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Knowledge Waits: All of Marvel’s Characters From Their 1993 Annuals

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This is the latest in a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me. Here is a collection of all of the installments in the feature so far.

A while back, I did a spotlight on DC’s 1993 Annuals, where they introduced a brand-new character in each annual. Well, just like in the spirit of Deep Impact/Armageddon, A Bug’s Life/Antz and Volcano/Dante’s Peak, there was serendipity in the air as Marvel Comics decided to do the same thing. Just like DC’s Annuals, all of these characters went on to become super famous (or rather, not famous at all) and we’ll take a look at them now.

Enjoy!

I’m going to go in alphabetical order of the title of the comic the character debuted in.

A quick refresher – these annuals were polybagged with a trading card of the character introduced in the Annual. These stories were not tied together like DC’s Bloodlines Annuals event. While intended to mostly be written by the regular writing staff of the titles at the time, so these characters, for the most part, at least had a legitimate chance of showing up in the regular titles, the percentage of titles ACTUALLY written by regular writers were a bit lower than expected (but still, enough were that a few of these characters DID appear in the regular titles – briefly, but still).

In Amazing Spider-Man Annual #27, Jack C. Harris, Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna introduced us to Annex, a veteran who had a super-suit that could provide him with the leg he lost in Desert Storm…

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Annex got a mini-series and has popped up now and then in the years since, making him one of the most successful characters from the event.

In Avengers Annual #22, Glenn Herdling and Scott McDaniel took a supporting cast member from Roy Thomas’ Black Knight mini-series, Sean Dolan, and made him take on Black Knight’s ebony blade (which Black Knight had stopped using at the time in favor of basically a lightsaber that he had built himself) and become Bloodwraith…

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He fights Black Knight for free passage (in the fight, Dane actually gives him his name) and wins…

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Herdling brought Bloodwraith to Namor the Sub-Mariner when he wrote that series. Bloodwraith made some other appearances, but as I wrote in this Left Unresolved, he is currently in a strange, unresolved situation.

In Avengers West Coast Annual #8, Roy and Dann Thomas and a bunch of artists (Dave Ross designed him, but Kris Renkewitz drew him first in the story) introduced a teenager who stumble upon one of Ultron’s bases and was mutated into the flying Raptor…

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We see he has a rough homelife and when he gets agitated, he transforms into Raptor.

Go to the next page for the next batch of Annuals!

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59 Comments

There were three ongoing series of Punisher at the time: Punisher (monthly), Punisher War Journal (every 5 weeks) and Punisher War Zone (monthly).

There had never been a Punisher War Journal Annual – as I can remember, Punisher War Journal was a “differentiated” book, with less strict continuity ties and, perhaps (help me here, if I’m wrong), a more sophisticated type of paper.

Eventually, later, the three ongoing series were unified in multi-part arcs (as happened with Spider-Man titles earlier for certain period). All three series ended together, and later a new Punisher ongoing series was released (the one where Punisher had become a kind of maffia bodyguard).

I have not gone through the whole post yet, and I am already finding out about characters I had never heard of (I was more of a DC fan at this point, as my full set of Bloodlines can attest to). This should be fun, thanks.

A couple of quick asides 1) the Dr Strange close is after the Excalibur image, and 2) the serendipity examples do not include Doom Patrol/X-Men and Swamp Thing/Man-Thing (the movies referenced did not all come out in 1993, did they?)

I remember when Marvel did their “Year In Review” book for the end of 1993 and ran a feature on these characters, then mocked the ridiculousness of them with a list of the ones that ‘got away’.

http://oi68.tinypic.com/2je7ij5.jpg

It’s astounding how little imagination went into most of these. Seriously- creating potentially interesting characters isn’t that difficult, if you have a certain type of creativity- it’s writing consistently-interesting stories about them that’s hard (at least, that’s the way it’s always been for me). These characters- it seems as if the creators weren’t even trying. A few of them have some genuinely-interesting bits grafted onto the otherwise unimaginative whole, but many don’t even have that.

I got a lot of these and, oddly, even some for books I wasn’t reading at the time. These probably worked a lot better than the Bloodlines comics since they didn’t have to give them all the same origin. The creators could transition existing characters or continue with their current stories. The success rate is probably the same as with any time new characters are introduced, some take off, some have a just few appearances and some completely vanish.

My favorite of the bunch has to be Uncanny X-Men Annual #17. When I first read it wasn’t a fan of the art but it stuck with me more than most. I reread it as an adult and I’m really enamored with it. I can still picture the blood splatter as Mastermind is dying.

And thanks Big Mike for posting that image from the “Year in Review.” Those magazines were great and that was the first thing I thought when I saw the article title.

