Issue(s): Cage #11, Cage #12, Cage #13
I'm a little unclear about the reference to the Punisher story. Neither Rapidfire nor Mr. Creed appeared in that story.
Cage is approached by the father of the kid that he saved, who asks him what he's going to do about the other gangs, all of whom have been getting heavy firepower in recent weeks. Cage says that he's just looking for Troop and isn't getting involved.
Troop has wandered back into the neighborhood where the bizarre Kid Thor and Trash hang out.
Despite Kid Thor's initial attack, Trash tell Troop that he's welcome to join them because they want to boost their numbers thanks to the "action" that is coming. They wind up going to Rapidfire for ammo, promising to take out Cage in return (Troop blames Cage for the death of his brother, and the rest feel that he "dissed" them in their last meeting).
Cage continues to bust up gangs while looking for Troop (and the armor-piercing bullets prove only able to sting Cage but not really injure him). He eventually comes across Trash, and they set up an ambush so that Rapidfire can attack him. Troop has a change of heart and warns Cage.
During the fight, some infighting between Kid Thor and the rest of Trash results in Kid Thor's death.
That upsets Blasting Cap (who just goes by "Blast" nowadays), who causes a big explosion. Cage manages to protect everyone else, but Troop slips away, and Cage will assume that he's dead.
It's been a weird, underwhelming, use of Trash, and this is their last appearance. It was interesting to see them again, but they really don't fit well into this story. The idea seems to be that (despite their super-powers), they are just kids that are out of their league in a world of real life gang violence. But they do have pretty powerful super-powers (well, maybe not Crazylegs) and whatever Marc McLaurin was trying to say with them doesn't really come across. As a Power Pack fan, it was nice to see them again, but so little is done with them it's really more of a disappointing headscratcher than anything. Rapidfire also doesn't leave much of an impression and won't be seen again.
After the incident, Cage visits Mickey Hamilton in the hospital. We see Hamilton looking at a high tech device, and he's about to tell Cage something, but then the scene shifts. Dakota North and Iron Fist have been looking for Cage, and they arrive at the hospital. But when they get to Hamilton's room, they learn that Cage has been taken by some armed men that are leaving by helicopter. The helicopter then explodes, and Cage is presumed dead, to the point where there's a funeral next issue.
But of course he's not dead. He's held captive on an island by Hardcore, who has set up a bizarre Adam West Joker like scenario where Cage has to run through a gauntlet, rescuing hostages. The hostages include Doctor and Mrs. Burstein as well as Cage's brother and father. The latter two are removed from the island before Cage can get to them. Cage agrees to submit to an experiment that will transfer his powers to Hardcore's boss in return for the continued survival of his family.
Meanwhile, Dakota North disguises herself, pretending to be an assassin sent by Hardcore to eliminate Mickey Hamilton. Hamilton confesses that he's working for Hardcore. He's dying of cancer, and Hardcore has promised to cure it. Hamilton had actually confessed all this to Cage after the scene shifted away, but the high tech device activated on its own, allowing Hardcore to fake Cage's death. Dakota then traces the trail to the deceased Bushmaster, and they learn that he has a son, Cruz. She heads to the island with Mickey and Iron Fist. Fist offers to bring his "friends", but it's said that they'd only attract unwanted attention.
The transfer of powers from Luke to Cruz also involves using the remains of Cruz's father, and the original Bushmaster manages to take control of the process and revive himself.
When Cage gets out of the machine, his first act is to punch Iron Fist for his seeming snubbing of him (when Fist was replaced by the Super-Skrull).
But Fist insists on sticking around to help Cage fight Bushmaster.
Cage eventually stops him by feeding the energy from the power transfer machine back into him. It's actually a very short fight for the return of a once-major bad guy in Luke and Danny's pantheon.
Cage then chases after Hardcore so that he can make Hardcore tell him where his family is. Cage says the only way to stop Hardcore from ever harming his family is to kill him, and he and Fist get into another fight when Fist says that he can't "allow" that.
Cage knocks Fist out...
...but when he catches up with Hardcore, he says that he's not a killer after all. However, Hardcore's getaway car crashes off a cliff, and Cage is unable to save him. This is the last we'll see of Hardcore, a character that has been appearing in this series since the beginning and yet who i have virtually no opinion of.
Issue #13 isn't necessarily a direct continuation, but it starts with Fist saying goodbye to Cage at the airport. They part on good terms.
In the parking lot, Cage is approached by Toy, the Tinkerer's robot protector.
As usual, Cage is in no mood to listen, so they get into a fight.
Toy has been upgraded with various weapons that the Tinkerer has provided to villains over the years.
But it eventually comes out that the Tinkerer wants to hire Luke because his son, Rick Mason, the Agent, is held captive by the same people that are holding Luke's father and brother. It's the Corporation.
In #13 we also learn some interesting things about the Corporation. Several nuggets on the opening splash page alone:
Note the reference to Genetech. We also see that Kickback, from Cage #3-4, was a Corporation agent (he's dead now). And we see that Manslaughter, former Defender villain and then Defender, is an agent currently. Troubleshooter and Contract are new characters that we'll meet in the next issue, and i'll delve into Manslaughter being part of this then too.
The next page shows that Mr. Miracle and the Kangaroo are or were also Corporation agents.
And Dr. Malus is working for them as well. The intention is to turn Cage's brother, James Lucas, into a new member of their "Assassin Nation" by giving him superpowers.
