Terror Inc. #13
Issue(s): Terror Inc. #13
Banter based on spelling doesn't make a lot of sense.
When Terror rescues the girl, she recoils from him in, well, terror, and this prompts Terror to look into his past. He goes to his mystic contact, Rekrab, who puts him in touch with Frank Drake of Boderline Investigates (aka the Nightstalkers) who in turn gives him information on Ghost Rider. Terror goes to the Cypress Hills cemetery that Ghost Rider is known to haunt, and to get Ghost Rider's attention he summons Culex, the demon that the cult was trying to summon earlier. That does indeed attract Ghost Rider's attention, but Terror winds up losing control of Culex, so the two have to team up to fight it.
When that is dealt with, we get to what Terror wanted Ghost Rider for. As we saw in the last arc, Terror wanted redemption so that he might reunite with his long lost lover. So he now wants Ghost Rider to hit him with his penance stare. Ghost Rider obliges, and we see a flashback to a warrior fighting a dark beast, and in his victory he was forced to wear the beast's mantle, and he became a black knight that tested the strength of those he encountered.
From what he learns, Ghost Rider says that he serves a purpose, or at least used to. And he says that Terror has now gotten his penance. We learn a little more later when Terror is talking with his partner Alexis Primo.
But not a lot more.
The issue ends with Terror and Alexis dancing.
For what it's worth, when Terror is meeting with Frank Drake, Drake says that his gun identifies Terror as "unnatural -- but not supernatural". In the same conversation, Terror says that he took a stand against the forces of darkness long before Drake's ancestor Dracula was even conceived. I'm not too interested in Terror's origin beyond the degree to which it lines up with the previous incarnation of the character in the Shadowline issues, but this issue doesn't do a terribly good job of providing any clarity. I suppose it was necessary to try to cram something in since the book was being canceled but it still wasn't very successful.
I find it interesting that this book was meant to be an Infinity Crusade tie-in. It's listed as one in Infinity Crusade #1 and Terror will appear in Infinity Crusade #6, but the only oblique reference in this issue is a scene where we see a book that Hellfire's monks have. We see an off-color image of the Goddess, and it's suggested that Terror join her worshiper's "crusade". (Michael had to point this out to me in the comments; i totally glossed over it.)
It's still barely counts as a tie-in. Does that confirm that the story was rewritten at the last minute to (sort of) resolve the question of Terror's origin? Or maybe a plot intended for #14 was pulled forward with the tie-in story getting discarded or something like that. I'd suggest the Ghost Rider appearance was another attempt to bolster sales, but i don't know if that would be any better than an Infinity Crusade tie-in and most likely it was too late to save the book at this point no matter what.
Thanks to D.G. Chichester seeding the character in various other books he wrote, and some high profile guest appearances in this book (Punisher, Wolverine, and to a lesser degree the For Love Nor Money crossover), Terror had plenty of opportunity to catch on with a wider audience. And i actually think he's a unique and fun character. But the stories were on the ponderous side and the art varied between appealing to niche tastes and just being bad. It is still somewhat surprising to see the book being canceled in light of, for example, Alpha Flight being allowed to trudge on for years despite low quality and low sales. But we're reaching a time when Marvel was beginning to implode under its own output (even Alpha Flight will be canceled soon) so Terror's cancellation may have been more about that than its specific merits.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: As noted above, there is a vague reference to the Goddess and her worshipers. I could basically ignore this since a) the fact that she's listed in a book suggests that a cult around the Goddess may have existed for years and b) the Goddess herself is around at least as early as the end of Infinity War (and really even earlier, from the moment that Warlock casts out his good and bad sides after Infinity Gauntlet). But the suggestion that Terror join her "crusade" indicates something more active, so i feel obligated to move this to during the period where the Goddess was recruiting heroes. Hellfire still has powers, which presumably means he still has the Darksoul that Daimon Hellstrom gets back prior to Hellstorm #1-3. So that causes Hellstorm #1-3 to get pushed forward in publication time, after Infinity Crusade.
Crossover: Infinity Crusade
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAlexis Primo, Frank Drake, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Hellfire (Mikal Drakonmegas), Noble Kale, Rekrab, Terror (Shreck)
"For what it's worth, when Terror is meeting with Frank Drake, Drake says that his gun identifies Terror as "unnatural -- but not supernatural". "
Um, what?!? I haven't read this issue, but I really gotta laugh at this! Terror is a ruthless, amoral mercenary who has no compunctions about killing and who ghoulishly harvests the body parts of dead people for his own use... but he's not *actually* supernatural, and so the Nightstalkers have to give him a pass? "Well, okay, Terror, we've vowed to oppose *anybody* using magic, and so we *were* going to kill you, but since your powers are actually rooted in some sort of previously-unknown other-dimensional science as opposed to the supernatural, you get off on a technicality, and you're free to go!"
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 30, 2016 4:22 PM
Fnord, there is a scene in this story where a group of monks are worshipping the Goddess. I don't know if you want to change your placement of the issue based on that scene. I agree, though, that the Goddess only appearing in one scene is odd if this book was originally intended to be a tie-in. It does read like the book was rewritten at the last minute once they found out it was going to be cancelled.
Posted by: Michael | November 30, 2016 7:54 PM
Thanks for pointing out that scene, Michael. Not sure if i just totally missed it or if i saw it and didn't flag it thinking more would come of it (which wasn't the case). I've added a scan and a few notes. As you imply, i could probably pretend that there were some worshipers of the Goddess prior to the start of Infinity Crusade, but i think i ought to honor it, so i've moved this and Hellstorm #1-3 forward.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 1, 2016 1:41 AM
The image of Terror and Alexis dancing is a close imitation of a painted shirt ad by the artist J.C. Leyendecker. Another one was homaged by Howard Chaykin on the cover of BLACKHAWK #3 (1988) and Alex Ross on the cover of BATMAN: HARLEY QUINN (1999).
Posted by: Lucian Blanchard | December 1, 2016 11:56 AM
Wow Lucian, yeah. And now I see that's acknowledged at the bottom of the piece.
Posted by: cullen | December 1, 2016 1:29 PM
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