Under a Big Black Sun
Credits: Dean Clarrain (script), Ken Mitchroney (pencils), Marlene Becker (clean-ups), Art Leonardi (inks), Mary Kelleher (letters), Barry Grossman (colors)
Following the previous issue, Cudley has crash-landed in the Amazon. His wounds are tended to by local cows, who apparently worship him as a god (If Superman can be a Christ figure, why can’t Cudley be a deity?).
Unfortunately, before Cudley can explain why he’s come to Earth, Leatherhead, Wingnut, and Screwloose get into a patented “misunderstanding fight” with Man Ray, Jagwar, and Dreadmon. Eventually, Cudley gains enough strength to stop the fight and tell everyone that they’re on the same side. They soon notice the Malignoid cocoons suspended from the remains of the rainforest. Wingnut and Screwloose make a case for just burning the cocoons, but Leatherhead thinks it’s dishonorable. After engaging in the first “honor vs. survival” argument that’s probably ever appeared in an Archie comic, Wingnut and Screwloose fly away in a huff. The other mutants are even bigger pansies than Leatherhead, so of course they do nothing about the cocoons.
Soon, everyone is gathered around the fire, trading origin stories. Jagwar reveals that he’s the offspring of a big-haired Jungle Babe and an Amazonian jaguar-spirit.
Dreadmon explains that he was born in South Africa, but was sent to Jamaica by his father to escape Apartheid. In Jamaica, he stole a Tasmanian wolf totem from a tourist and gained super-speed. When he reached puberty, he transformed into a human wolf. The locals turned on Dreadmon after he began eating their chickens, even using “bad voodoo” against him. He escaped to the Amazon, where he lives today.
After everyone’s caught up with the backs of each other's trading cards, Wingnut and Screwloose return, just in time to see the Malignoids hatch. Meanwhile, Raphael and Mondo Gecko have invaded Maligna’s hive. They discover the discarded skins of the children Maligna’s eaten, which they use as disguises (preemptive killing, cannibalism, infanticide, Apartheid, spirit sex…and to think, you can’t even show handguns in today’s kid’s entertainment). They soon discover Maligna, who easily defeats the duo. Maligna orders Mondo and Raphael fattened up for the feast, as her spacecraft approaches Earth.
Review in a Half-Shell: You certainly got your $1.25’s worth back in the day. There’s a lot of action, some origin sequences, and a bit of character development, all in the course of twenty-nine pages (I wonder why Archie wasn’t nearly as reliant on outside ads as Marvel and DC were). Ken Mitchroney’s working with a finisher and a new inker this issue, so the lines do look rougher than they have in previous issues, but his exaggerated facial expressions are still very evident. The interior of Maligna’s hive/spacecraft looks great.