Hell's Angel #1-5
Issue(s): Hell's Angel #1, Hell's Angel #2, Hell's Angel #3, Hell's Angel #4, Hell's Angel #5
In 987 AD, a group of cultists called the Sect of Chasidm, located in Darkmoor, England, summoned Mephisto and made a pact with him, offering souls in exchange for immortality.
However, by 1992, the Sect of Chasidm had decided that their immortality had became a burden, because Mephisto has demanded ever more souls. By now the immortal cultists have become the executive board of a corporation called Mys-Tech, with their fingers in everything. They've instigated wars, poisoned people with unhealty food, and done just about everything you'd expect an evil corporation to do, all with the goal of sending souls to Mephisto. And it was still becoming impossible to keep up with Mephisto's increasing demand. So they've been working to get out of their bargain. We find that all of their efforts in other books have been in the furtherance of that goal - Motormouth's MOPED shoes were meant to be a way for them to get to Mephisto's domain, and the Warheads have been sent on their artifact collecting missions because Mys-Tech are searching for a way to kill Mephisto. In this story, we learn that one of the Mys-Tech execs, Ranulph Haldane, is working on an alternative source for immortality, so that they won't die after they kill Mephisto.
By the way, minor point. Note that at the top of the scan above, it's said that it's "1,000 years later". Of course it's actually a little more than that. 1,000 years after 987 is 1987. I don't mention that just to be nitpicky; i'm wondering if there is some significance to the year 1987. I know, for example, that it's the year that Killpower was said to have been created. In any event, to clarify, it's not the case that Mys-Tech suddenly decided in 1992 that they wanted to break out of the pact with Mephisto. It's something that had been brewing. The above conversation is them reaching a breaking point and urging immediate action, but they'll back away from that after the upcoming setback.
That setback comes due to the fact that Mephisto is aware of Ranulph's project.
Ranulph is killed, and his death is witnessed by his daughter, Shevaun. In the aftermath, Shevaun is contacted by something calling itself Darkangel.
Darkangel tells Shevaun what her father did for a living. She tells it to leave, and it does, but it returns later after she's given things some thought. Shevaun tells it that she wants to undo Mys-Tech's pact. Darkangel offers her a way to do that by giving her "a shred of the fabric of the universe".
The fabric becomes a skintight costume. But it's also a portal, and she reaches inside herself and pulls out some armor.
She puts on the armor and decides to call herself Hell's Angel for reasons that don't make much sense to me.
All of the Marvel UK books start off having guest appearances by American super-characters. In the first five issues of this series, it's the X-Men. The hero sequences were designed to be stripped out for when they were reprinted in the UK. That's been handled in different ways. In Warheads, guest appearances were integrated with the main story, but in a way that they could be pulled out without anyone noticing. So the characters would be together on page 6, but then the Warheads would be teleported away to appear on their own on page 7, stuff like that. In Motormouth, the guest characters appeared in totally separate plot threads that never crossed. In this book, Hell's Angel meets up with the X-Men in the middle of a story, has a separate adventure (or a disposable segment of the adventure Hell's Angel is already on) and then they part ways. There is also sometimes a supplemental introductory segment at the beginning of the issue that could also be stripped away. This happens three times in the first three issues, so the characters meet and part ways three times for different reasons. And then, for the UK printings, those middle segments could just be pulled out. It's a bit different for issues #4-5, where i think the policy of stripping out the American super-hero appearances was no longer in place.
Since issue #1 is really just an introduction to the character, the X-Men visit has them detecting the emergence of her powers, with Professor X declaring the possibility of "a new strain of mutant". He then assigns Psylocke the task of choosing a team to go and meet this new mutant. She picks Cyclops and Beast. They go to Shevaun's father's castle, and get into a brief fight with her...
...but she's surprisingly amenable to going with them for testing once that possibility is raised.
Hell's Angel is put in the Danger Room. She fights some robots, and then everyone is surprised to see an attack by Wolverine, but it turns out that he's reprogrammed the Danger Room sequence as his way of saying hi.
Note that the Wolverine constructs claws passed right through Hell's Angel's costume/portal with no effect. They then test just blasting her with an energy beam, which just goes into the portal and lands (seemingly) harmlessly in a (seemingly) empty dimension.
