Issue(s): Longshot #1, Longshot #2, Longshot #3, Longshot #4, Longshot #5, Longshot #6
Ann Nocenti writes an introduction for the Longshot trade (published in 1989) where she provides a nice mission statement and also acknowledges some differences between intent and result:
He's the unexpected laughter, the unbidden kindness, the fresh insight, the song that lightens your step, the smile from a stranger that lifts you up and floats you through your whole day. But how could such a glowing character exist? By making him man and child at the same time. To have no name, no history, no past, no memories, no prejudices - a tabula rasa, a clean slate - that is what made Longshot free. And it is that stance in the world - innocence, total freedom, and a good clean spirit - that makes Longshot seem to be life itself, at it's lightest wide-smiling moment.
It's an interesting statement. I find "goofy, bungling puppy dog" a great description of Longshot, without criticism. It's a little odd to see Nocenti describe herself as "brand new"; she'd been writing for Marvel as far back as Spider-Woman in 1982, and it seems that Longshot was at least a glimmer in her eye during Assistant Editor's Month at the beginning of 1984. But i still get the idea. So let's take a look.
First of all, the 1990s apparently arrived 5 years early. Holy cross-hatching! And pouches! Wild lines and just... wow. But to be very clear, this is very good. Art Adams can tell a story with his art. It's not just a big mess of posed shots and splash panels. His characters look good, the action is clear, and he's got a whole bunch of wild ideas for us without it ever resorting to chaos. I just don't know where he came from. Based on what i know best (Marvel), i can't trace a line from any existing artist to Adams. From Adams you can get to McFarlane and, yes, Liefeld, but where does he come from? The future, that's where.
OK, i might be exaggerating a little bit.
I should also acknowledge that Whilce Portacio is inking, and i see a lot of his future pencil styles here too.
We start with a man with no memories, pursued by alien-looking humanoids on a strange world. He jumps through a portal and lands on Earth. His luck powers are evident right away, although it's luck for other people.
This fickle crowd scene is what i consider a Nocentism. One minute they love you and a slight hesitation and they turn on you.
Longshot is befriended by a crazy survivalist.
And he runs into a strange "dog" (really a creature called Magog from the same dimension as Longshot).
Longshot and the survivalist find a woman whose baby has been taken. Longshot has the power to hold an object to read its past, and he uses it on the baby's doll to locate the kidnappers.
The trail leads him back to the animal-men that were pursuing him. Another Nocentism. Cramming in some exposition and your innermost feelings all into a single thought bubble ("Hey, my foot! They can fade out! I can't touch them! Who cares! All I want is that baby!).
Gog, Magog's father:
Longshot's luck runs out when he starts thinking about how he can make the creatures tell them who he is instead of focusing on getting the baby back, but he adjusts accordingly, and rescues the baby. He says goodbye to the mother and the survivalist, gets his name, and moves on with "Pup".
Longshot joins a movie crew as a stuntman, partnered up with Ricochet Rita.
Longshot's skin apparently is a little weird for kissing.
Meanwhile, Magog is growing and evolving (into Alf, i think)...
...and he soon ditches his friend. This makes Longshot wary of his relationship with Rita.
The movie director is your typical sleazy stereotype...
...and he uses live ammo in a stunt. Since Longshot is feeling selfish, he winds up getting hurt, seemingly fatally, and the director dumps him in a river.
The next issue has a guy named Theo trying to commit suicide by jumping into a river, and he lands on Longshot's body, which is already healing quickly.
They decide to rob Con Edison, which has received a shipment of diamonds that will be used in experimental energy generation. Longshot is still very naive and the other guy is just a depressed middle-aged man.
While they're burglarizing, Longshot has a flashback of spineless creatures reviewing their slaves, which were made by Arize. It's said the slaves were created based on their worst mythological creatures.
Longshot and Theo are then attacked by demons, who want to use the gems to re-open a portal home.
Magog shows up to warn him and "save" his friend, although he claims he was going to kill him. There's also a power outage due to the shenanigans.
When Longshot learns the diamonds don't really belong to Theo, he decides to return them. Theo decides to go back to his wife.
Longshot is implicated in the power outage, and Spider-Man and She-Hulk go looking for him. She-Hulk finds him first.
He gets away from her and she composes an essay in her head about him.
Next up, Spidey.
Longshot gets away from him too. Spider-Man draws a comparison to the Black Cat.
"Impossibly, elsewhere" we get our first non-flashback glimpse of Mojo and his right-hand Major Domo.
Mojo is a complete nut, but Domo knows how to manipulate him to keep him under control.
