Category Archives: 90s Marvel

Blood Loss: A Tale of Wolverine?

RCO001_1467447586SNIKT! That’s right, Legions of the Unspoken! Symbifan has returned with yet another article about my favorite time in comicdom history, the grungy 90’s! And, as I have hinted above, this is an article about everyone’s favorite clawed mutant, Wolverine! You may be asking yourselves, why no part 2 to the Justice League article I wrote last? (I know. I sense an instant literary classic there too!) Well, you see, I have my reasons. And since I hold nothing back from you, my loyal readers, trust me when I say that all will be explained at the end of this article. Be patient. That’s all I ask. As you know, Wolverine is not known for his patience, so let’s begin with our story, shall we?

We begin with two unsavory types play poker within a decrepit old boat as they wait to reach their destination. A bigger scary man sits almost completely concealed by shadows. Across from him sits a weaselly small man that is this ship’s captain. The bigger man, sure of victory, plays his hand; a full house. The captain then plays his, four aces! But, before the good captain can celebrate, he is hauled over the table by powerful hands! As this occurs, another card drops from the “victor’s” shirt sleeve! It is the last time he will ever cheat at cards…..or breathe again! (You’re welcome for the mood I set there. Make sure to pause to let the goosebumps go down.)

RCO007_w_1467447586-1Meanwhile, within the forests of Madripoor, the man called Logan hunts a deer alongside an aging gray timber wolf. Does Logan hunt for trophies or food? No. He hunts most probably to keep his inner beast calm and pacified. (Apparently this means running around in the woods completely nekkid! I mean, there are cleverly positioned bushes and deep shadows to cover Wolvie’s junk, but come on! Modesty, bro!) The wolf, unsure of it’s company, continues to stalk it’s prey regardless. It finds it’s moment and pounces, ending the life of the deer in one fatal slash of claws! (Damn! You’d think Bambi would be safe since this whole Disney/Marvel merger! As it turns out……) Wolverine notices the trouble that the old wolf is having with devouring it’s meal. Cautiously, the mutant creeps forward and uses his adamantium claws to more easily cut up the deer meat for his companion. After a short pause, the wolf nudges some of the raw meat towards our hero. They then both feast until sleep overtakes them. Wolverine is awakened a short time later by a strangely familiar scent coming from the city below.

RCO009_w_1467447586-1Later, now wearing his familiar costume, (Thank God!) The clawed mutant warrior enters the home of his ally and sometimes lover, Tyger Tiger. This unannounced visit is met with a dagger thrown directly at his face! Slightly amused, he snatches it from the air. The two then decide to communicate more verbally. Logan asks if there are any new criminals that have recently entered the city. Tyger replies that indeed a General Coy has been making new drug connections. As he turns to go and investigate this, Tyger Tiger decides that now’s the perfect moment to break her off a piece of that Wolvie-pie! They make love into the night. (Only Wolverine can turn a B & E into sex! I think this might be an unknown mutant power of his.)

At the docks, a man approaches our dark mystery man. He calls him Cyber and states that his boss, General Coy, looks forward to doing business with him. Cyber says the same about whoever he is working for. As they shake hands, a metallic hand is seen in the moonlight, belonging to the Man called Cyber.

RCO010_1467447586-1We next find our hero using his unbreakable adamantium claws to scale the outside wall of the aforementioned General Coy’s penthouse. As this is going on outside, we find our two criminals beginning a meeting of sorts. As pleasantries are exchanged, Cyber’s attention suddenly shifts. He says that he senses something. Something from his past. (I’m reminded of Darth Vader here when he says, “I sense something. A presence I haven’t felt since…..” And then he just walks off, sentence left lingering!I know Sith Lord’s are supposed to be evil but, rude much?!)

RCO003_w_1467447646-1By this point, Wolvie has just about reached the top of the criminal compound. He enters without a sound, guards completely unaware of him. In the meantime, Cyber begins slowly taking off his hat and trench coat while he explains to the crime boss seated across from him that he possesses certain psionic abilities that allow him to pick out familiar brain patterns. He continues by saying that he has just sensed another man who he thought dead long ago. As the villain continues to disrobe, he reveals that most of his body consists of a metallic alloy of some sort! (Wouldn’t this be an uncomfortable meeting? First the dude starts talking like Darth Vader, now he’s taking his clothes off! I feel sorry for General Coy here!)

