Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men Vol 3 2nd Ed HC - Current Printing
X-Men. World travelers. The heart of an Antarctic volcano. The steamy jungles of the hidden Savage Land. Coastal Japan in flames and the far-flung Canadian city of Calgary buried in drifts of snow. All these locales and more await our merry band of mutants in the following eleven issues- and there's no time to catch your breath! This volume reads as one long story, setting the tone for the heavy continuity approach the next two decades would take. The first issue the X-Men wake up somewhere strange and by the end of the book, they still haven't gotten home! But unlike some of the lesser events of recent X-Men vintage, this epic- modeled after Homer's The Odyssey- has a beginning, a middle and an end, and it all takes place within the confines of the one title. Chris Claremont first creates his legend in these pages. With these stories, he makes clear the claim on these characters as his own, and with the help of John Byrne, he hits just the right note with each of them. Cyclops is commanding, not stiff. Storm is regal, not pompous. Colossus is innocent, not naive. Nightcrawler is light-hearted, not an incorrigible prankster. Wolverine is unpredictable, but with a clear (to himself, if not the reader) sense of purpose, not the feral wildman a lesser writer might have saddled him as. And Banshee is a core member of the team, not a sideliner. The writing is also down to earth rather than the melodramatic turn the book would take in the 80's. The mutants walk around with confidence and don't seem like much of a threat to humanity. They just seem odd, less able to connect with society the way the Avengers and the Fantastic Four could. But they're trying, desperately wanting to be accepted by the authorities who call them an “unofficial super hero group”. This is a sharp contrast to the “mutants only club” of the 1990's. John Byrne is also in full command on this book. His art, inked by Terry Austin, has never been sharper. This is the John Byrne everyone talks about, before he experimented with his style for a flatter, more stylized look. And his able co-plotting shows his promise as an emerging writer who would soon revitalize the Fantastic Four and reinvent Superman. Sharing the plotting credit with Claremont, Byrne uses the opportunity to introduce his own super-hero team: Alpha Flight! Paying homage to his Canadian roots, these Canucks are just as rough and tumble as any American counterpart. Byrne also continues the development on Wolverine's character. It says something that it takes over twenty issues to give him a name, as he first utters his name "Logan" in a quite sweet and intimate moment. This is just a small part of the new depth readers would find in Wolverine: suddenly his senses are sharper, he first discusses his "rapid healing ability," he busts out fluent Japanese (Cyclops says "I didn't know you spoke Japanese;" Wolverine says "you didn't ask.") and he even takes charge of the team in the Savage Land! It wouldn't be long before Wolverine was Marvel's most popular character and it all starts here. One other story of note in this volume is the classic origin issue of X-Men #117. Chris Claremont tells a very tidy and satisfying tale of the time in Professor Xavier's youth when he first put his powers up against those of an evil mutant. Set in a Casablanca-style cafe in North Africa, facing a formidably powerful (with a girth to match!) evil mutant named Farouk, Xavier battles his foe on the astral plane where only one man can survive. He also meets the adolescent Ororo on the mean streets of Cairo, providing another weave in the tapestry of mutant connections that would make the X-Men one of the great joys for Marvel Universe continuity buffs (for better and worse!) It's time for the Odyssey! So let's take the trip with Uncanny X-Men Masterworks Volume 3!