Today, we check out Fear Itself: Hulk Vs. Dracula #3, Ghost Rider #4, and Blast to the Past for Marvel Team-Up #1 & Marvel Premiere #21. Enjoy and spread the word!
And lo, there shall be... an ending. Now, we're not quite to that final final battle that is Fear Itself #7 but we're still drawing a close on two Fear Itself storylines.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Heroic Age and beyond? Check no further than this link right HERE.
First up, the fate of the Hulk!
Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula #3
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Ryan Stegman
In this issue:
• Raizo Koda lands a VTOL in Pasnic, Romania. He picks up Inka, leaving the rest of the Forgiven to continue the fight against Nul, the Breaker of Worlds.
• Dracula and his command team have assembled as many soldiers as possible and now race out to fight the former Hulk to the death.
• Nighteyes and the Forgiven continue fighting Nul right out of Pasnic, reporting to Dracula on the Worthy's position.
• Dracula prepares St. Sebastian for his last stand and gets word out to the citizens that they'll be expecting the Hulk. The fear draws the Breaker of Worlds there.
• Drac and Janus have a little father son chat and then grab their swords for the fight.
• The Forgiven hit the former Hulk with two trains. It doesn't take.
• After a few more delaying tactics, Dracula's army faces Nul at the walls of St. Sebastian. No attack works against the super-charged Hulk.
• Just as Dracula is about to get smashed, Raizo flies into St. Sebastian with the Red She-Hulk. Betty finally convinces the Hulk to fight back against the Worthy. Hulk does this by breaking his hammer.
• This frees the Hulk from the Breaker of Worlds influence. The Red She-Hulk proves to have been a trick performed by Inka. Hulk yells at everyone and then leaps away.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Back story, back story, and more back story. In the Fear Itself main series, seven evil hammers found their way into the hands of seven super-powered individuals. It transformed them into ancient, exiled, extremely old Norse gods. For the purposes of this story, only the Hulk is important. He turned into Nul, Breaker of Worlds. While truly a powerhouse in the Marvel Universe, the hammer made the Hulk even stronger, to the point where defeating the behemoth was really no longer an option.
After a fight with Thor in Fear Itself #5, Nul was swatted by the thunder god's hammer from New York City all the way to Romania. From that point on, he became the problem of the vampire nation.
That means Dracula.
If you're used to more traditional takes on the Lord of the Vampires, you'll be disappointed. Drac is sporting red and black armor, long white hair pulled into an obnoxious ponytail, and eight new layers of attitude. He and his command team have been throwing everything they can at the green goliath without even one hint of success.
Last issue, Drac sent the Forgiven after Nul. The Forgiven are an exiled vampire sect led by the Japanese vampire, Raizo Kodo. Kodo is a personal rival to the Lord of Vampires and has a different worldview to match. By the name "Forgiven," you can guess that these guys are as close as you're going to get to good guy vamps. The issue ended with the Forgiven losing a fight against Nul as Raizo left Dracula's War Room, claiming that no military attack would succeed against the Hulk.
While Nul has slaughtered vampire legion after vampire legion, the Forgiven are swatted aside and left in their state of unlife. When Kodo shows up in the VTOL, he finds many of his teammates recovering from the recent battle in Pasnic, Romania. Right now, he only needs one of them.
Inka, the lady in the hood, is called over to his aircraft. It seems she's been studying some ancient Klaw Sect (one of the two more military minded groups of vampires) technique that would take her a good year to perfect with constant training. Kodo gives her one hour. The two take off. Raizo tells the remaining Forgiven to continue the fight against the Breaker of Worlds.
In Dracula's War Room, plans are being made for the last stand against the former Hulk. The Legate of Krieger Sect (the other more military minded groups of vampires) has not been able to assemble as many troops as he would have liked but time has run out. Dracula asks another vampire if his "special arrangements" have been put together. The vamp talks about how hard it was to get so much adamantium so quickly before telling his Lord that, yes, it IS ready.
Now, they only need to figure out WHERE to have a dramatic last stand. Drac wonders aloud if the Forgiven are still available to tell them where the Worthy is right now.
The former Hulk is still smashing up the streets, buildings, cars, and trees of Pasnic but Dracula isn't aware of that right now. The Forgiven are still on the scene. Ghost Blade gathers up Nighteyes who is just waking up after her fight with Nul last issue. The team races to safer ground to discuss their strategy. They have orders from Raizo to keep the Breaker of Worlds busy and orders from Dracula to report on the Worthy's whereabouts. Since neither of those two is in the field, it's up to Nighteyes on what the Forgiven actually do.
No real choice for heroes, right. The Forgiven get back into action. While they're at it, they give the War Room a heads up on what the Breaker of Worlds is up to.
As Dracula's son, Janus, sees things, Nul is just making a lot of noise without any real direction. Drac says the Worthy is looking for a suitable target. That's something he can provide.
