X-Men: Mutant Massacre Omnibus Review (and Reading Order)

Mutant Massacre

While X-Men stories had been spilling into other Marvel series since the very beginning (they showed up in Fantastic Four after just five issues of the original series), it wouldn’t be until the mid-1980s when they started having full-on multi-series crossover events. While Secret Wars II predates it, Mutant Massacre was the first Marvel crossover event that revolved specifically around the X-Men.

This event combines Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants, and it spills into The Mighty Thor, Daredevil, Power Pack, and even Fantastic Four and Avengers (kind of). That means it can be a little tricky to read from start to finish without a guide.

Of course, all of that becomes super simple if you pick up the X-Men: Mutant Massacre omnibus, which collects the entire crossover event in a single book. So let’s explore what’s collected in this mighty tome, take a look at the quality of the physical book, and talk a bit about the story that’s told across almost 1,000 pages.

What’s collected in this omnibus?

Mutant Massacre

This book features 952 pages of Mutant crossover goodness. If I’ve counted correctly, this omnibus includes 36 issues within it, which is a pretty respectable amount of comics.

Those issues are: Uncanny X-Men #210-219, X-Men Annual #11, X-Factor #9-17, X Factor Annual #2, New Mutants #46, The Mighty Thor #373-374 and #377-378, Power Pack #27, Daredevil #238, Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #1-4, and The X-Men vs. the Avengers #1-4. Of course, it’s not collected in that order, so here’s what the actual reading order looks like:

  • Uncanny X-Men #210
  • X-Factor #9
  • Uncanny X-Men #211
  • X-Factor #10
  • New Mutants #46
  • The Mighty Thor #373
  • Power Pack #27
  • The Mighty Thor #374
  • Uncanny X-Men #212
  • X-Factor #11
  • Daredevil #238
  • Uncanny X-Men #213-214
  • X-Factor #12-15
  • Uncanny X-Men #215-219
  • The Mighty Thor #377-378
  • X-Factor #16-17
  • X-Factor Annual #2
  • Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #1-4
  • The X-Men vs. the Avengers #1-4
  • X-Men Annual #11

As you can see, a bulk of this content is Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor, though this book doesn’t neglect to collect issues from other series that are important for this event. There’s only a single issue of New Mutants collected here, but that’s fine since it minimizes the amount of double-dipping you’ll do if you pick up the New Mutants Vol. 2 omnibus.

Also, there’s a ton of content from the Marvel Age magazine, with editorials and interviews and art and all that good stuff.

How is the quality of the physical book?

X-Men: Mutant Massacre

My copy of the X-Men: Mutant Massacre omnibus was printed between June 18 and August 30, 2021, by R.R. Donnelley Asia Printing Solutions in China. That means this is not a first edition. This printing was supposed to come out in December of 2021, but it was delayed and I didn’t get mine until May of 2022 (I pre-ordered it). If you’re trying to pick this up during this round of printing, it looks like you might need to hit the reseller market, as it does seem to have sold out at most of the places I’ve checked.

The front cover shows the battle between Wolverine and Sabretooth, which is actually the cover of Uncanny X-Men #213. Note that this is a variant cover, and the standard edition of this book features the cover from Uncanny X-Men #210. I don’t really like the cover from issue #210, so I was really happy to get my hands on the variant, which I think looks awesome.

X-Men: Mutant Massacre

To carry on a longstanding tradition, the back cover features the front cover of every single comic book issue collected in this book. I love this format for Marvel’s omnibuses, and I’m glad to see it continue with this volume.

X-Men: Mutant Massacre

Even better, if you pull off the dust jacket, you’ll see an absolutely incredible mural of Wolverine fighting Sabretooth. Seriously, this looks so awesome.

X-Men: Mutant Massacre

The binding is sewn, with a bright yellow stitching that kind of matches the front cover (I guess it’s the same color as Sabretooth’s hair). The binding is a little bit loose, which means the book will form an “eye” when you open it. I don’t want to throw any gasoline on the tight-vs.-loose-binding debate, so I’ll just show you what it looks like without expressing my personal opinion on the matter.

