Characters Appearing: Algernon Crowe, Angel of Death, Anti-Being, Braxus, Brendan Rathcoole, Bronwen Gryfnn, Bug (Encoders), Dark Angel, Death's Head II (Minion), Eadmund Porlock, Gudrun Tyburn, Guide, Ormond Wychwood, Sapphire, Signal, Xena
Dark Angel #13-16
Issue(s): Dark Angel #13, Dark Angel, #14 Dark Angel #15, Dark Angel #16
We start with the Mys-Tech Board coming to the conclusion that super-heroes have stymied too many of their plans.
As a solution, they decide to become super-heroes themselves, taking the name Techno-WizardsTM.
Meanwhile, in "Inner Space" we see that Anti-Being thing becoming a bother again (Dark Angel sucked it into her costume's portal last arc), apparently in reaction to Mys-Tech's decision.
And then, "six months later", we see Dark Angel packing up her castle with the help of the Encoders. Note that her reason for moving relates to the "psychic rumor" that Mys-Tech are going to be targeting super-heroes.
And who else would be targeted first by this group of super-heroes that i guarantee no one reading this remembers? A team where the majority of members have never been given names. A team that never once fought Mys-Tech?
It is later said that Dark Angel is moving because "Mys-Tech know Shevaun Haldane is up to no good" which may be a result of the robot saying her name last arc, but Mys-Tech already were suspicious of Shevaun (and they don't know that she's Dark Angel).
As for Mys-Tech, they are still getting super-heroed. Dark Angel says that sabotaging Mys-Tech operations has become easier lately, suggesting that they've been occupied elsewhere. And that's because they've been sitting in pods, siphoning the psychic power of the initiatory transformations of other civilizations!
This is writer Bernadette Jaye's signature move. She just drops these insane phrases on us with no explanation, no direct relevance to the story, and then moves on while you're busy picking up the pieces of your brain. I'm not sure if she was deliberately trying to blow our minds or was just so enmeshed in psychic esoterica that she didn't even realize it was anything strange, but considering what she seems to be doing now, i'm leaning towards the latter.
Here's Mys-Tech after they've become the Techno-Wizard "super-heroes".
You have to love the previously old Rathcool deciding that his code name will be Cool!. I'm assuming the exclamation point is part of the name; that'd be the way i'd do it if i suddenly had 20 years knocked off my age and found that i'd joined a knockoff version of Youngblood.
Here's some more psychic jargon from Dark Angel while she's showing off her new costume to Guide.
Guide is from Inner Space, and he's come to ask for Dark Angel's help with a problem. She follows him back to Inner Space where we learn that a piece of the fabric of the universe has been stolen.
We're getting a steady barrage of at least one WTF?! concept per page, but at least this one is going to become part of the main plot.
Dark Angel finds that this Inner Space organization (honestly i have no idea what they are) has been infiltrated by traitors. The fabric was stolen by someone who fell in love with a woman in the physical plane, and he went to Mys-Tech for help getting a body so that he could join her. In return, Mys-Tech wanted the fabric. The guy's name was Romeo (too on the nose?).
And now that they've become Youngblood, the Techno-Wizards head to Inner Space to pick up the fabric (with no intention of honoring any promises).
But the guy that has the fabric is first found by someone else. That's right, these issues feature Death's Head II's obligatory appearance.
Death's Head II is attacked by the Techno-Wizards, and he quickly absorbs Romeo and (incidentally) the fabric.
Death's Head II of course absorbed a number of personalities when he was Minion. He never absorbed them physically at the time, but i guess since Romeo is an Inner Space denizen it's different.
Absorbing the fabric of the universe expands Death's Head II's mind, to the point where he probably understands Bernadette Jaye comics.
Grateful Deadhead II
But while he's busy dealing with that, Dark Angel arrives and fights the Techno-Wizards. And i guess now's a good time to comment on Salvador Larroca's art.
I mean, that's a really great face. But what a pose. And what a camera hog that boob is; just had to swing around to fully appear in the frame, huh?
Exploitation aside, though, Larroca's art is a highlight. It's funny how the Marvel UK books tended to have either really terrible, almost unviewable art or nice art by up-and-comers like Hitch, Sharp, Frank, and Larroca.
The Techno-Wizards get knocked back into the real world and Dark Angel is able to read their minds and learn that they're Mys-Tech. The Wizards sends a horde of Psycho-Wraiths after Dark Angel, but she gets the Encoders to deal with them.
However, the Techno-Wizards get back to Death's Head II before Dark Angel, and they capture him. But, uh, something about space parasites.
And then Dark Angel tells Death's Head that if he'll free his mind, the rest will follow.
Death's Head wants to stick around and fight the Wizards, but Dark Angel sucks him into her costume's portal. The Wizards flee to de-worm. But inside Dark Angel's costume, Death's Head encounters the Anti-Being.
Death's Head and the Anti-Being fight. Death's Head tries to assimilate the Anti-Being, but the Anti-Being fights to take control of Death's Head instead.
Dark Angel arrives while Death's Head II is comatose while the Anti-Being is trying to take over. She brings him to the Guide.
The Techno-Wizards deal with their parasite problem, and then just Bronwen and Crowe return to capture Death's Head.
Yes! Big guns! That's what was missing!
