The Transparent Fox:
Death's Head II #13-15
Issue(s): Death's Head II #13, Death's Head II #14, Death's Head II #15
I bring this up because this story takes place on Mars in the year 2026 (in a colony established in 2011 thanks to a project initiated by President - presumably Bill - Clinton, so don't get your hopes up). And Death's Head says that he and Tuck are there because they are laying low after their raids on AIM bases.
This happens often enough that i just consider it to be a trait of people in the Marvel universe to randomly bring up old events. And it's not like there isn't precedent for that theory; this is a universe where people constantly shout things like, "What's happening now is vaguely similar to [footnote to a completely unrelated story]!". But still, my one bit of retroactive advice for Marvel comics creators is to take into account that your characters may need to appear elsewhere in between issues. Continuity is good, and making reference to past stories is of course hugely important to continuity. But continuity also means making sure that all of a character's appearances fit together smoothly somehow. It's definitely not easy to tightly coordinate things in realtime, especially when market demands mean that a character has to appear in lots of books. So the alternative is to provide a little more breathing space. You can go too far in the other direction, too, and wind up in a situation where every appearance feels generic and isolated from every other (as we'll see more and more as we move into the modern era). But with a little tweaking to the script, it should be possible to find a balance.
Anyway, Death's Head II is on Future Mars, and Tuck is missing. He confronts some criminals called the Kadagar Gang about it, but the leader of the gang, Pilgrim, says that they don't have her. Death's Head II then covers for the gang when the police show up, so Pilgrim offers to help him. And it actually turns out that Pilgrim needs help himself, because he's not really Pilgrim. He's a robot duplicate of Pilgrim, and he wants to find out what happened to the real Pilgrim (without the rest of the gang finding out that he's a robot). Also, Pilgrim has Colonel Liger with him.
But he turns out to just be a robot duplicate too.
Tuck was indeed captured by the "Golem Program". Tuck is their next candidate to be replaced by a robot. Tuck is already a kind of robot, which the heads of the program, Lorson and Alkemist, don't seem to realize. They do notice her superhuman strength...
...but they're mainly too busy fighting with each other to care about much else.
Tuck escapes and has to fight a bunch of robots.
The Golem Program apparently places a high priority on duplicating Marvel UK characters. Now i'm wondering if the message i tried to send back in time created an alternate universe and caused some sort of butterfly effect. It makes sense actually. If comics writers handled continuity better, the Marvel UK characters would have become more popular, and Bill Clinton would have been inspired by all the awesome comics to launch a space colonization program.
Tuck's fight with the robots is interrupted by the arrival of the local law, a Captain Hutch. She is an "Ultramarine", with apparently no connection to the Ultra Marine that is a member of Dark Guard (neither of the characters actually have ultramarine colored costumes, but Hutch's is closer).
Death's Head II and Robot Pilgrim show up and help clear out the robots and then move into the base. Alkemist almost looks like he's one of the Spineless Ones (Mojo's race) in the panel below. It's just a coincidence because he's sitting and happens to be near some wires in this panel, but still.
I know this is an insane nitpick, but i can't stand the inconsistency when it comes to minor formatting of character names and the like in the Marvel UK books. Is it Ultramarine or Ultra Marine? Die-Cut or Die Cut? The spelling of Gun Runner's home planet was different every time it was printed. As someone who vomits out these reviews with no proofreading, i know i'm standing in a glass house, but there really did seem to be a basic lack of quality control.
Anyway, while Death's Head II and company fight their way through Project Golem's defenses, a wormhole opens up, delivering two members of Mys-Tech and oh fuck they are in their young super-hero forms.
It turns out the robots were being made for them. But they cancel the contract rather than get into a fight with Death's Head II.
