The issue took place in a period between a big fight with Mutant hunting robot from the future, Nimrod, and issue 211, which would begin the Mutant Massacre saga in the X-books and a few unaffiliated books (Thor and Power Pack, for reasons I do not understand).
|Can't tell you how much I miss an era where superheroes smoked|
I was not hanging onto this box out of romance or nostalgia. I planned to sell it on eBay. Or, rather, Jamie's been selling some of my stuff on eBay, and I was going to sell these issues off in lots of ten, but it just never happened, so... The good folks at Austin Books and Comics were able to take this off for my hands for in store credit.*
My first great comics love, the book that turned me into a collector, was Claremont's Uncanny X-Men. And, man, that is not a unique story among comic folk my age who got into the comics game.
I mention the plot of the story where I jumped in because it's 24 pages of X-Men standing around talking, and I don't know that a single punch is thrown all issue. Rogue goes to the mall and goes shopping for new clothes. It's one of those "baseball" issues of X-Men you hear about where Claremont takes a break from fisticuffs, let's the characters breathe and remind you that these are supposed to be humans/ characters who are more fleshed out than the lead in, say, Elevator Action (something DC has struggled with for decades at this point).
But it was also an issue where Kitty Pryde (backed up by Colossus) confronts a mob about to perform some serious hate-crimes on Nightcrawler. I've seen people refer to this scene as hacky in recent years, and I kind of wanted to kick those people in the teeth. Sure, it's a very Claremontian scene, but I can't remember the last time I saw a writer at the Big 2 show much of a social conscience, in story.
Anyway, point being - even when I was a kid, that really sold me on X-Men. Even back when I had never kissed a girl and was still mastering a ten-speed, I was already aware that characterization in comics - and the writing itself - was often not of the highest calibre, but I liked seeing the weirdness on the page, so I kept buying them off the rack.
X-Men rang in my head like a tuning fork. I immediately got into collecting back issues and picked up the subsequent issues, winding up with a run that spanned from about issue 168-350 or so. But ask me about anything that happened in X-Men that wasn't written by Claremont and I couldn't really tell you.
Owning that many issues of X-Men led to my first longbox purchases, my first obsessive chasing around of comics both new and back-issues, and, inevitably, my first heartbreak with comics. Once Claremont left, it genuinely felt like Marvel felt like the guy who had their number 1 selling book, a book that had drawn in thousands of readers not just to X-Men but to comics in general, had been doing it wrong all along. I kept up with the series for a long time, because that's what we comic folk do, even when we're aware the salad days are long since past.
Eventually, I remember some b.s. with Cyclops in some underground cavern with some wizard or something - and this was years after Claremont left X-Men - and I was thinking "what the holy hell does this have to do with the mission of the X-Men as mutants doing good to create a better world where mutants and humans live in peace?" You know, the metaphor bit that had hooked me when Kitty Pryde faced down an angry mob. Not with super powers, but with an argument in favor of living together peacefully. It struck me it had been a long, long, long time since anyone in the X-Offices seemed to remember what the hell the point was to this title.
So, I bailed.
Anyway, today I sold that longbox. It contained Uncanny X-Men Volume 1, X-Men and a few stray issues of New X-Men.
I also picked up Jimmy Olsen #68 and Star Trek Meets Planet of the Apes, because, seriously, if I didn't pick that up, I'd just hate myself.
*and, thusly, I am now the proud owner of a Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon figural bank!