Earlier this week I stopped by a used book store near my crazy in-laws. My wifey got lost in the cooking book section, while I walked around the store for a while, but nothing really caught my eye. Then, in the far left corner of the store, I saw them: 10 long boxes filled with comic books, all for a quarter.
The boxes were filled with a lot of 1990’s Image junk, plenty of Marvel stuff, and a large amount of Justice League books. I didn’t find any hidden gems, but I did pick up a couple of issues of Todd McFarlane’s Incredible Hulk run, and some Frank Miller Daredevil issues from back in the day. I also grabbed a few Marvel and DC Annuals I used to own, but sold or traded over the last few years. One of the annuals I got was X-Men Annual #1 from 1992.
I remember the day I bought X-Men Annual #1 well. It was after my birthday, and my uncle drove me to Quincy Ma so I could spend my birthday money at New England Comics. At the time I was buying anything, and everything X-Men, but I hadn’t picked up an annual yet. So when I saw the X-Men annual and that Jim Lee cover, I had to buy it.
This books featured part one of the Shattershot arc, and featured a superstar creative team. The book was written by Fabian Nicieza, with layouts by Jim Lee, and art by Craig Russell, Brian Stelfreeze, Adam Hughes, Stuart Immonen, Dan Panosian, Greg Capullo, and Mark Texeira.
This would be the first time I saw any of these artist’s work, and I immediately became a fan of all of them, and started following their stuff. Come to think of it, I still follow these guys, I’ve even met a couple of them at conventions. Would love to meet the rest one day too.
Anywats, the main story is, a bit confusing. But it basically revolves around Mojo’s troops attempt to capture the “toy maker” Arize, the creator of Mojo’s humanoid slaves. The troops capture Quark, a rebellion leader who was protecting Arize, but he’s able to teleport to Earth before the troops catch him. That’s where the X-Men come into play, and all hell breaks loose. But the Mojo story wasn’t what made me love this comic back in the day.
What I liked best about X-Men Annual #1, was that the rest of the issue was filled with some great pin-ups by even more superstar artists. The book had pin-ups by Sam Keith, Tom Raney, Andy Kubert and more. I liked the pin-ups so much, than once I’d read the comic, I spent days trying to draw the pin-ups in my own sketchbook.
X-Men Annual #1 also had a nifty handbook-style pages featuring the X-Men’s mansion, and it secrets. There was a similar two page layout that featured information on the team’s newest Blackbird. A back up story saw Wolverine explaining to Jubilee who the X-Men’s top 10 villains were.
This was done in a countdown format, and when I saw who number one was, I thought, “Okay, now I get what the X-Men are about.” All these years later, I still remember the story well. But what I didn’t pay attention to in 1992, was that it was written by Dan Slott.
All in all, X-Men Annual #1 was a great indroduction to the world of annuals. For the next several years I bought every annual from Marvel and DC. But the quality of X-Men Annual #1 was never topped, although the Uncanny X-Men Annual that year was pretty cool too.
Today’s annuals pale in comparison to this issue or even some from the 80’s which I bought years later. And re-buying X-Men Annual #1 for a quarter, was a bargain I could not pass up.