The big confrontation between Dracula and the former Hulk will be at St. Sebastian. Drac has a history with the town that dates back to 900 AD. The Lord of the Vampires tells his son to tell the good people of St. Sebastian that the Hulk will be showing up shortly. Janus warns that this will scare the locals... which is just what Dracula wants. Fear will attract the Worthy.
Dracula gives a speech to the other lead vampires, telling them that they're facing an enemy of the world even though they themselves are feared and hated. He's proud to die at their side. They, in turn, are happy to do the same by the Lord of the Vampires.
While the rest of the Vampires race off for last minute preparations, Dracula has his son get his sword. Drac goes on about how long he's lived (and died) but always returned and can't believe that this is actually the end. In fact, it isn't the end. Janus asks about Raizo Kodo but the Lord of the Vampires has nothing good to say about his rival. Dracula tells Janus to join him in this final conflict.
Meanwhile, the Forgiven are still trying to keep Nul occupied. Their latest plan involves smashing two trains into the Worthy at the same time. This involves the former Hulk doing exactly what they want which is ridiculous but works. Before the fire can even start to subside, the Breaker of Worlds emerges from this destruction, unharmed. Of course.
When he hits the ground, Nul swats Visigoth with his hammer. The Forgiven bruiser soars through the air, landing at the feet of Dracula and his army. Visigoth tells the Lord of the Vampires that the green goliath is on its way. Dracula hastens the soldiers' march to St. Sebastian and has the Krieger Legate send out a group of soldiers to keep Nul busy.
Of course, these guys are cannon fodder and easily dispatched by the Worthy.
This leaves Nul with a clear path right to the tall walls of St. Sebastian. Inside the city, Captain Luna (you remember her, right? She's been the War Room's eyes on the field for the last two issues) makes certain that the everything is set before ordering the remaining soldiers back.
From the walls, Dracula shouts some trash talk down at the former Hulk. When Nul leaps at him, the Lord of the Vampires orders a net fired at the Worthy. This isn't an ordinary net, of course. This thing is made of admantium and tipped with Gravity generators that make the Breaker of Worlds 100x as heavy as usual. For some reason, the Vampire Lord thinks that has ended this fight and gloats about it.
Maybe those gravity generators should have been set to 200x Hulk's normal weight. Possibly 300x. It doesn't matter. Neither does the adamantium netting. Nul just breaks through it like it was aluminum. The Worthy's next move takes down the wall.
Dracula falls, still cursing Nul. He won't get up in time to put up any more of a fight. The Breaker of Worlds lefts up his hammer, intent on killing this vampire.
Before the hammer drops, the former Hulk is attacked by a single VTOL aircraft. The bullets don't do much more than get the Worthy's attention. The cockpit opens revealing Raizo Koda and...
The Red She-Hulk. Betty Ross. She tells her former husband that he can fight past whatever has overpowered him. She tells Bruce that she loves him and then changes to her human form (with a clothing change- that's important) to say that if he can't stop, he can just go ahead and destroy everything (which would probably include her).
This gives the Hulk the strength to fight back against Nul. If there was one Worthy that should have the sheer strength of will to take control away from this possession, it would have to be the Hulk. And Ben Grimm. Thing kind of did this, too but I think those parasite things kept him extra in line. Hulk doesn't have any talking worms talking to him, so it's easier. The green goliath takes his hammer and gives it a good smash.
This reverts him to Bruce Banner.
When Bruce looks up, he sees Inka in front of him. She admits that Betty Ross was never here. This was that Klaw Sect technique that she needed to learn in an hour. It made her look like the Red She-Hulk and then Betty Ross... though they were both in different clothes probably because of different picture sources.
Dracula doesn't care about any of this. He just sees his enemy vulnerable and takes advantage, raising his sword for a kill strike.
BOOM. Hulk. That swords not gonna do any good. After explaining the whole Betty thing one more time to the Strongest There Is, the vampires just have to wait to see what the Hulk is going to do. Turns out he's gonna bounce. The Hulk could probably beat up everyone here without really staining his conscience but this isn't his fight. It was Nul's. Even though he hates being lied to, he also hates being out of control and forced to kill people. The Hulk leaps away, looking for the next fight.
And now, aftermath. Dracula rewards Raizo Kodo and the Forgiven for saving the day by kicking them out of his territory. Actually, their reward is to not end up back in his dungeon. If they should ever return, there will be beheadings all around. As Drac is laying down this ultimatum, his soldiers are collecting the remains of Nul's hammer.
The Forgiven ponder their fate to remain apart from the vampire nation and then figure out what they're going to do next.
They're going to re-enter Dracula's Castle and steal a hammer.
Ghost Rider #4
Writer: Rob Williams
Penciler: Matthew Clark
In this issue:
• The new Ghost Rider and Adam arrive on a space station to cleanse the world of sin using a giant space telescope.
