Collects Uncanny X-Men #145-161 and Annual 3, 4 and 5
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Dave Cockrum, Joe Rubinstein, Bob McLeod, Bill Sienkiewicz, & Bob Wiacek
This a collection of classic Claremont tales. Most of the stories span a couple of issues and some subplots even five issues.
The collection starts with the X-Men confronting Doctor Doom for the first time. Arcade’s assistant Miss Locke has kidnapped all of the X-Men’s loved ones: Nightcrawler’s girlfriend Amanda, Jean Grey’s parents, Colossus’ little sister Illyana, Angel’s girlfriend Candy, Banshee’s wife Moira MacTaggert, and Kitty’s dance teacher Stevie Hunter. Apparently, Dr. Doom has kidnapped Arcade and Locke wants the X-Men to free him or she will kill the hostages. But Storm has a plan: she recruits old X-Men: Ice Man, Havok, Polaris, and Banshee. The active X-Men (Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Wolverine, and Angel) head over to Doom’s palace and the other team tries to locate and free the hostages.
Dr. Doom captures one team and the other falls victim to Arcade’s Murderworld but of course, the teams manage to fight their way free. Doom encapsulates Storm into solid chrome. Unfortunately, she suffers from claustrophobia and this treatment makes her panic. Her mind gathers up elemental powers while she’s immobile inside the chrome. When she’s freed from the chrome, she almost destroys the palace and everyone in it before Colossus can talk her out of it. Dr. Doom and Ororo are attracted to each other but nothing comes out of it. This seems to be a recurring element in Claremont’s writing; later Ororo is attracted to Arkon and Dracula. Another recurring element is that Ororo misplaces her uniform and is wearing a lot less.
Meanwhile, Cyclops and her new employer/love interest Aleytys Forrester, a ship captain, have been washed overboard during a storm. They wake up on a new island which they explore for a few issues. Then they find out that they are on Magneto’s island. He has simply made the island rise from the sea.
In issue 148 Dazzler makes a brief appearance and Storm and Spider-Woman battle Caliban who is just looking for other mutants. Angel leaves the group because he can’t tolerate Wolverine and Banshee finds out that he has a grown daughter. This issue is quite melancholy.
In issue 149 Xavier sends the group to Magneto’s old base and they are attacked by Garokk who bears a grudge against Ororo. Kitty is ordered to stay behind but she sneaks aboard the Blackbird and is quite useful.
The next issue centers on Magneto. He gives the world powers an ultimatum to surrender, which they don’t do, of course, and the X-Men journey to his island. They unite with Cyclops and Lee. However, for the first time, we’re told about Magneto’s past as a Holocaust survivor and he starts to see that he’s becoming similar to the men whom he hates to much. This is a turning point to Magneto.
Next is a two-issue story arc which shows the true colors of Emma Frost. Kitty’s parents send her to school which is run by Frost and her cronies. Ororo takes Kitty to the new school and Frost take advantage of that; she switches her mind to Ororo’s body intending to infiltrate the X-Men. Meanwhile, Ororo is in Frost’s body. Interestingly, their powers remain with their bodies so Frost can now control weather and Ororo has telepathy which she isn’t used to.
Then starts a longer storyline. Shi’ar’s Empress Lilandra has been kidnapped and the clues point to Earth. Starjammer’s leader Corsair races to the X-Mansion to warn the X-Men. The Shi’ar give an ultimatum to the X-Men to find the Empress or the Earth will be ravaged. The Empress has been really taken by Deathcry and the Brood, and the X-Men will have to fight a lot of enemies, including the Imperial Guard, to assure Earth’s safety. However, Xavier falls into a coma. Scott finds out that Corsair is his father and learns more about his parents.
With issue 158 starts a string of one-shot issues. First, the X-Men decide to erase all knowledge of themselves from Pentagon’s files. Carol Danvers helps them get access but they run into Rogue and Mystique who are on their own mission in the Pentagon. However, Carol manages to erase all information about the team and about herself, too. Interestingly, Rogue is depicted here as an older woman with crow’s feet around her eyes and her two white streaks look like graying hair rather than the fashion statement they look like later.
The next issue is somewhat cheesy confrontation between the X-Men and Dracula. The famous vampire bites Ororo and tries to seduce her into a vampire. However, he respects Storm’s bravery, strength and beauty too much to force her to become a vampire. Yup, reads like a love letter to the wind rider.
The next issue, 160, is a classic. X-Men meet the demon Belasco for the first time. The demon kidnaps Illyana into his dimension where time moves differently and Illyana grows into a teenager until our heroes can rescue her. Belasco gives her an amulet with places for five stones and says that she will reach her destiny when all five are in place. 13-year-old Illyana returns with three in place and the X-Men don’t know how or with whom she’s spent her time in Limbo. However, Peter is still happy to get his sister back even though she’s clearly changed. I really enjoyed this issue because we get a glimpse of the X-Men from a different time line where they didn’t manage to flee from Belasco’s dimension.
The last issue centers on Xavier. He’s still in the coma and is dreaming about his past. Twenty years ago he encountered Magneto but knew him as Magnus. Together they fought the rising powers of Hydra. The issue also sets up the long Brood space adventure (one of my favorites).
Annual 4 explores Kurt’s past. In the middle of Kurt’s 21st birthday celebration, a strange statue explodes on his face and he seems dead. However, Xavier calls on Doctor Strange who confirms that the Nightcrawler’s soul has been taken. When Strange is scanning Kurt, his kidnapper appears: Margali of the twisting ways. She kidnaps the rest of the X-Men to Dante’s hell where the team has to fight a whole hell of horrors.
In Annual 5 the Fantastic Four investigate an alien woman who seems to shoot at nothing in the middle of New York. However, she’s a Shi’ar scout fighting against the reptilian aliens called the Badoon who wear invisibility suits. The Badoon ambush the FF, kill the Shi’ar, and kidnap Reed, Ben, and Johnny. Susan goes to the X-Men for help. Before she died, the Shi’ar managed to say “Arkon” and “Lilandra in danger”. So, the X-Men and the Invisible Girl travel to Arkon’s world. There they find out that the Badoon have taken over the world and the people need their help. Apparently, Ororo and Arkon are in love but decide to part ways because of their different duties. Arkon is quite a lover; when the Avengers visit his dimension, he and Wanda are attracted to each other and later he marries Thundra (so it’s not jut the women who are constantly in one romance or another).
This is an enjoyable collection of stories. However, they aren’t quite as good or memorable as the ones in the previous collection.