Annual issues at the Big Two are always entertaining as they offer a complete story with extra pages. Now it’s time to get one for the X-Men, who are arguably the coolest and most interesting set of characters today. Manning the new X-Men Annual is Steve Foxe and Andrea Di Vito, with whom we are quite clearly in good hands!
X-Men Annual #1 is largely about Firestar, but economically Foxe gets in good character moments for Iceman, Cyclops, and Forge too. That’s part of the joy in reading this extra-sized issue since we get multiple plots in the life of the X-Men. Foxe and Di Vito essentially show us how the mutant team does a lot in any given day. That jam-packs a lot of content in the issue while developing Firestar in meaningful and well-earned ways.
Firestar opens the issue getting uppercut. The Hellions are giving her trouble, which leads us to a reminder that Firestar isn’t well liked by all mutants. She was an Avenger, and a bit of an outcast because of it. Foxe clearly knows his stuff and it’s a nice reminder of Firestar’s complex backstory to see her go through this journey. She’s till on the main X-Men team, which the reader is nicely reminded of via Cyclops and Jean in a key scene. Frankly, Foxe shows he not only knows his X-Men lore, but knows how to write every single character on the page.
That includes Iceman, who has a somewhat unconventional sense of humor. There’s a running joke that suits the character while reminding us he can be problematic too. Jean certainly thinks so. Cyclops is also well written as he’s a great leader and a strategist even when it comes to helping fellow mutants develop their confidence. You get the sense that every character acts and talks like they should. The richness of this universe is apparent via Miles Morales popping up. It’s better than most superhero comics in showing us that characters think differently and interact with random heroes too. It’s a large, lived-in world, and you get that from this issue.
As we see the X-Men face different threats, Firestar and Cyclops team up for an adventure in Florida. The main narrative is great at showing Firestar work through her own stuff. A lot of that is internal, of course, and that’s highly relatable. By the end of the issue it’s quite clear Firestar has grown a bit, and in all honesty when it comes to superhero comics that’s more than enough.
As far as art, Di Vito does ag great job, although it can feel a bit unfinished or underdeveloped at times. I was never taken out of the comic due to the art, and a few smash cuts work great. The cut to Mojo and those shenanigans are great fun, for instance. The general vibe of characters is also on point. Cyclops is always certain and sure of himself, while Magik is having the time of her life. Firestar’s doubt also rings through which is key for the story.
X-Men Annual #1 is a great one-shot that develops a character while reminding us of the robust life the X-Men lead and the larger universe of it all with non-mutants too. Expect a lot of story and meaningful character development for Firestar.
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