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Tag Archive: Uncanny X-Men


If you’re curious why a recent news story surfaced about Marvel Comics seeking to get John Byrne to return for some new projects, you need only turn to a new retrospective book arriving at comic book shops today to see why Marvel wants him back.  It’s yet another in IDW Publishing’s award-winning series of “Artifact Editions”–giant-sized 12″x17″ books printed at the same dimensions as original comic book art pages, with quality scanned reprints that appear nearly identical to the originals.  Today’s release features the art of John Byrne, focusing on his classic X-Men pages.

John Byrne’s X-Men Artifact Edition includes reprints of 169 pages of Byrne art in all–a rare opportunity to view images where the original set of these pages would fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.  Beginning with X-Men Issue #108 in December 1977, Byrne, along with long-time creative partner Chris Claremont, would gain popularity for their story arcs “Proteus,” “Dark Phoenix Saga,” and “Days of Future Past.”  According to Byrne, “Even after all these years, it’s the X-Men work I did with Chris and Terry (Austin) that still resonates the most with fans.  Hopefully when you all see the pages in this format you’ll still feel the same way!”  So what’s inside?  A few pages each from X-Men Issues #108-143 (except no pages were included for Issue #117).  No full issues, but you’ll find 11 Byrne covers (for Issues #114, 116, 127, 129, 133, 134, 136, 138, 139, 140, and an unpublished cover to #142), 148 interior pages, 23 splash pages (including Wolverine, Phoenix, Spider-Man, and full teams), 8 pages from the first appearance of Alpha Flight in Issues #120 and 121, 10 pages from Issue #137, “The Death of Jean Grey,” 15 pages from the Issue #141 and 142 story, “Days of Future Past.”  All-in that’s 35 original pages to marvel at from the “Dark Phoenix Saga” alone.  Plus 10 bonus art pages, including original Marvel corner box art.  The original covers to #114, 133, and 136 are pages you’re going to look at again and again.

Byrne stopped creating for Marvel in 2000 after a falling-out with editor Joe Quesada.  Byrne has continued with other publishers and personal projects since his Marvel days, going on to being named to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2015.  Byrne co-created some major characters for Marvel, including the Scott Lang Ant-Man, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Sabretooth, and Shadow King.

Take a look at this preview from today’s release, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Review by C.J. Bunce
Spoilers!
If you happened to miss this year’s X-Men event from Marvel Comics, X-Men: Schism, now is a good time to get caught up.  The mini-series was released in a compilation edition Wednesday at comic stores and is available elsewhere January 11.  It’s also available at a discount for pre-order online.  Noteworthy at a minimum for this limited series is that it serves as the lead-in to the current X-Men storyline and main ongoing Marvel X-Men titles Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men.  “Marvel Architect” writer Jason Aaron created the events that culminate in the break-up of the X-Men into two teams.  The new hardcover collected edition includes Schism Issues #1-5, Generation Hope Issues #10-11, and X-Men: Regenesis, the book where each mutant chooses sides.  Unique to this series, several top artists participated in the complete work, with Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuna, Alan Davis and Adam Kubert each contributing an issue, among others.  Ultimately, like a lot of other series, it’s the lack of visual continuity that causes the entire work to slightly suffer, but ultimately Schism is a tight piece of storytelling and individual issues of the series are notable for the artwork, particularly Schism Issues #2 and 3, by Cho and Acuna.
The battle in the storyline at first appears to be between a growing sense of anti-mutant hatred around the world and the almost arrogant mutants led by Scott Summers aka Cyclops, who at first seems to be toting co-leader Logan aka Wolverine along for the ride.  Ultimately the battle turns to X-Man versus X-Man.  Writer Aaron fans the flames of discontent growing from the ongoing arguments over the years between the two leaders, prompting each to dig their heels in as they clash on how to respond to the anti-mutant sentiments by the non-mutant population.  But the surprising puppetmaster behind the demise of the X-Men unity is a mutant himself, young, annoying, too big and rich for his own good, Kade Kilgore.  Kilgore throws his own father from a plane and leads a group of psychopath children in his own strange arms deal, ensuring that he is the supplier to the world of 1980s-ish strategic defense initiative-type humanoid, robotic, giant automatons called sentinels.  These sentinels serve as the non-mutant population’s defensive shield against the mutants, now numbering only a few hundred, and living off the coast of San Francisco in an island called Utopia.  Kilgore creates the conflict, with the successful result of being able to benefit financially from it.
Ultimately the question the X-Men must face is whether to use children mutants to defend all mutants against the attack by the sentinels.  Wolverine says children should not be used as soldiers under any circumstance.  Cyclops believes the circumstances are too dire, and if he doesn’t use the children and their powers there may be no mutants left to defend.  Mirroring this storyline is the fact that Kilgore is leading his own band of children to attack and attempt to destroy the X-Men.
Although each of Summers and Logan gets ample time to lay out their positions, the reader can’t help but find it hard to support Summers, who comes off as arrogant, isolationist, and dangerous, versus Logan’s concern for not only mutants, but the rest of the planet and the overall big picture of Earth’s future.  Behind this Aaron hints at this result the culmination of the never-ending fallout from each X-Man’s care for the late Jane Grey aka Phoenix, and it seems these two will never be able to get along.  In the final panel Logan arrives at a destroyed Xavier School for the Gifted, and Summers remains at Utopia, paranoid, maybe rightly so, and locked into the idea that mutants need protected from the rest of the world.  In the last part, X-Men: Regenesis, a strange thing occurs, as Wolverine seems to get the short end of the stick, with the majority of the big name X-Men sticking with Scott Summers.  Yet, after Schism, the stronger and more entertaining series follows Wolverine in Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men title, and Summers’ ongoing storyline in Uncanny X-Men unfortunately just doesn’t carry the same spark.  Added plus to look for: the five-image cover gallery by Frank Cho, one of his best superhero works to date.  X-Men: Schism, the hardcover compilation, retails for $24.99.
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