Hello Legions of the Unspoken! Have a listen as Dean Compton welcomes newcomers Jesse Starcher and Chris Armstrong to the site to discuss the forgotten DC Comics gem of the early 1990s, The Hacker Files! It’s non-stop computer action in the DC Universe, and you can goddamn hear all about it right here, right now!!!
Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken! Dean Compton is back with you here to delve into some more 90’s goodness. I am excited that spring is finally sprung, baseball is in full swing, and that some small indie film called Avengers: Infinity War has dropped. You probably haven’t heard of it because it’s so obscure and there’s been almost no build-up.
OR IT’S THE BIGGEST FILM MARVEL HAS BROUGHT US YET! WHICHEVER!
We’re all very excited. Those of us who braved the speculation crashes of the 90’s have been waiting for this movie for around twenty-five years. If you had told me then that one day there’d be a movie based on Thanos’s exploits with the Infinity Gems, I would have thought you were Mephisto, prince of lies. Or at least Zarathos or maybe one of those weird demons from Hellblazer or something. Alas, here we are, though, on the precipice of what is hopefully a monumental moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
‘Round these parts we are more interested in the then, than the now, and one of the things that really interested me as I first started my deep dive into comic books some 27 years ago (it’s mega unfair that it has been that long) was the entire Infinity Gauntlet saga. My first big exposure to superheroes outside of cartoons was the Impel Marvel Trading Cards, series 2 in particular, and the Infinity Gauntlet card captured my attention. There was Thanos, basking in all the glory that comes with omnipotence. I didn’t know what had happened, and sadly, I was too late to keep up with the original saga month to month. Lucky me, though, as The Infinity War was about to break out!
One of the things that attracted me to Infinity War was the epic gatefold covers, many of which depicted the mightiest heroes in the Marvel Universe in a tumultuous struggle with sharp-toothed doppelgangers that looked like they had stepped out of a mirror universe from Tales from the Darkside or something. What appealed to me even more was that the saga was so large that it burst out of the mini-series like the insides of a tomato hitting the ground, spilling out into almost every other Marvel title! Most of you will brush this off as a lame sales grab, and, well, it was definitely a sales grab, but it was a sales grab in the best way!
Did you want to see more of Wonder Man’s inner struggle during the Infinity War? How would Sue Richards deal with the seeming death of her husband? Perhaps you wanted to see what happened to Sleepwalker during this struggle? (Based on sales, you probably didn’t.) The crossovers meant you could, and they meant that you could try out other titles you hadn’t really given a shot to before. I know we’re all tired of them now, but this was still a new concept to me then. Sort of how when I was 16 I was like, “GODDAMN, I CAN’T WAIT TO DRIVE!” but fuck, now I’d almost rather do anything else besides drive, like, y’know, writing crappy articles like this.
One team that I hadn’t gotten a handle on from the Marvel Cards I had seen was the Guardians of the Galaxy. I don’t recall seeing any of the GOTG (yes, I’m lazy – this article is free, y’all) in the Marvel Universe Series 2 set (cue up dude in the comments proving me wrong), so when I saw the Infinity War crossover issues, I was intrigued. Who were these guys? They’re from the future? Why does that Rambo-looking dude have Captain America’s shield? (For those of you coming in here who aren’t big pads, big guns, no feet 90’s comic book fans, the GOTG were originally a super-team from a possible Marvel Universe future that eventually diverged. You’ll see no Star-Lord, Gamora, or Rocket Raccoon here. Get ready for Major Victory, Nikki, Charlie-27, Starhawk, and more!)
I had already picked up a GOTG issue where they fought a street gang of folks based on The Punisher (which is just as awesome as it sounds), but these issues got me very interested. An added bonus is this is one of my first experiences with The Inhumans, one of the most underrated superhero groups of all time!
