Marvel Comics Presents #16 & 17 (1989, April)
Bruce has two women tied up in his home. It’s, uh, it’s been a weird day for him. Roxy’s tied up because she’d pretty well snapped. Nina is tied up because he thinks she’s brainwashed. Zack comes in and drops the clock he found, rambling incoherently. Bruce screams that he doesn’t know who he’s fight or why, and it’s just like Vietnam so he’s used to it. Colossus, meanwhile, is rambling about the pointlessness of fighting over ideology, while beating up people. He finally finds the dude behind everything that’s been going on,
Back at the farm, the neighbours are still watching, and are still awful people.
The fact that some people DO believe that is horrifying. Then the gunfire starts. While the grandpa’s still in his car, lost in memory.
This is an odd installment, on its own. These MCP stories do tend to read much better collected than they do on their own like this. But I chose to go through the X-Men month-by-month, so dammit, that’s how I have to review each issue, as well. Though, honestly, even as part of a collection, this one’s kinda weird. The clock thing. I don’t get the clock thing with the kid. Such a weird moment. Colossus’ muttering about belief is a bit odd, and I’m not entirely sure what the point was. But Bruce’s freak-out was written well, and I like the bad guy’s little speech about the US not being free. He mentions that the press won’t cover the story, and he’ll be free again in a day. He’s really charismatically evil. His OCD, with the hand-washing, is a neat quirk, too. And the art is Leonardi, so, you know, nice.
Also! Longshot story! By Nocenti, Larry Dixon, Alfredo Alcala, Gregory Wright and Ken Lopez, “Dreamwalk.” Longshot’s racing a kangaroo, and having a good time, until he lands on an Aboriginal dude who was on a Dreamwalk. Later, at the ghost town, the X-Men are preparing for a night out, but Longshot says he wants to stay home. Dazzler complains about needing someone to dance with.
Longshot tries to Dreamwalk, and it works! There’s a monster! And Longshot thinks it wants to play, though it seems more interested in hitting him with things. So he and the monster fight through the place, trashing it. This is a very weird story. It’s fun, but really weird. Just a silly little done-in-one short story about Longshot fighting a monster without realizing it’s a fight.
And MCP #17, with another two X-stories. By the same creative team as the previous parts, “God’s Country (Part 8) – Fit To Print.”
Bruce and Nina are firing back at the dudes firing at them. Grandpa decides to wander back inside. His hat gets shot off, but he actually avoids getting shot, because it’s just funnier if he doesn’t and the universe loves a good visual gag. He gets inside, unties his daughter, and declares it’s time he died, and tells Roxy to be strong. Which is exactly when Colossus shows up with the police. Too late to save the grandpa, but hey, he made his choice. Later, Roxy is telling the cops and the press what happened, and is very calm and strong about it. Good for her. Nina gratefully goes off with the cops, after a brief but sweet moment with Colossus. The family thanks Colossus for helping them, and he says he’s going to go back to Russia.
And that’s the story over! I think Colossus’ comment about going to Russia was meant to set up a Colossus mini, but it never ended up happening. Which is actually kind of a shame, because it might have been interesting. But anyway, this story. This wrap-up feels oddly anti-climatic. Roxy goes from being a nervous mess to being strong and confident, which is kinda neat, albeit really sudden. It was Nocenti’s commentary on, well, here:
This part’s mostly just wrap-up, and some of it does feel too quick. A bit rushed at parts. Grandpa’s death was an odd mix of sad and funny, because he just nopes right out. “This world sucks, I’m done.” I like the scene. It’s a good scene. But it is a really odd scene. The story as a whole is pretty good, though. Lots of sharp social, political and media commentary from Nocenti. You know, people complain about modern comics being “too political,” about writers “injecting their politics,” all that sort of nonsense. Then you go back to 1989 and Nocenti’s writing goddamn manifestos disguised as superhero comics. Writers at Marvel right now WISH they could be so political. I don’t entirely agree with everything Nocenti says in the story, but it does make me think, and for the most part, it’s well-written and enjoyable. And, sadly, too much of it is still relevant today. The art is great all through. Leonardi was always a solid artist. Rockwell’s colours work really well for the story. They give this kind of classic Americana vibe to the comic, which contrasts well with the conspiracies and dysfunction and all that. So, yeah, good story, all in all.
And this issue starts a Cyclops story. By Bob Harras, Ron Lim, Bruce Patterson, Andy Yanchus and Agustin Mas, “The Retribution Affair (Part 1) – Blinded By the Light.”
Scott arrives on Muir Island (he arrived by motorboat) and immediately has to dodge some sort of ball of energy. Which ends up destroying his boat. Because the X-Men aren’t allowed to have vehicles. But then a bunch of guns pop out of the ground. As he takes them out, he sees Moira walking by in a trance. He finishes off the guns, but then gets taken out by a sonic blast. He wakes up a few hours later. Moira and Sean seem fine, and the dock’s been repaired. Something weird is going on!
This is a good start. Some exciting action, which also shows a little insight into Scott’s character, and an intriguing mystery is set up. Good writing, good art. Solid opening chapter.