Sunday, November 1, 2015


In 1988, Marvel did its first summer "Annual Event", "The Evolutionary War". As a kid, I picked up the Spider-Man installments, but no others.

In 2011, Marvel published an EVOLUTIONARY WAR OMNIBUS. As an adult, I was gripped by momentary madness and purchased it to finally read the entire thing.

Now the time has come to do just that.

I'm not sure what this crossover's reputation is these days, but I like it in theory. It's told exclusively in annuals, meaning that unlike something like SECRET WARS II or "Inferno" or "Acts of Vengeance" or the vast majority of Marvel's modern day events, it doesn't interrupt the flow of the ongoing monthly series. And, surprisingly, nearly every chapter in this book is written by those series' regular writers, so the characters and continuity should be in line with what you would've seen in a typical Marvel book at the time.

But on the other hand, when I was younger I tended to associate Marvel's annuals with guest writers, sub-par artwork, and inconsequential filler stories. The first of those, I just addressed above. The third is what we're going to spend the next few weeks determining. And as far as the art -- looking at this book's credits, I see several artists I enjoy listed, including Mark Texeira, Kieron Dwyer, Mark Bagley, and M.D. Bright (a third Mark, for those keeping count). Maybe the artistic drop-off in annual quality came a year or so after "Evolutionary War"? (I do distinctly remember thinking the following year's event, "Atlantis Attacks", was mostly pretty ugly.)

At any rate, the late eighties is just about when I really started paying attention to Marvel comics as more than just an occasional curiosity. This is the era when I began to pick up Marvel books on a semi-regular basis (though my becoming a full-fledged monthly reader of most titles was still a few years off).

Art: Lee Garbett
I'll be covering these annuals in the style of most of my reviews, with categories for "The Plot", "Continuity Notes", and "My Thoughts". But because this book is sort of a "time capsule" of Marvel's continuity circa 1988, I've added a category called, strangely enough, "Circa 1988", which will note status quos and other tidbits specific to the era, as well as any real life references that may pop up.

Lastly, there's a category for "The High Evolutionary's Plot", because I seem to recall his plans and motives being a bit muddled depending upon who was writing him in a given issue. Here, we'll keep track of any discrepancies as they pop up.

One final note: The EVOLUTIONARY WAR OMNIBUS collects only the lead stories from the eleven annuals contained therein, as well as the backup serial "The High Evolutionary", which codified the title character's past into one single narrative. I'll cover all the leads in order, and close things out with the full "High Evolutionary" serial in one go, at a pace of two stories a week on Mondays and Wednesdays for the next six weeks.

So get ready to relive the summer of 1988 with me, starting tomorrow!

Read along, if you dare -- the book is still available from!


  1. Cool stuff. I've read the X-annuals, and the two Avengers ones, and a smattering of the others (none of the Spidey ones, in fact). It'll be interesting to read a chapter-by-chapter analysis of it.

    Unfortunately, given its reputation, I have a feeling this will still fall under "inconsequential filler" despite the overarching narrative, but I guess we'll find out!

  2. I take the exclusion of the ALF Annual from the omnibus as a personal insult.

    1. Teemu, for some reason your comment was flagged as spam. Not sure why; sorry!

      Believe me, if the ALF annual was in this book, I'd cover it. Along with the three Spider-Man installments, it was the only other "Evolutionary War" branded issue I had as a kid. Somehow I managed to collect a full run of Marvel/Star's ALF, picking it up month by month, even though I mostly only read off the newsstand back then!

    2. Oh that's what happens! Thanks, I've been wondering why Blogger has occasionally lost my posts and put it down to a klitch happening. Spam it ain't, but a serious man on serious business.

      I kind of also managed to collect a stack of the books as published in my locality, though nothing near of full series. Of all things Evolutionary Wars, only the Uncanny X-Men and ALF installments were published in Finland. Due to ALF having less delay, for the longest time it was the only place I had ever met the High Evolutionary, and misunderstood his role in the Marvel Universe for enlengthened period. Luckily they put out "Yesterday Quest" as part of their Byrne-drawn Avengers backlog specials in 1991, and I was... well, confused still, but differently. The X-Men annual came out only in December that year, what with the two years' or so delay with the X-Men publication; had the recap in Avengers not primed me at that point I would have had hard time with the High Evolutionary still; harassing Melmacians, saving the Savage Land, that sort of thing.

      You should just slip the ALF Annual there somewhere, IMO, and correct the mistake made by Marvel. "Trevor Ockmonek calls Willie asking help for Trivial Pursuit."

    3. If I knew where my copy was, I'd check out the ALF annual, but most of my old, old comics are in storage and I'm actually not even sure where that run is.

  3. In so far i know the Evolutionary War is usually met with a collective shrug.
    It's biggest claim to fame was retconning away Miles Warren's clones.
    Before the retcon got retconned during the Spiderman clone saga.

    ( I like the clone saga, but it was a mess. )

    1. I like it too, though I fully acknowledge it was a mess behind the scenes.

    2. Ben was really likable during the Clone Saga, but what I really liked, was how near the end Peter and Ben were behaving like brothers.
      And that's a dynamic that never quite returned.
      Because Ben is the only person who truly knows Peter best, even better then May or MJ.