(For clarification, we're talking roughly issues 150-200 of Uncanny X-Men, and this post is slightly adapted and slightly expanded upon from a forum post that I wanted to keep here for prosperity.)
One thing i'm really enjoying
about 80s X-Men is generally how tactile and hormonal it is. I don't
think there's anything like it in modern mainstream superheros. The
closest would probably be Adam Warren's Empowered, but that obviously has a lot more
sex, and the characters are a few years older than the 80s X-Men. but
there's a part where Nightcrawler, Rogue and Colossus are
training/play-fighting and Nightcrawler jokes about kissing Rogue, and
she flies off crying. He realises what he's done and says to Colossus "I
never even realised she's never had the experiences we take for
granted: she's never been kissed, never even been touched!"
But what I'm talking about isn't really a sex thing. It's more like how
most of the characters are going through teenage/young adult stuff, like
working out who they are and their place in the world.
There's also loose tiers maturity among the characters. There's the naive
youngsters, like Shadowcat and Colossus. The young adults, who
might not be much older than them, but they've lived lives that have
made them more mature by necessity: characters like Storm and Nightcrawler. Then there's the actual adults, who all have different
methods and levels of involvement with regards to the upbringing and
education of the younger characters: Xavier, Wolverine, Cyclops, Banshee, even Emma Frost and Magneto could be considered part of this
category at times. One issue in particular I really like regarding Magneto has him taking Kitty Pride (Shadowcat) to the National Holocaust Memorial in the hopes of finding someone who might have known her great aunt. (And of course, Emma Frost eventually becomes, along with Banshee, one of the mentors of Generation X, an all-teen X-Men offshoot in the 90s)
I guess what I'm trying to get across here is that the most important thing about this era of X-Men is that it's about growing up in a non-traditional situation while also feeling like an outsider to society, and that's why I love it so much. What I'm really looking forward to, though, is catching up to the mid-late 90s era starting with the Phalanx Covenant and Age of Apocalypse storylines, which is where I started reading X-Men (and superhero comics in general) as a kid, and seeing what my enlightened adult brain takes from it now.