Uncanny X-Men #133 – Reviews Of Old Comics

It’s Wolverine Month here at Needless Essentials Online, so I’m looking at one of the pivotal books for Wolverine, Uncanny X-Men #133. This issue spotlighted Wolverine in a way that featured him as quite possibly the only X-Man that could have rescued his teammates from a Hellfire Club that had corrupted and turned their most powerful member against them.

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Uncanny X-Men #133

May  1980

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Cover Artist: John Byrne & Terry Austin

WOLVERINE ALONE! Cyclops desperately tries to reach out Jean and bring her out of her dark transformation. But Mastermind has other plans and attacks Cyclops on the astral plane! Can Scott survive death in this psychic realm?

SYNOPSIS:

Hellfire Club mercenaries are searching the basement of the Hellfire Club for Wolverine, who fell into the sewers. He’s hiding in the ceiling above them and ambushes them taking them out quite handily, leaving one behind who is easily intimidated.

The rest of the X-Men are captives of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle. They welcome Jean Grey as their new Black Queen. Mastermind has projected his illusions directly into her mind, convincing her of her role in colonial times, in which she taunts the helpless X-Men. Cyclops recalls the psychic rapport that Jean Grey established in Montana and ponders how to use it to free her of Mastermind’s control. Sebastian Shaw tells the X-Men that they intend to experiment on them to create a mutant army.

On Muir Isle, Sean Cassidy finds Moira MacTaggart upset. Jean Grey had put psychic blocks on the full capabilities her powers as Phoenix gave her. Unfortunately, something is dismantling those safeguards. Back in Montana Angel and Professor X worry about the X-Men.

Wolverine sneaks upstairs, but in trying to get upstairs, encounters security. While this is going on, Cyclops uses his rapport with Jean to try to reach her. Mastermind confronts him and the two engage in a symbolic swordfight. As Wolverine is overwhelmed by Hellfire Club security, Mastermind thrust his sword through Cyclops’ chest and in the physical world the X-Men witness Cyclops cry out and collapse, apparently dead.

REVIEW:

The story falls directly in the middle of the Dark Phoenix Saga. Despite continuing from a cliffhanger, it’s easy to drop into the story. Wolverine is written as very skilled and darn near unbeatable, but still able to be overpowered. The X-Men are very much helpless, and the Hellfire Club looks to be one of the more dangerous threats that they’ve faced in a long time. Chris Claremont has a tendency to be verbose, but that helps make a character like Logan not just dangerous, but smart as well. As far as the plot moving forward, even the scene with Moira MacTaggart helps advance what would become the Dark Phoenix Saga, yet serves in this issue to underline how dangerous the game that Mastermind is playing really is.

The artwork is classic Byrne/Austin. This is the artwork that set a standard for a generation of comic fans and artists. Byrne sets the scene and keeps it continuous throughout. His knowledge of anatomy is spot on, and he can convey emotion in a way that find that balance between cartooning and realistic representation. Terry Austin’s inks give it a very grounded feeling. Inked by himself, Byrne’s artwork sometimes becomes so fluid as to cross the line into the unbelievable. Austin is a master of line weight, and artists should familiarize themselves with his attention to line quality.

NOTES:

For this review, I read it on Marvel Unlimited, where it’s available digitally. As it can be a little pricey on the back issue market, a good alternative is the reprint in Classic X-Men #39, which might even be found in bargain boxes.

Because it can be found in so many collections, I’m going with an old method of listing them and including Amazon links. If you use these to buy them and other items, Needless Essentials does get a cut, which is a easy way to support the site.

FINAL RATING: 9.2 (out of a possible 10) Most of the issues in this series are excellent on their own, and this is own of those stories that every comic fan to needs to periodically reacquaint himself or herself with.