Characters Appearing: Alex DePaul, Bison, Black Widow, Bobby Steele, D.W. Griffith, Gary Paretsky, Jarvis, Kevin Masterson, Luke Cage, Marcy Masterson Steele, Mephisto, Mongoose, Peggy Carter, Quicksand, Samantha Joyce, Seth, Stellaris, Susan Austin, Thunderstrike
Issue(s): Thunderstrike #13, Thunderstrike #14
Luke Cage has been on the trail of Bison, and he catches up with him, but he's unable to stop him.
Bison gets away. Cage tells SHIELD that Bison's not a monster, and openly wonders why SHIELD is running a convoy through the backwoods of New Jersey, hinting that he'll get the Chicago Spectator to write about it. DePaul threatens to detain Cage but instead lets him go after secretly tagging him with a tracker. Cage goes to New York and meets up with his old buddy D.W. Griffith.
"A few hours later", Leah Princess (aka Stellaris) moves in with Eric Masterson and Samantha Joyce. Eric is then summoned by Black Widow to Avengers Mansion. It turns out that Agent DePaul has gone there asking for the Avengers to detain Cage for questioning (DePaul says that budget cuts force SHIELD to ask for outside help). DePaul's partner, an Agent #22, seemingly deliberately allows Thunderstrike to see SHIELD's folder on the mission they are working on, which is called Operation: Sinkhole. After DePaul leaves, the Black Widow says that she doubts DePaul's story, but she's unable to reach Nick Fury. She sends Thunderstrike to go after Cage while she continues digging.
On his way out, Black Widow tells Thunderstrike that the Avengers have been acting on his request to help the police in their efforts to deal with gunrunners.
This is a short but interesting little tidbit. A common critique of super-heroes is that they spend all their time engaged in grudge matches against super-villains and don't do anything to really help people. This exchange shows that maybe they do, but it just isn't worthy of a comic book issue so we don't hear about it.
We next learn that Bison is working for a mysterious boss, and he was supposed to obtain a cylinder of Inferno 42 (c.f. Tales of Suspense #75-76) when he attacked that SHIELD convoy, but he was turned away by Cage. The boss says that Bison's humanity will only be restored if he succeeds in getting the cylinder. The boss also decides to send in "additional assistance".
Thunderstrike locates Luke Cage while Cage is still secretly tracking Bison. And here finally is the reason that Cage shouts things like "Sweet Sister".
Thunderstrike and Cage manage to clear things up without too much of a Misunderstanding. Cage knows much of Bison's backstory (but not the bit about Inferno 42) and what he does know doesn't line up with what Agent DePaul told the Avengers. So Thunderstike contacts Black Widow, who tells them to go to the old SHIELD base under the barbershop (it's said that the place was "recently bombed" by an "old enemy", but there's no footnote). When they get to the base, they're confronted by DePaul in Mandroid armor.
It turns out that they've lead the Bison to the base, along with two other villains: Mongoose and Quicksand.
Mongoose once almost killed Eric (before he was Thor). Mongoose doesn't recognize him, but Thunderstrike is paralyzed with fear. But DePaul and Cage fight their opponents.
The fight is further complicated when Bison's girlfriend Shamari shows up. She's unaware of exactly what's happened to Bison but she's been trailing Luke Cage.
Thunderstrike eventually overcomes his fear and Bison switches sides when Quicksand tries to use Shamari as a hostage.
Then the entire base is flooded by Agent #22 as part of a plan (Operation Sinkhole) to contain and store the Inferno 42 (Agent #22 was conflicted and actually wanted to destroy the cylinder, but she ultimately followed orders).
Quicksand was dispersed just prior to the flood, and Mongoose also seemingly drowns in the flood, but when it's all over, DePaul lets Bison go.
In soap opera news, it seems that Susan Austin is dating Dr. Gary "Kenny Loggins" Paretsky, who seems a bit unusually interested in Eric's relationship with Jackie Lukus. Also, Marcy Steele is debating what it means for her husband Bobby to move the family to the west coast, especially as it impacts her son Kevin, who would be taken away from his father (Thunderstrike). Things go from soap opera to Marvel soap opera when someone shows up offering Kevin a magic contract to prevent his step-father from getting transferred.
Fun old school story with a nice guest star and a bunch of villains. Exactly what this book should be doing.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: If possible, i'm going to try to keep this series with the equivalent Marvel Double Feature Code Blue stories. And the Code Blue story in issue #13-14 takes place after Thor #481.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Double Feature... Thunderstrike/Code Blue #13-14
According to the character intersection search, Mongoose has never met any of the members of the Serpent Squad. Clearly this is an oversight some writer must correct immediately.
Posted by: Andrew | February 27, 2018 6:30 PM
I see Mephisto there in the characters appearing. Clearly he's going to stop the move by breaking up Marcy and Bobby's marriage.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 27, 2018 8:48 PM
@Andrew: Okay, now I just had to got to Wikipedia to find out if mongooses (mongeese?) can actually kill snakes. I was surprised to discover that the mongoose is actually a small, cute animal, in other words not at all what you would expect to inspire a supposedly-fearsome villain. I did, however, learn an interesting fact about them...
"The mongoose emits a high-pitched noise, commonly known as giggling, when it mates. Giggling is also heard during courtship."
I suppose we should therefore all be grateful that Mongoose the super-villain never had a girlfriend :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 27, 2018 8:57 PM
@Ben: I recommend reading "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" from Kipling's Jungle Book. One of my favorites when I was a kid. Nothing in it about giggling, though...
Posted by: Andrew | February 27, 2018 10:22 PM
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