Uncanny X-Men #162-179, Annual #6; X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Paul Smith, Dave Cockrum, John Romita Jr., and Brent Anderson

This is a collection full of classic storylines and characters who are affecting stories even today.

The collection starts with the Brood space adventure storyline. This story is darker than most of the previous ones because the queen of the insect like aliens has infected the X-Men with her eggs. When the eggs hatch, the host will die and the new alien has all of the host’s abilities. Often enough the X-Men face a possible death or injury in battle but this time they have time to think about things and know that there’s no escape. Wolverine even contemplates killing all of his team mates to spare them the agony of what’s to come. Wolverine’s healing powers were able to destroy the egg inside him so he’s the only one without an egg. Colossus, Storm, Kitty, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, and Lilandra have all been affected. However, the group is given a chance to fight for life; instead of just destroying the Brood Queen in a suicide mission, they can save the huge aliens, the Acanti, whom the Brood are enslaving as their living ships. Also, Storm has elemental powers in space!

This story is a milestone also for other characters: Carol Danvers (former Ms. Marvel, the future Warbird of the Avengers) gets Binary powers and joins the Starjammers, and the New Mutants make their first appearance in the X-Men comic although the apparently already had their own comic. When the X-Men are away from Earth, Xavier has recruited another team of young mutants: Cannonball, Karma, Psyche, Sunspot, and Wolfsbane.

Kitty’s pet dragon Lockheed is also introduced.

In issue 168, the Morlocks are introduced. While Caliban made an appearance in an earlier issue, he seemed lonely and not part of a group of mutants. Here, he’s part of the Morlocks, who are deformed mutant who live underground in the sewers, and resent the X-Men for looking like humans and so being able to live in the sunlight. Storm has to fight their leader Callisto for Angel’s freedom and has to face the changes in her since she took over as the team leader.

Madelyne Pryor is introduced and Xavier accepts Rogue into the team.

In retrospect, I find it quite curious that Xavier lets Rogue into the X-Men as soon as he accepts her as his patient. He does this despite the fact that the core X-Men say that they can’t trust the former criminal. That could be a dangerous element in a fight where the team mates have to rely on each other all the time. Not to mention, that Rogue herself doesn’t appear too stable. From a writing point of view, her addition is great; the X-Men have become such a close-knit group of loyal friends that they need a disruptive element. Wolverine used to be such and Kitty to extend is still, because of her inexperience, but they have both already proven themselves reliable.

Then, the X-Men head to Japan to Wolverine’s and Lady Mariko Yashida’s wedding. A mysterious villain stalks them with hints that the Phoenix might be returning while the Silver Samurai and the Viper try to kill Lady Mariko so that the Samurai can become the head of the powerful Yashida clan.

In the final issue Kitty has to face Caliban again and the promises she made in the earlier Morlock adventure.

Storm goes through huge chances here. Throughout the first half of the collection she has to make bitter decisions both as the team leader and as an individual. She vowed long ago that she would never kill but she has to kill the Brood egg inside her and the make the decision to oppose the Brood to the death. Later, she fights a duel with Callisto and essentially kills her. She’s questioning her beliefs and her place in the X-Men, and that also affects her powers and her connection of the Earth. Her feelings affect the weather around her and so she has to keep them under tight control and that’s chafing. Then she meets Yukio in Japan. Yukio is carefree and Ororo envies her. In the end, Ororo decides to stay with the X-Men and accept the changes in her.

Cyclops also goes through changes. He finds out that he’s not an orphan but has a father and grandparents. However, that isn’t explored much, in the end. He has a fling with a sea ship captain and then meets Madelyne Pyror, his future wife and Jean Grey look-a-like.

Kitty is just fourteen at the start of this collection and already she has to face death when the Brood egg hatches. She grows up a lot as is seen in the last issue.

I enjoyed this collection hugely. Because of the way that the Finnish edition of the X-Men was published, I didn’t read these stories first. My first X-Men stories are in the next collection, in the Claremont/ John Romita Jr. era, so I got to see the consequences of some of these stories first; reading Inferno before the first appearance of Pryor.