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Preview: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #264

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #264

Larry Hama (w) • Netho Diaz (a & c)

G.I. Joe battles for justice, liberty, and freedom around the globe, and with the evil terrorist organization known as Cobra slithering around every corner, the stakes have never been higher! Living Legend Larry Hama and superstar artist Netho Diaz continue the latest explosive arc of… G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #264

There’s 14 New Digital Comics to Choose from on ComiXology

Today’s a rather packed Thursday for comiXology with 14 new comics to choose from. You can get new comics from Marvel, Yen Press, Harlequin, Les Humanoïdes Associés, and Humanoids. Start shopping now or check out the issues below!

Barbarella: Intégrale numérique

Written by Jean-Claude Forest
Art by Jean-Claude Forest
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Les aventures de l’affriolante Barbarella, terrienne en exil qui explore les planètes les plus éloignées de la galaxie. 1 VOLUME PARU – HISTOIRES INDÉPENDANTES. L’oeuvre mythique des années 60 enfin rééditée ! Créée en 1964, Barbarella bouleverse le monde de la bande dessinée et scandalise dès sa parution. Fer de lance de la bande dessinée adulte et de genre, l’oeuvre est censurée. À l’heure de la libération sexuelle, les traits sensuels et l’érotisme que dégage l’héroïne éponyme ne laissent en effet aucun lecteur indifférent. L’image de la femme dans la bande dessinée, jusqu’alors le plus souvent cantonnée à des rôles de figurante asexuée, explose donc avec Barbarella, qui ouvre la voie vers une bande dessinée adulte et libérée. Rapidement devenu une référence, l’oeuvre était introuvable depuis de nombreuses années.

Barbarella: Intégrale numérique

Captain America Vol. 3: Ice

Written by Chuck Austen, John Ney Rieber
Art by Jae Lee
Cover by John Cassaday
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Collects Captain America (2002) #12-16.

For decades World War 2 super-soldier Captain America lay in frozen suspended animation, encased in ice, until he was revived in the modern world to again take his post as protector of the Red, White and Blue. But when a mysterious package arrives at his door and he crosses paths with a shadowy new villain named The Interrogator, Captain America learns everything about his past, his memories, and himself may not be what it seems!

Captain America Vol. 3: Ice

Captain America Vol. 4: Captain America Lives Again

Written by Dave Gibbons
Art by Lee Weeks
Cover by Gene Ha
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Collects Captain America (2002) #17-20, Tales of Suspense #66.

WATCHMEN’s Dave Gibbons writes this special story in classic Cap fashion – featuring two-fisted adventure, wall-to-wall action and scheming Nazis! Captain America finds himself in a nightmare New York City renamed “New Berlin,” following the Nazis victory in WWII. Joining brave resistance fighters with strange but familiar faces like Ben Grimm, Peter Parker and Professor Reed Richards, Cap must find out how history has been altered and the world changed from everything he once knew to everything he’s fought against, and what does the Nazis’ mysterious & terrifying ultimate weapon have to do with it?

Captain America Vol. 4: Captain America Lives Again

Captain America Vol. 5: Homeland

Written by Robert Morales
Art by Chris Bachalo
Cover by Dave Johnson
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Collects Captain America (2002) #21-28.

In a story ripped from today’s headlines, the U.S. government taps Cap to embark on what might be his most life-changing mission ever – to serve on a military tribunal being held for a foreign antiwar activist charged with supporting terrorist actions against the U.S.! Cap’s involvement leads him to discover the existence of militant fringe groups planning a legislative overthrow of the United States government. But an even more startling discovery for this true American patriot is millions of disenfranchised citizens who feel abandoned and neglected by both major political parties.

Captain America Vol. 5: Homeland

Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Nothing To Lose

Written by Peter David
Art by ChrisCross, Paco Medina, Ivan Reis
Cover by ChrisCross
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Collects Captain Marvel (2002) #1-6.

He is the son of Mar-Vell, once the greatest warrior the galaxy had ever known. Spawned in a test tube and prematurely aged to maturity, Genis now struggles to fill the boots of his late father–the boots of Captain Marvel. Therein lies the problem. For Genis has inherited his father’s greatest gift, the ability of Cosmic Awareness, a oneness with the universe that allows him to know what will happen, what may happen, and what should happen to every living thing in the universe. You might think such knowledge would drive a person mad… and you’d be right.

Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Nothing To Lose

Crusades: Intégrale numérique

Written by Izu, Nikolavitch
Art by Zhang Xiaoyu
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Une plongée stupéfiante au temps des croisades, avec cette aventure qui mêle science-fiction, horreur et histoire. 1 VOLUME PARU – HISTOIRES INDÉPENDANTES. Vingt-cinq ans ont passé depuis l’échec de la Cinquième Croisade, anéantie par la peste en 1221. Guillaume de Sonnac, Chevalier du Temple, enquête au sein d’une Commission créée par le Pape Grégoire IX, sur les raisons réelles de l’échec des Croisés. Tout le porte à croire en effet que cette histoire de peste n’a été qu’un écran de fumée, destiné à dissimuler un drame auquel semblent mêlées d’étranges et dangereuses créatures tapies dans les catacombes de la cité. Pour percer le secret de ces « spectres aux yeux d’argent », Guillaume de Sonnac réunit quelques hommes de confiance. Ils vont découvrir une vérité qui dépassera de très loin leurs suppositions les plus folles et leurs craintes les plus irraisonnées.

Crusades: Intégrale numérique

Goblin Slayer #58

Written by Kumo Kagyu
Art by Kousuke Kurose
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This series is rated Adults Only
DISCLAIMER: graphic sexuality gore

Priestess and Wizard Boy (reluctantly) agree to team up, and a party of adventurers meet a nasty surprise… Read the next chapter of Goblin Slayer the same day as Japan!

Goblin Slayer #58

Le patron célibataire

Written by Pamela Ingrahm
Art by Masaru Urakawa
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Madalyn est une mère célibataire en recherche d’emploi. C’est Philip, le patron qui lui fait passer son premier entretien d’embauche. Un entretien avec le patron lui-même ! Face à son CV et son envie d’en découdre, Philip embauche Madalyn comme secrétaire personnelle. Il a beau avoir des allures de prince, au travail c’est un vrai démon. Il a tout de même des petites attentions pour Madalyn, qui fait de son mieux pour travailler et élever sa fille. C’est ce caractère doux, en plus de son apparence séduisante, qui va faire chavirer le coeur de Madalyn, qui ne connait pas la vraie raison de son embauche…

Le patron célibataire

Rendezvous With Revenge

Written by Miranda Lee
Art by Mayu Takayama
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Abby works as a receptionist at a clinic for an orthopedic surgeon named Ethan. Being betrayed by a former lover has given her a distrust towards men, but for some reason, Ethan also holds a disgust towards women. One day, he asks her to accompany her on a trip…and offers to pay her to pretend to be his lover. Without thinking, she instinctively turns him down. However, something unforeseen happens. Her beloved teacher is the victim of a robbery and has lost a huge sum of money. Her desire to help leads her to her decision. She will accept Ethan’s offer. She never thought that she would have her heart stolen once again…

Rendezvous With Revenge

Hinowa ga CRUSH! #40

Written by Takahiro
Art by Strelka
Purchase

This series is rated Adults Only
DISCLAIMER: graphic sexuality

Hinowa’s best efforts to recruit Rugyou aren’t going well. Will she be able to find the key to persuade him…? Read the next chapter of Hinowa ga CRUSH! the same day as Japan!

Hinowa ga CRUSH! #40

Jaemon: Intégrale numérique

Written by Alain Paris
Art by Notaro, Val, Saverio Tenuta
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Une saga d’héroic fantasy dans le territoire mythique d’Antarcie, avant la période glaciaire. 1 VOLUME PARU – HISTOIRES INDÉPENDANTES. Douze mille ans avant notre ère, sur le continent Antarctique encore libre de glaces, une civilisation florissante, à la fois barbare et raffinée est soumise aux règles de la magie. Jaemon, le bâtard du roi et d’une favorite, porte la Marque des Atlantes. Lorsque la Première Dame le condamne à mort, un étrange personnage, Sozer, déjoue le complot et emporte l’enfant…. L’ALBUM : L’intégrale de la série, en édition limitée et à prix réduit, à l’occasion des 40 ans des Humanoïdes Associés.

Jaemon: Intégrale numérique

L’Autoroute sauvage: Intégrale numérique

Written by Mathieu Masmondet
Art by Zhang Xiaoyu
Colored by Zhang Xiaoyu
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Pour survivre aux dangers de la France post-apocalyptique, Mo a fait le choix de voyager. Seul. Mais sa route croise celle d’Hélène, une jeune femme qui cherche à atteindre Paris…. 1 VOLUME PARU – HISTOIRES INDÉPENDANTES. Le monde d’aujourd’hui n’est plus. Au milieu des décombres de notre époque, les hommes évoluent dans un environnement sauvage et menaçant, où la survie a pris le pas sur l’humanité. Certains forment de petites communautés, on les appelle les Groupés. Les autres suivent leurs chemins seuls et prennent le nom de Solitaires. C’est le cas de Mo, imposant et taciturne, qui parcourt l’autoroute au rythme des saisons. Lorsque celui-ci sauve Hélène d’une bande de pillards, tous deux poursuivent leur route ensemble, unissant leurs destinées….

