Review: The Uncanny X-Men #160

The Uncanny X-Men #160 cover
Cover by Brett Anderson and Bob Wiacek

The Uncanny X-Men #160
Published and © by Marvel, August 1982

Title: “Chutes and Ladders!”
Synopsis: As the X-Men spar at their temporary Bermuda Triangle island headquarters, Belasco beckons little Illyana Rasputin to Limbo.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Brent Anderson
Inker: Bob Wiacek

Review: X-scribe Chris Claremont was usually a master of the slow burn, teasing subplots over many months before setting them ablaze. So, at the time, this issue seemed like a bit of a misfire. The X-Men had not yet spent much time at their temporary headquarters in the Bermuda Triangle and there had been little mention of arcane forces or ancient gods associated with the island. Suddenly, there are light disks disrupting space and time, and Belasco hatching a demonic escape plot. And, most important historically, a future New Mutant is aged seven years. A hurried – and creepy – affair.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “X-Men #160, with its cold plunge into material much darker in tone and more mature in theme, feels like a first attempt to forcibly expand the X-Men’s storytelling possibilities.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “Awfully edgy for such a high-profile, Code-approved book.” – John Jackson Miller, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003

Cool factor: S’ym, a demon knockoff of Cerebus the Aardvark, was a fun in-joke.
Not-so-cool factor: Nightcrawler gets done dirty in Limbo.

Notable: First appearance of S’ym. … First appearance of adult Illyana Rasputin.
Collector’s note: According to MyComicShop.com, there is a Mark Jewelers variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “So, tell me, boss – who do you want killed?” – S’ym, demon-aardvark?
A word from the editor: “The beginning of the Illyana/Magik cycle is a prime example of how swiftly the X-Men status quo could change.” – Louise Simonson (né Jones), in “Character and Conflict,” a 2011 essay collected in “Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 3,” 2015

Editor’s note: This review was written Aug. 15, 2023.

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