Mighty Week of Marvel #15

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Noteworthy events in the Marvel Universe this week can be broadly filed in three categories: madmen, mutants and miscellaneous. Let’s start with the former, the crazed vigilantes…

Foolkiller: White Angels #3 finds the latest lunatic to call himself Foolkiller teaming up with the equally unstable Frank Castle, AKA the Punisher, in pursuit of the white supremacist White Angels. Perhaps unsurprisingly, despite a lot of macho posturing, there’s an immediate empathy between these two crazies, though I don’t doubt they’ll be trying to kill each other by next month.

In a nice nod to the previous Foolkillers, the White Angels are storing their arsenal at Everbest Storage (the original Foolkiller was one Ross G Everbest). More cheerfully over the top violence from the fertile mind of Gregg Hurwitz.

Continuity: There have been four Foolkillers so far. Ross Everbest created the identity way back in Man Thing #3 (1974), but after his death his costume and equipment were utilized by Greg Salinger (Omega the Unknown #8, 1976), who appeared a number of times over the next decade and a half. Kurt Gerhardt took on the role (assisted by Salinger) in the ten part Foolkiller limited series in 1990, and is seemingly still active (he was shown as an inmate on superhuman prison facility The Raft not long ago).

The current Foolkiller, Mike Trace, debuted in last year’s Foolkiller limited series, but has far not been shown to have any direct connection to the others-though oblique references have been made to them in his series’.   

The Punisher is also at large in (not very surprisingly) Punisher Max #62, investigating the brutal murders of women in a Mexican border town. The case takes on a new dimension when he discovers the women-who are being kidnapped and then turning up dead and mutilated some time later-are being used as disposable labor for a drug manufacturing operation. Still more lighthearted fun and frolics from the pen of Gregg Hurwitz…

On the slightly less grounded-in-grim-reality front, but no less gritty, Johnny Blaze encounters a lethal nun and learns some of the secrets of the Caretaker as the origins of the spirit of vengeance continue to be probed in Ghost Rider # 27. The stories of Zarathos, Centurious and Noble Kale told in previous GR series’ all appear to have been some form of misdirection, so will we finally find out who or what the Ghost Rider actually is this time around? I’m not holding my breath, frankly. More importantly though, just what is Danny Ketch up to? More zany supernatural hi-jinks from Jason Aaron, who isn’t Gregg Hurwitz but is doing a damn fine job all the same!

Continuity: Johnny Blaze became the Ghost Rider in Marvel Spotlight #5 (1972), but we didn’t learn what appeared to be the truth of the Rider’s origins until Ghost Rider #77(1982) told us the story of the demon Zarathos, who had been bonded to Blaze by Mephisto, and his arch foe Centurious. Danny Ketch became the second Ghost Rider in Ghost Rider vol II #1 (1990), and it was later revealed that he was the half brother of Johnny Blaze and that the Ghost Rider spirit was their ancestor, Noble Kale.

This claim was declared to be false, though, by the Ghost Rider himself in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #93 (1997). It remains unclear who this Ghost Rider actually was and how Ketch seemingly became separated from him, or how Blaze became bonded with the demon again. The Ghost Rider is now said to be a creation of the angel Zadkiel, whom Blaze is now hunting, but there are still a number of questions to be answered…

Continuing our theme of revenge obsessed loonies, the former Moon Knight continues his crusade against the underworld in Moon Knight #22, in part two of ‘The Death of Marc Spector’. But with the Thunderbolts on Spector’s trail, the body count looks set to rise rather than fall unless Tony Stark’s forces can find him first. Meanwhile, Marc’s old friend Crawley tries to find allies for the embattled anti-hero, and Spector himself (after handing the Thunderbolts their collective heads) shows us that Moon Knight may not be gone for good after all…

Things are actually not much less grim n’ gritty over in the X-books, as the X-Men effectively torture a prisoner for information in Uncanny X-Men #502. It’s all in a good cause, of course, as the prisoner in question is one of the Hellfire Cult who’ve been targeting innocent mutants, but it’s still not a method one feels Charles Xavier would have approved of!

This issue also sees the return of Dazzler, and more slightly worrying bondage action from Empath and the Red Queen. Whatever happened to the days when the only black leather on show in this book was in Unus the Untouchable’s boots, and the X-Men dedicated their time to stopping Professor August Hopper from robbing banks with his trained locusts?

Continuity: Dazzler was last seen in the limited series X-Men: Die by the Sword in 2007, and was reunited with former lover Longshot in that series. It seems they have since parted company, as revealed in X-Factor #35.  

X-Factor #35 clarifies Dazzler’s situation, as Longshot turns up on the trail of the Skrull who has been impersonating him. Unfortunately, X-Factor have bigger problems-they’ve succeeded in reuniting super evolving mutant Darwin with his father, but his father has now been shot…and it seems Darwin has been abducted. Worse still, Darwin’s dear old Dad turned the kid over to his kidnappers for half a million dollars. And now, one of Madrox’s duplicates is exhibiting homicidal tendencies, too! More upbeat, fun stuff from Peter David, guaranteed to turn that frown upside down…

Young X-Men #6 is the aftermath of the new kids’ fight with lethal cyborg Donald Pierce. The Young X-Men are accepted by the real X-Men (even Ink, who is revealed to have been working for Pierce all along, the traitorous cur) as Rockslide mourns the deaths of so many of his friends in recent months and cries on Cyclops’s shoulder. Will life get any easier for the team now that they’re ‘official’ X-Men? Probably not, but at least this issue also sees the return of a fan favorite from the New X-Men series…

Meanwhile, back in the cozy, familiar surroundings of the mainstream MU, away from all the crazy vigilantes and grieving mutants, that heroic old warhorse Nick Fury is subjecting young superhumans he has effectively drafted into his new ‘Howling Commandos’ to psychological torture and brutal beatings in order to prepare them for war in Mighty Avengers #18. The Gibbon’s fun adventures continue on the other-dimensional world of the Ape-vengers in Marvel Apes #2, as he sees Reed Richards murdered by Captain America and learns that Cap is actually a vampire.

And in Captain Britain & MI13 #5, Blade joins the team and promptly slams a stake through Spitfire’s heart, declaring her to be ‘just another dead vampire’. Luckily, the group won’t be too short handed since this issue also sees the return of Union Jack and Captain Midlands. Meanwhile, the Secret Invasion continues as the Skrulls attack Asgard in Secret Invasion: Thor #2 and War Machine joins the fight in Iron Man #33.

Continuity: Eighty year old super soldier Sid Ridley, AKA Captain Midlands, first appeared in Wisdom #1 in January 2007.

And with that, I leave you for another week-but first, just to prove that Marvel really can still do lighthearted fun…

Panel of the week:

The Age of the Sentry #1

Ghastly ghouls grapple with the Golden Guardian of Good.


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