Review: X-Men #129

X-Men #129 cover
Cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin

X-Men #129
Published and © by Marvel, January 1980

Title: “God Save the Child …”
Synopsis: The X-Men are reunited with Professor X, then head off to find two new mutants – and the Hellfire Club!

Writer (plot): Chris Claremont and John Byrne
Writer (script): Claremont
Penciler: Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin

Review:  It’s hard to fairly evaluate “The Dark Phoenix Saga” when this was the arc – and this the very comic – that made a lifelong comic fan out of this reviewer. But, wow, this issue is still so good. Banshee leaves and the team is reunited with Professor X. Kitty Pryde and the White Queen debut, as does the Hellfire Club. Terrifying villains, great characterization, amazing detail. And what’s happening with Jean Grey? The X-Men creative team has perfected their mix of soap opera and action thriller, and the ride would last for the better part of 1980. Sheer comic-book magic. 

Grade: A+

Second opinion: “The portentous tone of the narration early in Uncanny X-Men #129 promises that dark times are ahead. That promise will be kept.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “The introduction of 13-year-old Kitty is not only a fresh idea, but also a nod to Stan Lee’s original idea of the X-Men as students.” – Jim Johnson, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003 … “It was obvious that Marvel had a hit on its hands.” – Pierre Comtois, “Marvel Comics in the 1980s: An Issue By Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon,” 2014 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: SO much coolness this issue … but Kitty Pryde is the coolest, obviously!

Notable: First appearance of Kitty Pryde, the White Queen and the Hellfire Club.
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 and a Marvel Legends reprint edition.

Character quotable: “Kitty, have you ever heard of the X-Men.” – Ororo “Storm” Munroe, school recruiter

A word from the writer: “In many respects, in terms of the X-Men, this was the DiMaggio hitting streak, the run of stories that set the standard for all the followed and defined the book for the following quarter-century, establishing many of the primal conflicts and relationships that are still being mined for stories to this day.” – Chris Claremont, talking about the Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-Men run, in “Harmony of Vision,” a 2004 essay collected in “Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 1,” 2006

Editor’s note: This review was written June 23, 2022.

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