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Marvel Comics Presents #21 and 22 (1989, June)

May 13, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Some stuff going on in my life, which I’ll talk about tonight on Twitter, and in my next pull list post. But for today, by Harras, Lim, Riem, Yanchus and Mas, “The Retribution Affair (Part 5) – Best Laid Plans.”

Best Laid Plans

What a thrilling cover.

Conscience has brought Moira, Scott and Callisto before Master Mold (or a screen with his face, anyway), and Scott wonders how Master Mold is alive after Scott destroyed him in Alaska. Master Mold just points out that, as a Sentinel, his body isn’t him. We also get Conscience’s back story. He’s a Sentinel, created by Master Mold with his own brain engrams, which are also Stephen Lang’s engrams. Scott passes out, and his visor falls off, but his beams aren’t firing. We get a quick cut to the Campbell home, where their son has now taken ill, then back to Master Mold’s ship, for more monologuing from Conscience about protecting humanity. He does raise one interesting idea. He says that, because mutants rely on their powers, they lack creativity, and that they’ll stagnate. It’s an interesting argument. It’s also not a very convincing one. There are different levels of power, different uses for given powers, and powers don’t define who mutants are. Colossus is strong, but he’s also a talented painter. Kitty’s a genius at computers. Beast is a brilliant scientist who contributes to human knowledge. There’s no reason they can’t still struggle and add to culture.

Anyway, turns out the Retribution Virus is now starting to infect humans. The Virus has mutated. Conscience isn’t happy, but Callisto takes a certain satisfaction that at least the mutants he wanted to kill will get revenge. Conscience tells Master Mold they have to abandon the plan, but Master Mold still intends to release the spores. All mutants will die, and 92.4% of humans will die, and Master Mold figures this is acceptable, while Conscience doesn’t.

This chapter’s good. We get more insight into Conscience, and through him, into Lang. Conscience is Lang’s more human side, the side that deals with emotions and philosophy. Master Mold is the pure logic side, focused only on achieving its goal. I still dislike how Harras writes Conscience, though. He’s not nearly as charming or charismatic as Harras thinks. He feels like a cheap Joker knock-off. I keep rolling my eyes at the dialogue. It’s just so cheesy. It’s very ’90s, even if the ’90s hadn’t started yet. The art is solid. Lim’s always been excellent. He doesn’t get much to do here, unfortunately.

And Part 6, with inks now by Jeff Albrecht, “Alliance of Convenience.”

Alliance of Convenience

Why can’t Cyclops get a good cover?

Master Mold refuses to listen to Conscience’s pleas to stop the plan, so Conscience decides he needs help. So he goes to Scott, Moira and Callisto. Moira demands to be taken to the lab so she can find a cure, while the others go for the spore chamber. Master Mold finds them, blasts Conscience, and grabs Scott.

Brief as that synopsis is, it’s a good chapter. Conscience’s struggle with his own conscience is pretty interesting, stupid dialogue notwithstanding. Scott, sick as he is, still gets to show off his tactical mind by quickly grasping why Conscience wants the team-up with them. I like Moira standing up to Conscience in demanding an opportunity to cure the virus, while he just wants to contain it. She’s very stubborn. She’s Scottish, after all. And then she gives Scott a nice reminder of Xavier’s lesson that everyone is worth any risk. A really nice moment between them there. And, again, really good art.

But wait! There’s more! This issue also features another story. By Sue Flaxman, Rodney Ramos, Jose Marzan, Jr., John Wilcox and Ken Lopez, “Suffer A Wolf To Live.”

Rahne and Dani are on Muir Isle, during summer vacation, having climbed up a tall hill in order to watch the sunset. They spot a wolf, and Rahne chases after it into the woods, against Dani’s warnings about the woods not being safe. She gets lost in the woods, surrounded by a heavy mist, wandering around for a way out, until another girl finds her, who was the wolf she followed. Turns out Rahne’s found Avalon, and she’s told it’s her new home. She spends a few days becoming a part of the community, hunting and dancing, but she also thinks of home a lot. Dani goes looking for her, and Rahne thinks of her and decides to leave. The others try to stop her, and explain they need her to make babies. Rahne politely declines, by running away, and gets back to Dani.

As is usual with these MCP stories, a little more space to breathe would have done wonders for it. It’s still pretty decent. There’s an interesting story here. We get some good character moments from Rahne. But it’s all so compressed that it’s hard to get an emotional connection to it. I wonder if maybe the MCP format would have worked better with three stories, rather than 4. Two 8-page stories, each parts of ongoing stories, and a 16-page stand-alone. Because a lot of these done-in-ones, this one included, would have worked much better with 16 pages, giving more room to breathe, more room for emotional context. As it is, we don’t get much on the bond between Rahne and Dani, we don’t get that much insight into the Tuatha De Danan, we don’t get much of Rahne feeling torn between Dani and the Danan. The art’s pretty nice. Ramos isn’t someone I’m familiar with. But his style’s nice. Soft and pleasant.

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