Whether you love them or hate them, the Marvel annuals are upon us. With a title like “Idie Goes on a Date” and neither All-New X-Men’s regular writer or artist behind the wheel, you may dread having to purchase and read what could be just another throwaway annual.
Well, X-Fans, I have good news for you! Not only did this story by writer Sina Grace and artist Cory Smith quickly erase any feelings of doubt, but it also proved the X-Men’s message of fighting in a world that hates and fears them is more relevant than ever in Donald Trump’s America.
All-New X-Men Annual #1 (Marvel Comics)
Hate crimes in the United States are on the rise; news that is disgusting, terrifying and, unfortunately, not too shocking to anyone who has been discriminated against and followed the recent presidential election.
It’s OK, though: the president-elect is taking on the cast of Hamilton, so we’re all going to be all right.
But bigotry, fear, hatred–these are also familiar concepts to fans of the X-Men franchise. Sometimes they get lost when Marvel’s mutants jet off to space or venture into Limbo, but a drive to protect a world that hates and fears them is at the core of the X-Men. And Grace and Smith choose to revisit the theme in this annual.
Idie Okonkwo, or Oya, is one of the great new mutants created for the short-lived Generation Hope series that has thankfully stuck around the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe. On a trip to a San Jose mall with her fellow All-New X-Men, Idie meets Ronnie, who successfully flirts his way to scoring a date with the temperature-controlling mutant.
Grace does a nice job capturing the significantly more carefree nature of the X-Men’s younger counterparts, and reminds me of how old I am when Ronnie points out the quaintness of Idie writing in an actual notebook. Meanwhile, Smith’s lighthearted pencils bring an indie-teen-romance feel to mainstream superhero comics.
Yes, this is still an X-Men comic, and it’s not long before Idie has to use her powers for self-defense. Not against Mr. Sinister or Apocalypse – just another angry human mob out to show the “garbage mutie” how they feel.
While I’m far too old to look for dates at the mall, I’m glad this comic exists and sincerely hope younger readers pick it up. Comic book fans come in all shapes and sizes. Whether black or white, straight or gay, they have a place in America, just as young mutants deserve to go to the mall or on a date without the fear of persecution.
Marvel has always done an excellent job of grounding its heroes in the real world. I hope the publisher won’t shy away from addressing the issues that are sure to arise in this anything-but-United States. Yes, comic books provide an escape from the real world, but they can also endow strength in challenging times.
Don’t believe me? Just read this annual’s Dani Moonstar-focused backup story by writer Rex Ogle and artist Andrea Broccardo, which focuses on the feelings that accompany panic attacks.
Well done, Marvel!