And then suddenly she senses trouble, and flies through the roof of the X-Mansion without saying goodbye, and that's the last we'll see of the X-Men this issue.
It totally reads as a power demonstration insert that has no effect on the plot. It is useful for helping to define her powers. But it's also notable that Hell's Angel's only defining personality trait is how agreeable she is. "Come back with us, we want to run tests on you." "Ok". A Wolverine construct tries to kill her. No reaction. "We want to blast an energy beam at you." "Ok." Then it's time to go home.
Issue #2's introductory segment will show the X-Men reviewing the data they recorded while Hell's Angel was in the data room. They talk some nonsense about chakras and then say that her armor actually acts as an inhibitor that allows her to control and direct the energy that comes from her chakras. Professor X says, "Possibly she's one of the most powerful beings in existence"!
Back to the main story in issue #1. Mephisto shows up at a Mys-Tech board meeting. For their treachery, he increases the number of souls they have to collect, and dispenses "baliffs", demons to periodically check on their progress. After he leaves, they decide that they need to secure Randolph's lab and make sure that Shevaun hasn't been meddling. When they contact her, she offers to continue her father's work for them.
When they accept that, Shevaun is pleased with herself, because it means that the board can be fooled and isn't all-powerful. But the happy moment doesn't last long, because something starts to come out of her belly.
There seems to be a point in every Marvel UK series where things just get totally weird, and that happens right at the beginning of issue #2 (well, after that X-Men chakra thing). It's a little man named The Guide that has come out of Hell's Angel's costume, and he's been sent by the Dark Angel to lead her to Inner Space.
I love these matter-of-fact footnotes providing details on the mumbo-jumbo nonsense being described in the script in a place where i'd normally expected references to other books. There was also one about the chakras.
But the fever dream continues as the Guide leads Hell's Angel to "the Super-Hero Dead Zone" inside Inner Space. Hell's Angel meets fragments of the souls of Nighthawk, Nuke, Vakume, and Viper.
Nuke is the Squadron Supreme character, and i guess Nighthawk is as well. Vakume and Viper were both super-villains, but no one comments on that. In fact, as usual, Hell's Angel takes it all in stride and just moves on to the next plot point, like she does with everything. They all head to Japan, where Mys-Tech has sent some Psycho-Warriors to kill people as a distraction so that a rival CEO can be assassinated. Hell's Angel and her dead friends show up to stop the Psycho-Warriors.
Oh, and we've reached the middle of the book, so here come the X-Men.
If you ever wanted to see the X-Men team up with super-"heroes" like Vakume and Viper, here's your chance.
Actually, Wolverine isn't too enthused about this.
Viper is killed during the battle. Let's stop and have a moment of silence for Viper.
Then it's time for the X-Men to leave. Why? I don't know. But at least there's time for Wolverine to demonstrate that he's still a ladies' man.
By the way, see that explosion at the bottom of the page, just after the X-Men leave? That leads into this sequence on the next page.
But what if you were reading the UK version of this book and the X-Men scene was cut out? Well, no problem. Just scroll up and take a look at the last sequence before the X-Men appear. Plenty of explosions to go around. Any explosion will do.
Hell's Angel and her dead friends continue the fight against the Psycho-Warriors and prevent the assassination, and then the dead guys go home. Hell's Angel takes one of the Psycho-Warrior bodies home to study. The fact that their assassination attempt was foiled, and that one of the Psycho-Warriors is missing, alarms Mys-Tech (they're still unaware that Ranulph Haldane's daughter is working against them). Hell's Angel's research leads her to the discovery of a mystical computer duplicate of Earth, which is known to Mys-Tech as the Un-Earth Project. Hell's Angel decides that there's no time to lose, and she heads out to investigate it.
Meanwhile, in the X-Men's introductory segment for issue #3, Professor X have sent the X-Men to investigate something weird in a desert in Mexico. Psylocke tries to "tune-in" (what?) to see what it is, and the ground rises and starts to rumble.
But then we go back to Hell's Angel's investigation of the Un-Earth Project. She's apparently gone back and picked up Vakume and the Guide, and they're breaking in to the warehouse where the Un-Earth Project is stored.
Vakume suddenly disappears during the investigation. He winds up in Hell. But he gets the idea that the rest of his soul is in Hell, so he claims to have just wandered off and he's now returning.
