Marvel Comics Presents #64-71 (Wolverine/Ghost Rider)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #64, Marvel Comics Presents #65, Marvel Comics Presents #66, Marvel Comics Presents #67, Marvel Comics Presents #68, Marvel Comics Presents #69, Marvel Comics Presents #70, Marvel Comics Presents #71 (Wolverine/Ghost Rider story only)
This story is called Acts of Vengeance. It's not a tie-in to the crossover from earlier this (publication) year, but it does have a minor tie-in with that event.
The story starts with Ghost Rider in Brooklyn and Wolverine in Madripoor. Both are attacked by assassins. They're explicitly stated to not be the Hand, despite the similar look. Danny Ketch recognizes them as Deathwatch's goons.
The attack on Ghost Rider's side is actually at the karate school that Danny's friend Jack D'Auria trains at. They want information from Jack's teacher, but Ghost Rider stops them.
Wolverine, meanwhile, learns that the assassins work for Deathwatch, so he heads to the United States. He finds Deathwatch assassins kidnapping a woman. He rescues her, but Ghost Rider shows up and gets the wrong idea.
So we get our Misunderstanding Fight pretty early.
They both wind up getting taken out by the assassins.
And then a mysterious someone (recognized by the woman) rescues them both.
The karate teacher shows up as well. It turns out the woman, Emmaline, and the man (still kept in shadow, and unnamed) are his children.
Ghost Rider recovers and rides off. As Danny Ketch, he visits the hospital where Jack D'Auria was taken after the attack, and he finds more assassins. So he transforms back into Ghost Rider to fight them, and he's approached by the karate teacher.
Wolverine, meanwhile, wakes up pumped full of drugs, and he fights a mysterious person in the dark. Emmaline turns on the lights and the mysterious person runs away.
The teacher, Yuji Watanabe, brings Ghost Rider back to where Emmaline has Wolverine and (after another brief Misunderstanding Fight), he says that both Wolverine and his son (the guy that Wolverine fought) are marked for death by Deathwatch. They are then attacked by more assassins.
The assassins are led by a pair of "GQ rejects" that have had Emmaline (Brigitte?) kidnapped during the fighting.
They say that Yuji has to deliver Wolverine and Yuji's son to them, or Brigitte will die. We then meet Yujui's son, Sean, whose code name is Brass. I guess Brigitte is Emmaline's code name, then?
But Ghost Rider is a spirit of vengeance, and he doesn't have time to sit around to trade introductions and origin stories. He rushes after Brigitte. Yuji goes with him.
Wolverine and Brass follow, but at a slower pace. They wind up fighting more Deathwatch assassins.
I love the idea of a Ninja Clown Car, or some device that just auto-spawns ninjas at a regular rate. It sure would explain where they all come from.
Brass seems to have a spider-sense type ability.
Wolverine and Brass eventually make their way to the place where Brigitte is being held. They are met by Yuji, who tells them that Ghost Rider is already inside. But then Ghost Rider returns, and now it is time for Brass' origin story.
It doesn't say how he got his anticipation power (as Wolvie says, he could be a mutant). But we learn that his girlfriend, Theresa, was killed during Acts of Vengeance.
After that, Brass vowed to kill all of the arch-villains that were responsible for Acts of Vengeance. It seems that the Mandarin is the one that hired Deathwatch, based on the fact that it was Mandarin that Wolverine also had a run-in with.
Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Brass, and Yuji fight their way through the building where Jack D'Auria and Emmaline/Brigitte are being kept as bait. The two groups split up again, but with different pairings this time.
In any event, they're all quickly united when they reach the prisoners.
The army of goons is no match for Wolverine and Ghost Rider (and their hanger-on friends) but then Deathwatch himself shows up.
But, in a twist, it turns out that Deathwatch himself was never actually involved in any of this.
Deathwatch tells Ghost Rider that if he wants to protect the two innocents (Jack and Emmaline), he should kill Wolverine and Brass. Otherwise Deathwatch will have them shot. You wouldn't think that the Ghost Rider could be manipulated that way, but it seems to work.
Deathwatch is also hoping that his ninjas can replace the Hand, since it's said that the Mandarin has dismissed them from his service.
It turns out that Ghost Rider's actions are just a ruse. He just tosses Wolverine and Brass around until they are close to the hostages. And Deathwatch withdraws, blowing up the top of the building they were all in so that the heroes have to occupy themselves with fleeing.
Wolverine then says that he's going back to Madripoor to look up the Mandarin. Yuji and his family are going to go after the Mandarin as well, after they get some medical attention. But Ghost Rider stays behind to look for Deathwatch.
The Watanabe family don't seem to have any further appearances, so we can assume that by the time they go looking for the Mandarin again, he's already got his full memories back and is in China waking up Fin Fang Foom (Also? There was no way these guys were taking out the Mandarin).
This story isn't a work of art, but Mark Texeira's pencils are nice, and it's a better than average action story for Marvel Comics Presents. One thing i do like is that it plays off some existing continuity. It makes a gratuitous reference to an earlier Marvel Comics Presents story and ties into two Acts of Vengeance threads. It feels like a regular comic in that regard! I do find it ridiculous that the Mandarin would contract out a hit on Wolverine and some random dude, but as the set-up for a big dumb team-up adventure, it's not the worst we've seen.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Wolverine doesn't recognize Ghost Rider at the beginning of this story, so this should take place before Fantastic Four #347 (and i suspect that FF #347 happens before Wolverine goes back to Madripoor). Since this is by Ghost Rider's regular creative team, the bigger question is probably where this was intended to fit into Ghost Rider's series, and the MCP have it between Ghost Rider #9-10.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showDeathwatch, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Noble Kale, Shriker (Jack D'Auria), Wolverine
Hm. How come that Ghost Rider doesn't know how his powers work (he mentions it to Yuji as they ride together). He also says that "the Spirit of Vengeance is mine to command". I thought that GR *was* the Spirit of Vengeance, a separate entity? Not just Danny Ketch in a demonic form?
I've never understood how the Danny / GR divide was supposed to work...
Posted by: Piotr W | August 5, 2015 5:01 PM
Howard Mackie never understood how it was meant to work either.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 5, 2015 9:24 PM
Note that Langley is married to Deathwatch's sister. This would seem to suggest that Mackie hadn't decided that Deathwatch wasn't human when he wrote this story. (Although it's not really a contradiction, as nonhuman-human marriages aren't unknown in the Marvel Universe.)
Posted by: Michael | August 5, 2015 9:39 PM
I think the points above are more of a testament to Mackie's well known weakness in matters of continuity.
Posted by: Tenzil | August 6, 2015 2:24 AM
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