Credits: David Wohl & Joe Benitez (plot), Larry Hama (script), Joe Benitez (penciler), Aaron Sowd (inker), Dennis Heisler (letters), Dean White (colors)
Summary: On New Year’s Eve, Wolverine receives a message from Zoe Culloden to meet him at LL&L’s Times Square branch. He passes through the “WC” room, which sends him to another dimension. In this Times Square, a fascist police force is terrorizing innocent citizens. Ballistic arrives and helps Wolverine fight the police. She informs him that “the Mayor” is her Cyberforce teammate Heatwave, mind-controlled by Mephisto. Zoe Culloden is his aide. At the Mayor’s office, Wolverine and Ballistic try to stop his mysterious plan, which strikes at midnight. Zoe fights against Mephisto’s mind-control and turns against the Mayor, but can’t stop his scheme. At the stroke of midnight, everyone in Times Square disappears.
Continuity Notes: This is a chapter of the “Devil’s Reign” crossover event, which pitted Marvel and Top Cow characters against Mephisto. Ballistic is a member of Cyberforce, who’s protected from mind-control by cybernetic implants (Heatwave is a cyborg, too, so I don’t know how Mephisto ensnared him).
Production Note: “Devil’s Reign” is another Marvel/Image crossover that partially wasn’t published by Image. Although the inside front cover has a “special thanks to Image Comics,” this issue was published during the very brief period Marc Silvestri broke away from Image and self-published.
Not Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Landau, Luckman, and Lake’s Times Square office is attached to a fetish nightclub.
Review: Hey, it’s another ‘90s inter-company crossover I barely remembered. A few months after Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld were handed a chunk of the core Marvel Universe, we have this crossover with the remaining Marvel characters and Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow studio. I don’t recall a lot of promotion for this crossover on Marvel’s end. In fact, I think I only knew of its existence from the ads Marvel ran from comics retailer American Entertainment, which bragged about all of the variant covers they had to sell. On Top Cow’s end, this seems like something of a big deal, as the crossover apparently leads into the next storyline in Cyberforce. Image titles seemed to be okay with incorporating outside properties into their actual continuity (WildC.A.T.S. apparently did this all the time), but I’ve never seen that willingness on Marvel’s end.
Larry Hama, who wrote Wolverine during Marc Silvestri’s stint as artist, seems to be the only Marvel writer involved with this event, and he’s merely providing the script for this issue. Hama’s always able to capture Wolverine’s voice, and his fight scene dialogue is usually fun, so this issue does at least have some personality. The plot covers a surprising amount of ground, given the number of fight scenes, and splash pages and double-page spreads. Joe Benitez is one of the better Top Cow artists. He’s obviously following the Silvestri model, but Benitez isn’t doing a bad impression of him, and he doesn’t have the obsession with wrinkles and scratchy lines that so many Top Cow artists share.
WOLVERINE/WITCHBLADE #1- March 1997
Credits: David Wohl & Christina Z (story), Michael Turner (co-plot, pencils), D-Tron (inker), Dennis Heisler (letters), Jonathan D. Smith (colors)
Summary: Ballistic leaves to find her sister, while Zoe Culloden departs to find backup. Wolverine follows the scent of evil, searching for the missing crowd in Times Square. Meanwhile, Sara Pezzini begins to wonder if her past as Witchblade was an illusion. Her powers have disappeared, and her former enemy Ian now claims he’s her boyfriend. She begins to fall for the illusion until Wolverine crashes through the window and attacks Ian. Sara realizes that she’s had the Witchblade all along, as Ian transforms into Mephisto.
Production Note: Look how much larger the Image logo is now. Silvestri's back with Image by this point.
Review: Okay, the previous chapter balanced the two characters well and told a passable action story. This does not. Wolverine barely appears in this comic, and most of his appearance is spent dryly recapping the storyline thus far. The story is really about Witchblade, and it appears to be set after a specific storyline in her book as it has her mourning the deaths of several friends, then discovering (as a part of Mephsito’s illusion) that they’re alive. I never understood the appeal of Witchblade or Michael Turner, and this doesn’t do anything to win me over. Obviously, Witchblade is a mostly-nude female hero with an inhuman body, but look at her. She’s covered in hideous gray scabs that take the form of skeleton hands that cup her breasts, Janet Jackson-style. She’s also rail-thin and has virtually no facial features, with the exception of her lips, which are bigger than her fists. People were into this?
While Turner can mimic the surface elements of Silvestri’s style, and draw an impressive Mephisto, his characters designs are pretty appalling. Most of the cast barely looks human, and it’s impossible to tell Witchblade’s friend Michael apart from the villain, Ian. What’s worse, looking back over the comic, I think they’re not even supposed to be the same race! Maybe the rest of this crossover isn’t so bad, but I’m not curious enough to find out. This storyline is continued in Witchblade/Elektra, but since that doesn’t fit into the X-Universe, I’m thankfully off the hook.