After the team isreunited with all their old friends- especially Jean Grey- they must face what they declare as the greatest threatof all. Proteus is a mutant who feeds on host bodies, stealing their mind, body and soul. Much like Galactus, this is an urge that is insatiable, and after a string of deaths left in his wake, Proteus must be taken down by the X-Men, and, tragically, his mother Moira holds the key to his utter destruction.

The reader will also meet Jason Wyngarde, adashing young man who shadows Jean Grey's every move. Using an array of mutant powers, he dupes Jean into "timeshifts", transporting her back in time to the 18th Century, where she is fooled into thinking she's of that time. These personalitycrises that Jean finds herself in profoundly confuse her sense of identity, which is the tipping point for the emergence of theDark Phoenix powers. The run-up to that emergence, as well as the mystery behind Mr. Wyngarde himself, takes placehere.

The final storyline captured in Uncanny X-Men Vol. 5 is the first half of the Hellfire Club story. From X-Men #129-131, we meetthe leader of the mysterious Hellfire Club, Sebastian Shaw, who guides this secret society of elitists towards an unknown destiny.All we know about it is that it's grounded in evil! Shaw's right-hand mistress is none other than Emma Frost, better known as the White Queen. Later a valued member of the X-Men, in her earliest incarnation- reprinted in this book- she is the icy anddeadly telepath determined to achieve her missions, and kill all who get in her way.

Two new mutants premiere in this volume: Dazzler andKitty Pryde. Dazzler is a singer trying to make it in the business, and one thing that sets her apart is her mutant mastery of light. Shewould be the first "mutant" spinoff title in the Marvel stable, as a year after trying her out in X-Men and other titles, she got her own book. Butin her first appearance, she is swept up alongside the X-Men in the fight against Emma Frost.

Kitty Pryde is the mutant discovery that is most important long-term for the X-Men. The little 13-year old would get full membership in X-MenAnnual #4, the following year, but in her first appearance, Claremont got a chance to take stock in the mutant universe he had created by thrusting a 13 (and a half!) year old kid into the midst of it. Who among us that were that age couldn't identify with the "ain't it cool?" attitudeshe exuded? But Claremont wisely scripted in the stark terror of her surroundings that could quickly make mincemeat of the supposed fun of being a mutant with super-powers and hanging around the X-Men.

A nifty bonus for this era of X-Men is the giant-size annualfor the year, marking the very first annual publication for the team. (The first two were in the Giant-Size series, one the launch title Giant-Size X-Men #1 and the follow-up a reprint issue.) John Byrne took Annual #3 off and was replaced by George Perez. Not a bad trade, huh? Perez did a bang-upjob rendering the cosmic story of Arkon the Imperion charging into the X-Men's life, demanding they help save his world, and not taking"NO" for an answer. Even if it means the life of Storm! This annual is looked back on fondly by fans of the Uncanny X-Men as one of the best there is, and its reproduction in this volume is gorgeous.

This easily stands as the best Uncanny X-Men Masterworks there is....until the next one, that is.....

-- by Gormuu

Issues Reprinted
X-Men #122-131, Annual #3

Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


XM #122

XM #123

XM #124

Ann #3

XM #125

XM #126

XM #127

XM #128

XM #129

XM #130

XM #131


All cover images are courtesy of the Silver Age Marvel Comics Cover Gallery.

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