Monday, August 30, 2010

Spider-Man meets Nova, part two

“Photon is Another Name For...?”
Writer/ Editor: Ocean Doot
Penciler: Ross Andru
Inks: Mike Esposito
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Joe Rosen

Spider-Man looks over the crime photos of the wall melted out and Doctor Rider’s body lying before the ripped out calendar pages of the last half of the year. We get our six suspect ovals again, as Inspector Steel reminds him it’s a matter of police jurisdiction, and he has no plans to deputize Spider-Man and Nova. Spider-man insists there’s a good man, dead, and they will find the killer one way or another! The warning stands. Then he recaps the entire murder scenario written up above.
All suspects but Michael Lincoln have fled, and the butler, who nearly revealed Photon’s i.d., is a cold body removed now by the police---one of whom announces a train left unchecked, excluded from their roadblocks. They stand near the wall melted outward by Photon. Nova’s on the case; he speeds past a hydrofoil on the water and overtakes the train, zooming beside startled passengers---really into the sheer joy of being a super-hero, the joy of being a flying, partially indestructible man. He actually has a laugh!
No luck---but he’s reminded of that unmarked hydrofoil. He and Spidey realize it’s someone’s rendezvous, so Spider-Man wangles a way with a web to Nova’s back, the start of a turbulent ride at super speed. The police keep Lincoln in custody and follow.
Therapy’s done wonders for Harry Osborn; he’s enjoying Chinatown with Liz, unaware of a stalker.
Nova barrels beside the rocky shoreline, Spider-Man clinging, dizzy. In a solitary lighthouse, Risk, Dean and Daze discuss their escape; hoping to make a deal, Risk pulled the light plug with his foot at the Rider house so they all might break for it. They’ve yet to plumb his motives in this. Daze spots the hyrdrofoil arranged to take him back to A.I.M. headquarters. Since the device remains hidden, A.I. M. operatives declare they’re duty bound to retrieve it at all costs.
Now, however, Nova and Spider-Man find them, kicking off a massive melee of lasers, smart cracks and flying bodies courtesy Andru/ Esposito. Spidey notes the three suspects “have fled the coop again!” and Nova punches free to pursue, only to be battered by solid circles of light. Photon appears once more and fires a “living light”direct hit on Spidey, who contorts and falls: “I’m being beaten to a rainbow!”
From its hidden recess inside the lighthouse, AIM’s hydrofoil boat skims out to sea. Aboard an anchor, Spider-Man, chained with Nova, talks reason, but for his troubles, the anchor drops. Spider-Man begins holding his breath, worried about Nova. The newcomer’s costume contains a recycling oxygen supply, as we know; his helmet’s shield slid in place. Spidey begins straining against the chains, pulling them tight across the anchor shaft. Admiringly, Nova joins the effort, knowing Spider-Man’s nearly out of air. Their ribcages hold long enough for their strength to succeed, but he’s blacking out, grateful for Nova’s aid in zooming them to the surface. Together they’ve survived the trap, so they recap on the shore.
Spidey notes Photon couldn’t have been Lincoln, who could never have traveled there fast enough to be Photon. Nova notes Parker was with him during a Photon attack, so that leaves Risk, Dean and Daze. Daze, Nova mentions, had only a bruise while Parker has a cut, while both were supposedly blasted by Photon. Dean claimed to leave as soon as Photon attacked, but Nova suggests, even within the speed limit, he should’ve gotten to nearby police headquarters more quickly. They fly back to the Rider house, to find it under siege by AIM.
Webbed faces and headlong ramming make short work of the villains in spectacular fashion as the riot squad makes the scene with Steel to confront the rest. Now Nova and Spider-Man pursue fleeing Photon. Charles Rider, however, arrived before the battle; Photon finds him in his brother’s gameroom, just as Nova (in deep tones, ahem) warns “Mr. Rider.”
Hands up! But Nova flies, bouncing off the walls too fast, Spidey-style, for Photon to draw a bead, while the web-slinger pulls Charles Rider free. Nova clobbers him double-fisted, and as he skids over the pool table, Photon’s basically an eight ball in the side pocket!
So who is Photon? Nova asks. By now, Spidey says, the clues are obvious. “Our man claimed that Photon melted his way INTO this house---but the solidified slag beneath the hole in the wall shows Photon actually melted his way OUT!” But Nova knew it was “one of three insiders! So what?”
Ah, but when Captain Steel arrives, their man tells him Photon headed for the library---but if he didn’t see it but kept running, how could he KNOW where Photon ended up, with several rooms down the hall?
All the AIM agents are under lock and key, as are the two other suspects, says Steel (referred to as “inspector” in Nova and “captain” here; don’t worry). The most obvious clue of all: “the fact that Doctor Ralph Rider was completely captivated by word games! Here, look closely at this photo...and note the calendar pages the doctor is touching! They’re July thru December---the last six months of the year!”
“It’s ironic that the first letter of each month spells out J...A...S...O...N...D...PHOTON is another name for JASON DEAN!!”

What I never liked about this story is that figuring out the villain’s identity has no bearing on stopping him. They don’t have to make any choices based on Photon really being anyone in particular. It has other things to recommend it, though; 1977 readers don’t buy many comics for their actually mystery logic, but for their soap opera and fantastic action. I read it first in the Olshevsky index of Spidey’s title, and there are a couple of visual points I tried to include if you are into it. I’m just glad, unlike some misfortunate titles, the story’s complete!
This story reunites Len Wein with the character he co-created in 1967 with Wolfman, providing some of the first art for the Star, co-plotting and drawing him in one chapter and then switching with Wolfman to script the second chapter. You can imagine their glee, following that effort a decade later with Nova and Spider-Man. It must have been a comic book fan’s dream. The character as we know it evolved to his definitive version while the two were at Marvel, possibly during one of their tenures as Editor-in-Chief.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nova meets Spider-Man

Dream On over Nova’s helmet during flight 12.
Wolfman / Buscema / Giacoia / Rosen / Glynis Wein
Your chance to guess along in a Special Mighty Marvel Mystery
Spider-Man meets Nova---and together they try to discover---
“Who is---the Man Called Photon?”
Here we’re presented with ovals showing Futon, then the suspects:
Harry Daze Jason Dean Michael Lincoln Peter Parker Franklin Risk --
---across a tableau that finds Nova and Spidey standing beside a melted wall ---and who is this unfortunate corpse, fingers out stretched over torn calendar pages, July through December? The first clue was Charles Rider’s words to Rich last’s a week after that...Nova’s flying up to see Uncle Ralph. He changes to Rich Rider (who doesn’t need any Detroit Wheels) and goes inside the luxurious home, noting he is the only person in the family who isn’t punctual (but it’s poor Ralph who is now “late”). He sees a car screech off down the driveway, but it’s not Uncle Ralph; it’s Jason Dean, on his way to rush into police headquarters crying for help. He’s just witnessed a grisly murder at Doctor Rider’s home.
By Dean’s recollection to Inspector Steel: he waited in Ralph Rider’s living room, to bid on Rider’s latest invention. The wall begins to melt...and” a man dressed in a bizarre costume” threatens him and demands Rider. He swats Dean across the room, then melts the far living room wall, to vanish into the kitchen. Dean left a minute later and drove as quickly as possible here, begging them to hurry, for Doctor Rider may already be dead.