X-Men: Mutant Massacre

Also, the pages are nice and thick. As you can see in the image above, there’s a tiny bit of bleedthrough, but it’s barely noticeable unless you’re specifically looking for it. I’ve seen much, much worse in Marvel’s omnibuses (especially the ones manufactured by IMAK Offset), so this makes me happy.

Are these stories any good?

Mutant Massacre

First off, I just have to say that I’d been meaning to read Mutant Massacre for a really, really long time. It’s one of the essential X-Men events, if you can believe all the digital ink that’s been spilled over it. Even in recent years, people speak quite highly of this event. And so much of the X-Men material that predates it is very clearly leading up to this point.

So yeah, unlike a lot of the other X-Men reviews I’ve done, this is my first time reading any of this material.

And it’s really good. This event gets a ton of hype, which I think maybe cheapens it a little bit. But if you expect kind of an average Marvel event (or something along the lines of the 1980s Secret Wars series), then I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good this actually is.

The basic premise is that a group of Mutants called the Marauders decides that they’re going to murder all of the Mutants that aren’t them so they can be the only ones left. They start with the Morlocks, who live in the tunnels beneath New York, and the first act of this event is surprisingly brutal. The Marauders aren’t messing around; the body count skyrockets quickly.

Mutant Massacre

The general thrust of the story happens in Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor, which together account for 21 of this collection’s 36 issues. But, as I mentioned earlier, the story does spill into Thor and Power Pack and Daredevil, and those issues are collected here as well. In fact, some pretty crucial moments happen in the side issues, so even though there are almost two whole issues of Thor just hanging out with kids and talking to frogs, Thor does wind up playing an important part in all of this — at least for a brief moment.

There’s a single issue of New Mutants, which seems a little odd until you realize that the New Mutants team was having their own time-travel adventures during the Mutant Massacre, so they missed out on most of the action (while New Mutants was being published at the same time as Mutant Massacre, you can wait to read more NM until you’ve finished reading Massacre).

But the reason Mutant Massacre is so good is that it carries the momentum of those two primary X-books (Uncanny and X-Factor). I don’t find the basic premise all that compelling, to be honest, but both Uncanny and X-Factor had a ton of momentum before this, and somehow the event doesn’t slow that momentum down at all. This is one of those rare events that feels like the culmination of a lot of buildup rather than something that just interrupts currently developing storylines. And I definitely think this is something Marvel might want to take into consideration for future events.

I can’t help but get obsessive about Scott Summers’ bizarre love life, and that definitely comes to a head in this volume. If you’ve been reading X-Factor, you know that Scott left his wife Madelyne Pryor alone to care for their newborn baby so he could hang out with his ex-girlfriend Jean Grey. Yeah, he’s a complete jerk, but this creates some immensely compelling character drama, and it leads to some gloomy comic-book brooding. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s gloomy comic-book brooding. I can’t get enough of it.

X-Factor #13

You’ve also got several battles between Sabretooth and Wolverine. While I’m generally not a fan of what I refer to as “Wham, Boom, Pow” comics, these fights are so much more than just two characters punching each other. There’s a real desperation in these fights, which gives them an emotional heft that I think is lacking in way too many comic-book fights.

Now, I should point out that the Mutant Massacre is really just the first part of this book. A lot of collections I’ve seen cut off after Uncanny X-Men #213 or 214, and X-Factor #11. So what you’ve got after this is mostly the fallout from the event, which is where this collection really gets good. This is where Boom Boom joins X-Factor, and where Angel loses his wings. It’s also where Scott goes back to Alaska to make things right with Madelyne and finds her to be… missing? And also, the epic return of Master Mold, which has completely lost its mind.

X-Factor #13

There are some critical moments here, including Kitty Pryde and Iceman losing control of their powers, and the addition of Longshot and Psylocke to the X-Men team. Plus, and Apocalypse is assembling his crew of horsemen in the background while all this other stuff is happening. Oh, and the X-Men are on the brink of making an extremely important decision that will have long-term consequences for the team. They start talking about it in these issues, but you won’t get to see that fully brought to life in this collection (check out Fall of the Mutants if you want to see what that’s all about).

