Review: The Uncanny X-Men #164

The Uncanny X-Men #164 cover
Cover by Dave Cockrum and Bob Wiacek

The Uncanny X-Men #164
Published and © by Marvel, December 1982

Title: “Binary Star!”
Synopsis: The Brood continue to pursue the X-Men, but this time it’s Carol Danvers – now as Binary – who saves the day.

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

Review: For writers (and readers), there’s a fine line between comfortable familiarity and outright cliché. X-scribe Chris Claremont, usually a master of toeing said line, crosses it this issue. The most obvious Claremontism is the evolution of Carol Danvers into Binary, the latest heroine to have her abilities supersized by tapping into some sort of elemental or cosmic power source. But there’s also the “Is Kitty too young?” trope and a heavy helping of the “X-Men don’t kill” debate. There are some strong story moments and the art is solid, but this issue ultimately feels like a rehash of superior material.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “If there wasn’t action throughout, it might be talky and maudlin.” – John Jackson Miller, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003

Cool factor: Carol Danvers deserved a return to superhero life and Dave Cockrum’s costume design is excellent …
Not-so-cool factor: … but Binary feels like a poor man’s Phoenix, particularly in the pages of the X-Men. (Also, what happened to Wolverine’s skin condition. The continuity cops want to know!)

Notable: First appearance Binary.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 75¢ Canadian variant of this issue. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant.

Character quotable: “Somehow, when I use my power, I tap into a white hole – my energy source is the primal fabric of a universe!” – Carol Danvers, now Binary

Editor’s note: This review was written Nov. 26, 2023.

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