Angry, Richard looks for clues as they approach the scene, noting two melted holes and finding Harry Daze, who says he’s been grazed, on the floor. Richard’s shock cannot erase the scene: his uncle Ralph lies murdered. Immediately he’s determined to bring the killer to justice. He turns his violent rage onto Peter Parker, the photographer visiting at the unveiling of Dr. Rider’s new invention, found shambling to his feet beside his uncle’s body and the scattered calendar pages of the last of the year. With a laser cut across his forehead, Parker recovers to tell his side of the event. Parker enjoyed the extensive physics library, recommended by Dr. Connors, and listened to Dr. Rider play with some anagrams, such as his name (“You didn’t tell me you were a Super Hero! Kree Trapper---that’s an anagram of Peter Parker; aren’t those the aliens super heroes fight? “ and “Kept rare rep”---which is what secret identities are for, right?”) He stood near Dr. Rider at the moment Photon melted his way in: that is the self-professed name of the laser-wielding villain who disposed of Parker before taking the inventor’s life. Richard still senses a secretiveness about Parker, but he also must now call his father and tell him the awful news. Then he changes to Nova, still suspicious of Parker, looking for clues.
“Mysterious” Mr. Parker now slips away to change to Spider-Man. The fleeing man he intercepts uses exceptional strength, but as Spider-Man nonetheless subdues him, Nova spies them both. Influenced by Jameson’s editorial bias in the Daily Bugle, Nova decides to take no chances trusting Spidey and barrels into him from the sky. Spider-Man recognizes him, but Nova seems to be another bounty hunter trying to bring in the wanted super-hero. (In this era, Spidey is wanted for the murder of Norman Osborn).
In the face of attack the wall-crawler webs Nova’s helmet and punches him. Nova realizes flight is the one advantage he possesses, but Spidey flips his feet up into Nova’s face before they rise too high. Swinging down, Spider-Man sarcastically asks if Nova will listen. Nova exclaims he is still new and makes mistakes, but Spidey tells him don’t sweat it, he still makes them, too. Nova grabs Spidey’s sparring partner and hauls him before Inspector Steel, who is less than thrilled to have super heroes on the case.
The man, Michael Lincoln, is Rider’s frustrated assistant, who says he’s glad the doctor’s dead. Spider-Man upbraids Lincoln for his “over-looked genius” martyr ploy, saying Doctor Rider was already accomplished in his field years before. Steel notes Parker’s absence, so Spider-Man leaves to switch. Now Steel tells Parker no one leaves the room while they work through the suspects. *break*
Mr. Risk admits he is there to bid on a “transistorized nuclear device,” but Inspector Steel also brings up his background as a shady dealer and unscrupulous competitor. He says he was downstairs at 2:25 and will offer nothing else without a lawyer.
Manners, the butler, wants to share particular observations with Steel, and as they leave to talk, Jason Dean and Harry Daze both excuse themselves. Now while Parker confides his description to Nova, the wall is melted from the outside, and Photon appears, to kill the “one of you who saw me.” Nova engages him in battle quickly, and soon Spider-man leaps in as well, punches and lasers flying. Photon proves surprisingly strong.
Manners shares to Steel that someone in the room said the exact same thing he heard Photon say after shooting Parker. The heroes flush out Photon in the next room, but after zapping Nova, smacking Spider-Man, and setting a fire, he seems to vanish! Nova searches all corridors, and sees only Daze, who says there was no one there at all.
Dismayed, the heroes sense that Photon is still around; indeed, Nova’s patrolled the area for a half-mile around. Lincoln yells at Risk, that he did deserve credit in Rider’s latest invention and that Rider envied his genius. Now Steel reveals Lincoln was fired that morning, but he confesses no murder. Steel confronts Daze with the knowledge that he is there representing Advanced Idea Mechanics, wanted by every law enforcement agency in the world. Manners has testified that Daze called several times, threatening Rider’s life. Spider-Man grabs him to grill him further; he and Rider as well stood to make millions, but Rider planned to give the invention to the government.
Dean now confesses he represents the Maggia (Marvel’s Mafia), and Steel runs down the four remaining suspects: the paranoid assistant, the strong-arm business man, the weapons dealer, and the organized criminal.
Lincoln points out Parker’s absence, but Nova can vouch for his presence during the last Photon attack. Out go the lights, and Risk, Dean and Daze have fled. Manners will offer no more answers, either; after the above information, Manners was killed!
Who killed Doctor Rider? You have all the clues. (I’ll go back to visual descriptions if I left anything out you need.) Find out in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #171!

Yes I planned to post some KIRBY reviews but I had router trouble this weekend. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Now that's classic

I've been reviewing a superhero and his late 1970s adventures, inspired by Spider-Man. But when I kicked back to read SPIDER-MAN CLASSICS #6, reprinting AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #5 from 1963, I have to say, I see the resemblances, but I also notice how much difference there is in a story with 22 pages of art as opposed to one with 17, like NOVA in 1977. For one, the supporting cast gets a bit more room to be themselves and give the story more depth.

For another, Doctor Doom and Spider-Man meeting for the first time just happens to be one of the most fun issues ever of Spidey's comics. it's a blast seeing the arch enemy of the Fantastic Four plot to take over the world with Spider-man. There are so many little details developed here, exploring all of Peter's relationships with cast while never slowing down, in a giddy, juvenile-fiction flavored dynamo of expressive art and hilarious and knowing writing. Even the colors are joyous.

I'll tell you a little more about it---I have having the last of my summer fun, thinking in terms of a certain few subjects with one strong reach back into the happiest moments of my past. Yet everything to come points towards our lives out here in California, like the two shows we plan to attend Friday, full of friends new and newer and music and dancing and the smell of the sea, and of course all the work going into Integr8d Soul Productions! The Wavehouse and the House of Blues---not a bad evening!

I could break this issue down bit by bit, but three things here:

1) J Jonah Jameson is one of the best characters in comic books, and these classic Spider-Man stories would not be the same without him almost connecting with the people around him, but bossing them around with a grumpy bottom line attitude and cynicism disguised as public service.

2) Flash and the gang may pick on Parker, but he is really one of them, nonetheless---just kind of a scapegoat, particularly for Thompson. But when they play a gag to scare Peter, Flash gets to meet Doctor Doom! Oh, man, no spoilers here, but watching Peter consider doing naughty things like teaming up with Doom just to honk off Doom and leaving Flash Thompson in his clutches? Just priceless. He's so human!

3) Finally, the thing that made me stop and write. A friend of mine who shall remain nameless if not blameless recently played a trick on a visiting friend, who did not understand that she had chosen a run-down hotel for them and that in his country, the difference between a good one, a fabulous one, and a run-down hotel is much wider than she is used to as an American (health codes, what not). So, he pulled a fuse he discovered, to effect an inconvenient black out. Now, he's since confessed, as that was the least of his problems, and should he find this, he will have a belly laugh finding that even Peter Parker has to resort to a ruse with a fuse now and then.
Below: Peter devises an excuse to leave the house to rescue Flash: he's got to go out for fuses!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Only the best issue of NOVA yet!

Oh, No Va No more!

Magic man Heart

[IMG][/IMG] British cover, 1977 Welcome to Machine

“Nova no more!”


Wolfman/ Buscema/ Giacoia/ Gaspar (Saladino)/ Marie Severin

Inside his Pyramid of Knowledge, the Sphinx lays low all invaders. We resume just before the end of last month’s battle between Nova and Powerhouse, essentially replaying the incident, leaving all unconscious at the feet of the Sphinx. Nova’s sympathetic thoughts about P-H’s motivations end with P-H’s drain attack and confession that he cannot betray the Condor, feeling trapped by fate. Sphinx renews his search for “the one dark question I still must solve!” but first, exiles his lackey Kur with the Ka Stone, to a month in a Hell-like dimension. Faceless Sayge warns him he exalts himself too much as a god, which he defends; Sayge reminds him how desperately he seeks the answer to “the question.” His face is now a mirror of Sphinx’s soul, for which Sphinx can glance for truth, and so, he survives the villain’s wrath, disturbing him. He rails at his curse, offering to destroy the world itself for...the answer.

In his absence, Nova/ Rich Rider’s girlfriend Ginger Jaye talks to joking Bernie Dillon about his disappearance from class and home. Bernie has nothing, but privately thinks he has no clues to Rich’s strange behavior of late. He promises himself, though Rich hasn’t confided, he will stick closely to him to figure things out.

On great ebony slabs within the Power Pyramid, the Sphinx makes a speech about the seven chakras, and his search within the pineal gland/ first chakra for memories. He grows impatient with his centuries-long efforts to probe minds for the great secret, but to his surprise and befuddlement, one of these before him, Powerhouse or Nova, holds the key!

In fact, it is our star, from whose mind he finds he cannot retract memories without apparently destroying the mind, “which would only destroy ME!” Sayge appears when he screams, offering the method by which the probe will succeed. He contains one of the four secrets of the universe, but it is sealed by his Nova identity, which marks the point he gained knowledge he himself knows not. With a pass of his hand, then, the Sphinx declares him Nova no more. The costume vanishes, and the defenseless Rider is transported to Earth, where the Sphinx will monitor his now-unguarded mind to find the secret he needs. He then strips Powerhouse of his memories and transports him to another country, amnesiac.

Rider is sent to the guidance counselor; along the way he promises Bernie he will talk to him at lunch. Having failed his mid terms, Rider’s worrying the counselor, who encourages him to try harder. Just as Ginger finds him an hour later, so does ill-tempered Mike Burley, who fends off Rich’s attempt to stand up for himself. Even Mike’s girlfriend Donna Lee touts Rich as a good guy, but Burley smugly dismisses this and they leave. Ginger tells Rich that, his worries about getting tougher aside, this is the best he’s looked since the accident (unknown to her, the Nova origin point). His memories of Nova erased, Rich is clueless. He sits down for lunch, his friends excited about a TV station visit (Rich is thinking about broadcasting as a career already). Another mention of the accident---the reason for cancelling their last trip there---leaves Rich puzzled, dazed and confused, with flashes of the Nova Prime ship and the bolt that struck him with his powers taunting him.

According to a 2007 survey, about one out of three kids in middle/ high school report bullying. It’s the subject of a summit in the Dept. of Education this morning. Texting is apparently a big part of the problem, so if you want to update Rich’s predicament, imagine him getting “you’re cold meat!” messages from Burley. 75% of the kids have phones these days.

Charles Rider awaits at home, to quickly bless his son out, stressed about his own mortgage payments now that he is suspended as principal. Richard is to visit his uncle for math/ science tutoring next week. Mom explains the pushing is Charles’ concern for Rich’s well-being, and that her own job will not be enough for them to keep the house. (First Mega Man, then the bank; the faceless enemies of their house just keep coming.) Richard swallows this information with an added dose of guilt, trying to come to grips with how one becomes more responsible, undermining the whole effort with shame, really. Caps and Bernie arrive to take him to WXYZ TV’s studio.

Tony DiMartino offers a friendly tour, including the broadcasting room and its consoles and monitors. On one of them, Caps excitedly notices Star Trek, while Bernie assures him he’s seen this and all other episodes about fifteen times. The rocket (the Enterprise) Nova Prime ship...”Blazes! I-I remember now!” Rich cuts his visit short, as Sphinx observes in a crystal-ball like apparatus, cursing the return of Rider’s memory and the strength of his mind. Now this part involves Richard running, remembering the assault on the Pyramid with the Terrible Trio, his imposed amnesia, and his appearance is revealed to be an illusion, now vanishing. At last, he’s Nova, the Human Rocket!!

But what now?

