X-Men Annual #11 (1987, November)
Wolverine comes home, drunk and singing loudly enough to wake everyone.
Havok calls him out on being drunk, and Wolverine says his healing factor means he actually can’t get drunk. And yet he’s still acting pretty damn drunk. The others are all concerned about. “The others” here actually include Brian Braddock and Meggan, apparently visiting Betsy. Betsy and Brian chat inside, about whether Betsy’s found what she’s looking for at Xavier’s. She wonders if she’s an X-Man out of duty, because she was given no choice, or because she was born to it. Upstairs, we find out why Wolverine got so drunk: It’s the anniversary of his called-off wedding to Mariko. He says sometimes he’d give his soul to be with her.
Storm is attacked in her attic. The others rush to help, but they’re all defeated, with Psylocke as the last one standing, and she surrenders without a fight. They’ve been defeated by Horde. He takes them all to another dimension, declares himself their ruler, and offers Storm a place as his consort. Because villains love Storm. He also dresses them in their costumes. They attack him, beginning with Dazzler hitting him with eye-lasers. See, people talk about Scott have laser eyes, but he’s firing kinetic energy. But Dazzler actually does have eye lasers. Anyway, they hit Horde hard, but they accomplish nothing. He tells them he wants them to bust into the Citadel of Light and Shadow, and steal the Crystal of Ultimate Vision.
Storm agrees to go in, telling Wolverine they might find something that can hurt Horde. Then she kisses Wolverine. Which . . . OK? It feels kinda random here. They head in, and a door slams shut behind them. Havok tries blasting it, and Captain Britain thinks about how he’d love to study Havok’s power. I always like little reminders of what characters are interested in outside of heroics. Captain Britain’s a physicist; and, interestingly, a rare superhero scientist who isn’t an expert in every field.
Rogue glances at a wall, and sees something through it. She sees a southern plantation mansion, and herself as the Belle of a Ball. She wishes she could have that life. And so, she does! She melts through the wall and merges with that other version of herself. The others see her frozen in place, and Psylocke says she caught psi-glimpses of what happened. Rogue was offered her heart’s desire, and she accepted it. So her body crumbles to dust.
They continue on, and Longshot starts to fade away. Captain Britain tells Havok to be careful with his power around the reflective surfaces, and Havok gets all pissy, feeling like no one treats him with respect. He hates having to keep control of his power, so he stops trying, and he turns into a new star. So he’s done. Longshot’s next, fading away completely and becoming one with the Cathedral. Dazzler freaks out, feeling guilty about convincing him to go in with them, and runs off crying. She runs until she collapses. Then her light cuts out. She then sees herself as a lawyer, securing a conviction for the Kingpin, and then being appointed as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Then she sees herself as a pop star. Then as a homeless woman. She ends up choosing to be the bum, so she doesn’t have to make hard choices.
Psylocke, angry at losing Dazzler, punches a wall, and it shatters. The walls are brittle, and Storm figures it’s probably because of Longshot merging with the Cathedral. This means Captain Britain can smash their way down to the Crystal. Brian smashes another crystal, which opens up a house showing Brian, Meggan and Betsy, a happy family. Brian and Meggan decide to accept it, but Betsy says she’s already got her dream – to be a warrior. She peels her skin away, revealing a hard metal body beneath.
Wolverine is off on his own, having been scouting ahead, and he comes across Mariko in Japan. The scene shifts to a big bar scene, with Mariko as a wild woman. He rejects the fantasy, and smashes through the floor he’s standing on and smashes through the ceiling of the Crystal’s mini-Cathedral.
Inside, Storm is dragged through a wall to her heart’s desire: Tokyo, and Yukio. Storm’s heart’s desire is Yukio. This is why people think they were lovers, people. This, right here.
Storm, being Storm, ends up resisting the temptation and exits the illusion, still in the fancy new clothes. Wolverine comes crashing down right beside her, and she mentions that she wouldn’t have the strength to resist the temptation a second time. She’s certain she couldn’t resist Yukio again. When horde shows up with Betsy’s decapitated head, Wolverine shoves her through the wall, and she isn’t able to resist. Again, her heart’s desire, that she can’t resist, is to be with Yukio. They were absolutely lovers. Why won’t Marvel let a writer confirm that?
Horde rips Wolverine’s heart out, but a drop of Wolverine’s blood lands on the Crystal. From that drop of blood, Wolverine’s entire body reforms. He takes the crystal off Horde’s brow, and Horde immediately crumbles to dust. Wolverine’s becoming one with the universe. He resists long enough to smash the Crystal, and the Cathedral implodes.
Everyone wakes up back in the Mansion, in their uniforms, all having had the same dream. They have mixed feelings on it. Dazzler’s ashamed, Storm’s depressed, Havok’s scared. Rogue and Betsy are happy. Wolverine’s in his room, standing guard. And then, this explanation:
Definitely a weird ending. The whole thing is kinda weird. Very cosmic and trippy. Still, it’s also a lot of fun, and it’s a great exploration of the characters. Showing their heart’s desires, what they want and what they fear. Storm and Wolverine both get to show off their strong wills. Interestingly, Wolverine only resists the Mariko temptation because it changes to not be the Mariko he loves. He was almost caught. Storm initially resists the Yukio temptation out of pure will. Which is right – she should always have the strongest will of anyone.
I like what’s done with Betsy here, too. She has doubts about whether she’s a natural warrior, and here, she learns she is. Considering her history, at the time, of being victimized, it’s a nice development for her. I do love Betsy in this era. She’s a badass, not because she’s a skilled fighter, but because of her character. It’s something that tends to be forgotten: Beating up ninjas isn’t the only way to demonstrate how awesome a character is. A few words can be far more effective than any number of punches. I honestly prefer this classic Betsy over Ninja Psylocke, who was a lot more generic in terms of being badass.
The art, naturally, is awesome. It’s Alan Davis. Of course it’s awesome. Neary is an inker who always complemented Davis well – they worked together quite a bit, because their styles meshed well. They’re like the British version of Byrne/Austin. Oliver’s colours shouldn’t be forgotten, either. She was one of the best colour artists in the industry back then. I do kinda feel like Captain Britain and Meggan were only included in this Annual because they had Alan Davis on art. “Davis is drawing it? Oh, we’d better include UK characters, then!” I’m not complaining, mind you. I like those characters, and I love Davis’ art. So the book looks great.
I’d like to say this is one of the weirder X-Men Annuals, but honestly? Claremont just did weird Annuals in general. This is still pretty damn weird, though. But also really good and fun. It’s definitely worth reading.