Next up on my journey to catch up on all of the major X-Men stories is Essential X-Men vol. 8 (ISBN 978-07851-2763-5). It is printed in black & white, 544 pages, and collects Uncanny X-Men 229-243 & Annual #12, and X-Factor #36-39.
One thing to note right away, is that this collection includes some of the Inferno storyline, but not all. Inferno starts at around halfway through this collection and runs to the end, including the parts from both Uncanny X-Men (#239-243) and X-Factor (#36-39).
Since I’ll be reviewing Inferno on its own, I’m not going to focus on it here, but rather in my next review, of the full color Inferno trade paperback (which includes all of the other Inferno issues not found in Essential X-Men vol 8). That’s not to say that the issues included here aren’t good. In fact they’re really great. Their inclusion makes this yet another Essential collection that’s a great value. However, if you’re going to read the Inferno trade paperback (which is a major storyline which shouldn’t be passed up if your reading all the important stuff), I’d recommend skipping it here and reading it in full color with the rest of the story.
All that aside, I picked up this volume because it bridges the gap between the Fall of the Mutants and Inferno storylines. Originally I’d skipped this volume and went on to Inferno, but I decided to go back and see what the team was up to in between. I’d have to say that there’s really nothing major here before Inferno. You get to see the team in their new home in Australia, albeit after they’d moved there (I was personally more interested in seeing exactly when they made the move, but it’s not a huge deal). Also featured is the return of The Brood (their original saga is one of my favorite X-Men storylines so far) and an early storyline featuring the country of Genosha, which is a nice set up for the X-Tinction Agenda later, and Genosha also goes on to be an important place much later on as well.
So, would I recommend this volume? If you’re only catching up on major storylines, then no. You’ll miss some stuff in between, but nothing major, or anything which would hurt while reading future stories (again, meaning the first part of the volume, the pre-Inferno stories). Also, if you’re reading it for Inferno, no, I’d skip it and read those same issues in full color with the rest of the trade paperback.
If you wan’t to grab these stories for completion and at a good price (these Essential volumes can be found for really cheap if you shop around), then yes, it’s a nice volume to have in your collection.