Marvel Comics Presents #49

 Posted: 2003
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)


We continue with part two of this three-part arc featuring the Femme Fatales.

Story 'Child's Play'

  Marvel Comics Presents #49
Summary: Spider-Man/Wolverine Teamup (Credit SM Story)
Arc: Part 2 of 'Life's End' (1-2-3)
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Writer: Erik Larsen
Pencils: Erik Larsen
Inker: Josef Rubinstein

You know that lone rifle that was pointed at Wolverine's head at the end of part one? Well, it was actually one of a series of automatic rifles that have popped out of the walls (except that it either had to pop way out of its slot or Wolverine was going to walk smack into the wall because the thing was practically up against his temple). Not only do rifles spring out of the walls but they turn out to be laser rifles, firing beams instead of bullets. (Who would take the time and money to install these elaborate defenses on the off chance that some super-hero would sneak in? Well, this crew of evil mutants, I guess. Why bother? Well, a couple of super-heroes did try to sneak in, didn't they?)

Our two heroes spring into action. Wolverine slices the rifle at his temple with his claws. Spidey uses his agility to avoid the other laser blasts even as he fills up the gun barrels with webbing. He also manages to think a couple of thought balloons full of exposition. "How do I get into these things?" he thinks, "One minute, I'm merrily swinging along, hoping to get home in time for some of Mary Jane's... ugh... tuna casserole. The next I'm dodging lasers alongside a mutant/ghost/clone look-alike trying to rescue a kidnaped (sic) mutant girl and her father. What a life!" Note that Spidey is still thinking in "slashes" and that he is able to condense the entire first part of the story into just a couple of thought balloons and still have time to think of tuna casserole. Note also that he neglects to mention the fact that the warehouse is the same as the one where the Burglar hid (that plot point is never mentioned again) and that when he's thinking he doesn't know how to spell "kidnapped".

While Spidey is working on all this, Wolverine declares, "They know we're here". (He must have figured that out with those heightened mutant senses.) "Hit 'em hard and fast." And that's just what they do. Spidey creates a big net out of webbing. He swings it all around, smashing and grabbing up all of the laser rifles in the process. After doing this, the wall-crawler sets up his automatic camera with some webbing, lamely explaining to Wolverine that "I... uh... have this friend who's a photographer". Wolvie could care less. "Yeah, yeah" he tells Spidey but all he's really thinking about is how he's supposed to be dead and how it would be best if he kept out of the line of fire. Just then, the web-slinger's spider-sense starts tingling. He and Logan argue for a moment as to whether his instincts can be trusted. Then the whole floor explodes and leaves me more than a little bit confused. Hold on a moment while I go back and look at part one. Let's see. Spidey and Wolvie break into the warehouse, the rifle comes out, blah, blah, blah. All right. It appears that the two heroes were actually in some kind of loft and not really down on the floor at all. Don't ask me why someone would install all of their laser rifles in a loft when you'd figure that most threats would come in on the ground floor but that appears to be the case. In any event, after the floor explodes, Spidey and Wolvie fall through it and head for the real ground. Seven people wait for them below. They are, from left to right, Whiplash (a woman with great shocks of red hair and wearing a blue and black costume which shoots metal whips out of the backs of her hands in sort of a combination of Wolverine and the old Hulk villain, the Constrictor), Bloodlust (a feral-looking woman with yellow skin, long gray hair, with a streak of black in the middle, red eyes, and way long fingernails, who wears a tan costume with lots of leather attached to it and who hisses rather than talks), a guy with a gun who turns out to be... no, I won't blab about that until next issue, the kidnapped father of the mutant child forced down on his knees with his hands tied behind his back and a sack tied over his head, a guy with a fin on his head who looks like Erik's early version of his Image character the Savage Dragon, and the little mutant girl with blue eyes and blonde pigtails, bound hand and foot, with a gag in her mouth, and being held by the aforementioned Savage Dragon guy. Standing in front of them is a grossly fat fellow in a thoroughly ugly purple costume and studded bracelets who calls himself Critical Mass. And just as a reminder, Whiplash and Bloodlust are the ones who eventually join up with the Femme Fatales which is why we're bothering to recount this story to begin with. The rest of these characters... well, we're just stuck with them.