• Johnny Blaze signs a deal with Mephisto to get a space-bike.
• After the Seeker sets Johnny in the right direction, the former Ghost Rider sends the zombie back to earth.
• Blaze blows a hole in the side of the space station to gain access.
• Adam makes Ghost Rider do that sin-no-more spell again. She starts charging up.
• Johnny enters an airlock and looses his hellfire shotgun. He then loads two sinless astronauts into an escape pod.
• Yes, I did notice that the astronauts looked just like Captain Kirk and Mister Spock. Thanks for asking.
• After Blaze gives the new Ghost Rider a motivating speech about how she can do whatever she wants with her new powers, he's shot in the chest with his own hellfire shotgun by Adam.
• Ghost Rider switches targets when she learns that this Adam claims to be THE Adam and responsible for the Original Sin.
• With that done, Alejandra loads Johnny back into his space-bike and heads on down to earth as the space station explodes.
• Blaze wakes up in the sinless village, having been saved by the new Ghost Rider. When he offers to help her out, Alejandra kicks him to the ground, opting to do this alone.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
So much has happened that I now have to sum up in a couple paragraphs. OK, Johnny Blaze was once the Ghost Rider but gave up the curse when the mysterious and powerful Adam gave him the option. The job passed to one of Adam's disciples, Alejandra, by way of the intermediary, a zombie known as the Seeker. While the Spirit of Vengence was created to only punish to impossibly wicked, Adam had plans to use Ghost Rider as a weapon to destroy all sin in the world. The Seeker wasn't all about this plan but could do little to stop it.
Johnny was alerted to the danger he had unleashed by Mephisto, who thought a world without sin to be a living Hell for him (haha). Blaze was sent to Adam's temple in Nicaragua to take the new Ghost Rider under his wing and free her from Adam's influence. The first encounter didn't go so well. Alejandra didn't think much of the former Ghost Rider and Johnny was only saved through the timely intervention of the Seeker.
More than that, Adam set loose the Ghost Rider's secret ability to destroy all sin. It went off like a bomb. Johnny was spared the effect because the Seeker could dull the Ghost Rider's powers in a localized area. A nearby village was not so lucky. The people moved about like zombies. This probably means that the spiritual bomb took away more than just their sin but that would lead into one massive religious debate and I'd just rather not go that route.
The issue ended with Adam and Ghost Rider breaking into Cape Canaveral and stealing a space shuttle.
This issue begins after the journey into space has already been accomplished. Just like she's done everywhere else, Ghost Rider has used her ability to burn away sin to make the two astronauts manning the station (who bear striking resemblances to Star Trek's Captain Kirk and Mister Spock) into walking zombies. She and Adam are here to cleanse the entire world of it's sin using the station's gigantic space telescope.
So that's the plot. Now, on to more personal things. Johnny Blaze's version of Ghost Rider included a demon called Zarathos as a package deal. As time went on, Zarathos gained more and more power, Blaze had as little influence over the Ghost Rider as possible. Already, Alejandra has discovered Zarathos itching behind her eyelids (if her flaming skull had eyelids-- I'm trying to be metaphorical here). The demon can see sin. Smell it. The two sinless astronauts are invisible to him. The planet below is QUITE visible. Stars, not so much.
And Adam? Packed full of sin. Screaming of the stuff.
Back on... "earth," Johnny Blaze leaves Nicaragua for a flaming room filled with vintage motorcycles. He's here to get a bike that will take him into outerspace and demands that Mephisto serve that up pronto. The Lord of Lies doesn't feel in a particularly giving mood. When Johnny threatens with his hellfire shotgun, Mephisto turns the weapon into a feathered pen.
You see, Mephisto is no fool. He knows when he's got someone in his clutches. While a sinless world would be bad for business, he knows that Johnny Blaze has the hooks of guilt in him and that means he'll let something go in exchange for the ability to make this right. All he has to do is sign on the dotted line.
So does he give up his soul? Maybe his ceramic unicorn collection? His marriage*? Not a clue.
The next we see Johnny Blaze, he and his zombie pal, the Seeker, are rocketing towards the space station on a space-bike (and just like his last bike, the hellfire shotgun is stored in a holster on the outside of the vehicle). The Seeker has the ability to track the Ghost Rider wherever it is. He also has his mind made up about what the Spirit of Vengence's mission on Earth should be. The Ghost Rider is God's instrument to punish the worst of the worst.
A body like Johnny Blaze doesn't sit well when people try telling other people how to live their lives and he especially doesn't like the thought that Heaven and Hell considers the Ghost Rider a spiritual weapon. As well intentioned as the Seeker has been, his journey with the former Ghost Rider has come to an end. Blaze hits the eject button on the Seeker's seat. The zombie is surrounded by a bubble of air and sent back down to Earth.