To do so, Malus uses a device once used to animate It, the Living Colossus.
During the process, James is told to focus on the thing he hates, which is his brother. Interestingly, he thinks of his brother as "Cage" as opposed to Cage's original name, Carl Lucas.
We end there for now.
I really like Marc McLaurin's enthusiasm for continuity. In these issues we have the use of some obscure Power Pack characters, the (brief) return of the original Bushmaster, a lot of fun with the various powers that the Tinkerer has programmed into Toy, and the use of the Corporation. The problem is that the writing isn't very good. The plots are very muddled and cluttered, and the stories all run into each other unnecessarily, so that nothing ever feels resolved or settled. Characters fall by the wayside (this is the Bursteins' last appearance, and Jeryn Hogarth won't appear again until the Heroes For Hire series) and don't leave much of an impression while they're here (Bushmaster's return is anticlimactic, Iron Fist's appearance and Cage's whole attitude towards him is unsatisfying, and the Trash characters barely seem to have a purpose). A better artist with good pacing chops might have been able to emphasize things better, or a more forceful editor might have similarly helped (being a Bullpenner himself, i suspect McLarin didn't get a ton of editorial interference). Again, there are a lot of elements here that i think are fun, and i want it all to work, but it's not clicking. After next issue's conclusion to this story, we go into crossover mode for the following three issues, but it doesn't help and the series is cancelled with issue #20.
Issue #12 is Dwayne Turner's last (he'd been the regular penciler except for fill-ins on #9 and #11). The lettercol in issue #14 lists his upcoming projects, which includes "the new Technet spin-off limited series from Excalibur" which never manifested as far as i know, and "an upcoming issue of Wolverine" which turned out to be five issues.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 165,025. Single issue closest to filing date = 152,700.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Iron Fist is meeting with Jeryn Hogarth in issue #11, a continuation of their meeting from issue #10. So this should take place not too long after #10. Note that thanks to continuing threads, a lot of Cage stories are compressed together; we're in Feb-Apr 93 cover dates at this point but this story has been pushed back into mid 92. This story ends with Cage accepting the Tinkerer's request to go after the Corporation. In issue #14 we'll see Cage and Dakota at the Corporation's gates. But in order to let publication time catch up, i'm allowing a lot of space in between this and the next arc, with the idea that it takes time for Cage and (especially) Dakota to research the Corporation before they go on the attack. This also gives James Lucas some time to adjust to being Coldfire, since the Corporation remark on his progress in #14. In the meantime, Cage can appear in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #36. Issue #14 shouldn't take place before NFAOS #36 since Cage is able to relate to a client that is wondering whether or not her father is alive; Cage rescues his father from the Corporation in #14. In fact, we can say the father connection is why Cage agreed to take the assignment in the Nick Fury issue while he was waiting for Dakota to locate the Corporation's headquarters. Issue #11 takes place on Christmas and #12 takes place during New Year's Day, so a fair amount of time passes during this arc. But the story can't be lined up with other Christmas stories due to the dependencies that cause the timeline for this book to be compressed. As i always say, i try to line up Christmases but i accept the fact that Christmas comes often in the Marvel universe. Since i've had to push this arc back so far, it doesn't matter, but i'll note that the Thing's face is uninjured during Cage's funeral scene.
Bogeyman is behind the scenes in this issue since he's occupying Randolph Creed's body. And Roger Loomis, Manslaughter's post-resurrection host body, is also technically behind the scenes. But i haven't listed either as characters appearing.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBlasting Cap, Bushmaster, Coldfire, Contract, Crazylegs, Cruz Bushmaster, Dakota North, Daryl 'Troop' Andrews, Emma Burstein, Hardcore, Iron Fist, James Lucas (Geary), Jeryn Hogarth, Karl Malus, Kid Thor, Luke Cage, Manslaughter, Micky Hamilton, Noah Burstein, Randolph Creed, Razor Cut, Rick Mason (Agent), Thing, Tinkerer, Toy
FNORD - you wrote - "Note the rare reference to the Marvel UK corner of the Marvel universe, with the Corporation comparing themselves to Genetech."
I thought Genetech was the corporation featured in the New Warriors.
Posted by: clyde | August 24, 2016 3:19 PM
Perhaps you meant Mys-Tech. They are featured in the Marvel UK line.
Posted by: clyde | August 24, 2016 3:21 PM
Yeah, i got Genetech mixed up with Mys-Tech. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 24, 2016 3:30 PM
fnord, should Toy be tagged? (Also, I'm genuinely surprised to see him again; I thought his appearance in PPSSM was the last of him. Is this a "new" Toy, or the old one repaired, or does it even say?)
And, I'm surprised to see Mr. Miracle and (one of the) Kangaroo on the videoboard. I can't help but notice they're not marked as DECEASED...
Posted by: Thanos6 | August 24, 2016 10:46 PM
The Agent is the Tinkerer's son? I think I need to check out Rick Mason's graphic novel.
Posted by: Mortificator | August 24, 2016 11:21 PM
Yep, he is. It's a surprisingly enjoyable GN.
Posted by: Thanos6 | August 24, 2016 11:23 PM
Yeah, Toy should have been tagged. Thanks. There's no reference to him being destroyed in his last appearance, but he's a robot so his return probably doesn't require much of an explanation.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 25, 2016 7:34 AM
Comments are now closed.
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