Marvel Comics Presents #14 and 15 (1989, March)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I almost didn’t post today. But I figured I should try. So, here. By Nocenti, Leonardi, Russell, Wright and Lopez, “God’s Country (Part 5) – The Secret Is There’s No Secret.”
Colossus decks a woman and then runs inside while people shoot at him. Inside, the woman introduces herself as Number Six, a member of a super-soldier team named the Cold Warriors. Number Six has had her body laced with metal, and she can barely feel anything any more. Poor lady.
The woman also says she should have quit a while ago, but it’s hard to know when the things you fight for have gone bad. Bruce, the father in the family Colossus is hiding with, says he understands, and thanks Colossus for saving his family, and apologizes for taking so long to say it. Then we get some commentary on secrets and lies. Nocenti understands that, sometimes, it’s more effective to say what you’re trying to say, rather than keep it subtle. (Not that she isn’t also subtle. She does both.) Number Six lays out the plan: She’ll keep the family safe, while Colossus goes to deal with Alexander, the guy in charge of the whole operation. We also learn that Roxanne, the mother, had a breakdown once, and Bruce is worried it’ll happen again. And then we end with Colossus finding the Cold Warriors.
And by the same team, “Bondage.”
Colossus is kicking some ass. But back at the farmhouse, a clawed hand has Roxanne by the face. Number Six and Bruce get rid of the dude, but then Number Six’s programming starts to reassert itself. One of the guys Colossus beat reveals how horrible his existence is.
Back at the farmhouse, Roxanne’s definitely having a breakdown, and she’s babbling, so Bruce gags her. She lets out a cry as he does, and the people outside think Bruce is beating her, but they choose not to call the cops because it’s a private affair. Because people are awful. Zackery, the kid, starts to freak out and get angry and throw stuff, until a clock distracts him.
These two parts are pretty eventful. Not much action in #14, but lots of plot gets revealed. #15 has more action. The two parts actually read really well together for that reason. You get a nice bit of variety there. And there’s a definite sense of escalation, and growing tension. We learn how awful the Cold Warrior project is, and we get plenty of moralizing on secrets and lies, and the dangers they pose. I have to wonder if Nocenti’s journalism background is why she writes that way, actually. Because while she can be subtle, she also likes to make very, very clear what the point and message of the story is. Clarity is something she clearly prioritizes. Which I think works well.
The art is good. Not up to Leonardi’s usual standard, though. He could do better than this. It’s serviceable, but knowing what he’s capable of, it’s definitely a let-down.
This issue also include a Jean Grey story, by Bobbie Chase, Dwayne Turner, Mike Gustovich, Andy Yanchus and Ken Lopez. Jean’s sleeping on Ship, and the Phoenix Force manifests, asking for her help. It makes her think it’s Xavier, and she follows it in a trance, into the subway.
It leads her into some tunnels off the subway, and to a dead end. It’s about to take over her, but she finally wakes up, and resists. Then it turns out the Phoenix manifestation is a dead Morlock who was out of its body during the Morlock massacre, and who needs another body to live again. During the struggle, Jean somehow creates a Phoenix of pink energy. The two Phoenixes blow up, and reveal the skeleton of a child.
What a meh story. I don’t know. It doesn’t really explain why the Morlock took the form of the Phoenix. There’s no explanation for where the pink Phoenix came from. The fight ends really suddenly. I think this is a story that did need more space to breathe. I’m not sure that would have helped with the dialogue, though, which was stilted and awkward. The art was pretty decent, but this story just isn’t good. At all.