Review: The Uncanny X-Men #143

The Uncanny X-Men #143 cover
Cover by Terry Austin

The Uncanny X-Men #143
Published and © by Marvel, March 1981

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

Writers (plot): Chris Claremont and John Byrne
Writer (script): Claremont
Penciler/co-plotter: 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 spends 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: “We are given what is virtually a Sprite solo story … and it’s quite nicely done, too.” – Cliff Joseph, BEM #32, February 1981 … “A nice, enjoyable X-mas entertainment.” – KW, BEM #32, February 1981 … “A blatant evocation and re-creation of the Ridley Scott film ‘Alien.’ … (Claremont and Byrne) seem content here to simply ape the source material.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “Claremont’s tribute to the scariest film of all time is plenty suspenseful in its own right.” – Jim Johnson, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003

Cool factor: One of the issues responsible for this reviewer’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.
Collector’s note: According to MyComicShop.com, there is a Mark Jewelers variant 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

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Dec. 25, 2009.

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