Review: X-Men Annual #4

X-Men Annual #4 cover
Cover by John Romita Jr. and Bob McLeod

X-Men Annual #4
Published and © by Marvel, 1980

Title: “Nightcrawler’s Inferno”
Synopsis: A powerful Romani sorceress hellbent on revenge sends Nightcrawler to infernal damnation – or does she?

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Romita Jr. 
Inker: Bob McLeod

Review: Writer Chris Claremont’s use of Dante’s “Inferno” adds a little literary heft to this X-Men annual and offers a clever way to explore Christianity as mythology without causing obvious offense. There are nice character moments throughout – mostly introspection about damnation and faith – but the characters feel mostly wooden. It often feels like they are going through the motions of a pre-plotted story (which, thanks to “Inferno,” they are). This disconnect is particularly jarring as this annual follows directly on the heels of the emotionally resonant “Dark Phoenix Saga” (see reviews). The art also suffers in comparison to that contemporary epic.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “It’s an outstanding story, one which uses Doctor Strange to his full potential.” – John Jackson Miller, The Comics Buyer’s Guide to the X-Men (Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents), 2003

Cool factor: Developing Nightcrawler’s back story is pretty cool.
Not-so-cool factor: The surprise twist at the end is a little … awkward. 

Notable: First appearance of Margali Szardos. … Includes an “X-Mail” letters page with overflow letters about “The Dark Phoenix Saga.”

Character quotable: “If believing in your God, Nightcrawler, means accepting the existence of this place, I am now glad I was raised in atheist.” – Colossus, infidel

Editor’s note: This review was written Nov. 27, 2022.

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