X-Men Annual #12 (1988, October)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So, after two issues of UXM, today is . . . another issue of UXM. An Annual, this time. By Claremont, Art Adams, Wiacek, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Resurrection!”
Storm rushes out of their Outback village in a hurry. The hurricane-force winds behind her pick up Longshot, so Ali saves him, by using her photon blasts as rockets to propel her to him, and to slow their descent. And then this moment happens:
I love the Dazzler/Longshot romance. Anyway, the X-Men are trying to figure out what’s up with Storm, but all they can determine is that she’s angry and in a hurry. She’s created her own jetstream for maximum speed. They chart her trajectory, and teleport to the Savage Land. Which is gone. Longshot reads a bone fragment, and sees a metal giant, who destroys everything. Colossus is hit hard, thinking about Nereel. Then there’s an earthquake.
Elsewhere, the High Evolutionary had been wandering the Savage Land, and found a snow plant, which gave him hope the Savage Land could be restored. Then Terminus burst out of the ground and grabbed him. The X-Men attack him. And Storm is awesome.
With Terminus down, the High Evolutionary explains he wants to restore the Savage Land, and invites the X-Men to visit his citadel to see his work. Havok agrees to go. Which makes sense – he’s a geologist, after all, so work like that would be up his alley. Longshot wanders off a bit, and slips and falls through a portal. The Evolutionary talks about himself a bit to Havok, and expresses regret at how some of his experiments turned out, and the lives lost. He also introduces his assistant, Zala. We’ve seen her before, but not for a few years. She’s going to have a very big story coming up. The Evolutionary says his experiments need a mutant in sync with the land. Which gives this hilarious panel:
Back with the rest of the team, Wolverine and Dazzler look for Longshot, while Storm, Rogue and Psylocke check on Terminus. Wolverine walks into the portal, which freaks Dazzler out. At the same time, Storm notices the cameo crystal in her pouch is glowing. She goes to check on Dazzler, and a big dog-head pops through the portal.
If you’re not sure who the giant fox is, he comes from a back-up story in Classic X-Men #22. Man, if you read this Annual without having read that out-of-print story, this would be such a bizarre moment. “How . . . how is Storm friends with a giant dog?” Because Storm is that awesome. I absolutely love that Storm is the adopted daughter of a queen with a giant flying dog. Someone bring back M’rin and C’jime. Bring back that sense of absolute batshit insanity that the X-Men could sometimes engage in. (Fun note: Storm hints at other adventures.) Dazzler is endearingly lost at everything that’s going on. Poor Dazzler. She’s only recently joined the X-Men, so she’s missed so much of what they’ve done, and now, she feels kinda left out.
Terminus wakes up, and returns to the attack. But M’rin doesn’t back down, and C’jime leaps forward. Sadly, it’s only so the cannons can fire a barrage. I would’ve preferred if C’jime had actually tackled him. I mean, come on, how awesome an image would that have been? Still, Storm has a plan. Because she’s awesome. It involves Rogue borrowing Longshot’s luck, and then throwing herself at Terminus. And inside the armour is Garokk! The X-Men finish off the armour.
With Terminus defeated, there’s some unwinding. We meet Nereel’s son, who is very strongly hinted to be Colossus’ son, as well. (He’s even called Peter.) The Evolutionary uses Garokk to restore the Savage Land, at the cost of his own life. Shockingly, this death actually sticks for a really long time. Hickman brought him back in his Avengers run (with no explanation, but none is really needed), in 2013. So he stayed dead for 25 years. M’rin leaves, the Evolutionary leaves, and after making the Fall People forget them, the X-Men leave, too. A little late, Ka-Zar and Shanna make their return to the Savage Land, with their son.
It’s a great story. I think, to an extent, it’s Claremont taking advantage of Shooter’s absence to fix what he felt was a great wrong during Shooter’s time as EiC: The destruction of the Savage Land. I do feel like that was a mistake on Shooter’s part. It’s fine that he wanted loose ends tied up, but I don’t feel like the Savage Land was a loose end, any more than any other setting counts as a loose end. So I’m glad Claremont brought it back. And he chose a fairly interesting way to do it, too. Most of the Evolutionary War stories had the Evolutionary as an antagonist, preparing for his grand plan, with the heroes having to stop various elements of it. Claremont has him doing something unambiguously good, and makes him very sympathetic. It actually ends up feeling very disconnected from the rest of the Evolutionary War, which is fine by me. That was a weak crossover, so I’m fine with Claremont mostly ignoring it in favour of doing his own thing. This being Claremont, he couldn’t tell a story without laying the seeds for other stories, and in this case, he hinted that the Terminus the Avengers defeated wasn’t the real Terminus, and that the real Terminus is still out there, still a threat.
The art is great. While I don’t much like Adams’ more recent work, his ’80s stuff was fantastic. It’s a bit stylized, but it just makes things more dramatic. He draws a hell of a Storm, with gorgeously big hair. Also, C’jime. He draws a great C’jime. The action is really exciting, and the quieter moments really nice, with good expressiveness. It’s a great-looking comic, and really does a great job helping to tell the story.
But there’s another story! By the same team, “I Want My X-Men!” It’s Mojo! He’s pissed at the X-Men having died in battle against the Adversary. (Apparently, Psylocke’s eye-cams no longer work.) So now he’s losing ratings, and he’s furious. Which scares everyone. Including Minor-Domo.
Major-Domo explains to Mojo that he’s had too much success, the X-Men are too great a hit, everyone wants more of them but they’re not satisfied with reruns. I’m preeetty sure this is Claremont commenting on the growing success of the X-Men comics themselves. At this point, there was UXM (which went bi-weekly for the summer), New Mutants and X-Factor, Marvel Comics Presents had just launched with a Wolverine lead feature (and the Wolverine solo was coming), and Excalibur launched this same month, as did the X-Terminators mini. So, yeah, they were a major success, and there was huge demand for more of them. Of course, once we got into the ’90s, the X-Men would explode even more.
Anyway, he talks to his braintrust. Guess who they are. Go on, guess.
Yep, it’s Claremont, Adams, Wiacek, Oliver, Orzechowski and editor Bob Harras. It’s a cute joke. So, auditions are begun to find replacement X-Men, on the ship he’s attached Ricochet Rita to the front of. She says she’s actually starting to enjoy the rides, which were supposed to be destroying her mind. She’s feisty!
So, the auditions! First up, gender-swapped versions of the male X-Men. Then Mecha versions. Then . . . whatever this is:
I honestly can’t think of anything to say about that. It speaks for itself more eloquently than any words possibly could. As does this:
And then, finally . . . the X-Babies. Mojo objects, especially to Longshot, who turns into a picture. He’s about to have them killed, but just then! Gateway sends the X-Men through his portal, and Rita senses Longshot, who she thought was dead. She shifts course to find him, but he’s gone too quick. That pitches some of Mojo’s troops over the edge. Psylocke and Wolverine rescue Rita, but the X-Babies are all surrounded. Things look bad. But it’s Major-Domo to the rescue, when he points out the ratings are higher than ever. Mojo declares he loves them and is going to make them stars.
This story is as ridiculous as you could want of a Mojo and X-Babies story. It’s hilarious. I love it. The whole thing is deliciously meta, as any good Mojo story must be. There’s some great commentary on the rising popularity of the X-Men, and also the normal satire of show business that is par for the course with Mojo. Major-Domo and Minor-Domo are two of my favourite characters, and I want more of them. Bring back Maj0r-Domo and Minor-Domo. This story is wonderful. It’s a delight. I love it.