Sunday, January 25, 2009
When I was growing up, the Annual was something you could take or leave. It was an extra issue you either wanted or didn’t want, that had something to do with the regular story…or nothing at all. It was filler, maybe, but you never knew if you passed up a gem or not. Nowadays, the annual is kind of an afterthought. It’s more than likely an inventory story that is being used to fill the gap between a late issue and it’s last release or it’s a pathetic attempt to grab more of the consumer’s dollar in a bad economy. Personally, the former insults me more than the latter; I’m more than willing to shell out some money for an extra issue of my favorite comic. If only we could look at it as just that…13 issues instead of 12 plus one. Throwing out some random, possibly out of continuity comic to simply fill the shelf is kind of a jerk move, but that’s neither here nor there.
This week, The Uncanny family of X-Men had their “second” annual (a quick look at the Comic Book Database reveals that there have been 27 annuals; three years since the last one) and it was a Dark Reign tie-in. Before I get into that, I want to tell you about my absolute favorite annual ever, which also happens to be an Uncanny X-Men Annual.
Growing up, if it had Wolverine on the cover and it wasn’t a regular issue of Uncanny, there was a good chance it’d find it’s way into my long box. Good, not great. Back then, I had no idea how great Alan Davis was (and still is, in my book). I knew that when I looked at this comic, it wasn’t John Romita, Jr. or new artist, Marc Silvestri, and I might need more convincing. Sure, Chris Claremont was writing it, but I’d been burned before (back then, I wasn’t too crazy about Rick Leonardi or, gasp! Barry Windsor-Smith, but I’d learn in time). So, was this comic worth the extra .50 cents I’d plop down for it?
Without spoiling it too much, this comic is exactly why I loved (and still like) Wolverine as a character. The story doesn’t even focus too heavily on him; it’s an ensemble piece that even includes Captain Britain! But when the alien from a race I had never seen before or since comes to town to challenge the X-Men to go through a series of “greatest wish” type traps, Wolverine, the failed samurai who doesn’t believe he deserves his greatest wish, is the only one to come through. And then Wolverine gets killed. Seriously, search it out. Totally worth whatever Overstreet says it’s worth.
This week, the Dark Reign hit the Uncanny X-Men, and since that DR special, we’ve all been wondering what is up with the White Queen. Actually, since Whedon/Cassaday’s run, we’ve slept with our eyes open around her. This issue does nothing to assuage our fears about Emma Frost, but then, it does. She seems to be playing a lot of different angles, making her a true femme fatale in the crime noir sense (tip of the hat to Matt Fraction who knows what he’s doing with a noir femme). Is she betraying the X-Men? The whole mutant race? The whole human race? What is her angle with Norman Osborne’s new world order? There are a lot of questions answered, and while it doesn’t directly tie in to what’s going on in Uncanny, it does fill in a lot of holes in the dam.
Request: Someone please put Daniel Acuña on an X-Book!
The Annual…may you continue to come out yearly!
(Images courtesy of the Comic Book Database)