All right. So Spidey and Wolverine are falling right down toward this entire crew. Spidey, sensing an attack, tells Wolvie to "hang on to your cookies", shoots out a web with one hand, grabs Logan with the other, and webslings away from a two-handed force bolt assault that seems to emanate from Critical Mass' bracelets, but who really knows for sure since the character is never developed into anything resembling a personality and sure as hell isn't going to get an origin or anything. Having missed with both shots, Critical Mass calls Whiplash and Bloodlust into play. Whippy shoots out her metal whips and snags Spidey with them. Stopped short by the whips, Spidey lets go of Logan and the mutant goes tumbling to the floor. Meanwhile, Whiplash yanks Spidey down and tries to pile drive him into the ground. "You're dead, Spider-Man" she says. "No, he's the dead guy" Spidey replies, "Boy, are you ever confused."

Wolverine makes a neat two point landing on the warehouse floor. Bloodlust, who leaps above him and spreads out her claw-like nails, immediately attacks him. Logan releases his own claws to defend himself. "Girl after my own heart" he says.

At the other battle, Spidey manages to twist around. Still being driven by the momentum of the metal whips, he lands hard but on his feet, quipping, "Lemme guess, the check was cashed, but my fan club membership card just never arrived. These things happen. Must be a mix-up in the mail room" and I must confess I have no idea what that quip is all about. He quickly turns the tables by yanking on the whips, flipping his opponent over his head. Whiplash is heading for a date with the floor but first we go back to Wolverine who is reluctant to hit a lady. He hesitates just enough that Bloodlust finds an opening and uses her nails to put a big gash into his chest. Now back again to Spidey who is watching Whiplash hit the floor hard (but we don't get to watch it because it happens off-panel). The wall-crawler's spider-sense starts to tingle, this time warning him of the approach of the very large Critical Mass who is trying to sneak up from behind. (I'm not sure you actually need a spider-sense to feel this guy coming.) With the whips still wrapped around him, Spider-Man does a back flip away from Mass. While upside-down, he makes a connection. "That voice. That face" he thinks, "That's Arnie Gunderson from my fourth grade class. Boy, has he blimped out!" (Apparently Spidey is not kidding because this story is all about coincidences, don't you know.) The web-slinger continues this train of thought as he flexes his muscles and breaks out of the metal whips. He reflects that Arnie was "Voted most likely to become an overweight, obnoxious, evil mutant as I recall. Who'd have thunk it? The kid outdid himself." (And apparently Spider IS kidding about this part but this story has me so whacked out that I confess that I cannot be sure.)

In the other battle, Wolverine has come up with a new plan, which is to attack and try to gut Bloodlust with his claws. This proves as ineffectual as the "don't hit a lady" gambit because Bloodlust is fast enough to leap up in the air and come down behind him. While upside-down and headed for the ground, she uses both hands to cut deep into his back with her super-long press-on nails. (And, no, I don't know how she manages all this without landing on her head. Maybe she actually does land on her head.) But Logan is a tough guy and he isn't even slowed down by this attack. Instead he wheels on Bloodlust and returns the favor by slashing her in the side with his claws.

Back again to Spidey who has apparently been attacked by the wrist force blasts of Critical Mass. "Okay, that's it" he thinks, "I've taken enough. It's payback time for the lunch money he swiped." (Kidding? Not kidding? You decide!)

Before "payback time" can take place, we segue over to the Savage Dragon guy who now has his right hand wrapped around the throat of the little mutant girl with the gag in her mouth and the blonde pigtails and the tears streaming out of her big blue eyes. With his left hand, he points to his partner with the gun who is pointing his gun right at the head of the father with the sack over his head. "You've got powers, girl" says Savage Dragon Guy, "Use them to stop those two or your old man bites it now." And, just like that, a big white light emanates out from the little girl and knocks Wolvie and Spidey out with such force that smoke wafts off of their unmoving bodies. Critical Mass is very happy about this. "Thus, the heroes fall" he says, "and the captive's corruption begins." Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Sounds like we're about to get into a depiction of great power as corrupted by evil forces in innocent youth. Well, I wouldn't count on it. In the meantime, this is the end of part two.

General Comments

Hmm, let's see, where have we gotten to here? Just a big fight scene filled with snarling faces and lots of action/force/speed/whatever lines. A little big-eyed mutant girl with unspecified powers. A lead villain with unspecified powers who just happens to be some guy Peter Parker knew in grade school because the whole story is really just an excuse for Erik to make fun of all the in-continuity coincidences. Nothing at all to recommend it. Except Erik's art is pretty nice, I suppose.

Overall Rating

Nice art, shame about the lousy story. One web.

 Posted: 2003
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)