Monday, August 3, 2015

THE PHOENIX RESURRECTION #0 – March 1996


Red Shift
Credits:  Ian Edginton (writer), J. Royle, Paul Pelletier, C. Wojtkiewicz, Randy Green, B. Murray, & Rob Haynes (pencilers), P. Moy, S. Moncuse, Mark Farmer, Terry Austin, G. Martin (inkers), P. Owsley & V. Williams (letterers), Rob Alvord & Malibu (colors)

Summary:  Barriers between the Ultraverse and Marvel Universe weaken.  Prime spots Gateway in a crowd and is annoyed that he isn’t cheering with the rest of Prime’s fans.  When he flies over to confront Gateway, Prime discovers only a painting of the Phoenix in the dirt.  Night Man looks into a puddle and sees inside Damion Hellstrom’s home.  Whizzer of the Squadron Supreme contacts the Beast (when other heroes won’t answer) and discusses the rise in dimensional anomalies.  Mantra, in her civilian identity, is briefly visited by Gateway.  A member of the Exiles worries that she might again become the vessel for a cosmic force.  Rune falls through a dimensional rift and briefly stands outside of the X-Men’s mansion.  Ultraforce accidentally sends a villain into the Marvel Universe, where he briefly encounters Spider-Man and Thor.  

Continuity Notes:  
  • This Malibu/Marvel crossover represents continuity circa late 1995, which means Spider-Man is Ben Reilly and Wolverine has bone claws -- but also a nose, since he hasn’t gone fully “feral” yet.  
  • Due to previous attempts to incorporate Marvel characters into Malibu’s Ultraverse, Black Knight is a member of Ultraforce and the Exiles team has Juggernaut, Reaper, and Sienna Blaze as members.
  • Based on a flashback in the Exiles chapter of this story, the Malibu miniseries Break-Thru has already teased the arrival of the Phoenix Force in the Ultraverse.

Review:  In 1995-1996, publishers were legally required to have a zero issue.  Don’t question it.  The Phoenix Resurrection #0 is a one-shot published after the conclusion of the miniseries.  It’s a reprint of a series of back-up teasers that ran in Malibu’s superhero comics for a month, followed by a new story starring Jubilee.  Five pages of new Jubilee content cost you $1.95 in the early days of 1996; surely this was the golden age of X-completist gouging.

I doubt you’ll find an Ultraverse fan today who looks back with any nostalgia on the Marvel crossover days.  Marvel seemed to have an attitude that teaming their heroes with the Ultraverse characters would somehow legitimize the Ultras, but Marvel fans never seemed to care and Malibu fans always resented the intrusion.  Had this stunt been pulled four years earlier, it’s possible that diehard Marvel Zombies would’ve bought the hype and embraced characters like Rune and Prime with open arms.  By 1996, everyone was just burned out on these stunts.  If the Ultraverse characters had any shot at all of surviving the Marvel takeover, they probably should’ve been incorporated into the actual Marvel Universe.  Running two superhero universes simultaneously has historically not ended well, with the younger universe always paying the price.  Ending the Ultraverse and giving three or four of the heroes their own titles in the Marvel Universe, and actually treating them as authentic heroes within the Marvel Universe, was probably the best bet for getting Marvel fans to pay attention.  That’s assuming that the higher-ups at Marvel really wanted the Malibu characters to succeed, of course.  For years, the fan press reported that Marvel bought Malibu for its computer coloring department.  Now, we know that Malibu was purchased mainly to prevent DC from buying the company and taking a larger percentage of the marketplace.  Supposedly, Marvel didn’t even discover Malibu had a full-time computer coloring department until after the deal was finalized.

It’s hard to judge any of these shorts as stories, since every one is a brief scene that teases the idea of the Marvel Universe and the Ultraverse colliding.  Some of these shorts are more fun than I was expecting.  The Night Man piece has him inadvertently gaining access to Hellstorm’s bedroom, while he’s entertaining a “silver-tongued devil.”  The Whizzer back-up is about as interesting as a dry “two worlds are colliding” exposition piece can be.  (And notice that the major companies still can’t let go of the Conflicting Continuities Converge concept.)  I do feel sorry for Siren, though, whoever she is.  She isn’t even the star of her own back-up; Whizzer takes her place, in a short that doesn’t feature any Ultraverse characters.  Some of the pieces are borderline incomprehensible, such as the Ultraforce back-up, but overall the shorts set up the Phoenix event rather painlessly.  The art is the mixed bag I would expect any mid-‘90s superhero jam comic to be, with Paul Pelletier and Mark Farmer turning in the strongest piece, while B. Murray delivers a job worthy of Extreme Studios.  (Is this the Brian Murray who worked on Supreme?)  The cover also exhibits some of Bryan Hitch’s strengths and weaknesses during this era.  It’s a dynamic drawing, and the figures are well-constructed.  Those faces, though…why do Wolverine and Prime both have freakishly deformed left eyes?!


Generation X - Red Shift
Credits:  Ian Edginton (plot), Dan Abnett (script), Robert Stotz (penciler), Steve Moncuse (inker), Edd fear (letterer), Moose Baumann (colorist)

Summary:  Jubilee reflects in her school’s terrarium, questioning why Gateway included her in the group of mutants sent to defend the Ultraverse.  She discovers an emblem shaped like the Phoenix and wonders if it has any significance.  Nearby, Gateway smiles.

Review:  So, in the same comic, we get the prologues and an epilogue, which makes the reading order slightly annoying for anyone following this event with the zero issue first.  Calling this a “story” is a bit generous, with the narrative only offering the vaguest hint that Jubilee’s found something that might be important someday.  It isn’t, of course, since the Ultraverse characters were dismissed by Marvel not long after this event concluded.  Also, including new material in a reprint special is always a questionable move in my opinion.  If there are any Jubilee completists out there today, hopefully you can find this in a quarter box somewhere.

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