They're concerned that Longshot has escaped to a planet where everyone looks like their slave race. He has Spiral take him to Earth to continue the search.
They wind up at Rita's.
Meanwhile, Longshot has another flash-memory of his past.
And then a group of kids lead him to the now monstrous Magog.
Quark shows up as Longshot is getting overwhelmed with self-doubt again.
Quark has a weird ability to just turn into a floating head when he's attacked.
Magog remains undefeated but Doctor Strange detects the presence of the extra-dimensional visitors.
With Strange's help, Magog is defeated.
More flashback info dumps:
Longshot gos to rescue Rita, but he oddly refuses help from Strange and Quark.
Mojo's presence on Earth causes sickness and death. Longshot finds Rita but she's in bad shape.
But not as bad as her dog.
Doctor Strange and Quark show up to help Longshot anyway. Strange stays to heal Rita, and Longshot and Quark head off after Mojo.
They are surprisingly successful, and Mojo flees.
Longshot meets Arize.
Gets a horse.
Mojo is pushed back to his dimension by Dr. Strange and Longshot, and Longshot follows, bringing Rita with him.
So, a confession. I harbor a hatred of Mojo that has nothing to do with this story. But it's affected my ability to read through this properly. And i'm also not a fan of Nocenti's writing style. So i really had to plow through this, especially for the recap, which is why it's exceedingly dry, and probably overly long, since i kind of glaze over this stuff and have a hard time filtering out what's not important.
This is without a doubt the best thing i've read by Nocenti. Mojo's crazy dialogue and his henchmens' reaction to it is usually amusing.
And since she's not writing characters that have established personalities, and since the main character is a naive, confused individual, her "emotion-dump" narration doesn't feel out of place. But it's still a hard read for me. I don't really "get" the story beyond the action-adventure aspect.
There's occasional attempts at political commentary, but they feel out of place.
And despite the intro, the story actually seems exceedingly dark to me. All this talk of slavery and madness and isolation and a whole heck of a lot of depression.
Anyway, i like Art Adams's art (to be clear, i'll take a John Byrne or John Buscema any day, especially when looking at the established characters. She-Hulk is a bit off model, and she and Doctor Strange seem to have the exact same face. But it's still really innovative.), there's some interesting ideas here, and as far as Nocenti goes, it's not that bad.
Chronological Placement Considerations: Spiral appears in Uncanny X-Men #199 after coming to Earth in Longshot #1 but before leaving for the Mojoverse again in Longshot #6. I'd love to see how she got a gig with Freedom Force in that short period of time. The rest of the pre-existing Marvel characters (She-Hulk, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man and his support cast) are context free and just need to take place in any gap in their own books. Dr. Strange requires the most consideration because he's in the Dark Dimension between Doctor Strange #71-74. Since i have these issues all bundled in a trade i have the added concern of getting all the characters' schedules to open up at the same time (with UX #199 taking place "concurrently" with these issues). See the comments below about Ricochet Rita; she later becomes Spiral in an event that involves time travel. To ensure that her entries stay chronological, i have two character tags for her, one as Spiral and one as Ricochet Rita (Spiral), and this story obviously includes both.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Longshot trade paperback
Inbound References (6): show
This became an unbelievably hot title really fast, and Art Adams instantly became a fan favorite. Unfortunately, the immediately-promised unlimited Longshot series never happened.
I think it was actually Bill Anderson who inked the first issue. That issue was previewed in an issue of Marvel Age, and there were some dialogue alterations before #1 actually came out.
That gang of kids later got labelled "the Bratpack" in a New Mutants Annual.
I remember Art Adams naming Neal Adams as a prime influence; that may be his name on that movie marquee in the crowd scene.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 14, 2012 8:54 PM
Both the UHOMCC and GCD list Brent Anderson but it does seem odd for Brent to be on inks.
The title page just shows last names.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 14, 2012 9:44 PM
Is it possible to obtain a scan of the first page of the actual 1985 issue? I believe it identifies Bill.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 14, 2012 9:59 PM
I've updated that first scan to show the credits. The scan is from (a download of) the actual issue, not my trade.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 15, 2012 12:04 AM
I think Art Adams is often stated to be influenced by Michael Golden.
Posted by: Wanyas the Self-Proclaimed | July 17, 2012 8:45 AM
During this series Longshot speaks about having a wife and child. I'd love to know what Nocenti's plans were with regard to this, and whether this was a hint that Arize based Longshot on a human male?
We also never got to know her intention with regard to Spiral's true origins!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 18, 2012 10:35 PM
Was there ever an in-story explanation for Longshot's family comment?