L'Autoroute sauvage: Intégrale numérique

Monsieur Jean Vol. 1: Love and Concierge

Written by Charles Berberian, Philippe Dupuy
Art by Charles Berberian, Philippe Dupuy
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The charming and humorous adventures of a handsome Parisian novelist, as recounted with a uniquely European sensibility. PUBLICATION IN 5 VOLUMES – COMPLETED WORK. Monsieur Jean is a young writer whose everyday life and its inescapable existential woes are comedically told by the talented team of Dupuy & Berberian, winners of the 2008 Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême. Whether it’s the unexpected visit of an old friend, a trip to his in-laws, the arrival of a child, the frustrations of writer’s block, or even dealing with his moody landlady, Monsieur Jean’s life and times all share a tenderness and a dash of irony. A series full of the nostalgia and droll absurdity that invariably come with adulthood.

Monsieur Jean Vol. 1: Love and Concierge

Monsieur Jean Vol. 2: Insomnia

Written by Charles Berberian, Philippe Dupuy
Art by Charles Berberian, Philippe Dupuy
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The charming and humorous adventures of a handsome Parisian novelist, as recounted with a uniquely European sensibility. PUBLICATION IN 5 VOLUMES – COMPLETED WORK. Monsieur Jean is a young writer whose everyday life and its inescapable existential woes are comedically told by the talented team of Dupuy & Berberian, winners of the 2008 Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême. Whether it’s the unexpected visit of an old friend, a trip to his in-laws, the arrival of a child, the frustrations of writer’s block, or even dealing with his moody landlady, Monsieur Jean’s life and times all share a tenderness and a dash of irony. A series full of the nostalgia and droll absurdity that invariably come with adulthood.

Monsieur Jean Vol. 2: Insomnia

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TV Review: The Mandalorian S2E7 “Chapter 15: The Believer”

The penultimate episode of The Mandalorian Season 2 does do its job and sets up the final confrontation between Mando and Moff Gideon. However, “Chapter 15: The Believer” is also a damn good anti-imperialist, anti-fascist heist story from writer/director Rick Famuyiwa. Famuyiwa is most well known for his 2015 indie dramedy Dope, but he also directed “Chapter 6: The Prisoner” from the previous season of The Mandalorian that was about a heist go wrong and introduced the ex-Imperial sharpshooter and general smartass/asshole Mayfeld (Bill Burr). This episode acts as a companion to that episode and continues/wraps up Mayfeld’s arc while also kind of being a heist gone right story. It definitely seems more like a Mandalorian Season 1 episode with more of a focus on what life is like after the fall of the Empire and during the rise of the New Republic instead of adding Jedi/animated series lore even though Boba Fett is one hell of a getaway driver.

Famuyiwa kicks off “The Believer” with some grim, handheld shots of prisoners doing the equivalent of turning big rocks into smaller rocks, which is making TIE fighter wrecks into smaller wrecks. Without a word of explanation, Cara Dune uses her powers as a Marshal of the New Republic to recruit Mayfeld to help find Moff Gideon’s ship where Grogu is being held because he still has Imperial credentials. Not much can be worse than Mayfeld’s current situation, but it gets worse when he sees he’ll be on this mission with Mando, who left him to be arrested by the New Republic in the previous season. The crew of Dune, Mando, Mayfeld, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand go to the mining planet of Morak, which has an Imperial base and more importantly an Imperial terminal where Mayfeld can find the location of Gideon’s cruiser.

What follows is a typical heist setup with Mando and Mayfeld hijacking a mining vehicle carrying rhydonium, an explosive mineral used to make weapons of mass destruction while Cara Dune and Fennec provide sniper support and Boba Fett and Slave I stand by for extraction. Even though they hate each other, Mando ends up riding in the vehicle with Mayfeld because he’s the only crew member not wanted by the Imperial Security Bureau. (Or the template for Clone troopers in a wryly delivered line from Temuera Morrison.) What follows is a study in microaggressions as Burr (Honestly playing himself.) gives Mando crap for taking off his Beskar armor and replacing it with Shoretrooper armor, talking about how the New Republic and Empire are basically the same for most folks in the galaxy. Famuyiwa drives this point home by having a long, lingering shot of the indigenous inhabitants of Morak and reminding viewers that despite all the corporatization and IP strip mining, Star Wars is a really a story about imperialism and interventionism with five of the six George Lucas films coming out during the Cold War and War on Terror.

The Mandalorian Chapter 15: The Believer

But Rick Famuyiwa also knows when to make Mayfeld shut the hell up as he does Speed with a Star Wars spin. If Mayfeld drives too fast (He’s definitely one of those guys who always goes 20 over on the highway.), the rhydonium goes boom. Plus there are pirates with thermal detonators, and Mando’s Imperial-made blaster runs out of bolts pretty quickly so he has to use his spear fighting and close combat skills to ward them off. Thankfully (?), some Imperial TIE fighters and stormtroopers finish off the remaining pirates, and Mando and Mayfeld are greeted with cheers by the garrison. All they have to do is go to the terminal in the officer Easy, peasy, pumpkin pie.

But, of course, it’s not that easy as Mayfeld recognizes his old commanding officer, Valin Hess (A frightening Richard Brake) in the mess hall. So, Mando ends up sacrificing his personal beliefs for the greater good of rescuing Grogu and removes his helmet so the terminal will work and get the information on Gideon’s ship. This is followed by a really gross interaction with Hess, who doesn’t recognize Mayfeld, and tries to make Mando say his Stormtrooper callsign. However, they end up getting drinks thanks to their transport being the only one to get through that day. There is more discomfort as Mayfeld basically grows a spine and confronts Hess for his actions that got 10,000 Imperial soldiers killed. Hess brushes this off and goes into a fascist diatribe about how people want “order”, not freedom.

This leads to Mayfeld shooting Hess in the head and a really intense fire fight as stealth goes out the window, and there’s a mad scramble to the roof and the extraction point. But this situation allows Fennec, Cara Dune, and especially Boba Fett to demonstrate what cool customers they are as they skillfully take out cannons, troopers, and even a couple TIE fighters in the end. Mayfeld also demonstrates his redemption as he goes from saluting Imperial officers and thinking that “Oh, the Empire wasn’t so bad.” to shooting the rhydonium stores so that the Empire can’t terrorize other planets. This shot leads Dune letting him go free on Morak while everyone else gets ready to confront Moff Gideon.

Helmet on or off, “The Believer” features some of Pedro Pascal‘s best acting of the season as he truly shows the discomfort he feels when he has to take off his Mandalorian armor and helmet. In most situations, he’s quick with a dry one-liner or a blaster, but he is almost speechless in the presence of Hess. Pascal plays against type and is almost anti-charismatic even though he is still quite pretty. He just wants to complete the task and get out of there and has no grasp of Imperial hierarchies and protocols. Thankfully, Mayfeld is there to do what he and Bill Burr do best: talk bullshit. There is a loose, almost improvised manner to the way that Burr delivers his lines about past campaigns and concocts a backstory for Mando being hard of hearing, and it shows that he might just be a little appreciative that Mando stuck his neck out for him to go to the terminal. They’re definitely not buddies, but at the end of the episode, Mayfeld has respect for Mando and his beliefs and practices and even turns his body away from Mando when he puts the Shoretrooper helmet back on.

The scene where the TIE fighters and legions of stormtroopers come in and mow down the pirates is one of the most thought provoking in recent Star Wars memory with Rick Famuyiwa adding to the derangement with a slow tracking shots of salutes, clapping, and back pats as Mando and Mayfeld successfully deliver their cargo of civilian casualty batter. This combined with the Imperial officers basically hanging out in the break room humanizes them and creates a kind of “banality of evil” effect that is quickly ripped to shreds when Hess reminds us that Imperials are truly monsters, who don’t care about things like civilian casualties, only power, order, and control like they have over Morak with their big base and TIE fighters and battalions.

Famuyiwa makes a good parallel between American imperialism and foreign policy and the Empire in “The Believer”. As Slave I descends into Morak, there’s a wide shot that shows it’s a nice little forest planet not unlike our previous indigenous resistance metaphor planet, Endor. However, Morak also has rhydonium (I.e. oil in the Middle East), which makes it valuable to the Empire’s efforts at re-establishing itself so it gets ruled with an iron fist. And it’s also the reason that those shipments keep getting hit. Rick Famuyiwa keeps the personalities of the pirates pretty ambiguous and doesn’t pass judgment on if they’re terrorists or freedom fighters.

