The last time I got a wild hair to read X-Men I left off with #110 knowing that #111 is a good jumping on point. #111 begins in medias res, but I’m reading in conjunction with the supplemental material from Classic X-men, so let’s start with #17 of that series.

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Captain Comics said:

This thread is going to make me buy the Classic X-Men omnibus, isn't it? You fiends!

That is my intention.

X-MEN #113 / CXM #19:

COVER COMPARISON: Gotta go with the original this time. Whereas the Adams cover is a good generic depiction of the X-Men vs. Magneto, it is a bit too generic. I like covers to depict a scene from within the issue.

X-MEN #113: The issue opens with Magneto attacking the Royal Australian Aerospace Research Facility at Woomera. The scene changes to to Professor X and Lilandra in the Cyclades Islands off Southern Greece. From there, back to the X-Man in Antarctica. Storm tries to pick her lock but fails. A flashback fills in some details of her childhood as a sneak theif for Achmed El-Gibur. The scene switches again to Asteroid M, unused since issue #5. (Magneto had Asteroid M, then an island, now Antarctica and Asteroid M, soon another island.) An alarm alerts him to a problem in his Antarctica base where the X-Men are imprisoned. He arrives to find them free. (Storm was successful on her second try.)

After a hard-fought battle, the base explodes, apparently killing the X-Men. The Beast and Phoenix are separated from the rest. Magneto flees. The beast and Phoenix burst through the surface into the frozen wastes, but Phoenix immediately collapses. Beast tries to carry her, but collapses himself after 100 yards. It seems as if they will freeze to death.

CXM #19: The extra scenes this issue expand on the X-Men’s frustration at being held captive and flesh out Magneto’s motivation beyond merely being a villain. New dialogue in one panel explains that Magneto has disrupted Xavier’s long-range psionic link with the team. The back-up story takes place decades ago and features Magneto as a Nazi hunter, a further attempt to humanize him. Speaking for myself, I just don’t buy it. I have never bought it and I will never buy it.

The extra scenes in CXM are setting things up for a line by Xavier in next issue.  Good use of the possibilities of this book by Claremont.

Beast was written very well in these issues.  I wonder if Claremont had a mind to request the character from Avengers as a regular at some point.

Before moving on the X-M #114/CXM #20, I'd like to examine Magneto's character in a bit more depth, specifically from the unpublished version of X-Men vs. Avengers #4.

When Roger Stern pitched this limited series it was with the intention of bring Magneto to justice in the final issue. His plot included three type-written pages of Magneto's crimes against humanity in general and the X-Men in specific. Although the plot had been approved, when it got to the fourth issues, editor Mark Gruenwald changed his mind and decided Magneto should be exonerated. Stern refused and the fourth issue was given to another writer (one of two times Stern left or was removed drom an Avengers series by Gruenwald over a difference in direction). The original plot (and the three pages of crimes) are included in the collection. That's a comic I would have liked to have seen.

So would I.  Claremont's attempts at exonerating Magneto never quite convinced me.

X-MEN #114 / CXM #20:

X-MEN #114: The Beast has rallied since collapsing last issue and has been carrying Phoenix for several hours through blizzard conditions. When a US Navy helicopter passes, the beast rpouses her and she draws their attention with the Phoenix force. The Beast breaks the news to her that the X-Men are dead, but the Beast is wrong. Miles away, the X-Men break through into the Savage Land. The tussle with a pterosaur and are observed by a man who will turn out to be Karl Lykos (a.k.a. Sauron).

A week later, Beast and Phoenix arrive home at Xavier’s mansion and break the news of the X-Men’s deaths to Professor X. Meanwhile, in the village of the Fall People, the X-Men adjust to life in the Savage Land and mourn the supposed deaths of Beast and Phoenix. Cyclops’ thoughts turn to Corsair of the Starjammers and the airplane crash in which his parents died. After a relaxing swim, Storm settles in for a nap on the beach. Lykos sneaks up behind her with the intention of syphoning a little mutant energy, but ends up taking a lot and transforming into Sauron.

COVER COMPARISON: I like Byrne’s somber original, but I prefer Adams’ depiction of the issue’s cliffhanger.

CXM #20: the new pages detail the X-Men’s escape from Magneto’s volcano base plus deal individually with how each of the X-Men is coping with Beast and Phoenix’s supposed deaths. Cyclops, in particular, mourns for the Beast, but feels nothing for Jean. (A lot of these stories “foreshadow” things to come but hadn’t been plotted at this point originally, such as the true nature of the Phoenix.) the back-up story is set in the near future (between #128-129) and explores Storm’s ethical code against killing.

