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Uncanny X-Men (1963) 273-280, X-Men Annual (1970) 15, X-Factor (1986) 69-70, X-Men (1991) 1-3; material from X-Factor Annual 6, New Mutants Annual 7
544 pages B&W.
I’m not exactly sure of the demographics of the people who will read this (I crack me up) but there used to be a time, in the not so distant past, when comic books sold 100s of thousands of copies each. NO, not just the gold foiled hologram-ed eXtreme #1s, but also everyday comics. The ones that didn’t kill some one off, bring some one back, or reach an issue number divisible by 25. If you want to know why comic books used to be a growth industry you only have to read Essential X-Men vol. 11. This collection wraps up Claremont’s 15 year run on X-Men and, no matter the back room reasons he left the x-books, he went out on top. I completely forgot how awesome X-Men (1991) #1 – #3 were, the new status quo (that lasted beyond the next big reboot) they set up, and the excitement that came from having to know what was going to happen next. Then there is the greatest Marvel crossover never to get its own collection, The Muir Island Saga. The Essential collections collect all parts of any crossover the book is going through, meaning that I was finally able to read the entire Muir Island Saga in the right order. Where is the Muir Island oversized hardcover?
Then there’s the Shi’ar actually being interesting, Rouge and Magneto in the Savage Land, the beginnings of the Rouge / Gambit drama, if it wasn’t for the annuals that I skipped over (1990s annuals were garbage) I’d say this was a perfect book.
What else is there to say about Claremont’s run that hasn’t been said? Essential vol. 11 is the culmination of a number of slow burning stories that had been hovering in the background noise of X-Men for years. Not decompressed but actually planning for the future so events make a logical sense, an art that has been lost by much of the super hero genre nowadays.
There also used to be a time where Jim Lee’s name was a mark of quality and passion. The Lee that had his run on X-Men was a hungry Lee that knew he needed to fight for his job. He knew that he had to constantly earn the right to be on the flagship book. The Jim Lee of 1991 could draw circles around…hell, he could draw circles.
I love the Essential format; 500+ pages for $20, what’s not to enjoy? Yea, sometimes I miss color, but then I look up how much it would have cost to buy those comics in a traditional trade book, and I realize its totally worth it.
Essential X-Men vol. 11 – what comics used to be.
Written or Contributed by GHERU