Mighty Week of Marvel #17

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There’s more mayhem in the Marvel mutantverse this week, as the X-Men continue to show their more worryingly violent sides. Stan, Jack, where did it all go so wrong?

First up, it’s X-Force #9, in which old X-foe the Vanisher has stolen a sample of the lethal Legacy virus which almost wiped out mutant-kind. Under the circumstances, it’s perhaps unsurprising that X-Force are not inclined to be terribly lenient with him, but on the whole, cutting the poor guy to shreds, then having Elixir heal him only to also give him an inoperable brain tumor as leverage to get him to talk seems just a little over the top to me! Then, to add injury to…well, injury…Wolverine slices his nose open! Now, Telford Porter may be an unscrupulous super powered criminal, but I ask you, is that nice?

Admittedly, our heroes do have good cause to be alarmed. The Vanisher no longer has the virus. Instead, it has fallen into the hands of the late Mr. Sinister’s cloned assassins, the Marauders! Meanwhile, Warpath has problems of his own, when an encounter with the monstrous Demon Bear leads him to a fateful meeting with a certain flame headed motorcyclist-the Ghost Rider!

Continuity: The Vanisher is one of the X-Men’s oldest foes, having first appeared way back in X-Men #2 (1963). Curiously, Telford Porter never caught the imaginations of either the readers or the writers and has appeared relatively infrequently over the decades since. He was briefly one of the mutant terrorist group Factor Three, and years later fought first the Champions and then the X-Man Nightcrawler.

Later still, he resurfaced as the leader of a mutant street gang, the Fallen Angels. Even later, he fought the New Warriors, Spider-man and Warpath, before eventually falling foul of the Angel when leading a drug cartel. Not a very impressive CV for a bad guy who’s been around for 45 years!
The Demon Bear first appeared in New Mutants #3 (1983).

The Legacy virus also features in Secret Invasion: X-Men #4, in which our heroes demonstrate their newfound ruthlessness again by re-engineering it to attack not mutants but Skrulls, potentially an act which could lead to genocide! OK, again, they have their reasons-the Skrulls have invaded Earth, of course. But still, threatening to use a virus which almost wiped out their own kind and which they spent years trying to find a cure for, to wipe out another race? These are not your father’s X-Men…

Continuity: The Legacy virus, created by the futuristic despot Stryfe, was unleashed on the world in X-Force #18 (1993), though we didn’t realize it at the time. After taking a terrible toll on the mutant population, it was apparently finally cured by the self sacrifice of the X-Man Colossus in Uncanny X-Men #390 (2001). Colossus later got better, of course.

Wolverine is still in a bad mood in Wolverine: Origins #30, in which Wolvie and Professor X take on both Wolvie’s estranged-and strange-son Daken and the ever malevolent Sebastian Shaw, not to mention Claudine Sinister. Wolverine has spent months trying to break the mental conditioning which turned Daken into a savage killing machine, to no avail. But now, Daken seems to be in control of himself for the first time…and surprise, surprise, he’s still a savage killing machine! It falls to Professor X to take father and son on a mental journey into the past to see the truth about Daken’s mother’s death, in hopes of prompting reconciliation…

Continuity: Sebastian Shaw, Black King of the Hellfire Club, has been a thorn in the X-Men’s sides since Uncanny X-Men # 129 (1979). Claudine Renko, ‘Miss Sinister’, may be either the daughter of the late Mr. Sinister, Sinister himself in a new clone body, or something entirely different. She was first seen in X-Men: Legacy #214 (2008).  Daken first appeared in Wolverine: Origins #10 (2006).

