Monday, October 24, 2016

Marvel Comics Presents (1988) # 113

Cover Artist: Sam Keith
Published: Sep. 1992
Original Price: $1.50

Title: Legion of Vengeance, Part 1: "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes!"
Writer: Joey Cavalieri
Artist: Shawn McManus
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Fred Mendez
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco

Under a speeding elevated train, Daniel Ketch rides his motorcycle and thinks about the latest events in his life. His attention is caught by change falling from the sky, and when he looks up he sees a man lifted into the air by a creature with a giant eyeball in his chest. The creature, who calls himself the Mind's Eye, tells his victim that he sees the guilt hidden within the man and is sentencing him to death by throwing him onto the railway as a train heads toward them. Daniel transforms into the Ghost Rider and barely rescues the man before the train runs him down. He pursues the Mind's Eye, but the villain is able to disappear in the shadows of the night, leading the Rider on a chase through the city.
Meanwhile, in a church filled with parishioners, Daniel Rand sits in a pew and reflects on his near-death experience and the lost religion of K'un L'un, the mystical city that transformed him into the Iron Fist. Suddenly, a young woman begins to scream out about the hypocrisy of the church-goes before she bursts into flame. Calling herself Vesper, goddess of the candlelight, the woman begins to burn the church down around them. Rand changes into Iron Fist and confronts Vesper, but is unable to stop her before she brings the church down in flames. Iron Fist escapes the blaze with as many innocents as he could gather, but when he gets outside he finds the Ghost Rider waiting for him. Mistaking the Rider for a villain, Rand declares that if he should raise a hand against the innocent people he stands first against Iron Fist.
Iron Fist was believed dead for many years before being revealed to be alive in a story-arc of Namor the Sub-Mariner occurring directly before this story.
This issue of MCP also contained stories featuring Wolverine/Typhoid Mary, Giant-Man, and Werewolf by Night.
The random Ghost Rider Team-Up Generator really stretches itself thin with the onset of this story arc, teaming the Spirit of Vengeance up with the K'un L'un Kid, Iron Fist. I think things are mismatched just a wee bit.
Don't get me wrong, Iron Fist can be an awesome character - look no further than the Immortal Iron Fist series by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja for proof. But at this point in his history, directly after his rescue from comic death limbo by John Byrne in the pages of Namor (of all places), the character is still trying to find his feet after years of being out of the comic readers' spotlight. I can see why the editors thought it to be a good idea to team Iron Fist with an established character to thrust him back into the Marvel Universe, but honestly...wouldn't Wolverine have been just a little more appropriate? Iron Fist works best in a kung-fu atmosphere, and inserting him into a supernatural story alongside the Ghost Rider comes off as highly conflicted.
Of course, it's not to say that this particular story is any good with or without Iron Fist's presence. We're treated to a host of superhero clich├ęs in the span of 8 pages, from the "wrong place, wrong time" chance encounters with the overwhelmingly bland "Legion of Vengeance" to the "heroes mistake each other for villains" that once again proves that all guest-stars must fight Ghost Rider in the second chapter, logic be damned.
I don't know much about Joey Cavalieri beyond the fact that he wrote a LOT of mediocre Iron Fist stories for Marvel Comics Presents, and I know even less about artist Shawn McManus. I know he drew a few issues of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and a handful of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and that's a pretty impressive pedigree. But here his work just looks boring, though it's amusingly exaggerated. Vesper is also very, very busty and has a large Steven Tyler-esque mouth. To each their own, I suppose.
Grade: D