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Review: X-Men #97

X-Men #97 cover
Cover by Rich Buckler and Dave Cockrum

X-Men #97
Published and © by Marvel, February 1976

Title: “My Brother, My Enemy!”
Synopsis: As Professor X departs for vacation, the X-Men are inexplicably attacked by Eric the Red – and two of their own!

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Sam Grainger

Review: With this issue, the classic X-Men creative team of Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum settle into a fine storytelling groove. Claremont juggles big action sequences with strong character moments; a scene with Storm checking Wolverine’s rage is a fine example of the relationship building that would come to define this series. On the art side, Cockrum delivers fine space-battle pages with ships featuring bulbous, bug-like tech. That sequence is one of several ongoing subplots, a hallmark of Claremont’s run on this series. While still improving, X-Men has already established itself as one of Bronze Age Marvel’s better books.

Grade: A-

Second opinion: Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: The X-Men are starting to feel like real people.
Not-so-cool factor: A LoC signed Tom Runningmouth talks about the pride of having a Native American character added to the X-Men, but disapproves of Thunderbird’s treatment and death in recent issues. Marvel’s response that Thunderbird was “the weakest potential character” with “nowhere to go” and “had to die” rings insensitive at best.

Notable: First brief appearance of Lilandra.
Collector’s note: Beware, this issue contains a Marvel Value Stamp (Series B) #20 (Thor). … According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 9p British variant of this issue. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jeweler variant.

Character quotable: “I am power incarnate – and nothing that lives can stand against me!” – Eric the Red, whoever he may be

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

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