X-Factor Annual #8 was hilarious – I always love the way Peter David works with and subverts editorial mandates. Bud LaRosa’s inking over Herb Trimpe’s pencils in Fantastic Four Annual #26 is… not a good combination.

I love how not only is Bantam an anagram of Batman, but he even just happens to see a rooster when he’s trying to come up with a costume idea.

I remember getting many of these. I also remember only liking X-Cutioner and Nocturne as characters.

Soooo…I can’t help but notice that Hrinmeer the Flame has pretty much the same name as H’ronmeer, the fire god of J’onn J’onzz’s Mars.

I don’t think I knew that BLOODWRAITH went over to NAMOR’s title. He has a strange, and ever more (self)destructive narrative.

To the back issues!

Oh, here’s an update on KYLLION for that ONE reader who may care:
KYLLIAN eventually left DOCTOR STRANGE title (issue 59 irc) when new status quo was started, but he continued in various other MIDNIGHT SONS titles as apprentice to MODRED THE MYSTIC. Eventually he goes bad, turns more demonic, changes his name to WILDPRIDE, turns to STRANGE’s title for an issue (#77) and then nothing…until FEAR ITSELF: THE FEARLESS.

Last seen working with SIN.

-P-

Some of these characters were pretty cool. Some of them had potential.

And some of them were Bantam.

I liked X-Cutioner. I actually liked Wildstreak, and wouldn’t have minded if she’d done more. (Though, on a side note, how awful was Trimpe’s ’90s work? The editors who asked him to change his style were not doing him a service, because it was utter crap from an artist capable of so much better.) Nocturne was kinda neat.

Tracer had some potential, and could’ve been a semi-interesting antagonist showing up in random books. Empyrean was actually not bad, and the Annual had some interesting stuff in it.

The X-Factor Annual was hilarious.

And Adam-X the X-Treme was CLEARLY the true character find of 1993.

Trimpe told me years ago that he was never asked to change his style. He just wanted to try something new (granted, almost assuredly because he thought it would get him more work, which it did, but still, no one specifically told him to do it).

I’m surprised by how many of these had me thinking it was a pretty interesting concept, and then I got to the art and they’re just hideous.

To be fair, Bantam was clearly never meant to be a heavyweight character.

Weird. One of those scans has Doctor Strange thinking to himself that Mordo slew the Ancient One, leading to his ascension to Master of the Mystical Arts.

That is not how it happened. Strange himself slew the Ancient One in order to save him from Shuma Gorath.

Blood wrath swipes his sword and the sound effect is SPLORCH!

HAHAHAHAHA!

If I remember correctly, Wildstreak appeared in later FF issues and maybe Civil War.

The Cadre may have shown up in Marc Spector: Moon Knight’s last few issues.

All in all, these guys showed up so much less than the DC ones, but I think some of the villains have potential.

@ Luis Dantas,

STRANGE first took up mantle of SORCERER SUPREME after he was forced to slay his mentor, who had become possessed by SHUMA GORATH.

However, I believe that panel is (poorly) trying to say that STRANGE took his first steps to becoming MASTER OF THE MYSTIC ARTS (which is NOT the same as Sorcerer Supreme) after Mordo TRIED to slay the Ancient One; which IS how/why that happened.

It’s a mess of a thought balloon, for sure, but I believe THAT I’d what they were TRYING to say.

Adam-X the X-Treme

February 19, 2016 at 6:53 am

FASATHUSH is the greatest, most EXTREME sound effect ever!

Wildstreak was actually a favorite of mine at the time. Still see a lot of potential for her. She actually did make at least one later appearance: in an issue of Thunderstrike.

That’s an interesting glimpse into the past. I was hard-pressed for cash in ’93 (grad school), so most of these completely escaped my notice. X-Cutioner and Adam-X were the only ones I remember reading at the time (shows where my dollars were going). Plus X-Cutioner actually had an action figure. I learned about Legacy and Bloodwraith much later as part of their other appearances.

I was 10 when these and the Bloodlines comics came out and I loved them at the time. I was thinking the other day about re-reading both sets. I think part of what I loved was that these came with trading cards and the Bloodlines comics had their own trading card set.

Give me a bunch of these characters and I’ll give you the next team book

I remember these (I actually started reading comics just before this went down) and, man, I’d forgotten how absolutely unsuccessful it was.

Are any of them even still alive? Genis-Vell, Adam X, and X-Cutioner are the only ones I recall even surviving to the end of the decade (And I might be wrong on X-Cutioner even, I can’t remember when his stint as a supporting castmember in Gambit’s solo ended and that’s the last I recall seeing him).

