RETRO REVIEW: Uncanny X-Men Annual #7 (June 1983)

by

Or – “I’m Suddenly Possessed By The Realization That I Miss Punk-Rock Storm.”

One Saturday I took a walk to Xavier’s School, I met a girl there, floating up above the pool!
Punk Rock Storm, lightning just struck me! Punk Rock Storm, can we please marry?
With my hair on fire it’s warm!  Just you and me, Punk Rock Storm!

I tapped her on the arm and asked for my answer! She looked at me and said “I married Black Panther!”
Punk Rock Storm, please give me a chance! Punk Rock Storm, in your leather pants,
that to your hips conform! Just you and me, Punk Rock Storm!

Punk Rock Storm, your new hair is cute!
Punk Rock Storm, no more bathing suit!
We’ll have a fight with Swarm!
Just you and me,
We’ll make fun of Emma’s form!
Just you and me,
Your husband we’ll misinform!
Just yooooooou and meeeeeeeeeee, PUNK ROCK STORM!

UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #7
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler(s): Michael Golden/Bret Blevins/Sam de la Rosa/Arthur Adams/Eliot R. Brown
Inker(s): Michael Golden/Tom Mandrake/Bob Wiacek/Terry Austin/Brett Breeding/Bill Anderson/Joe Rubinstein/Steve Leialoha/Sam de la Rosa/Joe Rubinstein/Al Milgrom/Bret Blevins
Colorist(s): Glynis Wein
Letterer(s): Tom Orzechowski/Michael Higgins/Rick Parker
Editor: Eliot R. Brown
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.00
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $12.00

Previously, in X-Men Annual:  It wasn’t all that long ago that the X-Men consisted of only five or six guys at a time.  Cyclops and his four pals gave way to a seven-person team, which eventually gave way to the dream team of Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Storm and Wolverine.  Nearly every team of X-people since has tried to recapture the magic of this grouping (although, in my mind, only the X-Factor team of Havok, Polaris, Quicksilver, Multiple Man, Wolfsbane and Strong Guy came close.)  Our issue starts on the grounds of the Xavier Institute with a friendly, if somewhat lopsided, baseball game…

There’s a lot of cute stuff here, as Wolverine’s team consists of himself, infielder Nightcrawler and outfielder Rogue, using their powers to field all the positions at once.  It’s the kind of fun moment that comics lost somewhere in the transition from kids’ fare to dark and menacing grown-up badassery, and I’m reminded of the days where creators took the time to show us characters’ lives out of costume and there was such a thing as “Between Battles.”   Of course, things quickly get dark and menacing enough, as the heroes look skyward at another Colossus fly ball, only to find something ELSE coming back down…

Holy Crap!  It’s a chartreuse Galactus!

Wait…

That’s… not right.  Of course, that doesn’t deter the creature from telling the assembled mutants that he is about to steal their home away.  Professor X attempts mental conact, but is easily taken out by something, causing the X-Men to leap to the defense of their founder and headquarters.  It doesn’t help…

It’s sort of a shame that Michael Golden doesn’t draw as much as he used to, because that panel is pretty amazing work…  The X-Men bandage their wounds and take off after the alien’s mental signature, only to find it centered on the SHIELD helicarrier, where Colonel Nicholas Fury and his paramour, Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine are enjoying some quiet time together…

Sharp-eyed oldsters may recognize this issue as an homage to the first sex scene in Marvel Comics, from Jim Steranko’s legendary work on Nick Fury’s 1960′s title.  (Now that I mention it, some of that needs to go on the Retro Review pile…)  Things end differently here, though, as the mysterious alien presence ganks Nick’s iconic eyepatch, seconds before the X-Men arrive, leaving a mortified teenage Kitty Pryde in the middle of Nick Fury’s world-class passion pit.  The heroes make a quick, blushing exit, and trail the mysterious mental signal to the Savage Land, site of another mysterious disappearance…

Heh…  With her new post as team leader, it may not seem like a big thing, but circa ’83, having Rogue be the brains of the outfit was just about unheard of.  We’re clearly not dealing with the real Galactus here, in case you had any doubts (or were distracted by Mike Golden drawing dinosaurs) and the reign of petty theft continues, as the pilferer makes his way back to New York, and the legendary Avengers Mansion.  Recognizing Rogue (who was, at this time, best known a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) in her front yard, The She-Hulk quickly leaps to defend the mansion.  Shulkie gets the shock of her life when Colossus outmaneuvers her and Rogue makes skin-to-skin contact (think clean thoughts, Faithful Spoilerites) with her gamma-powered form…

What did the Phantom Burglar steal from the Avengers stronghold?  Iron Man’s repulsor technology?  The legendary unbreakable shield of Captain America?  Thor’s uru battle-hammer?

How about the Wasp’s costume collection?  That scavenger hunt theory is starting to seem more and more plausible, as the heroes track their quarry to the secret underground headquarters of the Hellfire Club, much to the consternation of a very angry Sebastian Shaw…

Chris Claremont is working at his peak here, as the X-Men’s leader pulls her team away, but not before Shaw swears vengeance for their actions (as well as putting the White Queen in a coma… Long story, nevermind.)  And, hey, remember how cool it used to be when Marvel Comics used to have their creators appear in the comics?

Heh…  I love that bit.  For those not in the know, it was established that in the Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four licensed their likeness to the in-universe version of Marvel  who then created licensed comics based on the heroes.  During the battle, Rogue manages to get her mutant absorbing powered hands on the burglar, revealed to be… THE IMPOSSIBLE MAN!

…and a very angry Impossible Man at that.  Impy, thankfully for the mutant heroes, is as quick to forgive as he is hard to anger, and stands down from destroying all of them with his massively dangerous alien power-levels, explaining the truth:  Yep, it’s a Scavenger Hunt.  Moreover, he thought that the X-Men were playing along, trying to get his treasures first.  The Impossible Man takes the heroes to his secret lair, to show off the fruits of his collecting efforts…

Doctor Strange’s window, the X-Men’s mansion, as well as the Penny Plunderer’s giant coin and the key to the Fortress of Solitude and more are part of the Impossible booty, but the reasons WHY he’s been collecting are a bit more complex…

I am literally chilled to think how Impy got The Hulk’s trousers.  Because, ewww…  Of course, the Impossible Man’s galactic panty-raiding has gotten a little bit of galactic attention (which, you’d expect from an infinite number of marauding shapeshifters stealing everything of value in a dozen different star systems) and a collection of alien overlords arrives in the desert to demand reparations.  Luckily, Professor Xavier’s girlfriend is a well-respected space aribitrator…

Yeah, Impy loses, and the last panel is more than a little bit cringe-inducing in retrospect, but it’s fascinating to see Chris Claremont working at what I consider to be the peak of his powers, before quirky dialogue and fo-net-ick ack-sents took over and crushed the awesome under the weight of it’s own affectations.  Golden’s art is full of easter eggs and awesomeness, and the story is a fun romp through the Marvel Universe circa 1983, including meta-textuality and successful comedy (which, as the old saying goes, is particularly hard.)  Uncanny X-Men Annual #7 is X-Men done right, a fondly remembered issue from my youth, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  Just wondering how he managed to steal from Han Solo is worth the buck admission…

Rating: ★★★★☆