Thursday, June 29, 2017

Marvel Comics Presents (1988) # 115

Cover Artist: Shawn McManus
Published: October 1992
Original Price: $1.50

Title: "Legion of Vengeance, Part 3: The Secret of Strontium-90!"
Writer: Joey Cavalieri
Artist: Shawn McManus
Letterer: Steve Dutro
Colorist: Fred Mendez
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco

Vesper and her partner, Strontium-90, attack the gang of looters, who are immediately poisoned by Strontium-90's deadly radiation.  When Ghost Rider and the gravely ill Iron Fist arrive, the mob turns on them in a case of mistaken identity.  While the two heroes fight their way free, Vesper and Strontium-90 escape to their secret lair.  Ghost Rider is able to track Strontium-90's radioactive footprints back to a crypt in Cypress Hills Cemetery, where deep underground they find the four members of the self-proclaimed Legion of Vengeance, including Bacillus and Mind's Eye along with Vesper and Strontium-90.  Enraged that they claim to be heroes, Ghost Rider and Iron Fist attack the four killers.  During the fight, however, Iron Fist finally succumbs to Bacillus' lethal contagion and collapses, dying of the disease.

This issue of MCP also contained stories featuring Wolverine/Typhoid Mary, Giant-Man, and Cloak & Dagger.

This story was reprinted in the Iron Fist: The Book of Changes trade paperback.

"Legion of Vengeance" introduces the last of its villains, the radioactive Strontium-90, and finally brings all of the titular Legion together to face the heroes.

Ugh, only three chapters in and this storyarc already feels like it's lasted forever.  I think my biggest problem with this serial is the dialogue and how cliche every bit of it sounds.  It doesn't matter if it's Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, one of the villains, or a pedestrian looter, they all sound like they've stepped out of a Silver Age comic.  They all make dramatic proclamations that don't really say anything at all, especially the villains with their talk about hypocrisy and vengeance.  Ghost Rider gets the only good bit of dialogue in the whole issue, when Iron Fist asks how he can see radioactivity Ghost Rider replies "I SEE EVERYTHING" in a panel that's just a tight and highly detailed capture of his eye sockets.

While I can see why Ghost Rider is in this story, what with the villains being preoccupied with vengeance and how the difference between them and the Rider is their willingness to pass judgment and murder innocent people.  Why the fuck Iron Fist is here, though, I have no idea.  I'm sure there was a mandate for MCP that said all the Ghost Rider stories must be a team-up with another hero, but did Cavaleri just shoe horn Iron Fist into an already plotted Ghost Rider story?  He serves no purpose here, other than looking disgusting, that is.

Which brings me to the only real good thing about this issue, the way artist Shawn McManus makes the effects of Bacillus and Strontium-90's powers look absolutely grotesque.  Iron Fist is a walking mass of blood, pus, and boils, and it's gloriously over-the-top and frankly difficult to look at (in a good way, of course).  Unfortunately, that's the only real good thing about the artwork, because the rest of it is either hideously proportioned or badly over-rendered.  There are so many lines on Ghost Rider's skull, he looks like he was carved out of wood.

I really, intensely dislike this story.  I'm not seeing any point to Iron Fist's inclusion, and as a Ghost Rider story it's only passing by virtue of the villains' disgusting powers.  Avoid this one, everyone.

Grade: D-