The “Guardians of the Galaxy” annual referenced should properly be #3, not #2. #2 is the one where they introduce Martinex’s new “Galactic Guardians”.

I always liked Darkling. Sure, there are a lot of Darkforce characters running around, but it was nice to have one serve as a sort of nexus and draw them all together into a battle royale. Underused since then, IMHO.

At first I figured that the handicapped heroes with the exoskeletons must have been inspired by M.A.N.T.I.S butt I looked it up and saw that didn’t debut until the following year. Maybe those writers had all heard of the idea or read the script? Could the orIginal pilot have debuted in ’93?

They needed a mascot character called Monkey Nuts.

well I was collecting quite heavily in the early ‘s and I must admit I still did not get all 16 annuals listed here. I am surprised at some of them as I know I was collecting the regular titles…these being Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Wonderman. The others I was not that interested in the regular titles at the time so missed the annuals as well…these are Daredevil, Deathlok, Ghost Rider, Namor, Punisher so I actually only got about 6 of the annuals listed here, shameful for a collector lol

M.A.N.T.I.S., despite not hitting the airwaves yet, was talked about in mags like WIZARD quite often. A show written by the screenwriter of the original Tim Burton BATMAN, plus Sam Raimi, the creator of DARKMAN, collaborating together on a project ,turned quite a few heads. Although I wished the series went with the original pilot, than going its own route.

There was a trading card of each character with each annual, or at least Phalanx had one. I specifically remembered his because his real name and physical description on the card didn’t match the comic.

Couple factoids:

– Empyrean’s lasting legacy is being killed off in a series of Hardee’s restaurant merchandise comics, where Hank McCoy combined time travel and rocket luge to create “Time Flyers”.

– Oddly enough, Terry Kavanaugh’s WoSM Annual dealt directly with plot points and supporting characters from Moon Knight, which he was also writing at the time and didn’t get an Annual for some reason.

– Both of PAD’s creations, Lazarus and Charon, shared the same “deal with the Devil” origin because of his plot idea for a Hell on Earth War…put on the back burner for 20 years until he finally got around to it in X-Factor during the detective agency era.

– Richard Bloom, Tracer’s secret identity, strangely appeared on a random headstone in a graveyard from Heroes for Hire, Civil War era.

– Dead (or in Hell): Empyrean, Charon, Night Terror, Legacy, Bantam, Phalanx, Tracer(?)

– Never appeared again after their annual: Khaos, Hit-Maker, Assassin, Lazarus, Eradikator

I was reading comics during this era, and this really was a load of “Who???” looking back on it. Apart from a small handful, these guys plunged into obscurity so hard most of them haven’t even been dredged up for a mercy killing or ill-advised miniseries… which is even worse treatment than the New Bloods god at DC.

Sure, there are a few who managed a small amount of success…or notoriety (ADAM-X THE X-TREME! BANTAM!) but you can tell where many writers just didn’t care if these characters lived, died, or ever appeared again. Only the ones who actually had the chance to write them into real storylines put any true effort into it.

I’d say that Bloodlines was more of a success just for giving us several characters who -did- maintain their own series for more than, say, 4 issues, with one of them (Hitman) taking on the closest thing to lasting fame any would ever see.

Marvel may surprise us and have some of these fantastic losers show up in Weirdworld. :)

Huh, for the most part, I was so surprised by how good the art was compared to the Bloodline books. Marvel hadn’t gone full 90’s yet. (Though the hair covered breasts of someone being brutally raped wasn’t necessary).

But it goes to what I said in the new Legends…if these are the best you can come up with, you really don’t need to save them to make millions on your own independent comic.

Of course, the point is that this wasn’t the best they could have come up with and that it wasn’t a case of extreme either/or, work for hire or go indie. The companies had mechanisms in place where creators could get a cut and just chose not to use them.

tracer sounds like a duplicate of task master. given his powers to match heros powers . plus i remember adam x was being set up to be the third summers brothers plus also empreyme and the exicutioner wild streak at first thought was silehoute of the new warriors .given her orgin losing the use of her legs then being given a way to walk.

Adam-X the X-treme: “Well, at least I’m not Jamm!”

Also, Black Knight wearing a leather jacket over his chainmail armor will never not look ridiculous.

I think one of the best things in all of this was the Face Thief referencing the Rolling Stones.

Wow, what a bunch of lame characters. It’s cool that Marvel writers were having wounded vets and minorities become heroes, but, really, their origins were so lame.
The only one here that I truly recall was X-Cutioner and that’s only because I had his action figure. So, he was at least popular enough to warrant an action figure. The others, not so much.

Chainmail is not insulated

I didn’t know I wanted to read Ghost Rider comics drawn by Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham until now

I have a good chunk of these annuals.. There were some good stories, somes good back up stories, and some shouldnt have seen print.