This storytelling decision makes sense because ambiguity and grey areas seem to be the status quo of The Mandalorian where devout bounty hunters become father figures who are willing to compromise, mercenaries become cops that are okay with bending the rules occasionally, and Imperial snipers join whatever Morak’s version of #resistance is. It shows humans aren’t fixed in their ways, and that change is truly possible while shedding the Manichaean dualism of the Star Wars original trilogy. “The Believer” explores these dichotomies and contradictions in a suspenseful manner as Famuyiwa creates tension through both dialogue and action. Honestly, I was more stressed (and proud) when Mayfeld was confronting Hess for his actions as a commander during the Galactic Civil War than during the ensuing shoot out, which is basically a style plate for how competent and badass Mando’s crew/found family is, and why Moff Gideon is screwed next episode.

Even though there are no lightsabers, flashy namedroppers, and Boba Fett is just the getaway driver (Which is still pretty damn awesome), Rick Famuyiwa turns in the most thought-provoking and tense episode of The Mandalorian Season 2 yet with “The Believer”. He uses the canvas of the Star Wars universe to comment on fascism and imperialism. He gives Mayfeld a three-dimensional story arc and lands some huge moments for Mando’s journey thanks to a heart-rending and vulnerable performance from Pedro Pascal. Plus he pulls off one hell of a chase scene!

Overall Verdict: 9.2

Today’s New Digital Comics Include Aquaman, Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, and Marvel MAX

ComiXology has seven new digital comics from DC and Marvel for you today. There’s a mix of new and classic comics all available at the touch of a button.

Check out the full list of what’s available or each issue below.

Aquaman: Deep Dives #7

Written by Steve Orlando
Pencils V Ken Marion
Inks Sandu Florea
Colored by Andrew Dalhouse
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The final showdown between Aquaman and Scorpio!

Aquaman: Deep Dives #7

Batman: The Adventures Continue (2020-) #5

Written by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
Pencils Ty Templeton
Inks Ty Templeton
Colored by Monica Kubina
Cover by Joe Quinones
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Deathstroke and Robin face down Firefly, but can the two stand the heat after the firebug gets the upperhand? And who’s hired Deathstroke to take down the Dark Knight?

Batman: The Adventures Continue (2020-) #5

Captain America: Marvel Knights Vol. 1

Written by Chuck Austen, John Ney Rieber
Art by John Cassaday, Trevor Hairsine, Jae Lee
Cover by John Cassaday
Purchase

Collects Captain America (2002) #1-16.

Captain America gets the critically acclaimed Marvel Knights treatment! In the aftermath of 9/11, Captain America – already a man out of time – must adjust once again to a terrifying new global landscape. From the ruins of the World Trade Center to the horrors of a small town rocked by terrorism, the star-spangled super-soldier is forced to consider what it means to be the Sentinel of Liberty in an age of incomprehensible new threats. Meanwhile, the man named Redpath has his own American dream, and he orders his Extremists to cleanse the country by force. Only a true patriot, the living embodiment of the United States, can stop them. But when Captain America uncovers new truths about his decades trapped in the ice, the scale of the conspiracy may bring him to his knees!

Captain America: Marvel Knights Vol. 1

Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 1

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by David Aja, Michael Lark
Cover by Tommy Lee Edwards
Purchase

Collects Daredevil (1998) #82-93.

The critically acclaimed, award-winning creative team of Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark make their explosive debut! For the past few years, Matt Murdock’s life has been teetering on the edge of destruction. Now, pushed beyond the limit, Matt finds himself behind the eight ball with no clear way out, the people he calls friends slowly deserting him, and Hell’s Kitchen gradually slipping out of control. The question is, when his back is against the wall. just how far will Daredevil go to get back what is his? Plus: a special episode focusing on Daredevil’s best friend, Foggy Nelson. Spinning out of the stunning finale of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s ground-breaking run, Brubaker and Lark pick up the billy club and run as hard and as fast as they can to leave their own mark on one of comics’ most enduring legends.

Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 1

Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 2

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Paul Azaceta, Lee Bermejo, Gene Colan, Marko Djurdjevic, Michael Lark, Alex Maleev, John Romita Jr., Bill Sienkiewicz, Lee Weeks
Cover by Marko Djurdjevic
Purchase

Collects Daredevil (1998) #94-105.

Critically acclaimed, award-winning creators Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark continue their explosive run! Everything Matt Murdock thought he’d gotten back teeters on the edge of a precipice, ready to shatter all around him, as he fights a battle on both fronts of his life — in the courtroom and on the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen! And with the post-CIVIL WAR fallout all around him, the price of being Daredevil just got even higher. Nominated for three Eisner Awards: Best Continuing Series, Best Writer and Best Penciler-Inker Team!

Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 2

Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 3

Written by Ed Brubaker, Ann Nocenti, Greg Rucka
Art by David Aja, Paul Azaceta, Michael Lark, Clay Mann, Tonci Zonjic
Cover by Marko Djurdjevic
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Collects Daredevil (1998) #106-119 and #500.

Critically acclaimed, award-winning creators Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark conclude their explosive run! The Hand is back in New York, and Lady Bullseye is in league with them! The Kingpin has also returned, forging a surprising pact with Daredevil to target the ninja cult — but what is the former crime boss’s true plan? Plus: An old friend brings Matt Murdock the last-minute appeal of a Marvel villain sitting on death row. What will he do when confronted with a convicted bad guy who’s completely innocent? Nominated for three Eisner Awards: Best Continuing Series, Best Writer and Best Penciler-Inker Team!

Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 3

Dead of Night Featuring Man-Thing

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by Kano, Brian Denham, Nic Klein, Nick Percival, Javier Saltares
Cover by Kaare Andrews
Purchase

Collects Dead of Night Featuring Man-Thing #1-4.

Biochemist Ted Sallis and his team are on a mission: To recreate the serum that spawned the world’s first super-soldier. But like the swamp itself, there are dangers lurking beneath the surface. Ted’s partner Eric, his girlfriend Ellen, the government, terrorists – everyone wants what Ted has, but what Ted doesn’t realize is that the swamp itself may want him! A radical re-imagining of the Man-Thing’s origin begins here, in a horror-tinged tale narrated by Digger, keeper of the Tower of Shadows!

Dead of Night Featuring Man-Thing

People’s History of the Marvel Universe, Week 20: The (Mutant) Registration Act(s) Analyzed

In his sixteen-year tenure of the X-line, Chris Claremont put his own spin on the mutant metaphor any number of ways, but one of the longest-lasting and most influential has been the idea of a Mutant Registration Act. In the original Days of Future Past storyline, Claremont first mentions the Mutant Control Act passed by a “rabid anti-mutant candidate…elected president,” as a reaction to the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly.

In this issue, Claremont doesn’t mention what the provisions of the Mutant Control Act were, only that they were struck down by the relatively liberal Burger Court, presumably on 14th Amendment Equal Protection grounds. The Supreme Court’s thwarting of populist overreach unfortunately gives rise to the dark future of Earth-811, as the new president authorized Project Wideawake to send the Sentinels to hunt down mutant-kind, only to find that (once again) the Sentinels decide to accomplish this by conquering humanity and installing an apartheid state to root out carriers of the X-gene from the human population.

It’s worth taking a moment to parse the iconography of this populist anti-mutant movement, enshrined in the slogan “America! It’s 1984! Do you know what your children are?” Deliberately evoking the public service announcements that were introduced to back up youth curfews in Los Angeles in the 1960s that asked parents “it’s 10pm: do you know where your children are?,” this line turns the child-centric paranoia of the moral panics of the 1980s like the McMartin day care scandal or the Satanic Panic on their head; instead of children being the threatened object of outside threat, here the children are the subject of threat, the threatening outsider within. Moreover, this line clearly captured the imaginations of Claremont and Marvel editorial, because in X-Men #223 they took the unusual step of reproducing that line in an in-universe advertisement in the issue’s back matter:

This ad is worthy of some close analysis: by displaying an African-American child and an Asian boy alongside two fair-haired white children, the ad’s designers emphasize that mutant status exists on a parallel plane to race. While the mutant metaphor often is used to equate mutancy to real-world minority statuses, here it’s being demonstrated that that metaphor only goes so far. Next, by scrawling the racial slur of “mutie” across the face of an innocent child, the power of anti-mutant bigotry to stir up fear and hatred of even the most innocuous of targets is emphasized. Finally, and most importantly for the purposes of this essay, by having the in-universe commercial be “paid for by citizens in support of The Mutant Registration Act,” the ad’s creators tied together the Mutant Control Act from the dark future of Earth-811 and the Mutant Registration Act introduced by Senator Kelly in the present of the main 616 timeline in the wake of Days of Future Past.

Speaking of which, we see the “Mutant Control Affairs Act” introduced in the final pages of X-Men #181, which features a debate between Senator Kelly and an older, mustachioed Senator. This debate gives us one of the longest discussions of the Mutant Registration Act that Chris Claremont featured in the pages of X-Men.

