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

by  in Comic News Comment

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…





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…



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




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…




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!

In Captain America Annual #12, written by Mark Gruenwald and David Wohl with art by MC Wyman and Charles Barnett, we meet one of the most infamous characters introduced in this event, the Battling Bantam! The story opens in Puerto Rico with a young bantamweight boxer (bantamweight boxers all weigh between 115 and 118 pounds) named Roberto who is given enhancements to help him box better. He doesn’t know that the enhancements gave him superpowers. He discovers this fact in his first fight…



Roberto quits, but they end up using another enhanced fighter to almost kill another boxer friend of Roberto’s. When he goes to challenge them over it, they try to kill him…


His powers helped him survive the attack and he decides to become a superhero…



I wrote more about this rather absurd character here.

Bantam actually showed up again during Civil War.

In Daredevil Annual #9 (an annual perhaps best known for being the first Marvel Universe appearance of Simon Garth, the Zombie, in the back-up story in the issue)) Gregory Wright, John Heebnik and Fred Fredericks introduce us to the Devourer, who can take possession of people and make them do awful things…




This one was weird because the aformentioned back-up story was actually the COVER of the issue. So Devourer wasn’t even cool enough to be on the cover of his first appearance in an annual where introducing a new character was the WHOLE POINT of the Annual!

In Darkhawk Annual #2, Danny Fingeroth, Aaron Lopresti and inkers Andy Mushysnky and Don Hudson delivered us the Dreamkiller, a guy who loses his wife and child and decides to study magic to find a way to get revenge on the man who has taken his place in his family – he finds a way to conjure up a being to do his fighting for him – the Dreamkiller!





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

In Deathlok Annual #2, Evan Skolnick, John Hebert and Mark McKenna and Roy Richardson delivered the Tracer, a rich guy whose father was obsessed with superheroes. He was then killed and the son believes he was deliberately killed by a superhero, so the son spent their fortune turning himself into a cybernetic manhunter whose body and armor could be temporarily altered to match the abilities of any given superhero. So he could be super quick and agile to fight Spider-Man or super-strong to fight Wonder Man or really super-strong to fight the Wasp. Stuff like that.

He faces off against Deathlok and does quite well…



In Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme Annual #3, Geof Isherwood wrote and penciled the issue (with inks by Dave Simon), introducing Kyllian, a Celtic hero who is bound to the Celtic gods through rune tattoos on his body…





Kyllian ended up being a regular cast member in Doctor Strange’s book for the next year or so.

In Excalibur Annual #1, Evan Skolnick, Chris Marrinan, Audwynn Newman, Mark McKenna, Danny Bulanadi and Keith Williams gave us this whole elaborate storyline about a war on another planet, with magic and stuff like that. The good guy on the planet was named Khaos (“So you’re name is Choas.” “No, it’s Khaos.” “Yeah, that’s what I said, Chaos.” “No, with a K! With a K!!”)…


After Excalibur helps him fight back the bad guys, he sadly ends up stranded on Earth.

1993 was sort of the year of the exo-skeleton, which was made clear in Fantastic Four Annual #26, where Tom DeFalco, Herb Trimpe and Bud La Rosa introduce us to Wildstreak…





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

In Ghost Rider Annual #1, Howard Mackie, Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham introduced Night Terror, a vampire who was working for the government as a black ops guy and now he wants his revenge…





In Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #2, Michael Gallagher, Colleen Doran and Steve Montaro have the Guardians travel to Ireland where they encounter Shamrock, who is still alive after all these years due to some magic that made her the guardian of the Book of Kells. She was given a companion, as well, Cuchulain, the Irish Wolf Hound…



Gallagher was the regular writer on Guardians of the Galaxy at the time, so he had Cuchulain show up a couple of other times.

In Incredible Hulk Annual #19, Peter David, Dan Lawlis, Kirk Jarvinen and Brad Vancata introduced Lazarus, who was seemingly killed by his wife and her lover. He returned from the grave with telekinetic powers to get revenge on his wife and her boyfriend.




What’s interesting is that Lazarus pretty much completely succeeds in his mission in the issue, killing his wife’s lover and then escaping.

In Iron Man Annual #14, Len Kaminski, Tom Morgan and Fred Fredericks introduce us to the demonic shapeshifter known as the Face Thief…




Kaminski, then the regular writer of Iron Man, used the story to spotlight the Masters of Silence characters that he had recently introduced (during the storyline where the War Machine armor first showed up). The Masters of Silence were basically Cyber-Ninjas. The men being killed here are the father and husband of Tony Stark’s former girlfriend, Meredith McCall, so she plays a big part in the issue, as well.

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

Namor the Sub-Mariner Annual #1 is a fascinating exercise. Written by Ron Marz, the story is drawn entirely by Adam Hughes’ Gaijin Studios, in short three-four page installments each of some excellent artists (like Hughes, Dave Johnson, Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner and more). It’s an interesting exercise, although the robot assassin made to look like a Japanese woman, dubbed “Assassin” in the issue, is not exactly much more than a one-time plot deal (somehow created by Apocalypse for…reasons)…




Marz was not the regular writer on Namor at the time, so it’s understandable that this wouldn’t be a big priority for him. He does a lot better on the Silver Surfer Annual, a book he WAS the regular writer for at the time.