When he reaches the space station, Johnny fires two missiles at the doors to open the place up for entry. This causes more destruction than he intended but the way has been made ready.
Inside the space station, Adam activates the Ghost Rider's Sinless Bomb right on top of the telescope lens. Alejandra's body begins to generate the power necessary to rid the world of sin.
In another part of the station, Johnny Blaze continues riding his space-bike until he finds a part of this station that isn't venting atmosphere. He makes it inside just as a giant door is closing off the breach but the space-bike barely slips through, losing a tire in the process. His hellfire shotgun is loosened from its fastenings and skids across the floor. You'd think that something that had remained in place all the way into orbit wouldn't have been bothered when rocked around a bit but we also just lost a tire after all of that so... comic book logic.
When Blaze exits the bike, he stares up at Kirk and Spock. It looks like this is going to be a one-way conversation since the two astronauts are doing the whole blank stare zombie thing common to those burned free of sin. Johnny feels extra rotten about this since he totally blames himself. Loading the two onto an escape pod, he sends the Star Trek lookalikes back to Earth. Good thing, too. This space station doesn't have long.
The former Ghost Rider doesn't have too far to go before he finds the new Spirit of Vengence ready to unleash the Sinless Bomb on top of a space telescope pointed right at Earth. He makes his way in to intervene and share his incite into the whole Ghost Rider situation.
This conversation is a little bit more talking and a lot less fighting than the last one. That's probably because Ghost Rider is stuck doing this big task right now and can't spare the willpower to kick anyone. Alejandra definitely regrets what she's about to do but claims that there's nothing she can do against Adam. He raised her and is definitely the alpha male in this comic.
Johnny's motivational talk is all about taking control of your life and how the Ghost Rider isn't a curse but a choice made that is then followed by a bunch of other choices. After delivering his message, he is shot in the chest by his own shotgun.
The wielder is Adam who is finally ready to reveal his shocking backstory. Adam claims to be the ORIGINAL Adam. As in: Adam, Eve, a Serpent, and a Tree of Knowledge. That guy. Adam claims to be the one responsible for the Original Sin but doesn't ACTUALLY claim the credit. He totally blames God for even putting the Tree in the garden because he had no choice but to commit that sin and watch as it cascaded to the world around him.
He goes into how he has finally decided to right his wrong by stealing all these babies and training them to become the next Ghost Rider but it's around this point that Alejandra stops listening and chews on a particular claim he's made: Adam is responsible for the Original Sin. She's the Ghost Rider. Her job is to punish those who commit the worst offenses. I guess "creating sin in the world" is probably high on that list.
Whether Adam is a delusional nutjob with a lot of super-powers or is actually the original Adam isn't really important but it's easy to put him in the delusional nutjob category since the original biblical Adam wasn't known for his super-powers and part of the punishment for sin was no longer having eternal life. This story is obviously not sticking to chapter and verse from the Bible, though, so it could very well by their intention to make this guy the original Adam. Ghost Rider has fought Heavenly Wars and talked to angels and demons so odds are pretty good that if THOSE things bothered you, you probably aren't reading this comic and as such, aren't offended by the inclusion of a presumed Original Adam. It doesn't really matter too much considering what happens next.
Ghost Rider changes targets. Adam's sins have just become the most important ones needing to be expunged. She directs all of her energies at her father figure and it looks like he's pretty well destroyed.
The space station goes up in an explosion as well. Johnny Blaze is loaded back into his space-bike and returned to Earth with the new Ghost Rider sitting on the front of his vehicle.
When Johnny regains consciousness, he's greeted by a curious monkey. A second or two later, Alejandra announces that he's not dead and this isn't the afterlife. Instead, he was healed by the Ghost Rider. Hellfire bullets are just the kind of thing that can be removed by an adept Spirit of Vengence.
She's returned Johnny to the small village in Nicaragua where everyone is free of sin. She's decided that it's her responsibility to return these people to normal. That's her new quest. Taking off the cool knight-like shoulder pad that she's been wearing, Alejandra dedicates her time as the Ghost Rider to righting her recent wrongs.
Blaze offers to mentor her in the ways of the Ghost Rider so that she doesn't make the same mistakes that she made. Alejandra just considers this someone else trying to control the Spirit of Vengence. Johnny's already motivated her to make sure that never happens. Also: she doesn't really like the former Ghost Rider.
Turning back into the Ghost Rider, Alejandra kicks Blaze to the ground, magics up a bike, and takes off for parts unknown.
* Blaze isn't married. That was a joke.
Marvel Team-Up Featuring Spider-Man and the Human Torch #1
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Ross Andru
In this issue:
• It's Christmas Eve Day and Peter Parker is photographing the Polar Bear Clan taking a dip in the ocean when the Sandman shows up on the beach. Spider-Man goes into action but the Sandman disappears when he realizes that it's almost Christmas.