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Just as the mutant tracker locates the office, Cyber crashes right through the wall! The two square off. Cyber speaks of how he thought Wolverine was dead. The hero looks momentarily confused. Recognition then crosses his features and he grits his teeth as he roars the metal man’s name in rage! They clash! The ol’ canuckle-head begins slashing wildly with his claws but Cyber merely looks amused as zero damage is done to his silvery hide!

Cyber then reveals that he has claws of his own as needle-like metal fingernails extend from his hands! Before Wolverine can react, Cyber cuts our hero! Cuts him deep! Bleeding profusely our hero is forced to retreat. He throws himself through a nearby window as Cyber looks on pleased.

RCO009_w_1467447646 (1)-1Later, Logan finds himself slowly dragging his terribly wounded form up a nearby cliffside. He is unsure why he’s doing this or where exactly this rocky formation came from. His only thoughts are of escape. While this is going on, in another part of Madripoor, Tyger Tiger wonders where Wolverine is. He should have returned from General Coy’s long ago. Just then, a redressed Cyber crashes his fist through her door! Unafraid she asks the madman if he would care for some tea. He replies that he would. (Cool scene. Personally, in the same instance, I’d have offered some Kool-Aid. You know, just to throw him off his game.)

RCO003_1467447700-1The exact time this is going on, our pal Wolvie lies in a forested area. While his body bleeds, his mind drifts. It, oddly enough, drifts back to a 1950’s looking diner. He sits upon a pink Cadillac speaking to a young girl named Janet. He tells her that he’s not used to having to work so hard to get a girl. To illustrate this, he calls out and several women surround him in an almost cartoon-like fashion. He then tells them to go, returning his attention to the blonde. She replies that perhaps he should ask one of his worshippers to the upcoming dance instead of her. Plus, there’s this other guy…..To save face and show off a bit, Logan lets his claws loose, betting that this other guy posesses nothing as cool as his adamantium claws.

RCO008_1467447700-1-2-1-1That gets her attention! She seems mesmerized by the shiny but deadly instruments of death. She admits that this other guy has nothing like these, but happens to be older, a teacher in fact. This completely enrages the furry mutant! He demands the name of said teacher. She admits that it’s the gym teacher, a Mr. Cyber. Logan slashes wildly at the air, vowing to put a stop to this right away by removing him from the picture in a most final way!

(Anyone else confused?) Finally, Cyber sits in the living room of Tyger Tiger, sipping his tea. He speaks of a deal he’s attempting to finalize with General Coy for a new type of hallucinogenic drug that is so addictive, one can become addicted by simply smelling it! The villain continues by adding that a drug this powerful could make one into a powerful player in the world of crime. She seems interested. Too interested. (Ah! I get it! Wolverine’s stoned out of his gourd! Uh…..um…..say no to drugs, kids!)

The next part of our Wolverine epic shows him still in the woods barely able to hold his internal organs in with his forearm. But, as this is going on, he continues to hallucinate. He dreams of arriving at a high school. A girl he must know approaches and tells him that the coach just left with Logan’s girl, Janet. But, before the mutant can race off in his car, Cyber and Janet pull up next to him in a bigger vehicle. (It should be noted here that the “cars” or “vehicles” I’m speaking of are…..well…..I guess you’d call them weiner-mobiles. Now, before you laugh yourselves silly, remember that this is just a hallucination. By the way, Wolverine dreams of Cyber’s weiner-mobile dwarfing his in size. Ponder the hidden meaning there, folks!) After exchanging challenging words, Cyber races off with Wolverine in hot pursuit!

