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Welcome to another installment of "Back Issues." I dug deep to uncover these rare gems, though I just can't help myself when it comes to Marvel. But I tried to reach outside of my box this time. I found another Valiant, which I'm still much in the dark about. And Image still keeps calling my name.
Check out what I found.
"X-O Manowar No. 48" (Valiant)
A shirtless man unsheathes a sword as he stares down at an unconscious couple. You would think he'd take it out on them, but he whacks at a wooden wall instead. He broods that he was taken from the life he knew. Now that life is gone.
While he broods, Turok shows up. I was excited to see him. Finally, a character I knew. It was funny that the day I bought this book, the comic book shop guy was just telling me about all the Valiant characters he liked, including Turok. I knew Turok from the video games; first on Game Boy, then on Nintendo 64. I figured there was a comic somewhere. But I didn't know he was part of Valiant. Though, I think he's part of Dynamite comics now.
The dinosaur hunter tries to talk sense into this Aric. But there wouldn't be a story if there wasn't conflict. Turok reminds him that they're blood brothers. But Aric doesn't even want to be friends anymore. He punches Turok, then tells him to leave. Then Aric puts the XO suit on and burns the house down with the two unconscious bodies still in it.
"Blue Beetle No. 21" (DC)
I was surprised to see Len Wein's name in the credits. I knew for a while that he was the creator of Wolverine. And since getting into Swamp Thing, I learned that he created him as well. So besides creating great characters, evidently he's a decent writer too.
I picked this one up because of Mister Miracle on the cover. I was going through a Jack Kirby phase a couple years ago. Obviously, he shaped Marvel alongside Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. But afterwards, he moved onto DC. I ordered some trades of Omac and Mister Miracle. Apokolips was a world I always wanted to return to.
Nowadays, DC hypes up their teen version of Blue Beetle. Jaime (not pronounced Jay-Me, but High-May) Reyes manifests an alien scarab for his powers. What I know of him is from the Batman Brave and the Bold cartoon. There was a great episode were Jaime and Batman find Ted Kord, the original Blue Beetle. Ted was on his own island, left to his inventions. He was jealous that Jaime could manipulate the scarab when he spent years trying to crack it. After reading this, I would like to go back and read more of Ted Kord and his inventions. It was those that made this comic great.
Kord and Miracle are in Beetle's blue, scarab-shaped ship, called "The Bug." It converts to a submarine, and plunges into Lake Michigan. The Bug must have lightning speed, because next thing, they're at the California Citadel of the Green Lantern Corps. Several DC superheroes have gathered there for a meeting. Besides Beetle, Miracle, and Green Lantern, there's Killowag, Aquaman, Batman, and Martian Manhunter. They talk about a threat called the Mothership of the Manhunters.
Pursuing the Manhunters, Beetle and Miracle get in a tussle with Overthrow. He boasts, "No Man Escapes the Manhunters!!" By the end, our heroes are tired of hearing this. And obviously, his boasts end up far from the truth.
"Spider-Man 2099 Vol. 1 No. 11" (Marvel)
I own two volumes of Peter David's Spider-Man of the future. One is a return to the character called "Out of Time." And the other is the very genesis from the Nineties. The origin book went to issue Ten. So when I flipped through the back issues, I was stoked to find the next installment.
A guy in a yellow trench coat spray paints "Alchemax Bites." Cops arrive to beat on the "criminal." But Spidey interferes. And so one of the cops says he must hurt the hero. He's decked in a suit called "SItuation Emergency GEar," or SIEGE for short. I like how he feels the need to explain this while he fights Spidey. Obviously, it's more for the reader's benefit than his. But beneficial it is. He tells him that it's a project co-developed by Alchemax and Stark-Fujikawa. I don't know who this Fujikawa is. They could have been in that first volume. But it's been a while since I read it. Though it looks like there's been some changes since Tony Stark was around.
After some action, we read on to Miguel's personal life. He has a personal AI named Lyla. He goes to her to help him think things through. Though he's thrown off guard when she tells him that if she was human, she'd be in love with him. At Alchemax, a Jordan Boone disrupts Miguel from his work. Boone just transferred from Euromax. And Alchemax CEO, Tyler Stone, has sent Boone to look over Miguel's work. Therefore, Spidey's alter-ego storms into his boss's office demanding why.
The last page ends holds an ominous figure. He calls himself Thanatos, and recites cryptic words about Hades on Earth, and whatnot.
