First Published: October 1997
Contents: Uncanny X-Men #120 (April 1979) to #144 (April 1981), and Uncanny X-Men Annual #3 (1979) and #4 (1980)
Key Creator Credits: Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin, George Perez, John Romita Jr., Brent Anderson
Key First Appearances: Jeanne-Marie Beaubier/Aurora, Jean-Paul Beaubier/Northstar, Walter Langkowski/Sasquatch, Michael Twoyoungmen/Shaman, Narya Easton/Snowbird, Kevin MacTaggert/Proteus, the Hellfire Club, Harry Leland/Black Bishop, Sebastian Shaw/Black King, Donald Pierce/White Bishop, Emma Frost/White Queen, Kitty Pryde, Alison Blaire/Dazzler, Tessa, Senator Robert Kelly, Heather Hudson, Stevie Hunter, Avalanche, Irene Adler/Destiny, Pyro, Rachel Summers
Story Continues from: Essential X-Men Vol. 1
Story Continues In: Essential X-Men Vol. 3
Overview: As the X-Men grew in members, abilities and even popularity, Chris Claremont and John Byrne amped up the stories to take the X-Men to new heights. New challenges were introduced, such as Alpha Flight trying to return Wolverine to Canada; the return of Arcade; and the introduction of the sinister Hellfire Club. Mastermind begins tampering with Jean Grey’s mind, leading to the Dark Phoenix and the death of an original X-Man.
This volume also introduces us to Kitty Pryde, who went through code names (and costumes) before settling on Shadowcat; future X-Men member Dazzler, who was touring books in the Marvel Universe before headlining her own title; and the possible future line-up of the X-Men, featuring Franklin Richards, Rachel Summers, Kate Pryde, and Wolverine struggling to stay alive in a world that executes mutants.
What makes this Essential?: If you were to own just one Essential X-Men volume, this would be the one. The stories contained here have impacted the entire Marvel comic book universe for 35 years, as well as serve as the source material for at least two of the X-Men movies. Claremont & Byrne are at their peak with these stories. The Dark Phoenix and Days of Future Past stories in here have been reprinted numerous times. but this is the most affordable way to read the stories from start to finish.
Footnotes: The first edition of this volume did not contain the annuals.
Even though this blog uses Uncanny X-Men as the comic title, the comic was known just as X-Men up until early 1981. It was only with issue #142 that the title was officially named Uncanny X-Men. This becomes important to note to help later on, when, in the 1990s, Marvel had a monthly Uncanny X-Men title and a monthly X-Men title on newsstands.
Uncanny X-Men #130 and #131 are also reprinted in Essential Dazzler Vol. 1.
If you like this volume, try: John Byrne’s Next Men series. The original series was released by Dark Horse Comics in the early 1990s. Recently, Byrne returned to these characters with another run of the series at IDW. The DHC comics run were collected in two black & white editions released by IDW. The Next Men were a fresh take on the concept of teenage kids with powers and abilities that set them apart from the people around them.