I recall finding Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 at a book trader (when it was new on the stands) and jumping up in glee at the image. Alan Davis was already a favorite illustrator of mine and seeing Wolverine, Storm and Psylocke featured so prominently made me squeal. I had a similar reaction a week ago when I discovered that the art for this Annual actually had separate pieces! So cool to find this out years later. Above, we witness our heroes fighting Horde, an alien warlord who made the X-Men travel to the Citadel of Light and Shadow where they had to fight against their hearts’ desires. However, this is not the complete cover. The background artwork was drawn separately and is featured below.
This is the second piece of art from Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 featuring Dazzler (lower left corner and continuing clockwise), Longshot, Meggan, Captain Britain, Havok and Rogue.
Here’s the pieces assembled to create the complete cover! The final printed cover can be found here.
This page from that Annual gave readers a true taste of the discipline and destiny lying beneath Psylocke’s pretty in pink demeanor. This is my favorite incarnation of Elisabeth Braddock and this Annual quickly established her place within the X-Men for me. In the pages of Captain Britain, Betsy always seemed somewhat out of place, trying to hard to follow in her brother’s footsteps. In this moment of revelation, she chooses a different life, truly separate from her twin brother and his sweetheart, Meggan. In her new metallic persona, Psylocke reminds me a bit of the Avenger Jocasta.
The Mutant Massacre by the Marauders left the X-Men in a bad state. Nightcrawler was beaten so bad he fell into a coma, Colossus was paralyzed in his organic metal form, and Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) was stuck in her intangible phasing form (pretty much a ghost). Above, page 3 from Uncanny X-Men #213, Psylocke (in her psychic butterfly form) visits the injured X-Men as she fills in the reader on what has transpired in previous issues.
A few pages later, we see Psylocke on her own having to fight the ruthless Sabretooth! This spotlight was the first time we saw a glimpse of the warrior that Psylocke was to become.
Psylocke holds her own against Sabretooth long enough to be rescued by Wolverine. Even Storm (at the time without her weather powers) gets in on the fight, helping Psylocke escape while Wolverine engages his longtime rival. Storm trained hand to hand combat from Wolverine and it certainly pays off in this moment.
Wolverine’s battle with Sabretooth gives Psylocke the opportunity to probe the Marauder’s mind for information regarding his mysterious master (later to be revealed as Mr. Sinister).
Psylocke continues to probe Sabretooth’s mind for the information she needs, but Wolverine has to take a beating while she does it. Luckily, he gives as good as he gets.
In Uncanny X-Men #215 (“Old Soldiers”), page 13, Alan Davis draws Storm facing off three war veterans who hunt others for sport. She fights for her life against Crimson Commando, Stonewall and Super Sabre.
In X-Men 94, page 4, Kitty Pryde rifles through Destiny‘s things and comes across her mask. I love the simplicity of this splash page, especially the reflection of Kitty in the mask. Notice the framed picture of Destiny with Mystique and Rogue in the background. The pair of dice and the crystal ball are nice additions and speak to the mystery of Destiny’s precognitive powers.
In X-Men #98 (page 5), Alan Davis draws the X-Men of an alternate future. In this timeline, for which Davis also wrote the script, Storm has evolved into a pure elemental.
I found the idea of Storm as an elemental super intriguing and wished we could have seen it explored more. (Above, X-Men #98, page 11)
A splash page from Alan Davis’ creator-owned Clandestine series (in their crossover with the X-Men). In this part of the story, both teams find themselves fighting against a slew of past and present X-Men members.
In this page of Uncanny X-Men #451, Storm’s team of Rachel Grey (Marvel Girl), Bishop and Nightcrawler find themselves literally swept up in a murder mystery. I enjoy these tall panels that Davis employs to heighten the sense of drama.
In Uncanny X-Men #462 (page 14) Davis draws an alternate universe in which female members of the X-Men are actual men. In the top panel we see male versions of Rachel Grey, Polaris, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadowcat and Storm. A fascinating concept that was given short shrift.
I leave you, dear reader, with this beautiful portrait of Ororo drawn by Alan Davis and inked by Mark Farmer, longtime collaborator of Davis.