Does he resume a battle he has no idea how to win? Does he go back to being “a normal, typical schnook?”studying? The appearance of the Sphinx inside the TV studio interrupts his worries. So he contains a secret that will free Sphinx from immortality, but attaining it will require his destruction after all. Nova punches him full blast, to no effect. Caps recognizes his rescuer Nova, but the boys can do nothing to help him battle the Sphinx, who withstands his blows and then knocks him into a control panel, spouting electricity.

Man does the Sphinx lay into Nova, smashing up the studio piece by piece over him. But Nova knows the world itself may suffer if he doesn’t keep fighting, though he can barely move or breathe at all. A Ka stone blast from his brow rains the lighting rig upon our hero, but nearly dying doesn’t keep Nova down. He’s never done anything the easy way, he spits; he won’t start now. His monologue, however simple, intones the heroism of his heart.

This reaches the Sphinx; he declares Nova is not a child, but a man, “more of a man than I have seen in many a century!” He cannot invade the guarded mind, and so he swears he will return one day when least expected for the secret. He vanishes, leaving the recovering hero smiling. Now, in his own mind, he is “Definitely---the MAN called Nova!”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

That 70s Hero

So here's Nova Ten.

(this title reminds me of a line early in The Book of Law about the four powers of the Sphinx. The star man, the sphinx...for a science fiction book, I must admit it's more mystical in some ways than I remember.)

Issue Ten

“Four Against the Sphinx!”

So we open between issues...a fight already in progress, at Westhaven Nuclear Generating Station. Amidst walls of flame, Nova dukes it out with an insectoid-headed villain resembling Stingray. Nova ends the impressive-looking fight by diving both of them into the local lake, and presses his attack to the last. Along with this good news, Nova learns he’s been cleared of the warehouse breaking and entry (see Nova #7). Now as Richard Rider he prepares for math and science mid terms, while his silly brother Robbie rubs in his a+.

The assault on the Sphinx continues. Condor, Powerhouse and Diamondhead find they face creations of light, as Kur rouses his master. Sphinx breaks with his pyramid meditation to face them and reshape the light waves that make his Pyramid of Knowledge invisible, so that its grand design awes all. He offers them one last chance to turn back, prompting Powerhouse to suggest taking it. Condor slaps him, while Diamondhead finds his considerable might is no match for the Sphinx, who hurls him away.

Shaking his post-test blues, Rider changes to Nova and seeks to use the map Computer Prime gave him to find Condor. He does, and attacks, only to face a contracting energy shield weapon Condor has stolen from the Nova ship. Sphinx destroys the weapon with a beam from his Ka jewel, and now uses the power it gives him to begin choking Condor to death. Powerhouse attempts to siphon this energy, and holds his own in combat for a moment, inspiring a rare bit of gratitude in Condor as he flies Powerhouse out of range of another blow with an uprooted tree.
Diamondhead’s ram attack from behind gets him blasted in the eyes with “the full power of the Sphinx”, who despises hand-to-hand contact, and so ends this one by levitating the villain speedily, uncontrollably, crushing him into a mountainside, where Sphinx rants he will remain “until time itself runs out on Earth.”

Nova bends the force field trap with his punches, still sealed. Since he can fly, Nova plays on the idea of going to the jail to see Firefly to burn it off. The police cooperate, but Firefly is unwilling to fix his suit to help Nova. The next idea is to fly back to the Westhaven atomic plant and let the generator he saved earlier burn the bubble away. He endures great heat, but his gambit pays off. He races back to upper New York in minutes, where somehow Sphinx is still fending off Condor and Powerhouse (how did the fight last this long, considering how he did earlier? Maybe Condor had lots of weapons to try). He tackles Powerhouse, who confronts him for trying to change his mind; while Condor has saved his life three times, Nova simply keeps attacking. They continue their highly kinetic battle until Powerhouse slips close enough to begin siphoning Nova’s power, sorry that he must kill him.

Kur spies the final battle between Sphinx and Condor, and prepares a stolen weapon to eliminate both of them, freeing him from servitude. But mysterious Sayge appears, doubtful of Kur’s motivation, offering him to gaze upon his face, the Mirror of All Souls, and uncover the truth.

Condor confronts Sphinx’s knowledge of his intelligence-gathering efforts, insisting he must be the only Emperor of Crime. Kur fires at Sphinx but strikes Condor as he swoops in, apparently erasing his mind. Sphinx is angry that his chance to pick Condor’s memories is gone, and after smacking Kur, uses his Ka stone to instill fear in Kur as he transforms the now-mindless villain into his namesake. The condor flies free, presumably haunted somehow by the knowledge that the Sphinx has defeated him once and for all.

The Sphinx still finds some ultimate answer eludes him, without which there is no victory. Just as Powerhouse drains Nova to weakness, Sphinx zaps him with the Ka stone in his forehead, preparing to possess their memories and destroy their empty bodies.
El Condor Pasa

I've got to admit, while I would try to be as different as possible from each individual thing I've read, be it Don Quijote or Donald Duck, this heaping helping of 1977 comic book goodness fits nicely into the half-remembered flights of fancy in my youth that have since inspired my original creations.

I'm going to review the next two issues of NOVA here, and then we're going to switch gears to the work of comics creator Jack "King" Kirby, with two strips he created in his under-appreciated return to Marvel Comics, where he had co-created adventures and characters in Fantastic Four, The mighty Thor, the Incredible Hulk, and much more (including the Silver Surfer, who I would like to feature when we're done with Nova next month). Two of his series inspire the form I give to my STUCKWAYZE, which deals with some parallel themes regarding origins, hidden races, and exceptional people...only the superhero vein is replaced by an original comical interpretation that's gotten fresh life of late, inspiring me to buy those old Kirbys on the cheap. You'll see why.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I finally get you

Nova, I finally get you.
This morning it becomes an epiphany, dawning like a warm shower on the sense. NOVA is written as it is so that little kids, too, can enjoy it.
Truthfully, many ex-fans cluster here to talk of many things. Or make that, ex-buyers...of comic books, at least. Some of the more popular product amongst people who overlap that crowd are the kid-friendly comics, which seem to have versions of the characters that evoke their sense of wonder and fun.
Now, it’s true, by the time Shooter has Pym losing his marbles, it’s evidence that the path to redemption played over and over again went now into a darkness found in adult life, though these things affect many of the young readers, too. But it’s heavy.

What Alan (Watchmen) Moore grasped was an alternative, which to this post-modernist genius of deconstruction became clear as A-B-C Comics in the decade after his revolutionary masterpiece of the medium. His efforts at straight-up super heroes convinced some more than others, touching upon a richer tapestry of his career for long-time fans---but as J.M. DeMatteis also grasped eventually, you have to be able to leave a comic book lying around for kids of any age to be able to pick up and try to read. It has to be left unattended in an environment where it can be discovered, because not everyone lives a solitary enough existence to put away everything always out of reach.

Now, the nostalgic urge comes early in childhood development. The window for socially accepting “playing pretend” seems to close all too soon. I’ve had it the other way around, where the younger reader fantasizes about being older. But how could I forget? For many reasons, we begin to fondly recall the essence of days of our lives. I was awkward enough, anyway, to really depend on my imagination to prepare me to socialize and visualize. So I spent a lot of time thinking.

I think it was my choice a lot, from early on. So a hero going about thinking, or working through his feelings or trying to make jokes to deal with a lack of confidence---combined with, say, being able to fly and leave a neat trail like some sort of human rocket---would’ve been relatable as soon as I lucked into him.

So in the fantasies of introverts, a bigger kid who isn’t nice to you is a relatable problem. How many kids endured the torment of bullies by thinking of having the power to rise above them...and when you realize sometimes people behaving badly have their own problems or are being used, Condor, Diamondhead and Powerhouse not only embody your dread of being possibly humiliated and driven down a social pecking order, but also, clue you in on how some people like being bossy, like being mean, or might be your friend, but they are in with a tougher group.

Ginger and Rich aren’t meant to be, in the first volume, anything that couldn’t be played in second grade. That they are later shaped by mature circumstances speaks to the idea of appealing to the same little kids who loved Nova two decades before.
Same story, archetypally, is all over the industry.

Ginger is about dreaming you have a cool, understanding friend, that girls can be this. Rich’s never-ending school yard stand teaches you a buddy who likes to make jokes, like Bernie, can lighten a day. It’s about the link between the heart to save everyone you know and the powers we’ve yet to discover.

The super hero can’t complete their becoming, in most stories. It is about the onset of powers and changes within and the search for what is right for one’s actions.
Mature female characters are few and far between for many a year, as they really have no place in that world for long. The costumes are a way of dealing with primordial urges that seethe within our joys of savagery and the fantasy of our overcoming, or under going. Yet sometimes we can’t say if we’re coming or going. Thus, the need for that fountain of youth, the happy memories of our formative years, become a non-judgmental spiritual refuge, and teach us about surrendering to a certainty beneath our silenced minds, while creating a will and habits that bring us what most we seek.

A rich relationship with our inner lives, the time we spend with it creating our way out of boredom, serves us when we grow and seek knowledge. It gives our feelings a blueprint for overcoming adversities in life. It gives us a chance to fly around the yard and pick up Mom’s voice over our helmets, telling us where we need to be, at times. If you grew up old school, you might fantasize about your spanking recovery and its drama about endurance. It’s holding your breath while swimming, and visualizing your shields locking into place automatically. NOVA is a story about moving without your feet on the ground. That is the way of super heroes.

