Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Rick Leonardi (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issue also reprints Uncanny X-men #94, #95, #193, and Classic X-men #3
Plot: In the earliest days of the second generation of X-men, Wolverine notes that Charles has assembled, along with an international crew, a “damaged goods” crew of survivors who need greater mental health. Storm and John Proudstar are instantly at odds.
Comments: What an odd feeling; Claremont is here revisiting, and revivifying, his own earliest X-men stories, showing a new angle on a time period that is thirty years gone. This story, of some of the interpersonal dynamics of the nascent team, is a chance to look in on Proudstar and Storm at moments when they weren’t at their best. Along the way, the issue presents early dynamic tensions between Charles, Logan and Cyclops.
The question is, can even the master recapture the tone of his previous works? Can he transmit some of the feeling of those classic days into a presentation style that works for today’s readers? The answer is a mixed bag. The Storm/Thunderbird tension is intriguing, and feels right on. But Cyclops is too jumpy, and Logan and Charles far too chummy. That wouldn’t come for years.
Plot Mechanics: Something that must be said about these Giant-Size projects; for $5, I want more than 8 pages of new story. Yes, I love the reprints, they’re a special boon if one doesn’t have the issues, and this Thunderbird-themed memorial package is a coherent concept. But all 8 pages gives us is a glimpse or a tease, not really a whole story.
It hasn’t done so yet, and this is my third of these books. Because, clearly, I’m still a sucker for the concept. I love reprints in this age where editorial references to earlier stories are infrequent, and I agree the original two Giant-Size X-men are of enough historical import to merit sequels. I loved all the Giant-Sizes in the seventies, and I loved the Monster editions a few years back. But all of those featured full stories (sometimes key ones); this concept needs some improving. I’d rather have more story than glossy pages, for example.
Old timers: The reprints concern the original Thunderbird’s bravado and sacrifice, his funeral, and the revenge plot of his brother James, another wounded soul. They make a very strong set as an homage to a short-lived character. The art, by Cockrum, Bolton and Romita Jr., is top notch. Leonardi’s work on the new story is very loose and sketchy.
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