This is a book I rolled my eyes at and resisted buying for a long time. It was one of those books that wasn't a must have and had a Christmas tree with Shadow Cat on the front of with a creature that looked exactly like Alien. I thought the idea of a Christmas X-men story was kind of dumb. Plus it's a hard act to follow after 141-142. I finally bit the bullet and bought a mid-high grade copy of it. It sat in my collection for about a year, and then I decided to sequentially read the entire series and it forced me into opening up this one-shot. I was expecting to place it back in the collection to satisfy my perfectly sequenced collection and never pick it up again.
Of course I really liked it. It's widespread knowledge that they were paying homage to Alien, and this issue had me on the edge of my seat the entire journey. I've always been a fan of one-shot stories because it seems like a lot of information to pack into 32 pages and do it right. Some of these stories go on for 4 or 5 or maybe even ten issues, and eh, nothing interesting really happens. But this one says it all in 32 pages, plus it had Kitty Pryde racing through the X-Mansion running from this demon. The demon is no joke either! The whole team went up against one of these things in X-Men 96, and they got their ass handed to them! Kitty outsmarts this thing and by the end of the story, Kitty cements herself as a 13 year old Clint Eastwood.
There is even a clever innuendo to Alien in this book where Kitty quips: "Just like that movie, what's it call?" Pure magic.
Knowing this was John Byrne's last issue, and thought the series would take a serious dive after this one. But as far as content goes, it really didn't. Byrne did have a certain magic in the way he penciled, but ultimately, the next issue, 144, is pretty dope. It's another one-shot that keeps up the momentum with a solo Cyclops story that personifies his grief. It's more lucid and interpretative than this story, which is more of just an action/adventure story. You have to respect Chris Claremont for dusting himself off for a loss like that and moving on. The collector market doesn't really agree as much, but what they know anyway? They are more interested in a staple in the spine being a little bent, than actually picking up a reader copy and getting anything out of what actually made these popular to begin with.
Disclaimer: I did get a copy of Uncanny X-Men 141 today that I got for 60 bucks that the seller claimed was in NM 9.4 condition. I didn't think it was true and bought it because 60 bucks is still a pretty good deal for this. I got the issue and it really is in 9.2-9.4 territory, so I am going to have it graded. I did not read it, nor will I ever because it's in far too good of shape for me to put my grimy hands on and touch. To be clear: I am a collector just as much as a reader, and sometimes I resent myself for the fact that I can't see past a comic's condition. But when a soft back book that is 38 years old is in that good of condition, I just am not going to be the one that damages it. I have an issue of Uncanny X-Men 266 and New Mutants 87 where I did the exact same thing.
I placed this book back in my collection a lot more carefully then when I pulled it out. After I read it, the value increased a lot. Yeah, the cover sucks, but how does that old saying go? Oh, yeah: "Don't judge a comic book by it's cover because it has a teenage girl being attacked by an Alien rip-off in front of a Christmas Tree".