Today, we check out Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #4, New Mutants #30, and Blast to the Past for Savage Tales #1. Enjoy and spread the word!
Three comics!? I might be able to handle that.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Heroic Age and beyond? Check no further than this link right HERE.
Let's see how the kids are doing.
Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #4
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Mike Norton
In this story:
• Gravity goes over some of his backstory and recent events before putting his costume back on and flying fast to Vegas.
• Hardball survived his attack on Kuurth but the other people in this storm drains are all dead.
• The rest of this issue is pretty much Gravity versus Hardball.
• Some heroes start saving lives while the boys bust each other up.
• Prodigy loses his cool as things spiral out of control.
• After slugging it out all issue long, Gravity and Hardball start an earthquake in Las Vegas.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Last issue, Kuurth, Breaker of Stone, made his way through Las Vegas on his way to San Francisco. Before he went on his merry way, Hardball ended up using his power to make balls to collapse the storm drain that Kuurth was running through. The problem with that was there were innocent civilians inside the storm drain at the time. Hardball was also inside.
Before we get to that, let's learn a little bit about Gravity. Greg Willis is a super-hero with gravity powers who looked up to heroes like Spider-Man as a kid. What he loved about these super-heroes is that they were larger than life and they NEVER KILLED. We move through his more recent history, especially when the fake Radioactive Man from the Bastards of Evil blew up in New York City, killing lots of people. All of this has changed Gravity's perspective on killing. Slightly. He's definitely been flirting on the edge of final sanctions but has never crossed over.
Two issues ago, Gravity was shot in the chest by the villain, Crossbones. He lived but his Initiative team wasn't able to capture the ex-Thunderbolt. In fact, one of them ended up eating a grenade. Fortunately, it was a teammate who could live THROUGH that but it added up to Greg losing his confidence and flying home.
Seeing what just happened in Las Vegas has motivated our young hero to suit up for one special reason. We see him flying across the United States from his home in Wisconsin. There is determination in his eyes.
In Vegas at the UNLV Technology Building, we see that Anomalous Fault Activity is running dangerously high.
And now, we can learn the fate of Roger Brokeridge (Hardball) and anyone else who was in the storm drain when it was destroyed. We already know that this didn't stop Kuurth but the Worthy has already moved beyond the city. So... who's alive?
It looks like only Hardball survived. No other people are seen. Hardball's on-again/off-again girlfriend, Komodo, yells at him for doing what he did. It cost human lives with negligible benefit. Brokeridge is unrepentent. Komodo can't deal with that right now so she goes off to see if there's anyone else she can save.
Outside the storm drain, the Order (California's super-hero team) has arrived to assist. Instead of giving them some direction, Hardball's team starts debating the morality of their leader's actions. The argument is getting quite heated. Roger finally gets out of the rubble and tells his team to leave this conversation for later. Right now, they have people to rescue and lives to save.
Which is when he gets his straight on by Gravity.
This fight is going to be happening in the background for the rest of the issue and it's pretty intense. Gravity definitely takes issue with Hardball's decision to kill innocent people in his attempt to take down Kuurth. Hardball doesn't see the world in the bright and pristine colors that he imagines Willis sees them in. Gravity explains that it's not about world view, it's about setting an example. It's all a very nicely laid out debate on the morality of killing and it's set during a fight that goes back and forth throughout the city, breaking many, many lightfixtures and possibly setting off an earthquake.
More on that later.
For now, the rest of the heroes just let those two vent off steam as they try to save lives. The plan is to get everyone safely out of the crumbling city.
The Initiative's leader, Prodigy, watches all of this from his Virginia command center and feels out of control. Things are falling apart. Last issue, Ritchie Gilmore (Prodigy) arrested two men who had been torturing Thor Girl for information. Those two seem to think they have a higher position than Prodigy and aren't taking their incarceration quietly. The guard walks in on Ritchie and questions the legality of keeping these two government agents (apparently) captive. Gilmore snaps at him and then walks off to get his head straight.
Prodigy is losing it. He gets to the bathroom and basically wills himself to keep it together. His hands are shaking. Dude has had better days.
In Las Vegas, it seems like Komodo is trying to make up for all the lives that her sometimes boyfriend took by saving even more lives. She's running herself ragged and digging for people where there are no signs while trying to lift rocks that are beyond her strength level.
Cloud 9 joins her and gives Komodo a clue on what Hardball and Gravity are up to. Thor Girl is off trying to stop the two runaway super-heroes but they are not going to be interrupted. Tarene (Thor Girl) is thrown off into the base of a building. The tremors keep rocking the city, leading up to the big one.
Telemetry (one of the Heavy Hitters) has been analyzing data and sees that this earthquake is being accelerated by Gravity and Hardball's fight. She calls back to Prodigy to tell him that these two need to be stopped but it doesn't look like anyone has any good ideas on how to do that.
