Undervalued Spotlight #88

X-Men #129, Marvel Comics, January 1980

X-Men #94 is perhaps the most celebrated re-jigging in comic book history. The book immediately began making waves, and fans. Soon the Chris Claremont/Dave Cockrum creative team had the X-Men title shooting up the charts. The first major arc that really got people talking was The Phoenix Saga that ran in issues #101 to #108.

John Byrne relieved Cockrum as artist with the last issue of the Phoenix Saga #108. Byrne also wrote with Claremont and the two really brought the book to the next level. The Canadian Byrne created Alpha Flight (X-Men #120 and 121) during this time and X-Men became the darling title of comics.

Just when you think things could not get any better the Byrne/Claremont team gives us X-Men #129. “God Spare the Child” is the title of the 17 page story in X-Men #129. It is a landmark X-Men issue introducing Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost.

Kitty Pryde is actually the first new mutant to join the X-Men since the mass joining that happened in Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975). Kitty later became a member of Excalibur and was also a SHIELD member. Kitty also created quite the controversy when she showed desires towards teammate Colossus. The problem was Kitty was 14 and Colossus was 19. Check out X-Men #165 for all the drama.

Emma Frost is introduced as the evil mutant telepath the White Queen. Frost has changed from one of the X-Men’s biggest foes to one of the core members of the team. Emma Frost always scored top 10 in all the hot comic book babe polls. Ohh those Greg Horn covers!

X-Men #129 also starts off the legendary Dark Phoenix Saga (told in X-Men #129-137).

The Dark Phoenix Saga is perhaps the best known X-Men saga of all and many call it the team’s finest hour. It is certainly one of the most referenced comic book story arcs ever!

Apologies in advance for the terrible Dark Phoenix Saga recap I’m about to type out.

The X-Men try to recruit a new mutant Kitty Pryde but while doing so Jean Grey’s Phoenix persona morphs into the Dark Phoenix, very sinister and all powerful. Dark Phoenix escapes this world and goes on to annihilate a whole star system. Her rampage is noted by the Shi’Ar who track her back to Earth. The X-Men battle the Shai’Ar to save Jean Grey. In a moment of emotional detachment from the Dark Phoenix Jean Grey commits suicide.

The suicide ending was not how Byrne and Claremont originally wrote the ending. Then EiC Jim Shooter made then change the ending but I’ll save that story for when I get around to featuring the very deserving X-Men #137 in the Spotlight.

There are so many little behind the scene things going on in this issue. Check out Wolverine reading Porno mags. Byrne has been quoted as saying EiC Shooter was trying to influence the direction of the X-Men too much at that time. Byrne claims all those X-Men as students and Xavier as the principle moments in the book were Shooters doing and that he and Claremont were trying to work around the constraints as best they could.

X-Men #129 doesn’t have the flash of #94, 101 or 120 but it’s a very important book in the X-Men run and best of all it’s a bit of a sleeper.

The 40th edition of the Overstreet Price Guide shows $39/$62/$85 as the splits at the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grades.

Strengths that make this comic book a good long-term investment are:

  • 1st appearance Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde
  • Start of the Dark Phoenix Saga one of the best know story arcs in comic history
  • A bit of a sleeper compared to the other higher profile issues like #101 and #120
Walter Durajlija Written by:

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. Charlie
    June 11, 2011

    Ahhhh… so it’s the #129 is it? I was betting on the #137… but really, there are so many awesome books from this run… how the heck do you chose? Vintage collectors tend to focus on key books, as defined by first appearances, but many seem to forget about the key runs…

    Just to name a few:

    Barry Windor Smith on Conan
    Neal Adams on Batman, Green Lantern
    John Byrne on X-Men
    Frank Miller on Daredevil

    Newer guys like McFarlane and Jim Lee had their moments following Byrne and Miller but I don’t think any run of books impacted the medium and pushed the envelope as much as Byrnes and Millers respective runs. Please correct me if you feel I’m wrong about this…

    In all my years of collecting, there were only 2 instances where I bought multiple copies for speculative purposes. I bought 12 copies of X#129 simply because I was introduced to the concept of speculating at the time, and later I bought 12 copies of Alpha Flight #1 when #1s were still sought after. Of course mini series’ and reboots like the one that’s about to happen over at DC put the kai-bosh on #1s having any value… but that’s a topic for another day.

    #129 is a great pick but don’t stop there… heck, get the whole Byrne run if you can afford it. Expect to pay about $1000- $1500 bucks for a mid/high run from #108 to #143 off eBay. Or go for broke and get whole nine yards from #94 to #143 for about $2000-$2500+. It’s a small price to pay for history and a key run of books that represent the pinnacle of the comics medium.

    It’s a much better deal then getting a LV handbag for your wife… although you may not want to mention this to her, especially during the holidays or her birthday…

  2. June 11, 2011

    X-Men #137 was very tempting and it was a toss up, both are deserving. I’ll give it a year can come around to feature it. Your proposal is excellent. The first chapter of a classic book is not what makes it sought after, its the complete story that makes the impact. Picking up only an X-Men #129 leaves it out of context. A large part of the reason it is so sought after lies in the pages of issues 130 – 137.

Make It Good.