Comic Review – “Essential X-Men Vol. 5”

Another volume of Essential X-Men came out
in May. How does it measure up to the previous

General Information

Title: Essential Uncanny X-Men Vol. 5

Credited to: Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr., Barry
and Friends

Original Publication Date: 2004 reprint of material
first published
from 1983-1985

Issues collected: Uncanny X-Men 180-198, Annual 7,
and Annual 8. The
annuals are in the back, regardless of where they fit
in the story, so
it can be a bit jarring when you read #7 about 15
issues after it
actually took place.

ISBN: 0-7851-1366-5

Cover Price: $16.99 US, $27.25 Can

Buy from:

Past comic reviews can be found here.


The X-Men deal with fallout from the Secret Wars,
while Storm and
Kitty have their own personal demons to wrestle.

High Point

Colossus vs. Juggernaut.

Low Point

Annual #8. How’s that for a story with no real
impact? I thought
annuals were supposed to be some sort of event.

The Scores

Some new and original things are done with
characters. Rogue
is becoming a hero, Storm deals with the loss of her
powers, Kitty and
Colossus get a pretty fat wedge rammed between them,
and so forth.
Some doesn’t seem that original, such as the
Murderworld story, or the
Nimrod story (which might have seemed more original
had I not recently
read a collection of Punisher stories from the same
time period.) I
give it 4 out of 6.

The artwork is generally serviceable, but
none of it is
spectacular. Some of it, like the “bookend” bits of
that last annual,
is just plain ugly. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story suffers from a deluge of
crossovers, but those
aren’t the only problems. When I pick up a team
book, I expect to
read a team book. Instead, I’ve got three or four
issues of teamwork
(one of which is just Illyana telling stories around
a campfire), ten
issues of Storm angst, and the rest filled with Kitty
angst. There’s
nothing here even close to the kind of thing we saw
in the first two
Essential volumes, where we actually had a team with
between characters, tactically sound battle plans,
and just plain
action. The stories told here are not the kinds of
stories that I’ve
grown to associate with the X-Men, and I don’t think
they’re well
suited to the team. They aren’t really bad stories,
but they don’t
belong in this title. I give it 3 out of 6.

The characterization of Storm, Kitty, Rogue,
and Rachel is
pretty good. The rest of the team has had very few
moments to really
shine or define themselves. (Colossus almost does.)
A period this
long in a team book needs to show more of the team.
I give it 4 out
of 6.

The emotional response is hampered primarily
by the lack of
team action. It would probably help if I were more
interested in
Storm’s character, but I just don’t find her
engaging. I’d rather see
Cyclops (who might be in ten pages here, outside of
the Secret Wars
fallout issue), Nightcrawler, Angel, Havok, or a
handful of other
favourites. Now, I know that nobody would be
satisfied if Claremont
just wrote with one individual’s favourite
characters, so I won’t get
a collection just looking at my favourites. The
problem was that he
spent 19 issues (a year and a half) just on his
favourites, excluding
all others. In 19 issues worth of a team book, we
should see some
stories that involve the entire team, and other
stories that focus on
individual team members. We don’t have enough of the
team, and the
individual stories only look at a quarter of the
team. We need more.
I just kept pushing through this volume, hoping for
something that
compared to what we had already seen from this writer
in the earlier
volumes. I give it 2 out of 6.

The flow was as smooth as it can be. The
Annuals are out of
place, but the monthlies blend so well that they
wouldn’t really fit
anyway. The Secret Wars stuff is pretty disruptive,
and the Secret
Wars II issue references several events not in that
issue. I suspect
those were results of orders coming down from “on
high,” and not the
fault of the writer or any of the artists, but that
doesn’t change the
fact that it hurts the final product. I give it 4
out of 6.

Overall, it’s a mediocre collection that
follows too quickly
after some great material. Had I been a reader at
the time, I’d have
expect a change in the writing staff to be coming
along to freshen
things up a bit, and try to bring back the type of
stories that this
title should have. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Essential X-Men Vol. 5 receives 25
out of 42.