New Reviews of Old Comics
Chris Claremont was the X-Men writer on, like, a thousand issues with his run being, arguably, among the peak periods for the title. Uncanny X-Men was among the first group of titles I really got into as a teenager, starting somewhere around issue 181. I eventually sold them all when I became more interested in titles that weren’t Marvel or DC and found myself getting good trade-in value for all of those mutant titles. Since I’m familiar with what is going on and what is going to happen I was pretty happy to find this issue for a buck, knowing I wouldn’t be totally lost from the storyline. Do I regret trading all of my X-Men comics? Nah. I picked up nearly complete runs of several really good independent titles, Love & Rockets being among them.
“First Blood,” written by the aforementioned Chris Claremont with art by Dave Cockrum and Bob Wiacek start off with Storm and Cyclops flying in a spaceship with a pirate look-a-like named Corsair. In addition to being the leader of Star-Jammer, a group of intergalactic pirates, Corsair is also Cyclops father. This was something of a shocker to readers 30 years ago, but probably not so much now. Either way, Scott is still wrangling with the shocking news and he’s not exactly having an aw-shucks-lifetime-movie-warm-and-mushy reaction. He’s kind of pissed off at feeling abandoned. It’s fair to say this bit of news is the issue’s main plot, but there are a few other things going on too. Colossus and Wolverine teleport to Avengers mansion and meet up with Tigra; good natured short fight scene follows. Storm and Corsair briefly walk the streets of New York before being discovered by Death Bird; nastier, more drawn out fight scene ensues between the X-Men, Death Bird and some really ugly aliens. Also, large chunks of New York get trashed. Eventually Scott tells Corsair that maybe they should get to know each other, which is just fine with the deadbeat dad. The big ending has Colossus being impaled on some debris, with some NYC cops arriving to arrest the mutant team. When this was first published, that was probably a big deal. Our friend hindsight (and common sense) tells us Colossus didn’t die in issue #155 (or 156 for that matter). Maybe this was a mind blowing plot twist in 1982, but I doubt it. Major characters don’t die for good in comics very often. I think we’ve all become fairly immune to that sales ploy by now.
Of course it’s nearly impossible to say anything bad about this era of Uncanny X-Men; this is hands-down one of the most popular comic titles of the 1980s (longer, really), and this was an enjoyable read, though for me, not one of the best issues for this title. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Star Jammers which accounts for my lack of enthusiasm here. The whole “Colossus is dead” finish falls flat for me because I know he’s not dead. On the whole, Claremont’s character development, humor and storytelling are on full display as expected. Cockrun and Wiacek’s art was right in line with the style that helped make these issues so popular. True, it wasn’t my favorite, but any issue of Uncanny X-Men from this era is worth reading, especially if you can get for a dollar.