Marvel's New Universe (1986)

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Ralph Dula

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So Justice #2 was another issue I never saw for sale. The next issue I bought after the first was issue five, but at the moment I can’t recall if 3 and 4 were also not for sale local to me, or if I passed them by. Come to think of it, I believe the next time I saw an issue for sale was when it moved to the fancy paper.



I have a lot I want to say on the other realm segment, but I don’t want to spoil things for those reading this with no prior knowledge. Then again, I’d also be throwing a No-Prize worthy answer on what’s just creepy writing, so maybe that’s for the best.



Amusingly, thinking about later issues of Justice both reminded me of something that really creeped me out, and still does, in those issues, as well as making me finally realize a potential meta contradiction between later issues of Justice and The Star Brand, as it was called on Byrne’s watch. This marks the second time in three days that I’ve finally noticed a continuity error in something I enjoyed in the 80s.



Back in the day I never thought about the skin tone of the Hounds. I never realized Englehart took over the writing. I know in the 90s he did some work where he used African mysticism and shoehorned in pirates in IIRC, the Bermuda Triangle and some mysticism from there. Perhaps the soulless hounds were inspired by legends of zuvembie working sugar plantations in Haiti?
 

Tulpa Girl

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D.P. 7 #2 - “Runaways”

Cover Date: December 1986
Publication Date: September 9, 1986
Story: Mark Greunwald
Art: Paul Ryan, Romeo Tanghal
Timeframe: October 20, 1986

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Seeing our heroes through a targeting scope isn't exactly a new motif for comic book covers, but I still think this is reasonably well executed here. Also, it helps to reinforce the theme of our cast being on the run and hunted.

Perhaps a couple of hours after their decision to leave the Clinic, our protagonists are making their way through the woods at night, still in their nightwear. Eventually making their way to the highway, they decide to have Stephanie try to get an oncoming trucker to slow down so that they can get inside his truck.

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Poor Stephanie.

Back at the Clinic, Voigt shows up, demanding to know what has happened. Speck, Charne, and Hackbarth tell him about the escaped group. Speck is still psychically tracking them with her telecognitive power, seeing what they see. Voigt decides to call 'the Agency' so they can end their best 'headhunters' to retrieve the wayward paranormals.

Our heroes eventually hijack a Greyhound bus, with Charly using her powers to slow down the wheels of the bus, and Lenore then putting the driver and passengers to sleep. They opt to head to Dave's mobile home, as it's fairly secluded.

As Voigt is describing the targets to be acquired over the phone, he conveniently gives out all of their respective heights and weights, which I assume was Greunwald throwing a bone to all of his OHOTMU fans.

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Jeff is in a bad way because of his heightened metabolism, passing out because he hasn't eaten recently. Pulling into a McDonalds, Scuzz places a huge order, while Stephanie gives Jeff a jolt of energy, enough so for the speedster to steal the food, with his presence being attributed to a freak tornado. As they drive away and eat, Scuzz, in an attempt to mollify readers of traditional superhero comics, suggests they use code names while in public to avoid people learning who they really are.

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He wants people to keep calling him Scuzz, because he wants people to know it's him. Yeah, he's a teenager, all right. Eventually abandoning the bus as they get close to Dave's mobile home, they are unaware that they are being followed by three paranormal operatives, Bloodhound, Shrapnel, and Vice Versa.

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The three operatives set up for an ambush, but are spotted by Randy's shadow form, who returns to warn the group just as Jeff is taken out by a sniper shot from Bloodhound. Fortunately they're tranquilizer darts, and both Lenore and Stephanie are also taken down in short order. Dave spots the sniper, and winds up absorbing several darts charging the gunman before going down himself. Charly panics and runs into a tranq dart fired by Vice Versa. Randy also goes down, but not before his 'antibody' leaves his body. The antibody spots Shrapnel, who discovers that his tranq darts pass right through the shadowy form, and worse, it can turn solid long enough to solidly deck the operative, although not enough so to knock the man out.

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Okay, that's not as gross or as disturbing as some of the abilities we would eventually see in the Wild Cards novels, but it's also not the sort of thing you would see in a standard Marvel comic at the time. In any case, Shrapnel's explosive skin blisters are enough to overcome the antibody, at least temporarily. Vice Versa goes to hunt down Scuzz, while Bloodhound starts to put chloroform-filled bags over their captives. However, Stephanie's metabolism has allowed her to recover faster than would be expected, and she super-charges Jeff to get him back up and running. As Bloodhound concentrates on taking a shot at Jeff, Stephanie uses a cheerleader-trained highkick to knock Bloodhound down. Jeff takes his gun, and Stephanie tries to fight Bloodhound, but while she has a bit of superstrength, she also has no actual fighting experience, which he does, allowing him to knock her out.

Jeff then tries to attack Vice Versa, but her power essentially throws him into reverse, causing him to drop Bloodhound's gun. Scuzz picks up the gun and fires it at the woman, but she reverse the dart back at him, knocking him out. However, when Vice Versa goes to retrieve Charly (who has been playing possum), she gets close enough for Charly to get her hands around the woman's throat, and her ability to reverse momentum doesn't prove of use as Charly chokes her into unconsciousness.

Bloodhound has the chloroform masks over Stephanie, Randy and Dave, and is using a knife at Lenore's throat to compel Jeff to put on one of the masks as well. Charly and the antibody are able to overcome him, with the former causing the knife to slip out of his hand, and the latter knocking him down so Charly can cause the grass to get stuck to him and hold him tight. The masks prove difficult to remove, but Scuzz, whose acidic properties seem to allow him to fight off the effects of the tranq darts faster than normal, is able to with some care disintegrate the masks without harming the people inside them.

As our heroes prepare to leave, they put some of the remaining chloroform masks over their assailants, to keep them knocked out for at least a little while. Scuzz, because he thinks a bit like a Player Character, decides to grab the guns and other gear of the trio that attacked them.

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* * *​

Well, that was fun. We get some nice bits of characterization, most notably Randy's misgivings at the criminal actions they have to commit, and the extended fight sequence that covers the latter half of the issue is enjoyable, in large part because of the unusual super powers being used and how they interact with each other.
 

Ralph Dula

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I recall the next page after Stephanie’s failed attempt at getting the driver to stop was her complaining about it. I was highly amused back in the day that she wasn’t able to accept a guy wouldn’t fall for a woman in a nightshirt standing by the side of the road. I feel like this would be the kind of story you’d see on Reddit when someone asks truckers what their weirdest nighttime experience was.



I recall the mention of The Agency here, and remember you mentioning it coming up in Psi-Force as well. Looking back on it now, I do wonder if this was originally intended to be a CIA reference, and Voigt was working with them. For some reason I have it in my head that the “Agency” was a separate group he ran, but I don’t know if that’s canon or something I just assumed for some reason back in the 80s.



