Marvel gets lots of flak for the format of their Essential editions: I can agree with the mid-stream format change - just like the Masterworks, you have to start over if you want a uniform set. I can also agree with the flimsy paper, to a degree, as it tears easily during the binding process. The ink bleed results in ghost images on facing pages. And the lack of color leaves out some of the visual appeal. Yet, with all of this, I still LOVE this line, as it is hands-down the cheapest way to educate yourself on the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. I will gladly pay the low price for these 500-page books!
Anyway, on to the meat of this volume: Uncanny X-Men #1 - 24, by Lee, Kirby, Thomas, Gavin, et al. I guess most folks today prefer post-Giant-Size-X-Men, but whatever your preference, check out this book, as this is where it all began! These stories are from the early '60s, so of course the dialogue is cheesy; of course the characterizations are stereotyped; but by gum, you just can't get innovative stories like this anymore. Here we have the original X-Men, as kids no less, setting the stage for the uneasy coexistence of humanity and mutants. It's super-hero action combined with teen angst, and some little oddities that, to my knowledge, were not carried into later issues (Professor X loves teen-age Jean Grey? Eeeugh!). Featured villains include, in their first appearances, Magneto, the Blob, the Vanisher, Unus, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Juggernaut, the Sentinels, Lucifer, Mimic, and the Stranger, plus a few others I won't mention. Plus, you get a great Kirbyesque cover by Bruce Timm (this guy should do all of the covers for Kirby's reprints).
The Marvel Essentials line is one of the best bargains in comics. Why not fill your shelves with them?