Review: The Uncanny X-Men #161

The Uncanny X-Men #161 cover
Cover by Dave Cockrum and Bob Wiacek

The Uncanny X-Men #161
Published and © by Marvel, September 1982

Title: “Gold Rush!”
Synopsis: A comatose Professor Xavier relives his first meeting with his dear friend Magnus – AKA Magneto – 20 years prior.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Bob Wiacek

Review: First the positive: Writer Chris Claremont continues to build on the character upgrade Magneto received in Uncanny X-Men #150 (see review). Ironically, this new Holocaust-survivor history helps humanize the evil mutant, imbuing him with a richness that would serve the character well for decades to come. But while this back story – explored in the mind of a comatose Professor X – offers new emotional dimensions for key characters, it also lacks a sense of forward momentum. And between fill-in issues and slow-brewing subplots, lack of momentum is starting to be a problem for a series fast becoming Marvel’s flagship book.

Grade: B+

Second opinion: “The Xavier/Magneto friendship is one of Claremont’s very best brainstorms to date.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “Claremont’s rehabilitation of Magneto into a more sympathetic character continues in this story.” – John Jackson Miller, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003

Cool factor: The origin of the Xavier/Magneto friendship.
Not-so-cool factor: Come on, Charley, wake up already. Zzzz …

Notable: First appearance of Gabrielle Haller.
Collector’s note: According to MyComicShop.com, there is a Mark Jewelers variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “Mutants will not go meekly to the gas chambers. We will fight … .” – Magnus, soon to be Magneto

A word from the editor: “In this issue, Chris enlarges on the back story at the heart of the Xavier-Magneto relationship, one the forms the basis for Magneto’s portrayal for the next 30 years, in the comics, on TV animation, and in the movies.” – 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 Oct. 10, 2023.

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