It occurs to me that if he didn’t run the Agency, it’s weird that in the relatively short time since the White Event they already have an all-paranormal team of agents.
 

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I recall the next page after Stephanie’s failed attempt at getting the driver to stop was her complaining about it. I was highly amused back in the day that she wasn’t able to accept a guy wouldn’t fall for a woman in a nightshirt standing by the side of the road.

Yep.

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"Grubby hippie"? Seriously, Steph, just how sheltered was your upbringing?

I recall the mention of The Agency here, and remember you mentioning it coming up in Psi-Force as well. Looking back on it now, I do wonder if this was originally intended to be a CIA reference, and Voigt was working with them. For some reason I have it in my head that the “Agency” was a separate group he ran, but I don’t know if that’s canon or something I just assumed for some reason back in the 80s.

How that particular plot point plays out is one of the things I don't remember particularly well, so for the moment I'm just along for the ride. I do know that it's not uncommon for people to sometimes refer to the CIA as just 'the Agency', but I don't remember how commonly known that particular euphemism was among the general public back in the mid-80's. Maybe Greunwald was just being coy here, or hedging his bets in case he changed his mind later down the road.

Which reminds me of something that rather surprised me when I found it out, given how well the series held together overall, especially the first dozen or so issues - apparently Greunwald didn't have any long-term story in mind, and didn't plot the series more than an issue in advance.

Also, the character Vice Versa was originally intended to be part of the main cast.
 

Ralph Dula

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I never knew about the plotting or about Vice Versa. Strangely, I liked Vice Versa, possibly because she seemed an older character, which wasn’t something I’d seen in comics much at that point.
 

Tulpa Girl

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I used to own Failed Universe, a one-shot parody of New Universe.
Speaking of which, Failed Universe is listed as having a December 1986 publishing date, so if it followed the same format as the cover dates for the Marvel comics of the time, it might have come out about the time between the second and third issues of the various NU titles. Most of the pages are reprinted here. Given how quickly it was published, it was either a) banged out very quickly after the various NU first issues came out, or b) it was knocked out before the first issues even came out, probably just based on preview art that showed up in the various comic magazines of the time.

Either way, it wasn't very good. There are certainly parts of the NU that are ripe for satire, but FU doesn't do anything particular insightful or intelligent with it. And in this case mocking another comic book line is very much a case of stones and glass houses, as Blackthorne was never known for either artistic merit or commercial success.

If I'm feeling generous, I might give them half a point for making the Negative Man connection on their D.P. 7 page, and honestly, their parody of Kickers Inc doesn't sound any worse than the real thing.
 

Ralph Dula

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Speaking of which, Failed Universe is listed as having a December 1986 publishing date, so if it followed the same format as the cover dates for the Marvel comics of the time, it might have come out about the time between the second and third issues of the various NU titles. Most of the pages are reprinted here. Given how quickly it was published, it was either a) banged out very quickly after the various NU first issues came out, or b) it was knocked out before the first issues even came out, probably just based on preview art that showed up in the various comic magazines of the time.

Either way, it wasn't very good. There are certainly parts of the NU that are ripe for satire, but FU doesn't do anything particular insightful or intelligent with it. And in this case mocking another comic book line is very much a case of stones and glass houses, as Blackthorne was never known for either artistic merit or commercial success.

If I'm feeling generous, I might give them half a point for making the Negative Man connection on their D.P. 7 page, and honestly, their parody of Kickers Inc doesn't sound any worse than the real thing.

I’m not going to lie: 80s me found it hilarious, even if modern me wouldn’t give it a second thought. Looking at those scans, I’d forgotten all about Scary, and forgot how much I enjoyed tgat plot (such as it was) point.

Looking at those scans, bits of the finale are coming to mind, and I’m finally reminded of some parallels between it and the lone issue of Mighty Mites I own, and which also parodied Jim Shooter’s work. Whereas I loved Failed Universe (worth the whole .27 cents I paid for it with tax) back then and would be “eh” to it now, the reverse is true of Mighty Mites. New to superhero comics back then, a lot went over my head, but to my jaded eyes now it’s quite good.
 

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Star Brand #3- “Close Encounter”

Cover Date: December 1986
Publication Date: September 16, 1986
Story: Jim Shooter
Art: Alex Saviuk & Vince Colletta
Timeframe: October 1-2, 1986

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Ken is still at the point where when he wakes up in the morning he initially thinks that everything that has happened was just a dream.

At work, his co-workers give him some gentle grief over his odd behavior of late, but his boss more pointedly wonders why he's working in a garage when he clearly could be doing something else if he put his mind to it. During his lunch break he flies over to see Myron, who is with a client, Bob. Taking a moment of Myron's time, he wonders what he should be doing with the power of the Star Brand, with Myron responding that's a question that Ken will need to answer for himself. As he get ready to leave, it appears that Bob may have been eavesdropping on the conversation. Back at work, as Ken is ready to leave, his boss questions why Ken, who he has pegged as a fairly smart guy, isn't doing more with his life.

Later that evening, Ken decides he needs to get away for a bit to consider his options, and flies to the far side of the moon. Eventually coming across a mountain on an otherwise flat lunar plane, he decides to destroy it, just because he can, I guess.

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Leaving a crater behind, and still questioning himself, he flies further out for a while before eventually returning back to Earth. When he eventually returns he's initially uncertain where he is, and decides to follow a couple of fighter jets when he sees them. When he witnesses the jets bombing local ground troops, he realizes that the jets are Russian, and that he's in Afghanistan. Seeing that the ground troops can't do anything against their attackers, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

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Making his way back to Pittsburgh, he finds Duck waiting for him outside his apartment, to do his laundry along with hers. As he relates what has happened, Duck wonders what the proper washing procedure is for his alien suit of clothes (so as not to cause the suit to shrink) when...

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(So football season has started up again not that long after the previous one has just wrapped up, maybe a month later or two at most. Also, Pittsburgh has a real team and not a made-up one. I'm just going to try not to think about it, because trying to make it somehow make sense will only lead to tears.)

Duck is worried that it could be dangerous, but Ken isn't worried because he is invulnerable, after all, and in any case he'll be careful. She plans on returning his laundry the next evening, but Ken has a date with Barbara that night. He then flies over to what's left of the slag dump, and sees a young woman in a car by herself. (“She looks mid-Eastern. Not bad. Tiny waist.”) From the trees he makes his presence known, even as he avoids letting her see his face. She says the CIA investigated the blast, and didn't get much except for a report that a flying man had destroyed to slag heap. She adds that a traitor in the CIA sold the info to a foreign power, one willing to investigate such a thing, and several of the enemy agents - local students at the University - had indeed glimpsed a flying man in the vicinity more than once.