This is a book about being a human rocket. Both human, and rocket. It’s about being a spaceman and an ordinary guy. It’s about a character whose father can send him to his room without supper, who can get in trouble for fighting at school, who looks upon his Dad’s problems and ill temper with compassion. The issue where the Riders talk, though off-panel, contains a significant step, where the son takes up the leadership to say, “Dad, let’s talk.” It is a fantasy about having a power over meaningful things. It is a game you can play: one friend is Caps, kidnapped by Mega Man, and the other one is Nova, rushing to the rescue from his space ship. It says adults have complicated lives. But if you can’t read but the barest few words, there’s the man in the golden helmet, flying like blue blazes. And he is just a school kid, like you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stayin' Alive (with an Evil Woman)

Aunt Clara lounges in a frilly something in the living room of the home beside the amusement park she once co-ran with her husband, Caps’ uncle Nat. She offers him some hot chocolate---“that IS what kids your age drink still, right?”---as well as her surprise to see a member of the family. “Don’t tell me your father’s decided to finally forgive his wanton sister!” she says. What a pistol, this woman.

Roger/ Caps only wants to tell her Uncle Nat is alive, which causes Clara to panic. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, familiar to the hidden Mega Man, comes back from the store with booze to share. He slaps Caps for frightening Clara, but Caps insists it’s true, and Mega Man comes into the room to prove it. He gives the a-hole boyfriend a taste of his own medicine before begging Clara to take him back. Caps wisely decides to call the police as Mega Man blasts the house.

The call sparks an emergency police broadcast, “intercepted by the alien circuits located in a certain human rocket’s helmet” as he searches for Caps. “Super villain” catches his attention, sparking the serious young man’s self-deprecating evaluation of his career.

One smashed window later he wallops Mega Man Kirby style, while MM protests this matter is private, with no clue that the house fire was personal to Nova. His control-of-environment powers create a shattering earthquake, followed by a stomp that drives Nova through to the funhouse below, which he activates while Nova shakes off pain, dizziness, and self-doubt. Now a multitude of Mega Man images blasts Nova in a mirrored maze. His attempt to evade nearly runs Nova smack into a blast: “y’know, I think I’m the ONLY hero who can KILL himself retreating!” Wisely evacuating from the target area, a foot-stomp breaks all the mirrors between him and Mega Man. The chase and battle continues through the funhouse, until Nova crashes up through the floor and starts laying into his foe, who he ironically says should say “uncle.”

Now the glow appears, and the creature, the molecular model, last Earthling of the distant future, beckons Mega Man. Now Caps truly believes the story of the Protector, but he and Nova can do nothing as he begs for help. He pleads with Clara, for whom he has returned, to say she loves him, but the creature is the only one who desires him. His pitiful last words vanish into bright light, then silence.
Caps is struck the being in fact loved his uncle...Nova, by the coldness of bitter Clara’s dismissal. Nova comforts Caps and himself as they fly away, with hope Mega Man “has walked out of hell---and stepped into paradise.”

and now...a dedication, from Nathan in Coney Island, to Clara...with "love" trapped in the future with an inhuman thing and no face....wish you were here.

Pounds of the Seventies: the Last Fight of the Condor

Comments: As highly romanticized a version of life as a high schooler as American Graffitti. It’s a rather innocent version of high school, for sure; there are problems, but it’s not a place where bullies beat friends of the lead character to death. More “popcorn” than that! What this title would’ve been like under Steve Gerber, though, isn’t the issue.

For all his problems, Nova’s world generally seems a bit brighter than the Marvels before it or around it. This would’ve been appropriate as a cartoon of its time, or better yet, it’s a bit ahead of its time. Post-Japanese cartoons by the 1980s could’ve done something great with this property, especially in the hands of writers so involved as Marv Wolfman. It’s never too silly or cute, though, at least not for long. No cartoon hero of American television had the depth of Richard Rider. His Nova costume and power? Just awesome! I understand the parent groups of the time had a lot to do with taking any edge out of Saturday morning cartoons, but you could have a parent-friendly beam come out of his helmet in place of a punch here and there...see what I mean?

This is why the high school Richard seems a bit innocent, if not naive: it’s romanticized as an alter ego for a crowd just below, but near that age. I think if you are between ten and fifteen when this comes out, you might really appreciate preparing yourself for this latter adolescence to come by fortifying your spirit with an imagined alter ego who really could be YOU, as you strive towards differentiation and individuality, perhaps without much clue save you don’t want to be too much like anything you see.

Despite our outrageous jokes, the high school years of me and my friends were hardly THE WIRE, either, and looking back, it was more innocent really that I may have supposed, or at times, wanted! I think, for a younger person, imagining having a caring group of friends fits nicely with opening to develop such attachments growing up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

K-Tel Super Hero madness

"Fear in the Funhouse!"

writer/ editor Marv Wolfman
artists supreme, Sal Buscema and Frank Giacoia
Letterer, John Costanza
colorist, Glynis Wein

Caps is almost flying out of the left arm of his Uncle Nat, twisted by fate into the faceless, merciless and super-powerful Mega Man, who taunts Nova into pursuing himself or saving the people in the house he's just set on fire. The kidnapping scene is also the Rider home, and Nova, a.k.a. Richard Rider, chooses to chance Caps' survival while rescuing his mom, dad and brother. He's still working on disguising his voice, successful here. His brother's chosen to stay low and cover his mouth, which Nova approves proudly. Robbie bemoans his unfilled fire extinguisher (from NOVA #1).

Now for something you rarely see: Nova tries to fly around the house fast enough to whip up a vortex to snuff the flames, only to find some things in comics don't work in real life (nice meta-texturalizing, to bring Nova's reality that much closer to us than "comics"). Smashing into the street to uncover the city water pipes, however, does the trick. He reassures the family that "Richard" is safe and flies away long enough to change back to Richard, as he continues to marvel at his wafer-thin but nigh invulnerable super suit. But what do super heroes do with their civvies? (Suddenly I'm thinking about [u]the Greatest American Hero .[u]) The whole family goes to the doctor, apparently, the same one who saw Richard manifest his one-time-only laser blasts from his eyes just before he gained his Nova persona in full. Richard decides that's one appointment that will keep a loong time.

Mega Man, at his funhouse destination, promises to take his hand off Caps' mouth if he won't scream. He begins to explain, while asking him to keep to the shadows, though "amusement parks tend to become tinsled morgues during the winter." (That would make me feel so much better to hear that, Uncle Nat.)
He admits his desire for vengeance, based on believing Caps at fault for his accident, drove him mad, but asks for pity as he again explains about the last living entity on Earth, on the other side of the portal, saving his life but recreating him faceless, with strange powers. He later realized "the thing was female".

Here he begins a self-involved monologue, describing his unhappy marriage to Caps' aunt Clara and the years they spent running this funhouse. Here he had begun to hope he could see her again, start over, but frightened children reminded him what he has become, fueling his blame. Now however, he wants Caps to go to Aunt Clara to prepare her for the shock of seeing him again, begging him to explain. He wavers, but what else can Caps do but say he'll try his best?

Charles Rider, after dinner, fields an argumentative call with a P.T.A. leader who has him placed on suspension for not giving in to "ridiculous demands which would destroy our teaching system." Angry, he refuses to talk to Rich, but his son doesn't give up. Showing a bit of the courage he's discovered in his other identity, he spends the next hour talking to Charles.

Afterwards, he changes into Nova for patrol, noting the mounting difficulties in the wake of his new i.d. "Not that bullethead is responsible for this"; in fact Nova saves him from "going bonkers." The problem before him is a good old fashioned cat-stuck-on-the roof. To his surprise, he finds the owner's gratitude very fulfilling.

Next, Caps knocks on Aunt Clara's door on Coney Island...

(continued later today!)
For our pink Mega Man:

One thing I meant to mention last time: while it’s obvious you have to invent or remember the art in your head as you read along---and sometimes there are funny dialogue bits, too---the letterer does a lot to make the comic entertaining. Even if you’re reading along in a b & w volume you can appreciate how the letterer adds drama and humor to the lines. Sometimes an iconic logo really draws you in, too. They are unsung heroes and the majority of us would nearly go mad trying to letter by hand!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Funky Times and Super Hang-Ups

1976 music


“When Megaman comes calling—don’t answer!”

Writer, Editor, Creator: Marv Wolfman
Art: Sal Buscema and Frank Giacoia
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Marv Wolfman

About 100, 000 miles from home, all Nova can do is watch the Condor, Diamondhead and Powerhouse escape as his programmed ship blasts off for the outer reaches of space. Overcoming his reflex to despair, Nova realizes that if Condor reset the controls, he can, too---with the knowledge of a star pilot, that is! He discovers the Zorr remains (from #1), confirming he’s aboard the original Nova ship. His question, spoken aloud, activates and automated intelligence, Computer Prime, addressing him as New Nova-Prime. A hologram shows the fate of Zorr.

Histories are maintained through “bio-circuits,” the wondrous minds of previous Centurion-Novas. A little objective data and a hologram of the previous Nova-Prime appears, mentioning the destruction of his family in Zorr’s primary attack. The ship also answers as to the whereabouts and activities of the Terrible Trio that have abandoned Nova and now assault the Sphinx’s headquarters. He asks about his dad, who he sees him standing up to P.T.A. members over some unspecified rule change, regardless of consequences. This creates great empathy in Richard Rider for his father’s situation, which he keeps “bottled up inside.”

