A Lesson in Economy
As far as important X-Universe storylines go, this is fairly impressive in terms of economy of time and space. Many of the issues in this early multi-title crossover occur at the same time, especially in the second half of the story. On the whole, the overlapping is good, though a few of the loose threads are not tied up in this TPB (especially what happened to the New Mutants), since you were expected to continue reading the individual series before the advent of the trade paperback. This is the 2001 paperback that does not contain the Daredevil postscript; the 2010 hardcover does. Also, the economy of the manufacturing is evident in the transitions between issues - as nice as the production is, a few of the issues (e.g., Power Pack) seem like they end either some panels or an entire page too soon. Hopefully all the scenes are here, since tracking down the individual issues is rather costly in terms of money and time. Getting the hardcover, if one doesn't have this paperback, could be a good (and financially costly) alternative. The story itself is impressive, as mentioned above, especially since it does not deal with any universe-threatening made-up force or crisis and continues many of the individual series' ongoing threads in a way that is not too confusing to the reader (except for Thor/frog situation, and why Thor needed to be in the series in the first place, though it is nice to see a non-mutant title involved). We see Claremont doing his best to resolve or at least ameliorate the problems the powers-that-be created when they forced Scott to leave Madelyne and reunite with Jean and the original X-Men. Seeing the early X-Factor struggle as both the beloved X-Factor and besmirched X-Terminators is a good reminder of the transitions and diversity of the '80s stories. Apocalypse, new to the Marvel Universe, makes some odd and where-did-he-come-from cameos, though it is interesting to see the beginning of his Horsemen, having just recently read the X-Cutioner's Song again. Early (and angry) Val Cooper, early Psylocke, and pre-T-O Cameron Hodge are all in here, too. The X-Men do not weather this crossover well: Nightcrawler is in a coma, Colossus is paralyzed, Shadowcat is unable to unphase, Scott is still internally struggling with his love for Jean and his wife and child, and Warren's identity is now public knowledge and his wings are going to be removed! Ororo still does not have her powers back (we aren't referenced back to where/how she lost them), and her eternal conflict with Callisto takes some bizarre twists. The much-hyped fights between Wolverine and Sabretooth are rather brief, especially considering Sabretooth does not appear with the other Marauders until late into the crossover. Boom Boom, Rusty, and Skids are all briefly here, too, though none of them are "heroes," yet. With only the briefest mention of Mr. Sinister, as yet unknown or unseen, we are reminded just how early we are (even after 20 years) into the development of X-Universe as we know it today. This major story is a key turning point of that X-Universe and, despite its pervasive melancholy, is definitely worth reading.