At one moment in their fight, it looks like Gravity definitely has the upper hand. It's during a particularly moving speech that Komodo tries to interrupt them. For that, she gets a gravity enhanced backhand by Greg Willis.
Gravity immediately realizes what he just did and is filled with regret. He abandons his fight and races over to Komodo to see if she's still alive. Komodo grunts, which at least proves she's breathing. Greg is still apologizing when Hardball continues their fight.
THAT is going to do it. This clash has finally started a gigantic earthquake in Las Vegas. From the sky, Cloud 9 sees the entire strip shaking out of control.
New Mutants #30
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: David Lafuente
In this issue:
• Danielle Moonstar, riding on Brightwing and wearing her Dark Valkyrie armor, follows the black bird into one of the older parts of Hel. She finds some retreating dead people who are running from the Serpent's creatures.
• Mephisto entertains the New Mutants.
• Moonstar learns that the Serpent's dead dreams/gods have risen to destroy Hel. She rides in to put a stop to that.
• Magma gets the New Mutants out of Mephisto's Hell by agreeing to a date with Mephisto.
• Danielle joins the battle against the Serpent's dead dreams and rallies to army of the dead for about a minute.
• Then she's eaten by one of the monsters.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
A lot happened last issue. Danielle Moonstar was on her way to Las Vegas to visit Hela and possibly get some assistance/intel on how to take down Kuurth. Instead, she was teleported to Hel to give Hela some assistance against the Serpent's attack. The rest of the New Mutants were worried about Danielle's fate so they cast a spell to get to Hel. Instead, they ended up in Hell. Big, subtle difference.
Moonstar is a Dark Valkyrie. That means her powers come from Hela instead of Odin. This is fallout from the Utopia event. It seved Hela well when the Dísir tried to make the recently dead their next meal during the Siege of Asgard. Danielle was able to stand up against the Dísir and direct the dead to Hela's newly-built Hel. It's also going to tie the New Mutants into Fear Itself. So, bonus.
We join her as she and Brightwing fly through the skies of Hel, following one lone blackbird that keeps on screaming about her helping Hela. It's not so great for conversation but Danielle gives it the name "Kaw" so that we can stop calling it a blackbird (which may or may not be accurate-- I don't know my birds too well).
Moonstar and Brightwing alight on an icy peak. This is one of the older parts of Hel... even though the place is a NEW Hel leased to Hela from Mephisto. I don't know. Someone work that out for me. ANYWAY, we'll just go with the fact that this place houses more than just the recently deceased. The ancient dead are also here.
Here come some of them now. These dead people are running away from the dead armies of the Serpent. They were drawn to the life force of Danielle. This makes sense because it was her job to lead the dead to Hel during Siege. Moonstar wonders what could scare the dead (besides the Dísir). They tell her that this is one of those "fate worse than death" things.
Which gives us a chance to switch scenes. In Hell (two "L's") Mephisto is entertaining some new arrivals. These are the New Mutants. Since the line-up changes all the time, the current team is X-Man, Cypher, Sunspot, Magma, and Warlock. They all have their own reaction to the Marvel Devil. Sunspot warns them not to listen to this guy. Cypher believes that it's Mephisto's fault that they landed in the wrong afterlife. The rest of the team seems to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. Warlock and Magma seem unfamiliar with just how evil Mephisto is. X-Man is a bit credulous on the whole "Devil" thing and just views Hell as one of the many dimensions he's visited.
Now, as for Cypher's accusations, Mephisto claims that he had no part in their misdirected teleportation. He's also being honest with them. He's Mephisto. They're in Hell. As I've said in one of Mephisto's other appearances, this guy doesn't so much "lie" as he twists the truth for his own purposes. Loki manages to do the same thing all the time. Like Sunspot says "you DON'T talk to him. Talking's what he DOES. It's how he TRICKS you."
Regardless, Mephisto is an easy out if they can make a deal with him. Cypher seems like a no-go. He can't remember the spell he just cast to get them here. The words are escaping his mind. To help them make their decision, Mephisto shows them some recent events that they might want to help out with. This is stuff like Kuurth attacking San Francisco and Skadi tearing off Captain America's robot arm.
In Hel (one "L"), Danielle Moonstar is learning about the enemy from the walking dead. They tell the tale in poetic words but the gist is that these are the dead dreams of the Serpent come back to life on the Serpent's return. That makes them old. VERY old. These guys aren't willing to face them and so they're running out of Hel... which is impossible but it's what they're doing.
They also say that Hela is most likely already destroyed. We watched something that LOOKED like her defeat last issue. Looks... can be deceiving. Danielle gets back on her flying horse and heads right towards these dead dreams.
