Uncanny X-Men #177 “Sanctions”
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Romita Jr./John Romita Sr.
Where to start with this one... Uncanny X-Men #177 was the first comic book I had on my first subscription list at my first comic book store. I only had enough money for four titles on my pull list, Uncanny X-Men, Alpha Flight, Amazing Spider-Man, and The New Teen Titans.
Artistically, this issue is a dream featuring the legendary father and son combination of John Romita Jr. and John Romita Sr.. This was Romita Jr.’s first full-issue on the Uncanny X-Men and over the next few years he’d become one of my favorite X-artists.
So imagine being 13 years and picking up this issue and after reading 10 pages, most of the X-Men have been killed by the mysterious assassin known as Mystique. Fortunately, it turns out not to be a dream, but actually a session in Arcade’s Murderworld. Interestingly, rereading this issue and knowing that Claremont originally intended Mystique and Destiny to be the parents of Nightcrawler made this issue that much more powerful.
And that’s what is wonderful about this issue. The characterization. Mystique and her love for Rogue and she’s willing to kill all the X-Men to get her back. The conflict between Kitty and Storm after her radical change of clothing and hairstyle. The heartfelt goodbye between father and sons as Scott and Alex say goodbye to Corsair as he heads out into deep space. Same with Professor X as he bids farewell to his love, Lilandra.
And then the action sets in as Colossus is ambushed by the Blob, Pyro, and the Avalance and that in turns sets up one of the most memorable final pages of the 1980s. Wow.
Gotta love the Marvel Comics of the 1980s and this issue is a damn fine example of why I do!