Look at that cover. It’s so old school. Nobody advertises issues of comics like that anymore. And admit it: You want to read it! Great work by Al Milgrom.
Most annuals suck. This one is extraordinary.
It starts with Spider-Woman rescuing a mystery woman, who is falling to her death from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Turns out, she’s no less than Carol “Ms. Marvel” Danvers.
She’s been missing for a while. Knowing her association with the X-Men, Spider-Woman calls them.
Michael Golden’s art is great. I have no complaints–and at the same time I note that he went to the Disney school of drawing kids (note the size of Kitty’s eyeballs).
At Jessica’s request, Professor X visits the comatose Danvers at bedside.
And then it’s on to Chapter Two…
Where Cap gets the crap kicked out of him.
And thrown through the window of Avengers Mansion.
From there, Rogue goes after Thor.
And the rest of the Brotherhood also attack Avengers, one by one.
It’s a little too easy for them to take out Earth’s mightiest heroes, but all of it is done well.
Once defeated, the team regroups with Spider-Woman to try to figure out what’s going on.
And now it’s on to the centerpiece of this Annual–the big prison break. Which starts with the Brotherhood using the frozen Iron Man as a human battering ram.
The rest of the team show up to stop them.
They’re losing at first–perhaps because they don’t really know their enemies, or perhaps because their strategic leader, Captain America, is in the hospital (see above).
Avalanche and Pyro attempt some power-based synergy…
But they are foiled by Wanda…
I love how the real point of this issue is to spotlight Rogue.
Annuals are often used to introduce new characters, but rarely as well as is done here. I note that another example that immediately springs to mind is the issue of Marvel Team Up that gave us Karma. And (not) coincidentally, it was also written by Chris Claremont and also paired him with an artist he doesn’t usually work with.
Eventually, of course, the heroes win.
Pyro and Avalanche also wind up back in jail. The rest of the Brotherhood escape.
I love the use of Spider-Woman in this annual. The best characters here–and the real drivers of the action and the story–are all female: Carol Danvers, Jessica Drew, Rogue, and Mystique.
And speaking of women…
Carol finally gets to tell the story of her rape.
To now, she hasn’t talk about what happened to her at the hands of Marcus back in Avengers #200. Yeah, before Brian Michael Bendis had Purple Man do it to Jessica Jones, David Micheline did it to Ms. Marvel–and got her pregnant at that. It’s still a controversial story.
Interesting to note that the story doesn’t end with the usual “everyone is together and happy” conclusion made almost mandatory by Stan Lee. Instead, it ends in bitterness and the recognition of the implications of their actions.
My copy of this annual is signed by Mr. Golden, who is a hell of a guy. This is one of my favorite comic books of all time, and it’s one of the top 10 stories of the ’80s. It also is one of the 100 best single-issue stories of all time, according to this objectively accurate list.
Finally, I love the cover, as I said up top. And the overall annual is very fondly remembered. Here are some (much lesser) tribute covers courtesy of this site: