Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Classics - X-Men Annual #3

For quite a few years, Marvel celebrated the summer with Annuals - each one loaded with a special story using the company's top talents.

It was a tradition this 1979 annual observed, and even though it's the third in the series, it's the first "new" X-Men Annual - the first two were actually reprints.

For this one, they brought out the big guns - including a still-in-his-prime Chris Claremont as writer, and George Perez and Terry Austin on the art.

The story begins with Arkon, a powerful barbarian from another dimension, invading New York City looking for the Avengers (and specifically, Thor).

But that hero is out of town, so Arkon is forced to go to plan "B," and goes in search of another hero who can control lightning - which brings him to a certain school for gifted students, where a terrific battle ensues - one that spills over into Arkon's homeworld.

The story isn't terribly deep - lots of fighting, humor and misunderstandings to go around - but it's a lot of fun, as Perez gets to go wild piling insane amounts of detail into every panel - and Austin thrives on that kind of art.

The only bad thing about the issue is the printing quality - thankfully, they've come a long ways in terms of clarity and paper stock. But even with those drawbacks, this is a powerful, entertaining story that starts fast and never slows down.

It's a fun issue and it shows off the strength of those annuals - with more pages to work with, the creative team had more room to flex its considerable creative muscles. What fun!

Grade: A



Anonymous said...

Ah, a goodie from way back when,
when I still collected X-MEN!
What a crazy cover! Also by Perez/Austin? Someone else? And
that foreground shot of Wolverine
kissing the canvas! No claws? No
beserker rage on display? How things would soon change!

Chuck said...

Anon, I'm not sure who did the cover. I thought it was Gil Kane at first, but I think it's by someone else - possibly Frank Miller, who sometimes drew in Kane's style early in his career. But I'm not sure. What the heck, let's check at the Grand Comic Book Database: Yep, it's Miller and Austin.

Anonymous said...

Cool! Yes, I remember that now.
Miller was doing some very interesting and offbeat stuff back then...

Sam Kujava (forgot to sign my
name on the last one)....