And it's confirmed that he's supposed to be in Hell, so he's let back in and he connects with the rest of his soul. He manages to find the rest of his soul, but that attracts the attention of Mephisto, who puts him in a torture chamber.
While she's in the Un-Earth Project, Hell's Angel is able to peek in on Mys-Tech, and she sees that they've found the Psycho-Warrior that she brought back to her lab. But they mention that Psycho-Warriors' micro-cameras got wiped, so they can't confirm that Shevaun did anything wrong. So Hell's Angel puts that aside for the moment, since she's got another X-Men appearance scheduled. She wonders how Mys-Tech collect the data to produce a perfect model of the Earth. And she determines that the answer is genetically enhanced bugs. She traces the bugs back to the desert in Mexico, where the X-Men are already fighting them.
Nice pose, Cyclops. Are you shooting your optic blast or checking out your muscles in front of the mirror?
Hell's Angel helps fight the bugs for a bit, but then jumps into a crevice and takes them out at the source. And then -- oh, is it time to leave again? Uh, ok. Goodbye! See you next issue!
Hell's Angel then returns to what she was worried about before her X-Men alarm went off, and she goes back to her lab to let Mys-Tech confront her about the Psycho-Warrior. She distracts them by talking about soul fragments.
They're intrigued by the possibility that they could contact her father if there's a soul fragment of him still around. So they don't press the issue of her possible treason, figuring they'll let her continue researching that for now.
The whole soul fragment thing turns out to have greater relevance. In order to meet their soul quota for the month, Mys-Tech decide to sink a UN battleship, which will kill 3,500 people. But Hell's Angel has the Guide locate 3,500 soul fragments from "various deadzones", and she saves the ship at the last minute, sending the soul fragments instead.
While the Guide is collecting soul fragments, Hell's Angel rescues Vakume.
Then she goes and saves the battleship, absorbing the blast Mys-Tech intended for it into her suit/portal. Mys-Tech are aware that the ship wasn't destroyed, but when they contact their bailiff, he tells them that every thing is in order. So it's a two-fer win; the battleship is saved and soul fragments in Hell are reunited. But Mys-Tech's suspicion of Shevaun is increased.
As for the X-Men guest appearance in issue #4, it doesn't happen until the very end, when they leave to investigate the explosion near the battleship and then get caught in some turbulence. That leads directly into a full length appearance in issue #5, so we're past the point where the guest appearances can be stripped out.
Hell's Angel and the X-Men gets sucked into a Matrix-Microverse guarded by some beings made of pure energy.
In fact, everything in the dimension was pure energy until stuff started getting beamed into it through Hell's Angel's costume. And now some of the matter has allowed a group of villains called the Encoders to form bodies.
The Matrix Masters take away Hell's Angel and the X-Men's powers. Their plan is to keep Hell's Angel in the dimension with them and then seal it off so no further matter can pollute it. But the X-Men offer to fight the Encoders if they can have their powers back.
It turns out, though, that the X-Men's powers just serve to feed the Encoders further.
So Hell's Angel gets the idea to expel all the matter that got sent into the portal back out. The Encoders get out too, but all the evil in them is somehow expunged.
Psylocke confirms that, even at the risk of going crosseyed.
The Encoders are allowed to roam free to explore their new home. Hell's Angel apologizes to the Matrix Masters, but as she's taking the X-Men back to their Blackbird, she realizes that the amount of matter that she's absorbed wasn't enough to account for everything that was in the Matrix-Microverse, so someone must have had the suit before her.
I do my best to describe what is going on in these issues, but there is a lot of jargon and weird concepts being thrown about. I like the basic concept for this series (assuming the Dark Angel's motives for giving Shevaun the suit are explored further at some point) and i like the unique design for Hell's Angel's costume. But the series manages to be extremely weird and very bland at the same time. Hell's Angel has no personality (except when she's hitting on Wolverine), and she seems completely unfazed by all the bizarre things she encounters. Soul fragments of dead extremely minor super-characters? Ok, come on along, guys, we've got stuff to do. Synthetic replicas of the Earth, a swarm of deadly bugs slash spy cameras, a Matrix-Microverse? No reaction to any of it. And since the characters aren't reacting, i find myself not reacting. Just kind of flipping through, wondering what's going to be important in the long run. The very silly comings and goings of the X-Men, and of course the fact that they are only written with the most superficial of personality templates themselves, makes them feel like not real versions of the characters; they act like how you'd see them depicted in a coloring book or something.