Now he recalls the missing “Caps,” Roger Cooper. Nova reacts with shock: the hologram shows Caps near drowning. “Prime, how do I get to Earth FAST?” From the time he reaches the suggested space cruiser landing module, Prime re-establishes previous orbit in 2.6 seconds; he can set the automatic controls. Nova’s delight for his new super-scientific friendship/ resource is short lived: as he enters our atmosphere he is told that communication to the ground from space and control of the ship is impossible. The cruiser is also destined to burn up in re-entry.

Flying safely under his own power, Nova accepts the lost possible opportunity and gets to the business of saving Caps according to map coordinates. Brushing thoughts of failure aside, he tears the ropes loose from the drowning youth. He uses the pipe as a rough drill bit, overcoming his own negativity and lack of experience to continue his tunnel, even as water fills behind him. They’ve made it! He calls Caps by his nickname twice, leading Caps to ask who he is. Nova plays it off facetiously, evading the confession. He cops to being Richard Rider’s friend and asks how this predicament began, but the exhausted boy has no answers yet. The time to switch identities speedily in the back of the house and wait for Caps to come inside.

Starved for two days, Caps rests as Bernie Dillon enters, cracking wise but concerned. Now Caps begins telling what really happened to him, starting with a camping trip he’d taken six months before with his Uncle Nathan. “Caps, the police said what happened then was an accident,” Richie says, but Caps insists his uncle believed he tried to kill him. Curiosity drew both of them to a glowing cave; inside, a lake glows with a strange cold, black as pitch but glowing red. Uncle Nathan falls in, and cries out that he’s burning. Flames manifest, preventing Caps from reaching him. Caps begs him to hang on while he finds some rope in their packs; “I can’t!” Caps flees, Uncle Nathan’s terrified screams following all the way:

“I’m burning all over! Don’t Desert Me! Dooonnn’ttt!” Upon return, Uncle Nathan was not found, and the police ruled the incident an accident.
Recently, kidnapping his nephew, Uncle Nathan has returned, to tell what happened:
He fell through the black lake, screaming and burning until he lost consciousness and thought he’d died.

This is where he told Caps something too unbelievable, though he stood there altered and somehow alive before his eyes: a glowing light came to him, burning his vision even through closed eyes. The glow resolves into something like an atomic model for a molecule drifting in the nimbus of a tiny cloud. It desires to help him, heal him, but does not know what he should look like! Asking his forgiveness---it has been so long since any like him walked there, having evolved into their atomic structures like itself---the being clothes the healed man, who speaks.

Excited, the atomic structure creature explains, “Entitiy, I am the last essence of life on this planet. All the others have died, and I have been alone...for one hundred thousand years. But now, entity, now I have you. We have each other. Forever.” (For effect this is all lettered small in a special font.)

In his angry rejection of this offer, Nathan discovers he’s been given power to control his environs---some force blasts and flames are portrayed---as self-defense. He bides his time and then uses those powers to turn on her, causing her anguish as she begged him to stop. He didn’t. He used the blasts of sand and flame to create a thickening funnel and trap her inside solid glass!

He returned to the flaming pool from which he’d originally arrived, and with her pleas to return ringing behind, he dove deeply into the tormenting flames, her glass sphere, following in the dark waters---to no avail. Now a vengeful Uncle Nat blames Caps for all of this, leading to the kidnapping and attempted murder.
Bernie doesn’t call him a liar but challenges the story as “far-fetched”; that doesn’t disqualify Caps from a triple-hot fudge sundae. Only problem here is that Ginger comes up to talk to Rich, but shows no reaction to Caps’ return. Guess it was only a couple of days. Oh well see you later.

The story stays on Rich’s mind; the change in Caps from his happy-go-lucky self weighs on his mind, to Ginger’s disappointment. He promises to call later. Algebra and the Bionic Woman occupy him ‘till bedtime, but the next morning at 7:37 a.m. starts with Caps arriving in a panic!

Now Rich has no doubts---a faceless man punches his way into the side of the house! Rich’s father Charles rushes down with a gun, which “uncle Nat” declares he knows is unloaded and then melts. One quick change to Nova leads to a brief, intense battle. Uncle Nat blasts Nova ever downward through the floor and the ground beneath. “Now WE can go off and be alone!” says Uncle Nat creepily as he flees with Roger under his arm. He declares the “uncle Nathan” Caps begs for mercy is dead, replaced by a being “reborn a million years in the future, with powers which won’t even exist until that far-future time!” From now on, he must be called---MEGA MAN!

Now they must be alone, he says---“to talk about HER!” But the earth shakes beneath his feet; the human rocket returns to action! Before he can zero in on Mega Man’s faceless kisser, a blast sets fire to the Rider house, with Mom, Dad and Robbie all inside. Mega Man races away with the helpless Caps! What should Nova do?
“The Answers all Lurk in the Fun-House!”

We are in the middle of the first run of NOVA I ever read. I believe Holt loaned me #7,8, and 9, at least, before he found the others on return trips. You could still buy them at D & L Salvage store on the highway heading towards Alabama, on a standing display rack with other, mostly eight to ten year old comics, for cover price. Every time the family car got anywhere close to that place, my heart raced. I’m sure I asked if we might have time to stop there several times we couldn’t, but I knew if I took it well, eventually the day would come again I’d see that place! Not like I ran around with money of my own very much until I was about ten. Remember when you were entrusted with your first couple of dollars to keep in your first wallet or pocket book? Bet you haven’t thought of that in some time. That’s the hidden treat of working on a thread like this---and reading it. But it’s too fine to limit with words.

Friday, August 13, 2010

70's comic books: Nova

“War in Space!”
Marv Wolfman “thunked it up!”
Sal Buscema and Frank Giacoia “drew it up right purty!”
Michele W. “colored it up chromatically”
J. Costanza “was forced to letter it up!”

The Terrible Trio of Diamondhead, Powerhouse, and the Condor have captured Nova---or is it the other way around! Their effort to reprogram the hero to work for them in their assault on “the Dreaded One” results in Nova taking over the gang, meeting a rough challenge from Diamondhead for dominancy. The Condor decides to leverage the situation rather than fight, and get what he wants. Powerhouse meanwhile begins to see objectively how the Condor manipulates without scruples.

The Condor relates for Nova the tale of the Sphinx, his origin as a banished wizard of Pharaoh’s court during the time of Moses. Just as in the book of Exodus, Aaron transforms his staff into a serpent, and the wizards of the Egyptian court follow suit; Aaron’s serpent devours the rest. The Pharaoh’s heart is callous towards the Israeli slaves, and ten plagues ravage the land, leading to the wizard’s exile.
Ninety years, he crawls the desert, he does! At the bleakest point he finds a temple, and within its emerald gates---the flaming Ka, the Spirit Stone, which speaks to him. He affixes it to his brow in the manner of a crown, and so is born the powerful Sphinx, who walks the Earth 5,000 years!

He seems to have threaded through history and her wars, through legend. Now, the Condor says, the Sphinx has come to this country to become Lord of Crime!

The Sphinx spies this tableau from afar (upstate New York) and concludes it contains much truth. His ambition, however, is to become Emperor of the World! (Emperor of Ice Cream isn’t good enough for some people.) He’s interrupted by reported treachery, which leads to the traitor converted to ashes. He curses the ‘menials’ that beset his efforts, but the robed Sayge, he of the hidden face of terror, addresses his true desire: the unanswerable question. Does this face contain the truth of Sphinx’s fate? Though he professes a fear of nothing, Sayge mocks his anticipation and concern for the war to come.

The Condor has Nova busy helping them steal one remaining part required by his craft to reach Nova’s orbiting ship. Nova’s mayhem dismays security, who recognize the young hero in confusion. Reveling in his might, Nova is goaded into ripping out a safe and battling a robot guard, as Condor anticipates the moment the programming reverts and his slave is lost. When that moment arrives at the Long Island North Shore Condor’s Roost, the wary villain commands Powerhouse to drain Nova once more, so that they might attempt the programming again. Now, however, Powerhouse observes Nova’s fate with questions about how it is the Condor controls him, too!

The crew breaks through the gravitational pull and approaches the Nova Prime ship. Condor deflects Diamondhead’s questions about his personal life and means, against angry demands. Nova says Condor is their trusted ally and Diamondhead decides to toe the line and pick his fight against them both.

So how, asks Powerhouse, will they find Nova’s invisible ship? Condor relies on his analysis of Nova earlier; he replies Nova’s helmet has special lenses capable of picking up all light waves, including the deflection around the ship. He sprays them with a temporary breathable atmosphere. To his surprise, the star on Nova’s helmet fires a beam that acts as a key to enter the ship, and all are awed by its colossal size and advanced technology. The empty costume on the floor (dating to Zorr’s defeat by Nova Prime in #1) starts to jog Nova’s memory. The group begins searching for hi-tech weaponry.

While the Sphinx decides he’s underestimated his foe and must not let the four of them leave the ship alive, he departs to regenerate his mental energies in alignment with the Ka Stone, while his lackey Kur plots his take-over in the event of the Sphinx’s demise, but fearsome Sayge taunts him further.
A gut feeling leads Nova to the weapons-room, unknowingly activating an intruder alert. The observing Sphinx is satisfied the ship’s defenses will finish them. “Six chrome steel sentries spark to life” and challenge the criminal crew, but with Nova’s aid they are spectacularly finished. Condor prepares to steal the computer recordings for further analysis.

