Discussing Wonder Woman #300 in my readathon thread got me thinking about anniversary issues. It's always disappointing when a company ignores an anniversary issue, though these days there's no chance of that happening, as they are much more likely to manufacture anniversary issues by manipulating the numbering.
But when they do celebrate anniversary issues, the results are often decidedly mixed. Of course, it's a tricky thing to pull off, celebrating a character's legacy while still telling a good story. Often the celebration part trumps the good story part, leading to there being quite a few anniversary issues that have all sorts of extremely cool extras, pin-ups, bonus features and whatnot but really boring or disappointing lead stories.
Anniversary issues were also extremely sporadic until the late 60's and early 70's, so I am curious why this didn't catch on sooner and why only certain publishers (or even specific editors) would celebrate while others didn't. It's interesting to me that Marvel didn't really start celebrating until it's two big new superhero titles, Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man, hit #100 (though both series had memorable #50's as well). Or would you count Captain America #100, which was actually the first issue of his solo series and got hype because of that? Personally, I wouldn't, but that's what we're here to discuss.
So what do you guys think are the best anniversary issues? Or the worst anniversary issues? And why?
I'll start things off with one of the best ever and one of the worst ever, both from the same series:
Candidate for best anniversary issue ever: Avengers #100
Capping an epic three-part storyline that featured the Avengers battling the Greek gods for the life of Hercules, Avengers #100 also a) bringsback every character who had ever been an Avenger up to that point and b) boasts amazing, amazing artwork from Barry Windsor Smith. Plus it has a yellow frame cover, by Smith, which makes it one of the best looking anniversary issues of all time as well. Pure awesome.
Candidate for worst anniversary issue ever: Avengers #200
So, this is the infamous Ms. Marvel rape issue. For those who haven't read it, what happens is that a couple issues earlier, Ms. Marvel had suddenly become pregnant with a baby that was gestating at an incredible rate, going from egg to full birth in the course of like a week or something. In #200, she gives birth and the baby grows up into a full grown man, who is apparently the reincarnation of Immortus. or... something. Even weirder, he is his own father. Basically, he was trapped in limbo, so he impregnated Carol so she would give birth to him in the real world, freeing him. At the end of the issue, something goes wrong and he's going to die unless he gets back to limbo, so he takes Carol back with him into limbo, I guess to start this whole thing in motion. Time travel, right? The thing is, he even says right up front that he used some kind of mental persuasion power to cause Carol to "fall in love with him" and despite this, the three Avengers on hand allow her to go with him into limbo.
Now, it should be noted that those three Avengers are the three Avengers least equipped to deal with things from a female perspective, namely Tony Stark, Thor and Hawkeye. And Hawkeye thinks it's a terrible idea, but gets outvoted by the rest of them, only going along very reluctantly.
Still, this issue is a traveshamockery on all sorts of levels, other than the excellent art by George Perez. There are like five writers attributed to the story; basically what happened is that there was some editorial screwup, and the story that David Michilinie had planned for #200 was invalidated at the last minute because some other Marvel book published a very similar story. So they had to throw this together at the last second, and it showed. Chris Claremont later wrote Avengers Annual #10 as a direct rebuttal of #200, trashing the Avengers from start to finish as if they had written themselves. Then he took Carol and shot he rinto space as Binary. But really, I don't blame him, as they basically took a character who was specifically designed as a symbol of the feminist movement and had her date raped while her peers shrugged.