Posted by: fnord12 | July 19, 2012 10:02 AM
No there never was an in-story explanation for Longshot's family comment.
So does anyone have any theories?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 19, 2012 11:33 PM
Can you point me to which issue/scene has the reference to the family? I tried to find it today but wasn't able. I'll throw up a scan.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2012 8:18 PM
Spiral ended up being Rita. I thought that story was told either in this mini or in comics by Claremont written when Nocenti was his editor, meaning it was her official intended origin.
In any case, Spiral is a favorite character of mine. Beautifully conceived and designed. Criminally underused since.
Posted by: Paul | September 7, 2012 2:38 PM
Spiral's origin was first revealed in X-Factor Annual 7, written by Fabian Nicieza and edited by Bob Harras. So no, it probably wasn't her intended origin.
Posted by: Michael | September 7, 2012 7:42 PM
I missed this post of yours, or you'd probably have gotten a much meaner and nastier me in the political debate on the Daredevil comic.
Let me preface this by saying that I don't know you from Adam. Or, I didn't when I replied to you in that Daredevil thread. Michael is a pretty generic name, your reply wasn't exactly idiosyncratic, so I responded to the post you made, rather than to you. There was no ulterior motive.
However, I have just been re-reading all my comments left on this site in order, and I find that you have responded to an inordinate number of them, and never to agree with me. In fact, you vehemently disagree with me, and contradict me, in literally every one of them. If I had known this when reading your reply to me in the Frank Miller thread, as I say - I'd have really destroyed you, and probably gotten banned (if there is such a thing here).
I'm going to say this once - stop responding to me on here. I will not interact with you again, please do the same for me. I have no interest in dealing with someone like you (though I do think it's funny that you've been on me like a gnat for months, and I didn't even know who you were or that you'd been doing it - unlike you, I was always just responding to the posts themselves, never to the poster).
Posted by: Paul | September 14, 2012 2:21 AM
Paul, I don't know you and have nothing against you, but would you please consider keeping your comments civil? This has become one of my absolute favorite sites on the internet to visit and I do not want to see your aggressive behavior lead to the owner's losing interest in keeping it updated. I'm sure you feel as though you are the aggrieved one here, but as an outsider who sees all the arguments you get into, I have to tell you that you are not. Don't ruin this for everyone else, please.
Fnord12, sorry to have my first post strike this tone, but I really do love your site and hope that you continue to update it. It's really an excellent (and sizable) base of information, and you should be applauded for giving it to all of us free of charge. I hope that having to play moderator doesn't ruin any happiness that doing this brings you... it would be fantastic to see you accomplish your goal of making this site comprehensive!
Posted by: Ross | September 14, 2012 10:50 AM
I'm going to make an attempt at playing peacemaker here and if it doesn't work i guess Paul's recommendation is the best we can do. Either that or i'll just follow the advice of my evil doppelganger "effinord12" and hand out chamomile tea to all visitors.
One of the earliest comments Michael left on this site was on a post where i was trying to make sense of Spider-Woman's convoluted and multiple origins. His comment started "Sorry, but there was another retelling of Jessica's origins that you neglected to mention..." but i read it as "Sorry (you asshole), but you are wrong!". There's really nothing in his comment that supports that reading, but tone is a difficult thing on the internet, especially when the commentor has a succinct writing style like Michael's. I've since found Michael's comments invaluable; he's got a lot of knowledge about this stuff and he works with the MCP so he's already thought about a lot of the placement issues that i'm working through.
Paul, i've just read through Michael's interactons with you and i don't feel like he's been attacking you or chasing your comments. It looks like there were three disagreements: the Amanda Sefton/Supporting characters who become super thing, which i thought was a reasonable debate on both your parts, the Miller vs. Moore issue that started this argument, and the comment here, which was just a factual correction. You can read his last sentence as snark, but i don't think it was meant maliciously. I could be unconsciously playing favorites, but that's how i see it.
The reason i keep jumping in here is that i don't want to drive anyone away. Not you, not Michael, and not anyone else who might want to respond to something you say but will be afraid that it'll set off another one of these threads. My alarm bells go off when it seems like the person is being attacked instead of their thoughts, but i realize that's a fine and subjective line. I just ask that we try not to read too much into peoples' tone, keep the arguments focused on the subjects instead of the people, and don't ascribe motives to other people ("You're only arguing that because you're a _____.").
