Characters Appearing: Blackwulf (Lucian), Blackwulf (Pelops), Bristle, Caitlin Maddox, Colonel Michael Rossi, Henry Pym, Khult, Kree Sentry 459, Lady Trident, Mammoth, Oliver Broadhurst, Schizo, Skrull (Hangar 18) Skrull Prime, Sparrow (Underground Legion), Tantalus, Touchstone, Toxin, Ultron, Wildwind, Wraath
Issue(s): Blackwulf #2, Blackwulf #3, Blackwulf #4
Meanwhile, Lucian, the new Blackwulf, goes to Tantalus' Peacekeepers - including a new one named Lady Triton - and tries to convince them to join him in resisting Tantlus. It doesn't go well.
But Lucian is allowed to leave. Tantlus says that a "genetically inferior dog" like him won't be able to cause much trouble. Tantalus then goes to his wizard, Khult, who is apparently trying to breed viable offspring.
Tantalus wants Khult to finish work on a transponder, and suspects that Khult might be slow-pedaling it.
Tantalus then contacts a woman (we'll later learn that it's his wife) named Nirvana who is waiting to "cross the cosmic threshold".
While the Underground Legion are trying to come to grips with the death of Blackwulf (and the revelation that he was Tantalus' son, Pelops, which most of the group didn't know), Dr. Caitlin Maddox says that Tantalus' next target is likely to be the Wright-Patterson airforce base (in Hanger 18, naturally). And here's where your pal fnord suddenly gets really excited.
Holy crap, that's a baseline Skrull! For some background on this, see ROM #50 where it was revealed that Dire Wraiths were a Deviant form of Skrulls, which raised some questions. And then Silver Surfer #5, which answered those questions by saying that Skrulls (as we know them) and Dire Wraiths were both Deviant strains. But this is the first time we've ever seen a non-Deviant Skrull.
And the reason the Tantalus would be interested in this is because his people (and some of the Underground Legion) are the "genetically unstable variants of the human race". I.e. they are Deviants. Tantalus is seeking a way to stabilize Deviant genetics.
The Underground Legion ground Sparrow before going to the airforce base, on the grounds that she's too upset about Pelops' death. This is done very much against her will, with Toxin knocking her out by generating a sedative.
When the Underground Legion get to Hanger 18, they are approached by Lucian, who tells them that he wants to join them. They of course don't believe him, but he points out a booby-trap set-up by the Peacekeepers that would otherwise have killed them. The Peacekeepers are already inside inspecting the Skrull bodies.
The Legion tentatively agree to an alliance with Lucian, the new Blackwulf.
During the fight, the airforce base commander, Major Jonas, slips away from the Peacekeepers and chugs a formula that he's been working on.
Jonas is then caught in a fire caused by an explosion triggered during the fight.
The Underground Legion turn their attention from the fight to rescue the soldiers. Blackwulf doesn't, but he's outnumbered on his own and is swatted away by Wraath. The Peacekeepers, aware that more soldiers are coming, then flee through an underground tunnel, having only acquired one of the Skrull bodies (it'll turn out to be the typical Deviant one). The Underground Legion also try to flee, but it turns out that Jonas has acquired fire-based super-powers, and he doesn't want them to leave.
Blackwulf lunges at Jonas (who has now rebranded himself as Scorch, saying that Jonas is dead). I was feeling like all of this was a random distraction from the main plot, but i did perk up when Scorch mentioned "Celestial fire".
Toxin is able to transform the air around Scorch to halon gas, causing his flame to go out, and then he's knocked out.
We learn that the Legioner named Wildwind was seemingly killed during the attempted escape.
And then Scorch recovers.
"Toad-spawned"? City of the Toads was the name of the Deviant's home. It turns out that Scorch is very aware of the Deviants, and has been preparing for the possibility that the Deviants would try to replace humanity the way it happened to the latent Skrulls.
The fight lasts long enough that the army arrive and surround the Underground Legion. They decide to surrender.
