The updated edition of “Essential X-Men vol. 4″ adds “Marvel Graphic Novel No. 5 – X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills” to the black-and-white reprint volume, which also includes “Uncanny X-Men” 162-179 and annual #7.
(The 2006 edition, which also changed covers from the 2001 edition, first added the “God Loves” volume. The 2011 edition of the book was released this month.)
This collection continues writer Chris Claremont’s extensive run on these characters. The team of Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde, led by Professor X, are the lead characters for the majority of this collection. The beginning arc is a reminder of the X-Men’s sci-fi leanings, as the team fights the alien Brood, who seek to implant their progeny in the X-Men. (Similarities to “Alien” noted.)
Dave Cockrum ends his second run on the X-Men to be replaced by Paul Smith. Smith’s brief and well-remembered run on the X-Men from the 1980s is included in its entirety in this volume. He was replaced by John Romita Jr.
Rogue first joins the X-Men in this volume, over the objections of Storm and others. Cyclops meets and weds Madelyne Pryor, while Wolverine’s planned wedding to Mariko isn’t as successful. Storm darkens as a character over the course of the volume, leading eventually to the debut of the “punk Storm” look.
Bill Sienkiewicz faces the X-Men against Dracula in Annual #7, and Brent Anderson illustrates Graphic Novel 5, which became the basis of the “X-Men 2″ film by Bryan Singer.
These were absolutely the comics to get at the time they were coming out in the early 1980s. Some people argue the book loses some of its steam after the departure of John Byrne a few years prior, but these issues introduce lots of concepts that became important to the X-Men. Each artist brings his strengths to the comic, but I particularly enjoy the Paul Smith issues.
- Matt Price
Comics read in 2011: 448. Still to go: 1563