Read The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Chris Claremont Free Online
Book Title: The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 1|
The author of the book: Chris Claremont
ISBN 13: 9780785121015
Format files: PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
The size of the: 989 KB
Edition: Marvel Comics Group
Date of issue: September 1st 2006
Reader ratings: 5.3
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Read full description of the books The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 1:
It's hard to believe in these days of a dozen X-titles, but there was once a time when the X-Men weren't popular. Despite a well-liked run by Neal Adams revamping the original team with new costumes, the book fell into reprints and from there, cancellation. Almost. A young upstart named Chris Claremont, fresh off smaller Marvel books like Iron Fist, came in with artist Dave Cockrum and created a completely new team, ditching all but one member of the original team. They added minor, unknown characters like Banshee and Wolverine to a cast of brand new names like Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler. And thus, the world-spanning empire of the X-Men began, in Giant-Size X-Men #1. Cockrum left relatively early in the run to be replaced by an up-and-comer named John Byrne, and together, Claremont and Byrne created a legend that is still making money hand over fist for Marvel today. The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus collects the beginning of what is most likely the best the X-Men will ever be, and certainly the best that they have ever been (and yes, I'm taking into account Grant Morrison's generally excellent but flawed New X-Men run).
In the same ballpark in terms of importance to comics (or at least Marvel), this one contains the Giant-Size X-Men #1, X-Men Annual #3 and Uncanny X-Men #94-131. Within the almost 850 pages of this oversized hardcover volume are classic X-Men stories, including their first run-ins with Alpha Flight, Proteus, the Shi'ar and the Hellfire Club, as well as fights with classic foes like Magneto, Juggernaut and the Sentinels. The DNA for practically everything that the modern X-Men are, as well as the source material for the majority of the movies, is found in these stories.
The characters are much stronger in these early days, partly by virtue of being new but also because Claremont gives them more depth than their often two-dimensional characterization in modern comics. Wolverine is a cocky, competent scrapper willing to break the X-Men's laws against killing, but he's not the uber-badass that makes for such boring modern-day tales. This Wolverine is shaken when he faces the reality-warping Proteus, such that Cyclops has to snap him out of it. Cyclops is likewise not the milquetoast that most modern writers present him as, but a confident leader who breaks out of the head schoolboy mode he had been in when a battle strands him away from Professor Xavier's counsel, forcing him to truly lead the X-Men, in the field and off, for a good chunk of these stories. Storm is presented as one of the most powerful mutants on the planet, not an also-ran X-Man to be married off for stunt value. Colossus, while conflicted, isn't as whiny and mopey as the character who has now suffered the loss of his sister, his brother and his parents at the hands of unimaginative writers who could think of no better plotline than to kill off a supporting cast member for angst value. Nightcrawler is also not mired in angst, but rather has a healthy dose of rough times thanks to his socially-unwelcome appearance combined with a generally upbeat attitude that serves his swashbuckling persona well.
While the stories are solid from the start, there's a noticeable uptick in quality of story when John Byrne comes aboard as co-plotter. Perhaps Byrne and Claremont shored up each others' weaknesses, perhaps they were just both young and at the top of their game, but at any rate, this run on Uncanny X-Men is probably the best argument there is for the perfect synergy that can occur in comic-book creating. With innovative new villains, constant surprises and status quo changes, all without resorting to cheap shock tactics like crossovers, deaths and "everything you know is wrong" revelations, these comics read like a manual on how to write the superhero genre.
The plotting of these X-Men issues shows off Claremont's reputation for long-developing subplots. In later years, he was known for creating dangling stories that never resolved, but at this point in his career, these one- and two-page teasers sprinkled into current stories paid off, sometimes a year down the road, in stories that benefitted from the build-up. The Dark Phoenix saga, which just gets rolling as this book closes out, has its beginnings early on as Jason Wyngarde begins influencing Jean Grey's mind. The story of Proteus, Moira MacTaggert's powerful and evil mutant son, gets started in the return of Magneto issues and only comes to fruition almost two years later, with scenes sprinkled throughout to build up to the epic conflict. Even Claremont's scripts, now so easily mocked for their over-the-top style, are fresh and evocative. The first time you hear Wolverine's catch-phrase, it's a clever summing-up of who he is, not a cheesy cliche. The same goes for Claremont's description of the awesome power at Storm's command, the physical strength of Colossus or the scary cosmic energy that Phoenix wields.
