Friday, November 18, 2016

Marvel Comics Presents (1988) # 139

Cover Artist: George Pratt
Published: Oct. 1993
Original Price: $1.50

Title: Fellow Travelers, Part 3: "Fangs of Fury"
Writer: Len Kaminski
Artist: Reggie Jones
Inker: Fred Harper
Letterer: Ul Higgins
Colorist: John Kalisz
Editor: Richard Ashford
Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco

Tsin Hark, the man responsible for the deaths of countless Chinese immigrants, introduces himself, recognizing the Masters of Silence and the Ghost Rider, asking them why they have come. The Rider answers "vengeance", seeking retribution for the innocent blood that fills the ten gallon drums stored in the warehouse they've entered. As he descends from his throne, Hark tells them that he is attempting to purge mankind of the cancer of science. Once, he says, the world was pure and men were ruled by faith and tradition - but then then came a disease of the mind that caused men to discard the old ways for science. Now the world is dying and poisoned while cultures and traditions have been forgotten. Soon, he says as he approaches the warriors, science will be burned from the Earth - and they are perfect examples why.

Hark slaps a parchment across the Ghost Rider's forehead, a spell of binding inscribed upon it that holds the demon paralyzed. Hark leaps away from the Masters, who are descended upon by the Gynosii, creatures like vampires that were once the bodies of Hark's innocent victims. While the Masters fight the horde of monsters, the Ghost Rider can only look on the battle while immobilized. As the battle rages, the Masters realize that the hundreds of undead creatures are remorseless and tireless, unlike themselves.

This issue of MCP also contained stories featuring Batroc, Wolverine, and Spellbound.

"Fellow Travelers" rolls on at a break-neck speed, with the plot and motivations of Tsin Hark laid out in a one-page montage - if anything, one can't accuse Len Kaminski of padding his stories out with unnecessary exposition.

Hark's plan to destroy science through sorcery is pretty run of the mill, but let's face it: any kind of plot in this story is simply there to move the characters from one fight scene to the next. The first chapter gave us ninjas and the second a fight between the heroes - this one steps it up even more with the Masters of Silence fighting some Chinese vampire/zombie creatures while the Ghost Rider is taken out of the fight. It did kind of strike me as odd that Hark thinks the Ghost Rider a product of science, considering he's a big flaming demon, but I did really like the way the Rider is taken out of the fight via the mystic parchment slapped on his forehead. It illustrates that while the Ghost Rider is virtually immune to anything man made, he's very vulnerable to sorcery.

Of course, this also gives the Masters of Silence a bit of time in the spotlight, which is good considering they're supposed to be the co-stars of this story (and not mere second bananas to the Ghost Rider, which they really kinda are by default). The Masters don't have much in the way of personalities, of course, so Kaminski wisely just focuses on them kicking vampire/zombie ass. And honestly, that's all we really expect from this story anyway.

The artwork by Reggie Jones and Fred Harper continues to shine, and I still have no idea why. The duo's work on later Vengeance stories in Marvel Comics Presents wound up being pretty lackluster, but they really pull out all the stops here with the nonstop asskickery going on. It's not quite as well-rendered as last issue, but still enjoyable nonetheless.

So, yeah, plot...who needs it? Apparently not "Fellow Travelers", and for once I'm not complaining in the slightest.

Grade: B