Lorson is killed and Alkemist escapes through a wormhole. Then the rest of Pilgrim's gang shows up, aware that he's really a robot. The robot Pilgrim acknowledges that he's a copy, and kills himself, making Pilgrim's wife the new head of the gang. But then Tuck arrives with the real Pilgrim. So he's leader again. Not that you were super-interested in the internal politics of the Kadagar Gang.
Well... this was fine. All Marvel UK books have the extra hurdle of "prove you deserve to exist" to clear. Death's Head II's book generally did better than most in that regard, but these issues were a bit underwhelming. I'm also always a little skeptical of stories where robots/illusions/whatever of other characters are used, just because it seems to be as a substitute for an innovative plot. I did like the deliberately anti-climatic ending of Mys-Tech pulling the plug rather than getting into a battle with Death's Head II.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: See the top of the entry. This arc definitely takes place after Dark Guard is formed, so it can't just be pushed back in publication time to follow the previous arc (which was pushed WAY back in publication time). The good news is that Death's Head II was apparently on Mars long enough to have already established an antagonistic relationship with the local law and learn the local criminal politics. So we could say that Death's Head II and Tuck established themselves on Mars but still ventured out to other places and timelines as needed. Or they could have had all those other appearances and then decided to "lay low".
Two things about the Mys-Tech characters. One, they say that they last saw Death's Head II in 1997. Now, if Death's Head II is time traveling, there's no reason that Crowe and Wychwood couldn't be, also. So this could count as present day appearances. But unless i see them refer to these appearances in other stories, i'm going to assume that they are actually from a timeline later than 1997 (but possibly not too much later since they talk about the 20th century). And that brings me to my second point. Marvel UK was inconsistent in portraying the Mys-Tech characters after the story in Dark Angel #13-16 when they transformed. Mostly, it seems, they went back to being old. But here they are young. I've decided to basically ignore that from a placement perspective. It's possible the alternate universe post-1997 versions of Mys-Tech found a way to restore their youth, or it's possible that they always have the ability to transform back and forth.
A related note: i've been covering the Death's Head II series because Death's Head II has largely been based in the "real" Marvel timeline. But he wasn't created in that timeline, and he's not in that timeline at all in this story. So technically these issues are out of scope for my project. Next issue, the last of the series, also takes place out-of-time. But since that's all that's left of the main series, i might as well cover it (and depending on how i place things, these trips to the future might be considered a temporary excursion before he returns to "our" time for additional stories).
Issue #14 is a flip book with Death's Head II Gold #0 on the other side. It's just a 4 page prologue, and i'll cover it when i cover Death's Head II Gold #1.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Why is robot Wolverine in a tank-top version of his costume?
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 9, 2017 2:27 PM
Because "Robot Wolverine is the best at what he does". And "what he does" is sweat a lot:)
Posted by: clyde | March 9, 2017 2:59 PM
I guess the question is, does it make more sense for Death's Head II to make a bunch of appearances in other Marvel UK books when he was all set to raid the AIM base, or for him to try to "lay low" after the raid by going to the future after making a bunch of appearances in other Marvel UK books after the raid? Appearances where he could have been or explicitly was pulled out of time might be okay, but others might require more judiciousness.
You have more persistence in trying to fit Dark Guard in a place where it fits in everyone's chronologies, after admitting the characters could have been pulled out of time, than I would. I think reading so many mediocre-to-bad and poorly to nonexistently coordinated Marvel UK books is starting to break your brain ;)
Posted by: Morgan Wick | March 9, 2017 5:28 PM
At least Robot Wolverine is wearing pants. When Wolverine showed up for the ad for the X-Men handheld game, he didn't bother.
Morgan, you're right, that would save me a lot of headache, but from DHII's own perspective this would still have to take place after his appearance in Dark Guard since he refers to it here. So i would have to push the Dark Guard series way back before the previous DHII arc (and assume the other characters were pulled from more recently). It's doable but... seems wrong, somehow. My broken brain thinks what i have works ok, so i'll stick with it for now.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 9, 2017 6:22 PM
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