EVOLUTIONARY WAR OMNIBUS (Marvel, First Printing, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22, Avengers Annual #17, Fantastic Four Annual #21, New Mutants Annual #4, Punisher Annual #1, Silver Surfer Annual #1, Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8, Web of Spider-Man Annual #4, West Coast Avengers Annual #3, X-Factor Annual #3, and X-Men Annual #12 (cover dates Annual 1988)
Writers: Louise Simonson, Mike Baron, Steve Englehart, Tom DeFalco, David Michelinie, Steve Gerber, Gerry Conway, Walter Simonson, and Mark Gruenwald
Artists: Pencilers- Terry Shoemaker, Mark Texeira, Joe Staton, June Brigman, Mark Bagley, Kieron Dwyer, Arthur Adams, Cynthia Martin, Al Milgrom, Mark Bright, Paris Cullins, and Ron Lim; Inkers- Al Milgrom, Scott Williams, Josef Rubinstein, Bob McLeod, Mike Esposito, Joe Sinnott, Bob Wiacek, Cynthia Martin, Gerry Talaoc, Chris Ivy, Keith Williams, Mike Gustovich, Valerie Gustovich, Tony DeZuniga, and Jim Sinclair.
File this one under “Things aren't as good as they used to be...and they probably never were.” I eagerly scooped this book up when it came out, apparently oblivious to my memory of reading it when it was originally published. I hated this crossover at the time of original publication. I knew at age 15 that this was nothing more than a cash grab and a scam, refusing to buy the issues that were not a part of my regular titles. The fact that the story was incomplete unless you bought every single double-sized (and double-priced!) issue was an insult to me then and it is even more so to me now. Of course the point of comic companies is to make as much money as possible, but to insult the fans by forcing them to do stuff like this turned me off back then...much like it has today. I buy nothing that Marvel publishes today. If not for collected editions of vintage material they would see none of my money.
The main story is pretty feeble. The High Evolutionary has returned, deciding to fulfill humanity's potential by accelerating their evolution to it's maximum. This story is dragged into places where it doesn't belong. Incorporating The Punisher into this crossover was a bit of a stretch. To be honest most of these stories don't make a lot of sense, or they simply have the High Evolutionary shoe-horned in there for crossover branding purposes. The Amazing Spider-Man Annual with Speedball and Daredevil was fun, in a corny kind of way. The X-Men Annual was underwhelming, then and now. Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8 shows Gerry Conway returning to what was one of the most gaping holes in a plotline from his 1970s run: How a mere college professor could clone a human. Conway's ret-cone only serves to further muddy the waters on the clusterfuck that would soon be known as The Clone Saga a few years later.
If not for the back-up stories in each Annual which chronicled the origin of the High Evolutionary (collected together in the back of the book), I would have ranked this much, much lower. The origin story was highly entertaining, especially when the High Evolutionary was battling Baron Gregory Russoff (the ancestor of Jack Russell, a.k.a. Werewolf By Night).
This isn't a high point in the history of the Marvel Universe, nor is this the best work of any of the creators involved. I will still take this over what passes as Marvel Comics these days. At least everyone is acting true to character and the writers tell a story which serve the characters and not themselves. Not every comic has to wow or shock you, folks.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- While I have grown to dislike the size of most Omniboo, this book hits the 400-500 page sweet spot.
There are numerous omissions in this book. If a back-up story didn't belong as a part of the crossover then it was omitted from the issue.
Linework and Color restoration: Very good overall, certainly better than the material warrants.
Paper stock: Beautiful thick coated stock with a slight sheen. I loved the paper that Marvel used in their Omniboo during this era.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding, book lays completely flat from the first page to the last.
Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Thick waxlike lamination on the dustjacket, faux leather grain casewrap with dye foil stamping.