Marvel Masterworks X-Men Comic Book Review: Enter the Phoenix! Plus Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler!
Marvel Masterworks the X-Men Volume 2: A Great Collection of 1970s Comics!
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 franchise for Marvel Comics. The new team had only been introduced a year earlier, and in this group of comics writer Chris Claremont was still establishing the themes and characterizations that would propel the book forward for years.
It may be hard to believe today, when the X-Men are so well-known and popular, that at the time of the stories in this collection the book was still being published bi-monthly rather than monthly. I can still remember the long, long wait between issues, and how exciting it was when the book finally reached my local convenience store!
The highlights of this group of stories are the debut of the Phoenix and the return of Magneto, the X-Men's deadliest foe. But along the way the X-Men fight the Juggernaut and travel across space to save the universe with some new star-spanning characters. And the stage is set for the introduction of Canada's super-hero team Alpha Flight!
''Like a Phoenix, From the Ashes!''
Jean Grey Reborn!
X-Men No. 101, the first in this volume, has Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) reborn into the Phoenix (with a far cooler costume!). Over the next seven issues, through No. 108, Claremont reveals Phoenix to be hugely powerful, with enough strength to bind the universe back together. You'll have to read the story to understand it.
Jean Grey and her development as the Phoenix would become a major plot and theme for the next 36 issues, with lots of twists building up to a climax that is still considered a classic decades later.
Claremont would become known for his characterizations of strong females, in part because of the way he dealt with Jean Grey. One of the more interesting aspects to his handling of her was that he gave her a full life outside the X-Men, with a roommate sharing her apartment and appearances by her parents. That might not sound like much, but it did flesh out who she was in a more realistic manner.
My one quibble is that issue No. 101 starts off with a bang, a continuation from issue No. 100 (which isn't included in this collection.) The story flows fine even without the earlier issue, but still it is a bit annoying!
This image of Phoenix is from the Marvel Masterworks book
Marvel Masterworks X-Men Volume 2 on Amazon - Buy Your Copy Today!
''The Gentleman's Name is Magneto''
Returning Magneto to His Status as a Top Villain!
Magneto was the X-Men's very first villain, appearing in issue No. 1 in Sept. 1963. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, at first he was the typical bad guy striving for world domination. But as he led his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants over the years writers characterized him more as using force in an attempt to make the world safe for mutants.
By the time the X-Men was being revived, Magneto had fought many other superheroes and been defeated so many times it was getting hard to take him seriously. In fact, in his previous fight, against a superhero team called the Defenders, Magneto had even been turned into a baby (see Defenders No. 16)! As I said, hard to take seriously.
But in issue No. 104 in this volume Claremont and artist Dave Cockrum begin Magneto's return to the pantheon of top Marvel villains. Magneto is restored to adulthood, and at full strength. He toys and easily beats the Banshee-led X-Men (who are missing Phoenix and Cyclops), with the team being forced to run away after a timely intervention by Cyclops.
This set the tone for Magneto to grow into the powerful character he would become in the X-Men franchise, and this issue showed the depth of Claremont's writing. If he had the new team defeat Magneto right away, it would have been much harder for the reader to believe that he was as powerful as Claremont intended.
This image is of Magneto from issue No. 104, as reprinted in the Marvel Masterworks volume.
Weapon Alpha in Search of Wolverine!
The Seeds of Alpha Flight are Planted!
Issue No. 109 in this collection contains the debut of Weapon Alpha, a Canadian superhero who is designed to be that country's equivalent of Captain America. But his mission in this issue is less heroic -- he has hunted down Wolverine, intent on bringing him back into the service of the Canadian government, by force if necessary.
The battle itself is inconclusive, with Weapon Alpha breaking off and disappearing once he realizes that he has bitten off more than he can chew. His final thoughts in this issue is that next time ''I'll bring Alpha Flight with me.''
And that is another part of why the early run of new X-Men was so fresh and exciting. Claremont once again planted a seed that would blossom much later. First, in a classic two-part battle 11 issues later, starting in X-Men No. 120, when Weapon Alpha returned with Alpha Flight for Wolverine. Alpha Flight would later get its own long-lived series that lasted 11 years.
Weapon Alpha, later renamed Guardian, was created by artist John Byrne, who had taken over drawing the X-Men from Dave Cockrum an issue earlier.
The shot here is a close-up of the character from the cover of X-Men No. 109, as reprinted in the Marvel Masterworks volume.
Alpha Flight Takes Off! - From X-Men Adversaries to Heroes in Their Own Series!
When Weapon Alpha returned in X-Men No. 120 with his own band of superheroes to try to corral Wolverine he arrived with a new name. Weapon Alpha had become Guardian, and his team included Sasquatch, Northstar, Snowbird, Shaman and Aurora. The characters were created by artist John Byrne.