She seems clumsy in her approach, admitting that she would be a lousy spy, offering money, or perhaps drugs, or maybe even herself. When Ken refuses, she says her boyfriend and his compatriots are watching from a distance, and that she will bear the brunt of their displeasure if she can't give them at least something that she has learned. When Ken declines and begins to leave, she pleads that if he doesn't return the following night she'll be killed, and it would have been better for her if he hadn't shown up at all.

The next night, Ken picks up Barb for their date, and Ken being Ken, can't help but admire the scenery provided by the babysitter who will be looking after Barb's kids while they're out.

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Later at the restaurant, as Ken admits during some small talk that he's somewhat afraid of the responsibility that having kids entails. That's the cue for the pair run into Lenny, a friend of Barbara's, who has just become a parent. Lenny has some 'interesting' ideas about raising his daughter - “like clay for me to mold and shape.” After he has stepped away Ken admits that the idea of trying to play god like that weirds him out. Barb thinks that Ken would be a good parent, because he would take his responsibilities seriously, but Ken notes that Lenny probably thinks the same of himself.

After the date is over, Ken returns to the slag heap, and sees the woman's car, but doesn't see her initially. Approaching the car, he thinks to himself that it's dark enough that no one could have seen him approach (even though the art makes it look like a clear afternoon). Looking inside the car, he sees the woman, who appears to have been hurt. Ripping the car door off, she tells him her boyfriend had beat her, and is going to kill her by dawn if Ken didn't show up. As she pleads further, he realizes the 'bruise' on her face is actually makeup. As Ken starts to leave, she pulls out a pistol and fires, hitting him with two shots, which of course don't hurt him. He easily crushes the pistol in his hand, and all pretense now gone, she tells him that it doesn't matter if he kills her, as her friends have been watching, and sooner or later, they will get what they want.

Returning home, he tells Duck that someone knows what he can do, and they've seen his face. Worse, he remembers where he had seen her before, a foreign student that he has run into when Myron had taken him over to the University one time.

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* * *​

We get some fill-in art this issue, and while Saviuk does a nice job with only a minor complaint on my part (regarding the daytime/nighttime gaffe near the end of the issue), I do wonder why Romita and Williamson weren't able to illustrate this issue.

Shooter's writing, to my mind, really starts to hit its stride here. Acknowledging Ken's multiple faults and flaws, while questioning what one actually does with near-infinite power, and the difficulty of using that power in the real world.
 

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As an aside, when I posted some of the promos and ads back in post #40, I somehow missed putting this one up, even though it was the most common house ad to be shown in other Marvel comics at the time.

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I only realized my error after hunting for it to Photoshop it up for the current Games That Should Exist thread.
 

Ralph Dula

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I’d forgotten this was the issue that established that Ken had to activate the power, which leads to questions like “Can we just kill him in his sleep? Will a hot girl distract him and he’ll walk into traffic and get run over?”



I think Saviuk is in the clear for the day/night error, unless he was the colorist as well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a penciller/colorist combo at Marvel, though I recall Shooter drawing & writing, as well as an inker/author combo in the 90s.



I remember when I read this that I thought it was too implausible a coincidence for Ken to have run into the woman at a party. Now I’m like “Yep, that happens.” I think she’s further evidence you need to start a count of terrorists in the NU.



I’d forgotten about how people are noted to have seen a flying man, and this amuses me for several reasons. First, around that time in comics that sort of thing would have been a big deal plot-wise normally, and would have been shown “on-screen,” as it were. While I don’t remember how I felt about it then, I’m sure older me would have been annoyed by it. I still remember getting irked in the 00s when Mike Mignola had a rather important event occur off-screen, and years later said he just didn’t feel like drawing it.



The other thing is I see so many comics since Invincible reference people never looking up in the sky. Since I got to be the witness to a plane crash back in the day by looking up, “horseshit” is my usual response to such a statement.



Finally on this topic, in the early days of Valiant Shooter had Solar flying a few dozen feet above people in a major city, with only a kid noticing. I wonder if that would have been a plot point later if Shooter hadn’t been ejected from Valiant.
 

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I think Saviuk is in the clear for the day/night error, unless he was the colorist as well.

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The way the clouds are drawn, I'm pretty certain the artist intended this to be a daytime scene. However, now that you mention it, upon further reflection I would say the fault lies not with Saviuk or with colorist Bob Sharen, but rather with Shooter himself, since this issue was probably done 'Marvel-style' (basic plot outline given to artist, writer fills in dialogue and captions after being given the penciled art).

I think she’s further evidence you need to start a count of terrorists in the NU.

Well, technically her actions fall more under espionage than terrorism. That said, sure, let's retroactively throw in a Terror Watchlist Counter, which currently sits at two - one for the previous issue of Star Brand, the other for the second issue of Kickers Inc (I'm not counting the airport bombing in the first issue of Nightmask, even though it gets blamed on terrorists, since it's really just a very indiscriminate assassination attempt).

The other thing is I see so many comics since Invincible reference people never looking up in the sky.

That has always struck me as a very New Yorker attitude, that only gawking tourists ever look up.
 

Ralph Dula

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The way the clouds are drawn, I'm pretty certain the artist intended this to be a daytime scene. However, now that you mention it, upon further reflection I would say the fault lies not with Saviuk or with colorist Bob Sharen, but rather with Shooter himself, since this issue was probably done 'Marvel-style' (basic plot outline given to artist, writer fills in dialogue and captions after being given the penciled art).



Well, technically her actions fall more under espionage than terrorism. That said, sure, let's retroactively throw in a Terror Watchlist Counter, which currently sits at two - one for the previous issue of Star Brand, the other for the second issue of Kickers Inc (I'm not counting the airport bombing in the first issue of Nightmask, even though it gets blamed on terrorists, since it's really just a very indiscriminate assassination attempt).



That has always struck me as a very New Yorker attitude, that only gawking tourists ever look up.

I’m 95% certain you’re right after seeing that panel, with the other 5% being I’m pretty sure I have/had Spider-Man comics he illustrated with nighttime clouds like that.
 

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Spitfire And The Troubleshooters #3 - “Counter Attack”

Cover Date: December 1986
Publication Date: August 12, 1986
Story: Gerry Conway
Art: Ron Wagner, Danny Bulanadi
Timeframe: September 12, 1986

Spitfire_and_the_Troubleshooters_Vol_1_3.jpg

Back in Boston, Jenny barely avoids crashing into a helicopter, as she hasn't taken into account just how busy the skies in a city can be. Visiting the hospital where Eduardo is still recovering from his broken ribs, Jenny is oblivious to the fact that he's clearly smitten with her; her lack of awareness pisses Teresa off, since she is still crushing on Eduardo. They are interrupted by a pair of police detectives, one of whom, Sloan, had brought Jenny the news of her father's death. The conversation is strained, as Sloan implies she's a suspect in the theft of Krotze International property, while she asserts that Krotze was responsible for her father's death, but has no proof.

