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Marvel Fanfare #3 (1982, July)

August 15, 2013

So I’ve actually got multiple comics today. The first is a Claremont/Cockrum story from Marvel Fanfare, “Into the Land of Death. . . .”

Into the Land of Death. . . .

That’s a pretty great Cockrum/McLeod cover.

We start with the X-Men – minus a sick Scott – flying to the Savage Land. Storm creates a small bubble of calm air around the Blackbird, to make the flight a bit easier. In the process, she senses something odd about the blizzard, and her feeling continues as they descend into the ground to a military facility there. They meet Angel there, along with the UN force stationed at the base, one of six set up around the Savage Land’s periphery to protect and study it. Angel explains to them about the trip he and Peter Parker took, their de-evolution, and the return of Sauron. Then the base is hit by an earthquake. While the X-Men help out any trapped and injured soldiers, Storm thinks the earthquake was unnatural.

The soldiers helped, the X-Men continue on to the Savage Land. And it sure looks pretty. Then they find the village of the Fall People, massacred. The Fall People got that a lot. They have a quick fight with Gaza, then the other Mutates show up, with Vertigo making them easy pickings, until Nightcrawler resists long enough to take her out with a thrown rock. Then the X-Men take the Mutates down. One of the Mutates, Amphibius, tells them that when Ka-Zar, Zabu and Shanna left, and Chief Tongah died, the Mutates joined with Zaladane, all led by Sauron, to conquer the Savage Land. Sauron’s base is in the middle of a lake – Amphibius offers to show them where it is. They walk along, getting increasingly tired, until they come under attack by Sauron. He hypnotizes them, and Angel flees. Sauron follows, with the other four X-Men being taken down by Zaladane’s soldiers. Angel ends up seemingly getting himself killed in his panicked escape.

The X-Men wake up in Sauron’s base. He explains it’s surrounded by a will-sapping energy field. They’re strapped down in front of the de-evolution ray. Then Angel wakes up, with . . . someone.

It’s good, naturally. It’s a bonus X-Men story, which is always nice. There’s some little bits of characterization here and there. Nightcrawler’s acrobatic experience giving him a measure of resistance to Vertigo was a very nice touch. Mostly, though, this is just a fun X-Men adventure story. It’s largely doing its own thing, separate from the main book, neither affecting it, nor affected by it. It’s cool.

Next, Amazing Spider-Man #221, by Stern and Romita, Jr. This is part two of Spider-Man’s fight with the Juggernaut. Spider-Man tries to fire a girder at him, but that doesn’t work. Juggernaut pulls the entire corner off the building Spider-Man was in. Spider-Man tries hurling a wrecking ball at him. Juggernaut knocks it aside into the building, making it collapse. Spider-Man gets to cover. Juggernaut doesn’t bother, and just walks out. Black Tom is worried about how long Juggernaut’s taking, and is relieved to finally see him beside a construction site, followed by Spider-Man. Who’s now completely out of web fluid. Spider-Man decides instead to ram him with a gasoline truck. Juggernaut, as usual, just stands there, saying nothing can hurt him. Spoiler alert: Nothing can hurt him. The explosion is huge, and even Black Tom worries that Juggernaut couldn’t have survived. But he does. And now he’s annoyed. He’s also welded his helmet on with a laser torch, so Spider-Man can’t get it off. Spider-Man covers his eyeholes, leaving Juggernaut stumbling around blindly while pounding on Spider-Man. He stumbles into wet cement. The foundation for the building being built. It’s next to the water, so it’s probably 40′ deep. This is a great issue. It showcases Spider-Man’s determination. It also showcases just how tough Juggernaut is. He really can’t be hurt. The explosion was massive, and he just walked right out of it, not the least bit injured. He’s totally invincible.

Contest of Champions #2, by people. The first bout, at the North Pole, has Daredevil, Darkstar and Talisman from the Grandmaster’s team, and Sunfire, Iron Fist and Invisible Woman from the Unknown’s. Firestar and Darkstar fight in the air. She manages to capture him with Darkforce, but he bursts free, breaking the ice in the process, which reveals the golden corner. Everyone goes for it, but Daredevil catches it. The second fight, in an old Western ghost town, has Defensor, She-Hulk and Captain Britain from the Grandmaster’s team against Sabra, Arabian Knight and Iron Man from the Unknown’s. Sabra and Arabian Knight take an immediate dislike to each other, obviously. Sabra attacks She-Hulk, and Captain Britain attacks Arabian Knight. They match sword against sceptre. Above them, She-Hulk hits Sabra hard enough to stun her, but Arabian Knight saves her with his carpet. She’s infuriated by that. Captain Britain takes him out, then gets taken out by Sabra. These are fun fights. Good art, decent writing. Just fun.

And Rom #32, by Mantlo and Buscema. Hybrid beats up the the Brotherhood (Mystique, Destiny and Rogue) a bit, until Mystique somehow accidentally reads his mind and memories. This serves to give us Hybrid’s background. Then they make an alliance to beat Rom and the X-Men. The criminals Rom freed last issue show up at the house, and Hybrid kills them horribly. The Brotherhood is disgusted. Rom shows up, lured in by Mystique, and set up for attack from behind by Rogue. Rom says he senses no evil in Rogue; I wonder if this was to set up Rogue joining the X-Men. She uses her absorption powers on Rom, and learns how good Rom is. While Rom and Hybrid fight, Destiny sees what HYbrid has planned. Mutant females will serve as his breeders. Mystique says they should leave. Rogue says they should help Rom, but Mystique reminds her that they’re Evil Mutants. Rogue goes in anyway. Fighting, fighting, Rogue has to absorb some of Hybrid’s power. That allows Rom to finish him off. The day is saved, hurrah. Rom lets the Brotherhood go. I was never really big on Rom. This is OK, but it doesn’t do much for me.

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