RCO003_1467447767-1Meanwhile, Tyger Tiger and Cyber sit in the living room of her apartment haggling over the cost of keeping this new drug from General Coy and putting it into her own hands. A price is not agreed upon and Cyber grows aggitated. Within the dream-world, Cyber pulls ahead of our hero easily, but instead of just winning or escaping, he turns quickly and smashes his vehicle into Wolverine’s with full force! Minutes later, within the firey destruction, Logan walks from the wreckage, the dead body of Janet held in his arms! He places her carefully on the ground and unleashes his claws as Cyber approaches. Both appear ready to fight!

RCO008_1467447767-1Next, we find Tyger Tiger seemingly alone in her apartment. Cyber has gone but she now aims a gun at an intruder of some type! As it turns out, it’s the timber wolf from earlier on in our tale. She senses that the wolf wishes her to follow it. Back in the dream-world, Wolverine and Cyber rush each other, slicing and dicing as they meet and then take opposite sides. Suddenly, Logan quite literally falls to chopped-up pieces! (Don’t you hate that in anime? You know, when two rivals rush each other and then end up on other sides. One then looks back and the other’s head falls off. Nobody’s weapon is that sharp and precise, people! Ugh! Anyway, returning to our story…..) Cyber spits down on the pieces of our hero and turns to leave.

RCO005_1467447818-1Back in the real world, the old timber wolf has led our leading lady to the wounded Wolverine at last! He remarks that he’s just about healed when he suddenly catches wind of Cyber’s scent upon her! Still confused and reeling from the drugs, he turns to attack his savior! She soon talks him down, though, and helps him walk away from the bloody scene, towards a more safe area to speak further.

RCO007_1467447818-1Back at the headquarters of the crime boss, General Coy, Cyber finishes up his business. He has sold the drugs. The General seems worried that there will be retribution from Tyger Tiger and her “friend”. Cyber replies that he’s counting on it!

RCO003_1467448063-1At the home of Tyger Tiger, Wolverine is now safely letting his mutant healing factor do it’s job. As this goes on, she asks the question upon everyone’s minds: Who is Cyber? In true Wolverine fashion, though, he is cryptic and uncooperative. He tells her very little. Tyger tells him how she is supposed to meet Cyber at midnight for the purchase of his powerful hallucinogen. It’s imperative she know what she’s gotten herself into. Logan tells her that if she’s involved with Cyber, she’s already lost. Tyger is understandably confused. Is this not the famous scrapper from the Weapon X program? It’s then that he admits that Cyber has beaten him in the past. Not just beat him physically, but mentally. If she’s goes up against that madman, she’ll have to do it alone. (Shocker, right? Who would have ever pegged the deadly Wolverine for a coward? That’s it, I’m burning my Wolverine Fan Club membership card right now!)

RCO010_1467448063-1-1Midnight comes. Tyger Tiger and General Coy stand on the docks, opposite one another. Both have their own personal armies surrounding them. Before much can be said between the two, Cyber interrupts from the shadows. Looking, you can glimpse the villain standing upon the corpses of the aforementioned armies from minutes ago! He steps down slowly, admitting that he did in fact bring the drugs, but he won’t be selling to either of them! He will now be the authority in Madripoor! Tyger starts to stand up to him but is hit with a metallic fist for her trouble! That’s when we hear the familiar SNIKT noise from the shadows! Wolverine came after all and, by the look on his face, Cyber had better begin to pray! (P. S. I never got around to burning that membership card.)

RCO006_1467449343-1-1Claws are unleashed from both combatants’ bodies as they begin to square off. Wolverine remarks how his claws are longer. (Ohhhhh! Burn!) Tyger Tiger and General Coy hold handguns aimed at one another as the two clawed men lunge at one another! The two beat and slice the holy hell out of each other as the fight moves onto the top of a nearby truck! Meanwhile, Tyger and the General have moved their standoff inside. It soon becomes a battle of words between both parties. The hallucinogen from Cyber’s claws work into his system as he fights to crash through the windshield of the truck that Cyber has taken control of. At one point, he even pictures the truch and driver to be a gigantic rushing bull! (Whoa! That must be some great stuff! Cheech and Chong would be so jealous! And Logan’s getting this stuff for free!) As the two continue to bicker, Cyber suddenly loses control of the vehicle! The truck careens off of an cliff!