Meanwhile at Krotze International, Bronson, the man directly responsible for the death of Jenny's father, tries to blackmail Krotze into buying his silence. Krotze, using a megawatt industrial laser, kills him, of course. Even to himself, he refuses to take responsibility for the act, blaming Bronson himself, Swensen (father and daughter), and his employers in 'The Club' for making him do these things.

Jenny and crew contemplate breaking into KI once again, under the theory that if they can't get proof for the murder of Jenny's father, there's probably evidence of other illegal activities at KI that they can possibly acquire. As they do so, Tim and Teresa show off some of their new inventions, the former with an mini-exoframe that allows him to run at 140 MPH (hope that somehow miraculously boosts his reaction time and perceptions as well), and the latter a cyber-jacking device that allows her to access any computer database that is connected to a phone line. Teresa uses her 'think tank' to determine the location of a 'closed system' inside KI which would logically be used to store information they wouldn't want getting out. This means it would have to be accessed physically, which Jenny is determined to do alone, as she doesn't want to risk the others getting hurt like Eduardo was. Jenny finally picks up on Teresa's ire, but completely misreads the reason why, assuming that Teresa is the least comfortable with their current extra-legal activities.

Back at KI, Krotze is being question by a Major Benton regarding the recent destruction of the Behemoth prototype. Recognizing that Benton is not the type to just back off, Keotze shows the Major picture of the MAX armor destroying the super-tank, as a way to deflect attention away from him and toward Swenson. Momentarily skeptical, Benton acknowledges the multitude of recent 'unexplained incidents', but isn't certain how to present this information to his superiors without coming off like a crackpot. Just as Benton leaves, Krotze gets a call from the Club, who apparently aren't happy that he has yet to retrieve thew MAX armor; he promises to have it back within the next three days.

Ironically, this is at the same time when Jenny in the MAX suit is breaking into Krotze's R&D lab. Unfortunately, as he was leaving the facility, Major Benton sees the signs of Jenny's entry, and follows in. As Jenny is about to leave with the magnetic tape records that she hopes will prove useful against Krotze, Benton surprises her, and she panics, acting reflexively...

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He's not dead, but Jenny is in a bit of shock at her actions. She tries to fight her way through Krotze's private security without causing any more casualties, but is eventually taken down by the same industrial laser used to kill Bronson earlier in the issue. Things look grim until Tim shows up and is able to buy Jenny time to recover with the aid of his recent invention. She is able to destroy the laser and make good their escape, even as she bemoans to herself the escalating violence that she has been drawn into.

The issue ends with Krotze returning to his home, only to find out he has a guest...

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* * *​

One of two fill-in artist teams before Trimpe returns for one last issue, although he does provide the cover here.

This isn't actively awful so much as aggressively mediocre.

Crossover Elements counter: 3 – although it doesn't reference any one title or event, Major Benton's comment regarding 'unexplained incidents' at least acknowledges that there's newfound weirdness going on in the world post-White Event, which could be alluding to what is happening in several of the other NU titles.

Terror Watchlist counter: 3 – Steel Hawk, of course.
 

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Psi-Force #3 - “Warriors!”

Cover Date: January 1987
Publication Date: September 23, 1986
Story: Danny Fingeroth
Art: Mark Texeira, Marie Severin
Timeframe: September ?, 1986

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Well, that looks reassuring...

Tyrone is enjoying himself flying around San Francisco at night in his astral form, but loses track of time a bit and only returns to Sanctuary as the sun rises. Some of the other guys staying there are in his room with his unresponsive body, and he can't just re-enter since his astral form is visible. Michael tries to intervene when one of the boys produces a knife, but it's Ms. Shaw that defuses the situation, giving Tyrone an opportunity to re-enter his body unnoticed by the others. Shaw is none too pleased that Tyrone was drawing attention to himself by using his powers inside Sanctuary.

Tyrone, Michael, Stasi, and Kathy are soon heading to a nearby school, as Wayne stays outside for reasons of his own. The four try to integrate into their new surroundings, with varying degrees of success; Michael, in particular, doesn't fare so well, and draws the ire of some of the school's rougher types. A couple of them rough him up a bit, until Wayne intervenes. Stasi wonders why he was hanging outside the school all day, Wayne retorts that he's wondering why he's even still in this city.

Meanwhile, at the CIA headquarters in D.C., 'Skipper' is giving a report to his boss, who is clearly suspicious of the written description of last issue's events that he's been given. He doesn't directly lie to his superior, but he does omit the use of psychic abilities by his old partner and the five teens that were present. His boss clearly thinks there's more he's not being told, but lets Skipper go for the moment.

That evening, back at Sanctuary, Tyrone, Michael, Stasi, and Kathy are having dinner at their own table, as the other kids are avoiding them, when Wayne shows up. He doesn't like the place, or the circumstances that drew them here, and so he wonders to the others why he hasn't just left yet. Stasi suggests that perhaps he likes Sanctuary, and the other four, more than he cares to admit, which Wayne dismisses as a fantasy on her part.

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(So Kathy has been previously made to see a psychiatrist, presumably at her parents' behest? Interesting...)

Stasi and Tyrone think the timing of their stories is just coincidence, but Wayne thinks that Proudhawk 'pushed' them to leave their homes and come to Sanctuary. Later that evening, Tyrone considers Wayne's assertion more seriously, but feels he can't talk to him directly because of the latter's arrogance and defensiveness. He goes to speak to Kathy, who initially and reflexively blows him off, but before he can leave she relaxes her guard a bit and the two speak. She thinks that given he was a CIA agent it's not impossible, and she notes that the CIA probably has a record of his recent actions before his death.

Tyrone's astral form is in Washington, D.C. a few minutes later. He's able to find the area he thinks he needs inside the CIA HQ, but because he has no physical form here he can't open the file cabinet to read the relevant files. He goes to see Skipper, who is working late in the building, and by all accounts handles the presence of a visible astral body talking to him reasonably well. Tyrone mentions Wayne's theory, and while it's technically classified info, Skipper sees no harm in looking up his partner's itinerary right before he quit the Company in late July. Proudhawk was at or near the homes of the five teens on the days they all left, convincing Tyrone that Wayne was correct. When he returns, the five decide they need to question the Psi-Hawk directly, unaware that their conversation has been overheard by the guy who had threatened Tyrone earlier, who decides to follow them.