X-MEN #115 / CXM #21:

COVER COMPARISON: For this discussion: Byrne; for my Ka-Zar discussion: Adams.

X-MEN #115: The X-Men fight Sauron for nine pages, including an impressive double-page spread on pages 2-3. Sauron reverts to Karl Lykos, and Ka-Zar arrives. Lycos is a mutant “energy vampire” whom the X-Men pursued south in issues #60-61. He jumped into an icy crevice so as not to harm his fiancé, and finally made his way to the Savage Land, where he met Ka-Zar and has been happy ever since. He still subsists on life energy, but he feeds on lesser animals. In flashback, he tells how he witnessed the rise of Zaladane and witnessed as she transformed Kirk Marston into another incarnation of Garrok the Sun God.

Ka-Zar asks the X-Men for help, but Cyclops refuses. He’s worried that, if Magneto survived, he would seek revenge on Professot X. Ka-Zar agrees to lead them out of the Savage Land, only to find the way frozen solid by the encroaching Antarctic wastes. Apparently, the resurrection of the Sun God has upset the natural balance, and the Savage Land is doomed if it cannot be reversed.

I don’t remember is I read this X-Men run (as backissues) or Ka-Zar (as backissues) first, but it would have been right around the same time. We recently discussed (in another thread) Hawkeye’s insubordination to Captain America in early issues of Avengers and how much it bugged Cap at the time. Y’know what bugs me in this run? Wolverine’s insubordination to Cyclops.

CXM #21: Three new pages detail Jean coping with Scott’s supposed death. The scene also foreshadows Dark Phoenix. In the back-up feature, Colossus loses his virginity to Nereel of the Fall People. He will later learn that he fathered a son.

X-MEN #116 / CXM #22:

COVER COMPARISON: Tough call. Whereas CXM #22 is definitely a depiction of this issue’s content, it is more symbolic than the original. I guess it depends if you’re feeling more literal or are in the mood for symbolism.

X-MEN #116: An issue-long battle against Garrok and Zaladane with no sub-plots. The X-Men win. Two weeks later, the river has thawed enough for them to leave. They emerge from the Savage Land into “one of the worst winter gales to hit the Drake Passage, south of Cape Horn, in over a hundred years.”

CXM #22: The new pages expand on the battle, plus Wolverine’s casual slaying of an enemy guard is reframed as a tactical necessity. In the back-up, set during the two weeks the X-Man are waiting for the river to haw, Storm has an extra-dimensional adventure.

Is anybody else reading this thread and thinking... "I remembered these being better than this. They feel fairly pointless now. I'm kind of glad I never bought the hardback."

 just me?

Are you referring to the original stories or the Classic X-Men back-ups? For me, the back-up stories I like I remember very well, but the ones I don't like as much I have largely forgotten. And, as I mentioned above, I'm really digging reading the originals for the first time in many years. (If you're bored with those, chalk it up to my poor ability to summarize.) The <i>next</i> time I go through these runs (many <i>years</i> from now, no doubt), I will likely read either one run or the other. I am finding that breaking away from the originals to read the back-ups is a bit of a distraction. I might like them better if I were reading <i>just</i> those (I certainly like the new pages to be divorced from the originals), but the clipped style of prose Claremont developed over the years might prove to be too repetitious when read back-to-back.

I definitely meant the back-ups. The originals are classics and among my most re-read items.

X-MEN #117 / CXM #23:

COVER COMPARISON: Oh, you call it.

X-MEN #117: The X-Men are rescued by the Jinguchi Maru, a freighter on radio silence until it reaches Japan. In Westchester, Jean leaves the mansion for good, prompting the melancholy Xavier to have a flashback. After his service in the Korean War, he interacts with Moira McTaggart, Storm as a child, and the first evil mutant he was to encounter, Amahl Farouk. (It’s difficult to reconcile certain details of this flashback with Jonathan Hickman’s revised House/Powers of X version.) At JFK, on her way to Greece, Jean bumps into her old roommate, Misty Knight, on her way to Japan.

CXM #23: The new pages focus on Wolverine’s love of Jean Grey and disgust for Cyclops. The back-up features Nightcrawler between #117 and 3118.

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