• Since Spider-Man doesn't think of Sandman as one of his bad guys, he swings over to the Baxter Building to hand off this information.
• He finds only Johnny Storm available and extremely mopey since he's recently broken up with the Inhuman Crystal. The two put their heads together and come up with an idea of where to start looking for the Sandman.
• The duo heads to New Jersey in an old Fantasticar. While looking for Sandman, they stops some muggers and get a runaway truck under control.
• When they finally find Sandy, the villain beats them up and puts them in a death trap, leaving them just enough clues to make sure they escape.
• When the Human Torch and Spider-Man catch up with Flint Marko, they discover that he's making his annual Christmas visit to his sick mother. The two heroes sympathize and allow the criminal to go about his business on the agreement that Sandman will turn himself in after his social call.
• Lost in their own private thoughts, both heroes don't realize it when Sandman slips down the bathroom sink drain.
• Regardless, Spider-Man and the Human Torch feel the holiday cheer of Christmas and take off to celebrate the holiday in their own ways.
March 1972! The same month that saw Amazing Spider-Man #106, Captain America #147, Fantastic Four #120, Incredible Hulk #149, Avengers #97, and The Mighty Thor #197 also saw the very first uncredited appearance of Misty Knight. It also happens to be in the very first issue of Marvel Team-Up and that's just too special not to cover in complete detail.
It's Christmas Time in Hollis, Queens. It's also Christmas Time in the rest of New York City. Christmas Eve Day, to be specific. On a sandy beach, Daily Bugle photographer and all around swell guy, Peter Parker, gets ready to catch the Polar Bear Clan on film as they take a little dip in the ocean. Whatever he has to do to get paid, right? Peter thinks about the date he's going to have that night to celebrate Christmas with his main girl, Gwen Stacy, and how some money wouldn't go amiss.
His day is about to take a pretty expected turn. It starts when the swimmers complain about something slipping past them in the water. The Polar Bear Clan rushes to shore, followed by a tendril of sand that collects on the beach until it's Sandman shaped.
There are policemen one the scene to watch the Polar Bear Clan and they do their best to arrest the Sandman but Flint Marko ain't going out like that. The policemen basically serve to occupy the villain while Peter slips on his super-hero suit. Spider-Man takes over for the lawmen while thinking about how it's too cold to go running around in just a skin-tight suit.
One of the best things about a guy like Sandman is that he's pretty hard to beat. I mean, he's made of sand. Unless you trap him in a vacuum cleaner, you're pretty much running a losing battle. That's how it is with Spider-Man. He hits Marko a few times and even manages to web the criminal up but at no point does he have control over the fight. What actually ends the battle is Spidey mentioning it's Christmas Eve. Flint takes this news as a surprise and disappears into the sand rather than continue the battle.
There's not much for Spider-Man to do but swing away from this scene. Marko mixed in with the rest of the sand and is just gone, man. Peter's the responsible type, though. He might not know where the criminal has gone off to but he DOES know how to pass the buck.
While the Sandman first appeared in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter only fought the criminal three times (Spidey says he's only faced Sandy once-- he's wrong) before Flint Marko became a member of the Frightful Four. That makes him more of a Fantastic Four villain than a Spider-Man one. Peter swings over to the Baxter Building to give Mr. Fantastic and company the heads up.
Instead, he finds Johnny Storm, alone and pouting... and wearing the most ridiculous clothes I've seen in a comic. You can tell we're officially in the seventies just by his green pokka-dotted shirt with the purple vest over the top. He's also wearing an ascot. It's... definitely the seventies.
Why is Johnny moody? Well, part of it is probably his fashion sense and the other part is girl troubles. The Human Torch has recently broken up with the Inhuman Crystal and holidays are tough when you've so recently broken up with someone. While the rest of the team are out celebrating the holidays, Johnny has remained in the Baxter Building to be alone with his wardrobe. I mean "feelings."
Spider-Man tells the Human Torch all about his recent fight with the Sandman. Johnny thinks back about his first faceoff with the Sandman and remembers that they fought on the George Washington Bridge. Torch mentions that Flint Marko was entering the city from there and Spider-Man grabs a clue and figures that maybe, just maybe, Sandman was coming from New Jersey.
The two heroes officially team-up from here. Peter isn't going to leave Johnny to this mission alone, not the way Storm is acting. Besides, this is Spider-Man's hunch. Flying off in an old model Fantasticar, Spidey and the Human Torch fly off to the G.W. Bridge and then right into New Jersey.
This is still like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Luckily, there are other people in Jersey that could use the services of two young super-heroes. For example, below them a black lady with a gigantic afro is getting mugged. To make sure that this is actually what's happening, Johnny lights up the sky with a fireball. The muggers take off with the lady's packages (they're presents), as soon as they notice the light.
