Next up is Essential X-Men vol 3. It collects Uncanny X-Men #145-161, X-Men Annual #5-6 and Avengers Annual #10. It’s black & white and 528 pages. (ISBN 978-007851-4366-6)
As per usual with the Essential collections, the black & white presentation of stories that were originally in color, in my opinion, takes away from the experience. However, I found this book, which has a cover price of $19.99 for under $7 with free shipping! So as usual, the value of being able to catch up on the stories makes up for having to read them in black & white. I did feel that this volume suffered in that regard more than the previous collection.
As for the stories, they’re following a legendary collection before it which includes 3 great stories (Proteus, Dark Phoenix and Days of Future Past). The stories collected here, despite the team going up against villains such as Doctor Doom, don’t quite live up to their predecessors. That’s not to say they’re bad. Just not up to the level of the stories just before them. One thing to note is the inclusion of Avengers Annual #10, which features the first appearance of Rogue. While this issue in particular suffers from the conversion to black & white, I did appreciate being able to read the origin story of one of my favorite 90’s characters for the first time.
As far as the grand scheme of things (and my goal of catching up on the major stories of the X-Men), I’d say this volume isn’t critical. Although it should be noted that it includes a very important issue for Colossus’ sister Illyana (Uncanny #160), and sets up the story for the Brood Saga, which the next Essential collection opens with. For the sake of completion, and continuing to get to know the characters, combined with the fact that this volume can be found for so cheap, it’s still a worthy pick up.