P.S. - Back to the fun stuff, i've removed Ricochet Rita as a character appearing, since it turns out she's really Spiral.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 14, 2012 11:32 AM
Ross, thanks for the kind words.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 14, 2012 11:41 AM
Paul, I'm sorry that you took my comments the wrong way. I'm not trying to single you out- I also respond to Mark's comments, kveto's comments, etc. I'm sorry if you took my comment about Spiral the wrong way. I just meant that since Nicieza wrote it and Harras edited it, Rita probably wasn't Spiral's intended origin but you never know- the Rita origin could have come from Nocenti's notes. If you want, I can avoid responding to your posts.
Posted by: Michael | September 14, 2012 7:35 PM
Fascinating concept, terrible execution, way-too-dark story, and one of the worse storytellings that I ever met.
Arthur Adams is a fine penciler, but not for this. The inker and the script did not help at all. It was all a confused, vaguely depressing haze which sometimes let a brief sight of the good ideas shine through.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 13, 2012 7:26 AM
To return to this: Spiral's origin appears to have actually told in X-Factor Annual #7, which is by Nicieza, with Bob Harras as editor rather than Nocenti. So, no idea if it lines up with her intended origin or not. But it's actually pretty good. And based on the Longshot series and some asides by Spiral and Longshot when Claremont had them fighting (when Nocenti was editing), I have to think the Rita origin is right.
Posted by: Paul | January 24, 2013 3:49 PM
Re: Her intended origin I emailed Annie last year and she advised that Rita becoming Spiral was not her intention.
So as to who Spiral was, it's still up in the air as to who originally.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 28, 2013 12:11 AM
Finally found what I was looking for: Amazing Heroes #39(1/15/84) confirms "Anderson" to be Bill Anderson(per quote from Ann Nocenti).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 7, 2013 4:41 PM
Thanks for digging in on this, Mark. I've updated the credits.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 15, 2013 2:01 PM
Nocenti's dialogue was pounced upon by critics as early as #1. An early review in Amazing Heroes stated: "the book reads as if scripter Ann Nocenti, before starting on it, had been forced to read everything ever written by Jack Kirby in a single session. This would blow the circuits in anyone's mind."
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 4, 2013 4:17 PM
Art Nichols was actually the first announced inker on this book.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 19, 2014 9:40 PM
"Based on what i know best (Marvel), i can't trace a line from any existing artist to Adams."
I can see a bit of Walt Simonson plus P. Craig Russell plus Michael Golden, plus manga. But even with those glimmers, this art is as powerfully new as Sienkiewicz's abstract style. Great daring art from Marvel.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 21, 2014 6:06 PM
Quark doesn't have a special ability to dissolve when attacked, that just a function of him being trapped between dimensions, like the rest of the hunters sent after Longshot.
Mojo doesn't retreat at the end, he's kicked by Longshot through a portal opened by Dr. Strange.
Longshot's luck power has a twist that gets forgotten in subsequent appearances: his good luck shifts bad luck onto somebody else. Also, it's not a natural power of his own, apparently, but one he acquired from robed rebels, and Quark has the "lucky" eye but seemingly not as much (if any) of the power. It's a bit hard to guess where Nocenti was going with all this, and with the question of to what extent Mojo is an absolute, godlike ruler or else just the mightiest of the Spineless Ones in general. He seems different from the others, but how/why?
There wasn't meant to be any mystery about Spiral's origin, as opposed to her relationship with Longshot: she's another bioengineered slave, but with extra arms.
Posted by: Walter Lason | September 21, 2014 6:21 PM
Edited the sentence about Mojo getting sent back. Thanks, Walter.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 21, 2014 9:06 PM
In this series Arize explains how the Spineless Ones refused spines as a matter of integrity, and somehow became rulers. His reference to "somehow" suggests that he wasn't responsible for building their "bath chairs"!? So if Arize didn't help them become independently mobile, does anyone have any theories as to who else enabled them with this technology?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | September 30, 2015 3:23 AM
I don't think them getting the chairs and becoming rulers are necessarily related? Arize's "somehow" comment suggest he doesn't know the exact details how they became rulers, but that doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't know how they got their spider legs.
If Arize's story is supposed to be roughly chronological, then by the time the Spineless Ones took over Arize's technology had already become wide-spread; in the panel before the "rulers" comment we an assembly line of exoskeletons, suggesting that Arize's technology had become a whole industry. And Arize couldn't have had the time to build all that by himself, so he must've trained other people too, which means others were able to replicate his technology.
