Characters Appearing: Chief O'Grady, Dictionary Dawson, Fireworks Fielstein, High Evolutionary, Jim Redfield, Jim Young, Little Larry Lee, Lugwrench Lubowski, Mad Dog Rassitano, Marcus Stone, Mother Majowski, Paul Conklin, Rigger Ruiz, Roberta, Roberto 'Rhythm' Ruiz, Shelly Conklin, Smooth Manny Merengues, Thermal Man, Thor, Two-Fisted Tommie Boyd, Wrecker
Marvel Double Feature... Thunderstrike/Code Blue #13-14
Issue(s): Marvel Double Feature... Thunderstrike/Code Blue #13, Marvel Double Feature... Thunderstrike/Code Blue #14
Note that these issues also retain the numbering from the Thunderstrike issues, so even though this entry covers the first two issues of the Code Blue series, they are issues #13-14. Also, i'd like to just call this series "Code Blue" but the full title in the indicia is Marvel Double Feature... Thunderstrike/Code Blue #13-14 so i guess that's what i'll go with.
Anyway, i like Code Blue as a concept but thought it was weird how they mostly appeared in Thor/Thunderstrike. So the idea of getting their own solo series was interesting to me. Unfortunately, Thor and Thunderstrike guest star in two of the four issues of the series.
These issues are written by Roy Thomas, which in 1994 is not a good portent, but all but issue #14 are co-plotted by Thomas' frequent collaborator and researcher Jean-Marc Lofficier. Lofficier often brings in cool and forgotten aspects of the Marvel universe. So that should be something we can look forward to. In practice, though...
The first issue features the Yancy Street Gang. This is the version created by Tom DeFalco, and between them and Code Blue you'll see that the Characters Appearing list is chock-full of implausible nicknames. The opening sequence has the (deliberately?) pretty funny set-up of the Yancy Street "Gang" facing off against a real street gang with guns and stuff.
Luckily, the other gang is scared off by a defective Doombot.
Meanwhile, Code Blue are being told by a Jim Young from the mayor's office that they are facing budget cuts on the pretty reasonable grounds that New York is full of super-heroes who basically do their job for free. But when the threat of the Doombot is called in, Young is unable to get the Fantastic Four or the Avengers (or the Latverian embassy) on the phone. So Code Blue get the ok to go in.
It turns out that the Code Bluer Rigger Ruiz is the older sister of Yancy Streeter Rhythm Ruiz (and the reason Rhythm doesn't talk is because he's traumatized by his sister joining the "constabulary"). So when Code Blue realizes that a good way to take the Doombot out is by going through a route in the sewer, Rhythm is volunteered to lead them through it (Code Blue are initially against the idea but feel they have no choice). And after the bot is disabled, Lugwrench Lubowski helps disable its self-destruct sequence.
When Code Blue get back to the office, they find that the city is facing a lawsuit due to its "insufficient" response to the Doombot attack. The lawsuit was filed by a law firm of "ambulance chasers" called Krask & Krask. So Code Blue are once again benched.
The Doombot was initially reactivated thanks to a lightning bolt. At the end of issue #13, another lighting bolt strikes, this time opening a portal that the Wrecker walks out of.
Code Blue respond, and detect something odd about the Wrecker. For one thing, he's just ranting and seemingly unaware of who he's fighting. But his energy signature seems to suggest that he's not really there. However, Code Blue are immediately called back by Young. This time Young has managed to contact the Avengers. The official team wasn't home, but Jarvis was able to put Young in touch with Thor.
The Wrecker is surprisingly not interested in Thor and tries to get away.
While Thor continues to fight the Wrecker, Mother Majowski of Code Blue hacks into the Avengers' computer system and learns that the Wrecker was tortured by Loki, and also that he was the victim of child abuse.
Thor is contacted by the High Evolutionary and told that he has to immediately return to Wundagore. Thor tells the Evolutionary that he'll consider the summons when he's good and damned ready, but then Code Blue show up and tell Thor that they can take it from here.
Code Blue arrange for the Wrecker to confront his father (who had to be paid to agree to do it). They corral him to the retirement home where his father lives, ensuring that he'll stay out of populated areas.
They then drop a shatterproof glass cage barrier in front of him. The Wrecker begins to smash his way through the glass, and his father dies of a heart attack. Then the Wrecker is pulled back to the dimension that Loki banished him to in Thor #431. Which was apparently the plan.
This is all very upsetting to me because the Wrecker has appeared three times since he was trapped in another dimension in Thor #431. For all the vaunted continuity skills of Thomas and Lofficier, neither they nor the editors on this book could apparently be bothered to call around the Marvel offices to see if the Wrecker had appeared anywhere else. His appearances can be explained by saying that the dimension's hold on the Wrecker is tenuous, as this story demonstrates, meaning that he may have bounced in and out of it a few times prior to this. But it's still distracting.
Even beyond that, the fact that Code Blue's plan was to put an old (albeit nasty) man in front of the Wrecker, protected only by glass, doesn't say too much of them. His death doesn't exactly weigh on their conscience either.
In a subplot, police chief Shelly Conklin's husband Paul is working for a tech company called Redfield Electronics that is having financial trouble, and he's pressured into agreeing to reactivate the Thermal Man.