"The New Shadowhawk No. 3" (Image)
Just when I think I'm done with my Image research, I'm reminded of Shadowhawk. I found that I love Savage Dragon. WildC.A.Ts and Cyber Force weren't bad. But if you get too much into Rob Liefeld's work, like Youngblood and Supreme, you begin regretting your decision. You almost start to think sour thoughts of Image's Nineties era. But thumbing through the back issues, I found a comic that I almost forgot about.
I think the appeal of Shadowhawk is that no one knows who he is—not even the reader. And when his secret identity is discovered, someone new dons the mask; hence the name of this title. An "S" is written at the end of this issue's logo, however. I think it was referring to the intermission about a fighter pilot in 1918 Germany. I assume this was the Shadowhawk of that era.
77 years later, we catch up to this Shadowhawk. Christina, Lincoln Sum, and Captain Rieves discuss matters which happened in issues before. They're attacked by a female assassin named Trophy. She's decked in a costume that's a mix of Cyberpunk and Egyptian. Most of the credit should be handed to Christina. She more than makes up for her disabilities. Though she's bound to crutches, she uses them as weapons against Trophy. However, they're eventually tied up and used as bait for our superhero.
While the villain waits for him on the roof, the trio are rescued by another costumed character. From a portal emerges what looks like a mummy. He introduces himself as Tome. Shadowhawk had sent him from twenty minutes in the future. Come to find out, these aren't wraps he's covered in, but pages. He tears one off and cuts their ropes. I laughed when they were still annoyed by him, even after he saved him. "I said Go! Shoo! Scat!" says Christina. Then he shows up to Shadowhawk, twenty minutes later. The title hero is now fighting Trophy. Shadowhawk tells him to go and annoy Christina. Thus, setting up the time-travel.
"What If? Vol. 2 No. 11" (Marvel)
The What If series is always a trip. There's always some sort of crazy concept begging for me to crack it open and dive down the rabbit hole. This issue was no different. Just glancing at the cover, I had to see what crazy realities were in store.
Uatu the Watcher gives us four different scenarios. What would happen if all of Marvel's first family were inflicted with only one of their four powers?
What if the Fantastic Four all had the same powers as the Human Torch?
They wake up from their cosmic crash. Johnny Storm feels his effects first. Sue screams, her temperature rises, and then her body smolders. Ben professes that Johnny has become a monster, and now he's affecting them all. Now, they're all becoming freaks.
Miracle Man animates a monster statue from a theater. While fighting the monster, the team lights a building on fire. They think it's abandoned, so they think nothing of it. But there's actually an infant inside. The ending is actually quite morbid. When they try to help the firefighters, Johnny finds the charred, tiny body. It's not shown in the art, but the narration sure describes it.
Because of their failure to save the child, they all quit, and go their separate ways. Sue becomes a nun. Reed loses himself to his inventions. Johnny becomes a race car driver. And Ben joins the Avengers as the Human Torch. And the chain of events keep the Avengers from ever thawing Captain America from the ice.
What if the Fantastic Four all had the same powers as Mister Fantastic?
This story is rather short. They don't even get the chance to become a team. Sue calls their powers ridiculous and ugly. Ben agrees and calls them dumb. While Reed suggests they use these gifts to help mankind, they scoff at him. So again, Reed goes to his inventions, but now he's heartbroken. Since Ben and Sue are mutual about their unwanted powers, they get together. And like in the last reality, another member of the could-have-been team dons the identity of another. Johnny is the one to go forward, and becomes Mister Fantastic.
What if the Fantastic Four all had the same powers as The Thing?
In this one, they don't all turn to rocks. Ben still turns into the Thing. But Reed becomes some kind of ape. Johnny looks like Sloth from The Goonies. Sue turns into Man-Thing. And just like the Man-Thing of the 616 reality, she can't form words to express herself.
Reed leads them to his lab. He presents a vehicle he's been working on: the Fantasticar. They take off to they only place they can go. And so, Monster Isle is where they live out the rest of their days.
What if the Fantastic Four all had the same powers as Invisible Woman?
Instead of starting with the cosmic crash, this shows them already in their careers. A backstory says that when Reed's experimental rocket crashed to Earth, Nick Fury was waiting for them. He took them to basement of the UN building. Their powers were discovered and developed, and Fury asked them to help form SHIELD.
Each member was assigned a special duty. Sue was in charge of International Communications. Reed became the head of the R&D labs. Johhny, with vehicle maintenance and design. And Ben, recruit trainer and chief pilot, working with Jasper Sitwell.