Some, including the artist himself, would probably argue that Byrne's best work is to be found later in his career, and certainly he has some fine work to his name, but it's hard not to look at these issues and see an artist working at peak skill. Byrne depicts stunning vistas in Japan, the Savage Land, Scotland and a snowed-in Canadian airport, as well as plenty of believable New York scenery. Byrne's take on many of these characters, from Cyclops to Nightcrawler to Colossus, is the definitive one in my mind, and it takes only a glance at any of these pages to see why. He captures the savage danger barely restrained of Wolverine, the allure of Storm and Jean Grey and the anguish of Cyclops when he believes Jean to be dead (not once but twice during these tales). Byrne delivers any number of exceptional action scenes as well. In one particularly memorable example, the Alpha Flight/X-Men battle starts with Sasquatch, barely visible except for muscular arms, holding back a DC-10 as it tries to take off, followed by a full-on well-choreographed battle between two superteams that closes out with an infuriated Cyclops about to knock out Northstar's teeth. Dave Cockrum's work is solid and grows stronger with each issue, and George Perez's guest turn is some of his strongest art, with plenty of the detailed fantasy backgrounds to be expected, but artistically, Byrne steals the show.
Beyond its impressive contents, the Marvel Omnibus is a triumph of production values. It's the same oversized trim as Marvel's other hardcovers, and it's printed on a nice, thick paper that has just the right balance between flatness and glossy. The colors have been "reconstructed" in some places, but not "remastered," and the result is that this is like the original comics, presented on the best possible paper for their style of illustration and coloring. There are also a few nice extras, including a few pages of original art, text pieces by Chris Claremont and Stan Lee, Dave Cockrum's original sketches for some of the characters (with copious design notes), pinups and a puzzle page (!) by John Byrne and even the 37 covers from the '80s Classic X-Men that reprinted these issues. The inclusion of these covers was a big bonus for me, as I first read all of this material in Classic X-Men and those covers stimulate my memories of the stories in a nice, pleasant nostalgic way. They're also just plain terrific covers by guys like Art Adams and Steve Lightle. These extras give a strong indication of the attention to detail that the editors and designers put into this book. Mark Beazley, Cory Sedlmeier, Michael Short, Jennifer Grunwald and Jeof Vita should all take a well-deserved bow.
Another bonus that makes the Omnibus special is that it contains the letters pages from all the issues, which helps to put the issues in the context of their time. Many of the fans were in an uproar about this complete change of cast and new creators, and it was clear that the book was struggling in the marketplace. Ironically, most of the books that were selling well in this time period are either looked down upon or forgotten, while this is held up as the gold standard of superhero comics. This might provide a slightly bitter comforting thought to creators struggling with low sales and critical acclaim in today's market, although I suspect it's about as helpful as struggling artists hearing that most artists are only appreciated after their death. The letters pages were an interesting place for debate, though, as the editor ran not just positive buzz but several negative (often brutally so) letters, and responded thoughtfully to all of them. It's still not as stimulating as the fondly-remembered letters pages of Cerebus, Grimjack, Starman and other esoteric books, but it's much more interesting than most current letter columns and their modern equivalent, the message boards.
If you do check this one out and wind up digging it, you might want to know that this is the second such volume, the first one containing the first thirty issues of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Fantastic Four. With any luck, we'll be seeing more in the future... at the very least, a volume two (and maybe even more?) of Uncanny X-Men would be nice to complete this well-regarded run.
Read information about the authorChris Claremont is a writer of American comic books, best known for his 16-year (1975-1991) stint on Uncanny X-Men, during which the series became one of the comic book industry's most successful properties.
Claremont has written many stories for other publishers including the Star Trek Debt of Honor graphic novel, his creator-owned Sovereign Seven for DC Comics and Aliens vs Predator for Dark Horse Comics. He also wrote a few issues of the series WildC.A.T.s (volume 1, issues #10-13) at Image Comics, which introduced his creator-owned character, Huntsman.
Outside of comics, Claremont co-wrote the Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy, Shadow Moon (1995), Shadow Dawn (1996), and Shadow Star (1999), with George Lucas. This trilogy continues the story of Elora Danan from the movie Willow. In the 1980s, he also wrote a science fiction trilogy about female starship pilot Nicole Shea, consisting of First Flight (1987), Grounded! (1991), and Sundowner (1994). Claremont was also a contributor to the Wild Cards anthology series.
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