At the Golden Gate Park, thinking they're alone, they summon forth the Psi-Hawk. Their unseen watcher thinks the psychic manifestation must be some sort of special effect or video projection from the bushes, but it still weirds him out. Wayne asks the Psi-Hawk what it wants from them, and is it the thoughts and memories of Proudhawk, a collection of the five's personas, or a collection of both?

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Disgusted with the lack of answers, Wayne leaves. The next morning, the other four dejected teens go to school, unaware that they're being stalked by the other teens of Sanctuary. Around mid-day, Wayne has made it about 120 miles away of San Fran, but finds himself compelled to return, 'pushing' a nearby motorist into driving him back to SF.

As school lets out, the four are ambushed by over a dozen of the local teens who have decided to take care of the 'freaks', one way or another. The four try to fight them off without showing their powers, but are eventually overwhelmed. That's when Wayne shows up, telepathically knocking the assailants unconscious and wiping their memories. The other four are grateful, of course, but Wayne isn't having any of it.

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* * *​

Danny Fingeroth takes over writing the title, and will be writing the majority of the issues for the coming year or so. While the main cast are still primarily Breakfast Club-style archetypes, he does add bits of characterization here and there, especially Kathy, who comes off as a shade less bitchy and annoying this issue.

Psi-Hawk is giving off some serious 'Professor Xavier is a manipulative asshole' vibes here.

So far, this is shaping up to be one of the NU's more interesting titles.
 

Ralph Dula

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I recall reading Spitfire #3 and feeling bad for Major Benton. The fellow got played and, as far as I know, never showed up anywhere in the NU again.



I’m not sure if your comment about Tim and if his reaction time is a reference to what happens to him later.



I never saw Psi-Force #3 before. The cover motif is another I’ve seen before, enough that it could be a meme at this point. I’d forgotten what Psi-Hawk was like back then, as I got most of the issues once it switched to fancy paper, and he was…different, then.
 

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I’m not sure if your comment about Tim and if his reaction time is a reference to what happens to him later.
It wasn't, since I have very little memory of how Spitfire eventually played out. It just struck me that heightened speed without enhanced reflexes could prove a problematic combo.
 

Ralph Dula

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Amusingly, I joined a Facebook group and someone was selling New Universe pages, including one from a NU crossover I didn’t know happened.

Ken, of course, was the hypocritical, self-righteous jerk as in all his other appearances.
 

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Nightmask #3 - “Burnout”

Cover Date: January 1987
Publication Date: September 23, 1986
Story: Cary Bates
Art: Alex Saviuk, Paul Ryan
Timeframe: August 28-September 4, 1986

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Outside the house where he grew up, now for sale, Keith runs into his old friend Dan Brody. As it turns out, Keith was going to be looking for Dan, based on what he had heard regarding his friend from high school. Following, he finds out what he has heard is true...

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Dan goes to his girlfriend's place to crash as the downers hit, and Keith enters his dreams, where he finds himself in a I-can't-believe-it's-not-Star-Trek setting. Dream-Dan a.k.a. 'Ensign Brody' tackles Nightmask, assuming he's an intruder on the starship they're on, and Keith plays along to try to learn what's going on. Keith is surprised to find out that Dan's subconscious has cast Dan's father as the Captain of the starship. The vessel is captured by an entity calling itself the Valkor, which casts the ship and its crew into a nearby red sun. Keith is only barely able to escape the nightmare in time.

Keith visits Dan's father, and finds out that when he was ten their house caught on fire, but his father had been able to rescue a young, terrified Dan. After that, Keith goes and threatens the drug pusher, but has to acknowledge that the problem has to be fixed on Dan's end. Later, Dan can't find his connection, and passes out in a nearby park. 'Ensign Brody' finds himself on an alien world, threatened by hostile flora, but is rescued by his Captain. Safety doesn't last long, as they are then menaced by various alien life forms, some of which look familiar...

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The blaster fire of Captain and Ensign hold off the aliens momentarily, but the various creature then start to burn, but not in a way that kills or consumes them. The various fire-creatures merge together, and then surround the pair. The Captain tries to pull the two of them through the fire, but Dan remains stuck inside, telling the Captain that he can't be saved. The Captain is then grappled and restrained earth f the alien world itself, and Dream-Dan finally realizes that the Captain is his father. Keith then shows up as Nightmask, trying to encourage Dan to save himself, but is then threatened by more aliens. Dan continues to refuse to save himself, until Nightmask drops his persona and becomes his friend Keith Remsen, which prompts Dan into action. The two of them defeat the other aliens, and then Valkor, who of course turns out to be the drug dealer. The issue ends a week later, with Keith getting ready to return to his work at the Institute, and Dan now in rehab, clean for the seven days.

* * *​

Sorry, I kinda zoned out on this one once I realized we were hitting Afterschool Special/Very Special Episode territory. There is undoubtedly a good story to be delivered from the dreams and nightmares of someone trapped in the thrall of addiction... but this isn't it.

Also, while I rather liked Saviuk's pencils on Star Brand #3, and I generally adore Paul Ryan's work in general, the art here is, while not awful, a bit less than the sum of its parts. Given the many fill-ins that showed up in various NU titles, this may have well been a last-minute rush job on both their parts.
 

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I'm annoyed that because of real-world crap I've fallen behind on this. I'll try to have the next one up soon, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow.
 

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Mark Hazzard: Merc #3 - “Philadelphia Freedom”

Cover Date: January 1987
Publication Date: September 30, 1986
Story: Peter David
Art: Alan Kupperberg, Jack Fury
Timeframe: ??? 1986

Merc cover 3.jpg

Mark is being questioned in his home by a couple of police detectives, regarding the events of the previous issue. During this time he gets a call from a man named Ram, who works for the Israeli Secret Service. Ram wants to hire Mark as a bodyguard for a visiting Israeli politician who will be riding in the Isreal Day parade in Philadelphia that weekend. Mark initially turns Ram down, having not liked the man's bossy approach to leadership in the past.

One of the detectives, Claire, tells him that he should not leave NYC until the investigation is complete, and asks as a friend for him not to give her any grief by leaving town for the next week or so, which he promises not to do. During this Ram has sweetened the pot by mentioning that the U.S. Government has sent a military liaison, one Colonel Jarret Wolfson, who was partially responsible for Mark having to leave West Point... and that Mark would be in charge of the operation, not Wolfson. This is enough to get Mark to agree, even as he makes his promise to Claire.