Odds are pretty good that they aren't going to get too far. Spider-Man catches the two hoodlums with weblines and gets the packages back to the woman. When the criminals plead to be let go, the Web-Slinger leaves the decision in the young lady's hands. She's feeling charitable. After all, they didn't hurt her and she got her gifts back. The woman tells Spider-Man to web them up so they can't cause any trouble for an hour or so and then they'll be on their way.
As Spider-Man returns to the Fantasticar, the lady with the afro wishes him and the other guy in the flying car (Johnny Storm is still wearing his swingin' seventies attire instead of his normal FF gear and is therefore unrecognizable) a Merry Christmas.
Since Spidey had to handle that one, it's time for the Human Torch to shine. Below, a truck is sliding all over an ice covered road. Johnny flies down, leaving Spidey alone in a vehicle he doesn't know how to operate. After melting the ice off the road, the truck driver is able to hit the brakes in time to JUST avoid hitting a parking corvette. That... would have been bad. Once again, people wish the heroes a Merry Christmas but Johnny's still not appreciative. Bah Humbug is his motto for the day.
So our heroes have done the hero thing a couple times but haven't found their quarry. As the night is wearing on and the snow is beginning to fall, Johnny decides it's time to give up the chase. Which is, of course, when they finally find the Sandman.
Spider-Man and the Human Torch park the Fantasticar and engage the villain in combat. As I said earlier, the Sandman is hard to beat and these two haven't really though about HOW they're going to take Marko down. That means they enter this fight with only a wisp of a plan. Even THAT fails them as the Human Torch goes off-script. It's not long before the Sandman lures both of them straight into a wall.
So, yeah, that just happened.
When Spidey and Johnny Storm wake up, they find that they've been tied together. Sandman tosses them into a water silo, shouting "You just keep yer CHIN up, Torchy... an you'll be OKAY."
This is your standard deathtrap. The heroes are tied in a way so that only one of them can keep their head above water at a time. The rope around their hands is connected to a pulley that keeps them at a certain depth. That means they can't talk a plan through which sucks because Spider-Man figures out how to free them but it relies on Johnny Storm's powers. Taking a deep breath, Spidey keeps his face in the water, hoping that his ally can figure this out.
Prize to the Torch, he grabs a clue. Keeping his head above water, dries it off enough for him to flame on (just in the face). Storm spits a fireball at the rope holding them at this depth and burns right through it. Now that they're no longer being held down, both of them can come up for air at the same time. More than that, they're able to drain the water out of the silo. After that, it's a simple thing for Johnny to flame on, burn off their bonds and warm Spider-Man up a bit. TEAMWORK!
Better than that, they haven't lost Sandman. It only takes a little searching for them to locate the thug entering a two-story home. When they follow Marko in, the criminal doesn't seem surprised. After all, he gave them a hint on how to free themselves. All he asks is that they give him five minutes.
Why? This is the home of his mother. She is sick and bed-ridden. Sandman tells them that she doesn't know about his criminal tendencies and that he always visits her on Christmas. To add some credibility to his story, his mom calls to him, using his real first name, "William."
Even heroes have hearts. They give Sandman the five minutes he asked for. Spidey even gives him a gift that was intended to go to Gwen Stacy.
To makes sure that the villain doesn't pull a fast one, the Web-Slinger sets up watch outside the building. Both he and Johnny are lost in their own thoughts. Peter is reminded of his own elderly Aunt May. Johnny thinks about his family and how even without Crystal in his life, he's got a lot to celebrate. All of this internal thought takes up a lot more than five minutes and when the two get their act in gear, Sandman is nowhere in sight.
Johnny tries to investigate "William's" mother's room but runs afoul of Mrs. Baker's nurse who would really like to know who this man is and why he is in their house. She's still accomodating enough to let Johnny look in on the elderly lady. Mrs. Baker is fast asleep, a smile on her face and what looks like Peter's gift, a decorative pin, on her clothes. Johnny realizes that the Sandman escaped through the bathroom sink. Some stray pieces of sand give the plan away.
Well, that's the end of this adventure. Returning outside, the Torch doesn't even have to explain what happened. Spider-Man has already guessed. Even so, they aren't too upset about losing the criminal. They'll be other chances and, afterall, it's Christmas. The two heroes take off back to the Fantasticar, both of them in a pretty good mood.
So, did you figure out who Misty Knight was? Nope, she wasn't the nurse. She was the black lady with the giant afro who was mugged in Jersey. While it seems unlikely that Misty would be mugged by common hoods, she DID have her hands full. Either way, Misty went unnamed in this appearance.
And so, that small, almost throwaway scene was the first appearance of the private detective we no know as Misty Knight. Except it really wasn't. Sure, that's Misty. NOW. It was never intended to be her, though. It wasn't until Marvel Team-Up #64 that Misty, now an actual character, revealed that she had been the unnamed black lady in this issue.