Brian, you missed talking about the collecting cards given with each comics. ^^

Bachalo’s art has really improved since those annuals. That Ghost rider issue is hard to look at

“Give me a bunch of these characters and I’ll give you the next team book”

It’s finds like this & Bloodlines that make me question the need for reboots even more vociferously than usual. DC and Marvel have SCORES of one-off/underdog/unloved characters just waiting for a creative team to increase if not maximize their potential.

Of course not every character can/should be made iconic, but that’s neither here nor there – it’s about mining the rich tapestry of comic-book continuities instead of pushing the reset button on it all every couple of years/decades…

Brian, you missed talking about the collecting cards given with each comics. ^^

I dunno, not a whole lot to say about them other than “there were trading cards with them,” no? :)

X-Cutioner had a nice little run in Punisher as well. I personally liked how his origin built off of Fred Duncan’s history with Xavier and other foes from the X-Men’s past.

For the Peter David “Hell on Earth” story, was that something he started in Incredible Hulk? I seem to remember something from the Joe Fixit era that tied into that but was left unresolved.

And Adam-X IS the third Summers brother. Didn’t Sinister made a deal with Erik the Red for Kate Summers because she was genetically “special” or somesuch?

I know Vulcan was introduced later as a sibling but I don’t think the Adam-X story was ever retconned, was it?

Bloodwraith!! That name is so 90’s!!

@Paul
I had the same reaction when I saw the images from the Ghost Rider annual.

@Brian Cronin
How about a second follow up column on DC’s 2000 annuals.

As a few others have already commented, I cannot help wondering what would happen if a talented writer dusted off one or two of these characters and utilized them in new stories. Even the most obscure and apparently-silly characters might possess a great deal of potential, given the right approach or direction.

I mean, honestly, if you told me a decade and a half ago that Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Deadpool, and Squirrel Girl would one day be some of Marvel’s most popular characters, I probably would have laughed in your face. But here we are in 2016, and all of them are HUGE. So it’s entirely possible that someone could take one of these ultra-obscure characters and make them into something really interesting.

On Empyrean, I had these mini comics from Hardees, in which he was the villain. I don’t remember the full plot but he ends up being stranded in Jurassic times.

I’m not too familiar with Tom Grindbergs work but on that Thor annual it looks like hes channeling old school Mignola. I think Nyberg had a lot to do with that stylistic result

How about a second follow up column on DC’s 2000 annuals.

Not a bad idea. I’ll give it a shot some day. I think both Brian K. Vaughan and Geoff Johns were involved in creating characters that year.

I’m not too familiar with Tom Grindbergs work but on that Thor annual it looks like hes channeling old school Mignola. I think Nyberg had a lot to do with that stylistic result

Agreed. I think Nyberg did wonders with Grindberg’s pencils there. Grindberg’s biggest problem was always speed – in that he was SO fast that he kept getting fill-in work, but by going so fast his work typically ended up suffering as a result. Even as a kid, I recognized the seemingly (at the time) inevitable Grindberg fill-in issue. When he took his time, he tended to be quite good. His work has a Frazetta/John Buscema feel to it.

Apparently Khaos was based on a character from a D&D campaign, which I always thought was a cool little factoid.

How weird is it that in nearly thirty years of being published, Daredevil had only had nine annuals? Did no one want to write them, or what?

@Green Luthor: It’s hardly the same thing, but in Captain Britain and MI:13 Dane wore a leather jacket over civilian clothes, and kept his helmet and sword. It was actually a really good look for him.

Just to be pedant…

The Beast calls the Empyrean a “Sucubus”, refering to the seductive, life-force sucking demons. However, to be mythologically accurate, he’d have to call him an “Incubus”, since, while both belong to the same demonic race, the succubi (is it the plural form? Can anyone help me?) are its female members, while the incubi (again, is this right?) are the male ones.

So, unless Beast is wrong, does it mean the Empyrean is a woman in a man disguise?

They say you’re subconscious protects you from traumatic events. I believe that is why I discontinued collecting the annuals especially the cross annual tie in stories!

Ivan ~ You’re right about all that, including (I believe) the plurals.
Though in some of the myths, the succubi swap back and forth between gender – they’ll have sex with a man (as a woman / succubus), get his sperm, change into a man / incubus, and impregnate a woman with that sperm.

Recently I got a bunch of 90’s X-books, so I actually own that Uncanny X-Men Annual! There was also another story about a new character that appears in a bunch of X-Force. And just from the covers I always suspected Adam X being super annoying but I kinda actually liked him in X-Force (though i don’t have that Annual. :/)

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