Back in Hell, Mephisto is giving the New Mutants his version of the facts. The team is in Hell. That means they're stuck here and subject to the whims of Mephisto. That's incredibly boring, though. Mephisto would rather bargain with them and get something more enjoyable than their eternal suffering. Mephisty is a wierd Devil, that's for certain. He's also being true to his character. Sometimes, his actions deliver more suffering than one would get living in a land of fire and brimstone. For the New Mutants and their many dealings with Limbo, Hell is just more of the same.
When Sunspot tires of hearing Mephisto talk and tries to get this thing more in the physical territory (he attacks the Marvel Devil), Mephisto changes into one of his more demonic forms and catches the mutant with his prehensile tongue. Magma flames up to stop the Marvel Satan.
Which actually works if only because Mephisto is INTRIGUED.
So what's the deal going to be? Magma has to give him a date. No strings attached.
No one thinks this is a good idea and they all warn Amara against it. She lifts a hand to quiet them and then agrees to his terms. Satisfied, Mephisto teleports them off to Hel. One "L."
We won't see them join with Danielle this issue. We might not see it next issue, considering what happens next.
Moonstar finds Fortress Hela besieged by the dead dreams of the Serpent. The army of the dead sees her, the "Dark Angel," and is inspired to fight on despite the odds. Danielle enters the combat field in rare form, swinging that sword for all she's worth. It doesn't take her long to lose that helmet, though.
Shouting about how she's "Hela's Angel" and daring the dreams to attack her, Danielle doesn't notice the monster right behind her.
She just got eaten right off of her flying steed.
That's probably not awesome...
Savage Tales #1
Writers: Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas
Artist: Gray Morrow
In this issue:
• The Man-Thing attacks and kills an alligator in the Florida Everglades.
• With that done, he thinks back... on his former life...
• ...as Ted Sallis. He was a scientist who holed up in the Florida Everglades with his girlfriend, Ellen Brandt, to work on reviving the super-soldier serum.
• His government contact has missed a scheduled drop-off (and an important one, at that) and Sallis is stressed the hell out. Ellen relieves that stress. Through copulation.
• When the government contact never shows, Ted Sallis burns the notes on his formula and bugs out with the only syringe of the formula... and his girlfriend.
• When he reaches the cabin where that contact was staying, Sallis finds him dead. He also finds a welcome party which is being led by his GIRLFRIEND!
• After a struggle, Ted escapes in a car and tries to make a getaway. He realizes that there's only one thing to do. He crashes the car into the swamp and takes that super-soldier syringe.
• This reacts with the swamp, making him into the Man-Thing.
• Man-Thing confronts his attacks and kills the men violently. When he approaches his ex-girlfriend, she's so scared that his skin burns when touching her. It scars up her face.
• Man-Thing leaves her like that. Getting a look at himself in the swamp surface, he is startled... but the memory of his previous life is already leaving him.
May 1971! Fantastic Four #110, Amazing Spider-Man #96, The Incredible Hulk #139, Iron Man #37, and Daredevil #76 were on the stands. It was also this month that Marvel made its second attempt into the magazine market.
Savage Tales was a black and white magazine that was not regulated by the comics code. The appeal was older readers, so the violence and sex were amped up. The lead in story was Conan the Barbarian. The ending tale was Ka-Zar. In between that was the first appearance of the Man-Thing.
The Man-Thing! One of Marvel's first attempts at reviving the horror market! This story was released just a little bit before DC's own swamp creature, Swamp Thing, would first appear in House of Secrets #92 (though this wasn't the Swamp Thing that most people think of when they hear the name). Both characters have similar origins. Some would say this was serendipity. Others... others might think that the creators got together and talked. Maybe some of them were roommates. The world of comics was quite small, after all.
Regardless, both characters went in very different directions in time. Here's how one of them started out...
Florida. Some lovingly call it America's Wang. Such a place is definitely suitable for the birth the Giant-Sized Man-Thing. Now, I could go on and one with the dick jokes but we've got an origin to tell.
The Florida Everglades. A bird is eaten by an alligator. Or a crocodile. You know what? The Everglades is one of the few places where American Alligators and American Crocodiles cohabitate. This reptile has the eyes of a croc but the back of a gator. It could be either. It could be a mutant. I could not be very good at telling the difference between crocodiles and alligators. Whatever the thing is, as soon as it eats the bird (which you'll notice I didn't even TRY to identify), it is attacked by a creature of the swamp.
This is the Man-Thing in all his black and white glory. The fight is brutal but there's no doubting who the winner will be. If it wasn't Man-Thing, this would be a much shorter book.