Marvel launched the team in its own series starting in 1983, with Byrne handling both the story and art duties. I have read interviews with Byrne that said he resisted the idea of a team series, saying the characters really were two-dimensional and not very fleshed out. Byrne stayed on the series for 28 issues, and the comic lasted 11 years before it was canceled.
I don't remember much about the series because at the time it debuted I was in college and my comic-book days were fading. I'd buy some when home on vacation, but even then I really wasn't seeking out new series. Money had started to get tight so I focused mostly on the comics I really enjoyed. I do think I bought the early issues of Alpha Flight but I can't say they made a big impression on me. Except for issue No. 12, which ended with a character being killed. But I won't spoil that surprise.
Alpha Flight comics can be found on eBay. When considering a purchase make sure you check the condition carefully and note all shipping and handling charges.
Starjammers, Juggernaut and Wolverine's New Costume!
The Rest of the X-Men Adventures!
The rest of this Marvel Masterworks collection is uneven, unfortunately.
There's a very strong two-parter with the X-Men (minus Cyclops and Phoenix) fighting Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy. The story provides some much-needed background to Storm, and positions Banshee as second-in-command of the team.
There's also a very dynamic multi-part tale that features extraterrestrial villains and the fate of a world in another universe. The tale introduces the space pirates the Starjammers, led by Cyclops' father, and gives Wolverine a new costume that he wore on and off for a number of issues afterward. The best part of this tale is when the X-Men go up against a band of aliens that are homages to DC Comics' Legion of Super-Heroes, which X-Men artist Dave Cockrum had drawn before moving over to Marvel Comics.
That's the good. The bad? Issue No. 106 was a fill-in issue that interrupted the above tale (and remember at the time the X-Men was bi-monthly, which meant the story was delayed four months!) The art was by Bob Brown, who had a long career in comic books but really his work on the issue is very much subpar. He had actually died a few months earlier, so this was a posthumous publication. Worse was the story, written by Bill Mantlo, which had the new X-Men squaring off against the old X-Men -- only six issues after Claremont and Cockrum had done the same thing!
Also poor is issue No. 110, the last story reprinted in this volume. Featuring a forgettable villain called Warhawk, the story was done by fill-in artist Tony DeZuniga. I liked his work on the DC Comics western hero Jonah Hex, but it was all wrong for a superhero group.
The illustration is the back cover the Marvel Masterworks volume, showing all but the first of the issues that are reprinted in the book.
Dave Cockrum vs. John Byrne - Who is the Better X-Men Artist?
This Marvel Masterworks includes the turnover of the series' art duties from Dave Cockrum to John Byrne, one great artist following another.
Cockrum had helped kick off the revival of the X-Men, and Nightcrawler and Storm had been based on characters he had created before joining Marvel. He also co-created Colossus.
Byrne took over the art duties with issue No. 108, establishing himself right away as every bit of Cockrum's equal.
One major difference between the artists: Cockrum very much played up Nightcrawler and didn't care much for Wolverine. Byrne, however, was a huge supporter of Wolverine because he was a fellow Canadian. Once Byrne took over, Wolverine became far more prominent in the book, and now he's one of Marvel's most popular characters!
For numerous issues there was a great debate over who was the better X-Men artist, Cockrum or Byrne. I remember being at a comic book convention in South River, New Jersey, when issue No. 114 came out, and people were still arguing!
Who do you think was the better X-Men artist?
Dave Cockrum! He even helped design the characters!
John Byrne Art on eBay! - Buy An Original Piece Today!
When I was collecting comic books back in the 1970s it was almost impossible for the average fan to get an original piece of artwork from an artist. But the rules governing how comic book companies treated original art has changed, so there are more pieces available today. And with eBay there's always some available for purchase.
When considering anything on eBay, always carefully check the condition of item as well as note all shipping and handling charges!
Dave Cockrum's Legacy - X-Men and the Legion of Super-Heroes
Dave Cockrum died in November 2006 at age 63.
In addition to co-creating several of the new X-Men and relaunching the title, he is probably most known for his earlier 1970s work on DC Comics' Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes series. For that series, he redesigned many of the character's costumes and really livened up the strip. One minor oddity that I remember is that he liked putting the male characters in beefcake costumes, with lots of bare chests and legs!
His art appears regularly on eBay. If you are considering a purchase, make sure you carefully check the condition of the item first as well as note all shipping and handling charges.
Storm, the First -- and Greatest -- Black Female Superhero!
The classic, and best, look for Storm!
I always thought Storm's classic costume was her greatest, and never understood why Marvel changed it (especially to that awful mohawk!) There are many styles and sizes for this t-shirt once you click through, so check them out today!
X-Men on the Silver Screen - Buy Yours Today!
