Open Mike Night: Uncanny X-Men (vol. 1) #100

Uncanny X-Men (vol. 1) #100

Written by: Chris Claremont
Art by: Dave Cockrum
Colored by: Bonnie W.
Lettered by: Annette K.
Published by: Marvel

Maillaro: I have had a strange goal for the column for a while that I don’t think I have ever told you… I want to check in on Uncanny X-Men every fifty issues or so and just see how the book shapes up. The biggest barrier to that has been the slow to Comixology release schedule. So I was pretty excited when I saw they finally got around to adding issue 100, and have wanted to review this for a few weeks now.

One thing that immediately jumped out at me is that this issue had a big time anniversary feel to it. 100 issues IS a big deal, and it should be celebrated.

I actually think the first 100 issues of a series are probably the roughest. After that point, momentum sort of takes over. Until everyone got renumbering happy, it was not unusual to see series at issue 400 or 500…but it was FAR rarer to see series with 100 or 200 issues. Books just don’t have the same legs they used to.

Weaver: Does that mean X-Men #150: Vs. Magneto, Nuff Said! is next? I still have that one laying around.

It does have a big time anniversary feel but you can’t help but question the legitimacy of it. After all, several of those issues were reprints. In a lot of ways, original X-Men ended at issue 66. Even X-Men didn’t have the legs that books these days don’t have, if you follow my meaning.

This book has one of my all time favorite X-Men moments, even if the book is a little rough in other places. Banshee’s reaction to Wolverine gutting robo-Jean Grey basically set the tone for how X-Men was going to be from here on out.

Maillaro: But you are kind of making my point for me. X-Men was allowed to keep on trucking until it finally became good enough to sustain itself and become the important franchise that it would be. Books aren’t given that chance any more. See our dear departed friend Morbius… ::pours one out::

I really enjoyed this issue for what it was. A cheap excuse to see the old X-Men fight the new X-Men. Sure the old X-Men were robots, but it worked perfectly. If I was a reader at the time, I would have loved to see some of these matchups. Jean Vs Storm. Havok Vs Colossus. Cyclops vs Nightcrawler.

My favorite moment was when Chuckie X punched out Wolverine and said “MY FIST CONTAINS ALL THE POWER YOU DESERVE!” I don’t even know what that means but I loved it.

Weaver: I think that Frank Miller was inspired by that line when Batman confronts Joker in Dark Knight Returns. Technically, X-Men did get canceled, then revived in reprints, then back to “live” issues due to Len Wein really wanting to give it another go. It’s funny that he really didn’t trust Claremont with it at first…many of the early issues of Claremont’s tenure are cowritten with Wein (who left the assignment to become Editor in Chief) or other more known writers.

I’m also reminded of the poor Thunderbolts and what they’ve had to endure. Yup. They don’t give books a chance like they used to. Of course, there were also plenty of short-tenured comics in this era…Champions of Los Angeles comes to mind, for one. And Patsy Walker’s superhero title. Iron Fist, and also Power Man, before it became Power Man and Iron Fist…wait, I don’t know if that’s one that didn’t get a chance or one that was redeemed.

Maillaro: Yeah…you make a great point. I think that is why people sometimes think of “the good old days.” Most of the mediocre (or at least less successful) books, movies, TV shows, etc get lost in the mists of time. The good (or at least successful) books, movies, TV shows, etc, are the only things that last, so we assume everything from that era had to be awesome (or at least memorable). I guarantee there were a lot of Catwoman 0’s back then too…

Another thing I loved about this comic was Stephen Lang’s Project Armageddon shirt…he managed to look like the world’s goofiest looking supervillain…but damn did he keep his whites looking white.

I am still not sure how this loser pulled off this plan. Build space station. Lore old X-Men team to space station. Somehow use those X-Men to power robots with matching powers. Lore new X-Men team to space station. Make them fight! It really seems like he could have cut out some steps, saved some money and had at least some chance of success.

Sort of amazing that the basis for basically every big moment in X-Men history after this all came from this issue, since at it’s core, it is really just an awkward setup for a massive thrown down.

Weaver: This plot started in 98, when Sentinels jumped Jean and Scott in Manhattan, and continued in 99 where the imprisoned X-Men don’t realize they’ve been sent off the planet…the poignant cover word balloon of Colossus is a classic. “Even if we escape the energy-spheres of the Sentinels…how can we survive in the vacuum of space?” The space station orbiting the sun was an old SHIELD space station that was important to some…I want to say Avengers…plot at some point previous to this. Anyway, 98 and 99 are fun because Banshee blows through the wall of a spacecraft and gets sucked into space, and the cliffhanger is a few X-Men just kind of chilling in space with no real protection and aghast faces.

I like Lang’s armored gun chair, also, and his huge wall of monitors. Because a complicated plan isn’t a complicated plan without a hovering gun chair.

The end of this book was definitely the “big” moment of X-Men, the defining moment of the all-new team and that from whence all else sprang. Wolverine’s badassery is directly descended from this issue too…cutting open the robo-Jean, I think, was more of a “stuff got real” moment than Thunderbird’s death, which was largely without impact in my mind.

Maillaro: Damn you for ruining my fun speculation with fact. I will admit, I haven’t read those issues in probably fifteen years.

The biggest problem with Thunderbird’s death is that is just never felt all that impactful. He was kind of a jerk, had only appeared in like two issues, and his death seemed like something he could have avoided. Whenever I see a pointless death in a comic, I always think of Thunderbird. One thing I did love about that death is that it would create a hell of a great character in Warpath…but that was FAR later.

One thing I do want to acknowledge is I thought this book looked terrific. It had to be a nightmare to try and squeeze all this action, story, and drama in just about 25 pages, but Dave Cockrum was definitely up for the challenge. I especially like the opening stand off panel, where he has to go through some gymnastics to fit everyone on the page, around a shit ton of dialogue, and it all manages to work brilliantly.

Weaver: This is where Dave Cockrum excels. He can tell the big stories. He can stick everyone in awesome action poses. He can make that big spectacle double page spread…which he does twice in this issue…work. He’s far worse at small character moments, which is where Byrne made his bread and butter. So this issue, more than anything in his X-Men tenure, hit right into his strengths. Of course, we did both look at a recolor of this, and while I’ve seen the original colors, I haven’t since the late 80’s, so I can’t comment on how they were…but the recolor is tremendous. Beautiful. Especially those last pages.

I’m giving this full marks on the art. Everything about it works.

Maillaro: Yeah, the colors on the digital version were gorgeous too. 5/5

As for the writing, I think it did what it needed to do…and the ending is just brilliant. Solid 4/5 despite some odd moments that make me tempted to lower it further, but I can’t pull the trigger on that…

Weaver: This is one of Claremont’s first solo forays, and he handles it…pretty well. Sets the tone for everything after. We talk about Claremont and his dangling plot hooks, this thing sets up so many of them, and quite a few pay off so much for the rest of the series. I’m still giving it a 3/5 because of some silliness, even if that’s not fair because it was 70’s appropriate silliness.

Final Scores

Maillaro – Story Weaver – Story Maillaro – Art Weaver – Art
Uncanny X-Men (vol. 1) #100 4 3 5 5

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