As we can see from this dialogue, there’s not a lot of detail about concrete provisions of the Mutant Registration Act and, as we’ll see later, this vagueness is a deliberate choice by Claremont to suggest the broad strokes of discrimination while leaving the details up to the individual imagination. We know that Senator Kelly remains as concerned about human supremacy as he was back in Days of Future Past – although the national security angle is new (probably relating to his partnership with the new administration’s Project Wideawake) – and its atomic undertones are oddly reminiscent of Silver Age X-Men. The closest we get to specifics is Senator Phillip’s description of the MRA as not “far removed from legalized slavery.” As I’ll discuss in more detail later in the essay, this seems to be code for provisions relating to a special military draft– reminiscent of how the human supremacist state of Earth-811 used the Hounds to hunt down other mutants – which would have particular resonance only a decade after the end of the Vietnam War.

One piece of specific evidence about the bill that we do get is a half-page panel where John Romita Jr. gives us the title page of the actual legislation:

It’s a particularly ominous sign that the “Mutant Affairs Control Act” is titled as S.1; in both the House and Senate, early numbers in each legislative session are reserved for marquee bills that majority leadership want to highlight as a major priority for that session as a standard bit of legislative public relations. This is an early signal that the Mutant Registration Act will become law despite the best efforts of Senator Phillips and others like him. Another nice little touch is the effort to maintain verisimilitude: the second session of the 98th Congress really did begin on the 23rd of January, 1984, giving the impression that this is all happening in the present – X-Men #181 hit newsstands in early February 1984 – something that Claremont did quite a bit in the days in which Marvel Comics was a bit more “the world outside your window” than sliding timescales.

However, that’s really all we get on the specifics of the Mutant Registration Act. Rather than spend page space laying out the details of fictional legislation, Claremont instead used the Act as a recurring background element that could highlight aspects of characterization and plot development as needed. For example, Claremont used the MRA to emphasize Rachel Summers’ role as a time-traveler from a different future:

As we can see, Claremont is primarily interested in using the Mutant Registration Act as a synecdoche for the dystopian future of Earth-811: in the first panel, Claremont has the news broadcast end the moment as it’s about to describe the “draconian provisions” of the bill, partly because he wants to leave those details up to the reader’s imagination, but mostly because the important thing about this story beat is that the newly-arrived-in-616 Rachel recognizes the proper name of the legislation from her own past, raising the specter that the X-Men’s sacrifice in Days of Future Past failed to avert the Terminator scenario which is inevitably going to come to pass. In the second panel, the psychic impression of Scott Summers merely refers obliquely to “grim bills” without describing what those bills are, because what’s important in this scene is how Rachel associates those bills with a moment of fragile (and ultimately, futile) hope for her childhood, emphasizing the way she feels torn between the hope that the Sentinel takeover has been prevented and the somber realization that this may mean that her birth, and thus her identity as a “real” person, may have been forestalled by the rewriting of the timeline.

More commonly, Claremont used the Mutant Registration Act as a motivating force for plot, animating events across multiple issues, as part of his trademark style of gradually developing stories across years of continuity. In X-Men #158, the pending MRA prompts the X-Men to repent of their days providing information on mutants to the FBI by raiding the Pentagon to purge that data from government computers, thematically drawing a bright line between the more assimilationist politics of the Silver Age X-Men and the more radical direction that Claremont would be taking the book in the 1980s.

While the X-Men are successful in purging their data from Pentagon servers, impeding the efforts of the Federal government to surveil mutant citizens, the resulting melee between the team, Rogue and Mystique, and the U.S military begins the process that sees the X-Men labelled as outlaws by the U.S government – an important transition that Claremont will use to guide the book through the next several years. For example, in #182, Rogue attempts to rescue Colonel Mike Rossi from Hellfire Club double agents on a SHIELD Helicarrier, which gets misinterpreted as an unprovoked assault that prompts an APB[1] from Nick Fury for Rogue’s detention or execution. This then leads to issue #185, where Valerie Cooper and Henry Peter Gyrich – the chief Federal enforcers of the Mutant Registration Act – use the opportunity afforded by the APB to go after Rogue with an experimental weapon designed by Forge that removes mutant powers (inadvertently depowering Storm in the process). In #193, the Hellions provoke an incident at Cheyenne Mountain that leads to a “nation-wide manhunt for the mutants known as the Uncanny X-Men.” In this fashion, the X-Men gradually slide from a standard superhero team (albeit one devoted to protecting a world that hates and fears them) to becoming a group of outlaws, on the run from Federal authorities that is both driven by and acts as further justification for official anti-mutant prejudice.

To the extent that Chris Claremont devoted an entire arc to the Mutant Registration Act, it would come in the 1988 crossover event “Fall of the Mutants.” While the climax of the event is focused on the supernatural – the scheming and intrigue of demons and goddesses, interdimensional portals opening in the skies above Dallas, death and resurrection – one of the major throughlines is the Mutant Registration Act and the Federal government’s efforts to enforce it against the X-Men. It begins with X-Men #206, where the X-Men find themselves the unlikely heroes of San Francisco after having defended the city from Omega Sentinels and the Beyonder. While recuperating from those fights, the X-Men find themselves coming under attack from Freedom Force, a super-powered Federal task force created by Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor Val Cooper[2] to enforce the Mutant Registration Act.

In another sign of how mutant politics were shifting under Claremont’s pen as he moved towards the end of his first decade on the book, Freedom Force was formed out of Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, so that we have a group of former mutant radicals who once staged terrorist attacks on the U.S Capitol turning quisling to protect themselves from human authorities while the X-Men make the transition from former collaborators with the national security state to fugitives living underground. In the ensuing brawl, the X-Men find themselves firmly on the back foot, thanks in no small part to Freedom Force’s cavalier willingness to inflict collateral damage on residential neighborhoods of San Francisco. Ultimately, our heroes are rescued by the unlikely intervention of the San Francisco Police Department, who act to stop the fighting and the property destruction:

Especially in the contemporary context of the late Eighties, this confrontation between agents of the Federal government – visually if not textually identified as the Reagan Administration in X-Men #201 – and officers of the city of San Francisco had real-world political resonance. At this time, the public perception of pre-tech boom San Francisco was that of a center of left-wing politics and especially a center of the gay rights movement and very much diametrically opposed to Reagan’s conservative politics and his administration’s vocal hostility to the LGBT movement during the AIDS epidemic. Notably, here we see Lieutenant Morrel of the SFPD acting as the voice of civil libertarianism, emphasizing the need for warrants, documentation of presidential pardons, and other accoutrements of due process against Freedom Force’s paramilitary flaunting of constitutional rights.

The thread is picked up again in X-Men #223, where once again the X-Men find themselves in San Francisco, where “people here don’t seem to mind the X-Men’s presence – they consider us heroes.” In this issue, we see Freedom Force expanding by drafting the heroes-turned-murderous-vigilantes Super Sabre, Crimson Commando, and Stonewall. During the ceremony where these three receive their presidential pardon, Destiny receives a vision that Rogue and the “X-Men are going to die!” This prompts Mystique to choose further confrontation with the X-Men on the grounds that if Rogue is arrested under the Mutant Registration Act, she won’t go to her prophesied death in Dallas.

In the next issue, we see Val Cooper and Freedom Force return to San Francisco “hunting for X-Men’s scalps,” posing both a physical and political threat to the countercultural heroes of the City by the Golden Gate. We see this most clearly as Valerie Cooper mounts a press conference in front of a damaged San Francisco hospital to announce the formation of Freedom Force and the passage into law of the “Mutant Special Powers Registration Act.”

This sequence is particularly significant because it introduces the parallel between superpowers and handgun licensing – a real-world political analogy that will be alluring for Marvel creators for decades, as we’ll discuss later. Here, though, the handgun issue is treated as a relatively minor element compared to the broader question of civil liberties, and the extended discussion of whether the “good of society, the defense of the many” takes precedence over the rights of the minority. This is a good example of how the mutability of the mutant metaphor continued during the Claremont years; rather than making a more concrete analogy to a real-world minority as he does in other places (such as in “God Loves, Man Kills”), here the “few” whose rights are being curtailed by the Mutant Registration Act could be any minority facing official discrimination from the “many.”

