Issue(s): Darkhold #2, Darkhold #3, Darkhold #4, Darkhold #5, Darkhold #6, Darkhold #7
We saw at the end of issue #1 that the Dwarf that handed out the Darkhold page in that issue showed up at the end where someone was about to blow up the Library of Congress. See the Considerations regarding placement, but this issue begins with the Dwarf giving that guy another page from the Darkhold.
Meanwhile, the Darkhold Redeemers are under fire from Darkholders. The Redeemers have come to Washington because Victoria Montesi has had a vision regarding the Library of Congress. A fire in the library causes the Darkholders to withdraw, deciding that they'll kill the firefighters and let the Redeemers burn in the blaze. But that plan is nixed by the arrival of Modred the Mystic.
Meanwhile, the Redeemers find the page of the Darkhold, unburnt despite the fire. They also find a hellhound. According to Professor Hastings, the hound was summoned by the Darkhold page, and once it's summoned it can either track whatever it is sent to find, or try to return to the page, which will send it home. By holding the page, the Redeemers control the hellhound.
They make the hound take it to whatever it was told to track the first time. And that leads them to a military base run by a General Hamilton. Hamilton has a dog of his own.
Since Sam Buchanan is an Interpol agent, he's allowed in the base, and he asks Hamilton a few questions. When they leave, they deduce that the hellhound had been there, which is why Hamilton's dog was injured and whined when it saw the hound. They also think that Hamilton's name seems familiar, so they go home to look him up.
While Buchanan is doing that, Montesi talks about how she doesn't like what her life has become, and she wishes that her friend Nash was ok. In my view, it's a bad idea to wish things while holding pages of the Darkhold, but nothing comes of that, at least yet.
Meanwhile, Buchanan learns that Hamilton was in charge of dismantling the gamma bombs that lead to the destruction of Middletown. They learn that Hamilton kept some of the bombs for himself. Buchanan goes back to Hamilton alone, and Hamilton confirms it. He's happy that the pyromaniac guy has stolen a bomb, because he thinks it if is detonated it will cause America to find its way again. Rather than find out where Hamilton has stashed the remaining two bombs, Buchanan just kills him.
Meanwhile, Montesi and Hastings manage to locate the pyromaniac and force him to dismantle the bomb. The pyromaniac initially mistakes Hastings for the Dwarf, which confirms for the Redeemers that the Dwarf is distributing the pages.
The pyromaniac then swallows the Darkhold page and tries to flee, but, uh, that wasn't a very good idea.
This story feels a bit sloppily executed, but it's interesting and different than a superhero story (although i like the connections to Hulk continuity; thanks editor Bobbie Chase!). But i guess Marvel felt they needed another sales boost already (after the launch tie-in with Ghost Rider), so Sabretooth appears in the next two issues. The stories are connected because Modred appears to the Redeemers at the end of issue #2, and tells them to claim the Darkhold page as a "prize" for stopping the gamma bomb. Modred then decides to tell his origin by animating a corpse.
Modred then says that "some - like the Avengers" misunderstood his actions, and he was exiled to a dimension ruled by Merlin.
Note that Modred was freed after the "death" of Merlin. That wouldn't have been too long after he was actually exiled, in Captain America #306.
Sam Buchanan is having trouble believing Modred's story, but Modred proves his magical abilities by teleporting everyone to Professor Hastings' office at Oxford. Hastings' superior, Dean Compton, shows up upset about Hastings' absence, but when she shows up the Darkhold page, he's convinced to let her go on sabbatical. For what it's worth, Hastings calls Compton "pookie", and he calls her "lulu".
We skip away to the Dwarf distributing the next Darkhold page. This time he's in South Carolina. It's Halloween, and he gives the page to a woman (or maybe high school age girl?) named Aurora Poule that was raped by a "popular senior" and his friends, and no one believes her. The Darkhold page first makes her pretty and gives her a nice dress, but when she walks through town it doesn't have the effect she wanted...
...and then she's raped again.
So Aurora goes back and wishes for vengeance this time.
Around this time, the Reedemers, sans Modred, show up in the South Carolina town. They find the Darkhold page, but stay to investigate (Modred told them to "leave no stone unturned", which will turn out to be literal). And the town becomes overrun by demons. Buchanan makes it to the local police station, but nearly everyone has been killed and the phones are dead. He does find a short wave radio, and he makes an appeal for neighboring towns to send police to the area. But Sabretooth shows up instead.
Sabretooth and Buchanan ("Bucky" to him) have a history, something to do with time they both spent in the Falklands.
I thought this was going to be the greatest scene ever...
...but Sabretooth's balls are in fact not shot off.
Meanwhile, Montesi and a local teacher get attacked by demons, but actually the demons only attack, and kill, the teacher. Montesi is apparently invisible to (these?) demons.
