Issue(s): Darkhawk #19, Darkhawk #20
The art team definitely pull out all the stops, including a sideways two-page spread right after the opening splash page above.
The key that the Toad thinks he's found is the armor of Portal, which he (incorrectly) thinks is what gives Portal his teleportation powers. But we know that Portal's dimension hopping powers are inherent to him. However, he'd still like his armor back. It's currently being inspected by Genetech scientists at a place called Crestmore Research (which is not a Genetech facility; the government is allowing Genetech to examine the armor but only at this location). Portal shows up...
...and "disables" all the scientists.
I now wonder if the inking assist was to draw in those gas clouds, because it looks to me more like Portal killed the scientists.
Anyway, those Guardsman obviously suck, because this was a deliberate trap set for Portal, and they know he can teleport, but they only show up after he arrives in the room and knocks out all the scientists. But i guess they do manage to keep him from his armor.
There are a lot of extraneous lines in these panels. I am not the biggest Mike Manley fan, but his art normally doesn't look like this.
Chris Powell, currently working at his job as an assistant at a radio station (this time we meet news reporter Traci Fields, who doesn't have a lot of appearances), hears about the scuffle and heads out to capture Portal, since he wants to learn more about the armor, which is similar to his Darkhawk armor.
Seriously, what the shit is going on with the art?
I do actually see a kind of Steve Ditko by way of Erik Larsen thing going on, if i wanted to put a positive spin on it.
Anyway, Peter Parker also hears about the Portal incident, and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants show up too, so there's a lot of people.
Blob learns that Portal is a mutant.
But Portal teams up with Darkhawk and Spider-Man, and they manage to hold the Brotherhood off.
Darkhawk even convinces Portal to stick around long enough for him to inspect the armor.
But then Sleepwalker shows up and ruins everything.
We know that Sleepwalker wants to get home. But he's not usually a jerk about it. He just got through going on a mindless rampage, and you'd think he'd be a little more cautious after that, and before that he declined an offer from Nightmare to send him home. But here's he's jumping in like a crazy person, attacking Portal, and it causes Portal to bug out.
Sleepwalker - angrily! - explains that he knew about Portal because he once saw him traveling around the Mindscape, and then he realizes that Darkhawk is wearing similar armor.
Spider-Man breaks that up before it turns into a fight, and then Darkhawk says that the power is not in the armor. Spider-Man did get a spider-tracer on Portal before he left, but of course that won't let him track Portal to another dimension. So they have to figure out their next move. Meanwhile, Portal goes to the office building of Thomas Fireheart, aka Puma, since Portal (real name Charles Little Sky) is a member of his tribe. Puma isn't at the office, but a security guard (also a tribesman) lets him spend the night there to wait for him. In the morning, Spider-Man, Sleepwalker, and Darkhawk think to try the office, but when they get there, the guard is dead and Portal is gone. He's been kidnapped by the Brotherhood and hypnotized by Sauron.
I do love that image of Sauron. He looks kind of like a He-Man toy or something.
It's unclear what the Brotherhood really are trying to accomplish, but they next decide that they want an experimental laser canon, so they try to get Portal to teleport them to it. However, he's not completely in their control, so he instead teleports them into the middle of Times Square, where the heroes find them again. But then Sauron re-asserts control over Portal.
Spider-Man winds up getting tossed into a Ditkoverse.
Then Sauron causes a diversion, and the Brotherhood flees. Sleepwalker, still being a bit of a jerk, chases after Portal and the Brotherhood instead of helping Darkhawk save civilians.
This story is finished in Sleepwalker #17.
Look, the story is pretty interesting. Danny Fingeroth has managed to make Portal, a transplant from an Avengers fill-in that he wrote, into a fairly unique character, and the fact that Portal has some Darkhawk armor is intriguing. And i love a big crossover. But the art is so oddly messy. And that also amplifies the fact that the story itself is a little messy. Using the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants because Portal is a disaffected mutant would have been an interesting angle, but instead the characters are purely evil and doing things for purely generic super-villain reasons (they want a ray gun!).
There's some other stuff going on in these issues too. I think that's Evilhawk, in a set-up for the next storyline. And Andrew F identifies the other guy as Ned Dobbs. The MCP doesn't list them; i'm not sure if that's due to more recent retcons (but they do list both characters for other issues).
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Toad references X-Factor #82, and that takes place after X-Force #11. This story continues directly in Sleepwalker #17. See the Considerations for the Sleepwalker issue regarding the placement of this crossover in relation to Infinity War.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlob, Darkhawk, Evilhawk, J. Jonah Jameson, Ned Dobbs, Phantazia, Portal, Pyro, Sauron, Sleepwalker, Spider-Man, Toad, Traci Fields
The guy at the end isn't St. Johnny...it's the guy St. Johnny was talking to at the end of DH #18. His name turns out to be Ned Dobbs, and we get the lowdown on him in #25.
Posted by: Andrew F | March 9, 2016 4:35 PM
Thanks Andrew. I thought Ned Dobbs was merged with St. Johnny or something like that, since the MCP doesn't show Dobbs appearing until issue #36. But i see online that Dobbs was merged with someone else, and Johnny with someone else. No need to explain; i'll get to the relevant issues eventually, but at least i have the character tags right now. Looks like i should have Dobbs tagged for the previous entry, too.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 9, 2016 4:40 PM
Fnord, the footnote to X-Factor 72, should be a footnote to X-Factor 82. And X-Factor 82 takes place after X-Force 11, so this crossover should be moved after X-Force 6-11. In fact, that makes sense, since this crossover takes place DURING Infinity War (Rick's date in Sleepwalker 17 takes place during infinity War) and Capwolf takes place before X-Force 9.
Posted by: Michael | March 9, 2016 8:31 PM
"No need to explain" -- thank god. None of it makes any damn sense.
Posted by: Andrew F | March 9, 2016 10:07 PM
@Michael, thanks. I should have verified that footnote. A part of me said "The Brotherhood fought X-Factor?", but i pushed it aside in the interest of speed.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 10, 2016 8:28 AM
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