On the following page, we see the impact of Cooper’s speech on the body politic, as a number of patrons of a San Francisco gym where Rogue is exercising debate the issue:

One of the lesser talked about aspects of Chris Claremont’s writing is the skill with which he can quickly sketch background characters to give a picture of the internal life of the “man on the street.” Here, we see a public divided on their attitudes toward the Mutant Registration Act: one man raises the historical parallel of the Holocaust (a frequent thematic angle in Claremont’s writing) to frame the MRA as a potential genocidal threat. His interlocutor denies the threat, distinguishing between racist threats to “normal folks” and the legitimate oppression of “muties,” again showing how Claremont can turn on a dime between leaning on the parallels to real-world bigotry that the mutant metaphor was based on and pointing out the ways in which in-universe minority politics might fail to intersect.[3]

On the next page, we see a disguised Mystique arrive to clandestinely warn Rogue – a sign that Mystique’s participation in Freedom Force is very much an act of personal survival rather than a sign of an ideological shift, as Mystique is very much using the government to further her own interest – that the X-Men are going to die in Dallas, telling her to leave them so that “you won’t share their fate.” As in any proper tragedy, this warning falls on deaf ears as Rogue refuses to abandon her comrades in arms, choosing instead to go with them to Dallas to confront the threat posed by the Adversary. Before they can make it into Forge’s Eagle Plaza tower and their eventual confrontation with the embodiment of cosmic chaos, the X-Men once again find themselves by Freedom Force and the threat of imprisonment under the Mutant Registration Act:

In addition to providing an excuse for super-heroic fisticuffs, the confrontation gives a rare instance where Claremont provides some insight into what the Mutant Registration Act specifically does – clarifying that the MRA criminalizes using mutant powers rather than “simply being born a mutant.” At the same time, Claremont has Havok immediately question the “credibility” of this statement. After all, the Registration Act already criminalizes mutant citizens by forcing even children[4] to register with the government when their human peers don’t have to. Moreover, many mutants have “always on” powers that they don’t have a choice whether to consciously activate or keep hidden, making Mystique’s distinction between the two as one without a difference.

Through their trademark collaborative use of mutant powers, the X-Men manage to fight their way past Freedom Force and into Eagle Plaza, activating the Adversary’s trap which opens an inter-dimensional portal in the skies above Dallas that begins summoning threats from the prehistoric time of dinosaurs all the way to the Wild West of Texas’ past. Witnessed by real-life NPR reporters Neal Conan and Manoli Weatherell, the X-Men answer the call to defend the world from the supernatural threat pouring through this rip in the night sky above Dallas:

This scene shows the continuation of the X-Men franchise’s fascination with the role played by mass media in the propagation of – or challenge to – popular prejudice and mob panics. Here, Conan and Weatherell act as ideal journalists, challenging the statements of Federal authorities and raising uncomfortable questions about Freedom Force’s role in enforcing the Mutant Registration Act against superheroes presently engaged in self-sacrificing defense of civilian communities. More importantly for the purposes of this essay, they amplify the voices of “outlaw mutants” who are otherwise excluded from the mainstream, allowing them to spread an anti-MRI message directly to a mass audience.

And that’s really where the Mutant Registration Act plot line ends in Claremont’s run, with the X-Men dying to save a world that hates and fears them, only to be reborn by the grace of a goddess figure who grants them invisibility from the technological eyes of the surveillance state and transports them to the Australian Outback where they can continue their lives as outlaw heroes free from the efforts of the U.S government to arrest them. It’s a momentous change of status quo for the X-Men themselves, but as regards the MRA itself, there’s not the kind of climax where the reader sees this vile legislation struck down by the Supreme Court (as happened in the Days of Future Past storyline) or repealed by Congress in light of the X-Men’s actions in Dallas (or X-Factor saving New York City from Apocalypse over in their book).

It’s possible that this is intended to be some kind of statement about the possibilities (or lack thereof) of achieving progress for visible minorities in American society. If that’s the case it’s very much a statement that exists in the absence of the text rather than in its presence, because Claremont will move on to new plots that will explore other angles of the mutant metaphor – as we’ll discuss in future installments of the People’s History of the Marvel Universe.

But just because Chris Claremont had tired of the Mutant Registration Act as a theme doesn’t mean that the Marvel Universe was done with the idea. A year after Claremont concluded the “Fall of the Mutants,” his close friend, colleague, and sometimes collaborator Walt Simonson would take up the concept in Fantastic Four #335-6, a two-issue arc devoted to exploring the political implications of Registration Acts in the Marvel Universe:

In these issues, the Fantastic Four travel to Washington D.C to testify in front of a House committee that is holding hearings on a proposal to enact a Superhuman Registration Act. The bulk of the first issue sees the First Family largely sitting in the audience as a series of witnesses testify in front of the committee for and against the legislation. The first to testify before the committee is a “General Neddington,” who’s there to provide the views of the Pentagon:

Here, Walter Simonson makes explicit what we’ve previously seen only alluded to in Claremont’s and  Louise Simonson’s[5] writing – the purpose of the Superhuman Registration Act is to draft superpowered people into the U.S military, not only to defend the country “in times of crisis” but also to ensure U.S dominance in “the balance of military power in the world.” In another example of how Simonson brings political subtext into text, Simonson also has an unnamed black Congressman bring up the real-world racial disparities in military service in the Vietnam War. This history was very much in living memory in 1989 – after all, the military draft had been ended in 1973 and then re-instated quite recently in 1980, when Jimmy Carter had re-instated the requirement to register with the Selective Service Act as a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As we’ll see later, the politics of the draft were very much on Simonson’s mind here.

From Cold War politics and the legacy of the Vietnam War, Simonson takes up another of Claremont’s themes – namely, the parallel between Registration and the licensing of firearms:

Building off what was a passing reference in Claremont’s work, Simonson puts the analogy of gun control front-and-center by having an NRA spokesman testify before the committee. (Simonson shows his research by paraphrasing the National Rifle Association’s catchphrase that “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”) Here, the NRA are an interested party because they believe that the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms applies to superpowers as well as firearms. By extension, the NRA sees a Federal attempt to register superpowered Americans as the “first step on the road to an eventual ban on superpowers” – and logically fears that the same thing might happen to gun owners – just as the real-world NRA catastrophizes modest efforts at gun control as mass confiscation.

Having a notably partisan conservative organization like the NRA testify on behalf of the Fantastic Four must have produced a certain amount of tension for both Simonson himself and Marvel as a whole, given the historic tendency of its creative workforce towards somewhere between the center-left and the left (depending on which generation of creators one is talking about). A good deal of – as the People’s History of the Marvel Universe has demonstrated, inaccurate – ink has been spilled about the supposedly inherently fascistic politics of superhero comics, but the more accurate label is that vigilantism has been part of superhero comics’ DNA from the beginning. If a superhero is anything else, they are ultimately a costumed adventurer who steps outside of their everyday life that’s sanctioned by society in order to exercise powers that are normally monopolized by governments. To an extent, there remains something of an uncomfortable parallelism between the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” mythologizing around crime and the tradition of costumed crimefighters.  Simonson vocalizes the tension he’s feeling through Ben Grimm, the Lower East Side-born Jewish superhero who more than any other character symbolizes the cultural and political wellspring from which Jack Kirby’s decidedly left-wing approach to superheroism always drew inspiration. For the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing, having to be on the same side as the NRA is a “revoltin’ development” – which gives a certain amount of consolation to liberal readers.

After these two witnesses have set out the real-world political implications of the Superhuman Registration Act, Simonson dives into the in-universe politics, and in the process establishes a vital link between his SRA and Claremont’s Mutant Registration Act by using a character who just so happens to straddle the divide between the X-line and the broader Marvel Universe:

Contrary to what many writers in both fandom and academic circles have argued, Gyrich’s testimony demonstrates how the mutant metaphor works best in the broader context of the Marvel Universe. Henry Peter Gyrich opposing the registration of super-humans while supporting the registration of mutants (presumably a sign that he’s adopted the party line after the events of X-Men #176) is not only a perfect example of the hypocrisy and irrational double-standards inherent to bigotry, but also a straightforward statement of that prejudice. To Gyrich, it is unacceptable for the Federal government to register super-powered humans because they are “entitled to the equal protection of the law,” but acceptable for the Federal government to do the exact same thing to super-powered mutants, because they’re not human in his eyes and therefore aren’t entitled to constitutional rights under the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment.

In discussing the concept of a law “restricting a limited section of the nation’s population,” Simonson shows an impressive level of research for a superhero comic. When Gyrich responds to questioning the constitutionality of the Superhuman Registration Act by bringing up the example of women not having to register with the Selective Service System, he’s actually referring to what was then very recent developments in constitutional law. While the draft was ended in 1973 due to its deep unpopularity in the midst of the Vietnam War – which we’ve already seen very much on Simonson’s mind – this state of affairs would only continue for a few years. In a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter re-established the draft in 1980. During the Congressional debates over the re-authorization of the draft, the issue of whether women would be subject to registration was raised, in light of the ongoing national debate over the Equal Rights Amendment and the broader acceptance of the principle that gender discrimination was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. A year later, in Rostker v. Goldberg, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on this point when a group of draft resisters challenged the draft on the grounds of gender discrimination, ruling 6-3 that the Selective Service System’s male-only registration could stand because of the armed service’s bans on women serving in combat roles.[6]

Finally, Henry Peter Gyrich’s testimony makes it very clear that both the Mutant and Superhuman Registration Acts’ purpose is to put superpowered beings under government control, so that they can be used as agents of oppression. While he speaks of “super-human individuals or groups of an altruistic nature” being merely “persuaded to aid the government in tracking down and registering any individuals or groups who refused to comply,” Simonson throws doubt on the voluntary nature of this assistance, implying that superheroes would be forced into service under the Superhuman Registration Act’s conscription clause. More troubling, Gyrich demonstrates a consistent inconsistency as a supposed conservative who’s concerned about the rights of the individual opposed to the interests of the state when he opposes the extension of “the same constitutional guarantees that the police must follow” to these new federal agents. In a display that again echoes the real-world stance of “law and order” conservatives on police brutality, Gyrich sees any limitations on both superpowered federal agents or human police officers as “tying the hands of law enforcement” and “aid[ing] the criminal element.” By implication then, the Superhuman Registration Act would lead to a lawless paramilitary force completely unanswerable to any authority other than a “human czar” of “a bureau of superhuman affairs” – much in the same way that Freedom Force demonstrated a complete disregard for civil liberties while enforcing the Mutant Registration Act.

