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X-MEN 1.5 X-2 UNCANNY X-MEN.NET CHRIS CLAREMONT CHECKLIST
X-2 UNCANNY X-MEN.NET CHRIS CLAREMONT CHECKLIST
UNCANNY X-MEN.NET CHRIS CLAREMONT CHECKLIST
Marvel Masterworks: Uncanny X-Men Volume 5
Reprints: X-Men #132-140, Annual #4,
(Vol. 40 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)
Extras: Current In-Print Edition: First Print REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1698-2 • List Price: $49.99 312 Pages Scripted by Chris Claremont
Current In-Print Edition: First Print
REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1698-2 • List Price: $49.99
Scripted by Chris Claremont
The Dark Phoenix Saga is here.
Uncanny X-Men Masterworks Vol. 5 should by all rights carry a subtitle. As Masterworks editor Cory Sedlmeier put it, this book is the "be-all, end-all Dark Phoenix Bible." That would be my subtitle! This Masterworks volume is 300+ pagesof comics dynamism. Its power, set down in newsprint over 25 years from the date in which I write this, is still intact, andthe overall production of this Masterworks do it complete and total justice.
The story of Jean Grey's reckoning with the Phoenix Force powers was set in motion way back in X-Men #101, when shesacrificed her life to save the lives of her friends on a doomed shuttle returning to Earth during an intense solar storm. Certain she would die, she was instead reborn anew with the freak transferral of the Phoenix Force to her soul. Over the next 36issues of X-Men, and over a span of five years "real time" to loyal X-Men readers, the subtleties of her powers became a littleless subtle, the enormity of its significance even more enormous, until finally, something had to give. And, in the spirit ofself-sacrifice which marked the life of Jean Grey throughout, that which she had to give was her life...once again.
Claremont, Byrne and Austin are at the top of their gamein the issues reprinted in this book. And, too, let a resounding applause ring out for letterer Tom Orzechowski and colorist Glynis Oliver.These guys pumped out top-notch comics month after month. There are so many great pages in the books reprinted in this Masterworks, but the best simply has to be the last page of X-Men #132. The top panel is of the Black Queen, our sweet Jean Grey who has beencorrupted by the Hellfire Club's "Inner Circle" in ways they can't even imagine will come back to haunt them. They raise a toast to her, with the ironic "Long may she reign!" Meanwhile, in the bowels of the Hellfire Club's underground sewer system, Wolverine has been dismissedas dead. As Claremont intones the wishful thinking words of Sebastian Shaw- that Wolverine is dead and the X-Men will soon wish they will be-we see a hand clamber up out of the torrential stream. it grabs hold of a rusty pipe. A body pulls itself up in severe pain, above the waterline- it's Wolverine! And in the last half of the page, we see Wolverine, looking up into the shadows through the criss-crosspattern of an overhead grill. The tensile beast that he is, he whips his head around, as if he had overheard the arrogant Shaw all the way down in the sewer, and in a bristlingly composed dialogue bubble, drenched with attitude by Mr. Orzechowski, our hero giveshis defiant retort. Certainly, this page established Wolverine as fan favorite #1, and it can't be dismissed that this is one of the finest composed pages in all of comics.
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 5 also features two key Phoenix related stories from the periphery of X-Men comics. First is the Phoenix: The Untold Story one-shot, which is included in this Masterworks complete and unedited. It is important to note that killing Jean Grey was not Claremont and Byrne's first choice, and the Phoenix one-shot articulates their vision for how the story would have gone if they had editorial control. It's a stark contrast from X-Men #137, andin more ways than simply having Jean survive the experience. Also included is the 18-page Phoenix story from the black-and-white magazine titled BizarreAdventures. Issue #27 was an "all-X-Men" collection of stories featuring solo stories of Phoenix, Iceman and Nightcrawler (the latter two will, full of hope, be reprinted in the next Marvel Masterworks!) It's an interesting tale, told from the point of view of Jean's sister Sara, who recounts a dire timewhen the pair were caught in a twisted plot of Attuma, the underwater nemesis of Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Drawn in grayscale black-and-white bylegendary John Buscema, and inked by Klaus Janson, it's an invaluable snapshot into Jean's character, and makes a perfect coda for the "Dark Phoenix bible" that this Masterworks volume stands as.
Claremont and Byrne close one chapter of the family that isthe X-Men with the death of Jean Grey, but they reopen a brand new one with the admission to the team of 13-going-on-14 year old Kitty Pryde. She is granted admission to the team formally in Annual #4, with her first act as an X-Man sticking her head through a door and seeing whathappened to her friend Storm who was grabbed by a giant tentacle and sucked into a ominous black void. OK, not very exciting, but herlife story is what future Uncanny X-Men Masterworks are for!
Another member of the X-Men family is John Romita, Jr. His first work on the book comes in the previously mentioned Annual #4. The stylehe would show when he took over the book several years later is most definitely not in evidence, but his presence is duly noted in the worldof Marvel Comics, trusted as he was with delivering 35 pages of X-Men action!
Besides the Dark Phoenix Saga, this book also offers the first"aftermath" issues. Summing up twenty years of X-Men history, Scott Summers reflects over Jean's graveside in issue #138 about his past with theteam before coming to a fateful decision that would affect the team for many years. And issue #139 and 140 focuses on the buddy team of Wolverineand Nightcrawler, who leave their grieving friends behind to tramp into the Canadian wilderness, where they get wound up helping part of AlphaFlight take down Wendigo. It's a rematch Wolverine had been waiting for, and unfortunately for him, he gets! Please note, too, that the lastpage of X-Men #140 sets up the classic "Days of Future Past" storyline. It is fondly remembered by fans as one of the greatest X-Men stories of all-time, and certainly deserving a Masterworks of its own.
Still, when all is said and done, "Days of Future Past" and all other popular X-Men storylines take a back-seat to the true number one. The vast majorityof fans agree that the Dark Phoenix Saga is at the pinnacle of X-Men fables. All others are in a fight for second place. This volume deserves a spoton your library shelf as the definitive reprinting of the greatest X-Men story ever told.
-- by Gormuu
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