The pieces of the robots reform into a mechanoid monster with tentacles, inspiring the rowdier Nova and Diamondhead to fight, while the battling Powerhouse wishes only to depart the ship. The laser attack on all of them begins overloading Powerhouse; Condor saves his life and manipulates his destruction of the security doors to the data base at once. He demands Diamondhead stand down, for if Powerhouse doesn’t release his energies a deadly explosion will ensue.

Successful, Powerhouse privately ponders how he once again owes Condor his life”...but...” He interrupts his thoughts to exclaim the alien weapons look somehow familiar. The fading reprogramming catches Condor’s notice---too late to avoid Nova, now himself again. The three battle fiercely, but Powerhouse refuses to be drawn in, to be badgered by Condor again. This doesn’t solve Nova’s immediate problem, but he begins recovering from their blows and beams. With the oxygen spray wearing off, the Condor has no plans to stay there, and while escaping, leaves Nova with a final trap. His own enigmatic ship shuts him inside, and blasts off for some unknown trajectory into “the other side of the universe!”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A classic character who deserved a Saturday Morning Cartoon

Writer, Editor, Creator: Marv Wolfman
Art: Sal Buscema and Tom Palmer
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Mary Severin
Poor Bullethead: his enemy’s enemy is not his friend at all, but most of his enemies are friends.
“And so...that’s right, Bob...the Sphinx!”
The first time I ever saw Nova’s image was probably as a kind of chess piece/ fetish such as the one on the table before the Sphinx. Whereas in openings we’ve seen Condor scheming and Diamondhead lashing out, the Sphinx is cool, remote, certain of his control, surely as the NOVA pawn in his fingers, amidst figures of those self-same villains, as well as the uncertain Powerhouse. What he gave on eBay for them is never disclosed; presumably a Latverian company commissions Bowen for them. They help him focus on the war of individual powers to come. He angrily swats away the treacherous Kur, an underling who offers hollow praise to one who is certain and used to worship. He then calls upon the one man whose face fills him with fear, Sayge, to see into the twistings of Fate through his vapors. You see, he is aware of beauty all around them in creation, yet feels it is his fate, his purpose, to crush it with corruption. Whereas the Sphinx of myth plagued the travelers of Greece with a riddle and terror, for this Sphinx, he is plagued by a final question.
Nova goes into action against a gang of robbers, still hoping for some recognition but expecting to be panned for the robbery itself. As Richard Rider, he reassures Bernie they will find their missing friend Roger, a.k.a. Caps. After all, Rich is secretly the Human Rocket!
Caps fares none too well, tied to a sewer pipe as its waters lap his knees. He questions his accuser, who angrily implicates Caps in attempted murder. He refers to Caps as “old friend” and Caps seems to understand what he’s talking about and who he truly is; the history between them involves an accident. Angrily shedding his hat and coat, the accuser reveals himself to be faceless, that is, with an inhumanly blank countenance. (This condition is shared with an incidental antagonist of Dracula over in TOMB, not a year before; there it is given the horror one imagines of such a disfigurement.) He bid Roger goodbye and leaves Caps bound to face the rising water.
Two weeks before, it's the close of NOVA #3, and Diamondhead and Condor in shadows watch Nova fly away. Condor convinces Diamondhead to strike another time.

At present they begin a planned, synchronized assault on the hospital, Nassau General, holding Powerhouse. They terrorize everyone while freeing him from the Absoraron which holds his own siphoning powers in check. Good ol' Mom's request for officers at Nassau General crosses Nova's receiver, and he congratulates himself on being a super-hero whose mom is a civilian dispatcher!

Upon his arrival he spots Condor, but this time his visor is not quick enough to protect him from a planned gas defense, leaving him unconscious in the clutches of Diamondhead.

Back at the Condor's Roost,
Condor reasserts his violent dominance over Powerhouse. We see Nova "in the grip of my computers", as Condor continues bullying Powerhouse and reminding him of the people he murdered without remembering, a byproduct of his deadly powers.

An analysis tells them Nova's secrets and more about his own powers than perhaps even he himself knows. Powerhouse lashes out at last against Condor, and in the chaos, Nova frees himself and the battle is on! In the process, Nova's thoughts drift towards understanding the mysterious hold Condor has over Powerhouse.

Powerhouse makes the difference in the continuing struggle, though as he fells Nova, he feels and voices great remorse.
Nova is bound to what is revealed to be a mind-programming device, all in the scheme to use him and his ship to face the Dreaded One, who we now know to be the Sphinx, observing the die being cast from afar as the game begins.

They begin with the erasure of Nova's mind. They expect a blank slate for their corruption, however temporarily. Mom, Dad and Ginger cross his lips as he awakens groggily, but these connections to decency evaporate. The one time Condor voices apparent concern, he finds himself victim of a brutal belting. Indeed, the computers have worked, but Nova's freed will power and natural antipathy for the Condor and his gang empowers his decision that HE is the boss of this gang!

Marvel meets Nova!

Writer/ Editor: Marv Wolfman
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Tom Palmer
Letter: John Costanza
Colorist: Michele Wolfman
“Evil is the ...Earth-Shaker!”
What are Richard and Ginger doing in the front seat of Mike Burley’s car, anyway? Drive-in theaters are mostly gone now, but youth and dating communities congregated in them for about half the twentieth century here in America. So the double date intentions here seem a little divided: if Rich is “uncomfortable” it’s because, as our rear-view mirror tells us and he finds upon turning around from the driver’s seat, there’s industrial strength tonsil hockey going on in absence of any attention to “King Kong.” Well, i don’t know what Rich is doing in the car of this guy, and I don’t know how much it may have changed their relationship the one time Rich walloped him a good one back, how that may have made Mike aware of how he treats others, however much he rationalizes his need to act out the intimidation he feels at home. At any rate, Rich really ought to know what is going on in the back seat soon enough to realize face front. That introspection costs him his dates patience:
Ginger: “Richard! Are you MORE interested in the MOVIE in front of you, the GAMES behind you---or ME?” You can interpret ‘games’ how you will; awkwardness in social situation is Rich Rider’s specialty, and Marv doesn’t suggest too much more than that here. The point is that Ginger reminds him he can open up to her, which is more of a super power than he realizes as yet, and because he is at heart a decent guy, he thanks her for being there. The bummer is, he missed where King Kong is shot, his favorite part. A new Kong movie came out in 1976, so presumably that’s the one they’re attending. Only Roy Thomas knows for sure, right? At least Ginger understands that he is hopeless.
One terrific caption later, little brother Bobby approaches Rich the next morning to try out his new toothpaste dispensing gimmick. How exactly the volume of the tooth paste tube comes to cover Rich comically to the belly button, I can’t say, but at least now Bobby realizes he just left out a cut-off valve. Here we see clearly why I always imagined a hero down in the deep South would suffocate during summer (ANY where in America except here, this summer: it’s been chilly in San Diego!): Richard clearly hides his uniform beneath his regular shirt and jeans for school. Bernie stops by, and together on the way to school they check out Caps’ house. Still no Caps. Now it looks to be of serious concern.
Beneath the Earth, subterranean commander Tyrannus (from HULK #5) prepares his particular Moloids to behold the fruit of their dangerous and long labors. “Witness the Awesome Power of ---EARTH SHAKER! And know I am his Creator! I am his Master! I am Tyrannus---conqueror of the world called Earth!”
Here we see the menace from the cover. * The simple characterization of the Moloids really sums them up superbly.
Despite the awesomeness involved, Tyrannus lives up to the pejorative aspect of his name and bullies his Moloids with a laser gun while chanting his praises of his ultimate machine now in motion.
A light-hearted TV news update breaks the monotony of studying again: Marvel Comics, searching for new super heroes, requests Nova himself appear at their offices! (Shades of Fantastic Four #176, you’re getting the picture.) A huge fan of IT, THE LIVING COLOSSUS, Nova speeds over, realizing now he will know how other real super heroes became the subjects of comic books. “Wow! Maybe I’ll even be invited to a Comic Convention!” (And at the time, this IS a comic another sense.)
“Hmmm...I wonder how much they’ll CHARGE me for the free publicity?”
Well, if the world is ready for a five-foot-nine super-hero, the team of Marv and Sal begin his informal Bullpen tour and we’re just waiting for Stan Lee after the interview to approve a brand spanking new title!
So to pass the time, they go to the park and ask Nova to show his powers so Sal can take some photo reference. Turns out, to the surprise of a rookie officer, it is possible to have clearance for shooting a person upon their request. You apparently don’t need any sort of permit for frightening onlookers that you have just taken a bullet to the chest at point blank range. Because, it’s okay. He’s a super hero, you see!
No permits were filed for what comes burrowing out of the ground, however. There is no mistaking the colossal robot, a demolition vehicle nightmare, almost seventy feet tall. “To the frightened humanity who run fearfully below, it may as well be a Mile high.” Tyrannus pilots the machine in a manner reminiscent of the decade’s Japanese cartoons (there’s a particular name I ran across last year reading about the era: anyone know the first successful giant robot cartoon in Japan? The creator’s a famous animator...must look it up...).
The comics creators scatter, and while Nova fares well enough figuring out how to use his powers to spin away the Moloid invaders, a zap from Tyrannus incapacitates Nova. The “Sleeper” like robot continues his conquering terror.
Nova ends up bound in what seems to be Tyrannus’ staple trap, a set of manacles that cover the waste and lower appendages, stickin you to the wall while your life-force is connected to a type of generator. The process is meant to leave Nova a withered old man. It begins vibrating...but Nova has an idea!
He speeds up his own physical vibrations, upsetting the apparatus and forcing himself free. For the first time, he finds himself wondering how exactly he needs to clean his Nova suit! He crashes now through the hole made by his expulsion, but the big drill hand clops him and pushes him down forcefully. Beneath the Earth, Nova adjusts by using his power and speed to drill his own tunnel, and re-emerges to knock out the brains of the operation, Tyrannus.
Not a bad day’s work. But when the excited Sal and Marv bring him in to meet Stan, the guru dismisses his youth and inexperience in favor of a “blockbusters only” approach to competition. Try again next year, make a name for yourself—that’s Stan’s advice.
Cheer up, Nova, it’s schedule related. Stan leaves, telling Marv over his shoulder that “we’ve just signed up our newest character. His name’s Midas the Million Dollar Mouse! Get to work writing the book. Costanza’s drawing it. Excelsior!”
“Maybe I should go to the competition? Nah, who am I kidding? If you’re gonna be in comics, there just Isn’t any competition to Marvel. Ah, well, maybe Next Year.”