In between fist-fighting supervillains who’ve showed up in trench coats and fedoras to infiltrate the Congressional hearing, the Fantastic Four get their chance to testify against the Superhuman Registration Act. Their arguments come from a number of different political angles – Sue Storm talks about wanting to ensure that her son grows up in a free country, Johnny Storm points to the practical impossibilities of registering “Dr. Doom or Annihilus,” and good liberal Ben Grimm decries the contrast between the ease with which “crooks can go out and buy assault rifles” and the proposed restrictions on the superheroes who try to stop them. As we might expect from the FF, though, the majority of page space is given to Reed Richards, who delivers a filibuster-worthy speech that spans issue #335 and #336. Mister Fantastic presents many arguments against the Superhuman Registration Act – one of the more troubling one being that non-superheroes lack the ability to second guess split-second decision making by experienced superheroes, which echoes uncomfortably with defenses of police shootings – but the one that ultimately convinces the Congressional committee to shelve the SRA is a perfect blend of politics and superhero science-fantasy:

Ultimately, what gets the Congressional committee to shelve the Superhuman Registration Act is an argument centered on the impossibility of defining who is a super-human and who isn’t – because people’s abilities and genetic heritage vary so much from individual to individual, an arbitrary cutoff like a “variation of greater than, say, 15% from the norm” would sweep up many false positives, such that the discriminatory impact of the SRA would be felt by Congressmen themselves. Taken together, Claremont and Simonson’s work is a classic case of a slippery slope argument applied to civil liberties – the denial of the rights of any minority becoming a precedent that creates a precedent for further authoritarian encroachment onto the rights of increasingly larger segments of the population, eventually ending in a general tyranny.

This all must sound eerily familiar to people who were reading Marvel comics circa 2006, when Mike Millar was handed the reins to a line-wide crossover in Marvel’s Civil War, which likewise centered on the Federal government passing a Superhuman Registration Act. Despite the several decades between the work of Claremont and Simonson and that of Millar, there’s more than a little bit of thematic and rhetorical overlap between them: we see similar analogies to gun control and the draft, similar debates about individual agency and vigilantism versus collective security and democratic legitimacy, and even similar mentions of the Mutant Registration Act as a model for official discrimination that’s still floating around out there in the Marvel Universe, still on the statute books ready to be picked up by forces in power.

When it comes to the political stance taken by the creators, however, we see a clear difference. Both Claremont and Simonson make it quite clear that registration is an unjust act of oppression that exists for the protagonists to struggle against. By contrast, putative leftist Mark Millar was so convinced of the correctness of the Pro-Registration side of the debate that, in the development process, he swapped the position of Captain America and Iron Man as leaders of the opposing camps. Millar’s logic was that Marvel couldn’t maintain the “choose a side” fan engagement that would be key to the crossover’s success, because it would be self-evidently obvious to everyone that the Pro-Registration side was right if it was led by a pillar of moral authority like Steve Rogers. (Full disclosure: I’m basing my claim for this on my memory of having read that the swap happened during development, but I can’t find the article that I originally read. Feel free to disregard this point.)

Here is where I think we can see the broader cultural impact of 9/11 on the politics of the Marvel Universe: on paper, a story in which a horrific tragedy is turned into a rhetorical bludgeon in order to justify the radical transformation of the status quo, and in which the Superhuman Registration Act, like the Patriot Act, becomes a mechanism for the destruction of civil liberties all the way up to indefinite detention without trial in black site prisons, would seem to be a powerful critique of the War on Terror. But while the creators who were brought in to write the tie-in issues did advance that kind of criticism, Millar’s main event book continued to present the actions of Tony Stark and Reed Richards as the wise decisions of enlightened futurists that was making the United States a safer, happier place – culminating in the thuddingly obvious visual symbolism of Captain America getting tackled by a group of NYC first responders at the height of his duel with Iron Man.

So after all of that, what is a Registration Act? Beyond the specific details of fictional legislation that obsess a public policy nerd like me, I think we can think of it as a kind of narrative mirror that comic book writers can hold up to see the world around them and the place that their genre has in it. At the same time, it’s not a device that should be used cavalierly as an excuse to bang action figures together; the way that it conjures allusions to real-world politics make it far too charged for that.   


[1] All-points bulletin.

[2] Valerie Cooper is introduced in X-Men #176, where she leads a White House briefing on the national security threat posed by mutants like Magneto. While Cooper touches on the biological metaphor of the Cro-Magnon and the Neanderthal, she pivots from there to discuss the mutant threat from the perspective of international relations. As Valerie sees it, the existence of mutants means that “the virtual monopoly of super-beings…once enjoyed by the United States no longer exists.” Because of the willingness of the Soviet Union to recruit mutants into the Soviet Super-Soldiers, she argues that “mutants pose a clear and present danger to our country.”

Surprisingly, Henry Peter Gyrich (last seen heading up Project Wideawake, the Federal initiative to recreate the Sentinel program) challenges Cooper’s proposal to “fight fire with fire, counter[ing] foreign mutants with some of their own” on the grounds that Federal recruitment of mutants into the armed services would convince Magneto that his fears that “out of greed, humanity will use mutants – enslave them – and then, out of fear, destroy them” are coming to pass, risking an escalating confrontation with the Master of Magnetism.

While this scene predates the Mutant Registration Act, it’s nonetheless an important bit of context for understanding the goals and mechanisms of the MRA. While the main X-Men book itself doesn’t make mention of the Mutant Registration Act involving the forced conscription of mutants outside of Senator Phillip’s vague analogy to slavery, we do get an important clue in X-Factor #33. In that issue, the group of mutant supervillains known as the Alliance of Evil go on a rampage in front of Trish Tilby’s television cameras in order to protest their arrest and imprisonment under the Mutant Registration Act. Specifically, the Alliance of Evil mentions that they refuse to join “Uncle Sam’s mutant army” – implying that one of the major aspects of the MRA is to use forced registration, surveillance, and the threat of imprisonment to draft mutants into becoming unwilling soldiers in the national security state.

[3] Similarly, in X-Men #223, Claremont breaks away from the main action of the book to show an interlude in a Queens bar where a white working-class character defends himself against charges of anti-mutant racism by pointing to his close friendship with a black working-class character, arguing that “we ain’t the same color, but we’re still people.” By contrast (he explains), mutants are inhuman freaks who should be euthanized at birth by their own parents to prevent an “abomination” from walking the streets. In this instance, Claremont is arguing that anti-mutant prejudice exists at right angles to anti-black racial prejudice – something of a departure from his stance in “God Loves, Man Kills.”

[4] See X-Factor #33.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Interestingly, this constitutional position has continued to this day, despite the U.S military having eliminated gender restrictions on combat duty in 2015. In 2019, a District Court judge ruled against the Selective Service System under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, only to be overruled by the Fifth Circuit, which held that only the Supreme Court could overturn its own ruling in Rostker. Only last year, the Supreme Court declined to review the ruling, although three justices wrote that the draft likely was now unconstitutional.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/21

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Logan

Bang! #2 (Dark Horse)– If Bang! #1 was Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres stripping the James Bond films down to their essence in metafictional fashion, then Bang! #2 does the same for Die Hard. Or really any of the regular guy saves the day from highly trained terrorists while making one-liners with collateral damage all around him. Kindt comes up with the clever conceit of boiling down an action hero trait into a pill form and turns this issue’s hero, John Shaw, into basically a junkie, whose actions are connected as much to an adrenaline rush as any love for his fellow human. His actions definitely fall into the category of looks cool, but would be horrifying in the real world with the text of the in-universe John Shaw novels hinting at these horrors. And all of these elements are held into place by the smooth storytelling of Wilfredo Torres, who makes each action sequence seamless with colorist Nayoung Kim, who varies the intensity of their palette depending on the scene. Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres alchemize the contrivances, possible sociopathy, collateral damage, and yes, the thrilling action of the Die Hard series into the beauty that is Bang! #2. This is shaping up to be one of my favorite books of 2020 as it is both meta-commentary on and a wonderful example of different action genres/franchises. Overall: 9.6 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #9 (Marvel)– Tini Howard and Marcus To has the Excalibur team embark on a magical mystery tour to Starlight Citadel, the former home of the Captain Britain Corps and a nexus for the multiverse. And, then, they end up in a huge battle against Saturnyne and her army of, basically, Sailor scouts. Howard and To are starting to hit their tribe as they meld road story tropes with more fantasy elements. There’s also a dash of espionage as Meggan and Pete Wisdom check on what Morgan LeFay’s old cult is up too. Seeing characters like Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee self-actualize (And in Jubilee’s case, discover a new power set) makes for pleasing reading even if Excalibur isn’t the cream of the crop of the X-Books. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Buy