So it's not impossible the Spineless Ones appropriated that technology and modified it to resemble a spider-like animal native to that planet. During Arize's speech, we see spiders similar to one depicted in the "rulers" panel running on the ground, and the comparison between that animal and the Spineless One's chair in that panel suggests the chairs were modeled after these animals, as means of providing the Spineless Ones mobility without having to acquire a spine.
Whether the Spineless Ones are biologically feasible is another thing... (The early animal depicted in Arize's speech looks like a monkey, and the spineless ones obviously look like humanoids, but I'm not sure if evolution would or even could produce animals like these without spine.) But Nocenti doesn't really care about that, to her "spine" is a metaphor for personal independence and moral integrity... Lacking those, the Spineless Ones have no problem enslaving sapient beings, and they're also depicted (especially in later stories by Claremont) as these kind of mindless masses, entranced by the TV entertainment provided by Mojo and other producers.
Nocenti also makes it clear that Mojo's power isn't innate but comes from the adulation he gets from being the most succesful TV mogul on the planet... Hence his constant need to make it absolutely sure everyone worships him, building shrines on earth with his face on them, etc. So that's another example of Nocenti's "spineless" metaphor: Mojo doesn't not have the sort of personal integrity that would allow him to ignore others' opinions, he needs to be loved to be powerful.
I think this is an interesting theme, but it's one future writers (including Claremont) didn't develop that much, so Mojo eventually became a regular bad guy, who simply rules the whole planet based on his inborn magical abilities. It would've been cool to see story where Mojo's shows start losing ratings (maybe the X-Men adventures he's been churning out for years eventually become passé): what would this do to his powers and stature?
Posted by: Tuomas | September 30, 2015 5:41 AM
For what it's worth, in the Exiles series it's stated that there is only one Mojoverse, and only one Mojo, in the entire Marvel multiverse. (There's a Mojo character in Ultimate X-Men, but he's human, or humanoid, at any rate.)
Posted by: Andrew | October 25, 2016 9:53 PM
To build on Andrew's comment, there's an implied feedback loop built into Mojo's need for worship as a power source: his power also warps and destroys life. So Mojo gathers worshippers, which twists reality and distorts or destroys independent life, which would make it easier for him to gain worshippers since reality itself is turning people into twisted devotees of Mojo.
Nocenti has definitely borrowed form Kirby here: the "no free will = anti-life" idea from his Fourth World comics is taken up here and made very, very literal, in that Mojo literally destroys life by his very presence.
It's a shame that Claremont turned Mojo into a comedy villain used mostly to take potshots at the entertainment industry and editorial. Nocenti seems to be going for a much darker commentary that links organized religion, entertainment culture and personal autonomy, which is undermined (like so much of her work) by a hypercompressed version of stream-of-consciousness.
(Seriously, imagine some of Nocenti's thought and dialogue bubbles split across multiple panels rather than run all together in a single word balloon or thought bubble, and it all makes much more sense. Hence fnord12's "crammed in" comment.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 19, 2017 9:26 AM
I agree with Omar that it's a shame what was done with Mojo later... My favourite Mojo story is the X-Men / New Mutants that introduces Longshot to the X-books. It's a story that starts comedic, but eventually turns into something quite scary. And that's the way I like it: Mojo should be about grotesque evil, minds and bodies being warped etc. Not about TV entertainment parodies.
Oh, and I absolutely love Spiral. She's an amazing character.
Posted by: Piotr W | February 19, 2017 5:21 PM
This was a typical Nocenti story. Nothing really made sense, things randomly happen, characters pop in and out of the story, it's not really clear how their powers work, there is no theme holding it all together.
I am not sure if it's the best from Nocenti. I think her Daredevil reads somehow better, even when it's also a disorganized mess.
Posted by: Karel | January 27, 2018 8:44 AM
According to Brian Cronin, Arthur Adams based Longshot's infamous mullet on that of Limahl, the lead singer of Kajagoogoo. If only he'd been more shy...
Posted by: Andrew | June 19, 2018 7:57 AM
I picked this up initially way back when for the art. Without any doubt one of the worst comics I have ever read. Downright dreadful.
Posted by: KevinA | June 19, 2018 9:27 AM
I would argue very much no because Image was all about the artists also being the writers and creating what they were drawing. This is all so very Nocenti and this was much more a collaboration between artist and writer, no matter your view on the art or writing.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 19, 2018 3:08 PM
Longshot reminds me of them. Great art (Liefeld notwithstanding) alongside mind numbing stories were my remembrances of Image. All I have left are the first ten unread except for #1 Spawn and I'm not really why I kept those either.
Posted by: KevinA | June 20, 2018 10:08 AM
Comments are now closed.
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