Death's Head II Gold #1
Issue(s): Death's Head II Gold #1
The story actually began in a prologue contained in Death's Head II #14. Death's Head II was sent by Phaedra to a being called Psyphon.
Death's Head II told Psyphon that he and Tuck were on a mining planet called Catspur searching for a man named Noon. They'd tracked Noon to a cybernetics lab when a massive apocalyptic explosion of unknown origin occurred. The explosion seemingly killed Tuck and caused DHII to pass out when he arrived at the lab. As Death's Head II collapsed, Noon and his associate Heron said that he was responsible for the explosion.
The actual issue begins "days later" with Death's Head II trekking across the wastelands of Catspur. We learn that Death's Head II is now working with Noon and Heron, and is dependent on them for energy charges that keep him running. They blame him for the destruction and secretly plan to let DHII die when they're done using him. DHII doesn't remember causing the explosion.
Meanwhile, Temploids, which are described here as "Sentient Androids programmed to nurse wounded planets and ease dying races into new places of existence" arrive at Catspur via spaceship (seems like it could be the same Temploids seen in the Battletides series, but that's not explicit).
Also, aliens called Ludites, ruled by a General Cicatrice, are searching for Death's Head II.
It turns out that the Temploids are actually disguised Ludite troops.
And so is Tuck, who seems to have been transported to present day Earth (September 1993) near the Castlerigg stone circle. Tuck contacts Phaedra for help finding DHII. Phaedra in turn gets help from Professor X.
The disguised Temploids show up at Noon's base. They take the energy-depleted DHII captive and kill Noon. DHII is tortured and left to fully run out of juice. But Tuck arrives (as scantily clad as ever).
DHII doesn't recognize Tuck. Tuck leaves him to fight the Ludites, who are fighting with Heron. Death's Head II restores himself by reverting to the original Death's Head's personality.
But that revival is short lived and Death's Head II gets back in control.
Meanwhile, Tuck and Heron have dealt with the Ludite troops. Heron wants to kill Death's Head II for what she thinks is his role in the destruction of her planet, but it turns out that her Noon (who was "like a father" to Heron) was supplying cybernetic weapons to the anti-robot forces on Lionheart (Tuck's home planet), who it turns out were part of the larger Ludite rebellion. The Ludites were using the cybernetics to infiltrate the robot forces on Lionheart. General Cicatrice caused the explosion on Catspur to prevent Death's Head II from reaching Noon and learning about it. Heron, saddened to learn about Noon's secret workings, agrees to work with Death's Head II and Tuck against Cicatrice's remaining forces.
It's during this fight, when Cicatrice is surprised to see Tuck, that we get the reference to the never-published issue #2.
Death's Head II kills Cicatrice's body, but it turns out it's only one of many bodies that Cicatrice has.
Heron is mortally wounded during the battle, and she asks Death's Head II to absorb her personality, since she's now the last of her race. The issue ends with Death's Head II and Tuck stuck on Cicatrice's disabled ship as it threatens to crash into Catspur.
With a few tweaks of dialogue and a removal of that footnote, this could have been a complete story, so it's clear that they didn't know that the Marvel UK line would collapse when this was scripted. Liam Sharp's art doesn't look as great as it did in the early DHII issues despite Sharp presumably being able to take his time with this. Storywise, i like the use of disparate elements of DHII's series and the broader Marvel UK continuity (Phaedra, the connection to the Lionheart stuff, the original Death's Head "cameo", maybe even the Temploids?). But there's nothing great about this, certainly nothing that says it should have been something separate from the regular series.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: There doesn't seem to be anything going on relative to Death's Head II's main series, so i've placed it at publication date. Professor X's cameo is context free (his efforts may have been better explained in issue #2, but i'm going on what we see).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Liam Sharp has said the second issue would have involved a same-set affair between Tuck and a female version of Cicatrice. So that’s where that thread was going.
Psyphonn, as the art suggests, was to be a future version of Death’s He’d II, who at some point conquers a galaxy. Or something.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 15, 2017 1:06 AM
The Appendix has Sharp’s comments on the future plans for the series, http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/cicatric.htm
The Appendix’s mention of the Luddites’ vortex-powered ships, together with their anti-AI obsessions, suggests there may be a Dune riff here, as well as a reference to the historical Luddites.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 15, 2017 1:23 AM
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