Characters Appearing: Mace (Sunrise Society), Philip Richards, Shigeru Ezaki, Sojin Ezaki, Yuriko Ezaki
Marvel Comics Presents #160-162 (Mace)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #160, Marvel Comics Presents #161, Marvel Comics Presents #162 (Mace story only)
We learn that Mace was created by a Dr. Ito of the Sunrise Society (which was first introduced in Pott's Punisher stories and was also mentioned in the Venom series). Mace is cloned from "the best warrior stock", and he's being trained as a ninja. He's not the only such clone, but unlike the others he's going to be given some cybernetic enhancements.
But before he gets the upgrades, something causes Mace to decide to snoop through Ito's computer files, and he learns about the Shadowmasters.
Meanwhile, the higher-ups at Sunrise order assassins (Htns) to kill Dr. Ito because they suspect he's going to betray them.
The surgery for Mace's upgrades - which now also include a healing factor - goes as planned, but while Mace is recovering the Sunrise Htns attack. Dr. Ito destroys his research before he is killed.
But before Mace himself can be retrived, the Sunrise Society is attacked by the Shadowmasters.
This isn't a new event; it's from the Shadowmasters' own origin story in Shadowmasters #4.
Shigeru Ezaki, father of one of the main Shadowmasters, Yuriko, happens to attack the Htns who were loading Mace onto a vehicle.
He doesn't stop the vehicle. But Mace was under the impression that his own trainer (Mas Kimura) was the last of the ninja grandmasters. Seeing Shigeru, he now knows that he was lied to.
"Days later", Mace is at another Sunrise facility being inspected by scientists. They can't figure out how to duplicate Dr. Ito's process. Mace tries to escape and instead he's placed into cryogenic storage.
At the risk of causing the Comments section to go massively off topic: i recently read Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson's Manhunter series. One thing about that which i thought was quaint (and this is not at all a knock on the series) is that it was set up as a bit of a mystery that Manhunter knew the secret art of ninjitsu. After all, the last master ninja was killed in World War II! Of course, that was written in 1973, before Frank Miller ensured that every dark corner in a comic book hid a ninja. I bring it up because a lot of Mace's origin is similar to Manhunter's. Not only is he one of many clones created by an evil secret society, but even the idea that it was nigh impossible to learn ninjitsu is similar. A major difference is that by 1994 ninjas were extremely overplayed in the Marvel universe.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: These three issues take place during the Shadowmasters' raid on the Sunrise Society in Shadowmasters #4, and some "days later" (which still might fit it into Shadowmasters #4). But at the end of issue #162, Mace is placed into cryogenic storage. Shadowmasters #4 takes place in the early-mid 80s. Part four of this story has Mace waking up from cryogenic storage after "several years" have passed. That issue ends with Mace on his way to Southern California to find the Shadowmasters so that they can help him find Mas Kimura, which is how Venom: The Mace #1 begins, and that story takes place in 1994. So there must be a long gap between issues #162-163.
At the time I wasn't aware of the similarities Mace's origin had to Goodwin & Simonson's Manhunter, but a few years later DC reprinted it in a trade paperback with a brand new epilogue. After finally reading it, yeah, the parallels became apparent.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 23, 2018 10:35 PM
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