Uncanny Xmen Annual #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Anthony Piper
Illustration: Ken Lashley/Anthony Piper
Colors: Nolan Woodard/Anthony Piper
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Reviewed By: Gregory Brothers
Since the end of Secret Wars and the eight months since then the X-Men have been on the ropes. The Terrigen mists that give the Inhumans their powers is also sterilizing and killing mutants. While Storm and her team have decided to focus on finding a safe place for Mutants to live while the threat is assessed, Magneto has decided to take a different approach. Magneto decided that rather than sit back and let the threat come to him, instead he would put together a team that would strike back against those who would rather see the end of Mutants and the X-Men.
While the series Uncanny X-Men has followed Magneto’s team as they battle these threats, Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 sets up the next step in what could be Magneto’s war. Previously while trying to find as many of the mutant healers as possible the Uncanny X-Men found their former teammate Joshua Foley, also known as Elixir, living a normal life and trying to ignore the world around him. Unknown to Elixir the group known as the Dark Riders were hunting down known mutant healers and killing them, knowing that without healers the mutant race would die off sooner. While initially taken to safety, a battle between the Dark Riders and the Uncanny X-Men on the shores of Genoshia leads to Elixir’s and the Dark Riders death.
Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 finds that Elixir has risen from his grave, and is back in Genosha bringing the Dark Rider Gauntlet back from death just so her can kill him repeatedly. It seems that through death Elixir’s powers have grown and instead of just be able to heal and injure, he can not raise the dead along with causing certain death. This new development is something that could have overarching effects throughout the X-Men universe. While Psylocke has left the team already over some of the choices that have been made by Magneto, we begin to see some of the rest of the team to question his efforts. M specifically becomes concerned when it seems as if Magneto looks and treats Elixir as more of a tool for his plans, than as a fellow person. In true Magneto form by the end of the Uncanny X-Men Annual #1, the reader is still left to wonder what his true goal is.
While Bunn’s writing does an excellent job showing the struggle between all of these different sides, Lashley’s art is what really seals the duality of Elixirs powers. The switch between the golden good side and the dark death side within Elixirs seems to flow easily through his body. The use of bright colors and sparks while he uses his powers gives strength to the idea of how powerful, exciting and confusing watching would be.
In addition to the main story, Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 features a back up story where Roberta Da Costa, also known as Sunspot, has hired the mercenary known as Domino to investigate the murders of several mutants in Columbia. The point of the story seems to be less about the mission and instead to remind the reader about just how powerful Domino’s “Luck” mutation really is. The story is filled with some of the more violent art that can be seen in a mainstream Marvel book, but also is filled with humor, such a two guards sharing a story where one could not kill a mark because their moms were both name Martha.
Buy! I have a love hate relationship with annuals. Sometimes you pick one up and it seems like it is a story that has nothing to do with the series, other times they are used as a device to move forward. Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 falls under the later as it gives Magneto another weapon in his upcoming war with the Inhumans. Bunn’s writing sets up perfectly the struggle that each of these characters is dealing with, while laying plans for the future. The back up story while it does not directly tie into current events in the book is a fun read and a reminder of how ridiculous Domino’s powers can be at times. If you are already reading the series Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 this issue moves the story along well, while providing enough information that it is a good jumping on point for new readers.