Review: The Uncanny X-Men #166

The Uncanny X-Men #166 cover
Cover by Paul Smith

The Uncanny X-Men #166
Published and © by Marvel, February 1983

Title: “Live Free or Die!”
Synopsis: Facing certain doom, the X-Men lay siege to the Brood throne world in an attempt to liberate the Acanti.

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

Review: Chris Claremont goes BIG with this double-sized, penultimate issue of the multi-month Brood saga. There’s plenty of action along with the X-Men’s trademark brand of superheroes-meets-soap-opera drama. But it’s epic sci-fi concepts that define this outing: prophet-singers, racial souls, celestial powers and such. It’s all heady stuff that would likely work well in a prose novel, but feels underdeveloped in a monthly comic. On the art side, Paul Smith’s work is already quite excellent, though still a bit inconsistent. Overall, this is a strong issue, but this new X-Men creative team’s best is still to come.

Grade: B+

Second opinion: “Claremont’s precise plotting is in top form in ‘Live Free or Die,’ which brings together components of the long-running Brood arc that seemed at the time arbitrary and/or simply stylistic flourishes done for their own sake.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “It’s a fitting end to one of the X-Men’s best extended space adventures.” – John Jackson Miller, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003 … “(Paul Smith) interjected a new dynamism to the book. … The art was crisp and spacious, giving great clarity to his subjects, and showed superb skill in his portrayal of realistic motion.” – Robert Fleming, Fantasy Advertiser #92, August-September 1985

Cool factor: So much good stuff …
Not-so-cool factor: … maybe a little too much.

Notable: First appearance of Lockheed.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a $1.25 Canadian variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “Fascinating. Evidently, I am capable of corrupting even this holy of holies.” – The Brood Queen, amused with herself

Editor’s note: This review was written Jan. 31, 2024.

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