This is an insanely good run of comics, and X-Factor really comes into its own as a series here. Personally, I enjoy the first eight issues of X-Factor (which are collected elsewhere), but I can’t deny that the series really gets good around issue #11 (#13 might be my favorite issue in this entire collection). Oh, and Walt Simonson starts drawing the book starting with issue #10, and his artwork is consistently great. I’m tempted to say that during this run, X-Factor looks even better than the flagship Uncanny X-Men.

At the end of this book, you’ve got a few add-ons, starting with X-Factor Annual #2, which honestly feels unnecessary (but it’s good to see it collected here for completionist’s sake). Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men is a four-issue miniseries that was honestly a lot better than I was expecting it to be (I tend to dislike the vs. series), with some pretty great character moments and a really well-written Doom. I absolutely love Doom when he’s handled with some nuance, and Claremont excels at character nuance in general.

And then there’s the four-issue The X-Men vs. the Avengers, in which part of Magneto’s Asteroid M base crashes down and several world governments want a chunk of it. This sees the X-Men and the Avengers on opposite sides of the fray. This story is thematically related to Mutant Massacre, building on the growing resentment between humankind and Mutantdom, and it is there for anyone who’s been scratching their heads over the fact that people have kind of just forgotten all of the heinous stuff Magneto’s done.

Mutant Massacre

And finally, this collection ends with X-Men Annual #11, which is not really connected to Mutant Massacre at all, but it’s nice to see Alan Davis draw Betsy Braddock again. Alan Davis draws the best pre-transformation Betsy, and no one else even comes close. I should point out that this issue is also collected in the Captain Britain omnibus, but it’s better to read it here where it belongs chronologically rather than in the context of Captain Britain, where it feels a little disconnected. (It does feature Captain Britain, so I get why it’s included in the other omni.)

Ultimately, I have to admit that Marvel handled this crossover event extremely well. The reading order laid out in this book is absolutely perfect (there are some things revealed early in Uncanny X-Men that were left hanging in X-Factor, so putting those issues later in the book was a really good choice). I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this run of comics as much as I did, and I was especially impressed with the X-Factor issues in particular. Seriously, this era of X-Factor feels really similar to the 1982-ish era of Uncanny, which is still my favorite era of Claremont’s work.

Is this a good place to start reading X-Men?

Mutant Massacre

This question is getting harder and harder to answer. The thing is, I’m reading this as part of my project to read all of X-Men from the very, very beginning. So that means that I have two decades and hundreds of issues worth of lore in my head at this point. If I miss a reference, it’s because it’s something that happened in a non-X book, or it’s just something that I managed to forget. So for me, reading Mutant Massacre was easy.

But there are a lot of things that lead up to it. I do think that reading the first eight issues of X-Factor, for instance, could really come in handy here, and maybe start reading Uncanny X-Men with issue #200 so you’ve got a little background first. Oh, and the New Mutants stuff will likely be extremely disorienting if you’re not familiar with their adventures, but there’s only a single issue of New Mutants in this collection so it’s easy enough to just power through it and get back into the Uncanny X-Men/X-Factor stuff, which is what’s important.

So I guess I would recommend reading X-Factor Epic Collection Volume 1: Genesis & Apocalypse before this, and also Uncanny X-Men #200-209 if you can find them (they’re not collected in an omnibus yet, but they will be soon).

What’s next?

Mutant Massacre

This omnibus is immediately followed by the X-Men: Fall of the Mutants omnibus, which continues the stories of Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants. If you want to get caught up on New Mutants before jumping into Fall of the Mutants, you’ll probably want to check out the massive New Mutants Vol. 1 and New Mutants Vol. 2 omnibuses.

For New Mutants fans specifically, it’s important to note that the Mutant Massacre omnibus only includes New Mutants #46, while New Mutants Vol. 2 goes all the way up to issue #54. Fall of the Mutants picks up with New Mutants issue #55. So if, like me, you’re reading New Mutants as a part of all this, you’ve got some catching up to do before you get to Fall of the Mutants.

And really, New Mutants is great, so you absolutely should be reading it alongside this material.

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