They locate Death's Head by trying to telepathically contact Romeo, who is also in Death's Head's, er, head. When they arrive, Dark Angel placates them by agreeing to call them by their silly new team name, and by saying that they can fight it out after the fabric of the universe has been extracted.
But first Anti-Body asserts himself...
...and then Death's Head pushes him back, steals the Techno-Wizards' big guns, and then heads out to enjoy the fabric of the universe.
Specifically, he flies around blowing up solar systems.
By the way, the cover of issue #15 promises Spider-Man and (i think) Wolverine and the Beast, but they are nowhere to be found.
Dark Angel rejects the help of the Techno-Wizards in recapturing Death's Head. She traps them in a forcefield and then races after Death's Head. The Wyrd Sisters are sent to help Dark Angel, because we needed more barely defined characters in this story.
Dark Angel is also contacted by the "Matrix Masters" and told that "mercenaries are moving in" due to Death's Head's actions.
Dark Angel telepathically calls the Encoders in for back-up.
And here are the mercenaries, in their "matter skins".
And, i don't know, apparently some of them look like Death's Head II.
In the fight, Dark Angel draws energy to herself, which has the effect of freeing the Techno-Wizards, so they join the confusion too. Death's Head II leaves the planet where the mercs were attacking, and he's found by the Techno-Wizards who think (or hope) that the Anti-Being is still in control. And their arrival does cause the Anti-Being to try to re-assert himself again. But that doesn't work out so well for the Wizards.
But Dark Angel shows up and initiates an exorcism.
Doing so removes the Anti-Being and the fabric of the universe from Death's Head's head. The Anti-Body is knocked out by the effort, and Dark Angel reveals that the fabric has a forcefield that "automatically imprints the psychology of the person trying to use it -- if that person doesn't already have ultimate power -- the fabric won't give them ultimate power", so this whole effort has be a "waste of time". Not sure why it affected Death's Head the way it did, then, but maybe absorbing it his way is different. Dark Angel sends the Anti-Being back to the void and dumps the Techno-Wizards back on Earth where they are arrested by a random police officer.
And that ends not just this arc, but the Dark Angel series. This always felt like the most directionless of the initial wave of Marvel UK books. Even if they weren't well executed, it was always easy to state what Warheads, Motormouth, and Knights of Pendragon were supposed to be about. Other than vaguely going against Mys-Tech (something that could be said about any of the books), Dark Angel didn't have a clearly defined purpose, and her stories are therefore very random. That especially becomes true when Jaye takes over as writer (beginning with the previous Assassination arc, which i have split into two parts). She just seems to throw in wild concept after concept with nothing ever tying back into anything. I already noted how this "aftermath" arc has nothing to do with the previous arc, and you can even see how the start of this arc - which suggested that the Techno-Wizards would be targeting Dark Angel and the Encoders as part of an anti-superhero campaign - devolved into nothing of the sort. The idea of transforming the ancient Satanist Mys-Tech wizards into 20 something super "heroes" deserved its own story, but it's thrown into a blender with Anti-Beings, fabrics of the universe, the Encoders (who have their own bizarre origin), the weird Inner Space society, the Wyrd Sisters, the Matrix Masters, and god knows what else. And all with an appearance by Death's Head II where he is out of his mind for at least two different reasons for the vast majority of the story. It's wild, but not in a good way.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The introductory scene showing the Mys-Tech Board deciding to transform into the Techno-Wizards takes place "six months" before the rest of the arc. So i'm placing a fair amount of space between this arc and any previous Mys-Tech Board appearances, including the last Dark Angel arc. Books published well after this series continue to show the Mys-Tech Board as old men and women. I am assuming that they revert back to their old forms after this series.
Of the Encoders, i've only noticed two of them, Bug and Signal, get named. The Marvel Appendix has assigned names to the rest of them, but that's obviously not official. For tracking purposes, since the characters always appear together (and only in two stories), i'll just stick with naming Bug and Signal and letting them serve as a way to track all the characters.
The fact that Death's Head II is doing so much assimilation is kind of suspicious, and it's also said that he's "from 2020". It's also said that he arrives in this story due to "the failure of a friend's time-belt". If the latter is meant to reference anything specific, it's not registering with me (and of course there's no footnote). I briefly worried that him being "from" 2020 and still assimilating people meant that he was meant to still be Minion, but he's referred to as Death's Head repeatedly and never says otherwise, and in fact that narration says that his "trigger happy assimilations" are a result of him feeling "lost, lonely and suffering from culture shock" in Inner Space. So i'm just assuming this is a regular appearance of Death's Head that can fit in with his normal present day appearances (with "from 2020" being a reference to his origin).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
John Freeman's idea was that the Mys-Tech Board had expected to become young again as a result of their deal with Mephisto and felt cheated, so they'd spent centuries trying to find a way to become young... so naturally none of this made it into Jaye's script.
Posted by: Michael | February 3, 2017 7:48 PM
I feel it is a British thing to have all those weird concepts mentioned off handedly. You see it in the works of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison as well, but also in Doctor Who. Heck, early Who's influence might be why it ended up in so many British comic book writer's styles.
Posted by: Berend | February 3, 2017 8:16 PM
Yeah that's a very British writing tick. Can always spot a British writer when they do that (or when they call a "line" a "queue").
Some of the guys in Marvel's last frat pack engaged in that as well, mostly Jonathan Hickman.
Posted by: Red Comet | February 4, 2017 6:30 PM
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