Code Blue fighting a damaged Doombot is about right. Pitting them against the Wrecker (or the Thermal Man, but more on that next time) is a bit much, though. I'd rather see them dealing with the kinds of bad guys that Spider-Man and Daredevil comics don't bother showing anymore. Mid level crooks with high tech weapons and stuff like that. Maybe the Enforcers. I could also have done without the Thor appearance. And also without a plot point about them being redundant - which honestly seems accurate; it's too bad they're not based in Philadelphia or something where there aren't so many super-heroes.
Oh well. I still like the concept of Code Blue and it's certainly interesting to see that they had their own limited series or whatever you want to call this.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: This seems to take place soon after Thor #481, since Jim Young was able to get in contact with Thor thanks to Thor having recently talked to Jarvis in that issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Marcus Stone reveals this story that his dad was abusive like the Wrecker's. I'm not sure how I feel about this retcon or the way it was delivered.
Posted by: Michael | February 27, 2018 8:07 PM
I wonder if originally Code Blue was going to be a separate four issue miniseries, but then the comic book market crashed, and Marvel realized that they'd lose money if they published it, so they devised the Double Feature format as a way of using the material.
I'm very curious why Tom DeFalco wasn't writing this, since Code Blue was very much his baby, and he frequently gave them the spotlight in Thor and Thunderstrike. You would think he would be chomping at the bit to write a Code Blue miniseries. Perhaps he simply wasn't able to, since between Thunderstrike, Fantastic Four, and his duties as editor in chief he was probably very busy.
In an interview in Alter Ego #136, Roy Thomas acknowledges he had no real fondness for the characters and he only accepted the assignment because it was a paying job, bluntly admitting "I think the only series I ever did that would just as soon have turned down was Code Blue."
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 27, 2018 8:33 PM
I thought that the "appeal" behind the Yancy Street Gang was that their faces were never revealed to the reader. In my first ever Marvel comic, (MTIO #48) they were portrayed as a bunch of bulked-up construction workers in hardhats whose faces were deliberately obscured. This new and younger version is a ripoff take on Jack Kirby's Newsboy Legion over at DC.
Posted by: Clutch | February 27, 2018 8:37 PM
[blinks] They deliberately led a supervillain into the presence of an old man they knew said villain had a grudge against, and the old man dropped dead on the spot. And they were not all fired, not even the officer in charge. And there were no other relatives with a real winner of a lucrative unlawful death lawsuit on their hands.
Okay; sounds legit.
Posted by: BU | February 27, 2018 8:44 PM
I can’t imagine Code Blue working outside of a DeFalco comic, not because the concept is bad but because the whole “Howling Commandos” vibe of the group wouldn’t translate into a less retro sensibility. And I kind of liked having them as Thor supporting characters in particular: cops with high tech taking on mid-tier viallains wouldn’t be a lot different from Daredevil or Silver Sable fighting, say, the Beetle or Boomerang. But cops taking on Thor villains is wild: it should make you wonder how they’ll even survive, let alone have a shot at winning. It could be fun and call for real creativity, though the axtuapmDeFalco stores don’t live up the potential.
Overall, though: better than Earth Force.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 27, 2018 10:47 PM
I like the concept of Code Blue, but not its implementation. I think Spider-Man and Daredevil level villains (street level) is about right. Although not the guys Spidey actually fights - you know, the popular villains. Instead the jobbers that generally aren't used anymore, but perhaps have some potential (can be taken as real threats, not jokes). So not the Vulture, but maybe the Vulturions. Even someone like the Porcupine SHOULD be a legitimate threat ordinary cops can't deal with. That's the entire reason superheroes are needed in the first place.
If Iron Man or Thor level villains show up, their purpose should be a delaying action or crowd control/ evacuation while they contain the area until a real superhero shows up.
They'd also make good recurring characters for other heroes who interact with police whenever there's a supervillain holding hostages or some other situation.
For this to work as an ongoing series though, I think you need to create a tension that Walter talked about - that these cops are in over their heads, and they know it. But they keep it up because they're professionals and the best of the police. It would also give an opportunity to explore things like how the criminal underworld actually works in the Marvel Universe.
Posted by: Chris | February 27, 2018 11:19 PM
agreed with everyone on Code Blue's association with THor being wrong for them, they had far too mush success with guys like the Wrecking Crew who are no match for Thor but should be a big challenge to most everyone else. Could have been better to introduce them in New Warriors or something, as guys who would control a situation until the team got there.
They never worked for me, partly because they just didn't seem to belong in Thor's book, but I like the idea of them being the dumping ground for unused street-level villains, the sort that appeared once in Team-Up/Daredevil/Luke Cage, & you're not totally sure whether Scourge got round to killing them off or not. Characters with names like Mad Dog Rassitano & Fireworks Fielstein seem perfect for a light-hearted series where they fight guys like The Big Wheel, Hypno-Hustler, Mr Fish, Schizoid Man, Gamecock & the Ringer. (I was going to suggest Equinox the Thermodynamic Man as the absolute limit of power of guys they should be facing, but I just looked him up & was surprised to learn he's actually made a lot of appearances recently.)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 9, 2018 1:45 PM
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