The issue takes off with Major Victory, the leader of the GOTG, berating the rest of the team for heading into the past on a mission of pure genocide against the Badoon. The Badoon are the raison detre for the GOTG, as their attack on our solar system basically wiped out humanity, so the original GOTG united against them and their tyranny! Somewhere along the way, though, Starhawk convinced them to go back in time and destroy the Badoon before they can destroy humanity. Major Victory, being the guy with Cap’s shield, doesn’t think too much of this plan, but before he can thoroughly chew the team out, their newest member, Talon, stumbles in. I’d say he seems sick as a dog, but he’s sort of a cat, so that seems wrong.
Talon collapses as the team tries to take him to sick bay, but as he does, he tells them to get him to the moon. Specifically, he wants to go to Attilan, which is the secret city that is home to none other than the Inhumans and their royal family!
The GOTG speed off in that direction, but they have no way of knowing that one of the first blows of The Infinity War has been stuck. The headquarters of The Fantastic Four (notably good pals of The Inhumans and in particular the royal family), Four Freedoms Plaza, has been blown up by unknown forces, and the fate of the FF and many other superheroes there is unknown! So to say the least, it really isn’t the best time for a group of superhumans that The Inhumans have no idea exists to teleport into Attilan. I know this is gonna shock you, but that’s exactly what the GOTG do! Of course, The Innumans act calmly when Major Victory tries to explain their presence.
The Inhumans and the GOTG punch on each other a bit while telling each other their names, which is legit my favorite kind of fight. Major Victory is aware the fight is usless, though, and he unleashes a mighty psychokinetic blast that somehow convinces Black Bolt that the GOTG are the good guys.
The Inhumans take Talon to the Randac Medcal Center, which, honestly, is what all medical centers should be called henceforth. As he gets the care he needs, the other Inhumans explain to the GOTG about the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza, and how they don’t have any idea what may have caused this tragedy.
The two superhero squads (See what I did there? Now that theme is stuck in your head.) don’t have a lot of time to discuss the explosion because just as the conversation starts, an array of doppelgangers of both the Inhumans and the Guardians rudely interrupts them.
These doppelgangers from the Infinity War are great. The razor teeth look genuinely creeped me out back in the day, and to be honest, that look is still sort of unnerving now. The Infinity War doppelgangers look like the people that are just like us that live on the other side of mirrors. You can say they’re fake, but let’s be honest — deep down, we all believe in that world on the other side of the mirror, and it sprang to life in the Marvel Universe during the Infinity War.
The good news for the Inhumans and the Guardians is that these doppelgangers go down easy for now. After Talon reveals a big secret about the future of the Inhumans to the Royal Family, the Guardians split for Avengers Mansion on Earth. Major Victory has no recollection of these events, and if something has happened to The Avengers, then the Guardians are going to get to the bottom of it!
While the Guardians are teleporting down from Attilan, Doctor Octopus has assembled a ragtag group of villains together in the wake of the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza. Doc Ock has information that not only did Four Freedoms Plaza explode, but that nearly every superhero in the city was inside the building when it blew up! He suggests the group (consisting of Doc Ock, Powderkeg, Jackhammer, Oddball, Titania, the Abosrbing Man, and Yellowjacket [Rita Demara]) attack and loot Avengers Mansion while the heroes are away. Of course, he is just using these folks, and the good bad doctor plans to abscond with all of the advanced Avengers technology himself!
As this meeting is happening, the Guardians arrive at Avengers mansion, only to be met by the fiercest resistance possible from a slightly out of shape butler and his vacuum cleaner!
Jarvis opens up to the Guardians that the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza didn’t kill the assembled superheroes and that a task force of heroes has left Earth via mystic means. Other heroes remain behind for now. Charlie-27 suggests that the Guardians head that way, when a member of Avengers Mansion security bursts in to alert the Guardians and Jarvis about Doc Ock’s villain team just outside the mansion! The Avengers security team beefs up with some weaponry while the Guardians of the Galaxy face off with what Jarvis is calling another incarnation of the Masters of Evil! Talon points out this is a dumb name, but he’s a cat dude named after a bird’s foot, so I dunno that he is in a position to hurl that sort of insult. Then again, Absorbing Man just calls his group that on the next page, so I guess it’s all fair game.
