Characters Appearing: Blade, Brother Voodoo, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Morbius, Noble Kale, Werewolf By Night
Midnight Sons Unlimited #7
Issue(s): Midnight Sons Unlimited #7
Ghost Rider/Morbius/Brother Voodoo
Werewolf By Night
Evan Skolnik - Editor
I think this is the first time that i've seen (in a Marvel comic) where a flashback (or time travel sequence) is depicted as a pastiche of the comic books of the era instead of a realistic depiction of the era.
It's something that becomes more common as time goes on (i have the Sentry continuity inserts in mind as an example).
Anyway, it turns out that the local city officials were conspiring with the above mad scientist, and so the pulp hero was killed and the sidekick is framed for the murder. Many years later in the present day, the sidekick-turned-voodoo-priest has resurrected the hero as a zombie to kill all of the officials.
The Midnight Sons heroes fight the zombie...
...and then free the zombie from the priest's control (thanks to Brother Voodoo possessing the priest), and that allows the zombie to say goodbye to his wife.
Brother Voodoo is sporting an updated look in this story.
The second story has Blade fighting a vampire who has psychic powers which "maybe pre-date its supernatural ones".
During the fight, he's hit with a psychic backlash that seemingly sends him back in time, into the body of a previous vampire hunter named Jonas Cray.
After having an adventure in Cray's body and learning that Cray has motivations for hunting vampires similar to Blade's, Blade returns to the present happy to have learned that he's part of a long tradition, or family, of vampire hunters.
The third story starts with a fairly long sequence of Werewolf By Night stopping a convenience store robbery.
But the actual story is about the Werewolf continually blanking out, seemingly losing control of his wolf persona. And it turns out that it's because advertisers are projecting ads onto the moon.
But this all turns out to be a dream.
The first story is actually pretty good. The second story is well told but either i don't like the idea of Blade getting sent back in time (or not realizing until now that there were vampire hunters before him). The third story is just silly. Overall, though it's a decent issue for an anthology title.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The stories are mostly context free. One of the things that came out of the first arc of Blade's solo series was the realization that vampires were back in a big way, so it seems like this story of Blade fighting a generic (albeit psychic) vampire should go after that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The name "Ellery" might be an homage to Ellery Queen, a detective hero from the pulp era.
Posted by: Mortificator | January 19, 2018 7:45 PM
The first story is pretty clearly meant to be a homage to Will Eisner’s “The Spirit” stories from the ‘40s (Ellery’s name is close to the Spirit’s sidekick, the disastrously named Ebony White)—hence also the title “When the Spirit Moves.” But if you’re going to do a homage to The Spirit, you probably need to be a lot more visually inventive than this story gets...
Posted by: Douglas | January 19, 2018 7:50 PM
Byrne did flashbacks-as-period-pastiches on a few occcasions. The Gormuu story in FF and a scene with buck-toothed WWII Japanese characters in Namor come to mind.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | January 19, 2018 8:33 PM
Selling advertisements on the moon is a trope in a few sci-fi stories, I believe, starting with Robert Heinlein’s 1949/1951 “The Man Who Sold the Moon.” There had also been occasional real-life notions of laser advertising on the moon. The Werewolf story is a riff on all that.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | January 19, 2018 9:02 PM
I thought of the Namor scene but that turned out to be Namor reading an old comic, so i didn't count it. The Gormuu story i would say was more of an earnest homage rather than the kind of over the top pastiche that i have in mind, but that's probably just a quibble.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 20, 2018 1:47 AM
The first story is pretty clearly meant to be a homage to Will Eisner’s “The Spirit” stories from the ‘40s (Ellery’s name is close to the Spirit’s sidekick, the disastrously named Ebony White)—hence also the title “When the Spirit Moves.”
Specifically, it plays off of the Spirit's orign story from the early 1940s. In the Spirit's origin, he was Denny Colt, a criminologist who battled a mad scientist named Doctor Cobra and was seemingly fatally poisoned. In fact, Colt was just in suspended animation, and after reviving used the Spirit identity to fight crime outside the reaches of the law.
Here, the Denny Colt manque actually does die thanks to Professor Viper, and his return from death is as a zombie.
Of course, Will Eisner's most famous stories are the postwar ones where the Spirit-as-crimefighter is not the focus, or at least not played very seriously. And, as Douglas notes, they're mostly vehicles to play with comics storytelling methods and conventions. Like the zombie guy, this story really is the rotting, shambling knockoff version of what it's homaging.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 20, 2018 8:56 AM
I'd agree that Byrne clearly enjoyed doing his own homage versions of old comics panels using old comics styles, and he may have been influential to later usage of that device, but it does feel like something slightly different when Byrne does it.
Alan Moore might also have been influential to this kind of thing: Marvelman featured flashbacks to old comics that would then be given new context, & his 1963 pastiche series came out the previous year.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | January 20, 2018 10:49 AM
There's also Steve Engelhart using original pages from the 1950s Captain America revival, but in a context that is prototypically "deconstructive" of the 1950s stories, which are retroactively redefined as the adventures 0of an increasingly paranoid cap fanboy for the purposes of political commentary on those stories' values.
Before that, you had things like Superman's 1940s adventure against Funny Face, where he encountered pastiche versions of popular comic strips of the time, and Al Capp's Dick Tracy parody "Fearless Fosdick" as a strip-within-a-strip in Li'l Abner.
In that vein, there's also Will Eisner's 1947 parody in Spirit section, the result of an unreciprocated agreement with Capp to spoof each other, which featured various comic-strip creators of the day drawn in a pastiche style that made them resemble their biggest characters. At one point, the Spirit defeats a spoof of Punjab from Little Orphan Annie by using an inkwell and brush to fill in pupils for the famous blank white eyes, blinding his opponent. That's a similarly playful way of taking on another artist's style in the mode of commentary.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 20, 2018 12:56 PM
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