Mighty Week of Marvel #21

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Lots of developments in the mutantverse this week, but first there are vampiric goings on both in an out-of-continuity title and in one that’s very much a part of the mainstream Marvel Universe...

Anita Blake, vampire hunter extraordinaire, is on the trail of the killer of a young boy and his family in Anita Blake: the Laughing Corpse Book One, but her mission gets a little sidetracked by an encounter with Jean Claude, the new master of the vampires. Blake owes Jean Claude her life but the price-being his human servant for eternity-is not one she’s willing to pay. Plus, a werewolf with male pattern baldness. What more could you want?

Firmly back in the Marvel Universe meanwhile, things are getting grim in Captain Britain & MI13 #9. Captain Midlands has betrayed the team, and the world, to Plokta, Duke of Hell in return for the chance to see his dead wife again. Also, Captain Britain has been tricked into entering Plokta’s dream corridor. Luckily, the now magically empowered Alistaire Stuart is on hand to rescue him, but even with Plokta defeated, things aren’t looking too good for MI13; Captain Britain’s wife, Meggan, is lost in the netherworld and back in Britain, Dracula, lord of the undead, is hatching a new plot, and it has something to do with the Black Knight’s phony Ebony Blade…

Continuity: Alistaire Stuart’s history with Captain Britain dates back to his debut in Excalibur #6 (1989). Originally depicted as a young man, he had inexplicably gained several decades by the time he appeared in the Wisdom limited series (2007). It has now been revealed that his shifting appearance is the result of a magical curse. Meggan Braddock has been missing, presumed dead since she sacrificed herself to save reality during the House of M incident. Sid Ridley, Captain Midlands, first appeared in the 2007 Wisdom limited series.

A forgotten hero learns his whole life has been based on a lie in Adam, legend of the Blue Marvel #3. As the Blue Marvel, Adam Brashear was America’s favorite superhero in the late 50’s, but there was a problem: under his all concealing mask, Adam was black. And in America at that time, the Government could not bring themselves to trust a black man with such power. Now, Adam has learned that his wife of several decades was actually a government agent tasked to keep tabs on him all along. The Marvel is ready to turn his back on a world that has deceived him…but now, his old foe Anti Man has returned to Earth…

X-Men/Spider-Man #3 continues to reveal untold meetings between the wall crawler and the mighty mutants as Sinister’s schemes continue. This time around, it’s the turn of the mid 90’s X-Men in the spotlight as they seek Spidey’s help in stopping Sinister from obtaining cell samples from the Carnage symbiote. But there’s a slight problem: the Spider-Man they meet in this issue is not Peter Parker but Ben Reilly, as the restless specter of the clone saga rears its head once again! Oh, Christos Cage, what did we do to deserve this? Still, it is nice to see the alternative Spidey costume again. And as a tribute to those 90’s writers, Mr. Cage does manage to leave us with more questions than answers. It’s like 1996 all over again!

Continuity: Ben Reilly, also known as the Scarlet Spider, was a clone of Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, created by Miles Warren (the Jackal) in Amazing Spider-Man #149 (1975). Long believed dead, Reilly turned up alive in October 1994 having apparently spent the last five years (ah, the magic of Marvel time!) wandering the country under an assumed name: Ben, after the late Ben Parker, and Reilly because it was ‘his’ Aunt May’s maiden name.

The Jackal, also supposedly long dead, resurfaced shortly afterward and for the next two years Spidey fans were in a constant state of confusion as Parker and Reilly-whose memories were identical up until the point Warren cloned them-attempted to fight their way through a web of lies and half truths to establish which of them was the real Spider-Man.

At the point at which this story takes place, Peter Parker-who believes himself to be the clone-has lost his powers and left New York, while Reilly-who believes himself to be the genuine article-has adopted the Spider-Man name and a slightly revised costume. He remained Spider-Man from January-December 1996, before dying in battle, whereupon his true nature was revealed.

Wolverine has lost the Adamantium bonded to his skeleton in this issue; this was an event that occurred in X-Men #25 (1993). Following the events of Wolverine #100 (1996) he was mutated into an animalistic form during an attempt to restore the metal to his skeleton, and subsequently restored to normal complete with Adamantium following the Onslaught storyline (beginning May 1996). This story therefore must take place early in 1996.

The Darkchilde continues her quest to regain control of herself and of Limbo in X-Infernus #2. The transformed Illyana Rasputin battles the X-Men to regain her Soulsword, but the X-Men’s own Pixie is more concerned with recovering the portion of her soul which now resides in Illyana’s amulet. Meanwhile Witchfire, the daughter of the demon lord Belasco, has wrested control of Limbo and almost killed Illyana’s servant, Sym. And when the X-Men follow Illyana back to Limbo, they drop straight into trouble…

Continuity: Illyana Rasputin first became entangled with Belasco in Uncanny X-Men #160 (August 1982) and became ruler of Limbo in the Magik limited series (December 1983-March 1984). Illyana was aged seven years during these events (she was seven when Belasco kidnapped her) but was eventually restored to her original age following the Inferno storyline (1989) when Magik-now the Darkchilde-sacrificed herself to defeat the traitorous Sym. The young Illyana was subsequently killed by the Legacy virus in Uncanny X-Men #303 (1993).

The Darkchilde was resurrected by Belasco following the events of House of M, and has been seeking to regain her lost soul ever since, clashing with Pixie and the New X-Men in the process. Witchfire first appeared in Alpha Flight #79 (1989) and is a former member of Alpha Flight. Sym first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #160.

The merc with the mouth takes on Tiger Shark in Deadpool #6, the misanthropic man fish having been hired to kill the mouthy mutant by a malevolent mystery man. Deadpool is no match for Tiger Shark, but luckily he has unexpected aid from an old friend-Bob, the monumentally inept agent of Hydra! Oh, dear. With friends like Bob, who needs enemies?

Continuity: Bob debuted in Cable & Deadpool #38 (May 2007), and has been Deadpool’s occasional minion ever since. Tiger Shark first appeared in Sub Mariner #5 (1968).

Meanwhile, Big Hero 6 complete their latest mission in Big Hero 6 # 5, Frank Castle contends with an old foe and a new mystery in Punisher War Zone #5 and Spider-Girl fights her own father, possessed by the original Green Goblin, even as more clues surface as to the true identity of the Spider-Girl imposter, in Amazing Spider-Girl #28. And just who is Mayday Parker’s mysterious spirit guide, anyway? All will be revealed, no doubt-but not just yet…

Panel of the week: X-Men/Spider-Man #3

Just when you thought it was safe to re-enter the Spider-Man books: the Clone Saga continues!

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