Currently, Black Heart, son of the devil, has engulfed Las Vegas in Hell. The only ones who can stop it from spreading throughout the world are Venom, Red Hulk, X-23, and Ghost Rider. Each were painfully defeated by their antithesises, reminded of how terrible of people they are. Except for Ghost Rider, on the other hand, who had been offered a deal by Blackheart after killing her antithesis. Doctor Strange and Daimon Hellstrom are still holding camp at the barrier, and Johnny Blaze is still keeping Earth out of Hell.
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alomso|
|Assistant Editor:||Sebastian Girner|
|Cover Art:||Frank Martin, Stefano Caselli|
|Lettering:||VC's Cory Petit|
X-23, the female clone of Wolverine, is climbing the stairs of Blackheart's castle with her annoying antithesis trailing her. Her cheerleader antithesis explains to her that there is no healing factor in Hell, so her cuts won't repair themselves. The cheerleader exclaims, "Just ignore the screams of the ordinary people out in the streets. Heroes can save them, and that ain't you." X-23 is pretty much tired of her talking and asks her why she is letting her walk up the stairs to kill her boss. The cheerleader says that that Hell is about lengthened torcher and she's obviously in agony. "This is hell sweetums," she cheers. "You belong here. You all belong here."
Meanwhile, Ghost Rider is coming up after Gari Oyle and her army. Blackheart tries to convince her to come to his side, but she says that the Spirit of Vengeance serves no one. She rides her bike up a giant demon, and smashes into Gari Oyle with her motorcycle. She reveals to Blackheart that she plans on killing his demons and snapping his beloved girlfriend's neck. Blackheart frantically orders for his antithesises to get "to the town limits."
Flash's antithesis, an old priest, hears Blackheart's call and complains, "Aw, and me, and yer little betraying symbiote were having so much fun messing with your soul." He reminds him that if he follows him, he will surely die. As he leaves, he eggs, "Put yer little black-hearted suit back on, by all means. After all yer nothing without it." Flash sadly stretches out his arm, and the symbiote slides on to him. He meets up with Rulk, whom is sitting down on top of a demon's dead body. Rulk makes a deal that they will never talk about what just happened. He also exclaims that he heard his antithesis say something about Ghost Rider and the edge of town. Venom asks him if he has a plan, and Rulk replies, "Soldier, I've always got a plan." They jump off to help.
Back at Blackheart's lair, X-23 is finally rid of her antithesis, whom is answering her master's call. X-23 has finally reaches the top of the stairs to Blackheart's headquarters. Once she opens the doors, she is confronted by Blackheart's bodygaurds. (We last saw them in Venom Vol. 2 #13. They're a mix of the Toxin symbiote and Wolverine clones.) Blackheart is too concentrated on what's happening in town square to attend to her personally.
At the edge of town, Ghost Rider is about to kill Gari Oyle, with her demon army huddled in fear. "Your gargoyles are wise enough to recognize a spirit of god's pure wrath offerig much-needed vengeance," Ghost Rider rambles. Right as she's about to kill her, she is hit in the back by a pom-pom. The three remaining antithesises are lined up behind her, and offer her the deal let again. (Hasn't it been made clear that Ghost Rider isn't accepting?)
While the cheerleader is dancing and cheering, Venom and Rulk brutally land on top of her. (She went "splatt!") Rulk tells Venom, "Each antithesis plays on our specific weaknesses. So criss-cross targets!" Finally! Venom starts shooting the brain and Rulk tells him not to let him get in his head. To keep his mind off him, Venom sings, "Cue over catchy REO Speedwagon! No, I can't fight this feeling anymore..."
Rulk smashes the old priest into the floor, and he is happy that he was right about them needing his tactics to win. He orders Ghost Rider to follow Gari while they handle the antithesises. The old priest, behind Rulk, scolds, "You feel your fists are stronger than Hell?" He makes a giant hole in the middle of Rulk's chest. "You are a fool," he sneers.
Both Venom and Ghost Rider are pissed by Rulk's death. Ghost Rider charges the brain but he rips her chest open. Venom starts shooting the remaining antithesises and orders Ghost Rider to go try to stop Gari Oyle. (Doesn't he see that she is dying?) Venom says that he will "hold the line" for as long as he can.
X-23 is still fighting the symbiote clones and Blackheart announced that they're clones just like her. They're killing things, soulless things, just like her. X-23 kills the rest of the body gaurds and runs up to kill Blackheart. He tells her that he can really tell her the truth, whether she has a soul or not. She stops to listen. "Silly Girl. You're sufferiing in Hell right now," he explains. "You can't be in Hell without a soul. Only trouble with souls? They make people stupid." He presses a button and a trap door is opened. X-23 falls and burns in a pit of lava.
Back at camp, Venom is, yet again, fighting the old priest. He tells him that he knows all of his weak spots. "You can't beat me if you can't beat yourself," he boasts. "I know what you are." "I'm a soldier!" Flash yells. He grabs the priests bible and points it at the brain. The brain is shredded into pink pieces of goo. The priest regains control of his bible and points it at Venom's symiote, which is ripped off again. Flash chokes the priest to death and is proud of himself. Sadly, Gari Oyle comes up from behind him and snaps his bare neck.
Blackheart once again offers Allehandra the deal, even if she's dead. All of the Nicaraguan souls will be put back. Ghost Rider reaches the barrier and tumbles off of her motorcycle. In her last moments of life, she pulls down the amulet. She apologizes, and burns out. "Impossibe... What could kill the Ghost Rider?" Doctor Strange questions. "Hell, Stephan. And now it's here," Daimon answers.
This issue is just as disappointing as the last two. This story could easily be combined with the last one, making an overall enjoyable part two. Sadly, all that seriously happens is that all the heroes die and Ghost Rider lets Hell spread across Earth.
The storytelling of this story is actually presented very well. The dialogue is ten times better than last issue's. I really enjoyed Rulk and Venom's banter and the personalities were represented well.
On to the negatives...nothing happens, as I said before but it isn't entirely the fault of Williams. In the credits, it is revealed that Remender and the other writers for the character's monthly books are responsible for the plot. (Much like the Brand New Day web heads.) I feel like the heroes' deaths weren't handled right and the Blackheart-in-Ghost-Rider's-head-thing got old fast.
The other glaring problem is, like last issue, Ghost Rider. Or should I say Ghost Rider's attitude. Alejandra is painful to read. She is just so cocky and...(let me get out my thesaurus for an appropriate word) tyrannical. Even backstabbing. At this point, I would be embarrassed if I was currently following Ghost Rider's monthly title. Alejandra has to go. End of story.
On the bright side, the art really shines in this issue. It shows that Takeda really spent a lot of time perfecting Rulk and Venom's looks. The battle scenes are fluid and the panels convey emotion well. For me, the only downside on the art is that the colors are a bit too glossy for an issue about death and Hell.
I really wish that this story was better. The CoF storyline is halfway done and nothing has happened. maybe the creative team for Rulk's book will bring a better story next issue.