Uncanny X-Men Annual #3
Back in the day, Uncanny X-Men Annuals came out somewhat regularly. After a hiatus between Annual #2 in 1971 and #3 in 1979, they ran every year like clockwork from then until 2001. The annual numbered #3 in 1979 was published before the title changed to include “Uncanny” so technically this is the first “Uncanny X-Men Annual #3”. The two most recent Uncanny X-Men Annuals were published in 2006 (#1) and in 2009 (#2), so these Annuals are not annual events at all! This issue is Part 1 of a 3 part crossover with Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier Annual #1 and Namor: The First Mutant Annual #1 called, “Escape from the Negative Zone”. This type of crossover through different annuals is a mini-revival of an old Marvel tradition where massive stories weaved their ways through multiple annuals, the most famous of which are the Evolutionary War and the Atlantis Attacks crossovers.
It’s a bit odd for Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier to have an annual, seeing as how it was just a little mini-series which ended in late 2010. Also, the Namor series had been announced as ending in June 2011, so the reasons why these two titles served as parts 2 and 3 of the crossover are somewhat mysterious, but it’s always refreshing and fun to see the X-titles cross over into Avengers territory for a change.
Mister Jeffries is appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505. He’s introduced on a complex montage opening splash page where he is introduced as, “master of all things electronic” and shortly can be seen in the background in a large awesome looking lab on Utopia, working on a device that can open a portal to Limbo. Speaking of the background, I just love the art in this issue – the mishmash of cartoony faces with the intricate and highly detailed backgrounds is just superb. You don’t see backgrounds like that in comics that much these days and artist Nicholas Bradshaw did an impressive job on this book.
Jeffries is building some sort of contraption made from a stolen cyclotron. Cyclops explains, “After everything that’s happened recently in Limbo, we need our own way in.” This is likely in reference to the events of the X-Infernus series, the Hellbound Second Coming issues and recent issues of New Mutants.
Jeffries is shown wrangling with an ornery contraption in his device, ultimately smashing it with a large wrench to get it to work. He’s also drawn with a heavily burdened tool belt – and any Alpha Flight fan at this point should already have at least one eyebrow raised – what does Madison Jeffries need with a wrench? Or a tool belt? This is reminiscent of the strange panel in New Mutants #5 where he’s shown using a soldering iron to fix a circuit board.
Well, the answer is that it’s funnier to have him smash it with a wrench than to just use his powers to fit the contraption into place, and the issue is supposed to be a “comic” comic book, so unclench! Alpha Flight Collector really doesn’t have a problem with this odd mis-characterization taken in the context of the rest of the book, whose lighthearted and comical tone fits right in with the wrench smash scene.
Unfortunately, right after he smashes the contraption, a tremendous lightning discharge destroys half the lab, sends four X-Men to the Negative Zone (instead of Limbo) and knocks out Jeffries but fortunately, also causes Emma Frost’s boobs to fall out.
For what is otherwise a comedic and light-hearted book, it’s not so funny to see Jeffries smoldering on the ground and later in the Utopia infirmary with half his face bandaged and a bunch of tubes keeping him alive. Emma just says “Jeffries is… down” and Rao just mentions that he isn’t awake. It’s not exactly clear how injured he is but the guy looks pretty bad.
Note: in the opening scene, a dark-haired character who could be Northstar can be seen off to the extreme left behind Hope. He’s drawn in the same cartoony style from Nicholas Bradshaw that we saw on the cover of X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1. However, the character’s costume is colored black on the neck, not white as previously seen on the cover of that issue, so it’s not clear exactly who it is. The character can be seen again with the same black coloring on the neck in the next panel, but it’s even smaller and harder to see who it is.
Tags: Madison Jeffries