Care to celebrate X-Mas with the X-Men?

General Information

Title: Essential X-Men Vol. 4
Credited to: Claremont, Smith, Cockrum, Romita Jr. and Co.
Original Publication Date: 2001 reprint of material first published
from 1982-1984.
ISBN: 0-7851-0775-4
Cover Price: $14.95 US, $21.95 Can
Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Premise

The X-Men continue their adventures.

The Issues

This collects Uncanny X-Men #162-179 and Uncanny X-Men Annual #6. The
breakdown of these issues is as follows:
Issues 162 – 166: Binary is introduced while the X-Men try to escape a
Brood trap.
Issue 167: The professor deals with his own Brood attack.
Issue 168: Kitty tries to deal with being moved to the New
Mutants.
Issues 169-170: Angel is captured by Callisto.
Issue 171: The villainous Rogue arrives at X-mansion and asks for help.
Issue 172: The group travels to Japan for Wolverine’s wedding.
Issue 173: Wolverine and Rogue try to protect Mariko and the other
X-Men.
Issue 174: No villain this issue; interpersonal relationships are
developed.

Issue 175: 20th Anniversary Issue with the return of Mastermind.
Issue 176: Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor are interrupted on their
honeymoon.

Issue 177-178: The Brotherhood returns and attacks the X-Men.
Issue 179: Kitty and Caliban are to be wed.
Annual 6: Dracula returns to put Storm to work.

Issue 180, not reproduced here, is the issue in which the team leaves
to fight the Secret Wars.

High Point

Issue 173 did an excellent job of developing Rogue and Wolverine
without slowing down the pace of the action.

Low Point

I don’t know if it’s the original art, or just the reproduction here,
but much of the Annual looks terrible. There were times I had to
stare at a panel for ten or fifteen seconds just trying to figure out
what had been drawn there.

The Scores

There were original moments, but it’s hard to feel new when
the title has been written by the same guy for over seven years. It’s
also nice to see the aliens that were so obviously taken from Ridley
Scott’s Alien in their first appearance used in a storyline
that predicts the plot of James Cameron’s sequel. I give it 4 out of
6.

The artwork was very good through the regular issues, but was
lacking in the annual. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story was well plotted, and held together quite well
(until we hit the annual at the end of the book that so obviously
predates most of the volume; that should have been the first entry in
this collection.) I give it 5 out of 6.



The characterization was very strong. Storm developed
considerably (which is the main reason the annual is so obviously out
of sequence,) Wolverine and Rogue had some exposure of aspects of
their personalities we hadn’t seen before, Colossus and Sprite
developed well, and we began to see some self-doubt and personal
curiosity from Nightcrawler. Even Mastermind and Mystique had some
development here. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was probably hampered by the knowledge
that all of these characters (save one, who died in issue 390) are
still around today, in essentially this form. I give it 3 out of 6.

The flow was excellent, both throughout the course of a
single issue, and between consecutive related issues. I give it 5 out
of 6.

Overall, this is a very entertaining read, and it contains
some of the foundations for the current X-books and X-stories. (This
is the volume that sets the stage for some of Cable’s origins.) I
give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Essential X-Men Vol. 4 receives 31 out of 42.