Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Nelson Ortega (penciler), Don Hudson (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Marie Javins (colorist)
The Plot: Three mysterious babies are left on the doorstep of a monastery. The children (Shard, Vortex, and Dementia) are raised by the Knights Templar, and left ignorant of their connection to the Hellbent. Calling themselves the Cadre, the orphans reach young adulthood and sneak out of the monastery. On the night they leave, the monastery is assaulted by the Hellbent.
The Subplots: Gregori, one of the Knights Templar, is worried about the “potential danger” of the Cadre’s “cursed heritage.” Later, when the Hellbent attack, they boast that the Knights have been betrayed by someone named Seth.
Gimmicks: Like all of Marvel’s 1993 annuals, this comic comes polybagged with a trading card spotlighting the fantastic new characters introduced this issue.
Review: Ah, so the Hellbent are something Kavanagh carries from book to book with him. I bet they’re even in his Moon Knight run, aren’t they? Just like their portrayal in X-Man, this is too vague to really be engaging, although Kavanagh does work an admirable amount of plot into just a few pages. The structure of this annual is odd, as we’re getting a short story spotlighting the new characters before the main story, starring the title hero, appears.
Chaos Is the Cadre!
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Chris Marrinan (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Jon Babcock, Joe Rosen, & Rick Parker (letters), Joe Rosas (colorist)
The Plot: Peter and MJ’s romantic dinner is interrupted by the Cadre, who are running amok in Manhattan. Spider-Man tries to run interference between the teens and Code: Blue, but the violence doesn’t stop until one of the Knight Templars, Chloe, arrives. She takes the Cadre away with her, declaring “the Shadowspawn” her responsibility.
The Subplots: Peter is still concerned with MJ’s smoking.
I Love the ‘90s: Peter refers to himself as “a ‘90s husband” when MJ questions if he’s okay with her paying the bill.
Review: The “real” story begins, but calling this a “story” is generous. Peter and MJ have their token domestic scene, MJ behaves irrationally because that’s how she tended to behave during this era of the books (although the in-story explanation has everyone in the area affected by Dementia’s powers), Spider-Man has a misunderstanding fight with the Cadre, and a mystery lady appears to take them away. Why, it’s almost as if this story has nothing to do with Spidey. I am glad to see Chris Marrinan on art, since I like his interpretation of Spider-Man and the action scenes look nice, but even he can’t save the ridiculous designs of the Cadre.
Things to Come
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Vince Evans (penciler), Bill Anderson (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Mark Bernardo (colorist)
The Plot: Following the massacre at the monastery, the Cadre attempt to adjust to life with Chloe. Unbeknownst to her, the teens are determined to learn the identity of their mother.
The Subplots: Chloe is fearful that the Cadre will be recruited by Seth the Immortal.
*See _________ For Details: An event involving the Hellbent called the “Bloodline Agenda” is set to occur in Moon Knight #50. (A-ha! And are there any guesses as to who was writing Moon Knight at this time...?)
Review: Labeled the epilogue to the main story, this is presumably a character-building piece starring the Cadre. All we learn about them is that they’re sad the Knights who raised them are dead, and they want to find their mother. Also, Dementia seemed to be going nuts for a little while there, but she’s getting better now. I’m certainly riveted. Chloe gets a few pages of internal monologue to spell out the internal politics of the Hellbent, but the plot still seems needlessly confusing. Is this Hellbent stuff over with now?
Mayhem in the Streets
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Fred Haynes (penciler), Tim Tuohy (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Dana Moreshead (colorist)
The Plot: Cloak and Dagger reluctantly face their former friend, Mayhem, who is killing local hoods. During their fight, Mayhem is apparently killed by one of Dagger’s light-daggers.
The Subplots: None.
Review: I’ll take a wild stab in the dark and guess that Mayhem is also a Terry Kavanagh creation that predates his run on Web of Spider-Man. I actually don’t mind Kavanagh pulling his past continuity into this book, assuming he’s telling stories that actually make sense and aren’t filled with vague, mystic nonsense. Perhaps Mayhem was supposed to have an extended arc that was cut short when Cloak and Dagger was cancelled, so he’s resolving it here. Fine. I’m not given enough information on Mayhem to actually care about the character, but maybe Cloak and Dagger fans got something out of this.
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Mark Powers (penciler), Hector Collazo (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Rob Tokar (colorist)
The Plot: While investigating the origins of his costume at ESU, Nightwatch stumbles across a burglar in a hi-tech, invisible suit. After defeating him, Nightwatch is shocked to discover he’s in the office of the girlfriend he believed dead.
The Subplots: None.
Review: How many stories are in this book?! Another story starring a Kooky Kavanagh Kreation, we’re now treated to Nightwatch recapping his origin and beating up someone who might be a member of the group his future self warned him of -- the Camouflage Cadre (which word does Kavanagh love more, Gauntlet or Cadre?). And, yes, that’s future X-editor Mark Powers providing the art. If you’re curious to see more his work, he also drew a Constrictor serial for Marvel Comics Presents. His art is a little too soft for my tastes, but it’s perfectly fine for an annual back-up, and it’s certainly easier on the eyes than the sloppy work displayed in the Cloak and Dagger piece. Nightwatch’s solo book is only a few months away, but we’re advised to see more of this arc in Web. It’s nothing special, but the revelation that Nightwatch’s beloved Ashley is still alive is potentially interesting. Is there anyone on the planet who read Nightwatch’s series? I realize this is probably a ridiculous question, but is it any good?