What would you do if your superpower was time travel, and due to a lack of control you found yourself lost in time? That’s what Eva Bell faces in the Uncanny X-Men Annual. Way back in Uncanny X-Men 17, Cyclops’s team of new X-Men went on a training mission in Tabula Rasa, and in the middle of it Eva disappeared, only to return noticeably older and with longer hair. This comic, along with the upcoming All New X-Men Annual, explores exactly what happened in that gap.
Normally I save this for later but first off, let’s talk about Andrea Sorrentino’s art. It’s fantastic from start to finish. The large, spanning splash pages showcase a variety of different timelines with a great amount of detail, from the opening page of a post-apocalyptic future to the Wild West, with its spanning desert, wildlife and an old town. The colour shading does a great job at capturing the mood of each location. The time travel itself is drawn with all sorts of boxes tilting around and slowly building into a proper image on later panels, making for some very creative layouts. Eva’s facial expressions are also very well-drawn, with a wide variety of emotions and reactions on display.
Brian Michael Bendis’s writing itself is just as good as the art. Eva spends much of the first half of the book in a panic, slowly realizing that it’s not the danger room that’s causing all these situations, but her own out of control powers. The panic soon turns into despair when she realizes she can’t travel through time at will, stranding her in 2099 along with none of the X-Men she recognizes save for Magik. Despite this, she makes a life for herself in the future. It makes the eventual outcome all the more tragic when you already know she’s bound to return to present time.
The dialogue is much more varied than most of Bendis’s work. The people in the west actually talk like they’re from the west without overusing phrases. The people in 2099 use non-existing words in expressions, and it would make sense that in 85 years there would be plenty of new words in common usage. But the real core of the story is about Eva, and it remains focused on her and does a great job at expanding on her already compelling character.
This Annual is something special. It’s one thing to be completely lost in time (sure, All New X-Men may be going through a somewhat similar story right now with the Ultimate Universe), but it’s another thing to know that it’s your own superpower that’s doing it to you and knowing that you cannot control it. Despite travelling through time, this comic is always easy to follow. If you’ve been enjoying Bendis’s Uncanny X-Men, this is a must have. Even if you’re not reading it, the story is good enough that it’s worth checking out anyway.