Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Marvel Comics Presents (1988) # 71

Cover Artist: John Byrne
Published: Mar. 1991
Original Price: $1.25

Title: Acts of Vengeance, Part 8: "The End"
Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Mark Texeira
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Clem Robins
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco

Snapping the neck of Langly, one of his own men, Deathwatch learns the truth about the plot against the heroes. Langly had attempted to go into business for himself, manipulating the Ghost Rider to eliminate Brass and Wolverine for him as a favor to the Mandarin. Deathwatch realizes that Langly's problem is now his, telling the Ghost Rider that if he wants to see Jack and Brigitte live he'll have to kill Wolverine and Brass. If he does kill them, perhaps the Mandarin will allow the Hand back into his service. To the heroes' surprise, the Rider grabs them both by the throats, saying that must kill them to keep more innocent blood from being spilled. Brass stops Wolverine from defending himself, convinced that their ally has a plan. The biker throws them through several walls, repeating the act several times.

After being thrown through one last wall, Wolverine and Brass come across Brigitte and Jack. Taking out the men that hold them captive, Yuji unties them, commending Ghost Rider on his strategy: throwing Wolverine and Brass through walls until they uncovered the whereabouts of their loved ones. Suddenly, Deathwatch's voice is heard on an intercom system, saying that he has primed the top of the building to explode. Second later, the group escapes from the roof, with Brigitte and Yuji riding with the Rider while Wolverine and Brass repel down on ropes. Back on the street, Yuji and Brass load the two injured youths into their van, saying they both need medical attention. Wolverine and Brass both vow to go after the Mandarin for the troubles he caused them, while the Ghost Rider vows that Deathwatch will eventually pay for all the innocent lives he has taken.

This issue is reprinted in the Ghost Rider/Wolverine: Acts of Vengeance special edition.

Ghost Rider appears next in Spider-Man # 6 and meets Wolverine again soon after in Fantastic Four # 347.

This issue of MCP also contained stories featuring Shanna the She-Devil, Daredevil, and Warlock.

Podcast Review: Inner Demons Episode 8 - "Ninja Clown Machine" (Click to Listen)

We've finally reached the end of "Acts of Vengeance", the story that features the first (of many) team-ups between Wolverine and the Ghost Rider. While previous chapters have been of fairly good quality, the story unfortunately suffers from a terrible ending that drags down the entire arc with its poor resolution to the previous seven issues of build-up.

Deathwatch's involvement in the story is finally revealed when the villain makes his appearance, and I did like the idea that all of these acts were being perpetrated in his name with him having no knowledge. The villain is understandably upset that his employee has decided to use the company's resources to gain favor with the Mandarin, and this aspect of the story ties up nicely, telling just how Wolverine, Brass, and Ghost Rider all fit into the plot. However, that's the only good thing about this arc's end, and we're given two absolutely ridiculous moments in the remaining pages. In order to find the captive Brigitte Watanabe and Jack D'Auria, the Ghost Rider proceeds to throw Wolverine and Brass through walls until they come across the room where the hostages are being held? While the Spirit of Vengeance can't claim to be a master strategist, this "plan" is pretty ludicrous, especially considering the fact that Deathwatch seemed to genuinely think that his arch enemy would willingly kill the other heroes without attempting another plan of action.

Deathwatch also falls into cliched "James Bond villain" mode with his speech to the heroes over loud speaker, telling them that he's going to blow up the building. Why the hell do comic villains always do this? If he'd said nothing, then the heroes would have had no idea the explosives were there...boom, heroes dead, problem solved. It's an easy cop-out for Mackie, who it seems realized at the last moment that he only had two pages to finish up the story. It's an awful resolution to the arc: the villain gets away without even an attempt by the heroes to stop him, and we're given a last-page ending that should've just said "to be continued...somewhere", sine it resolves absolutely nothing that the previous chapters had set-up. Yes, the hostages were freed, but neither Deathwatch nor the Mandarin were made to pay for their crimes (with the latter not showing up in the story at all). Of course, this story would never be followed up on, and poor Brass makes his last appearance here.

The artwork by Texeira isn't bad, but it still suffers from the same problem that all of the previous chapters had: rushed inks by Candelario that doesn't flatter the artist's pencils at all. I also question the use of a double-splash on pages 2 and 3 when the issue clearly needed as much space as it had available to provide a better ending.

So, while "Acts of Vengeance" had its good moments, the arc ultimately went nowhere. It seems that this story exists simply because Wolverine and Ghost Rider were popular and two together were guaranteed to sell comics. An utter disappointment.

Grade: F