X-Force #9 (Marvel)X-Force #9 begins with some much needed rest and relaxation for the team with Wolverine playing “snikt roulette” with Gabby and Daken, and even Sage finally getting out of the office and chatting with Domino about her resurrection. However, Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara pull the team back into danger as they investigate what’s going on in Terra Verde, a country that had a strained diplomatic relationship with Krakoa. The results are B-movie, and Percy and Cassara know it as Wolverine, Kid Omega, Domino, and a special guest star fight killer plants connected to a bastardized version of Central American mythology. It’s silly fun, and Cassara shows he can do comedy and spreads as well as body horror. Also, Percy continues to brew tension in the background of the main plot with Beast continuing to be extra-manipulative. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

 Outlawed #1 (Marvel)– This one-shot from Eve Ewing and Kim Jacinto is just as advertised: it’s Civil War, but with teen superheroes. The destination is familiar (With one twist.), but the journey works for me. Jacinto and colorist Espen Grundetjern channel the chaos of shonen manga action scenes as the Champions miscommunicate, and Viv Vision loses control and causes collateral damage at a school where a teen science summit is happening. And even though it’s couched in supehero action, Ewing captures a little bit of the zeitgeist and frustration of Generation Z, who is politically active and well-informed, especially about climate change, but is still underestimated by older generations. (See how Teen Vogue’s coverage has changed over the year, for example.) Outlawed definitely is a setup for the new Champions title and various teen-centric Marvel titles, but it’s like a yummy mozzarella stick appetizer, not a bad movie trailer. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Spider-Woman #1 (Marvel)– Jessica Drew is back and darker than ever in her solo series from Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez. Having to pay bills and provide for her son has led Jessica to take a corporate security gig for a billionaire daughter’s birthday part that turns into an all out action setpiece. Perez pours on the violent close-ups and explosions showing that Jessica may be starting to lose control even as she “saves the day”. Pacheco brings the sassy quips, but Jessica’s inner thoughts are filled with an overall feeling of “What have I done”. The backup from Pacheco and Paulo Siqueira adds context to Jessica’s money woes, new (and pretty decent) costume, and the ending of the primary story. Siqueira definitely indulges in some ass shots, but the story does wonders for Jessica’s motivation and the series’ ongoing plot. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Spider-Woman #1 (Marvel)– Jessica Drew is back and darker than ever in her solo series from Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez. Having to pay bills and provide for her son has led Jessica to take a corporate security gig for a billionaire daughter’s birthday part that turns into an all out action setpiece. Perez pours on the violent close-ups and explosions showing that Jessica may be starting to lose control even as she “saves the day”. Pacheco brings the sassy quips, but Jessica’s inner thoughts are filled with an overall feeling of “What have I done”. The backup from Pacheco and Paulo Siqueira adds context to Jessica’s money woes, new (and pretty decent) costume, and the ending of the primary story. Siqueira definitely indulges in some ass shots, but the story does wonders for Jessica’s motivation and the series’ ongoing plot. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Scout Comics Kicks Off Their Direct to Retailer Program. See What’s Out in June 2020

Scout Comics is shifting gears a bit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The comic publisher has launched a new distribution plan.

Starting tomorrow (May 1, 2020) Scout is offering retailers a chance to order new Scout Comic content. These comics will be released twice a month starting in June from one of their print partners (Comic Impressions) who are only a few miles away from Scout headquarters in Fort Myers Florida.

Check out what’s coming out then, which includes a lot of first issues and some “catch up” packs so shops can grab what they’ve missed.

Yasmeen #1

(W) Saif A. Ahmed
(A) Fabiana Mascolo

Cover Price: $3.99

Iraq, 2014. Life couldn’t be better for 16 year-old Yasmeen as her family is able to buy a big new house. Then ISIS invades Mosul.  Yasmeen’s Shia family barely escapes, while Yasmeen us captured by terrorists and sees her uncle executed. Yasmeen is sold to an ISIS fighter as a slave and must relinquish her innocence in order to save her three new Yazidi friends who are punished with starvation. Two years later, Yasmeen is reunited with her family in the United States. Her parents are so happy to be reunited with Yasmeen that they fail to see the state of depression that she has fallen into after two years of slavery and torments. Now faced with a new life, Yasmeen must learn to survive in a society that both fears and hates her and must overcome the horrors of the past in an attempt to find herself again.

Yasmeen #1

Everglade Angels #1

(W) Blake Northcott
(W) Scott Lobdell
(A) John Upchurch
(C/A) Jae Lee

Cover Price: $3.99

A wrong turn down a dead end road. A car that won’t start. An unspeakable evil emerges from the darkness. No phones. No weapons. No escape. Think you’ve seen this all before? Think again. When a girls softball team takes a shortcut through the Florida Everglades, they veer off the path towards a night they’ll never forget – drinking, dancing – one last hurrah before college starts and they go their separate ways. When they stumble into a trap set by a murderous cult, the stage is set for a night of blood-soaked carnage, but the cult has never dealt with victims who are ready to fight back.

Everglade Angels #1

Metalshark Bro 2: Assault On Hmazig Island  #1

(W) Bob Frantz
(W) Kevin Cuffe
(A) Walter Ostlie
(C/A) Jorge Corona

Cover Price: $3.99

The last we saw of Metalshark Bro, dude was transformed back into a regular shark that swam off into the sunset. It was a classic revenge mission: he killed A LOT of people, got the giant floating eyeball, ate a lot of grub, and defeated Satan’s nephew. Unfortunately, this victory was short-lived. A demon hamster kidnapped his bestie, so now he’s forced out of his sharky-sabbatical to fight off Cthulhu dudes, mutant alligators, magic demons, and his own aggression.

Metalshark Bro 2: Assault On Hmazig Island  #1

Murder Hobo #1

(W) Joseph Schmalke
(A) Jason Lynch
(C/A) Joseph Schmalke

Cover Price: $3.99

In the Lands of High Adventure, brave bands of heroes undertake dangerous quests in search of fame and fortune. The exploits of these fearless explorers, who dare delve into the deepest of dungeons, will be sung about by the bards for eons. This is not their story. No, this is a tale of what happens when well-intentioned groups of would-be adventurers recruit the wrong kind of “hero,” the dreaded Murder Hobo. Selfish assassins who thrive on illicit acts and unprovoked bursts of violence, these agents of chaos can foil even the best-laid plans. Follow the exploits of Drunk-o and Nymph-o, a pair of Murder Hobos with different methods, but the same goal: to keep all the loot for themselves.

Murder Hobo #1

Loggerhead #1

(W/A) Bryan Silverbax
Cover Price: $3.99

The world as we knew it changed after the last of the great wars leaving a large portion of North America a dead wasteland. It’s in that wasteland that tales of a monster only known as Loggerhead exist. Within this wasteland valuable elements and minerals have been unearthed creating a hotbed of illegal mining and overrun with scavengers. When some children find themselves endangered while witnessing an illegal scavenger mineral hunt a protector rises from the murky depths of the wasteland to exact retribution.

Loggerhead #1

It Eats What Feeds It #1

(W) Max Hoven
(W) Aaron Crow
(A) Gabriel Lumazark

Cover Price: $3.99

In this grimy horror romp, Francois, a stunning middle-aged woman, has developed a worsening affliction and seeks a young caretaker to upkeep her lavish creole mansion deep in the mystic bayou of Louisiana.  Kenny, a teenage halfwit looking for a summer job, stumbles right to her doorstep. Free rent, free meals, high pay, easy work, and a provocative boss… what’s there for Kenny to refuse? Well, there’s the blood-covered kitchen spilling over with raw meat and the bolt-locked steel-plated attic door he’s restricted access to. Are these red flags worth the risk of missing out on a wild summer romance?

It Eats What Feeds It #1

The Mall – Trade Paperback

(W) James Haick
(W) Don Handfield
(A) Rafael Loureiro

Cover Price: $19.99

This coming of age crime story takes place in a small Florida town at the height of the popularity of indoor malls. When the head of the Cardini Mob Family mysteriously dies, his three illegitimate children each inherit a store in the mall. While the stores front as legal businesses, the real money is in the illegal businesses. The kids are thrust into a world of crime, all the while just trying to survive normal high school life. Collect issues #1 – #6 of the 1st season!