Dr. Maddox is kept separately from the others, in the room with the baseline Skrull, and she realizes that it's still alive.
She's then approached by Scorch.
Scorch tries to seduce Maddox, but she knocks him out. She then uses adrenaline to try to revive the Skrull. He wakes up when Maddox tries to escape and is confronted by some guards.
It generates some beams that stops the guards and transform the energy bars that were containing Blackwulf and the Legion into solid ones, allowing them to break out.
The Legion and Maddox escape with the Skrull, but Blackwulf goes back to retrieve Wildwind's body, and gets into another confrontation with Scorch. This time Blackwulf wins, in part by remembering the lessons from his brother and not allowing himself to fly into a blind rage. Blackwulf is then surprised to find that the Legion has waited for him.
Here's another shot of the baseline Skrull, just because i think it's so cool that it's here.
As Blackwulf predicts, the other Skrull is giving the Peacekeepers a hard time.
But that Skrull stops fighting when it sees Tantalus, and recognizes him.
Angel Medina isn't known for his ability to meet the deadlines for a monthly book, and so the main story for both issues #3-4 are only 15 pages, with a 7 page back-up drawn by Michael Gustovich (but still inked by Bill Anderson) filling up the rest (and next issue will also have fill-in art).
The story begins while Sparrow has been left behind while the rest of the Underground Legion went to Hangar 18. She has a nightmare about the original Blackwulf, and then accuses another Legion member who stayed behind, Touchstone, who has a "foothold in all realities" of knowing that Blackwulf would die and not telling her. Touchstone says that there are many realities, and Sparrow apologizes for accusing her and thanks her for being there.
Later, we see Dr. Oliver Broadhurst, who was mentioned early as being part of the Underground Legion (and who you may know from his Machine Man appearances) talking to a Mr. Mason, and apparently Sparrow's love for Blackwulf was caused by conditioning (between this and being sedated by Toxin, Sparrow should re-think her partnerships).
Sparrow doesn't overhear the conversation, and when she talks to Mason, he tells her that Michael Rossi has gone missing investigating an extraterrestrial robot. She goes to investigate without waiting for the Underground Legion to return. Sparrow knows Rossi from her pre-"Spandex Legion" days, when she worked for the Air Force.
She finds Rossi, but he's been brainwashed by Ultron. And the extraterrestrial robot is the Kree sentry (although it looks like it's been modified). Oh and Ultron also has a robot dog!
Ultron has in fact turned an entire former mining town called Ottsville into cyborgs. Sparrow is subdued as well.
Glenn Herdling definitely lives up to the expectations he's set for me in his Namor run. In addition to delving into the Deviant Skrull business, we're seeing the use of minor characters like Oliver Broadhurst and Michael Rossi, and even when things initially seem like random tangents - both Scorch and the Ultron plot - we'll see that it all ties in to the main themes of the series. I enjoy Angel Medina's art. He has a lot of fun with the Scorch battles, and i like the depiction of the baseline Skrull. Even the fill-in story is "done right" in the sense that it's not just a pointless excursion; the scenes could just as easily have been subplots in the main story, and it all feeds into next issue. The main problem continues to be that the characterization is flat (and the titular character is probably the least interesting), but overall it's an enjoyable book. Which i have to admit i never thought i'd be saying about Blackwulf. When i first found out about this series, my reaction was, "Oh god, more 90s glut fodder that i'm going to have to cover". And, i mean, from a business point of view, it is (there was no market justification for launching a book with all these new characters while the industry was collapsing in 1994, and the ideas here could have been injected into Fantastic Four, giving it a much needed creative boost) but i'm glad to find that it's actually pretty good.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This story begins the day after Blackwulf was killed. I'm allowing a little time to pass between the end of this story and next, which will begin with the Underground Legion's return from the airforce base, and Sparrow already under the sway of Ultron. Not too much time should pass, and Ultron shouldn't appear elsewhere in between.
The MCP lists this Kree Sentry as the main one that has been on Earth, and it will look more on-model next issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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