RCO010_w_1467449343-1The two, of course, survive the horrendous fall. As Tyger Tiger and General Coy decide how to best explain the loss of so many of their  men to one man, Wolverine and Cyber continue their brawl! Cyber leaps from tree to tree in pursuit while Wolverine dodges and moves every time the madman attacks. Finally, his luck runs out and he’s cornered. Cyber pins Wolverine to a tree, telling him that he’ll never hurt him with his adamantium claws as his skin itself is adamantium! He finishes his threat by spitting in our heroe’s face! All this does is anger the ol’ canuckle-head further and he breaks loose of Cyber’s grasp, slashing out one of Cyber’s quite vulnerable eyes!

RCO006_1467449401-1He then continues his assault until Wolvie’s friend, the timber wolf, pounces from a nearby ledge, knocking Cyber down into the mangled wreckage below! The hallucinogens within seep into the open wound where his eye once was! (To say Cyber was now “tripping balls”, as the kids like to say, is an understatement!) The battle-hardened warrior then leaps to solid ground. Tyger Tiger awaits him. He takes her in his arms and kisses her passionately.

END.

RCO010_1467449401-1-1And now for the real reason I wrote this article. Five years ago today, my stepfather passed away from a heart attack. He had had a severe one some time before and recovered from it. Unfortunately not enough. The stronger one from earlier had weakened his heart to the point where the second one took his life. Now, I know that when the death of someone you care about hits so suddenly and from seemingly out of nowhere, the shock you feel is unbelievable. But you see, my stepdad was always my Wolverine. He looked and healed like the character so that’s what I called him.

But sometimes heroes pass away and they don’t return. Sadly, this was one of those times. My dad always encouraged me to write. I know he would be proud of me and this article. This article isn’t about the “blood loss” from Wolverine’s body. Its about the loss of my “blood”. My family. My father. The question mark in the title hints that this article isn’t about Logan at all. That is correct. This is dedicated in the memory of Bobby Allen Metz. He is and will always be my hero. SNIKT!

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Not Those Guardians, Not That War

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!

 

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I can’t be the only person who’s a sucker for superhero comics featuring sidebars of the faces of the characters located therein!

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.

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Starhawk is giving Talon a death stare here; what’s he so mad at our cat pal about?

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.

 

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Just kidding, y’all; these heroes are gonna fight!  MAKE MINE MARVEL!

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.

 

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If the Care Bears were a part of the Marvel Universe, this is totally what their stare would be.

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.

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Regardless of who they are doppelgangers of, Doppelgangers are always rude.

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!

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This Jarvis is so much better than movie Jarvis. Fight Me.
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.

 

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It’s a rule in the Marvel Universe that anyone who has Cap’s shield is automatically in charge of the situation.

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.

 

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Starhawk is supposed to have new omniscience as “the one who knows” but he seems to be the only one during the entire Infinity War crossover who doesn’t know that getting absorbed by the doppelgangers is a really bad idea.

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!

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More intimidating fat dude: Kingpin or Doc Ock?

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.

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The one on the bottom left looks like a Morbius doppelganger.  RISE OF THE MIDNIGHT SONS CROSSOVER, Y’ALL!

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!

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Make your own “they shocked the Shocker” jokes here.

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!

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Fucking Ouch

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!

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Never mind that Shocker joke you made earlier; dude himself had it covered the whole goddamn time.

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!

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Did the Fantastic Four really start like what?  A janitorial crew?  I don’t recall that, but with all the retcons they’ve had, who fucking knows?

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!

Vengeance for the Rider (Part 2)

Why hello! I didn’t see you there. You appear to be the fans of that Unspoken Decade website. What a coincidence! I happen to be the author of several articles from the site you so love! That’s right! I am the Symbifan, and I was just about to begin the second part of my musings over the small period in time in which Vengeance was the replacement for Ghost Rider! Aren’t you lucky? Well, take a load off and I’ll regale you with my thoughts on the subject….

