X-Men Annual 2007
Generally speaking, annuals are not the most significant of entries in a comic book's continuity. They can be entertaining, certainly, but they generally consist of either self-contained stories or the tying up of loose ends. And at 64 pages plus, the loose ends and explanations can drag on like the last five minutes of Murder, She Wrote stretched out to feature length.
The mystery revealed in this year's X-Men annual is not who killed the antique dealer in some quaint New England community whilst Jessica Fletcher was vacationing, but rather what became of the Beaubier twins after their enslavement by The Hand. Dead and resurrected as crazed murderers, the twins have been in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody since their defeat, where attempts to remove their brainwashing have met with failure. When Rogue and her team arrive with a new approach as to how to heal them, long-forgotten Acolyte Exodus, who’s seeking Cable’s knowledge of Cerebro technology to find new mutant babies, joins them.
While Carey's writing is strong as usual, it's missing a bit of the darkness and mystery that make his stories distinctive. And some of the dialogue, especially that between Mystique and her foster daughter Rogue, takes on a more expository tone than it should. Still, though Carey isn't up to his usual standards, X-Men Annual 2007 is not a total disappointment. There are some moments where the book's writing lives up to Carey's promise, and it is stronger than most annuals, but not by much.
The pencils of Mark Brooks don't lend much weight to the issue either. Though he's neither Humberto Ramos nor Joe Madureira, he'd quite obviously like to be, but the art work seems a too much like stills from The X-Men cartoon for my liking. Some of the layouts are well presented, particularly a two-page spread with the twins' flashing back to their childhood, and the storytelling is clear, but there's a spark missing in the art that's similarly absent from Carey's writing. There's nothing wrong with this annual, but there's nothing great about it, either. Though I suppose, since it’s an annual, the best we can hope for is that Jessica Fletcher survives to fight crime another day.
Rating: 6 on 10