So I started Essential X-Men Vol. 5 the other day, and am totally loving it thus far. It's overwritten and ridiculously melodramatic, but it's addicting. Unsurprising, as the X-Men, especially at their 80s zenith, are essentially a soap opera on paper. You know it's not technically good, but it's still a lot of fun.
This point in the series, though (starting in the 180s as most of the team gets zapped off to the Secret Wars), is when things start getting problematic. This is when the X-Men stopped being a single book and started branching out into a franchise - first you get the New Mutants, and then you start getting the various tie-in mini-series, and then we all know how convoluted it got from there. It's not nearly that bad at the point where I'm reading now, but the groundwork is clearly being laid out. Events in Uncanny X-Men spill over into New Mutants, but we don't get those New Mutants issues included in this book, so we're only getting tiny little bits of the story. Kitty Pryde tags along to protect Doug "Why bother? I'm gonna die soon anyway." Ramsey on his trip to the White Queen's school, and of course she gets captured herself, but it's To Be Continued in New Mutants! Then, next time we see her, everything's all done, and she's none the worse for wear, but she's about to traipse off into the events of the Kitty Pryde & Wolverine mini, which we also won't see in this book. And then Rachel Summers shows up out of nowhere, except it's not out of nowhere, it's out of yet another New Mutants issue we don't get.
Now, I can understand why they're not included, I suppose. We're paying for Essential X-Men, not Essential X-Men and New Mutants and a Bunch of Other Books, Too. And since New Mutants was also being written by Chris Claremont, it probably had its own labyrinthine set of subplots that would make the stories unreadable out of context. But still, when you reach the Avengers/Defenders War in Essential Defenders, you get all the Avengers issues in there, too. When Nova crosses over into Amazing Spider-Man, Essential Nova gives you that Amazing Spider-Man issue. I guess I've just been spoiled by earlier volumes?
And frustratingly, it's not likely I'm ever going to read those New Mutants issues, either, since Marvel's reprinting them in their overpriced line of "Classic" trade paperbacks, rather than in the Essential line. I'm sure the Sienkiewicz stories will look awesome in color when they get collected, but they'd be a lot more likely to get my money if they just made an Essential book instead.
Not sure what I intended with this, or if I got where I wanted to go, but I just wanted to rant a bit. Mission accomplished. But despite the flaws, the book's still a lot of fun.