Jonathan, son of Kevin:
Characters Appearing: Beast, Die-Cut, Red Skull, Spider-Man
Issue(s): Die-Cut #1, Die-Cut #2, Die-Cut #3, Die-Cut #4
This series does include a guest appearance by the Beast. And actually, there are also a couple of "non-appearances" by Spider-Man too. The story starts on Earth, in the aftermath of a joint Hydra/AIM attack (never mind that AIM is supposed to be legit at this point and that the last we've seen there's still bad blood between them and Hydra) on another organization called Manmaker. Most of the AIM and Hydra troops were killed in the attack. But Die-Cut comes across a guy that was webbed up by Spider-Man.
The guy inside the webs is named Santa on account of his white beard. This series is written by Glenn Dakin, who wrote the previous Die-Cut series but who also wrote the funny Plasmer book, and this book definitely has satirical elements, like the dig at Die-Cut's name.
It's unclear if Santa is an AIM or Hydra agent, but he's acquired the target of the attack, a box that supposedly contains the (literal) head of Manmaker.
Die-Cut and Santa are attacked by armored Manmaker goons, and Die-Cut uses the power of his Pscythe (reminder: not a misspelling) to open dimensional portals to tuck Santa safely away somewhere while he fights.
Meanwhile, the Beast is visiting an anthropological exhibit, and he meets the strange and courteous-to-a-fault Mr. Veneer.
And also Veneer's "Id-Sister".
Veneer works for Manmaker. He stops the fight between Die-Cut and the armored troops, and offers him a job.
The Id-Sister knocks him out, too.
We're next introduced to the Manmaker robot "Kull" squad. They are constantly culling each other.
The expectation is that Die-Cut will be integrated into the Kull squad.
The Beast, who everyone at Manmaker identifies as the "Swarmhost", escapes, or rather is set free by the Id-Sister.
Die-Cut is convinced to re-catch the Beast. Die-Cut has heard that Manmaker is involved in managed evolution, and (since he hates robots) he is convinced that Manmaker can help man out-evolve robots. The Beast is put back into Manmaker's machinery, and from him the "Beastswarm" is created.
This is the last we'll see of the real Beast in this story. But one of the Beasts from the swarm is the one that Veneer wants. The Kull squad almost accidentally killed it, but Die-Cut's hatred for robots causes him to kill the Kull troop instead of the Beast, so it's saved. This ultra-violent Beast is called the X-Beast.
The X-Beast is brought to an island owned by Manmaker. It's called Cyclaedea, and it's full of Manmaker's genetic experiments. But it's been taken over by someone.
Die-Cut and X-Beast fight their way through the island and also meet some of the non-affected inhabitants, who are all hyper-evolved humans produced the same way as the X-Beast, although they aren't violent like he is.
It turns out that the person who took over the island is the Id-Sister, who was unhappy with her previous role.
The Id-Sister suddenly blacks out, and Die-Cut uses his dimensional powers to siphon away some of her energy. She's then put into stasis. Die-Cut is then attacked by X-Beast and a Kull warrior, and, er, something about taking a dump?
No, ok, Die-Cut is taken to the Dump, which is the basement layer of Manmaker's base on Mars (!) where all its failed experiments are dumped. Die-Cut's Pscythe is seemingly removed and he's fitted with a helmet that prevents him from having any violent thoughts.
He's befriended by one of the rejected Beastswarm Beasts.
And then Die-Cut manages to bring Santa out of the pocket dimension. Santa was able to watch everything that was going on, and he tells Die-Cut that the guards didn't really remove his Pscythe. He's just been implanted with an illusion.
The "hag" that created the illusion is the Id-Sister's evil sister or something, so they have to fight her off. Then Santa reveals whose head is in the box that he's been carrying. It's the Red Skull's.
And, ok, the Red Skull hasn't really been decapitated. But the Red Skull really does turn out to be the head of Manmaker.
It's worth remembering that Die-Cut is not from Earth, and his past associations have included Death's Head II. So it's plausible that Die-Cut doesn't immediately assume that the skull-faced guy showing him Hitler videos is a villain. But he is suspicious.
Meanwhile, the X-Beast has taken over the upper levels of the Mars base. He's trying to do something to the Id-Sister but she's now become a new creature called Crone ("the awful aftermath of godhood"). Die-Cut tries to deal with that, and the Red Skull tries to activate his group of super-evolved humans. Except now that they're super-evolved, they want nothing to do with him.
That's the way these things always go, of course. However, the Red Skull may be stupid, but he's not an idiot. He's programmed all of his creations with a kill switch. So he aborts the entire Manmaker project, killing everything on Mars. Except Veneer, which is cool 'cause i liked him.
Die-Cut and Santa then return to New York, where Santa is picked up by Spider-Man again.
I was inclined to not like this, but the scripting is really fun and the plot uses a lot of Marvel universe elements. So it's better than i hoped. The plotting is still kind of chaotic, especially with regard to anything relating to the Id-Sister and her various forms. And i can't say anything sells me on Die-Cut as a character. But it's better than average, especially for a Marvel UK book.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
If you tell Die-Cut you're pleased to meet him, he immediately knows you're lying.
I'm disappointed Mr. Veneer doesn't show up again, he seems like a solid lackey. Surviving with the Red Skull as his boss (who's notoriously backstab-y with underlings, even for a master villain) probably looks good on the CV.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 7, 2017 11:40 PM
It's ironic that betweeen this, Plasmer, and the occasional issue of Suoer-Soldiers, Marvel UK actually got better after even people like me--who bought half of the first-wave ongoings--had stopped paying attention.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 8, 2017 12:53 AM
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