MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE UNCANNY X-MEN VOL. 8 (Marvel, 2011; Hardcover)
Note: Actually released in 2012
Collects Uncanny X-Men Nos. 160-167, X-Men Annual No. 6, and selections from Marvel Treasury Edition Nos. 26, 27, and Special Edition X-Men No. 1 (cover dates August, 1982- March, 1983)
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Dave Cockrum (161-164), Paul Smith (165-167), Bill Sienkiewicz (Annual No. 6), and others
This book is a painful reminder of how great the X-Men once were, and how terrible they are today. Claremont's deft characterization was the real star of this series at this time, galaxy-spanning space epics be damned. While this has oodles of action and adventure, it is the heart of these characters as people that made the X-Men a favorite of mine growing up.
The late Dave Cockrum's last run on the title ends here. Aside from the criminally uncollected Nightcrawler mini-series from 1985 and the 2-issue Starjammers mini-series, this was the last time that he'd draw these characters, many of which he co-created. Cockrum was very good. I love his versions of Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler.
|Artwork by Dave Cockrum. "X-Men don't kill." Man, I miss them days...|
Chris Claremont gets ragged on by the Millennials, and I weep for them. If it weren't for him pushing the boundaries of sophisticated writing in mainstream superhero comics at the time, you wouldn't have your “adult” comics like the Vertigo stuff. You can love or hate his extremely wordy writing, but you get a lot of bang for your buck with his stories. He covers as much ground in one issue as many of your modern “superstar” writers do in one arc. Once he's dead and gone, these same brainless hipsters who deride his work now will celebrate it. Kind of like they do with Steve Gerber or Jack Kirby.
There are lots of great stories to be found in this book. The aforementioned Brood Saga is a work of art. Ms. Marvel becomes Binary. The Dracula story in the Annual was good. It features Sienkiewicz in his Neal Adams clone phase, which I prefer to his later artsy fartsy style that brought him much acclaim.
|Artwork by Paul Smith.|
I owned the singles to every issue in this book but was more than happy to upgrade. It's nice to have permanent, high-quality versions of these issues to read again and again. I'm really looking forward to Vol. 9, which is when the Claremont/Smith run really hits it's stride. The Morlocks, Rogue...classics all. I can't wait.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I adore the Marvel Masterworks line of hardcovers. Painstakingly restored, OCD preferred. I really wish that Marvel would change the Table of Contents in their Masterworks, though. The DC Archives offer a detailed issue by issue credit, which makes more sense as we enter the Bronze and Modern Age collections. For example, there are no cover artist credits to be found in this book, which is unacceptable. While I can spot who drew what, other people might not be able to. It's really the only complaint that I have left with this line.
Linework restoration rating: 5 out of 5. Spare me your Duh, my 2003 printing of ____ looks bad. I'm sure it does. It has nothing to do with anything that they've slapped the Masterworks label on in the last five or six years, though.
Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. Ridiculously wonderful lengths are gone to to ensure that the original color palette is maintained.
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. Thick coated paper stock with a slight sheen.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Wonderful, wonderful sewn binding that allows the book to lay perfectly flat from the first page to the last.
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