We are given a scene of a hunter capturing Klyntar symbiotes. Then we see Corsair and his Starjammers in contact with Cyclops. Suddenly, a group of symbiotes attack the pirate crew, and Cyclops gathers the X-Men save his father and his crew.
Given that they are symbiotes, the X-Men think it best to find an "expert," and this leads them to Venom, who isn't too keen on helping.
While I really do wish I could keep up with the Venom title without having to read every other Marvel book under the sun, X-Men Blue Annual #1 is immediately a more enjoyable read than the majority of Venom Inc.
It's still very flawed for a number of reasons, but the story and characters are far less grating than much of that previous crossover, and Edgar Salazar brings his A-game to the comic.
The concept is straightforward and simple. Starjammers are attacked by symbiotes, X-Men get help from Venom, X-Men and Venom go save Starjammers. It gets to the thick of it pretty quickly too, even if you still wonder why an extra-sized Annual couldn't cover this whole thing without being padded out to a damn five-part crossover with Venom.
Another problem is the painful one-liners this comic spits out. It's worth mentioning that writer Cullen Bunn has written some fantastic comics in the past, his stint on Venom and Magneto being two of my favorite comic of recent years. However, the humor in this comic is nonexistent and quite contrastingly painful. Venom saying "Aww, isn't that sweet. You think those weapons are going to help you?" sounds shockingly juvenile coming from a full-grown man who has killed quite a few people in the past.
The other part of this story that really rubbed me the wrong way is the encounter between the X-Men and Venom. The X-Men beat Venom in submission to force him to help. If he doesn't want to help, then that's his choice. Spider-Man and older Beast (in Secret Avengers) have both had experience with the symbiotes before. Hell, Flash Thompson is Anti-Venom now. Go to them instead. This all just feels very contrived, like the comic wants to have its cake and eat it too.
For what it's worth, the fight between the X-Men and Venom is pretty damn cool. Salazar and Milla bring it to life in a really cool manner. You get to see each of the team use their powers against Brock. Venom himself looks quite awesome. The overall art of this comic is really good with one notable exception: the other symbiotes. We get to see the mysterious symbiotes that attacked the Starjammers at the end of the comic, and their designs are bloody awful. It takes me back to the symbiote excess of the 1990s when there were a dozen running around in increasingly awful, over-designed nonsense. It's not good.
That aside, X-Men Blue Annual #1 is a decent enough read. It has some major flaws, and I would only recommend it to someone with a dire need to read X-Men Blue or Venom. That being said, both have been troubled titles of late, the former being of shaky quality and the latter being mixed up in crossovers like this one. Take that for what you will, and approach this one with some caution if you must.