Characters Appearing: Black Widow, Darkstar, Presence, Red Guardian (Tania Belinksy)
Marvel Comics Presents #70 (Black Widow/Darkstar)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #70 (Black Widow/Darkstar story only)
This story begins with Darkstar giving a press conference when the Black Widow joins her to say hello.
Watching the press conference is the Presence, with his mate, the former Red Guardian. The Presence seems to make a transition to outright bad guy, or at least full on crazy, in this story. It was always my understanding that the Red Guardian, now "Starlight", was with the Presence by choice. And on at least two prior occasions (Defenders #65 and Hulk #258-259, the Presence was originally thought to be a bad guy but it turned out that he wasn't the real threat. Even in Quasar #19-24, which was meant to take place before this story (but see the Considerations below), he was tricked by Maelstrom. In this story, however, it's clear that Starlight is being held against her will, and he decides to capture the Black Widow and Darkstar to add them to his collection of Russian brides.
This is especially weird since Darkstar is the Presence's daughter (which will be acknowledged).
Starlight is sent to capture Black Widow and Darkstar.
Darkstar is able to free Starlight from the Presence's control by teleporting her into the Darkforce dimension, cutting her off from him. When they come back out, she's still in control of herself, or at least so it is said. However, while it is acknowledged that Darkstar is the Presence's daughter and that the Presence is "very ill", she decides to return to him to try to cure him with her "love", waving off help from the others. So while it probably isn't the intent of the story, it reads more to me like the Presence has regained control but is smart enough to realize that he shouldn't try tackling Darkstar again.
And that's the end of the story. It's very weird to end things this way. I almost wonder if the story was plotted without Robert Campanella realizing that Darkstar was the Presence's daughter, and the script was revised at the end to address that. I'd say that Mark Gruenwald would be the most likely person to make that catch, especially since there's a note about when this story takes place with relation to the Presence and Starlight's appearance in Quasar, except that that note turns out to be wrong. Even without the continuity problems, though, this is a very weird story. A guy goes crazy, mind-controls his partner, and sends him out to kidnap other heroes. The heroes break the mind control, and are then content to send the formerly mind-controlled hero back to the mind-controller. The only thing i can think is that there were plans to do follow-up stories, but they were interrupted by Gruenwald's plans for the Presence. But if that's the case, then they would have known that the footnote was wrong.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: As noted above, a footnote says that this takes place after the events of Quasar #19-24, since the Presence and "Starlight" were prisoners of the Stranger prior to that. However, the Presence was trapped by Quasar in another dimension at the end of that arc, and he next appears in Quasar #45 still in that dimension. So this would instead have to take place before Quasar #14, when we first saw that he and Starlight were prisoners of the Stranger. There's also the fact that a reporter refers to Darkstar as a member of the Soviet Super Soldiers, and more importantly she has a KGB escort, whereas by the end of Soviet Super Soldiers #1, she's a member of the Exiles that were working against the Soviet government. Soviet Super Soldiers #1 wasn't published at this point, but it takes place prior to Avengers #319. I've placed this prior to Soviet Super Soldiers #1, and therefore prior to Captain America #352-353, which leaves Darkstar in a coma until the Super Soldiers issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Fnord, you placed this after Cap 352-353 but before Super Soldiers 1- shouldn't Darkstar be in a coma then?
Posted by: Michael | December 1, 2015 7:54 AM
Yep, looks like this needs to get pushed back even further. Thanks, Michael.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 1, 2015 10:36 AM
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