Chris Claremont’s 16-year era on the X-Men line is considered the definitive, most influential run on the franchise ever. Claremont introduced an incredible number of characters and concepts to the franchise, including the Phoenix, the New Mutants, Marvel’s multiverse, and so much more. A key concept that he added, however, was the concept of the X-Crossover. In 2019, the idea that X-Men books cross over for big events is taken for granted, but for a while through the 1980s, it had never happened. The Mutant Massacre was the first proper crossover between multiple ongoing series in the X-Men line, as well as a few extra series with guest starring characters. Marvel’s reprint of this event in their X-Men Milestones line properly exhibits how important the Mutant Massacre was, both in story and in shops.
The story of The Mutant Massacre heavily involves the X-Men, written by Chris Claremont, and X-Factor, written by Louise Simonson. The event also features the New Mutants (Claremont), Thor (Walt Simonson), Daredevil (Ann Nocenti), and Power Pack (Louise Simonson). There are also a lot of artists involved, as almost every issue has a different artistic team: John Romita Jr, Bret Blevins, Rick Leonardi, Alan Davis, Barry Windsor-Smith, Terry Shoemaker, Walt Simonson, Butch Guice, Sal Buscema, and John Bogdanove. This many creators in one book can feel crowded, but everyone working on The Mutant Massacre works together very well.
The story of Mutant Massacre is fairly straightforward: the Marauders go into the Morlock tunnels and start killing everyone they see. The X-Men and X-Factor both separately go in to try and stop them, and suffer heavy casualties as a result. The story could never end in a victory, as the Marauders’ only goal was to kill — something they were able to do plenty of. It’s an utterly brutal story, where the X-Men never at any point look like they have a chance, and by the end everyone is broken in some way or another. Thor, who hears about the massacre and goes down into the tunnels, finds Angel brutalized and maimed, begging for death. The Power Pack, who are normally in light adventures, get attacked by Sabretooth. By the end of the story, Kitty Pryde is dying, Nightcrawler is near death, and Colossus has killed someone. The Mutant Massacre begins a new era for the X-Men, where they have moved past being a superhero team to fighting for their very survival, and the story depicts exactly how they become this in brutal, bloody detail.
The art varies throughout the story, but every artist is able to get the horrors depicted across. Romita and Simonson are the standout artists of the bunch, but everyone does an excellent job keeping the tone consistent and keeping the violence horrifying. Even in Power Pack, a book that tends to be all ages and kid-friendly, John Bogdanove depicts the fear and terror of the characters in a visceral way, keeping the tone consistent without as much of the gore. On the flip side, Walt Simonson’s art on the Falling Angel issue is brutal, ending with Angel pinned up to a wall by his wings. It’s horrible to see, and the atrocities throughout the storyline are depicted in this level of detail, ensuring that the audience understands just how awful the massacre is. The art is a key part of what keeps this story compelling.
This collection is a must-buy for any X-Men fan who wants to read their most definitive moments. The Mutant Massacre is a key story for a very many reasons, and still holds up in the modern day. The art and colors pop, the writing is incredibly compelling, and the story changes the world of the X-Men for quite some time.