The Redeemers convince Sabretooth to convince them to work with them to save themselves from the demons. The demons, which look like a random assortment of monsters...
...are said to be N'Gari.
Aurora Poule turns out to have gotten pregnant from the rape, and her child will become a new N'Gari. Modred shows up to explain that.
His "leave no stone unturned" comment referred to locating the N'Gari cairn. But he doesn't want to just destroy it and close the portal. He wants to go through it, so that he can confront Ch'thon and get his soul back. But to make sure the portal is safe to cross, he grabs what i think is a random woman and tries to push her through. But she dies.
Then Aurora climbs the cairn and destroys it (the protagonists had all managed to acquire tons of grenades by this point), dying in the process.
Modred then teleports Sabretooth away. He says that Sabretooth really showed up because Modred searched Buchanan's mind for a suitable warrior to protect them from the demons. Modred then leaves. The Redeemers are upset about being used by Modred and for not being able to save all the villagers.
Throughout this story, we see the Scarlet Witch being possessed by Ch'thon.
And some agents of Ch'thon monitoring the Avengers.
Agatha Harkness shows up and suggests that they contact Dr. Strange.
At the end, we also see Rev. Styge, from Ghost Rider's book, getting visited by the Dwarf.
And if Ghost Rider and then Sabretooth are needed to keep sales up, then surely we need the Punisher next issue.
Actually the next story will feature Punisher and Ghost Rider. And Dr. Strange AND Scarlet Witch. It's almost like Marvel just didn't have faith in this book to stand on the strength of its own characters. I actually like the idea of the Darkholders investigating random creepiness due to the pages of the Darkhold and was annoyed by the extraneous use of Sabretooth. Ghost Rider, Scarlet Witch, and Dr. Strange at least have reasonable ties to the supernatural (and the Darkhold specifically, in the latter cases). But in general it feels like this book is almost immediately pivoting to a more action oriented approach that it seemed like it was going to be with issues #1 & 2. Add to that Richard Case's art getting replaced by even sillier cartoon art and the book already feels directionless despite what should be a strong storytelling premise.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The opening scene in issue #2 is a direct continuation from the end of issue #1. But i'm treating the end of issue #1 as a flashforward. Issue #1 is part of the Rise of the Midnight Sons crossover, which ends with Danny Ketch's spirit getting put back in his body (or however you'd like to put it). And that has to take place prior to Infinity War, because Spirits of Vengeance #4 takes place after Danny is restored, and that takes place after Infinity War. But this story has to take place after Infinity War, because in Doctor Strange #47, Agatha Harkness warns Scarlet Witch about the events that unfold here. So that means i can't place this directly after Darkhold #1. There's also the reference to Hulk #392. I considered that maybe this should take place before New Warriors #29-30, since otherwise the general might have made reference to the New Warriors or Forces of Nature being in Trans-Sabal instead of the Hulk. But i decided that it doesn't really matter; Hulk's actions (Rick's, really) are what precipitated the chaos in Trans-Sabal, and he might make a better fall guy due to his past involvement with the gamma bombs anyway.
For what it's worth, it's said to be Halloween (but that doesn't definitely mean i'll line it up with other Halloween stories, if any).
Scarlet Witch and the West Coast Avengers appear here after Avengers West Coast #89-91, per a footnote in that issue. The Scarlet Witch sub-plot becomes the main story with the next two issues, but it's a separate story with a break in between, so i'll cover it in a separate entry. Scarlet Witch shouldn't appear elsewhere in between the Darkhold arcs, though (including Wonder Man #16-18, which also takes place between Avengers West Coast #91-92).
The panel with the Punisher could probably be treated as conceptual and ignored, but it probably won't hurt to leave him as a character appearing, either.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAgatha Harkness, Darkhold Dwarf, Ebony, General Hamilton, Keith Kincaid, Living Lightning, Louise Hastings, Modred the Mystic, Punisher, Randolph DeGuzman, Rev. Styge, Sabretooth, Sam Buchanan, Scarlet Witch, Victoria Montesi, Wasp
Is this Tony Harris' first Marvel work? In a year he'll be working on Starman, his (arguably) most famous comic work.
Posted by: Red Comet | May 10, 2016 2:38 AM
He inked the Doc Samson back-up in Hulk annual #18, but these are his first pencils at Marvel. And those are the only things he'll do for Marvel until a 1999 Dr. Strange series.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 10, 2016 7:32 AM
One major problem with Mordred's story- he escaped the dimension Merlyn exiled him to in Quasar and was banished to a different dimension by Excalibur. It doesn't seem like Cooper read the Quasar story.
Posted by: Michael | May 10, 2016 8:03 AM
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