*1>My first sight of Earth Shaker---and Nova!---came in a Roger Stern penned comic book, the one my sister chose for herself while I chose Marvel Tales #120 for myself, on the one occasion Mom bought us a pair of comics while visiting Shannon, her hometown, early 1980---anyone care to guess the comic book?
Nova won’t be the last late 70’s hero to have his title threatened by a mouse and his ilk.

Bringing up the movies: Nova’s appearance the year before STAR WARS seems prescient, particularly considering Wolfman’s plans to launch his novice hero off world, likely in place from issue one at least. In fact, a boy and his space ship are united handily next issue!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nova meets Thor

According to Nova's creator, Marv Wolfman, the story of Nova begins around 1966. As the publisher of a superhero fanzine called SUPER ADVENTURES, Wolfman created a character known as "The Star" in issue #3.

The Star was a doctor named Denteen who found a spaceship containing alien pills which gave him a different super-power every five minutes.

“Nova Against the Mighty Thor!”
Writer/ Editor : Marv Wolfman
Sal Buscema and Tom Palmer, “artists supreme”
Watanabe & Wohl, letters
Colorist: Michele Wolfman

Who amongst us hasn’t imagined zooming into high school from the skies? Another dreaded math test awaits our patrol-happy hero, who shakes off his grogginess to see girlfriend Ginger crossing the street in front of a huge truck. (Feel free to insert your “daydream of saving cute girl in the row beside you during alien/ villain attack at school” here.) He discovers that bringing a speeding Mack to a standstill is just a bit beyond him (but hey, last issue he found he’s bullet-proof, so no fuss), but he zips to the front of the truck to pick up Ginger and almost blow his i.d. with his familiarity and voice. Then he bellows his “keep out of trouble, miss!” line and thinks, “well, maybe not THAT deep.” LOL!

He’s still beating himself up for being a hapless nerd even while changing to civvies and walks into a trigonometry test. Fifteen minutes later, slowly working through two equations, he gets a back slap from braggart Mike Burley (really, he’s just a hair off from being an actual friend, if he wasn’t sour about a hang-up revealed soon). Once again he ponders how he wishes the Nova powers were for a bit more personal gain (indeed, what was that sudden flash of math prowess in #1 about? Probably connected to giving him star-pilot understanding.) “Take away his good looks, his muscles, and his brains---and you’ve got us!” whispers Bernie. “Wait. Let me rephrase that.”

(Right about now I’m appreciating the periods Marvel started using around ’71, instead of every sentence ending in a question mark or exclamation point!)
Before journeying to the universe abroad, Thor’s in town. With a storm he helps fight a chemical supply storage fire, and with a sweep of Mjolnir, his mystic mallet, down goes the one locked door between him and whoever’s trapped inside.

Unfortunately, the chemicals have made the deep-blue hued man inside become the Corruptor, “whose very touch spreads evil!” Soon the most powerful of the Avengers calls him master, dedicated to mayhem starting immediately.
Ginger’s listening to Rich’s concern over his dad and trying to make him smile, while Bernie jokingly haggles for a better banana split and Mike and Donna sit nearby with fresh razz. Here we find Mike Burley’s hang-up mentioned in passing: he excels because he is pushed without let-up. But as a tough guy, he glosses over this rudely with his seemingly air-headed girl.

In their front booth, Bernie drops a reference to another coming plotline: where is Roger “Caps” Cooper? Their friend wasn’t home and hasn’t been seen. They agree to check up on him; ever-astute Ginger observes Bernie dropping the Don Rickles act long enough to show concern. Meanwhile, the now-possessed Thor streaks overhead, inspiring Richard to change to Nova soon and approach him. “Excuse me, Mr. Thor. I---“

He gets the picture quickly; a haughty thunder god back smashes him through a building’s corner. Nova recognizes Thor seemed hypnotized or drugged, and decides to stop him by going Human Rocket on hizzass. Ironically, after soaring over an open-air mall, Thor crashes right into the Harry S. Truman High School’s gym---a place “where Rich Rider’s such a hot-shot athlete! Hah!” Thor puts considerable effort into killing Nova, who critiques himself as always, excoriating his lack of experience, all-too aware of Thor’s greater power. Slamming into a pool, Nova now discovers his plexi-glass visor in his helmet as soon as he hits the water--- a feature he reasons appropriate to its deep space alien former owner. Fortunately Thor seems stunned he’s not drowned his foe, allowing Nova to get free again, though Thor recovers quickly.

The Corruptor discovers his transformation is unstable, and resumes a more sane and very disturbed mortal persona.

Thor feels a flood of pain at that moment, just as Nova screws up one gutsy punch, which he can’t stop! Ever egalitarian, Thor and Nova reason together, and Thor, often the formal ambassador of superherodom, shakes his hand and insists he stop calling the god “sir.”

Our man, whose name is revealed is Jackson, can’t believe his Corruptor experience, and answers a call from his wife Doris. He tries to play it all off, but by the time he hangs up the phone he’s become a rabid, transforming freak. Upon his change, the Corruptor recognizes the clothes make the Evil man, and with his mind creates a skull-emblem jumpsuit. He sees Nova and Thor, and notes his slaves change from evil whenever he does. Nonetheless his power seems to grow according to his need to corrupt, and quickly he’s going mano y mano with Thor and Nova. The touch fails to change Thor this time and Corruptor decides to try the hostages/ pawns route.

However, a team-up of hammer born shockwaves and a quip-accompanied punch rein him in. The question of the now-human Corruptor’s condition will be remanded to Tony Stark and the Avengers. Best of all, young Nova gets plaudits and a final handshake of “eternal friendship” from the warrior Norse god himself. Blue Blazes!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rogue, in the days before the X-Men R.E.M. of ROM


I arrive at the home of Brock Jones, Clairton’s deputized super hero, the Torpedo. His recovery on the couch brings concerned family, friends, and a doctor, who listen to his demoralized account of an enemy materializing on the old Marks farm. Steve Jackson and his fiance, Brandy Clark, discuss the town’s vulnerability in wake of my apparent absence. I walk in then, reassuring all, aware of my imposing armored frame and glinting appearance---reminding me, while I am human at heart, a spaceknight stands as one apart.

I ask Brock to describe his foe, and from this and the location I begin to tell of Jimmy Marks, a youth who foreswore his humanity---“the crossbreed progeny of a human woman and a Dire Wraith.” A reporter named Mack Killburn---who’s followed the case of my existence since shortly after his co-worker was slain by the Wraiths---rescued the Torpedo after the attack. I welcome him to the fight.

Now I confess my culpability: human prisoners confused me into believing they were slaves, when in reality they had committed crimes against their fellow man. I mention the three super-powered beings also free in part due to my ignorance---but none are so deadly as Hybrid. With Torpedo injured, yet still bold nevertheless, I convince him I must face my enemy without him. Brandy asks me: must I do everything alone? I see myself in the mirror: no longer human, and no longer capable of becoming so. I tell her I accept solitude as my natural state. She seems oblivious to Steve’s feelings, his concern that he has lost her to me. But it must not be so. This eased my decision to leave Clairton in Torpedo’s safe keeping and take the fight to the Wraiths elsewhere in the world---indeed, it is necessary.

The convicts, however, fall prey to the might and cruelty of Hybrid before I arrive. What’s more, I become prey, myself, to Mystique’s ruse; as a shape-shifter, the blue-skinned woman can appear injured with ease, and seems to enjoy duplicity as her life-blood. This sets me up to be hit by Rogue, who is indeed powerful...yet I tell her: I sense no evil in her. She tries to laugh this off, continuing to fight me, ending up in my grip. She coyly jokes about contact with me---flirting, they call it---and then follows Mystique’s strategy of fake injury to lure me close enough to use a most unusual power. She declares me half-human, as revealed by the extrasensory sight of her partner Destiny, and seeks to steal my abilities through her vampiric kiss.

We are both shocked by the empathic moment between us. I feel her surprise, at my memories, my essence, my qualities: I am amazed to find the best of myself reflected in her. She partakes of my identity, and finds no powers for her mutant ability to steal. But her nature causes her to touch me personally in a way no other could, while I am clad in this cyborg planadium steel. Her recognition of my true self reassures me, she, too, in her untouchable state (for she cannot control said powers) has a heart and courage and a longing for connection. The agony I feel, with such emotions awakened in me, enrages me, for I tell her: I can never become human again! Yet I feel her attraction, at the same time, to the man inside this armor---to the man I can never again be. While Mystique and Destiny encircle me, however, Hybrid at last makes his move.

