Marvel Comics Presents #88 (Volcana)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #88 (Volcana story only)
This is actually the first of three Volcana stories, the publication order of which got bungled. Prior to the publication of this story, what is basically part two got published in Fantastic Four annual #23, over a year earlier. And then the final part is published in FF annual #24. All three are written and drawn by James Brock, who had also drawn a few scattered issues of Avengers Spotlight and some other random stuff (actually including several issues of Barbie). The individual parts aren't directly related, but there is some lead in from parts one to part two, and if you read part two without part one, as i originally did, it's a little confusing. For one thing, that story talks about a fight with the Wizard as if it had already happened (which it did; it just hadn't been published yet). And that story plays on concern for Volcana's friend Annie, who it will turn out was injured during the fight with the Wizard. When i had just read part two, i thought Annie was just someone that Volcana knew that was working in one of the buildings that got damaged during the fight. But Annie is actually introduced here. She takes Volcana out shopping, trying to cheer her up after the disappearance of the Molecule Man, who was taken away to be merged into a cosmic cube with the Beyonder.
Suddenly the Wizard comes flying by, knocking Annie down (we'll see in the next part that she just has a twisted ankle). The Wizard's attack draws Volcana out of her funk, and she runs off to chase the Wizard (Annie doesn't know that Volcana has super-powers).
The Wizard's bumping into Annie is not a coincidence. It's said here that his flight suit conked out mid-flight. We'll see in part two that this is because of wish powers that the Molecule Man willed to Volcana.
The Wizard turns out to be a tough fight for Volcana...
...but she continues to fight even after her powers are spent.
They come back in time to save her from a blast.
He eventually flees. The joke is that he was only stealing batteries.
A lot of damage was caused over the attempted theft of some batteries, which doesn't make Volcana look that great, especially since she doesn't even capture the bad guy. But as i mentioned, next issue has an explanation.
I actually don't love the idea of Volcana in a hero role. I wouldn't mind having a female hero with a less than perfect body type ("obese"). But Volcana has been portrayed as a kind of thick headed overly protective smothering domestic type. It would take a lot of work to make her likeable. I don't think this story makes any headway with that, and the next part takes a turn for the weird.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Volcana story in Fantastic Four annual #23 continues directly in the aftermath of this one, but it has a framing sequence showing Dr. Doom reviewing the events of that story from a file. So i've placed that story forward in time to avoid breaking up that annual (with the idea that Doom was viewing the file later than when the event actually happened). But because of that story, this issue needs to take place much earlier than publication date. Note only does it have to take place before the FF annual (even though it was published much later), but it has to take place even earlier. In that story, Moonstone is shown to be still paralyzed after her fight with Captain Marvel in Captain Marvel #1, and it's not until that story that she is healed. So that story, and therefore this one, has to take place before Moonstone's appearance in Deathtrap: The Vault, which takes place soon after Acts of Vengeance. And the Wizard has a lot going on during that time period. Dr. Doom would also have to be available since he's revealed to have been observing this fight.
Continuity Insert? Y (inventory story?)
My Reprint: N/A
Does this count as a continuity implant? When part 1 of a story comes out over a year after part 2, it's SOMETHING.
Posted by: Michael | May 22, 2015 7:55 PM
Another question that arises is why did Dr Doom select her to receive superpowers back in Secret Wars? It's very clear that Skeeter MacPherson had personal issues that would make her ideal as a villain and would cooperate with the other bad guys. But what about Volcana?
Posted by: Chris | May 22, 2015 9:49 PM
Doom didn't have a lot of options on Battleworld. To put it bluntly, she was probably the best choice from a limited pool of candidates.
Posted by: Bill | May 22, 2015 9:54 PM
I don't know what the options and situations were that would have allowed for her to get the powers she got. They do at least portray later that she and Mary McPhereson were friends when they were sent there with Spider-Woman #2 and my guess is that it was just easier to give her powers with Skeeter considering they were in it together. (though we don't get Titania's perspective/origin for a long time)
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 22, 2015 11:14 PM
@Michael, i always feel uncomfortable about that when it's just because of a scheduling problem, but yeah, i've marked it as a continuity implant. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 23, 2015 11:09 AM
Considering Volcana's figure, Robert Crumb really should have drawn this.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 23, 2015 3:04 PM
Dollars to donuts Shooter only created Volcana and Titania so he could get creator's royalties for SECRET WARS. It's the same reason why John Byrne gave us Puck and Marrina in ALPHA FLIGHT.
Posted by: JP | May 23, 2015 7:05 PM
JP, that's probably true.
Bill, Doom had an entire suburb of Denver to pick from. That may not be much, but it's still several thousand or even tens of thousands of people. "I had to pick Volcana because she was Titania's best friend," is not likely an appropriate Motivation for Doom. I always thought something was missing from Volcana's personality in her appearances after the original Secret Wars. I don't think anyone - even Shooter - gave it any thought. Even if Volcana truly lacked maliciousness, she had to have been bad enough to not care that She was hired by Doom to kill some of Earth's best known heroes.
It would have been easy too despite her goofball personality in SWII. She basically decided to become the Molecule Man's girlfriend after she saw him drop a mountain range on the heroes. I think that says something about her motivation and personality.
Posted by: Chris | May 23, 2015 11:01 PM
At least the artwork does a passable job of making her look overweight (unlike in secret wars) without moving into caracature mode (ala Cynthia Bernhammer)
Posted by: kveto | October 8, 2016 5:24 AM
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