Misty's ACTUAL first appearance was...
Marvel Premiere Featuring Iron Fist #21
Writer: Tony Isabella
Penciler: Arvell Jones
In this story:
• Batroc the Leaper and his Brigade get stiffed out of their payment by Ward Meachum, filling in some housekeeping from the last issue.
• Iron Fist enters the home of Professor Lee Wing and finds the place has been attacked. Dead assassins from the Cult of Kara-Kai lie on the ground.
• Danny is attacked by Colleen Wing's partner, Misty Knight. He isn't able to settle her down with words and has use the Vulcan Nerve Pinch on her.
• Iron Fist's ninja antagonist leads him into the subway and straight into the TEMPLE OF KALI! It is here that Colleen Wing and her father have been taken along with the Book of Kali.
• After fighting more Death-Cult assassins, Danny meets their leaders, the Living Goddesses, for more fighting.
• In the middle of the fight, Rand uses his Iron Fist to break Professor Wing and Colleen out of their iron chains. This causes the giant stone statue of Kali to tumble down on them.
• While Iron Fist and his charges have gotten out of its path, one of the Living Goddesses has to use her remaining power to destroy the statue before it crushes her worshippers.
• Danny and Colleen start fighting more Death-Cult assassins. So does the Professor but in a different manner. Before their eyes, Professor Lee Wing becomes the Ninja!
• When the book is accidentally destroyed, the Ninja is freed from Professor Wing's body and decides that it's time to kill Iron Fist.
March 1975! Avengers #133, Amazing Spider-Man #142, Daredevil #119, Fantastic Four #156, Iron Man #73, Captain America #183, and the Incredible Hulk #185 were on the stands. In Marvel Premiere, Misty Knight was making her ACTUAL first appearance.
I'm dropping you all in at the deep end of the pool for this comic and that means I have to go into explanation mode. Sit back, relax, and let me tell you a little story about Iron Fist.
Danny Rand wasn't originally from the Immortal City of K'un-Lun. He was from New York. His father, mother, himself, and his dad's business partner, Harold Meachum, made the trek up the K'un-Lun mountain in search of the city. What they found was betrayal. Harold Meachum used this trip as an excuse to kill Rand's father and get full control over their company.
Something like that is definitely worthy of revenge. Danny Rand spent the next ten years of his life in the city of K'un-Lun, preparing for his eventual confrontation with Harold. It motivated him to become Iron Fist. Leaving the Immortal City, Rand tracked down Meachum and found the man a withered, old husk of a man. The guy wasn't worth killing. Iron Fist turned away from revenge and was almost shot in the back by the old man.
The timely intervention of a mysterious ninja saved his life and ended that of Harold Meachum. While Iron Fist didn't kill the man, everyone else, including Harold's daughter, Joy, thinks otherwise. She and her uncle, Ward Meachum, have set their sites on killing Danny Rand. Last issue, they set Batroc the Leaper and his Brigade against Iron Fist but the champion of K'un-Lun fought his way through the trap with the help of the same mysterious ninja that killed Harold Meachum.
And that's only part of the intricate web that you'll be getting in this comic. The other half of the equation involves Professor Lee Wing and his daughter, Colleen. Professor Wing unconvered an ancient book called the Book of Kali. That was eight years ago. Since then, he was been hunted by the Death-Cult of Kara-Kai. Iron Fist has become Wing's body guard but wonders how the old man survived the previous eight years without his help.
I think that catches us up to this comic pretty well. Let's see where we can get to from here.
First up is some basic housekeeping from the last issue. Batroc the Leaper and what remains of his Brigade still stand in the headquarters of Meachum Incorporated. Batroc is demanding his payment for last issue's antics but Ward Meachum is dead set against paying the full amount. After all, that prices was for the death of Iron Fist who remains very much alive. The Leaper argues that he lost some of his men in last issue's attack (courtesy of the lethal ninja) and needs the money to make their deaths meaningful (or something).
I'll give you a hint: Batroc isn't getting paid in full. Ward is a shrewd businessman and isn't about to let money go for an unfulfilled contract. Batroc tells the man that Iron Fist will return and might get some help from the Leaper in the next conflict. After that, the mercenary and his Brigade disappear.
Joy is after Iron Fist for pure revenge purposes. She truly believes that Danny Rand killed her father and swears that he'll pay for that. Ward? Ward is a lot like his brother. He knows that Iron Fist wasn't responsible for Harold's death. All that matters is that this is helping him further his own agenda... which is probably evil. Just a guess.
Let's hit up our star character as he returns to his day job as the bodyguard for Professor Lee Wing. Whoops. Looks like he missed something major.
Now, this isn't really failure on Danny Rand's part. He was really only helping Professor Wing part time and clearing his own name was just as important to him. It's still his responsibility to find the Professor and probably Colleen as well. Standing in his way? Colleen's partner.
