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Marvel Essential X-Men Comic Book Review: Wolverine, Storm and a Return to Greatness!

Updated on October 27, 2014

Marvel Essential X-Men Volume 1: A Mid-1970s Revival Of a Mediocre Comic!

Marvel Essential X-Men collects Giant-Size X-Men 1 and X-Men 94-119. Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 introduced the new team of superheroes, reviving the X-Men comic.

The revival started in 1975 and made the comic book the hottest series for many years. It also made Wolverine into one of Marvel Comics' biggest characters! The collection includes the debut of Storm, Nightcrawler, Phoenix, Colossus and much more!

The Marvel Essential books, each containing several hundred pages, reprint the original stories in black & white rather than in color.

X-Men 94
X-Men 94

The X-Men Return After Five Years of Reprints!

The Summer of Giant-Size Comics!

The X-Men, introduced in their own series in 1963, and had run out of steam by 1970. Issue No. 66 was the last original story. Marvel continued the series with reprints of earlier stories, and I only occasionally bought the comic. Then in mid-1975 Marvel launched a number of 'Giant-Size' titles that cost more than a regular comic but had many more pages. Among them was Giant-Size X-Men No. 1.

In Giant-Size X-Men No. 1, writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum introduced a new team of X-Men that are recruited to save the old group, who had been captured by a living island (yes, it was kind of silly). The new team combined new superheroes Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird with the already introduced Banshee, Sunfire and Wolverine.

The story continued into the regular X-Men comics starting with No. 94, with all of the old X-Men leaving the group except for Cyclops. He would remain as leader.

Chris Claremont took over as writer with issue No. 94, and with Cockrum began to build one of the most interesting comic books of the late 1970s. Cockrum would later be succeeded by John Byrne.

The series had a depth that most comics didn't have. The team suffered death and losses while each character gained an individualized personality. Claremont did a wonderful job developing the series, with one surprise after another.

This collection contains numerous stories that are thrilling, including the fight that cost the life of an X-Man (I won't give any hints), the return of Magneto as a seriously powerful villain, and a visit to the Savage Land of Ka-Zar. The stories are well-told and flow from one to another, and the art is superb. Marvel Essential X-Men Vol. 1 is just a great book, and well worth owning.

Which of the New X-Men Was The Coolest? - Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler or Thunderbird?


Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 introduced four new superheroes: Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird. Thunderbird was short-lived, but Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler all went on to being some of the most popular X-Men. If I remember correctly, Storm and Nightcrawler also were the first of the new X-Men to make guest appearances in other comics at the time. Which of these new superheroes do you think is the coolest?

Which of these new superheroes do you think is the coolest?

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Dave Cockrum vs. John Byrne - Whose Your Favorite X-Men Artist?

Artist Dave Cockrum kicked off the new X-Men, drawing the team's debut in Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 and continuing on the regular series from No. 94 to No. 111, when John Byrne took over. Both artists were seen as some of the industry's finest at the time, and there was a debate among fans over which artist was better for the X-Men.

At about the time issue No. 114 came out I attended a comic book show in South River, New Jersey, and that was the main topic of discussion. I always liked both artists, but I lean toward Cockrum because he featured Nightcrawler a lot more than Byrne, who was more partial to Wolverine.

Which X-Men artist was your favorite, and why?

Dave Cockrum Art for Sale

Original artwork by comic-book artists was very rare when I was growing up, but with eBay it is possible to purchase a piece for yourself! Here are some Dave Cockrum originals that you might like.

Iron Fist, the 1970s Martial Arts Superhero!

Claremont and Byrne Before The X-Men

Before Chris Claremont and John Byrne teamed up on the X-Men the two collaborated on a less-successful comic book called Iron Fist. Iron Fist had already debuted when the two of them took over the writing and art of the series in Marvel Premiere No. 25. Iron Fist would move to his own series after that issue, and the book would last only 15 issues before being canceled. Claremont and Byrne handled all 15 issues, introducing Sabretooth and having Iron Fist fight the X-Men in the final issue. For more on this short-lived series, see my review.

Essential Iron Fist: A Marvel Comic Book Review!
Essential Iron Fist Volume 1 collects the first four years' worth of Marvel comics starring the character, who debuted in 1974 during a martial arts craze. T...

John Byrne Original Art

Original artwork by comic-book artists was very rare when I was growing up, but with eBay it is possible to purchase a piece for yourself! Here are some John Byrne originals that you might like.

The Marvel Essentials Series

The Marvel Essential series reprints many of Marvel Comics' stories from the 1960s on in large volumes that usually top several hundred pages. The series began in 1997 with the publication of the the Essential Spider-Man No. 1.

Essential X-Men No. 1 was published at the same time, causing some controversy among fans who felt Marvel should have started the Essential X-Men collection with the 1963 debut of the book. Marvel would later publish the early X-Men stories under the title Essential Classic X-Men.

Many of the Essential volumes have been printed more than once, with different covers on some of them, so don't let that throw you off when buying. Carefully check to make sure which volume number you are considering.

The huge advantage to these volumes is cost: a reader can get 30 or more stories for about what a half dozen new comic books cost, and the old stories have more pages of action per issue. The Essentials books are much more cost-effective than buying all the original comics as well.

The Ghost Rider Debuts! A Marvel Comic Book Review
The Marvel Essential series contains four volumes devoted to the Ghost Rider superhero, who first appeared in 1972 in a comic book called Marvel Spotlight. H...