Our favourite homicidal mutant is trying to learn some self control in Wolverine: First Class #9, prior to battling Sabretooth for the life of Kitty Pryde. So, on his way through Madripoor, he stops off to learn from a master: Shang Chi, the supposedly retired ‘Master of Kung Fu’!  It’s all very Zen, and involves Wolvie getting hit a lot by Chi apparently because he can’t tell him what an apple is, but ultimately it’s quite a satisfying, self contained story. A shame Shang’s teachings didn’t really stick…

Continuity: It’s sometimes hard to say where in Wolverine’s history these ‘unseen’ adventures are supposed to fit; Sabretooth’s kidnapping of Kitty in this issue certainly predates his first recorded encounter with the X-Men -- Sabretooth, of course, was originally a foe of Iron Fist introduced in Iron Fist #14 (1977).

The island of Madripoor also appears here seemingly long before Wolverine moved there in the 1988 Wolverine series (Madripoor was first mentioned in New Mutants #32 (1985), but Kitty Pryde was already a full fledged X-Man by then so this story must take place some time earlier). Shang Chi’s statement that he is retired puts it sometime after Master of Kung Fu #125 (1983) and before he returned to action.

Shang Chi first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15 and #16 (1973-1974) and had a lengthy run in his own title in the 70’s and early 80’s (Master of Kung Fu #17-125, 1974-1983) before electing to leave his violent past behind and become a fisherman. He reluctantly returned to his much loathed ‘games of deceit and death’ in the one shot Master of Kung Fu: Bleeding Black (1991) and has since starred in such titles as Journey into Mystery and Heroes for Hire.

James Barnes, the new Captain America, is on the trail of both Batroc the Leaper and a mysterious package in Captain America #44, but it all seems to be tied up with an event that occurred in his own past life as the Soviet assassin codenamed Winter Soldier. Who is the shadowy figure out to trap Cap and what exactly is Batroc after? Well, you won’t find out this month, but he mystery is certainly deepening…

Continuity: Savate master Georges Batroc has been a recurring foe of the original Captain America since Tales of Suspense #75 (1966). Which is a remarkable achievement considering how totally inept he is as a supervillain.

Another mystery is slowly unfolding in Guardians of the Galaxy #7, in which the captive time traveler Starhawk recounts a version of the history of the original Guardians group from the 31st Century, and reveals that time is unraveling due to an unspecified ‘error’ which he/she has returned to the past to correct. Meanwhile, with Star Lord missing, Rocket Raccoon has recruited the former Micronaut Bug to swell the Guardian’s depleted ranks and is leading them on a mission which rather surprisingly brings them up against the 31st Century Guardians’ old foes, the Badoon. Are these events connected? What do you think?

In the meantime, Warlock and Gamora are on the trail of the Universal Church of Truth. And on the other side of the galaxy, Drax the destroyer and Phyla Vell have gone in search of the girl Cammi, but what they find is something else entirely-and it hints that Moondragon, Drax’s daughter and Phyla’s lover, may not be dead after all!

Continuity: Bug was last seen during the Annihilation: Conquest crossover, when he fought the techno-organic Phalanx alongside Star Lord’s prototype version of the Guardians (Star Lord #1-4 (2007) and Annihilation Conquest #1-6 (2007-2008). He first appeared in Micronauts #1 (1979).

How he came to be human sized and living in the ‘Macroverse’ rather than in his native subatomic Microverse has yet to be explained. Rocket Raccoon’s first verifiable appearance was in Incredible Hulk #271 (1982), though he may or may not be the same ‘Rocky Raccoon’ encountered by Prince Wayfinder in the Sword in the Star strip in Marvel Preview #7 (1976). Curiously, Wayfinder would later become the creator of the Microverse which Bug hails from.

Also this week, Lady Bullseye attacks in Daredevil # 113, the New Warriors are trapped in a nightmare future in New Warriors # 18, She Hulk and the Lady Liberators are in a moral dilemma in She Hulk # 35 and Nova leads the reformed Nova Corps against-wait for it-‘Taboo, the thing from the murky swamp’, in Nova #19. But there’s a big surprise in store for Richard Rider when he returns to Project: Pegasus and his little brother, Robbie…

Panel of the week: Nova #19

Robbie Rider keeps it in the family in Nova #19

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