Issue(s): Blackwulf #2, Blackwulf #3, Blackwulf #4
Meanwhile, Lucian, the new Blackwulf, goes to Tantalus' Peacekeepers - including a new one named Lady Trident - and tries to convince them to join him in resisting Tantalus. It doesn't go well.
But Lucian is allowed to leave. Tantalus says that a "genetically inferior dog" like him won't be able to cause much trouble. Tantalus then goes to his wizard, Khult. Note the comments about "Id" having caused destruction.
Tantalus wants Khult to finish work on a transponder, and suspects that Khult might be slow-pedaling it.
Tantalus then speaks to a woman (we'll later learn that it's his wife) named Nirvana who is waiting to "cross the cosmic threshold".
While the Underground Legion are trying to come to grips with the death of Blackwulf (and the revelation that he was Tantalus' son, Pelops, which most of the group didn't know), Dr. Caitlin Maddox says that Tantalus' next target is likely to be the Wright-Patterson airforce base (in Hanger 18, naturally). And here's where your pal fnord suddenly gets really excited.
Holy crap, that's a baseline Skrull! For some background on this, see ROM #50 where it was revealed that Dire Wraiths were a Deviant form of Skrulls, which raised some questions. And then Silver Surfer #5, which answered those questions by saying that Skrulls (as we know them) and Dire Wraiths were both Deviant strains. But this is the first time we've ever seen a non-Deviant Skrull.
And the reason that Tantalus would be interested in this is because his people (and some of the Underground Legion) are the "genetically unstable variants of the human race". I.e. they are Deviants. Tantalus is seeking a way to stabilize Deviant genetics.
The Underground Legion ground Sparrow before going to the airforce base, on the grounds that she's too upset about Pelops' death. This is done very much against her will, with Toxin knocking her out by generating a sedative.
When the Underground Legion get to Hanger 18, they are approached by Lucian, who tells them that he wants to join them. They of course don't believe him, but he points out a booby-trap set-up by the Peacekeepers that would otherwise have killed them. The Peacekeepers are already inside inspecting the Skrull bodies.
The Legion tentatively agree to an alliance with Lucian, the new Blackwulf.
During the fight, the airforce base commander, Major Jonas, slips away from the Peacekeepers and chugs a formula that he's been working on.
Jonas is then caught in a fire caused by an explosion triggered during the fight.
The Underground Legion turn their attention from the fight to rescue the soldiers. Blackwulf doesn't, but he's outnumbered on his own and is swatted away by Wraath. The Peacekeepers, aware that more soldiers are coming, then flee through an underground tunnel, having only acquired one of the Skrull bodies (it'll turn out to be the typical Deviant one). The Underground Legion also try to flee, but it turns out that Jonas has acquired fire-based super-powers, and he doesn't want them to leave.
Blackwulf lunges at Jonas (who has now rebranded himself as Scorch, saying that Jonas is dead). I was feeling like all of this was a random distraction from the main plot, but i did perk up when Scorch mentioned "Celestial fire".
Toxin is able to transform the air around Scorch to halon gas, causing his flame to go out, and then he's knocked out.
We learn that the Legioner named Wildwind was seemingly killed during the attempted escape.
And then Scorch recovers.
"Toad-spawned"? City of the Toads was the name of the Deviant's home. It turns out that Scorch is very aware of the Deviants, and has been preparing for the possibility that the Deviants would try to replace humanity the way it happened to the latent Skrulls.
The fight lasts long enough that the army arrive and surround the Underground Legion. They decide to surrender.
Dr. Maddox is kept separately from the others, in the room with the baseline Skrull, and she realizes that it's still alive.
She's then approached by Scorch.
Scorch tries to seduce Maddox, but she knocks him out. She then uses adrenaline to try to revive the Skrull. It wakes up when Maddox tries to escape and is confronted by some guards.
The Skrull generates some beams that stops the guards and transform the energy bars that were containing Blackwulf and the Legion into solid ones, allowing them to break out.