That weekend, Mark is in Philly, as he meets up with Ram and ambassador Eli Wisenthal, a last-minute substitution who is not overly popular among his own people due to being less of a hard-liner against Palestine than most of his countrymen. Mark also runs into Wolfson, who is less than pleased to have to work with Mark, much less take orders from him. Mark had at one point left Wolfson hanging from a flagpole back during their West Point days (although its unclear if this was an inciting incident or retaliation on Mark's part).

During the parade Mark sees the glint of metal from a nearby building, and is barely able to save the ambassador from a rocket launcher attack. A second such attack leaves Mark stunned enough that a pair of Arabic terrorists manage to make away with the ambassador. Mark is about to fire at them when Wolfson stops him, citing the presence of nearby civilians whose vicinity he would be firing into. The two fight, and when local police separate the two, Wolfson's credentials are enough to get Mark thrown in jail.

While in his cell (but not yet booked), Wolfson offers to have Mark freed in exchange for an apology. Thinking that he might be able to get away with Claire not finding out if he's never officially booked, Mark swallows his pride and apologizes... which Wolfson laughs at, walking away. Ram manages to free Mark by knocking out the local police guard, and Mark gets to deck a returning Wolfson in the process.

The terrorists are demanding Israel release a large number of terrorists/enemy combatants currently being held, or they'll send the ambassador out piecemeal. There's only a few minutes left to meet their demands, which begs the question why Ram would take the time to free Mark. But Mark has already figured that part out – Ram needed a fall guy. If an unpopular politician was to die, it would be under the care of an American mercenary, and as a result the Israeli Secret Service would not take the blame.

If he goes in to rescue the ambassador from the terrorists currently holding the man in a condemned building, there would almost certainly be repercussion for Mark, between skipping NYC and the assault on the Philly cops, which might wind up putting him away for a long, long time. But his professional pride won't let him abandon the job he agreed to. Fortunately for Mark, there's some nearby construction equipment, including a wrecking ball, that he can make use of...

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Mark is able to make his way through the building, shooting the terrorists (but not killing all of them) and rescuing ambassador Wisenthal. Ram is able to overrule any police concerns from the local cops, as well as making sure Wolfson doesn't cause any further trouble. Mark, for his part, doesn't want anything else to do with Ram.

The issue ends with us jumping back and forth between Ram torturing and killing the surviving terrorists, and Mark in a movie theater fantasizing about killing Sylvester Stallone for Rambo: First Blood Part II (presumably under a second run in the theaters), due to its various crimes against both cinema and merc-dom. The last panel reveals that Claire is sitting next to him in the theater, as she places him under arrest.

* * *​

This is neither bad enough nor good enough to be noteworthy. It's perfectly okay.

It's mildly interesting that Mark's age (42) is brought up in a “I'm getting too old for this” manner. I don't recall many, if any, characters from Marvel or DC at this time that were old enough that their age might be a detriment. The Punisher is the most obvious counterpart to Mark here, but I don't think Castle was ever shown to be, well, old, just experienced. Of course, readers of the day who read beyond the Big Two might have been familiar with Jon Sable or Grimjack, both of whom occasionally felt the effects of their years.

The official timeline puts this about three months after the previous issue, but the dialogue during the questioning puts it around a week later.

Terror Watchlist counter: 4 – stereotypical Middle Eastern terrorists.
 

Ralph Dula

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Aren’t you glad you went with my suggestion of a terrorist count?



I’m actually very confused after reading your review. More to the point, I said earlier in this thread I’d read a review in Amazing Heroes back in the day of Merc, and now I’m left wondering if they reviewed two issues at the sane time and my memory has failed me on that aspect, or if they screwed up when they did the review. The review discussed the Philadelphia story of this issue, but also went hard on ripping a new one for a speech Hazzard gave, which you didn’t mention. I’ll have to reserve my recounting of the review until you get to the issue with the speech, so as not to spoil anything.

Also, “Jack Fury” worked on this comic? The Nick Fury jokes right themselves.


With regards to Big Two characters and ages in the 80s, aside from Aunt May the only example that leaps to mind was Nick Fury in the out-of-continuity Crash graphic novel. A very odd story, it showed Fury finally being an old man, though not as old as he should be, and ranting about all the problems he had being old. Meanwhile, Stark was on his own anti-aging drug, and stopped taking it at the end, because reasons.



I know 90s Marvel had a Golden Age villain come back, having not aged in comic book time, and wanting one last hurrah before his elderly body failed him.
 

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Aren’t you glad you went with my suggestion of a terrorist count?

Probably just as well there's not a drinking game attached to it.

I’m actually very confused after reading your review. More to the point, I said earlier in this thread I’d read a review in Amazing Heroes back in the day of Merc, and now I’m left wondering if they reviewed two issues at the sane time and my memory has failed me on that aspect, or if they screwed up when they did the review. The review discussed the Philadelphia story of this issue, but also went hard on ripping a new one for a speech Hazzard gave, which you didn’t mention. I’ll have to reserve my recounting of the review until you get to the issue with the speech, so as not to spoil anything.

I'm guessing that's maybe from next issue, as I *think* it pretty much directly follows up from this issue.

Also, “Jack Fury” worked on this comic? The Nick Fury jokes right themselves.

I know, right? I can't help but wonder if that's a pseudonym or not. If not, I could see him getting work on Merc just because of his name.
 

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I'm realizing that I had read further into these titles that I recalled. Both Nightmask #3 and Merc #3 were familiar stories which I probably owned the comics for at one point. But both also make it clear why I didn't care about either title.

Looking back at the Star Trek nature of Nightmask #3, I wondered if it might have been a parody of DC's Trek title which was currently running at the time. Comparing them, there doesn't seem to be much that's referencing the DC book that can't be chalked up as generic Trekkisms. If there was a parody attempt, it was certainly lost and completely buried somewhere along the line.

The Merc issue is just flat out a Cannon movie. It's easy to imagine some hybrid of Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson in the leading role. While it may have been a relatively unheard of thing for a hero in a Marvel book to be portrayed as aging like Hazzard, my (admittedly uncertain) recollection was that it was a trope growing in popularity at the time in other media. It tied into the Vietnam War worship that was so popular in the late 80s as the vets were obviously getting older and their health issues as they aged were often in the forefront of the news.
 

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And another bit of New Universe art has come up for sale.

E74FFCBC-8804-437A-BE25-97F072740CA4.jpeg


0E7DA727-4098-47AC-92A5-68350A1CD6D5.jpeg
 

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Huh. I wonder if there's any DP7 pages that might be acquired at a reasonable price.
 

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Kickers, Inc. #3 - “The Witches Of Westchester!”

Cover Date: January 1986
Publication Date: September 30, 1986
Story: Tom DeFalco, Jo Duffy (co-scripter)
Art: Ron Frenz (penciler), Brett Breeding, Sam DeLarosa (inkers)
Timeframe: July 31-August 2, 1986... I guess? I dunno, you tell me.

Kickers,_Inc._Vol_1_3.jpg

Not a bad cover, certainly better than the two previous ones...

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...and that's a fairly decent splash page. It's gets your attention, if nothing else.

Watching from some nearby trees, the Kickers (sans Darlene) observe as the ceremony unfolds. Suicide expresses some surprise that what they were told about a 'band of witches' in the local park being true. Brick corrects him, based on the college course he once took on Comparative Religions, noting that the ritual appears to have more in common with Demonology than Witchcraft.

Meanwhile, the goat-headed leader of the group proclaims that there is a traitor in their midst. Ripping the hood off of a young man named Michael Courtney, he downs the man with a curse and a gesture. As Courtney was the one who tipped the Kickers off as to what was going on, Jack charges forward to rescue him, with the others following close behind.

Goathead guy throws something like a water balloon, which bursts with a terrible smell on Jack and Dasher. As they recover, the pair see demonic-looking monsters appear, as Goathead guy flees. Suicide and Brick give chase to Goathead guy, with Brick quickly loses ground, as he's not the sprinter type. Suicide also eventually loses sight of his quarry, but instead runs into a couple of guys in suits. One of them takes down Suicide with a single gut-punch, and the other says not to rough him up too much. “I don't think he's with the creeps we're after!”

Meanwhile, Jack can't seem to land a punch against the creatures he's fighting. He eventually slips and falls into a nearby stream, and when he comes back up the monsters are gone. Brick and Suicide return at this point, noting that Courtney seems to be in a bad way, and Dasher isn't that much better.

Later, at the nearby hospital, Courtney tells his story to the Kickers (with Darlene now present). An assistant professor of literature at the local university, he didn't have much excitement in his life, and was easily drawn into the local coven by Professor Jordan of the chemistry department. It all seems to be fun and games at first, until a man in a goat mask shows up, promising them the path to real power. The new leader summons up a demon, frightening Courtney into leaving the coven, and also causing another coven member and one of Courtney's students to commit kill himself. He knew the Smashers would be having a pre-season mini-camp in the area, and didn't know who else to call on for help.

A doctor shows up with Courtney's lab results, “...unusually high stress, odd perceptual anomalies, but no physical damage,” and want him to stay overnight for observation. As they leave the hospital, Jack notes that Dasher doesn't look that great, as he also got a faceful of gas, but the latter brushes off the concern. Brick, for his part, seems a bit shaken by what they've seen and learned here...

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Jack says that, theology aside, the creature are real, as he's seen them. Later in their hotel room, Jack tells Darlene that he doesn't have any questions about what they're doing, despite the danger, but he does have doubts about continuing his football career.

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The next day, at football practice, Jack has an encounter with Coach Kirby...

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Okay, that's more than a little on the nose, but I can't say that I really mind. Kirby wants to know why Jack hasn't yet signed his contract for the upcoming season, but Jack still has his doubts. During the practice, Dasher is still a bit out of sorts, and it affects his performance. The team's new top draft pick, Hawkins, is also vying for a spot in the position that Dasher shares, and Suicide can't help but needle Dasher a bit for it. However, the young prospect is actually very polite and deferential toward Dasher, even asking for a chance to get some pointers later in the week.

After practice, while Dasher and Hawkins talk, and Brick checks to see if the local library has a copy of The Golden Bough, Jack, Darlene, and Suicide visit Professor Jordan in the chem lab. Jordan dismisses any concerns, and is visibly nervous and then irate, telling them to leave. They do so, and once outside, Suicide notices a limousine that's been following them. Inside is the pair that Suicide had ran into the night before, a 'Mr. Nunzio' and a 'Mr. Guido'. They apologize for the previous night's misunderstanding and “unseemly violence”, and would also like for Jack to accompany them to meet with their boss. Darlene and Suicide don't like the idea, but Jack agrees, confident that he can handle things if worse comes to worse.

The boss in question is one Salvatore Cannelloni, who treats Jack to a meal at an upscale restaurant. The student who had killed himself was Cannelloni's son. Even though the son had changed his name and wanted nothing to do with his father's 'family business', Salvatore had hoped that was a rift that could have been healed over time. But with the boy's death, there will be no chance of reconciliation between the two, and with him having killed himself, he is now buried on unconsecrated ground. Cannelloni wants the names of the people who drove his son to suicide.

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As he leaves, Cannelloni gives Jack an address, and the Kickers (again minus Darlene) show up at what appears to be an abandoned warehouse (ah, a classic). Dasher and Suicide keep watch outside and Jack and Brick enter. They find an alter inside a large pentagram, and also a book detailing the funds collected from its various members. Goathead guy then shows up, producing some gas that takes Brick out. Jack doesn't go down as easily, but a couple of whacks to the head from Goathead's ceremonial scepter does the trick.

Outside, Dasher and Suicide see the other coven members arriving, and decide to sneak in.

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Inside, Jack and Brick are now awake, with Jack chained to the alter, and Brick chained up next to him. Goathead guy throws some powder onto the pair, and they start seeing demons again. Just as the coven leader is about to stab Jack with a nasty-looking ceremonial blade, Suicide and Dasher show up. Jack breaks the chains with his super-strength, as he had been waiting to see what Goathead guy would do. A big brawl breaks out, which the Kickers defeating the cultists, and when Jack unmasks Goathead guy, it is of course an unrepentant Professor Jordan.

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Jordan tells them that if they try to bring any charges against him, he has a roomful of witness who will testify that the Kickers were guilty of breaking in and assault. Jack tells him he has no intention of calling the police. Seeing the limo with Guido and Nunzio nearby, Jack informs them that Jordan is the one Cannelloni wants. Brick asks who Jack was talking to, and Jack responds that they're no one Brick would want to know. “Just another of the people who go through life inventing their own rules instead of obeying the ones that bind the rest of us.”

The next day, at practice, Coach Kirby is pleased to find out that Jack has signed his contract extension, and assumes that their talk had something to do with it. In truth, it's because at least on the football field, Jack likes knowing that the people he's up against are playing by the same rules he is.

* * *​

This... wasn't awful? I mean, it's not spectacular, but it's reasonably enjoyable in its own right, and certainly miles better than the first two issues. A lot of this is no doubt due to Jo Duffy scripting the majority of the issue – her dialogue is a lot sharper, and the characterization is stronger overall, as well. That said, credit where it's due, DeFalco's basic plot for this issue seems better than the preceding ones. I think the Scooby Doo fake-out works well here; just because we're in a setting that now has weird stuff in it doesn't mean everything has to have a paranormal explanation.

You know, it's rare that we get to see the exact moment when a writer gives up on a project, but here it was apparently between pages five and six when DeFalco decided he didn't want to deal with Shooter anymore.

Oh, and Suicide is now white, instead of vaguely Middle Eastern.

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His confused thought balloon pretty much mirrors my own confusion here.
 
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Ralph Dula

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Huh. I wonder if there's any DP7 pages that might be acquired at a reasonable price.


I was waiting to share the story until you got to the issue it was published, but during the later era of DP7 I actually saw a page for sale, the only time I’ve seen a New Universe page in-person, and the second time I ever saw a page of comic art in-person. It was the bio page for Glitter, and I think the seller wanted $125 for it back then.



What burned it into my memory was who was selling it. We had a tiny con circuit in the 80s where I lived, and you could always count on the guy selling Japanimation bootlegs, with prices based on the quality of his bootlegs. The only time he ever had anything other than bootlegs was the DP7 page, and he’d crafted a pyramid of boxes to display it on that was the tallest thing in the room, so you had Stephanie smiling down on everyone like a jolly goddess.
 

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I'm becoming increasingly aware that the official timeline (as shown in the back-up pages in later issues of the remaining NU titles) is simply not to be trusted. It places the events of this issue around October 31, for thematic reasons I guess... but that doesn't jibe with the idea of the football team still being in the pre-pre-season (prior to the actual pre-season games that are played), as the regular season would be well underway by late October. If you wanted to tie the events to an actual magical date (that Jordan would use, even if he doesn't believe in it), then Lughnasadh (August 1st) would be my suggestion.

Either that, or we just have to accept that the NFL - or whatever league this is supposed to be - doesn't start play until later in the year. So even though this issue is much improved over the ones preceding it, the bad portrayal of football still goes out of its way to actively hurt me.
 

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And another bit of New Universe art has come up for sale.

View attachment 37103

That reminds me, something I forgot to mention during the Nightmask #3 writeup. The hometown that Keith returns to is said to be Georgetown, but it doesn't specify which Georgetown, as there are no small amount of towns and cities in the U.S. with said name. The timeline that shows up in the later NU books specify it to be Georgetown, Maryland... which has a population in the low three-digit range. Which makes the scene with the drug pusher in this very small town in broad daylight acting like he's in Times Square at night in the 1970's all the more unintentionally hilarious.
 

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Justice #3 - “Out By Exit 14”

Cover Date: January 1987
Publication Date: October 7, 1986
Story: Steve Englehart
Art: Geof Isherwood, Vince Colletta
Timeframe: August 12, 1986

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Tensen and Arnie are grabbing a bite to eat at a roadside diner, as Arnie tries to wrap his head around Tensen's story, and Tensen tries to learn more about the world he finds himself in, pleased that the auras of the patrons and workers in the diner are all good ones. Sensing the approach of someone he knows, Tensen dashes quickly out of the diner and toward an oncoming car, which manages to skid to a stop before hitting him. Inside the car are Becky Chambers and Hoyt Pittman, who have been following Tensen since last issue.

While Becky is more open to to Tensen's story, based on what she witnessed the last time she saw him, Hoyt is having none of it. Tensen easily overpowers him, of course, but doesn't want to hurt him; seeing his aura he knows that Pitt is a good person, one who is also in love with Becky.

They go back into the diner, and while Hoyt goes to the restroom, Arnie confesses that he had told the cops about Tensen's request to take him to Los Angeles. Becky and Tensen talk, and because their auras mingled when they kissed previously, he is able to show her memories of his home world as they touch.

Exiting the restroom, Hoyt reacts negatively seeing the two touch. Becky calms him down, as they all want Damon Conquest. As they leave the diner in Arnie's cab, the night is pitch black, and 'Hoyt' comments that the next city is a hundred miles away...

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As Arnie's cab crashes, Tensen is thrown free, the creature and its many teeth wrapped around his right hand. The creature is too close for Tensen to use his Shield from his left hand, and he can't 'throw' his Sword with the creature around his right hand.

2.jpg

He did it! Give him a hand, everybody! No, seriously, give him a hand, he needs one...

The creature destroyed, Tensen manages to get Becky and Arnie out of the cab before it explodes, Hollywood-style, despite his injury. Hoyt was already dead, of course, and Tensen realizes whatever changed Hoyt did so while he was in the men's room, and it's still at the diner. Tensen and Becky run back to the diner, to find the lights out, and everyone who was inside dead, as someone or something didn't want any witnesses regarding Tensen or his talk about Damon Conquest. They then hear a vehicle outside the diner start up, and Tensen runs outside to give chase.

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With a sharp turn of the vehicle, Lolth-worshipping guy manages to dislodge Tensen from the roof, leaving him at the side of the road as he drives away. Tensen is in a bit of shock as realizes that the Wizards of the Winterlands, the eternal foes of the Justice Warriors, were responsible for what has happened this night (having one of his hands disintegrated probably didn't help with the shock). In a bit of a panic as these memories resurface, triggered by what has occurred, he is reassured by Becky's aura remaining pure, even as he passes out.

In Los Angeles, Damon gets a call from his father, summarizing what has just happened (refering to the agent who was responsible for the deaths in the diner and the attack on Tensen as 'the Ninja'). They note that Tensen's injury may heal, although this is in question given that he doesn't remember most of his training, and that his instinct will be to drop out of sight. Damon, who has contacts in the Justice Department, wants to have Becky eliminated to draw Tensen out of hiding, but his father overrules him, saying that she represents a vulnerability that they can exploit. Even disoriented and without many of his memories, he's been tougher to deal with than expected, and he will eventually make his way to L.A. To confront Damon.

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* * *​

This was okay, but despite Tensen's injury, the issue overall feels kind of … slight? There's a little bit of characterization, and one fight sequence, and that's pretty much it.

Pitt's death strikes me as a mistake. Having someone opposed to Tensen, that he can't just kill because he's actually a good person, could have added some extra tension to the narrative.
 

Ralph Dula

Fighter of Fungi, Mortal Foe of 5E, Possibly a Cat
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I totally missed Justice #4, when it came out, and somehow managed to miss the issue numbers at the ones I was looking at, so I read #5 and was very confused at the cross-country journey the first page referenced.
 

Ralph Dula

Fighter of Fungi, Mortal Foe of 5E, Possibly a Cat
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judging by the bidding, I guess Ken does have his fans.
F7B5E03F-CD35-42E3-A10F-90F97977F656.jpeg
 

Tulpa Girl

"Hello, motherf*ckers!"
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As an aside, I know I've been slower about posting in the last few weeks. Work has had more bullshit than it has in the past, which has led to some attempts at job hunting. Hoping to get the next DP 7 readthrough in the next few days.
 
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