Captain America in the 1960s: A Marvel Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 1 reprints Captain America's stories from Tales of Suspense No. 59-99 as well as the first three issues of the newly-...

Spider-Man's Earliest Adventures: A Review of Marvel Comics' Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1
Marvel Essential Spider-Man Volume 1 contains the debut story of Marvel Comics' most-popular character, who first appeared 50 years ago in the summer of 1962...

The Rampaging Hulk Marvel Essential Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential: The Rampaging Hulk 1 is a collection of Hulk stories from his short-lived late 1970s magazine. This volume includes the tales from issues 1...

Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Comic Book Review: Dr. Doom and Daredevil Guest Star as the Legend Grows!
The Fantastic Four rocked the comic-book world when it debuted in 1961, with writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby introducing more characterization and real...

The Avengers in the Late 1960s: A Marvel Comics Review!
Marvel Essential: Avengers Vol. 3 contains issues 47 to 68 of the comic's original series, as well as Avengers Annual No. 2. For the most part this collectio...

The X-Men in the Early 1970s: Neal Adams' Dynamic Art
Marvel Essential Classic X-Men volume 3 is a real hodge-podge of stories that shows just how far below the radar screen the original X-Men had fallen in the ...

Spider-Man in the 1970s! A Marvel Comics Book Review
The Essential Spider-Man Vol. 8 contains issues No. 161-185 of the Amazing Spider-Man series, plus Nova issue No. 12 and the Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 11...

Marvel Essential Fantastic Four: Galactus, Silver Surfer and the Black Panther Debut!
Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 3 contains perhaps the most-sustained run of great comic book stories of the 1960s. This collection of Fantastic Four No...

Are Marvel Essentials worthwhile?

Some say the Essential series is a great way for fans to read all their favorite series without having to scout down the old comics and spend a great deal of money. Others say the books just aren't worthwhile because the reprints are in black & white and losing the original colors of the art makes everything look drab.

I agree the colors are a major part of enjoying a comic, but I do think the Essentials books are a great deal. I no longer have to go through my collection and pull the original comic out of its protective bag to enjoy an old story. Now, they can sit in a handy volume on my bookcase for me to dip into whenever I want!

Is the Marvel Essentials series worth collecting?

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Marvel Masterworks X-Men

From the Team's Debut to the Coming of the Phoenix!

Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 and X-Men No. 94-110 also appear in the first two Marvel Masterworks X-Men books. Marvel Masterworks is a separate line of reprint collections, and each volume contains only 10 or so comic-book stories. But the books are in color and on higher quality paper than the Marvel Essential editions.

I have reviewed Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 in separate lenses, so please check them out!

X-Men Reborn in the 1970s: Storm and Nightcrawler Debut, plus Wolverine!
Marvel Masterworks: The Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 highlights the rebirth of the team in 1975-1976, reprinting Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 and X-Men No. 94-100. Promote...

Marvel Masterworks X-Men Comic Book Review: Enter the Phoenix! Plus Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler!
This volume reprints Uncanny X-Men No. 101-110 in full color, a collection of 10 comics during a run that really established the new X-Men as a major franchi...

A Trip to Comic Book Heaven in Baltimore!

Geppi's Entertainment Museum

If you are ever in Baltimore you need to set aside time to Visit Geppi's, which is right near the baseball stadium. The museum, founded by the head of Diamond Comics Distributors, has one of the best comic-book collections on display that we have ever seen. We wrote a review of Geppi's that you can check out in the following lens. The museum is definitely worth a visit!

Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore: A Tourist's Guide to Comic Book Heaven!
Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located in Baltimore and is dedicated to all sorts of American pop culture: comic books, television, radio, movies, magazines...

Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier Comic Book Review
DC: The New Frontier was a series of six comic book issues in 2004 that focused on the 1950s, when many of the major superheroes that populate the modern DC ...

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller A Marvel Comic Book Review of The Complete Elektra Saga!
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2 collects issues 168-182 of the original Daredevil series. Issue 168 was the first comic of the series that Miller ...

The Mighty Thor Debuts: Highlights of His First Marvel Masterworks Collection
Thor, one of Marvel Comics' mightiest heroes, debuted 50 years ago in a comic book called Journey into Mystery. One of the Marvel Universe's earliest charact...

The Amazing Spider-Man Debuts! A Marvel Masterworks Comic Book Review
Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987 with The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1, among others. Since then the company has come out wi...

X-Men's Dark Phoenix Saga: A Marvel Comic Book Review
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga collects issues No. 129-137 of the original X-Men comic-book series, a series of tales that ends with the final battle over Jean...

Marvel Masterworks X-Men Comic Book Review: Enter the Phoenix! Plus Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler!
This volume reprints Uncanny X-Men No. 101-110 in full color, a collection of 10 comics during a run that really established the new X-Men as a major franchi...

The Avengers Debut! A Comic Book Review of the Marvel Masterworks Collection!
The Avengers Volume 1 was one of the first four collections when Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987. Since then the company...

Captain America's 1960s Adventures in Color: A Marvel Comics Review
Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1 reprints the superhero's adventures in Tales of Suspense No. 59-81 in full color. This was Captain America's fir...

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Brings Greatness to the Marvel Comics' Superhero!
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Volume 1 contains the first nine stories that Miller drew of Daredevil in the late 1970s (issues 158-161, 163-167). Bring...

What do you think about Marvel Essential X-Men Vol. 1, the X-Men, comic books, this lens or anything else? Here is your chance to speak your mind!


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