Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Uncanny X-Men #139 & 140 (1980)

These two issues were reprinted in Wolverine: First Class: To Russia With Love, and I have to say, I really enjoyed them. I'm not the biggest fan of Marvel's habit of printing only 3 or 4 issues in a trade but then padding out the collection with old reprints, but when they hold up this well, I suppose I can deal with it.

Chris Claremont and John Byrne tell the story of Kitty Pride joining the X-Men. It's a neat era, with Cyclops having just left and Storm taking over as leader, with Professor X still bossing everyone around, and Angel just rejoining the team. Claremont spends a lot of time on Kitty, showing us why she loves dancing (so she can be a "normal" girl) and giving her neat little foibles like the fact that Nightcrawler frightens her. Kitty is alredy the darling of the team, with everyone but Wolverine finding her adorable. Storm is actually jealous when Kitty's dance teacher likes her too. Claremont was great at giving his characters each a moment or two to shine, and everyone gets face time here.

The bulk of the two issues is the battle against the Wendigo. Wendigo is one of my favorite cheesy Marvel villains, so this was pretty fun. Half of Alpha (Vindicator, Shaman, and Snowbird) are augmented by Wolverine and Nightcrawler in facing off against the "woodsbeast," and it is a great fight. Nightcrawler and Shaman can't do much against him, but Vindicator gets in some nice licks. Wolverine and Snowbird are the main players in the conflict, with Snowbird adopting the form of a wolverine to actually tear up the Wendigo. Snowbird was a fun character here, kind of rough and tumble in her civilian identity as a mounty. I don't remember liking her this much in the actual Alpha Flight series. In her Snowbird form, she does way too much thinking and talking (a typical Claremontian trait).

Byrne's artwork is just top notch. No one draws that classic, action-style as well as he can. George Perez comes close, but I actually prefer Byrne's style in this era over just about anything else. The guys look tough and the gals look hot. Everyone's costume looks excellent too. Great work.


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