UNCANNY X-MEN #99-101 (1976): 1st Phoenix, Black Tom; new Nightcrawler powers

Well, that didn’t take long, did it? In issues #99-100, Claremont and Cockrum bring back The Sentinels, and the movement by humans to eliminate mutants from the face of the Earth. It’s also worth noting that Claremont already was writing the book as basically one long story–breaks between issues and “traditional” arcs were often indiscernible, and the team seemed to grow and change with every issue.


These issues also contained the team’s first space shuttle crash in #99 (and their first trip into space, although not even as far as the moon). And there’s a plane crash.

My crashing tag is strong.

Oh, and one other little thing happened, after the X-Men’s shuttle got pelted with cosmic rays…


That’s right.  The rays changed her name, her power-set and her clothes.  Uncanny X-Men #101 was the first appearance of Phoenix.

Note: I understand that Jean is possessed buy the Phoenix Force. At the time, though, nobody (I bet not even Chris Claremont) knew that. I am torn whether to tag Phoenix Force separate from Jean-as-Phoenix, and I’ve gone with not doing it. I’ll create a Phoenix Force tag when the Force appears as a separate entity.

While on the moon, they fight sentinels who have the ability to look/have powers of the original X-Men.

That’s pretty fun.

Also: Nightcrawler uses the holograms in the Danger Room to go undercover. So we get a Groucho Marx and (Clark Gable?) appearance. Kinda.


That sweet little panel, where Storm shows her insecurity, was so well-remembered that it got a callback over 300 issues later in #445…

Issue #99 is also the first appearance of Black Tom Cassidy, in the shadows, and by #101 he’s the full-fledged costumed handler of Juggernaut.

He’s also the cousin of Sean “Banshee” Cassidy.  He doesn’t have any powers.  Yet.

This version of Juggernaut is much improved, as it builds on the past.

As they are escaping from Juggernaut, Storm has a flashback to her childhood, which has marred by…Wait for it…A plane crash!


She has claustrophobia because she was trapped under rubble with the dead body of her mother.  

Like most Juggernaut fights, this one ends in a stalemate when Juggy runs off.

Storm overcomes her claustrophobia…

We also learn about another Nightcrawler power: Hiding in shadows.  It’s cool, but it does kind of make you wonder: If this power is only being established now, why was he called Nightcrawler in the first place?  Ponderous.


And speaking of ponderous, there is a rare sighting of Marvel Leprechauns in this story.

Wolverine is skeptical.

Finally, this is the first time that Colossus throws Wolverine.  It’s technically not a fastball special–it’s just Wolverine is being a sexist douche bag and Peter decides to relocate him.  But the seeds are planted.


And Misty Knight appears as the team tries to figure out what happened to Jean.

Finally, there is seeding for other stories–because Chris Claremont was famous for his complexity. First, Professor X is still “seeing” Lilandra…

…And the Shi’Ar hunter Eric the Red is still at large, and appears to be working with Magneto (on screen).

I know my post on these issues is all over the place, but frankly each issue is so dense it’s impossible to do justice via a summary post. These are some great comics and you should read them for yourself. Comics today are nothing like this. That’s not to say modern comics are any worse or better, just very, very different.

1 thought on “UNCANNY X-MEN #99-101 (1976): 1st Phoenix, Black Tom; new Nightcrawler powers”

  1. You’re most correct, sir- comics are definitely NOT being made like this, anymore, and very well may never be, ever again. Of course, this WAS Chris Claremont in his prime, a solid decade prior to his notorious “burnout phase” of the late Eighties. The Third Sentinel Trilogy, while not as gripping as the previous one of 1969, is, nevertheless, comic-books at their best. Your overview of this Trilogy has a few incorrect details: 1) Your initial observation that this adventure did not carry the X-Men as far out into space as the Moon is correct, which means that your further observation that the X-Men battled the ‘X-Sentinels’ on the Moon is incorrect! This battle transpired aboard the SHIELD orbital space-platform, which was somewhere in the general orbit of the Earth. That’s a LONG way from the Moon! 2) Nightcrawler and Storm were not in the Danger Room when he was entertaining her with his image-switching. They were not even in America! They were in Ireland, at the Banshee’s castle, which the Banshee had just inherited. There were no Danger Room holograms, involved, either. Nightcrawler was using his recently-acquired image-inducer device, designed by no less than Tony Stark for the purpose of helping obvious mutants like Nightcrawler and the Beast move around in public without being tarred and feathered. Nightcrawler eventually disposed of the device when he realized that it was becoming an extra superpower, which would prevent the world from learning how to accept some mutant’s bizarre appearances. 3) The robots which impersonate the Original X-Men in this story are not Sentinels which can assume the appearances and powers of the First Class- they are, in actuality, robotic dopplegangers who were built with their superpowers incorporated into their design by Stephen Lang, as first foreshadowed in a couple of panels back in issue#96. The robot’s true natures are betrayed by the sound-effect created by the punch which Colossus delivers to the Havok-Sentinel on isue#100’s double-splash page: “BOM!!!” If “Havok” were flesh and blood, there would be no sound ( to speak of ). But “BOM!!!” is obviously the sound of metal-on-metal- Colossus’ fist against the Havok-Sentinel’s metallic frame. At the time, I kept hoping against hope that these were, indeed, somehow, the actual Original X-Men, returned to reclaim their status and chase off the upstarts, but the empirical evidence- the Beast’s pre-simian state, Cyclop’s smaller visor- were clear indications of the impossibility of this idea. Storm’s alleged “insecurity” of her beauty- hey, the woman’s very name MEANS beauty- remains as annoying today as it was in 1976. Beautiful women are quite aware of how beautiful they are, so who is Storm trying to fool??? Black Tom’s descriptions of himself and the Juggernaut as “villains” is pretty curious, because most evil people/villains don’t consider themselves as such. They see the rest of the world as being the assholes. Dr. Doom, Magneto, Apocalypse, the Mole Man, the Molecule Man, the Miracle Man, the Super-Skrull, Count Dracula, Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, the Wizard, Diablo, and, of course, Galactus, are all prime examples of this syndrome. I would estimate that a relative few supervillains actually see themselves as “bad” or “villainous”- the Absorbing Man, the Gray Gargoyle, the Wrecking Crew, Goliath, and Mr. Hyde are undoubtedly aware of what they really are. Lastly, it’s too bad that the chick in the hospital bed wasn’t REALLY Marvel Girl, because that light-and-sound show she/it displayed for Misty Knight to apparently scare the shit out of her was actually pretty cool!! Also: Professor X gave Kurt Wagner the codename “Nightcrawler” based on a) His appearance, and b) His ability to run up and down walls, as the Professor witnessed him do in the opening pages of Giant-Size X-Men#1! So there!


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