The Guardians spring into action with only Charlie-27 really having a lot of problems. Since he had to take care of the Masters’ most powerful member, I suppose we have to cut him a bit of slack. Nikki has no issues with Yellowjacket, and she notes that Yellowjacket’s heart didn’t really seem to be in the fight. There’s a lot of struggle elsewhere, and while the fracas is going on, Doc Ock sneaks off to engage in a contingency plan. Starhawk, meanwhile, is being confronted by his doppelganger, and in what’s only a minor league asshole move for the guy if you have read a lot of GOTG, is looking forward to being absorbed by his doppelganger until he realizes that by doing so his own free will would be subverted.
The Guardians take out the Masters of Evil, although they need the help of Yellowjacket’s face turn to get the job done. Nikki and Yellowjacket take off during the battle for the inside of Avengers Mansion, and when the other Guardians finally catch up to them, they’ve been overcome by Doc Ock and a few members of the Masters of Evil we hadn’t seen yet!
With that it’s on to Guardians of the Galaxy #29 to wrap up the Guardians involvement in the Infinity War, and this time the war comes home! And by the war coming home, I mean a bunch of doppelgangers of both the Guardians and the Masters of Evil are gonna be such a big deal in the last part of this story that they are the only fucking thing on the cover.
Also, while we are looking at this cover, how could you even tell which one of those Shockers is the doppelganger? Both have weird looking eyes, and neither have those sharp ass teeth that should have clued Starhawk in that merging with the doppelgangers is a bad idea.
Another bad idea would be to turn your back on any member of the GOTG, even one who you had previously thought defeated. Doc Ock has no knowledge of the Guardians, so he and the other Masters of Evil are surprised when Nikki and Yellowjacket come back from their unconscious state and turn the tables on the Masters of Evil!
Both teams soon have bigger problems on their hands, and I mean this literally as Gargantua’s doppelganger teleports onto the scene. Other doppelgangers of both the Guardians and the Masters of Evil start arriving left and right, leaving Doc Ock and Major Victory no choice but to have their teams join forces to attempt to repel these ungodly abominations, although Gargantua needs no encouragement to take the fight right to the razor toothed mirror men!
The fight seems endless, as more and more doppelgangers pour out of portals, threatening to overwhelm hero and villain alike. Due to the actions of Galactus in another comic book, the doppelgangers all disappear like a bad memory. Really, though, shouldn’t that be a good memory? We forget the good stuff all the time, while we continue to torture ourselves with the bad memories late at night when we should be sleeping. All apologies for that; it’s a tad morose to be in an article highlighted by an evil giant punching through the chest of his more evil doppelganger. I won’t let it happen again, folks
Anyhow, with the day saved, Doc Ock is of the mindset that the Masters of Evil should take out the Guardians and resume with their plan to take over Avengers Mansion. The Masters of Evil treat Doc Ock the way you treat your pal who just doesn’t know when the party’s over and turn on him faster than a new superhero universe popped up in the early 90’s!
All’s well that ends well, and if the bad guys are gonna chase themselves off, I reckon it doesn’t get much better than that. Yellowjacket also stays behind, and soon she’ll head back to the future with the Guardians and even join the team! Before she gets to bask in the glory of being in Marvel’s premiere 31st century super hero squad, there’s just one more task to complete. Jarvis takes his duties seriously, and he insists that the Guardians of the Galaxy become the Custodians of the Castle as Jarvis walks right up to them and demands they take part in repairs and cleanup!
Jarvis getting the Guardians to clean up Avengers Mansion might be the greatest moment in the history of the Marvel Universe. Fight me if you disagree. Or better yet, fight my evil doppelganger. The one with the teeth.
Hope everyone enjoyed this look back at Infinity War! It’s definitely a fun part of the larger crossover, although it could have used a bit of Thanos or Warlock to really spruce things up and make it feel more like a part of the larger crossover. It would have been nice, but it wasn’t really needed. Other than that minor oversight, this is a great example of how a larger crossover should spill into a book. No one who just read this felt ripped off because some of the events wrap up elsewhere. If you were a regular reader of Guardians of the Galaxy, it developed characters further (some of which aren’t mentioned in this write-up. Go read the book, people!) These three issues also did a great job displaying the Guardians to a non-regular reader. All in all, for all the flak that 90’s crossovers get (some of which is deserved), this shows you how that 90’s mega-epic could work in a spin-off crossover if done right!