One thing i do think is cool is how all the Marvel UK books are tied together thanks to Mys-Tech. Instead of just creating five or so books, they created books that are all tied together in an indirect way. So while the continuity with the mainstream Marvel universe feels tenuous despite the guest appearances (or maybe because of how the guest appearances are handled), the continuity between the Marvel UK books is stronger. It builds up the anticipation for the Mys-Tech Wars crossover, when the books all come together.
The actual Hell's Angels sued Marvel over the use of their name, which is why the series will become Dark Angel starting next issue.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Dark Angel (sometimes Darkangel) that appears in these issues will later be called the Angel of Death once Hell's Angel takes on the Dark Angel moniker. The MCP and Marvel's Wiki treat this Angel of Death as the same one that appears elsewhere, namely a Golden Age issue of Venus and some 2007-2008 issues of Wolverine (where he's also known as Azrael). The Marvel Appendix is less definitive about that, only raising it as a possibility that they might be the same character. In any event, i am tagging the Dark Angel/Angel of Death as "Angel of Death", and Hell's Angel/Shevaun Haldane as "Dark Angel".
Regarding the soul fragments of the dead "heroes", i'm always hesitant to list dead characters as actually appearing. In any event these are just soul fragments so even in the best of cases i'm not sure that they should be listed. The MCP lists Vakume but not the others (Nuke, Nighthawk, and Viper), probably because Vakume manages to connect with the rest of his soul. I guess i'll do the same.
In issue #5, none of the Encoders are named. Two of them, Bug and Signal, are named later, so i've listed them.
In issue #1, the Mys-Tech board say, "If we can complete Laarson's project, we will soon gain access to Mephisto's domain". I initially took that to mean that this should take place before Motorhead #1, since Laarson is executed in that story. But they don't actually say that Laarson needs to complete the work. And Ranulph Haldane, Hell's Angel's father, appears in Motormouth #1 and Knights of Pendragon #4 (second series), so this would have to take place after those issues, since he's killed here.
These issues all run together (although, as noted, the X-Men come in and out of the story multiple times as opposed to having one continuous appearance). There is a definitive break after issue #5, before the series becomes Dark Angel with issue #6.
I should note that Wolverine is wearing his brown costume, but i did say that would be ok again after Wolverine #55-57.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAlgernon Crowe, Angel of Death, Beast, Brendan Rathcoole, Bronwen Gryfnn, Bug (Encoders), Cyclops, Dark Angel, Eadmund Porlock, Gudrun Tyburn, Guide, Iceman, Mephisto, Ormond Wychwood, Professor X, Psylocke, Ranulph Haldane, Rogue, Signal, Storm, Vakume, Wolverine
What the heck is up with the name "the sect of Chasidm"? Ordinarily,I'd assume it was anti-Semitic but the Mys-Tech guys don't have Jewish names or stereotypically Jewish traits. But I can't imagine a writer today calling a devil-worshiping cult "the sect of Muslm" or "the sect of Hindusm". And there were plenty of Chasidim in the UK in 1992, so the writer and the editors can't claim they didn't know what Chasidim were.
Posted by: Michael | April 28, 2016 7:57 PM
The Warheads books used a lot of Sephirot terms, so the connection is sort of established. I think it is a bit too sensitive to call it anti-semitic, though.
I was wondering why Psylocke was leading a team of X-Men (including Cyclops, no less). She is not someone I picture as a team leader, particularly in this time period when there was such emphasis on the idea of Cyclops and Storm being team leaders of their own.
Then it struck me: British X-Men are few and far between. And they definitely do not include any established team leaders.
Yeah, I found that almost funny.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 29, 2016 4:58 AM
Yep, that would be Squadron Supreme Nighthawk. What with him wearing his costume and all.
Had no idea him and Nuke appeared here. I might track it down for that (I won't).
Posted by: AF | April 29, 2016 5:39 AM
As a Squadron Supreme fan, it seems so odd to see Nighthawk and Nuke alongside the X-Men! Of all the then-dead characters to pick and choose from, why them? They are from Earth-712, not native to Earth-616.
Posted by: Bill | April 29, 2016 10:14 AM
Comments are now closed.
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