Reviews (Marvel)

The Uncanny X-Men #143

The Uncanny X-Men #143


THE UNCANNY X-MEN #143
(Cover by Terry Austin)
Published and © by Marvel, Mar. 1981



“Demon”

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.)

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • 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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