The Mall - Trade Paperback

The Electric Black – Trade Paperback

(W/A) Joseph Schmalke
(W/A) Rich Woodall
(C/A) Rich Woodall

Cover Price: $19.99

Dare you step within the sinister halls of The Electric Black? A doomed ship infested with demonic rats, an elixir of life that devolves people into blood craving monsters, and a nefarious necklace with apocalyptic properties all await you inside. The cursed antique shop calls out, appearing in any time or space, soliciting new customers that it hungers to corrupt or devour. The poor souls that enter never leave empty handed. Its dark light will shine on macabre mysteries, grisly murders, and other frightful occurrences. This inaugural volume collects the first four issues of the quarterly, ongoing series, containing exclusive bonus artwork and a special cover gallery.

The Electric Black - Trade Paperback

Wretches Catch-Up Pack

(W) James E. Roche
(A) Salo Farias

Combined Cover Price: $19.95

CONTAINS WRETCHES #1 – #5 
Alone on the tough streets of an alien city, far from the lifeless planet they once called home, siblings Shea and Sean spent their youth struggling to survive. Still suffering emotionally from the loss of everything they’d ever known and loved, Shea and Sean have nothing else in the universe but each other. Forever outrunning the horrors of their past, they survive the only way they know how- by hunting and killing sentient robots for profit! Now, when the rough path that they had no chance to follow finally catches up to them, will they be able to keep each other safe or will they lose the only important thing they have left, each other?

Wretches Catch-Up Pack

Wretches #6

(W) James E. Roche
(A) Salo Farias

Cover Price: $3.99

Shea’s execution is today, and all bots are tuned in to watch the show, however reluctant some may be. Having just about given up all hope only Sean and his crew of misfits can save her. When they infiltrate the bot settlement for one final battle, will they all walk out alive, or will their bodies be the first of many in the next robot revolution?

Wretches #6

Midnight Sky Catch-Up Pack

(W) James Pruett
(A) Scott Van Domelen

Combined Cover Price: $15.96

CONTAINS MIDNIGHT SKY  Cover A’s #1 – #4 
Midnight Sky is Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets They Live. What would you do if you discovered your son wasn’t really your son? He may look like him, act like him, but deep down in your soul you just know… he’s been replaced. Then your worst fears are realized when the light hits his face just right and you accidentally see his true appearance for yourself. But he isn’t the only one you discover… your neighbor, your friend, even your husband. Do you scream? Do you run? Or do you fight back? And how can it be that your daughter is the best and, perhaps, last hope for mankind?

Midnight Sky Catch-Up Pack

Midnight Sky #5

(W) James Pruett
(A) Scott Van Domelen
 
Cover Price: $3.99

After their harrowing experience in the amusement parks of Orlando, Jennifer, Alejandro and Elita begin the treacherous journey to the Changeling stronghold of Cape Canaveral, where Jennifer has discovered may be a portal to the Changeling’s dying world hoping to finally bring back her biological son. But to do this would require sacrificing Alejandro. Is she willing to bear the cost? Meanwhile, resentment continues to build between Elita and her mother when Elita discovers that by killing changelings she is condemning the humans whose forms they have taken to forever be banished to the Changeling’s dying home world, never to return. And if things weren’t treacherous enough, something monstrous is slithering in their path in the swampland.

Midnight Sky #5

North Bend Catch-Up Pack

(W) Ryan Ellsworth
(A) Rob Carey

Combined Cover Price: $7.98

CONTAINS NORTH BEND #1 Cover A and North Bend #2
In the not too distant future, the U.S. is at war — against Russia, and its own people. The country is on the verge of economic collapse and political revolution. Desperate to regain control, the CIA recruits Seattle DEA Agent Brendan Kruge to test an experimental mind control drug on unwitting Americans. Compelled by his sense of duty to his country, Brendan struggles to keep his life from falling apart as he tries to reconcile his personal beliefs with the security of the nation.

North Bend Catch-Up Pack

North Bend #3

(W) Ryan Ellsworth
(A) Rob Carey

Cover Price: $3.99

DEA Agent Brendan Kruge receives his first MKUltra target, and the success of the job could mean life or death for Annie. But before the experiment can even begin, a surprise betrayal throws everything off the rails. Meanwhile, Jamie’s investigation takes her one step closer to discovering the clandestine CIA mind control program.

North Bend #3

SCOUT COVER GALLERY COLORING BOOK

(A) VARIOUS SCOUT ARTISTS
(DESIGNER) RICHARD RIVERA
(COVER DESIGN) BRYAN SILVERBAX

Combined Cover Price: $9.99

We are proud to present the Scout Gallery Coloring Book.  Over 40 of Scout’s titles are featured in this 90-page Special!  The Scout Gallery showcases an incredible range of artwork including: Scout’s classic ongoing series; our hottest new releases; and even Scout Premieres of future titles.  That’s right, several brand-new series will make their first appearance here!

SCOUT COVER GALLERY COLORING BOOK

Review: Scarlet #3 (of 5)

Scarlet has fought back against the corruption that destroyed her life-and now the next American revolution is underway! The city of Portland has been shut down-or, in the eyes of some, taken hostage-and Scarlet must decide how far she is willing to take her crusade. Enter Kit, the woman who will reduce Portland to rubble.

It’s weird to read and review a comic about revolutionaries (or terrorists depending on your side) on a day when some is sending bombs to likely political opponents in real life. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Scarlet #3 describes itself as telling the “story of a generation pushed too far in an alternative world we may soon find ourselves in.” Except, it doesn’t feel all that alternative at all and that we’re in the beginning stages of the world Bendis created so many years ago.

When Scarlet began, it was a response to the situation of the time which gave rise to the Occupy Movement. It was Occupy gone to the extreme of militancy. Since then, while the book slumbered awaiting a return, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, the Women’s March, March for Science, and so many more movements have risen up and mostly simmered down. Scarlet is what happens when that spark finally happens and it questions what comes after the revolution?

And this is specifically looks at that spark, the first gunshot, the moment that takes things to the next level. And again asks, what’s next?

It’s an interesting issue that explores how this, all of this comic and the real world movements, are born out of abuse by those in power, those with privilege. And it shows that some just won’t stand for it anymore and whether consciously or unconsciously, we’ll fight back.

The art by Alex Maleev, with lettering by Joshua Reed, is amazing as always. There’s a reality to it all despite the destroyed American city. We, the reader, can still connect and relate to everything. This doesn’t feel like a foreign future but a reality we can experience now. Reed’s lettering too is key as Scarlet has a habit of talking directly to the reader and with subtle switching of the speech bubbles, a different tone and experience is had.

There’s something surreal about this issue’s release today of all days and it feels as though it’s as pertinent to today’s political situation as it was when the series debuted 8 years ago. It’s the rage many of us feeling and a reality many of us would like to see happen. All it’ll take is a spark and some inspiration. But for now, we can imagine that revolution kicking off and experience that possible reality on the printed page.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Alex Maleev
Lettering: Joshua Reed Design: Curtis King, Jr.
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Marvel and ComiXology Announce Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpool

Marvel Entertainment and comiXology have announced the next exclusive comiXology Originals digital comic series: Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpool, a 6-issue bi-weekly series written by Chris Hastings, drawn by Salva Espin, with colors by Matt Yackey, and covers by David Nakayama.

Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpool #1 arrives September 5, 2018 for $2.99 on comiXology and Kindle as part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content and will be available to current subscribers of the popular comiXology Unlimited service. New subscribers to comiXology Unlimited can also enjoy it for free as part of their 30-day free trial.

A perfect entry point for new fans and longtime readers alike, it’s a case of mistaken identity when Wade Wilson, the regeneratin’ degenerate you know as Deadpool, kills an American superspy on a mission to stop the deadly terrorist agency called GORGON! Now, it’s up to Wade to complete his victim’s mission as only he can – with excessive violence, an accelerated healing factor, and maybe, just maybe, a few laughs along the way.

Preview: Fighting America: The Ties That Bind #1

FIGHTING AMERICAN: THE TIES THAT BIND #1

Writer: Gordon Rennie
Artist: Andie Tong
Color: Tracy Baily
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: David Leach
Cover A: Jerry Ordway
Cover B: Jack Kirby
Cover C: Andie Tong
Publisher: Titan Comics
FC, 32pp, $3.99
On sale: March 7, 2018

In 1954, NELSON FLAGG took part in an experimental US Military procedure that saw his mind transferred into the enhanced and revitalized body of his dead brother, JOHNNY FLAGG, to become America’s first and only superhero, FIGHTING AMERICAN!

63 years later, FIGHTING AMERICAN and his sidekick, SPEEDBOY, have found themselves marooned in the 21st Century.

With MADAME CHAOS now safely behind bars, FA and SB have begun the mammoth task of tracking down all of the stolen PROFESSOR DYLE TWISTER tech that she sold on the Dark Web to every whack-job, fanatic, terrorist and weirdo she could find.

Meanwhile, one of FA’s old 1950s villains (sent through time by CHAOS LAD), the notorious DOUBLE HEADER, is now the head of the FBI and starting to make life difficult for our two-fisted man of action.

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