“The Adventures of Lockheed the Space Dragon and His Pet Girl Kitty”
Occurring chronologically in the gap toward the end of Uncanny X-Men #192, between Magus’ final threats and the cliffhanger that takes place “months later,” the events of X-Men Annual #8 are of course mostly inconsequential. The final few pages advance some of the storylines: Storm decides to once again try heading back to Africa (her first attempt having been abortive thanks to Kulan Gath’s spell in Uncanny #’s 190-191), while Colossus and Kitty get back on speaking terms.
Everything leading up to those end bits are simply a weak attempt to recapture the whimsy of Dave Cockrum’s “Fairy Tale” in Uncanny #153. Artist Steve Leialoha has the appropriately cartoony style for such a project, but Claremont’s writing has never been more awkward.
The premise: Kitty’s “best friend,” Illyana, decides to tell a campfire story to cheer Kitty up. She sets it in space, and the title implies it will be light-hearted fare about Kitty and Lockheed. Fair enough. So what happens in the story a few pages in? Kitty’s parents get murdered by the White Queen. Oh, Illyana, you little scamp! Boy, with friends like these...
And she only gets more tactless as time goes on, painfully reminding Kitty and Colossus of the awkwardness between them, and bluntly incorporating Storm’s power-loss into the plot as well. And all for a story that isn’t even any good in the first place.
Between 1975 and 1991, inclusive of all the spin-offs and ancillary titles, Claremont wrote roughly 340 comics about the X-Men. Statistically speaking, one of them has to be the absolute worst.
X-Men Annual # 8 ... ? Stand up and claim your award. You deserve it.
Claremont is now six for six in churning out X-Men Annuals that aren’t very good on their own terms and also rarely contribute anything of significance to the overall mythos. Happily, this will change in a year. Teamed with the magnificently talented Art Adams, Claremont will produce some fantastic material for both the 1985 and 1986 annuals.
The 1984 one, however, remains thoroughly, depressingly awful.