Starting in 2000, the X-Men have starred in a series of films that are considered to be Marvel's second-most successful after the Spider-Man movies. According to Boxoficemojo, The first three X-Men movies were the 10th highest-grossing trilogy ever through 2007, generating $1.16 billion.
The movies have received praise for taking a more serious and intellectual tone than some other superhero films.
You can buy the movies on eBay. Before making any purchase, make sure you check the condition of the item and note all shipping and handling charges.
Marvel Masterworks: Reprints in Full Color!
The Marvel Masterworks series began in 1987, with the publication in hardcover of volumes dedicated to the early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four and The Avengers. Over the years Marvel has come out with more than 170 volumes while expanding the line to include comics from the 1940s and 1950s, as well as later ones.
The company also has reprinted many of the volumes in paperback, and sometimes changed the contents of the volume when doing so. So be sure you check exactly what you are getting when you buy a Marvel Masterworks volume!
Spider-Man, Captain America and Thor! The Avengers Too!
Reviews of other Marvel Masterworks Collections!
Please see the reviews that I have written about these other Marvel Masterworks volumes.
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...
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...
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...
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...
Marvel Masterworks on Amazon - Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Many More!
There are more than 175 Marvel Masterworks volumes, with new ones being published almost every month. On any given day Amazon offers more than 300 different editions, so I'm sure you can find one that you like!
Who is Your Favorite New X-Men? - Wolverine? Phoenix? Storm? Nightcrawler?
A major reason for the popularity of the X-Men when it relaunched was the new superheroes that were introduced: Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Thunderbird and a few issue later, Phoenix.
Note that Wolverine had debuted in The Incredible Hulk comics, though this was his first sustained appearance. And Banshee had been a long-time X-Men villain before becoming a hero.
I really enjoyed Nightcrawler as he was just so different from other heroes. Also, I found Banshee very interesting, as he was a bit older and more established.
Who Was Your Favorite New X-Men?
Marvel Essential X-Men: More Stories For Your Money!
Hundreds of Pages of Issues!
The stories in this X-Men volume of Marvel Masterworks also appear in Marvel Essential X-Men volume 1. The big difference, and for some people this is huge, is that the Marvel Essential series is in black & white on cheaper quality paper. In fact, the Marvel Essential book reprints Giant-Size X-Men No. 1, as well as X-Men No. 94-119. Many, many more stories, so more bang for your buck!
The criticism of the Marvel Essential volumes is that the black & white reprints simply don't represent the comics the way they are meant to be enjoyed. I can understand that criticism, as in many issues the colors do add a great deal to the readers' enjoyment. Still, I figure the two series can co-exist, with each serving different audiences.
Marvel Essential X-Men Comic Book Review: Wolverine, Storm and a Return to Greatness!
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 Hulk, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider and the Fantastic Four! - Reviews of More Marvel Essential Volumes!
Hulk in the 1970s! 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...
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man: A Review of the 1970s Marvel Comics Series!
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man first appeared at the end of 1976, and was a comic book aimed at cashing in on the growing popularity of Spider-Man....
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...
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-...
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...
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...
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...
The Ghost Rider Debuts! A Marvel Comic Book Review
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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 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...
The Fantastic Four Debuts! A Marvel Essentials Comic Book Review
The Essential Fantastic Four Volume 1 contains some of the most important stories that Marvel Comics ever published. This book contains the first 20 issues o...
Play X-Men on Your Computer! - X-Men Destiny video game
The X-Men have become quite popular as characters in video games, something that just wasn't around when I was a child. Too bad, because they do look like fun!
Anyway, the latest game starring the X-Men is ''X-Men Destiny,'' which was released in September for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS systems.
Here is the official launch trailer!
The Rebirth of the X-Men!
Marvel Masterworks the X-Men Volume 1!
Here is my review of the first volume of Marvel Masterworks the X-Men, which contains the debut of the new team in Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 and their initial adventures in X-Men No. 94-100.
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...
Dark Phoenix, Frank Miller's Daredevil, Joe Kubert and Gene Colan - More Comics-Related Articles!
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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...
C.J. Henderson's Writing Advice: A KotoriCon Anime Festival Highlight
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The Shadow Unmasks + The Yellow Band: A Pulp Book Review!
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Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller A Marvel Comic Book Review of The Complete Elektra Saga!
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Gene Colan, Comic Book Artist: An Appreciation
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Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore: A Tourist's Guide to Comic Book Heaven!
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KotoriCon Anime Festival: Highlights of the New Jersey Convention
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New York Comic Con Anime Festival: A Comic Book Fan's Review!
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Joe Kubert, Comic Book Artist: An Appreciation
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Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier Comic Book Review
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Spider-Man Co-Creator Steve Ditko: Strange and Stranger Book Review
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I hope you have enjoyed this review. Thanks for stopping by, and please let me know what you think of this volume of Marvel Masterworks, the X-Men, the lens or anything else to do with comic books!