New Warrors Annual #3 stood out at the time, as it was the conclusion to a storyline in the regular New Warriors comic book and was done (mostly) by the then-regular New Warriors creative team of Fabian Nicieza, Darick Robertson and Larry Mahlstadt (mostly because other artists chipped in for the story, like Chris Marrinan). The storyline involved the dark force creeping out throughout New York City, as Nicieza used a bunch of New York City-based heroes in the story, like Spider-Man and the Thing. The cause of the Darkforce taking over New York was an abused mutant with the codename Darkling, who made the rest of the city literally feel his pain…



Nicieza used Darkling once more during his New Warriors run and even returned to him during his Thunderbolts run, so Darkling is one of the more successful characters from these annuals, all by Fabian Nicieza’s force of will.

In The Punisher Annual #6, Pat Mills, Tony Skinner and Dave Hoover introduced us to a killer robot named the Eradikator…



In Punisher War Zone Annual #1 (no Punisher War Journal Annual but a Punisher War Zone Annual? Odd), Chuck Dixon and John Buscema introduce us to Phalanx. A guy working on a special bulletproof armor discovers that his business partners plan on selling the armor to drug dealers. The Punisher shows up to stop the sale, but the guy in the armor ends up turning on his cronies and working with the Punisher…



The Punisher tries to get him to give him the armor, but he refuses and goes off on his own. Dixon later brought him back for a later Punisher storyline (or maybe it was some other Punisher writer – it doesn’t work out well for Phalanx, as he is killed).

In Silver Surfer Annual #6, Ron Marz, Joe Phillips and Tom Christopher gave us the breakout hit of these Annuals, Legacy, the son of Captain Marvel…




Marz used him for a few storylines in Silver Surfer and then Legacy got his own series as the new Captain Marvel (written by Fabian Nicieza). Later, Peter David wrote two critically acclaimed series starring this version of Captain Marvel. Nicieza then brought him over to the Thunderbolts, where the character was eventually killed.

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

In Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #13, J.M. DeMatteis tied his new creation, Nocturne (along with artist Jerry Bingham) into a few of his past storylines, a Baron Zemo story from Captain America and then then recent Vermin storyline (Vermin, too, came from DeMatteis’ Captain America run)…






DeMatteis used Nocturne in his Amazing Spider-Man run.

In Thor Annual #18, Ron Marz, Tom Grindberg and John Nyberg introduced a compelling villain known as the Flame…





In Uncanny X-Men Annual #17, Scott Lobdell introduced perhaps the second-most successful character from these annuals, with the X-Cutioner, drawn by Jason Pearson and Mark Farmer. The X-Cutioner was an FBI agent who used confiscated supervillain weaponry to hunt down evil mutants. He eventually just became a standard mercenary, but a catchy one.




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

In Web of Spider-Man Annual #9, Terry Kavanah, Nelson Ortega and Don Hudson gave us a trio of demonic siblings known as The Cadre. Here they are fighting Spider-Man later in the issue (art now by Chris Marrinan and Keith Williams)….





In Wonder Man Annual #2, Gerard Jones and Gordon Purcell introduce a handicapped hero who fights with an exo-skeleton (seriously, did no one think to tell some of these people that you shouldn’t have multiple handicapped heroes with exo-skeletons?). This issue was fascinating in that Jones HEAVILY works this into Wonder Man’s continuity, in the sense that it doesn’t really work that well unless you are completely up to date on Wondy’s book (lots of editor’s notes). Still, Hit-Maker, while a terrible character design, was an interesting idea. A sort of counter to what Wonder Man was once – an entertainment-driven hero…



In X-Factor Annual #8, Peter David, Terry Shoemaker and Mark McKenna introduce us to Charon, a death-obssed jerkwad who gains the ability to bring people back from the dead to serve him.




I won’t spoil who he brings back to fight X-Factor, but if you were a regular reader of X-Factor at the time, it was hilarious, and it helped add some extra zing to a series of recurring jokes David did in the book. Very, very clever stuff by David.

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

Fabian Nicieza clearly took these Annuals seriously, as they all tied into his regular series, like in X-Force Annual #2, where soon-to-be-regular-X-Force artist Tony Daniel (and a bunch of inkers) joined Nicieza in introducing Adam-X the X-Treme, a mutant manhunter with mysterious Shi’ar origins (at one point he was going to be the third Summers brother)…





Nicieza used Adam-X a lot in X-Force, then he used him in X-Men for a spotlight issue and then he used him in Captain Marvel. So, again, by sure force of will, Nicieza kept a lot of his creations alive.

Not so much, though, for Empyrean, who Nicieza introduced in a super-duper somber X-Men Annual #2 with art by Aron Wesenfeld and a bunch of inkers, who was running essentially a leper colony for mutants with the Legacy Virus…







That was pretty much it for Empyrean.

Okay, that’s the long and the short of it (well, mostly the long)! I hope you enjoyed this look at the 1993 Marvel Annuals! Hopefully we’ve given current Marvel writers some good ideas for characters to bring back (and then kill off, of course).

If you have any suggestions for future Knowedge Waits installments, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com