First Published: December 2007
Contents: Uncanny X-Men #229 (May 1988) to #243 (April 1989); Uncanny X-Men Annual #12 (1988); and X-Factor #36 (January 1989) to #39 (April 1989)
Key Creator Credits: Chris Claremont, Marc Silvestri, Rick Leonardi, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, and others
Key First Appearances: Gateway, Reavers (Bonebreaker, Pretty Boy, Skullbuster), Tyger Tiger, Jenny Ransome, Tam Anderson, Philip Moreau, Genegineer
Story Continues from: Essential X-Men Vol. 7
Story Continues In: Essential X-Men Vol. 9
Overview: When we last saw the X-Men, the world had watched them die in Dallas during the Fall of the Mutants. Thanks to the goddess Roma, the X-Men were brought back, but their images could no longer be captured on film or video. Free to move about the world, the X-Men set up shop in the Australian Outback, in the former headquarters of the Reavers. There, we meet the mutant known as Gateway, who is able to transport people to any place at any time. Not one to say much, Gateway gladly welcomes the X-Men to their new home.
Following a way-too-short return of the Brood, we are introduced to the island nation of Genosha. Located off of the eastern coast of Africa, Genosha is a thriving nation built on it’s mutant slave labor force. The X-Men get wind of what is going on here, which leads Wolverine and Rogue to go in on a rescue mission. Over the coming years, Genosha would become a major focus in the mutant storyline, while serving as an allegory for the real-life issues of slavery and apartheid.
This volume concludes with the next crossover event known as Inferno. Demons are making plans to take over the Earth, and they plan to use Magik from the New Mutants (and younger sister of Colossus) as their gateway to our world. At the same time, Madelyne Pryor finds out that Jean Grey is alive and well, and that her missing husband has been hanging out with her doppelganger. Guided by Mr. Sinister, Madelyne’s mind slips over the edge, and she becomes the villainous Goblin Queen. During the final battle with the X-Men, the Goblin Queen commits suicide in an attempt to take Jean Grey with her, but fails on that point.
What makes this Essential?: Over his many years on the title, it’s very easy to make jokes about Chris Claremont’s run on the X-Men title. Yes, he can be very wordy – if it takes 15 words to describe a scene, expect Claremont to use 143 words. And don’t worry about any dangling plot points, as Claremont plans to return to them in three years. That said, the more I re-read his run, the more impressed I get with Claremont’s X-Men opus. For example, take the creation of Genosha. At the time of Genosha’s debut in the comics, political and economic pressures were mounting on South Africa, which had been maintaining a policy of apartheid for 40+ years, which treated colored citizens as second-class. Claremont took a real-life situation and incorporated those points into the book. While the Genosha story would continue for many years, the beginnings shown in this volume shows why Claremont is a master of his craft, and why Essential X-Men should be a must read.
Footnotes: Uncanny X-Men #242 and #243 and X-Factor #36 to #39 are also reprinted in Essential X-Factor Vol. 3.
If you like this volume, try: the Inferno omnibus collections from 2009 and 2010. OK, I really enjoy these Essential volumes. But when we get to these large crossover events, this format is not designed to collect the full story. As we saw with The Fall of the Mutants storyline, we miss out on one-third of the story by not having the New Mutants issues collected in the volume. In addition, there was a four-issue X-Terminators mini-series that ties in with Inferno. So in order to get the COMPLETE story, I recommend you track down the two omnibus collections for this story. The first collection from 2009 includes all of the main mutant books, such as Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, and X-Terminators. The second collection from 2010 includes all of the crossover issues across the Marvel Universe, including issues of Avengers, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Power Pack, and issues from all three ongoing Spider-Man books.