One big question at this point is how did this strain of Skrulls go extinct if they had that kind of power and were competing with Skrulls that could only shapeshift?
The Legion and Maddox escape with the Skrull, but Blackwulf goes back to retrieve Wildwind's body, and gets into another confrontation with Scorch. This time Blackwulf wins, in part by remembering the lessons from his brother and not allowing himself to fly into a blind rage. Blackwulf is then surprised to find that the Legion has waited for him.
Here's another shot of the baseline Skrull, just because i think it's so cool that it's here.
As Blackwulf predicts, the other Skrull is giving the Peacekeepers a hard time.
But that Skrull stops fighting when it sees Tantalus, and recognizes him.
Angel Medina isn't known for his ability to meet the deadlines for a monthly book, and so the main story for both issues #3-4 are only 15 pages, with a 7 page back-up drawn by Michael Gustovich (but still inked by Bill Anderson) filling up the rest (and next issue will also have fill-in art).
The story begins while Sparrow has been left behind while the rest of the Underground Legion went to Hangar 18. She has a nightmare about the original Blackwulf, and then accuses another Legion member who stayed behind, Touchstone, who has a "foothold in all realities" of knowing that Blackwulf would die and not telling her. Touchstone says that there are many realities, and Sparrow apologizes for accusing her and thanks her for being there.
Later, we see Dr. Oliver Broadhurst, who was mentioned early as being part of the Underground Legion (and who you may know from his Machine Man appearances) talking to a Mr. Mason, and talking about how someone's love for someone else is a result of "conditioning".
Sparrow doesn't overhear the conversation, and when she talks to Mason, he tells her that Michael Rossi has gone missing investigating an extraterrestrial robot. She goes to investigate without waiting for the Underground Legion to return. Sparrow knows Rossi from her pre-"Spandex Legion" days, when she worked for the Air Force.
She finds Rossi, but he's been brainwashed by Ultron. And the extraterrestrial robot is the Kree sentry (although it looks like it's been modified). Oh and Ultron also has a robot dog!
Ultron has in fact turned an entire former mining town called Ottsville into cyborgs. Sparrow is subdued as well.
Glenn Herdling definitely lives up to the expectations he's set for me in his Namor run. In addition to delving into the Deviant Skrull business, we're seeing the use of minor characters like Oliver Broadhurst and Michael Rossi, and even when things initially seem like random tangents - both Scorch and the Ultron plot - we'll see that it all ties in to the main themes of the series. I enjoy Angel Medina's art. He has a lot of fun with the Scorch battles, and i like the depiction of the baseline Skrull. Even the fill-in story is "done right" in the sense that it's not just a pointless excursion; the scenes could just as easily have been subplots in the main story, and it all feeds into next issue. The main problem continues to be that the characterization is flat (and the titular character is probably the least interesting), but overall it's an enjoyable book. Which i have to admit i never thought i'd be saying about Blackwulf. When i first found out about this series, my reaction was, "Oh god, more 90s glut fodder that i'm going to have to cover". And, i mean, from a business point of view, it is (there was no market justification for launching a book with all these new characters while the industry was collapsing in 1994, and the ideas here could have been injected into Fantastic Four, giving it a much needed creative boost) but i'm glad to find that it's actually pretty good.
One other random note: I was thinking about how both this book and ClanDestine introduce secret societies of previously never seen before super-powered characters this year. One thought i had is that at least this one is tied in to an existing Marvel concept (but the other book is better written, imo). But it also occurred to me that part of the story in the initial ClanDestine storyline involved a character that was searching for a genetic stabilizer, which seems to dovetail with Tantalus' goals. I know no one will ever clamor for an Untold Crossover between ClanDestine and Blackwulf, but the potential was there!
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This story begins the day after Blackwulf was killed. Not too much time should pass between this arc and next, and Ultron shouldn't appear elsewhere in between.
