Published and © by Marvel, June 1978
Synopsis: The Beast investigates the X-Men’s disappearance, only to find his former team trapped as circus freaks by Mesmero.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Review: The new art team of John Byrne and Terry Austin return following a single fill-in issue in which they were sorely missed (see review of X-Men #110). It was worth the wait. Along with reigning X-scribe Chris Claremont, Byrne and Austin quickly settle in for one of the best superhero-comic runs in the medium’s history. The art here is magnificent: clean but detailed, sleek but powerful. At the time, it must have been exciting just waiting to see who they’d draw next (the final-page reveal of this issue’s even-bigger bad is a great example of this.) Great stuff!
Second opinion: “Right from the start, these stories fizz with a unique effervescence resulting from (Claremont and Byrne’s) collaborative push and pull.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “(John Byrne was) the most spectacular comic artist I had ever seen … Chris Claremont was at the peak of his powers.” – Alan Rankin, Comic Effect #30, Summer 2002 … “The most shocking issue thus far. … It’s a page turner every step of the way.” – Jim Johnson, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003 … “Byrne arrived on the scene with a pleasing penciling style perfect for superheroes that seemed reminiscent of Neal Adams without as much detail.” – Pierre Comtois, “Marvel Comics in the 1970s: An Issue By Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon: Expanded Edition,” 2021 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.
Cool factor: The circus setting is fantastic, and joining this story in medias res makes for excellent pacing and intrigue.
Not-so-cool factor: Mesmero is a bit of a tool.
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: “Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry! Come one, come all t’ the greatest little show on Earth!” – Banshee, world’s most qualified carnival barker
Editor’s note: This review was written Oct. 12, 2022.