Thursday, June 07, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Marvel Super-Heroes #12!


Today's 80-pager brings us some mixed messages: Marvel Super-Heroes #12, Winter 1992 (or January 1993, per the GCD) featuring stories from Kurt Busiek, Dwayne McDuffie, and Roy Thomas; with art by Brian Postman, Marie Severin, and Dave Simons.

We already checked out the Falcon dog-fighting story, and dogfights seem to have slid underground again; although I worry they're still out there.

In "Sins of the Father," a young sorcerer named Augustyne Phyffe comes to Dr. Strange for help. Augustyne's dad hadn't been a bad guy, but betrayed Strange to Baron Mordo. Strange had long since forgiven him, as a "good, but weak" man; and now his son was on a bad path, addicted to "the forbidden mind-expander orphium." (I haven't read enough Dr. Strange to tell you if orphium has shown up before or since.)

Since said orphium has to be smuggled in from other dimensions, Augustyne is trying to score at Strange's. Strange naturally refuses, so the boy offers to trade a magical tome, which turns out to be the cursed Diary of the Aged Genghis. Trying to take the curse off Augustyne, Strange is hit with a mystic bolt, that seems to do more damage than he lets on; and he's left with no choice but to try to unload the book at the "Bazaar at the End of Unreason." Augustyne has to come as well, since the curse won't let Strange take it alone.

Strange makes the analogy that it's like trying to get rid of toxic waste in NYC: you can do it, but you have to find a guy...after a visit to a head skull shop, they may have someone, but a weakened Strange has to deal with young thugs looking to make a name for themselves by offing him, and the curse is turning him into a satyr. (Or something; his foot turns into a hoof.) Augustyne is still chasing that high, even though Strange claims orphium isn't addictive itself.

Amidst a battle a failing Strange might lose, Augustyne pulls himself together, and gives Strange the orphium. Strange, a former alcoholic, had been reluctant to take it; but it gives him the power to beat a young mystic thug. The book disposed of, Augustyne makes a break with orphium, and returns to earth to begin his life anew. I don't know if the message in this one was supposed to be "a drink every so often won't kill you," but here we are.

This issue's final story is an Iron Man tale, "Glitch in the System." This was co-plotted and scripted by Kurt Busiek, a good five years or so before he would get to write Iron Man #1 for Heroes Return. A young hacker--the titular Glitch--is recruited by Spymaster, to hack Iron Man's armor. Which of course leads to Glitch making a costume...because cyberpunk, that's why. (Don't know what cyberpunk was? Well, imagine trying to explain steampunk to your kids. Yeah, same thing.)

Glitch's new gear accidentally gives him the ability to transfer his consciousness to a machine, which he's not especially keen on doing. But, when finally pushed to the edge by Spymaster, he admits he only hacked to prove himself, to see if he could, and not to be a crook. He releases Iron Man, who mops the floor with Spymaster and his men; then sets Glitch up with a job doing computer security for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury. Glitch is pleased as punch, since he's the noble hacker who cracks systems for the same reason a climber tackles Everest, for the personal challenge. I have no idea if such a beast exists in real life, but it's pretty common in fiction, like Lisbeth Salander...and the message here might be, "if you're good enough at causing trouble, you can get a job at it, and all will be forgiven."

Actually, when I started writing this issue up, I thought it featured a different Iron Man story, possibly also by Busiek, with a different mixed message and better plot hook. Another Thursday for that one, I'm afraid.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

A drink(or shot) won't, but Windex will huh Goo? Yesss, twice in one day! Seriously, though talked about a mixed message. it starts off as a kind of anti-drug story, that doesn't beat you over the head, but then you have the ending, and you're like, WTF!? As Ben Franklin excellently put it, "Moderation in everything."

As for the hacker story, thank god is didn't turn into a wikileaks/Julian Asange thing right?

Good post as usual sir.