Review: X-Men #96

X-Men #96 cover
Cover uncredited

X-Men #96
Published and © by Marvel, December 1975

Title: “Night of the Demon!”
Synopsis: Still reeling from the death of one of their own, the all-new X-Men face off against a demon invasion.

Writer (plot assist): Bill Mantlo
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Sam Grainger

Review: With his third issue, writer Chris Claremont settles in and starts putting his stamp on the series he would come to define. Interpersonal relationships start to form, new supporting characters are introduced (hello, Moira MacTaggert), and character traits – from Storm’s claustrophobia to Wolverine’s berserker rage – are introduced. Not everything works – how convenient a demon portal happens to be in the woods near the X-Men’s mansion – but Claremont’s blueprint is becoming clear. Dave Cockrum’s art falls short when trying to capture Cyclops cutting loose, but is otherwise a cut above. This is a series on the verge of leveling up.

Grade: B+

Second opinion: “Often overlooked, this standalone story is nonetheless a key issue in the run.” – Jim Johnson, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003 … “Claremont’s first solo story … (has) an emphasis on angst and soul-searching that was to become his trademark.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: Claremont begins to weave the superhero soap opera that would define a generation.

Notable: First appearance of Moira MacTaggert and Michael Rossi.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 9p British variant of this issue. … According to MyComicShop.com, there are also Mark Jewelers and National Book Store variants, as well as Marvel Legends reprint.

Character quotable: “I am Kierrok little animal – Kierrok the shatterer of souls – Kierrok the slayer of men – Kierrok the damned!” – Kierrok, in case you missed it

Editor’s note: This review was written Dec. 29, 2020.

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