This, then, is the actual first appearance of Misty Knight. She sees a bunch of dead assassins on the floor and suspects that the kung-fu guy is one of THEM. Natural mistake. She's never been introduced to Danny. Formal intros are going to take many an issue to take place. For now, it is the fighting that concerns us.
Misty's got some martial arts skills. It's probably nowhere near Danny's level but that would be a hard thing to equal. It's definitely enough to impress the champion of K'un-Lun. In the Immortal City, women definitely weren't as liberated as they are in the mid-seventies. Danny finds that refreshing and there might even be a hint of attraction to this lady in-between the lines. I mean, if she would stop hitting him.
Rand, after all, knows that Misty isn't an enemy and keeps trying to convince her that he's a friend. Knight isn't buying that so Iron Fist is forced to take action. This is the "Vulcan Nerve Pinch" scene. Misty is out like a light.
Just as one encounter ends, another begins. A throwing star flies through Iron Fist's chest. It takes a moment for Danny to figure out that he's not dead and that the attack was from an immaterial weapon. Looking for the location of the assault, Rand finds the Ninja. This mysterious and enigmatic figure is also immaterial but seems to be beckoning Iron Fist to follow him. Without any other leads, Danny Rand does just that.
Through the subway. Onto the tracks. Into a hidden door. Danny Rand has found the Temple of Kali. Before the giant stone statue of Kali, Professor Wing and his daughter, Colleen, are chained up. They won't be freed just yet. First, we kung fu fight.
More Death-Cult assassins appear and battle Iron Fist. None of them succeed in beating our hero. After this wave is skillfully dispatched, Danny meets the leaders of this cult, the Living Goddesses. They make their case.
In their eyes, Professor Wing stole one of their valuable books during his archeological dig. The price for that is death. Iron Fist need not die with him. All he has to do is stand aside and he will be spared. To make sure the Immortal Weapon doesn't stand idly by, Professor Wing shouts out that the Book of Kali contains the secrets to destroying K'un-Lun. The Living Goddesses don't know what K'un-Lun is but they do mention that if the city threatens their crazy Death-Cult, then it WILL be destroyed.
There's no more reason to stay his hand. Iron Fist has a soft spot for the Immortal City. Again, Death-Cult members fall before his skill. It is time for the Living Goddesses to strike.
There are two Living Goddesses and they both have a specific power. Shaya the Shade blankets the room in darkness. Ushas, Favored of the Sun, battles with glowing nunchuks. Since those are the only thing that Iron Fist can see, he directs his attacks at them. All he gets for the effort is a beat down. It's lucky Danny doesn't get any broken bones.
The battle is against Iron Fist now. After tripping around the darkened room, Rand hears the Professor call out to him. Danny is close enough to them that he's able to reach the father and daughter. Channeling his energies into his fist, Rand breaks through their iron chains. The move is so powerful that it causes the statue they were chained to to break off its base and topple forward.
Danny Rand gets his friends to safety but the Death-Cult isn't able to get out of the way. Ushas is forced to use the last of her strength to smash the statue. Shaya's blanket of darkness fails at the same time. It looks like the next round is on.
Since they're stuck facing only the Death-Cult assassins and not the more powerful Living Goddesses, the battle is more even. Iron Fist is joined in the fight by Colleen Wing who proves that Misty Knight isn't the only fighter in their business.
One of the Death-Cult assassins tries using Professor Wing as a hostage. He gets the surprise of his life when the Professor changes form before everyone's eyes. The identity of the ninja is revealed!
The ninja goes right to work, trying to retrieve the Book of Kali but instead, he causes its destruction. The book falls into a nearby fire when the ninja kills the assassin carrying it. As it burns, the ninja expects to cease existing since his spirit is trapped inside the tome. Instead, he's freed. The body of the Professor slumps out of the Ninja's.
Overjoyed to be free of the Book of Kali, the ninja decides to celebrate by killing Iron Fist.
And that's that, people! Misty Knight went on to have a romantic relationship with Danny Rand and continued her business partnership with Colleen Wing. Under the hand of Chris Claremont, Misty became roommates with Jean Grey which brought her into contact with the X-Men side of the Marvel Universe. She stared down alien threats without breaking a sweat. Misty's connections to the larger Marvel Universe continued to grow and she's been in charge of two different versions of Heroes for Hire.
The latest version just came to a close but that doesn't mean Misty gets to sit back and relax. It just means that it's changed into a book called Villains for Hire with her still calling the shots (presumably). Odds are pretty good that Misty Knight will continue to play a role in the future of the Marvel Universe, especially the street level part of the game.
And with that, we draw this particular Super Reads to a close. Next up is the slobberknocker drag out final issue of Fear Itself as well as many other tie-in issues. Stay tuned, Super Readers! It's almost done!
Until then: Excelsior!
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