Review: The Uncanny X-Men #165

The Uncanny X-Men #165 cover
Cover by Paul Smith

The Uncanny X-Men #165
Published and © by Marvel, January 1983

Title: “Transfigurations!”
Synopsis: Stranded in a nebula, the X-Men struggle with the news that they’ve been infected with Brood spawn.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Paul Smith
Inker: Bob Wiacek

Review: Slower, transitional issues can often be dull affairs, but X-Men #165 was a game changer for many young X-fans. The primary reason, of course, is the debut of Paul Smith as penciler. The animator-turned-comics artist offered a breathtaking blend of simple line, dynamic storytelling and emotive characterization. Fans hadn’t seen anything like it and most couldn’t wait to see his unique take on each character that crossed his drawing board. On the story side, the intimate talk between Kitty and Peter was sensitive and intense, giving voice to the internal struggle of many a teenage virgin. Splendid work all around.

Grade: A

Second opinion: “Smith delivers the series into an entirely different artistic realm in terms of expressive breadth and emotional depth.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “Even more maudlin than #138 – if that’s possible – this issue finds every single X-Man miserable.” – John Jackson Miller, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003

Cool factor: Paul Smith was one of the best new artists of the late Bronze Age!

Notable: Paul Smith art begins.
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: “When you’re doomed, what’s the point of playing by society’s stupid rules?!” – Kitty Pryde, shooting her shot

A word from the editor: “It can’t have been easy for Paul to jump into the middle of a multi-issue space epic featuring a large cast of established characters, but he accomplished it seamlessly, jumping between space-opera and soap-opera elements with the ease and aplomb of the practiced veteran.” – 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 Nov. 29, 2023.

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