Reviews (Marvel)

The Uncanny X-Men #143

The Uncanny X-Men #143

(Cover by Terry Austin)
Published and © by Marvel, Mar. 1981


Synopsis: Home alone in the X-Men mansion on Christmas Eve, Kitty Pryde earns her “X” squaring off against a N’Garai demon.

Writer/co-plotter: Chris Claremont
Penciler/co-plotter: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin

Review: Chris Claremont and John Byrne end their historic collaboration on X-Men on a high note, with a solo story that helped establish Kitty Pryde as a Bronze Age fan favorite. Macaulay Culkin has nothing on the future Shadowcat, who spent her Christmas home alone in a life-or-death struggle with an Alien-style demon. Claremont’s story delivers excellent character moments throughout (including the classic Kitty-Colossus mistletoe sequence), though his internal monologues can be a little much. Byrne’s art is spectacular, as is Terry Austin’s inking (and cover!) This entire run captured lightening in a bottle; mainstream comics have rarely been this good.

Grade: A

Second opinion: “An excellent issue of Uncanny X-Men and a fine farewell to a great pairing on the book.” — Brian Cronin, Comic Book Resources. … “The holiday spirit is fairly strong in this issue, and not just for corny reasons … 5 out of 5 stars.” — James Hunt, Den of Geek!.

Cool factor: This is one of the issue’s responsible for your Comics Bronze Age editor’s lifelong comic-book addiction.

Not-so-cool factor: From the “X-Mail” letters page: “John Byrne has resigned as penciler on the X-Men. This is his last issue. It is also Terry Austin’s last issue as inker on the book.” And so it ends. Sniff.

Notable: Last John Byrne X-Men. … The “X-Mail” letters page includes an LOC from future comics writer Kurt Busiek, who hated Claremont and Byrne’s X-Men run. … Tom Neely, of “The Blot” fame, did a wonderful one-page, cartoon synopsis of this issue.

Character quotable: “… we kind’a wrecked the Danger Room. And the Blackbird. And the hangar. And a lot of the house.” — Kitty Pryde, force of nature.

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7 comments to The Uncanny X-Men #143

  • Edo Bosnar

    Yes, this was truly the end of the X-men for me – I kept on following the series for years afterward but nothing ever came close to matching the Claremont/Byrne run. And I remember that fan letter from Busiek: I was still reeling from the shock of the announcement that Byrne had resigned and on the same page there’s some guy dissing what I thought at the time were the best comics ever written.

  • I also followed X-Men for years and felt that only Claremont/Paul Smith and later on Claremont/Silvestri came closest to this epic run.

    I have been able to follow some comic books for over 20 years but X-Men is one title that I gave up totally years ago and never even attempted to go back to.

    FYI: I am sure Kurt Busiek was an undercover Claremont/Byrne fan

  • I enjoyed the Cockrum issues that followed Byrne; I don’t think his penciling or storytelling was as good as Byrne, but what a wonderful designer Cockrum was. I loved the Paul Smith issues, but Romita, Jr.’s work didn’t do much for me (I actually like it more now than I did then). It didn’t help that he came on board in the middle of a Paul Smith issue; that was a splash of cold water. But I continued to read regularly until around #200, then picked up occasional issues if there was an artist I liked (i.e., Barry Windsor-Smith, Alan Davis, etc.; I wasn’t much of a fan of Silvestri’s run). Of course, I found the series increasingly difficult to penetrate as the years went by.

    FYI, if either of you missed out on Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men run, you should check it out. It’s a love letter to the Claremont/Byrne X-Men and it’s easy to get in to (it stands alone, continuity wise). It’s easily my favorite X-run since the Bronze Age, and perhaps my second favorite of all time.

  • Edo Bosnar

    I really liked the run pencilled by Paul Smith as well, and the stories seemed to get better as well, as though Smith gave Claremont a new shot of inspiration. I stuck with the title until somewhere in the mid 180s when I finally gave up – I was just not enjoying it anymore at all. Like you, I would pick up an occasional few issues here and there, but that was it.
    I keep reading mainly good things about Whedon’s “Astonishing”, but have no idea when I’ll find the time (& funds to be honest) to actually pick it up.

  • Edo:

    Can’t help you with more time, but Marvel Digital comics offers at least the first issue for free. That’ll give you a taste. If you like it, you might check out your local library. (I live in the middle of nowhere and our regional library system has oodles of TPBs, including Whedon’s Astonishing run.)


  • I need to check out Joss’ Astonishing X-Men. Seeing a muscle bound confident Cyclops with Emma Frost on his arm just does not do it for me, no matter what.

    Each character has a unique personality that defines this person. Scott is Slim Summers, a little bit shy but is the leader of the X-Men and is good at it, with Emma Frost ?????

    Spiderman is Peter Parker, always a bit down on his luck Mr Everyman, who the marries a Super Model ?????

  • Andrew

    Just check out issue # 1

    Damn, that’s a lot of pages for such a minuscule content.

    Decompressed story-telling or what I call padding for 6 issues really turns me off

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