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Marvel Comics Presents #23 and #24 (1989, July)

June 23, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Wasn’t sure I felt like posting today, but screw it. So, by Harras, Lim, Albrecht, Yanchus, and Mas, “The Retribution Affair (Part 7) – Mind Your Conscience.”

Mind Your Conscience

Pretty generic cover.

Scott, being crushed by Master Mold, manages to summon up an optic blast. Master Mold discards him, then goes to resume his plan by melding with his ship. Scott suggests Conscience merge his programming with Master Mold’s, and try to take over, to prevent the spores from being released that will wipe out almost all humans. Callisto helps them to their feet, and Scott blasts away a bunch of Servitors to clear a path, so Conscience can hook into the computer.

This installment feels quick and not much really happens. There’s really not much to talk about. Scott shows more of his determination, and shows off the strength of his blasts. Moira learns something, but we don’t find out what. Conscience remains annoying. Just such a badly-written character. Really stupid dialogue. The art is OK, but nothing particularly stellar. Serviceable, it looks good, but it doesn’t really impress at all. Not that the script gives Lim much to do. This story just gets less interesting with each part.

And part 8, “Retribution and Resurrection,” by the same team. But #24 also starts a new Havok story. By Howard Mackie, Rich Buckler, Joe Rubinstein, Andy Yanchus, and Bill Oakley, “Pharaoh’s Legacy (Part 1) – A Change of Heart.”

A Change of Heart

Scott and Alex fighting together is always cool.

With Master Mold and Conscience battling for supremacy, the ship is out of control. Master Mold begins the countdown to release the spores, so Scott starts blasting him, and you’d think it wouldn’t be much of a fight, but Scott kicks some pretty good ass, until he collapses from the fever. Luckily, Banshee plays cavalry, while Moira gives her cure to Scott and Callisto. His power’s back, with Moira saying it’s too soon to tell if it’s temporary or not. Conscience tells the other to leave while he takes the ship into orbit to blow it up and destroy the virus. The day is saved.

Again, kinda meh. The fight is really good. Very exciting. But Conscience, ugh. I hate how Harras writes Conscience. He is so irritating. He talks the way no person has ever spoken in history, but which comic book writers seem to think people speak all the time. Honestly, I’ve never liked Harras as a writer. His Avengers run was cheesy and bad. And his tenure as editor of the X-Men line was, ah, not a strong period, creatively. This story started off pretty well, but once Conscience showed up, it went downhill fast, and it remained weak to the end. Bleh.

But! The Havok story! Alex is driving around the Australian Outback, and finds a woman – strawberry blonde hair, so mostly his recent type – whose car has broken down. He starts to offer assistance, then they get shot at by dudes on flying platforms. Alex blasts one of the platforms down, then lures the others away from the girl. But then she tackles him out of his Jeep as the dudes drop some sort of glop on it. The bad guys flee, and we learn the girl’s name is Leila O’Toole. She mentions that his use of his power made her feel tingly inside, and then gives her backstory. She’d been working in Egypt, as an archaeologist. She fell into a cult that still worships the ancient pharaohs, and then she learned they were into human sacrifice, so she ran. Then Alex and Leila get caught in a net.

This is, uh . . . it’s OK, I guess. It doesn’t waste any time getting started, I’ll give it that. It’s weirdly abrupt. Like, the fourth panel of the story is an attack. That is quick. The fight is pretty decent. Reasonably exciting. Alex clearly still needs to work on his aim, as he misses a couple shots. Dazzler wouldn’t have missed. I’m just sayin’. Leila doesn’t get much chance to have a personality yet. She’s a bit freaked out by what’s going on. Calmer than you might expect, but still scared. She seems nice enough, but of course, it’s a red-head who has a conversation with Outback-era Alex Summers, there’s no way she won’t be evil.

The art’s good. Buckler was always a solid artist. Reliable. I actually think he did a particularly good job here. Not sure what it is, but something about the art here really stands out, more than it normally did with Buckler. Good inking and colouring, maybe? I don’t know, but the story looks really good. And it’s a reasonably interesting set-up for the story. So, yeah, not bad.

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