Everyone, enjoy the movie. It’s amazing that we’re gonna get to see this, right? Just try and remember being a teenager in 1992, eyes wide open over Thanos’s shenanigans in the Marvel Universe then, and try and think about that young person would feel if they knew what they were gonna see. We’ve got our tickets for Saturday! I can’t wait!
Hello, Legions of the Unspoken! It’s been a bit since Ol’ Dean Compton has been able to celebrate the greatness of 90’s comics with y’all, but life has been getting in the way. Hopefully things are starting to calm down and I can get here a lot more often.
One thing that doesn’t seem to be calming down anytime soon is the public’s hunger for superhero movies, especially Marvel movies. The Cinematic Universe has excited the public in a way that very few other movie franchises seem to be doing these days. Black Panther has taken the world by storm, and it’s very, very good! The movie that preceded it, though, Thor: Ragnarok, had a very neato tidbit that’d get a 90’s comic book fan as excited as a puppy in a dog park.
One of the most beloved of the many universes, and maybe the most beloved, that popped up in the 90’s was the Ultraverse. Malibu’s big swing for the fences wound up coming up short, but for a while prior to the Marvel purchase, the little company that could on the left coast was spitting out fascinating ideas faster than seeds at a watermelon eating contest. One of those ideas seems to have shown up in Thor: Ragnarok, and her name is Topaz.
While this Topaz looks decidedly different from the Ultraverse’s Topaz, the similarities are fairly shocking and vastly outweigh the differences.
Topaz was an integral member of UltraForce who used a power staff to keep her enemies in line. She is a warrior-queen from a matriarchal realm, and she’s pretty female supremacist. Now I know that’s gonna float some boats for some fellas reading this, but it was also fun watching her attempt to learn how to integrate into a male-dominated society in UltraForce. She used a power staff to deal with threats, and she got caught up in a big cosmic scuffle featuring The Avengers, Thor, and…The Grandmaster. Sound like the Topaz from the movie a little. TRY A LOT.
Topaz is one of the central characters in the UltraForce/Avengers crossover, which has a lot of dealings with The Grandmaster. Sound familiar? In the movie, she’s the right-hand woman of the Grandmaster, and she fights Thor. In the UltraForce/Avengers crossover, she teams with Siren to take on Crystal and Black Widow as part of the game between Grandmaster and Loki. There’s never a huge Avengers vs. UltraForce showdown, as the crossover mostly follows the “heroes meet, fight, realize they are on the same side/being manipulated, team up against the threat, and then look really cool doing it” template.
But the really important thing about Topaz right now isn’t her history, although as I said, she’s fun in UltraForce, and her debut in Giant-Size Mantra #1 is pretty awesome too. It’s the fact that Ultraverse fans like myself have been waiting for Marvel and Disney to do something with this dormant universe for way too long. The Ultraverse was full of fantastic ideas and amazing characters, and it was created by a group of some of the best writers in comic books. The universe was shepherded well by Chris Ulm, Tom Mason, Dave Olbrich, and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg so that everything felt important and needed. You never knew when something small would happen and it would balloon into something huge. Until the Valiant relaunch, it was easily the best universe created since the Marvel Universe.
For about 20 years, Ultraverse fans waited and waited for any sign of life from the Ultraverse. There would be rumors, rumors of rumors, and Joe Quesada flat out saying that these characters would never see the light of day again. Ultraverse fans like myself finally have a ray of hope with Topaz showing up in this movie. Will Prime return? Hardcase? Firearm? The Solution? Will they get their own comics back? Maybe a Netflix show? I know the 90’s kids who loved The Strangers and Sludge sure hope so! Here’s to seeing a lot more Ultraverse characters in the comics, on TV, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe very, very soon!