Next issue will confirm that this is the main Kree Sentry (459) that has been appearing on Earth since the Silver Age (it will look more on-model next issue). As Walter and Don note in the comments, the Mr. Mason in this series is almost certainly Rick Mason, The Agent.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBlackwulf (Lucian), Blackwulf (Pelops), Bristle, Caitlin Maddox, Colonel Michael Rossi, Henry Pym, Khult, Kree Sentry 459, Lady Trident, Mammoth, Oliver Broadhurst, Rick Mason (Agent), Schizo, Skrull (Hangar 18), Skrull Prime, Sparrow (Underground Legion), Tantalus, Touchstone, Toxin, Ultron, Wildwind, Wraath
Dunno if this is a spoiler or if we’re supposed to recognize him from his face—he’s just a normal dude, after all—but Mr. Mason, which is his real name, has several indexed appearances in this site.
My interpretation of Tantalus’s discussion with Khult was that Id, whom we never actually see in this series, is another of Tantalus’s sons and a brother of Lucian and Pelops.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 2, 2018 11:04 PM
Given what we soon learn about Wildwind, I had always assumed that the "conditioning" that Broadhurst mentioned was related to her since she did seem jealous when she told Caitlin Maddox that Dr. Broadhurst wasn't her type. It's only in reading your review that I realize that Mason's comment about how "she" was "in love with him" would not make sense because he was talking with Broadhurst at the time. It's odd how you can read something multiple times and yet still miss things.
Having said that, I'm pretty sure that Tantalus doesn't actually contact Nirvana, he's just talking to an image of her on the video screen.
Like you, I also loved the first-ever appearance of a non-Deviant Skrull. It would have been nice if the story had bothered to explain where he originated since all of the inferior "normals" were supposedly wiped out by the Deviant Skrulls long ago. Without any such explanation, fanfic theories about the Prime Skrull being as old as the other survivor of the genocide carried out by the Deviant Skrulls, Kly'bn the Eternal Skrull, have appeared in various wikis and have sadly gone unchallenged.
Finally, for some reason I have always assumed that "Mr. Mason" was actually Rick Mason but I now realize that there's not really anything to support that idea.
Posted by: Don Campbell | March 2, 2018 11:33 PM
Between the name, the hairstyle, and the intelligence role, this is definitely Rick Mason, I’d say.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 2, 2018 11:38 PM
@Walter: Yes, that's what I thought but I just checked with the websites for the Marvel Database wiki, the Marvel Chronology Project and the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and none of them lists Rick Mason as appearing in any Blackwulf issue. Could it be that we are the only two people in the last 33 years to have recognized that character? Or have we both jumped to the same wrong conclusion?
Posted by: Don Campbell | March 3, 2018 12:00 AM
Comparing the art to his past depictions, it's almost certainly meant to be Rick Mason. I've added him. Thanks guys.
Also, yeah, there's a reason Nirvana isn't tagged here.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 3, 2018 12:19 AM
The counterargument is that Mason seems surprised that Rossi is alive the next time he meets him in Ms. Marvel, which would seem to be a reference to Rossi's "death" in X-Men 96. Of course, Mason could have thought Rossi dead for some other reason.
Posted by: Michael | March 3, 2018 12:14 PM
Now that I think about it, maybe Mason meant that Wildwind was in love with Mammoth. Since I can't think of any reason for him to brainwash Sparrow into being in love with Lucian but I can think of a reason for him to make Wildwind fall in love with Mammoth.
Posted by: Michael | March 3, 2018 12:25 PM
I had exactly the same reaction to this as Fnord when I first stumbled upon this series.
"What kind of 90's leftover Marvel UK nonsense is this... wait, hold on, a non-Deviant Skrull!?!"
Posted by: Berend | March 3, 2018 2:59 PM
On the question of why the baseline Skrulls went extinct, I think it’s said somewhere in this series that Tantalus was responsible for the Skrull Deviant uprising against the baseline Skrulls. I don’t really like that idea, and I’m not sure it fits what we know of the Skrull timeline, since Tantalus has only been active for about 25,000 years, I think.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 7, 2018 10:20 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|