Tag Archives: Hulk

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!

RCO032

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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Six Weeks of Punishment: Over the Edge Podcast!

Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken! It’s an exciting time here at The Unspoken Decade as we gear up for our very own Dean Compton’s favorite character to make a first appearance on Netflix’s Daredevil! And no, folks, I’m not talking about Elektra. It’s none other than Mr. Frank Castle, the one and certainly the only, Punisher. And what better way to get psyched for his debut than Six Weeks of Punishment?

This weekend Mr. Compton will bring you Punisher and Batman: Deadly Knights, and I, Emily Scott, will take a look at Punisher 2099 shortly after that. We are kicking off Six Weeks of Punishment, though, with the event that launched the short-lived Marvel Edge imprint, Over the Edge, a showdown of Castle versus Nick Fury that includes Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, and Hulk’s titles. Take a listen to mine and Dean’s podcast below, take a look at some sweet very 90s covers, and take another trip back to the Unspoken Decade this weekend for more punishment. For the next six weeks, we’re all gluttons.

The Marvel UK Invasion Part 2 – Zenith and Nadir by Sparky Ryan

My name is Mark (Sparky) Ryan and I was invited by Dean Compton, my good pal, and fellow fan of ’90’s comicdom, to give some of my thoughts and views on the history of the Marvel UK expansion of titles in the early ’90’s.

So with no further ado, welcome back to part 2 of our brief look at the Marvel UK Explosion  of the early ’90’s. In part one we left you with Death’s Head ||’s ascension to the top of the sales charts, scoring a palpable and bankable hit for Marvel UK division, (#1 went into a second printing, such was the demand for the guarantuan killing machine).

A solid foundation of properties had been built and the bedrock existed for further expansion.

All the UK titles featured many guest star appearances by mainstream US heroes. X-Force appeared in Warheads, X-Men in Dark Angel/Death’s Head ||. Iron Man appeared in both Warheads and Knights of Pendragon.

Reed Richards made an appearance in Death’s Head || also, in an entertaining story where Death’s Head was trying to assimilate his genius intellect and was thwarted. Wolverine appeared again and again over the next two years. Venom appeared also in ‘Wild Thing’ in 1993.

Death’s Heath takes a drubbing from the Hulk, art by Geoff Senior.

 

As you can probably guess, these guest appearances were solely to anchor the UK line in the American market and attract US readers to these new properties. As an attempt to ground the UK line and become incorporated into the US line, it was ultimately a failure, for several different reasons.

One major reason was that the US characters were being shoehorned into the story in an inorganic, forced way which often made little sense. Guest stars could turn up at any juncture with little rhyme or reason.

Whatever happened to say, the X-Men or Iron Man in the UK line was never, ever referenced in the characters’ US book which essentially told readers either directly, or subliminally, that anything that happened to the US characters in the M-UK books was inconsequential and ultimately so was the line in the greater Marvel Universe.

Another problem, which connects to the last one, was that so many of the US characters were tied up in the UK characters’ war with the Faustian group Mys-Tech that it further distanced itself from the greater Marvel Universe than say, if both parties did battle with A.I.M or Doctor Doom etc.

Perennial antagonists Mys-Tech.

Mys-Tech was a new creation that even sole readers of the UK books would have had to wait to read more to find out more about them and their motivations. It was clearly a Mys-Take.

This further served to make appearances by US heroes seem inconsequential and unimportant, as the adversaries involved were unknown and little understood by the casual US reader that was trying out these books for the first time to see if they were any good.

Probably the biggest problem, was however that the UK heroes never appeared in the Marvel US comics, and I honestly believe that this was one of the major downfalls of the M-UK line.

In fairness, for the UK team to co-ordinate their efforts with the US editors and writers who would be using the UK characters as guest-stars would have probably caused a major headache for both editorial and writing teams, both of whom were already under the yoke of an increased workload during the explosion of titles during the’92-’93 bubble.

One property proved an exception to the rule. That exception was Motormouth and Killpower, who appeared in the pages of Incredible Hulk #409, in 1993. This incluson may have been prompted by then artist, Gary Frank, who also happened to have been the artist on the Motormouth title.

Hulk #409
Motormouth and Killpower appear in Hulk

 

Mys-Tech Wars

One of the big storylines from the UK branch was the Mys-Tech Wars. This was a four issue limited series that featured a battle between the UK heroes and Fantastic Four, X-Men, the Secret Defenders and a wealth of other US heroes against the clandestine group Mys-Tech (again).

Mys-Tech Wars
Guest stars galore!!

 

It also crossed over into several UK titles. Even with the inclusion of all these heroes, it is very much forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic despite having a reasonable story and some very nice art. It features some smart writing by Andy Lanning and fine artwork by the great Bryan Hitch. Check it out.

Battletide

Battletide is another decent story. It featured a Death’s Head and Killpower (from Motormouth) and almost the entire Marvel Universe. It was silly, but fun. Like a lot of the UK output – it didn’t take itself too seriously. The Geoff Senior (Transformers/Dark Angel) artwork is worth the price of admission alone.

Death's Head vs Killpower.
Death’s Head and Killpower duke it out in ’93…

 

Super Soldiers was a decent title that appeared in mid ’93 and featured a guy who was a product of a UK Super Soldier project a la Steve Rogers, who started his career in the Falklands War and his team. It makes references to Daredevil’s Nuke character, and uses the tried approach of featuring US characters such as USAgent. It’s worth a look.

Super Soldiers
Absolutely gorgeous cover!!

 

Gene Dogs was an attempt at an X-Men type property/knock-off. It ran for a 4 issue limited series. Genetix was another title that debuted in ’93. It was ok.

The direct market imploded in 1994 and the bloated Marvel UK imprint which had appeared so healthy before was now in bad shape and eventually had to close its doors. Several commissioned and completed work remains unpublished including Armageddon Knights. This was a rework of the Knights of Pendragon.  Loose Cannons by Dan Abbnett was another project that never saw the light of day. In 1994 Marvel UK tried a slight re-brand, introducing the Frontier line. It ultimately failed.

It is sad that such an ambitious project by the UK office ended so unceremoniously. They had definitely over expanded their line flooding an already bloated market and experienced diminishing returns. Had editor Paul Neary decided to keep publishing a small group of say, five popular titles they might have enjoyed greater longevity.

To tell you the truth, the larger the line got, the lower the quality of the product reached in my opinion (The UK office were far from unique in this regard in the early ’90’s!). Some of the later stuff like Nikki Doyle:Wild Thing is risible fare, as is Plasmer.

Later Marvel UK mags featured a lot of T & A and big guns perhaps in an attempt to appeal to lowest common denominator, pubescent tastes, or maybe it’s just a reflection of the general (an)aesthetic that was prevalent across the board in comics.

In reality, Death Head || is really the only property remembered well by long time US readers. The Marvel UK characters have returned to Marvel US pages recently in Revolutionary War and it is being reasonably well received.

Be sure and join us on Sparky’s Longbox if you wish to read about some Bronze Age classics!! Or join us on  Marvel UK Comics on Facebook!!!!!