RCO003-1Our story begins with pain. Pain for the assassin known as Dread as Police Lt. Michael Badilino unleashes fury with his fists for the cop-killer. As his fellow officers attempt to hold the enraged man back, Dread simply smiles and offers nothing but ridicule. (Pretty tough talk for a man dressed in purple jammies! I know. I know. I said that in the last article. But come on! Seriously?!) Finally, Badilino is forced from the room by the others from his strike force. As he stomps through the police station, presumably to get some air, he is stopped by his Captain. The senior officer tells him that since he was the one who captured Dread, the Mayor wants him to be the one to talk to the press about the case. Against his will, as he is not the public speaking type, Badilino begrudgingly complies. (Ha! Go figure! A flaming skull-headed vigilante doesn’t like talking to the press? Nah, I’m sure he’s friendly! After all, he is always grinning!)

RCO004As Vengeance’s alter-ego does his best to answer the questions fired by a frenzied press, no one notices anything spectacular about a certain photographer for the Daily Bugle. And why would they? He seems to blend in perfectly with the crowd. Yes, no one would suspect that this mild-mannered agent of free speech has in fact saved this city more times than he could ever count. For this is Peter Parker, AKA The Amazing Spider-Man! (Wow! Quite the build up there! And I bet you had no idea I was gonna name Spidey as the photographer in his civilian identity, did you? What’s that? It was obvious?! It was the “mild-mannered” comment, wasn’t it? Hey, it could be Superman in disguise! Oh yeah, wrong company. Moving on….)

RCO009As Peter Parker takes his measure of the hero before him, something strange is occurring in the room Dread occupies in the police station. His body is mending! As the assassin heals, he mentally calls out to a creature he calls Rak. (The name makes you male readers wince in pain, doesn’t it?) He calls for aid. Rak seems to be the very same creature from last issue that Vengeance had trouble defeating! The monster answers Dread’s mental summons for help and leaps down to the crowd of unaware reporters below! As chaos quickly errupts, Parker slips away to change into an outfit more befitting the situation! Meanwhile, Badilino opens fire on the monstrosity but to no avail! Rak merely advances! The creature then backhands him away as simply as batting away a fly! It is then that Badilino changes himself. A moment later, Vengeance has entered the scene!

RCO013-1Vengeance wastes little time stomping toward his prey but is soon met by everyone’s favorite wall-crawler as he swings down to help! Both heroes have few words for one another but rather leap into action like the pros they are. It looks like the monstrosity known as Rak will be quickly defeated since it’s now outnumbered! But wait! The odds quickly change as Dread has escaped! The killer wastes little time and strikes out at our flame-headed hero while Spider-Man battles the behemoth known as Rak! It seems like a good strategy: divide and conquer. The only problem is that the two heroes begin to argue over whether the villains’ lives should be terminated! (I bet you know which side Vengeance takes in this debate! Damn blood-thirsty Spider-Man! Just kidding!)

As this conflict goes on, Dread seizes his opportunity and runs Vengeance through with his sword! It matters little to the dark vigilante, though, as he easily snaps the weapon in two and backhands Dread a good distance away! Vengeance then lets loose a huge blast from his chest cavity, seemingly from his injury! By this time, the villainous duo decide a retreat is in their best interests! Telling Spider-Man to handle the crowd, Vengeance makes a hasty retreat himself on his demonic bike. He speeds off in pursuit!

RCO022As the hellish biker roars down the streets in search of his prey, he is interrupted by the sudden appearance of the web-slinger who states that there is a better way. He placed a spider-tracer on the evil-doers during the scuffle! (Good ol’ Spidey! Now that’s an experienced hero right there! Makes me sorry I called him blood-thirsty earlier as for a goof. Oh well, as you now know, no one is safe from the sarcasm of the Mighty Symbifan!) The villains are soon tracked to their hideout where they are hooked up to strange machinery. They seem to be regenerating! Vengeance, being the stealth type, (Yeah, right!) kicks in the wall! Spidey catches up soon after and the battle begins!

