Published and © by Marvel, December 1977
Title: “Armageddon Now!”
Synopsis: The X-Men and Starjammers battle the Guardians of the Gate in a desperate attempt to save the universe.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Review: Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin – perhaps the quintessential superhero creative team of the Bronze Age – debut with this concluding chapter of a multipart X-story. Their potential is instantly obvious, but joining this epic in medias res puts Byrne and Austin at a disadvantage. There are already some excellent panels and delightful little touches (including a Rog 2000 Easter egg), but also a scattering of choppy images. Likewise, Claremont’s story seems built for previous partner Dave Cockrum, with a conclusion that leans heavy into its cosmic woo-woo. Still, it’s already clear the X-Men is about to significantly level up.
Second opinion: “There’s no better time for the untamed imagination of Cockrum to give way to the near obsessive, laser-beam precision of John Byrne.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “This issue stands among one of the most beautifully drawn in the series.” – Jim Johnson, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003 … “(Phoenix) is so powerful that she alone is more than a match for the rest of the X-Men combined in terms of power and has no place in a team book under this circumstance.” – Carol Kalish and Richard Howell, The Comics Journal #49, September 1979 … “The addition of John Byrne on art from 108 completes the X-Men’s creative team supreme.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003
Cool factor: Welcome to the X-Men, Byrne and Austin!
Notable: Debut of the Byrne/Austin art team. … Corsair is revealed to be Cyclops’ father.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 12p British variant of this issue. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant.
Character quotable: “I can feel … life, Scott. And pain. Something is calling to me. Scott, I sense such … beauty.” – Phoenix, powerful enough to save the universe (and just getting started)
A word from the artist: “Taking over a book from an artist one has admired for years – I might even go so far as to say an artist of whom I have myself been a fan – puts the newcomer through almost as bad a lurch as the readers – sometimes worse.” – John Byrne, from his introductory note on this issue’s “X-Mail” letters page
Editor’s note: This review was written Oct. 3, 2021.