Review: X-Men #133

X-Men #133 cover
Cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin

X-Men #133
Published and © by Marvel, May 1980

Title: “Wolverine: Alone!”
Synopsis: Wolverine makes a solo attempt to free the X-Men while Cyclops gambles on his and Jean’s “psychic rapport.”

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

Review: “The Dark Phoenix Saga” continues its run of A+ issues. The art team – including colorist Glynis Wein – serves up a spectacular solo fight scene for Wolverine; the use of the single color red for the “kill” panels both subverts the Comics Code’s prohibitions on gore and captures the hero’s emotional fury. On the story side, Cyclops’ desperate attempt to reconnect emotionally with Jean proves to be a fatal mistake. The X-Men keep coming for the Hellfire Club and losing – again and again. The result is escalating tension and a sense of impending dread. Masterful storytelling all around.

Grade: A+

Wolverine "kill" panel from X-Men #133
A Wolverine “kill” panel, as drawn by John Byrne and Terry Austin, from X-Men #132.

Second opinion: “The opening pages (are) … a marvelously visceral sequence, and another driving blow in John Byrne’s campaign to popularize Wolverine.” – Jason Powell, “The Best There Is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men,” 2016 … “Chilling stuff.” – Jim Johnson, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: The Wolverine fight scene is an all-time classic. Note: It is unclear whether the decision to color the “kill” panels red was artist John Byrne’s or colorist Glynis Wein’s, but it was a masterful choice regardless.
Not-so-cool factor: Still hating on Jason “Mastermind” Wyngarde.

Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 12p British variant of this issue, as well as a Marvel Legends reprint. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant.

Character quotable: “It’s your play, hero I am waitin’.” – Wolverine, double daring

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

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