Rogue now changes her mind about the ambush, touched, I over hear, by goodness and nobility. That spiritual comfort comes as Hybrid’s mental attack assault me, damaging memory circuits and severing my mobility.
Mantlobot observation:
Hybrid’s assault comes on many levels---physical, mental, emotional. Touched by the crossbreed’s malevolent mind, the snow whips into a blinding frenzy around his cyborg circuitry screams under a psychic assault.

At this point, while Mystique presses the attack, Destiny at last glimpses the true fate in store, for the Sisterhood and all mutants: subjugation as breeders, mates for a new super-powered race spawned by Hybrid. They argue briefly about motives and prepare to flee. Rogue, however, defies characterization as an evil mutant, by her words and deeds. Mystique fears for her, while Destiny accepts that Hybrid must be vanquished.

The monster has me by the neck, and then slaps aside my Neutralizer, my one hope of stopping him. Rogue weighs some thoughts of her own before streaking to my side, slamming into Hybrid. She confronts him and his plans, but falls victim to his speed, and becomes sickened by his touch. At the same time, her own abilities absorb the horror’s power. She takes enough of his mind-shock power to free herself from his grip, but remains physically, violently sickened. So I go now to her side, lifting her chin in my palm to tell her: she has done enough. I have regained control of my cyborg circuitry, and now the horror shall answer to Rom.

Now Hybrid begins to toy with my emotions and thoughts as well: “You want Rogue, too!” He believes shattering the nobility of my cause will present doubts, and then, uses his shape-changing ability to become: my human self! The self lost forever, that half of my body stolen by the spaceknight Terminator, before he was destroyed, with it, by Galactus. Now his invasion of these very memory circuits brings Brandy before me, even as I prepare to neutralize him. How is it, then, Brandy Clark appears before me twice, supplicating my mercy and assuring me they are both real!

This, however, is the work of Mystique. Breaking that illusion invigorates me; I wade into Hybrid once more. This time, the Neutralizer setting will destroy Hybrid’s physical body. Its scream echoes into the snow blanketed hillside.

I turn and ask these three, who have aided me against this greatest of evils: how then do they claim to be evil? Destiny declares they are dedicated to mutantkind; it is humanity who sees them as evil, forcing their actions. My analyzer reveals they share a base humanity that should rally them to battle outside menaces as one with their planet. They should stand with their fellow man against the Dire Wraiths. Rogue keeps her silence, as Mystique accuses mankind of oppression that will keep their paths separated. But as for Rogue and I, we cannot help but wonder: with this rare thing we have shared, with this touch granted by her powers...will we, one day, cross paths again?

I believe we would both like that. Very much.

Rogue, in the days before the X-Men R.E.M. of ROM

Isolated by white, blanketing snows, a house built to showcase luxury contains, in its heart, a nightmare.

Before Rom arrives upon the scene, the Hybrid works his subtle machinations to use and subvert the women before him.

They are like no other women, each in her own way. There is one way they are each women, and that is the wicked purpose for which Hybrid begins his subjugation.
Each have fled the scene of an attempt to free the male consortium of their group.

The blue-skinned woman, who could truly appear to be anyone, calls herself Mystique, leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. On this occasion, it would be correct to call them the Sisterhood. Hybrid affects her first. His ploy? He is victim of a mind-touch not of his own device, which he accuses Mystique of initiating. Here she gains the common knowledge: they have all fought the X-Men before, and consider them active enemies. The X-Men team unites and protects humans and mutants alike, with a dream of peace based on a school dedicated to tolerance, higher learning, and survival.

He laces his trap together with the pursuit of the other foe from his rebirth as a menace to all: Rom, Spaceknight. In desperation, the mutant X-Man Kitty Pryde, with her special phasing power, is able to activate Rom’s Neutralizer, atomizing the Hybrid and apparently banishing ROM to Limbo (see #18).

Already, Hybrid has read their minds, and knows Rom is coming. A vision from the second woman, Irene Adler, a.k.a Destiny, confirms this. Though she is blind, any and all of human kind is hers to see. They only need fall into the cascading tableaus of the variety of future moments, which form complex neural paths that sometimes cluster into strong, repetitive possibilities. So does the future come to Destiny, much as memories come to others: sometimes inexact, sometimes weighing consequences of things left at “what if?” by reality, but always clustering into an identifiable phenomenon open to interpretation.

Finally, the third woman, Rogue: with the stolen powers of Ms. Marvel she speedily saves Mystique from Hybrid’s initial attack “in self defense,” hammering him into the floor long enough to save the deadly woman she considers her adopted mother. Now she, at a touch, can become any person, stealing their essence and memories.

Tragically, she has no control over this. At this point in her life, she discovers how powerful this can make her, having been led against the Avengers themselves. As a growing young adult with feelings, however, the full throttle adventures with her eclectic foster family do not save her from the loneliness that comes with sharing the goodness of touch. No wonder she feels shunted from the main step of life!
Hybrid shares his origin: his father, a Dire Wraith invader cut off from his fellows, blended in by romancing a human woman. The experience, however, made his something never, if ever, seen before in Wraithkind: a capacity to love and share. Somehow an acceptable, anonymous life as farmer Jacob Marks became the Wraith’s invention, and to his shock, his wife seemed to bare a human boy.

Upon reaching thirteen, however, the family falls into the clutches of visiting Dire Wraiths. Calling upon the Dark Nebula’s power, the aliens awaken arcane magic and powers for his command, festering in him as an all-consuming cancer on his humanity. His hideous, inside-out and inhuman hateful form symbolizes the complete corruption of the being now called Hybrid, a mutant, whose first act in his new life is the slaying of his parents.

Now restored molecularly by force of will alone, Hybrid’s return marks the beginning of human conquest, and he offers a partnership with the Sisterhood.
The prisoners freed accidentally before the incident at the prison now wonder up from the snows, to face the Hybrid. He tests his newly awakened power. Their fearful bodies spin frenetically, then the flesh is stripped quickly while they are still alive, until skeletons twist above the damp white and red before the imposing, ominous Hybrid.

Now a deep questioning of the evil in their midst stirs Rogue to speak. Not even Destiny has yet to glance the true purpose for which he has thus spared their lives.
But then, the apparent purpose, to oppose Rom, comes to the fore, and the pre-arranged attack begins.

Know Rom is dedicated to the preservation of life on Earth, or any planet he saves from Wraithkind. The menace of Hybrid, however, is so nauseatingly, directly sinister, that on sight, his existence can only be considered a menace until it is ended!

I’m still restoring these units...I’ve been relaying this account viewed in Buscema-Scan, but bear in mind those are supplementary data added later, while the following represents the witness-self observations mirroring the conscious mind of the cyborg wearer upon his personal experience. This armor was abandoned sometime ago. The manufacturer for this tech no longer even has the license to do so! CLue


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rogue's turning point in R.E.M. of ROM

“West Virginia Reel “ (from ROM 31, courtesy retro-constructed scenes preserved in Mantlobot circuitry aboard the cyborg computes
of Galador's greatest spaceknight, Rom).

“West Virginia Reel “
It’s another Marv Wolfman creation, the Torpedo, who encounters the strange re-assembly of the Hybrid on Earth. The grey, physically corrupted horror battles Torpedo on the sight of the Old Marks Farm where he was raised for thirteen years...until the Dire Wraiths revealed his heritage to him.
The super-conveyance taking the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to Windust Prison nearly runs down some prisoners who as a chain-gang desperately shovel snow in blizzard conditions that make the flying mode of the unit less than optimal. Rom arrives to stop the unit in its tracks, leading to its condition red blast off, complete with Destiny, the Blob, Pyro and Avalanche aboard, suspended by Stark technology.
The prisoners convince Rom they work as slaves, a concept he finds abhorrent, and he breaks their chains. They use his confusion to escape while he flies after the conveyance, and soon he indignantly tears down the gates of the prison.
Inside, the Brotherhood prisoners are remanded to someone the staff believes is Dr. Kellogg. The real warden of Windust shares her captured fate; their impostors are Rogue and Mystique, who speedily free the Brotherhood. Rom unwittingly draws fire as they complete their mistaken escape. Then they run into Rom himself. At this point Pyro attacks the tower guards, ending Rom’s cooperation. Blob and Pyro fight Rom, resulting in some incidental burns to Blob. He gladly holds back help while Rom’s summoned Neutralizer leaves Pyro agonizing. He has to use his Analyzer to see if he faces super-humans or Wraiths. Rogue’s first instinct is to stop the crimson beam, and she is the first to realize upon walloping him that Rom is a machine (though she incorrectly believes him not to be a man).

Destiny foresees difficulties in escape via the air van, leading Avalanche, nursing broken arms, to overreact. His shockwaves leave him passed out from his power flow’s effect on his bones (courtesy the Incredible Hulk not long before this story) and shake up the ground beneath the Brotherhood’s feet. His immoveability perturbed, Blob falls to a Rom uppercut and Rogue obeys Mystique’s order to cut their losses and run. The resemblance of Mystique to Nightcrawler, whom Rom met while first battling the Hybrid, crosses the cyborg’s mind before he has to turn and answer to the warden and guards. By now he realizes the flaw in his assumptions and promises to attempt to undo his mistake.

Now, full circle: the remaining mutants gather before a door containing a visionary horror assailing the confused Destiny. Rogue bashes her way in unafraid, but the sickening creature on the staircase reeks with fetid odors and speaks with chilling familiarity, to the dismay of all three women.