Next in my journey with my favorite mutants is Essential X-Men volume 4. This 568 page black & white paperback collects Uncanny X-Men #162-179, X-Men Annual #7 and Marvel Graphic Novel #5 (X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills) (ISBN 978-0-7851-2295-1)
As usual, and as I’ve said with every other review of the Essential collections, the black & white presentation detracts from the experience, but these collections can be found for so cheap that they’re just too good to pass up, especially when the stories are so great.
Volume 4 is no exception. The stories are awesome. I’d even venture to say they’re on par with those legendary tales collected in volume 2. First off is The Brood Saga. I was surprised at how good it was. I think it gets overshadowed a bit by some of the earlier storylines, but I feel that it’s more than worthy to stand right alongside them.
Also included (and placed between Uncanny X-Men #168 and 169) is the renowned God Loves Man Kills graphic novel. This story (which inspired the second X-Men movie, X2) was so good that I actually plan to go back and pick it up in color to reread it. Unfortunately, the black & white presentation affects this already dark story worse than any up to this point, with the text on certain black backgrounds and darker panels extremely hard to read. Despite that, however, this story is amazing. It’s much darker than pretty much any of the material before it, and addresses major issues of prejudice that existed in our country not only at the time of writing, but almost even more so now in 2019. I won’t stray into that too much, but the issues are still very major today, and the principles and lesson of God Loves Man Kills hold true in our day and age.
Other important storylines include the introduction include both the introductions of Madelyne Pryor and the Morlocks. Annual #7 is more of a silly filler story in my opinion and could be skipped if you felt like it.
In conclusion, this is another Essential collection that I’d highly recommend because of the value and major stories included.
4/5 (Would have been a 5 if not for the sometimes sub-par presentation.)
One final quick note: If you’re reading this collection and have also collected The New Mutants Classic vol. 1, Uncanny X-Men #167 is included there as well! I’d recommend jumping over to that collection to enjoy the issue in full-color.