RCO025The heroes and villains are soon caught up in mortal combat! It doesn’t take long for our heroes to gain the upper hand, however, when Rak is stabbed by one of Vengeance’s detachable shoulder spikes! Spider-Man then clocks Dread a good one, sending him sailing through the air and to the floor! Vengeance then attempts to stab Dread through the heart with another spike! This, of course, starts a back-and-forth verbal battle between the two heroes about the subject of murder. It doesn’t go on for long before the mysterious Hellgate makes an appearance at last! (Well, in astral form anyway. Wussy!) Hellgate catches his two minions up in an energy wave and they disappear! He then threatens Vengeance that he has now become an interest to him. Soon after, Hellgate disappears as well, leaving the heroes to go their own ways.

Later….

RCO003-1The last part of our journey takes us to Manhattan where a hostage situation is taking place at a convenience store. One hostage is already dead, two police officers wounded, and several still are being held against their will inside. As the surrounding officers go to move in, Vengeance arrives and strolls right in, straight through semi-automatic gunfire! As the barrage of bullets pass through Vengeance’s fiery form, the biker vigilante systematically takes the foolish criminals apart with brutal force! One of them actually gets the “wise” idea to use a machete where bullets have failed! (Dumbass, right?! Even Vengeance comments on it! That’s as stupid as throwing the gun at an enemy after firing an entire clip! God, I always hated that! Moron!) This, of course, does nothing but amuse the new Spirit of Vengeance.

RCO015After, Badilino decides that he just needs to take some time off from everything. The stress of his daily police duties along with his “night job” have finally taken it’s toll. He leaves the station and heads straight to Cypress Hill Cemetery. Meanwhile, the villain known only as Hellgate orders two of his operatives to bring Vengeance in alive! (Yeah, good luck with that, boys!) Returning to the cemetery, Badilino sits in deep thought at the mausoleum where Ghost Rider’s remains lie. But what’s this? Within, the empty eye-sockets of the grinning skull suddenly light up with an eerie glow! While this is happening, Hellgate’s operatives move into position. Sensing something awry, Badilino reaches in his jacket for his gun. While pulling the weapon free of it’s holster, it is seized and crushed by a large, green hand! Turning, the Hulk is revealed! (That’s right, folks! Things just got real in a very big way!)

Badilino bolts into the mausoleum, only to emerge moments later as Vengeance! The Hulk states how he’s only there to investigate Ghost Rider’s sudden disappearance, but his words fall on deaf ears as he’s blasted through a gravestone by hellfire! Understandably mad, the Hulk returns with a earth-shattering uppercut, sending the demonic warrior sailing through the air!

RCO019Hellgate’s operatives witness all that has transpired and decide to let the green behemoth tire Vengeance out before moving in. (Hmmm. These goons may not be quite as stupid as most henchmen are!) Vengeance returns with a low blow with what appears to be all of his might! (Yeah, that one hurt to even look at the picture, I’ve gotta admit!) Really mad now, Hulk attempts to retaliate when, unexpectedly, one of the henchmen gets antsy and fires at Vengeance! (Forget what I said earlier.)

RCO021_w-1With the proverbial cat now out of the bag, the operatives now start blasting at both combatants! Vengeance wastes little time and leaps to attack! The two are ready for this, however, and hold him in stasis in an energy field! This doesn’t last long as the Hulk uprooted a lamppost and strikes both assassins midflight! He then reaches down and lifts Vengeance to his feet. Surprisingly, the two fly back for more! This is easily halted by a well-timed sonic clap and two thrown shoulder spikes! The fight is soon over. Later, the two heroes sit in the graveyard as the veteran hero, the Hulk, gives Vengeance some advice: “Control the power. Don’t let it control you.” Well said words from a man who knows. As the two leave in friendship, the skull of Ghost Rider secretly flares to life, igniting into blazing hellfire!

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Well, that’s it, fellow Legions of the Unspoken. Ghost Rider would return as the Spirit of Vengeance, and Vengeance himself would take second fiddle to the bigger star. I, however, would never forget the short time that Vengeance was “The Rider,” even though most other fans did. My reasoning is that even fictional superheroes deserve their own day in the sun. Don’t you think? We all do.

(This article is dedicated to my own personal hero, my son, James Miller. No matter what life throws at him, he perseveres and overcomes. I wish I could be more like him. Interesting note, he has a large Vengeance action figure that looks down at him from his dresser. A gift from his biggest fan, me.)

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