It's not like the swamp creature killed the gator/croc for food. When the reptile is dead, Man-Thing drops it into the swamp. I guess it's trying to keep the beasts on the endangered list. I don't know.
Something you realize right from the start: Man-Thing might have once been a man but he's nearly mindless now. It takes it a good deal of concentration to figure out what things are and even more to think back on his origin.
But that's where we're going next. The Man-Thing was once a man called Ted Sallis. Sallis was a scientist working for the government one a secret formula. We don't get the formula identified just yet. We just learn that Ted is working on may kill a LOT of people. It wears on his conscience.
Sallis conducts his experiments in the Florida Everglades. The sciencing has been intense so he's brought his girlfriend, Ellen Brandt, along to wear skimpy underwear around the cabin and complain that he doesn't spend enough time with her. Ted tells her that she's not even supposed to BE here as this is secret government work and there's a "no girls allowed" clause in his contract.
It looks like he's waiting for his government contact, Hamilton, to show up to take this formula away from him. It looks like he's finished his latest assignment and is concerned about the results.
After hearing about all the death his chemistry set may cause, Ellen is turned on. She helps Ted calm down from all that worry he's feeling. With sex. You got that, right? Good.
Two hours later (GO TED!), we catch up with the two lovers. Hamilton still hasn't shown up, which is supposedly unlike this government agent. Hamilton is usually right on time for meetings and check-ups and today is kind of important. Something has gone terribly wrong and Sallis wastes no time burning all of his notes on his latest formula. Now, all that remains is the physical sample, stored in a handy-dandy syringe, and the memory of the formula in his mind.
The next part of his contingency plan involves bugging out of the swamp. He and his girlfriend board their swamp airboat and motor over to Hamilton's place. The two enter the government agent's home to find Hamilton dead. The murders haven't left yet and are hidden behind the door.
Ellen switches sides, announcing that she's only been with him to get her grubby hands on this secret formula. Later on, we learn that she was working for Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) but for now, she's just a really bad girlfriend who wants to sell Ted's formula to the highest bidder.
Ellen's men rough Ted up a lot but Sallis still breaks away before they can steal his super secret formula. Sallis runs out of the cabin and drives off in, I'm guessing, Hamilton's car. Bullets fly by the car as he drives away. Ted is still concerned that they'll catch him and take his syringe so he makes the same mistake made by so many mad scientists.
He shoots up on his own crazy drug.
To make this even better, he purposely crashes his car in an attempt to.. kill himself? Maybe he thinks the formula will save him.
Ted Sallis has been working on the Super-Soldier Formula, lost since World War II. He had apparently perfected it. Apparently being the operative word. When he hits the swamp water, whatever was in the formula starts reacting with everything in the swamp. His body changed, contorts, re-arranges into...
Right away, his former life seems to float away from the creature that was once Ted Sallis. Soon Ellen Brandt and her goon drive right into the swamp creature. Man-Thing remembers these men from their violence earlier and he reacts to them. With fighting!
The car is overturned. The men don't stand a chance.
Now, all that's left is Ellen. Man-Thing doesn't have any sense of chivalry so she's about to get the same treatment as her goons. The only difference is that she's had enough time to watch Man-Thing do its thing and she has build up a good deal of terror. Also: what the hell is up with her torn shirt?
Anyway, you should know where this is going. Whosoever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing. The swamp creature reaches out and burns Ellen's face. Once that's done, Man-Thing leaves Brandt crumpled over, crying.
Walking into the swamp, the thing that was once Ted Sallis gets a good look at his new form in the water. Yep, that's terrifying.
And... I guess the scene in the beginning of this story happens sometime after that.
From its first appearance, Man-Thing sort of disappeared for over a year, reappearing in a Ka-Zar adventure dated June 1972. Savage Tales went on a similar hiatus. The magazine was cancelled after the first issue. In October 1973, a second issue came out and the magazine came out on an almost quarterly basis until issue 11.
By October 1973, Man-Thing had moved on to headline in Adventure into Fear (starting in October 1972's issue #10) so Savage Tales moved on without it (Conan and Kull filled up the pages). Man-Thing got to delve into some truly wierd adventures for a swamp creature on the go. It became the Guardian of the Nexus of Realities, conveniently located in the Florida Everglades. This became a constant source of stories for the nearly unthinking creature.
I should mention that Man-Thing got the Giant-Sized treatment that many books got during the seventies. It's very possible that the Giant-Sized books were invented just so comic writers could use it on Man-Thing.
Currently, Man-Thing is appearing in the Fear Itself: Fearsom Four mini-series as well as the Thunderbolts ongoing, where Man-Thing serves as a glorified transport. It's only a matter of time until a new series takes us off on some more wild, Man-Thing adventures.
And that, my peoples, is all I've got for you today.
Until next time: Excelsior!
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX