Friday, 21 September 2018

Fantastic Four 334 - Acts of Vengeance

We now come to Fantastic Four #334, which is the first issue in Walter Simonson's run as writer and the penultimate issue in Rich Buckler's second run as penciller. Starting a run with three crossover issues isn't the most encouraging of circumstances. There's also the problem that the Fantastic Four isn't in the traditional line-up - indeed it's not even a foursome. The Thing has been restored to human form whilst the second Ms Marvel (Sharon Ventura) has been mutated into a She-Thing. There was also a fake Fantastic Four at the end of Steve Englehart's run but Reed Richards suggests that it's not going to impact the team in the long-run.

Fantastic Four #334

Writing: Walter Simonson
Penciling: Rich Buckler
Inking: Romeo Tanghal
Lettering: Bill Oakley
Colouring: George Roussos
Editing: Ralph Macchio
Editing-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Fantastic Four is traditionally a very character-based title with a strong family feel, so it's understandable that a new writer starts off by getting a good grasp of the Five and Franklin Richards rather than plunging straight into action. The only real action sequence comes when Captain America and Thor arrive on the roof only to find the Five are out and the security systems have been changed. Otherwise this is a mostly talky issue as the family discuss everything from a prominent movie to proposed legislation in the US Congress that they've been invited to speak about and the end of the issue sees them journey to Washington to do so in later issues. The inclusion of Captain America and Thor is interesting as they, together with Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, had formed four-fifths of the Avengers line-up (the fifth was Gilgamesh the Forgotten One) that Simonson assembled during his deconstruction and resurrection of the team over on that title, only to move on immediately move on. Although the crossover event makes such appearances more likely, it does hint slightly at where Simonson's early plans lie.

The cover proclaims "the deadliest villains on the universe" but Ben isn't convinced and it's easy to see why. In succession the Constrictor, the Beetle and the Shocker each tries to invade Four Freedoms Plaza only to be immediately captured by the security systems without a need for a fight. It's not yet clear why such a bunch of weak and lame villains have been sent but near the end of the story it appears several more are making their way to Washington, most by public transport, hinting at further developments. Of the lame foes, the Beetle had actually originated in the Human Torch's 1960s solo strip in Strange Tales, but had gone on to be a mainly Spider-Man villain and any case he hasn't previously fought either the rest of the Five or their security systems. The other two are unknown quantities here. Being underwhelming foes who are dealt with before they're even noticed means the issue isn't diverted by fight scenes and can instead concentrate on character building for the future.

But for the scene with Captain America and Thor, this particular issue could easily standalone without needing knowledge of the wider crossover, which must be a relief for the editors of various collected editions. It's a good start to one of the best Fantastic Four runs and also a strong issue that hooks into an event without letting it overwhelm the issue.

Fantastic Four #334 has been reprinted in:

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Captain America 365 - Acts of Vengeance

This is another series which resorted to a lead and back-up strip format, but both tie in with the crossover, with each featuring escaped villains from the Vault and at least one attempt at recruitment made by the mysterious stranger.

Captain America #365

Writer: Mark Gruenwald (all)
Penciler: Kieron Dwyer (main)
Penciler: Mark Bagley (back-up)
Inker: Danny Bulanadi (main)
Inker: Don Hudson (back-up)
Letterer: Jack Morelli (all)
Colourist: Bob Sharen (main)
Colourist: Nel Yomtov (back-up)
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

It's not clear what level the Cobra was being invited for in the back-up story but he simply isn't interested in revenge. Over in the lead, Namor the Submariner is invited to join the central leadership bit has no interest, having abandoned his campaign against the surface world. However the Red Skull is interested and signs up. This gives us our first look at the full list of leaders with the Skull, the Wizard, the Kingpin and Doctor Doom all shown whilst both the Mandarin and Magneto are mentioned (and have been glimpsed in earlier issues). It's a very traditional collection, consisting of the arch-enemies of Captain America, Iron Man, the Human Torch, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, with the Kingpin filling a triple role for Daredevil, the Punisher and being the highest-ranking strategic foe of Spider-Man. This line-up could have been assembled at just about any time since the Silver Age and the absentees from the line-up are highly suggestive. It's also notable that the stranger announces the Red Skull's participation before he actually agrees, a sign that other villains may have signed up to a more speculative than yet achieved version of the alliance.

Both tales deal with the fallout from the escape from the Vault, with the back-up seeing the Cobra discovering that Mr Hyde has escaped and rushing to act before his erstwhile partner achieves revenge. The former sees the Red Skull (well Crossbones does the actual work) pick up the Controller, a traditional Iron Man foe, and send him to the site of the sunken Avengers headquarters to attack Captain America, using Namor the Submariner as his tool. This leads to a quick fight at both sea and on land until Cap spots the control disc on Namor's neck and realises what's happening. The Controller and Captain America had briefly clashed previously in the Captain Marvel/Thanos saga back in the 1970s, but it was a fleeting encounter and, in any case, if there's one hero who can be expected to have looked up just about every known weapon and tool of even villains he hasn't fought, it's Captain America.

With this chapter it feels like the whole "Acts of Vengeance" saga is really coming together but there's a general problem with events being scattered across multiple issues meaning that Captain America is jumping back forth across issues, but at least there's a clear explanation. As we'll see when looking at some future issues, Mark Gruenwald was often the man who stepped in to pull the event towards coherence and deal with some of the particularly odd moments. This issue is from near the middle of his epic run on the series and shows a series in its stride with the main character benefitting from consistency and a developed world.

Captain America #365 has been reprinted in:

Monday, 17 September 2018

Avengers 311 - Acts of Vengeance

We now come to the first issue written by the crossover's originator, John Byrne. Although there are multiple orders around for the crossover and some of the issues already looked at weren't published until after this one, it's still surprising to find so much of the event has already happened before its guiding hand has written their first issue. But then this isn't new - "Inferno" had a lot of build-up by Louise Simonson before Chris Claremont's first issue appeared.

Avengers #311

Artists: Paul Ryan and Tom Palmer
Writer: John Byrne
Colourist: Nelson Yomtov
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Despite Paul Ryan drawing both the cover and the story inside, the former is somewhat misleading as it features the current Avengers team when only Quasar appears in this issue. Instead the Avengers' support crew have to fight off an assault against Hydrobase, the team's current headquarters on an artificial island. Given the speed of the attack and the way that the island itself is targeted one has to wonder why the Avengers chose a base that has proven to be so vulnerable. It's also unclear from this issue (and indeed from the internet) whether the mansion on the island is the original one somehow transplanted from New York. If so then it's a rather ignominious end for the Avengers' original headquarters, destroyed with only the team's newest member and support crew to see it. But then this is from an extended period long considered one of the weakest in Avengers history. Over the course of about sixty issues between the departure of Roger Stern and the permanent arrival of Bob Harras the longest continuous run was Byrne's, at just a dozen issues (plus a plot on the next one) whilst the team line-up went through numerous changes. Bringing the Avengers low fictionally at the same time feels quite appropriate.

The assault comes from a squad of robots sent by one of the leading villains but for some strange reason the two of them shown here have their identities hidden. We've already seen some of the them without shadows and a leading villain who wears a green cloak, has a lot of scientific expertise, has lost a kingdom and is addressed as "Doctor" isn't exactly the hardest mystery villain to guess. Either the creative team aren't all singing from the same hymn sheet or else this is a homage to the paper-thin mysteries of the Silver Age. Dialogue here about many heroes having already been attacked confirms that this isn't a placing error and indeed just about all the full chronologies of "Acts of Vengeance" have issues showing at least some of the leaders before this one, so the mystery feels rather pointless. The green cloaked figure's co-conspirator's blue armour may not be as widely known but it also doesn't hide the identity from anyone who has seen it before. Meanwhile the mysterious strange who recruited the leaders of the conspiracy is shown in a setting that's somewhat suggestive of his identity, but it's probably best to wait for a full meeting of the leaders to discuss that.

As the first major part of the crossover this issue really should be doing more to anchor the overall narrative and introduce the set-up. Instead it feels like a middle chapter of an event which leaves the structure weakened. This also contains one of the biggest acts of destruction in the whole event and it's understandable that the attack happens whilst most of the Avengers are tied up elsewhere, but it might have been better to wait to first show them all caught up rather than making their absence here implied. All in all this is a stuttering start to the event.

Avengers #311 has been reprinted in:

Friday, 14 September 2018

Web of Spider-Man 59 - Acts of Vengeance

The problem of finding villains who haven't fought Spider-Man recurs in this issue, though here there is explicit acknowledgement that Spider-Man and Titania have fought before in Secret Wars, although not their subsequent encounter a few years later. But it makes a mockery of Doctor Doom's claim that Spider is "a less-familiar opponent - against whom you will be equally fresh, unsuspected and irresistible."

Web of Spider-Man #59

Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciler: Alex Saviuk
Inker: Keith Williams
Letterer: Rick Parker
Colourist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Rather this issue sees Titania again trying to overcome her irrational fear of Spider-Man that has made it difficult for her to beat him on previous occasions. It's also interesting that this time round it's Doctor Doom who sends a foe after Spider-Man, after the Kingpin and the Wizard dispatched Graviton and Paste-Pot Pete the Trapster in earlier issues. Maybe the leaders of the alliance are rotating who takes charge of dealing with a particular foe or maybe there's a taxi-rank principle that sees the next one available step in. But also Spider-Man's new powers have already attracted Doom's attention and he seems personally interested, suggesting the alliance leaders are not quite all working for the same ends.

Meanwhile the Daily Bugle has been making itself even more of a target since it was brought out by Thomas Fireheart, aka Puma, as part of his attempt to repay a debt of honour to Spider-Man, with the result that it is now running ridiculously pro-Spider-Man coverage and this makes Doom suggest it as the best target to draw the wall-crawler out. The eventual battle is rather disappointing, with the complications of Puma intervening, Spider-Man still struggling with his enhanced senses and Titania being unknowingly boosted by one of Doom's devices. As a result Spider-Man comes across as confused and clumsy, only winning through because of his new powers and ultimately lashing out in a rage.

This issue is from about a year into Gerry Conway's run on the title and two from Alex Saviuk, bringing a stability it had previously lacked but there's still a real sense that this is one Spider-Man title too many, existing purely for the sake of having a third title on the stands. It also means that Spider-Man's new powers are being developed at a frankly tedious pace. Historically it was actually quite unusual for the different Spider-Man titles to run the same story at this stage - including three sets of annuals this is only the eighth time it had happened and five of those (including two sets of annuals) were part of wider Marvel crossovers. Perhaps it would have been better to allow each series to handle the concept in its own way rather than putting them all together for such an extended length.

Web of Spider-Man #59  has been reprinted in:

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Dr Strange Sorcerer Supreme 13 - Acts of Vengeance

The final Dr Strange issue of the crossover is once again divided in two.

Dr Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #13

Writer: Roy Thomas (all)
Writer: Dann Thomas (main)
Writers: Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier (back-up)
Artist: Jackson Guice (main)
Artists: David Day and Dan Day (back-up)
Lettering: Janice Chiang and Michael Heisler (main)
Lettering: Joe Rosen (back-up)
Colours: Max Scheele  Tom Vincent (all)
Assistant Editor: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The back-up story is a further chapter from "The Book of the Vishanti", continuing the story of the Darkhold and the Montesis guarding it, along with the rise of both the Ancient One and Dracula. It feels a more coherent piece than the previous chapter, not least because of the easily recognisable elements of the existing mythology.

The lead story follows on from the previous issue and sees the Enchantress force Arkon, the ruler from another dimension, to attack Doctor Strange. Arkon is additionally motivated by a desire to make Clea his queen, allowing him to add the Dark Dimension to his realms as well. This leads to a somewhat unlikely hand to hand duel with Doctor Strange, who has never been much of a physical fighter and although his survival is explained at the end it just seems bizarre that he would ever agree to such a fight. Much of this issue, and indeed the previous one, has focused on the strength of the relationship between Stephen and his wife Clea even though they are usually dimensions apart. Each faces an alternate admirer of a kind and each rushes to the defence of the other in their own ways.

Arkon's motivations are also easily understood - he's two stages removed from the central "Acts of Vengeance" conspiracy and thus isn't motivated by that at all but rather simply by the fact the Enchantress has stolen his thunderbolts that can get him home. Still it solves the general problem of finding foes who can present a sufficiently powerful challenge to Doctor Strange and at the same time come under the direction of a conspiracy of distinctly mortal villains.

Overall this is an uptick after the previous issue but not the most dynamic and there's increasingly a sense that this is a series that wants to hurry up and finish its part in the crossover and then get back to telling its own stories. It's a reminder that with such a sweeping event not every creator is always enthusiastic all of the time.

Dr Strange Sorcerer Supreme #13 has been reprinted in:

Monday, 10 September 2018

Dr Strange Sorcerer Supreme 12 - Acts of Vengeance

One of the unfortunate things about this sort of crossover is that it's often better to read several issues of a particular title in close proximity rather than leaping backwards and forwards. Just about every order I've seen for "Acts of Vengeance" does this for at least some issues.

Dr Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #12

Writer: Roy Thomas (all)
Writer: Dann Thomas (main)
Writers: Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier (back-up)
Artist: Jackson Guice (main)
Artists: David Day and Dan Day,
Lettering: Janice Chiang (main)
Lettering: Joe Rosen (back-up)
Colours: Gregory Wright (all)
Assistant Editor: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Once again, we have an issue of the series with the cover lacking the full title. And once again we have a breach of the crossover's premise, as Doctor Strange has encountered the Enchantress before and acknowledges it. (For those wondering where, they clashed in Defenders #4, which introduced the Valkyrie, and again in Defenders #107 to #109, which set out to untangle the mess of the Valkyrie's continuity.) With Doctor Strange having been the anchor for the original Defenders, who in turn battled many a magical and mythical entity, it does become a problem finding existing villains on his power level who can be sent against him for the first time.

The story itself is pretty straightforward, with the Enchantress seeking to seduce Doctor Strange to steal his magic but Strange's disciple Rintrah does everything he can to protect his master. The Enchantress's motives are believable and she's often been shown to partake in various mortal criminal endeavours (most notably the Masters of Evil) when she can secure her own ends in the process. The presence of the Executioner may surprise many as he had died by this point, but a suitable explanation is given. Otherwise this is a relatively quick character piece that helps develop both Rintrah and Clea, Strange's wife, without doing too much wider in the broad scheme of things.

There's also a back-up story, another chapter of "The Book of the Vishanti", telling here how the Darkhold scrolls came under the protection of the Roman Catholic Church and specifically the Montesi dynasty. It's not as compelling as the previous chapter and on the last few pages the story seems to realise its dullness so resorts to recapping how the Darkhold contains the spells that could clear the Earth of all vampires for good and how the latter tried to get hold of it.

All in all this a rather dull entry in the overall crossover and suggests that perhaps not every issue of every month needed to be given over to it (and indeed we'll see some series which only have one or two entries). The fact that it resorts to a villain Strange has encountered before just adds to the padding nature of it.

Dr Strange Sorcerer Supreme #12 has been reprinted in:

Friday, 7 September 2018

Spectacular Spider-Man 158 - Acts of Vengeance

We come now to one of the biggest moments in comic science since a spider decided to wander around a radiation experiment.

Spectacular Spider-Man #158

Writer: Gerry Conway
Breakdowns: Sal Buscema
Finishes: Mike Esposito
Colourist: Bob Sharen
Letterer: Rick Parker
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Okay since he appears on the cover, let's tackle the first problem with this story. Spider-Man has fought the Trapster before, including in this series (#42), three times as part of the Frightful Four and once solo. And both Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema were present for one of those encounters (Marvel Team-Up #2 and #58 respectively). But then it is particularly difficult to find villains that Spider-Man hasn't encountered before, given his multiple titles, former team-up book and many guest appearances have meant he's been around the Marvel universe far more than just about any other hero.

However this isn't the only continuity error that sticks out here. Although much of the chronology of "Acts of Vengeance" is debatable, the three Spider-Man books have a clear order as established by previous crossovers (which have been surprisingly few; it wasn't until 1993 that the Spider-Man books began routinely running multi-part storylines across each other). Thus it's strange to see the Kingpin here recruited to the central alliance (otherwise so far consisting of Doctor Doom, Magneto and the Wizard) when in Amazing Spider-Man #326 he was said to be the one who sent Graviton to deal with Spider-Man and thus already a part of the scheme. This lack of co-ordination within the Spider-Man office is not a good sign and more broadly there will be a number of questions about the order of involvement of the leaders of the alliance and their various hidden motivations. Now is not the best time to discuss the presence of Magneto as he's not a major presence in this issue and there are ones coming up that are more appropriate, but overall it's an interesting start to the scheme by bringing together three major villains plus a has-been like the Wizard.

The Wizard isn't the only one with a poor reputation. The Trapster took on his current name nearly a quarter of a century earlier, but he's never been able to shake off the ridiculous initial one "Paste-Pot Pete", with both Spider-Man and the Kingpin using it. His abilities have also long been mocked yet here he overpowers Spider-Man in the space of just three pages using a mixture of paste and grease. He's been specifically picked by the Wizard so it's understandable that he's gone in with weapons to overcome Spider-Man's ability to stick to walls, yet it's an astonishingly quick and one sided encounter, with no real distractions to explain how Spider-Man can be taken down so easily. This is the problem with deliberate defeats to set up subsequent encounters and it stands out the more when the foe comes with all the baggage of an acknowledged loser that the Trapster has.

But this is only a prelude to a major transformation. Doing some work in a science lab, Peter Parker gets exposed to an energy burst which enhances his sense and powers. He becomes invulnerable to electricity, starts generating giant sized hands made of webs, fires energy bolts from his fingers and can sense just about everything for miles until he gets that under control. It's an interesting step-up in his power levels and leaves Spider-Man scared of what the consequences might be. For a crossover event in which the balance of power is going to be deliberately altered, it's actually quite appropriate for one of the heroes to be suddenly more powerful than usual, making the encounters more unique which is handy given the already mentioned limitations of finding foes Spider-Man hasn't fought before.

This issue also briefly touches on the later stages of one of the more bizarre Spider-Man stories from the period where Joe "Robbie" Robertson was sent to jail for not having reported a crime when he was a young reporter. The problem with the story has always been the absurdity that a witness gets jailed for being intimidated into silence. The judge may have been corrupt but a judge is not the whole system and it shouldn't have to take a presidential pardon for such an absurdity to be overcome.

Overall though this is a fairly solid issue that brings some local mysteries alongside the wider event, helped by some always spectacular artwork.

Spectacular Spider-Man #158  has been reprinted in:

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Dr Strange Sorcerer Supreme 11 - Acts of Vengeance

The title on the cover of this issue is a little confusing as the phrase "Sorcerer Supreme" is missing; nevertheless this is part of the series's full title (and hence causes a lot of confusion for people trying to navigate the various different Doctor Strange series). Back in the day further confusion was caused by this series being a direct market only one, allowing it a higher price tag, artwork right up to the edges and fewer adverts, but at the cost of a lesser prominence. In universe, the lead character would no doubt like such a lower profile.

Dr Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #11

Writer: Roy Thomas (all)
Writer: Dann Thomas (main)
Writers: Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier (back-up)
Artist: Jackson Guice (main)
Artists: David Day and Dan Day,
Lettering: Janice Chiang (main)
Lettering: Joe Rosen (back-up)
Colours: Tom Vincent (all)
Assistant Editor: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The issue focuses on Doctor Strange first trying to deal with the consequences of his younger brother having become a vampire, including a flashback detailing Stephen's dirty secret about how he neglected his family, leading to Victor's death. The problem is that this is a very awkward addition to the hero's backstory. As he himself admits, the accident that killed his brother didn't lead him to remorse about his attitude, and instead he paid to have his brother's body cryogenically preserved, paid for by a trust fund that wasn't affected by his later descent into alcoholism. The idea that a top surgeon would put his faith in the possibility his brother could one day be brought back to life, or even just pretend as a way to avoid his guilt, doesn't ring true. Nor does the idea that Stephen was careful enough with his finances to ring-fence the arrangements to keep Victor on ice, yet drank everything else away after the accident that ruined his hands. The result is a bodged continuity implant that in the long run can only really be justified if something sufficiently interesting is done with Victor.

The other part of the story focuses on a sensational biography of Doctor Strange recently written by Morgana Blessing, leading to both author and subject winding up on a late evening chat show with Strange hoping to be dismissed as a fake and have the attention disappear. The tactics of the show in getting both guests onto the set are somewhat dubious as is the instant publicity, but this is the hook to draw in the villain of the piece, the Hobgoblin. This is the second Hobgoblin, widely dismissed by other characters, writers and readers as a joke sullying the Goblin legacy, and recently he received a curious power upgrade during "Inferno" when he was given demonic powers that also transformed his appearance. As a result he is now a stronger match for the magician than the latter assumes, able to evade a number of the spells. However he's true to his mercenary roots, having been sent by Doctor Doom to dispose of Strange, and the resulting battle feels more balanced than it might otherwise have been. It also has some consequences for the fall out from Blessing's biography. As a result the wider crossover easily fits into the ongoing flow of events without any significant disruption to the ongoing flow of the series, instead enhancing it.

There's also a back-up story, "The Book of the Vishanti: The Curse of the Darkhold Part III - Dawn of Blood". This is another piece of mythology building and refining that explains some of the key mystical forces and books through the ages. It's a decent piece but, as is often the case with these sorts of back-ups, it has no bearing on the main strip.

Dr Strange Sorcerer Supreme #11 has been reprinted in:

Monday, 3 September 2018

Amazing Spider-Man 326 - Acts of Vengeance

The main appeal of "Acts of Vengeance" is that it pitches heroes against villains they've never fought before. But in some cases that may be a little difficult to arrange. At this point Spider-Man had had three ongoing titles for over a decade, as well as many more guest appearances. And that presents a strong challenge to the writers to find qualifying villains.

Amazing Spider-Man #326

Writer: David Michelinie
Penciler: Colleen Doran
Inker: Andy Mushynsky
Letterer: Rick Parker
Colourist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As we'll see, this is from a slight period of flux on the art side of the title, with Todd McFarlane leaving and Erik Larsen coming in but it's not a clean-cut changeover with no two consecutive issues between #323 & #329 handled by the same penciller as Larsen steadily takes over from McFarlane, with this issue drawn by a filling-in Colleen Doran.

This issue comes early in Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane, a subject that has consumed great debate over the years and led to many deeply controversial stories as writers tried to undo it. So it's of particular notice here that the Spider-writers of the late 1980s had solved the "problem" of Mary Jane being a high-flying supermodel by getting her effectively blacklisted in the industry due to a vendetta by an obsessive stalker. Instead this issue sees her securing a job as an actress in a soap opera and also her and Peter's flat warming party in the loft of Harry Osborn's building. It's a way of bringing her down to earth and making the marriage more equal, something that writers in other periods often forgot.

Otherwise this issue sees Graviton seeking to battle Spider-Man at the behest of the Kingpin. We've yet to see the central scheme in action, but already the heroes are being targeted. At this point Graviton has mainly appeared in the Avengers titles, with a few side appearances in the likes of Fantastic Four and Thor, so he's a genuinely unknown quantity for dealing with Spider-Man. Even Graviton is surprised at the idea that the Kingpin will sort out revenge on the Avengers in trade for this, but given Spider-Man's ingenuity it's perhaps natural to deploy such a powerful foe. More surprising is that the Kingpin has realised that targeting the Daily Bugle building is an easy way to draw out Spider-Man, suggesting he might want to work on shoring up his secret identity. But the result is Graviton attacks the building and then rapidly defeats Spider-Man, leaving him in a pile of rubble.

It's a straightforward tale that shows how the overall idea of Acts of Vengeance can potentially work, at least against the less powerful foes and also how the crossover can easily fit in a title's ongoing subplots so long as they're reasonably explained.

Amazing Spider-Man #326 has been reprinted in:

Saturday, 1 September 2018

New Mutants 83 - Acts of Vengeance

Here's an additional issue that isn't billed as part of the crossover or collected with it, but does a little preparation. This issue was published on the same day as Avengers Spotlight #26 and Amazing Spider-Man #326 so could have just as easily carried an "Acts of Vengeance" banner. As we'll see, this is as involved in the crossover as the next two issues which do. It even references the breakout at the Vault. However it's not offering itself to the world as part of the crossover and nor does it seem to have been collected as such.

New Mutants #83

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Bret Blevins
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colourist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

This issue, the last of Bret Blevins's run, contains just a couple of pages towards the big event, starting to set things up for a future issue. Rusty Collins is in a regular prison and learns of the Vault breakout from a paper when another prisoner is brought in, the Vulture. Widely taunted by the guards and other prisoners, the old man declares he will show them all and is inspired to seek help from Nitro whom he sees a report about. This is quite a quick little scene that serves to establish the characters for a later story.

The rest of the issue continues the New Mutants' long-running adventures in Asgard. Since the next issue is the first with a banner it's more appropriate to discuss this storyline there as this, presumably, was not intended to be read by readers coming in just for the crossover.

Overall the prison scene here is a straightforward piece that can help understanding the events in the next two issues, but this isn't something to search high and low for.

New Mutants #83 has been reprinted in:
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